THE VISION UNFOLDS
"Without a vision the people perish." Proverbs 29:18 The same is true within a Ministry. Let me paint a picture of the original vision for Wind of the Spirit Ministries, for those who have not heard, and refresh the memory of those who have. For without a vision, no one will know where they are headed or what they are to do.
God brought our family to Silverdale United Methodist Church in 1970 and through the prayers of many loving people, we were baptized in the Holy Spirit on Jan 6, 1971 - six months after arrival. From that moment onward, life was never the same. God began to change us and we began to seek the way of the Lord and endeavor to follow His direction. It was no longer "our thing", or "our ministry" or "our life". God began by healing our spirit, then moved on into healing our mind, our bodies and our relationships, both in us and throughout the church Body. Naturally the word traveled.
Consequently, invitations began to come, asking us to come and share in their churches, what was happening in Silverdale UMC. The Administrative Board agreed to allow Larry to be gone once a month for a Friday and Saturday seminar and once a quarter over a Sunday. For seven years, from 1976-1983, teams from the church would go with us to share the "good news". God was faithful and blessed our efforts. People were baptized in the spirit, healed in their minds, bodies and relationships, churches changed, pastors and laity revitalized. The "fields were white unto the harvest." (John 4:35) And we had the privilege to work in those fields.
The invitations came about once a month for 5-6 years, but then began to increase until we could not keep up with the requests. On the return trip from Okanogan, Washington, we stopped with the team at a little road-side chapel out of Gold Bar. It looked like a doll house, only it was a miniature chapel right alongside the highway. It was so tiny and yet all of us crowded in and sat down to pray. Present was: Jo Cameron, Bob Meyers, Doug and Gladys Weeks, Bruce and Ellen Craswell, Pat Russell, Teri Eddings, Dawn and Jack Kindred, Larry and Audrey. We filled that minuscule chapel by the roadside to capacity. We began to praise God, thanking Him for who He was and what He had been doing. And as we prayed, the glory of God settled on that tiny sanctuary. In the midst of it, all of us sensed that God was calling Larry and Audrey to go and do this type of ministry "full time".
We were a bit overwhelmed, excited, saddened, weeping and scared. Had we heard God right? It had not been our intent to leave Silverdale UM church. We had enjoyed thirteen years of watching God work in that Body, we were excited about what was happening and we were planning to retire there. There were 35 prayer teams trained and on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Never a week went by without receiving word from one of them about some miracle that God had performed. It was a transient community because of the military and God kept sending people to this church to be filled with His Holy Spirit, empowered, trained and sent out. The military was good at helping with the "sending out" part.
We asked the Church to pray about this new direction, and a vision began to unfold.
Part of the vision was for a Training/Retreat Center. The vision God gave was of a huge, southern style house, even with white pillars. There were rolling green fields, trees, gardens, and flowers; all overlooking a span of water. It was spacious, gracious and intended to be a place of peace and rest and healing. It was a many faceted center: a place for those needing training for ministry, a place of healing, a refuge from strife, for healing of marriages, a respite for missionaries, a place for young teens on the streets to come for protection and direction.
There was to be a garden to work, paths to walk, chickens, pygmy goats, sheep, horses, cats and dogs to pet and enjoy, water to swim in or sit by, rocking chairs on the porch, books to read, videos to watch and learn, rooms for privacy, comfort and relaxation, people available for prayer or counsel. There would be training seminars given at least once a quarter for "equipping the saints for ministry." (Ephesians 4:12)
A core group met together often, helping us seek God's direction. Eventually, we realized we needed to establish a non-profit organization under which to work. We went to prayer to find a name. Three names were settled on. We sent the first name to the State Registry, "Ruach". It was already taken, the second one, "Pneuma" had the same response. Finally the name Doug Weeks heard was the one the state accepted. "Wind of the Spirit" was born and became the banner under which we would work.
There was no question in any one's mind that it was the right name, because the scripture that God had given was John 3:8, "The wind blows where it will; and though you hear its sound, yet you neither know where it comes from nor where it goes. So it is with every one who is born of the Spirit."
The Lord also gave us our directions. He told us we were to follow the common path, to go where others were not led to go. To the small churches, the little towns and the common folk, teaching them about the Holy Spirit and how to use the gifts of the Spirit for ministry. We were "to equip the saints for ministry."
