Carol Ward is married to Ted and together they lead the School of Healing Prayer in Toronto. They are also Alpha Advisors for Toronto <firstname.lastname@example.org>. Carol Ward led the prayer ministry team for the "Christ our Life" and "Christ our Light" conferences. This article was published in the March issue of Fellowship and appears by permission.
People who experienced the move of the Holy Spirit during the '70s have yearned for those days to return. Now we are seeing wonderful signs of the Holy Spirit moving in great power amongst us in many different ways and across the denominations.
Just one of those ways is through the Alpha program. People in almost every denomination on the continent are being impacted by this course with its focus on relationships, the ministry and work of the Holy Spirit and prayer ministry — cementing bonds between Anglican, Roman Catholic, United Church, Presbyterians, Baptists, Pentecostals and on and on the list goes.
The "Christ our Life" and "Christ our Light" conferences are yet another example of people from different backgrounds and denominations coming together to celebrate the presence of Jesus Christ in their midst and the Holy Spirit moving among them. People are coming for celebration, worship, praise to our God and communion in the Holy Spirit as Jesus is lifted up in our midst and the presence and power of the Holy Spirit is evident in those who have come seeking new wine.
So what's all the excitement about? Firstly, it's just to be together in joint adoration of our God, in openness to the work of the Holy Spirit and in the fellowship of the body. As we worship, learn and are ministered to many of us receive the healing touch from the Holy Spirit.
Secondly, we gather together to hear what God has to tell us through our speakers. For the last two years what we have heard consistently from our lead speakers is that out of a broken spirit that is totally open to the leading of God has come healing, profound ministry and influence in both the secular world and in the church. The Rev. Dale Laing demonstrated that from the horrendous tragedy of a murdered child has risen a ministry of power and influence right across Canada by way of the secular media. Dale demonstrated that the Holy Spirit moving in him and in his family brought him to the point of acceptance, forgiveness and reconciliation. The Rev. Michael Ward told us of having reached a point of brokenness both in his life and in his ministry, how it moved from an experience in the valley to a journey up and over the mountain as he unflinchingly cast his vision among the people of his congregation and community losing some nay-sayers along the way, but building a mission of love and compassion for God's hurting people — the affluent, the homeless, the addicted and the sexually exploited. His focus and his key to success is simple — it's centred on the person and lordship of Jesus Christ and an openness to the ministry and work of the Holy Spirit.
Thirdly, we gather simply to worship our Father. Yes, we experienced the great old hymns of the church but we also received the new wine of a very personal worship of the triune God in expressions of personal love and devotion and lifting up and magnifying the name of Jesus in a contemporary mode through which the Holy Spirit moved in us opening us up to receive the love and healing of our Father.
Yes, the Holy Spirit was moving in all of this — worship, teaching and the wonderful celebration of the Eucharist, but he was also moving in a very powerful way through the prayer ministry. People were able to receive prayer ministry through the Rev. Andy Leroux during his excellent workshop focused on the Holy Spirit and also through the prayer ministry team — a group of loving people dedicated to fulfilling the commands of Jesus in Matthew 10:7-8 – Proclaim the good news, The kingdom of heaven has come near. Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Throughout the day prayer ministry was available for anyone who wished for it and then the team assembled ready to pray with people after the celebration of the Eucharist. There were line-ups of hungry and hurting people just eager to receive a touch from our loving Father. And our dear Father as is his wont, did much more than just touch them — he healed them and freed them and gave them his peace and his joy. People who came with open and empty hands left with not only their hands but also their hearts and spirits filled to overflowing from our Father's treasure store. Men and women alike who cried out to God as a loving prayer team minister stood shoulder to shoulder with them in front of God's great throne of grace and mercy were left in no doubt that our God is the same today as he was in the days of Jesus, who when, through his Holy Spirit, cured the sick, raised the dead, cleansed the lepers and cast out the demons. We were privileged to see clergy renewed, refreshed and healed from the many wounds collected whilst fulfilling Jesus commands; people healed of deep wounds suffered from abusive relationships; relationships restored; physical healings taking place; the healing of memories, of deep wounds suffered many years ago; those once rejected by parents whilst children, healed of their deep wounds of rejection as our Father loved them into relationship with him; people who had prayed for their spouses for years see their spouse come to Christ. These we saw these and many other miracles take place through the ministering of the love of the Holy Spirit.
And yet each one of us on the prayer ministry team felt more blessed than those we prayed for. For us it is an awesome privilege to be approached by someone who although hurting, is yet prepared to drop the walls around them and to become vulnerable so that our dear Father can reach into their hurting places, pour his oil of healing into those places and simply love them back into relationship with him. Let me leave you with a few snapshots of the prayer ministry team in action at the conferences: two ministry team members on their knees on the floor gently holding a lady's foot as they prayed for healing for her foot; a clergyman prayed for by a husband and wife team, throwing up his hands in joy after being set free from the darkness that eclipsed the light of God from him; a lady filled with joy as she recounted to a prayer team member how her husband had been healed of a stroke and through this had come to know the presence of Jesus; a lady walking around in wonderment realizing that for the first time in many years she could walk without pain; a prayer team member softly crying whilst listening to a story of tremendous pain.
Our God is a God of love whose greatest longing is for us to be in relationship with him. He longs for us to be whole as he intended for us to be when he created each one of us. He longs for us to simply ask for healing so that, whole and free, we may freely love him in return.
At the close of this year's conference the overhead screen slowly began to rise upwards revealing the enormous cross behind it — an empty cross. Jesus is risen! He has left us to do his work here on earth.
- Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel,
Who alone does wondrous things.
Blessed be his glorious name forever,
May his glory fill the whole earth.
Amen and Amen.