When I was a cessationist, I never saw God heal anyone because I never prayed for healing. 1
How can you pray regularly for something that you believe God no longer does or that he does rarely? When someone told me they believed in healing and miracles, I shot back, “Oh, you’ve seen blind eyes and deaf ears opened? You’ve seen someone walk on water or someone multiply food with prayer?” Cessationists always go to the biggest miracles, especially to the nature miracles, to prove that God is not doing these things anymore. All this proves is that people who don’t believe in miracles and don’t pray for miracles are the people who don’t see miracles. They are confirming what James wrote almost two thousand years ago:
You do not have because you do not ask God. — James 4:2
When I was a student at seminary, there were some students a few years ahead of me who specialized in apologetics, defending the existence of God and the reliability of the Christian Scriptures. Agnostic university professors who mocked God made the mistake of debating these students in front of their classes. Ken Boa was one of those apologists only a couple of years ahead of me, but I never got to know his story until recently.
In the summer of 1978, he was on a three-week tour of Israel. One afternoon, Ken went for a swim in the water that Jesus had walked on during a storm, where Jesus saved his disciples from drowning. When Jesus got into the boat, it was instantly on the shore (John 6:16-21). Ken swam out to a raft about a tenth of a mile from the shore on the Sea of Galilee. Then he turned around and headed back.
On my way back, a storm came out of nowhere. The winds began to move the sea, and like water on a shaking saucer, it was instantaneously tumultuous. I found myself embroiled in the violent movements of the water and couldn’t make any progress back to shore. It was difficult just to stay afloat. I kept trying to make progress in the right direction, but the wind and the waves kept pushing me back…
This lasted for what seemed a really long time, and my energy was spent… I wasn’t going to make it. I knew I was on the verge of drowning, and my life flashed before my eyes, like in a movie… I became aware of something bigger than the storm… God told me that my work for Him on earth was not complete.
And then I was at the shore. I have no idea how I got there. There was no way I had the strength to swim that distance against those waves. I was just at the edge of the water. But there were rocks on the shore, and they were extremely slippery. I was unable to get a purchase on the rocks so that I could get out of the water. And then it happened again. Suddenly I found myself laid out on a grassy area above the rocks. I have no idea how I got above the rocks. I couldn’t have pulled myself out of the water, and there was no one around who could’ve helped me.2
While Ken was drowning, he heard the voice of God and was supernaturally transported over the water and the rocks. This happened to one of our graduates held in high esteem by our faculty. It happened two years after I had become a professor at a seminary where I was telling students that God no longer did these kinds of miracles.
The story just before Jesus walked on water showed Him feeding the five thousand from a boy’s sack lunch (John 6:5-15). I told my Sunday crowd that this showed that no matter how insignificant we or our gifts were, if we put ourselves and our gifts in the hands of Jesus, He could do great things. I believed in the original miracle, but I never thought Jesus would repeat it. What purpose would that serve?
Heidi was a pretty blonde teenager raised in an affluent beach community in Southern California and destined for a country club life. On March 13, 1976, sixteen-year-old Heidi gave her heart to Jesus, and He gave her His heart for the downtrodden faltering on the fringes. From the moment of meeting Jesus, all Heidi wanted to do was to be a missionary to the poorest of the poor. She married Rolland Baker, who had the same vision for his life. By 1996, Heidi had exhausted herself caring for orphans in Mozambique. Two months of antibiotics could not stop various infections. She had dysentery and pneumonia. She flew back to the United States and checked into a hospital. Before she came back to Mozambique, she went to the Toronto Airport Vineyard Church, which was in the midst of a revival. She had the following vision while she was in Toronto:
One night I was groaning in intercession for the children of Mozambique. There were thousands coming toward me, and I was crying, “No, Lord. There are too many!” Then I had a dramatic, clear vision of Jesus. I was with Him, and thousands and thousands of children surrounded us. I saw His shining face and His intense, burning eyes of love. I also saw His body. It was bruised and broken, and His side was pierced. He said, “Look into My eyes. You give them something to eat.” Then He took a piece of his broken body and handed it to me. It became bread in my hands, and I began to give it to the children. It multiplied in my hands. Then again the Lord said, “Look into My eyes. You give them something to drink.” He gave me a cup of blood and water, which flowed from His side. I knew it was a cup of bitterness and joy. I drank it and then began to give it to the children to drink. The cup did not go dry. By this point I was crying uncontrollably. I was completely undone by His fiery eyes of love. I realized what it had cost Him to provide such spiritual and physical food for us all. The Lord spoke to my heart and said, “There will always be enough, because I died.”3
Heidi’s vision was a practical application of Jesus’ teaching after he fed the five thousand when he said, “For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink” (John 6:55).
