From the end of 1985 until the end of 1987 I was involved in helping pioneer a ministry called Students for Christ in the state of New South Wales. This ministry continued until early 1999 when the leaders of the Assemblies of God movement in New South Wales decided they wanted to organise campus ministry differently, and be more local church based. There was a tremendous anointing on this ministry, especially in the early years. I can’t say much about later on because I was not so involved. I was one of quite a number of young graduates who was inspired, challenged and called to put aside career interests and go to work for Jesus in University mission.
At the beginning of 1986 I was inspired by the a message of Dr. Yonggi Cho which I heard in Adelaide. He stated that it was necessary for a Christian worker to spend at least three hours per day in prayer. During the next two years of ministry and further on I sought to spend as much time in prayer as possible. I learned to enjoy the presence of God and to allow Him to change me. There were moments of agony and moments of ecstacy in those years. God had much to work on in my character and personality. But it was time spent with God that made possible the anointing with which others came into the Kingdom and lukewarm Christians were brought into a fuller commitment to Christ.
During those years I was inspired also with the need for much fasting. I had a great desire to move in the power of the Holy Spirit. It seemed to me that if the experience of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit I knew until then was not sufficient to bring me to a place of effective ministry in the power of the Holy Spirit then something was lacking and I needed to seek God intensely. This I did with much fasting and prayer in tongues. I read a number of books about divine healing and quite a number on revival. It stirred up in me quite a hunger for God. Still I was very frustrated with the lack of true apostolic power in my own life as well as in the Assemblies of God movement in general.
Having had the opportunity to talk with and hear some evangelists who really did move in genuine power and revelational gifts, I determined to seek God with fasting more and more. At the same time, I am sure God was chipping away at many other areas of my life which I could not see, yet were not in conformity with the ways of Christ. One of the toughest things for me was submitting my personal desires and giftings in God in order to do what was necessary for the development of the organisation of which I was a part. My attitude was not always good in this regard.
There is a lot of personal ambition for success within the charismatic/pentecostal movement, and without a corresponding measure of true Christian love, the whole thing becomes lopsided. Love, by definition, seeks not its own and prefers others to oneself. I believe that I and others were less than perfect in this respect. My conclusion is that we should be ambitious for God’s glory and for the salvation of souls but not for personal acclaim. However, it is usually necessary for a highly motivated person such as myself to go through many testings of heart before he or she is truly dead to the desire for acclaim and recognition. After a while we get to the point where we must value God Himself and being with Him through worship more than any successes we may be able to have in the religious arena.
For me a major decision point came just after I had been “released” to get into my true calling as an evangelist, after a couple of years of working to build individuals through discipleship programs. The problem with this was that I was not being invited to so much to minister evangelistically by other leaders in the organisation. Also, the tension which had by that time developed between me and the National Director, combined with my own desire to spend more time with the Lord, brought me to the place where I resigned. My resignation was willingly agreed to, and I left the organisation without a “thank you” of any sort. The advantages I had gained came directly from the Lord himself – through time spent with Him. I had no formal ministry qualifications, no more influence and no money. The pain of this experience, due to the sense of rejection, was easily equal to the level of zeal with which I had given up my career and entered into ministry.
What followed were months of learning to draw love from God in times of worship, learning to forgive, and getting cleansed of demonic oppression which had been on me ever since I was a young boy. I had not understood until shortly before I left the Students for Christ organisation that I or indeed any “spirit-filled” Christian could have a demon. It was through many hours in the presence of the Lord, and through the teaching ministry of Derek Prince that I finally came to this understanding. I have written teaching on my website that relates to this subject, discussing the biblical basis for this sad reality. Many pentecostals even today do not understand that Christians often need deliverance from the evil one. Of those who do, even fewer are willing to pay the price to minister deliverance to others who are in need of it. It requires great personal discipline and a willingness to suffer for the Lord. By casting demons out of people, you enter into the front-lines of the spiritual warfare. You need not expect to much appreciation from those Christian ministers who do not practice this kind of ministry.
Searching for Another Way
I had been intrigued by the growth of house churches in places where many are turning to Christ in the world. During 1988 – 1990 I was involved with house groups of various sorts. The groups are often composed of people who are dissatisfied with organised Christianity and want to serve the Lord somehow without being hurt by ambitious pentecostal leaders. However, without organisation and leadership, only small independent groups can exist which do little to evangelise their communities. The tendency is to get focussed around some truth neglected in larger assemblies instead of being focussed on Christ – especially the passion of Christ that none may perish.
I started a home church myself with a friend where the power of God was truly awesome and people that the church was not helping got a measure of deliverance and freedom. I felt very close to God in those days. It was however still a kind of wilderness experience and eventually we moved to other places and got involved with other groups, without leaving anything lasting behind.
Eventually the Lord led me out of this scene. One of the problems with this movement is that it can be so undisciplined, critical and unproductive. Everyone comes with a different set of hurts, a different set of priorities and with a predisposition to resist those with a gift of leadership. People come together to lick their wounds, get healed and delivered and talk what is on their heart. However they are rarely interested in doing something about reaching the lost. It is so much more convenient to sit around a cup of coffee, sing to the Lord and talk about what happened last week or what is bothering us. Until leadership has a vision for going further than this and reaching out to others together with others, nothing much seems to come out of it.
During this time (1989) I had some of my most painful experiences with money, in that I got A$30000 in debt to my grandfather starting a computer business, without realising I needed to pay the money back (I thought it was a gift). God wanted me to understand many things in the natural world of business which I had previously considered were irrelevant to God’s purposes in my life.
While I was climbing out of debt doing software computer consulting in my own business, the Lord gave me more opportunities than I ever got while involved in “full-time” ministry.
God graciously allowed me to meet the pastor’s wife of a successful Korean church in Sydney. This lady helped me greatly to get preaching and teaching experience. I ministered up to 7 times a week teaching the Word of God, often in a kind of early morning service. The only way to learn to preach and teach is to actually do it. These opportunities are often hard to come by in church meetings and this lady, Mrs Chung, helped me and many other preachers by giving us opportunities to minister the Word of God. She was a great encouragement and she continues to do this ministry to preachers today.
I also got involved in a ministry which was truly getting results in the area of healing the sick and miracles. They are called Miracle Ministries and a few of the testimonies from their ministry are on my website, in the testimonies section. From this ministry I learned more about the authority of the believer, commanding demons, diseases and body parts to move in Jesus’ name (See Mark 11:23) and was blessed by the teaching ministry of Charles and Frances Hunter, with whom Miracle Ministries was loosely associated.
This period lasted from 1990 through to January 1992. God used all these things to prepare me for the next phase of my life.
I think I frustrated Mrs Chung many times. She wanted to give me some really tremendous opportunities but at that time I wasn’t willing to take them. My vision was to “go into all the world and preach the gospel” and leave church business to others. The opportunity to embark on this finally came in February 1992.