In order to see if we had heard God right, Larry spoke to Bishop Talbert and asked for a sabbatical leave, one year to be absent from the Church. The Bishop granted the leave, but we could not stay at Silverdale Church as their pastor. There would be no church, no salary, no house that goes with a sabbatical leave.
It was with mixed feelings that we left Silverdale. Excited about the "Call", but anxious about where and how we would live. God provided friends who insisted we use their beautiful basement as our home for six months. Then the invitations began to come in earnest and our calendar filled up. Soon there were forty-eight engagements out of 52 weeks, two years in advance. We felt this was God's way of confirming our direction. The schedule continued like that for 5 1/2 years. God had truly called us to "Wind of the Spirit", as "the wind blows where it wills....you neither know where it comes from nor where it goes."
....as more and more are asking for training or how to pray for healing. God brought to mind how we started twenty-two years ago. At that time two very good friends had cancer and Larry had a heart attack at age forty-four. God spoke clearly to my heart and said: "How many more of your friends and loved ones are going to suffer and die, before you begin to use the gifts I have given you?"
It was then I began to earnestly pray, "Lord, teach me. Where can we go to learn?" And God opened doors so we could be taught.
- Change the World School of Prayer.
- An Aglow Retreat with the leader teaching on Word of Knowledge.
- Agnes Sanford's "School of Pastoral Care".
- Charles and Francis Hunter's "Healing Explosion".
Two of these were week-long events, one in California and the other in Quebec, Canada. And in both, our way was paid by those who were presenting the school: room and board, registration and airfare.
We began to learn that God is truly faithful to His word. "These signs will follow those who believe, they will lay hands on the sick and they will recover." (Mark 16:16-17)
To begin with, we were not sure God would work through us to bring healing to others. Our confidence was a bit shaky. Then we were amazed. God healed so many people of so many things. All we could do was look at our hands and say, "God, how could you possibly use someone like me?" But, you see God is faithful, regardless of how unsure we are, or how unworthy we feel.
Luke 9:1 tells us... "gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases; and he sent them out to preach the kingdom and heal the sick." God provided people and places in which we might learn and be trained. Now God says, it is our turn to train others. We have endeavored to do that through seminars, camps and conferences. People are able to learn and practice in a safe environment so they feel confident to step out and share the "good news" where ever God sends them.
After much prompting, a four and one-half day "Healing Academy" was started.
It's Purpose: To be empowered by the Holy Spirit and train people to use the gifts God has given them.
It's Aim: To give a safe place to learn and practice how they can "heal the sick", in spirit, mind, body and relationships.
It is for those who believe that God's word is true, and have a concern in their hearts for the hurting of this world. It can be used in the family, church, small groups, community and even around the world. God reminded us that He provided places for us to learn, and now it is our turn to "equip" or train others to "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation...., they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well." (Mark 16:17)
There are those who have been concerned that WOSM has not drawn crowds of thousands. Then we must recall the vision. God did not call us to do that. It is not possible to "train the saints" in large crowds. Usually it is one on one, or a dozen, or twenty or forty. Now and again, there will be 100 or 400 but with a team available to give individual help. And there are times when we watch, as one of the saints we have "equipped" does speak to crowds of thousands, and the lame walk, the blind see and people are set free from bondage.
We are still waiting for the "Training Center" to become a reality. We have laid down the vision many times, but just recently, God spoke to Larry: "Do not lay down the vision." What ever that entails and however it comes about. In the meantime, we have endeavored to be that "Training/Retreat Center" in our home and as we travel to other places. People have come for help or training from different parts of the world and stayed with us while God has brought the healing, or training, or direction.
As Paul says in Acts 26:19; we "have been faithful to the vision" God has given us.
- To tell about Jesus Christ.
- To teach how God's Holy Spirit and His gifts empower us for ministry.
- To equip the saints by teachings and workshops.
And train them how to go about the ministry to which God has called them.
And God has been faithful to fulfill what He promised.
- People have received Jesus as their Savior.
- They have been filled with the Holy Spirit.
- They have been empowered to use His gifts.
- And are equipped to go about the ministry to which they are called.
In the meantime; "The wind blows where it will; and though you hear its sound, yet you neither know where it comes from nor where it goes. So it is with every one who is born of the Spirit."