Heidi came back to Mozambique healed and refreshed, expecting miracles to break out in the orphanage of 350 street orphans they had rescued from the most horrendous conditions imaginable. Instead, all hell broke out. The government gave them forty-eight hours to vacate their orphanage. A contract was put out on Heidi’s life. The only place they had to go was their small office flat in the city of Maputo. Here’s what happened when the Bakers went to Maputo:
We were inundated by our very most needy children, the youngest street orphans with absolutely no relatives or friends to whom they could go. They had walked barefoot fifteen miles into the city and streamed into our flat. They told us they had been beaten with large sticks for singing. They said they would go where we go because they were going to worship the Lord. When I told them we had no place for them, their simple reply was, “But, Mama, you said there would always be enough!”
What could I say? They kept piling in, maybe a hundred of them. We stuffed bunk beds in our dilapidated little garage full of grease and cobwebs. Loaned army cots were all over our yard and driveway. Urine ran in our hallway. We hosed the kids down to try to wash them. All our doors and windows were full of faces!
We didn’t know how to cope. We had nowhere near the food or the cooking and sanitation facilities we needed. Boxes, clothes, and suitcases were piled high everywhere.
Everyone was totally exhausted; everything was in complete chaos. And more children kept gravitating to our gate. We ran out of strength, crying as we watched our sea of faces gather. I wondered seriously, even after Toronto, “Does God really care? What is He like anyway?” I never thought He would leave us in a situation like this.
Our daughter, Crystalyn, began to cry because she was so hungry. I thought I was going to snap… A precious woman from the U.S. embassy came over with food. “I brought you chili and rice for your family!” she announced sweetly, with just enough for the four of us. We hadn’t eaten in days. I opened a door and showed her all our children. “I have a big family”… My friend got serious. “There’s not enough! I need to go home and cook some more!” But I just asked her to pray over the food. Now she was upset. “Don’t do this!” she begged. But she prayed, quickly. I got out the plastic plates we used for street outreaches, and also a small pot of cornmeal I had. We began serving, and right from the start I gave everyone a full bowl. I was dazed and overwhelmed. I barely understood at the time what a wonderful thing was happening. But all our children ate, the staff ate, my friend ate, and even our family of four ate. Everyone had enough.
Since then we have never said no to an orphaned, abandoned, or dying child. Now we feed and take care of more than one thousand children. They eat and drink all they want of the Lord’s goodness. Because He died, there is always enough.4
- Cessationist is the theological term for someone who believes that God stopped giving the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit after the death of the New Testament apostles.
- Ken Boa, Rewriting Your Broken Story: The Power of an Eternal Perspective (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2016), 28.
- Rolland and Heidi Baker, Always Enough: God’s Miraculous Provision among the Poorest Children on Earth (Grand Rapids: Chosen, 2003), 49–50.
- Baker, Always Enough, 51–52.
Excerpted with permission from Why I Am Still Surprised by the Power of the Spirit by Jack Deere, copyright Jack S. Deere.
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Are you surprised that God still works miracles today? Have you ever seen a miracle? Do you pray for miracles? Come share with us on our blog! We want to hear from you! ~ Devotionals Daily