Dignify and Deploy 14: John Wimber--Naturally Supernatural
‘I’ve seen your ministry; now I am going to show you Mine.’ (God to Wimber)
On a flight from Chicago to New York City, John Wimber saw the word ‘adultery’ imposed on a fellow passenger’s face. Wimber cautiously approached him and the Spirit whispered ‘Jane.’ ‘Does the name Jane mean anything to you?’ The man turned ashen and asked: ‘Who told you that name?’ ‘God did’, John responded. ‘And He wants you to know that unless you turn from this adulterous relationship, He is going to take your life….’ The man broke, beginning a decisive repentance. (Wimber, Power Evangelism pp. 74, 75)
John took seriously Jesus’ leading him to do His works. He understood himself to be a conduit who could listen and act on the Spirit’s promptings. He had come to the end of his own powers--the limits of relying on his own strength to serve Jesus. Disabled, John began to trust the Spirit of God to do the works of God.
Carol writes: ‘Not growing up in any church gave John a fresh viewpoint of the Scriptures. He didn’t have any area of settled unbelief…’ (The Way It Was, p. 135)
Accordingly, God used John to normalize the leading and ministry of the Holy Spirit, be it inside or outside the Church. Wimber much appreciated the Bride’s Pentecostal arm; he saw firsthand the way Jesus honored faithful ministers who healed people and spiked evangelization through naked reliance on the Spirit’s lead. What he didn’t like was any grandstanding: the notion that only a chosen few had spiritual authority. He saw how certain ones tried to corner gifts of healing or deliverance, resulting in misuses of authority. In John’s mind, these gifts belonged to the Spirit, not men, and He alone was free to give them through whomever.
Naturally supernatural. John struggled with any aspect of spiritual leadership founded on the human need for security and significance. ‘Position’ embarrassed him. For John, assuming ministry as a career was an act of obedience, not entitlement. ‘He was only there [as pastor] because he believed that is what God wanted and it had nothing to do with position or place or power. We still believed that it was a disadvantage to be a professional, but we were willing to put up with it if that’s what God wanted.’ (The Way…p. 94)
I am glad John obeyed God and listened. His Spirit-led advocacy changed the course of our lives. Wimber knew and cared for us, loved Desert Stream, but we were in Los Angeles, he in Orange County.
In the late eighties, Annette and I challenged our pastor over a series of inappropriate relationships he had with women in the church. Instead of turning to God, the pastor turned on us and rendered us (and DSM) homeless. We had no idea what to do next. Prompted by the Spirit, John Wimber called out of the blue and simply said ‘Sounds like you got a promotion.’ Having watched us for a decade, he invited us to join his efforts at ‘mother church’ in Anaheim, which included a small salary.
He listened and acted. Naturally supernatural. Thank you, John.
“Thank You God for clear vessels like Wimber, conduits of grace and truth who obey out of honor to Your Lordship. They could see ahead. Teach us to be like them, naturally supernatural, clean conduits for others of the best way forward.
Come Holy Spirit, liberate what is true and beautiful from what debases us. May we not settle but aspire to the dignity of our sexual humanity. May we grow into ‘mature expressions of the gift’ by helping others do the same. Deployed to dignify, ‘we harness the John force.’”