For 13 consecutive years Bonaire has been voted the best shore diving destination in the world. The boomerang shaped island is almost 24 miles long from north to south and only 3-7 miles in width. There is little current on the leeward side and over 70 marked dive sites where divers park their pickup, don their gear and wade into the turquoise water.
I first visited the island 13 years ago and have annually used my frequent-flyer miles and traded a timeshare to secure a studio at the Divi Flamingo. In 2012 I sensed God wanted me to do more than enjoy the underwater world and the wonderful people. So before leaving in December of that year I gave two copies of The Jesus Experiment to a Christian businessmen I met at the airport. He said he attended a dynamic church, Bonaire Christian Fellowship. I asked him to keep a copy and give one to his pastor. For a year I prayed God would open a door of ministry.
On the morning after our arrival in 2013—a Sunday—we climbed in our pickup and headed to church. The music was as good as I’ve ever heard in any church. After the excellent message, I introduced myself to pastor Alex Senchi. Much to my surprise, he recognized my name from the book. Right away he asked if I’d speak at his men’s group the following night. The men’s study went well and during the week I prayed and prepared as if I was going to speak on Sunday. I told the Lord, “If Alex asks me to step on the stage and share I’m going to take that as an open door to preach.”
Sure enough, the next Sunday he asked me to come up front and share with the church. A moment later I took the mike and said, “You know asking a preacher to share a few words can turn into a sermon.”
“Yes, yes, pastor,” he said. “We want you to preach.”
And so I spoke on the high-expectation of the people in Capernaum when Jesus healed the woman with the flow of blood and raised from the dead the daughter of Jairus, the synagogue official (Mark 5:21-43). I contrasted this with the low-expectations of the people from the Lord’s home town of Nazareth (Mark 6:1-5). It was there that Jesus could do no miracles because of their unbelief (Mark 6:5). The point was that our expectations determine the visitation of Jesus in our lives.
When I finished the message I offered to pray for anyone who needed healing. I had never done this before but was convinced God was about to do something amazing. I wasn’t disappointed.
A woman from the church immediately came forward and, after I prayed, her back was healed. I felt amazed at what God had done and figured it was time to sit down. Just then I saw a long line of people seeking prayer. One of those women complained of severe pain in her back and abdomen. I had just read that pain which moves around could be symptomatic of spiritual affliction.
“Does the pain move around?” I asked.
“Yes,” she said.
I asked if she would wait until I had prayed for everyone else so I could take more time with her.
After I finished praying for everyone and the church was nearly empty, pastor Alex sat to her right and I sat to her left. I asked when the pain had started.
“Five years ago on another island a curse was placed on me. I was prayed over back then and the pain went away. But last week I had a dream in which I relived the moment I was cursed and the pain returned.”
I asked for permission to touch her back. She nodded her head and I placed my right hand on her back and in the name of Jesus commanded the afflicting spirit to leave. The woman immediately bent over and let out a loud guttural scream. She continued screaming for a minute or two and then stopped. I asked her why she was screaming and she said, “The moment you prayed the pain intensified and I was crying in pain.”
“Is the pain gone?” I asked.
“In my back, but not in my stomach.”
I then asked if she was comfortable with me placing my hand on her stomach. She approved and I prayed against the spirit afflicting her stomach. Once more she bent over, screaming. Thirty seconds later she stopped screaming, sat up and said the pain was gone.
That was the first and most dramatic experience I’ve had with delivering someone from spiritual affliction.
Yet, I battled cynicism. What happened over the next few months brought me to the place where I had to answer a pair of questions: Do I believe Jesus heals today? Do I believe Jesus delivers today? I had to decide if I was in or out with Jesus and the supernatural nature of his ministry. Was he still operating like this today?
When I returned to the United States a couple things happened which moved me closer to making those two decisions. Once made, my life and ministry were transformed. Next week I’ll tell you what happened.
I wrote this blog on Monday night, November 17th, while flying from DFW to Portland. I just finished speaking at a healing conference in Palm Beach Gardens, FL. It was the first time I have ever lead such a conference. As you’re reading this I’m in Bonaire. Please pray Cindy and I will see the wonder of God under the water and have an effective ministry.