Dignify and Deploy 17: Equipping Young Saints 2
‘We didn’t have a youth program; we were a youth program.’ (Carol Wimber on their first ‘church.’)
Young people poured out like living water upon us after John spoke a little. They were radiant: multi-ethnic, lit-from-within, California-burnt-brown yet cool, moving together with joyful expectancy as if dancing. Like John, they could ‘see’ or ‘sense’ what the Spirit was doing as we stood to receive His outpouring.
Holy Spirit poured into us, as I had never experienced. After we soaked in the ‘rain’ a bit, John would get some words and we the receivers would identify ourselves: ‘Yeah, my need,’ and the band prayed into it, and on. The mostly teen ‘team’ knew how to wait and advance and step back when needed. They somehow knew what the Father was doing. Several of us received significant healings that morning. Everyone got saturated.
Our West Los Angeles Vineyard was young and cool too. But this stream from the Yorba Linda ‘heights’ was something else. Supercharged and sweet, Wimber’s flood transfused us with new life. And challenge. After about 30 minutes in the ‘water,’ John said to all of us in the front: ‘Now turn around and pray for others. You are part of the team.’
1980: this was my first ‘taste’ of John and Carol’s community as they overflowed into our Los Angeles church. They won us, fed us, and led us into Jesus’ ‘greater works.’
Without knowing it, John and Carol had created a near perfect ‘school of the Spirit’ where young people felt comfortable and called to give their gifts. A few years earlier, the group had been asked to leave their Quaker church due to disturbing spiritual manifestations. Undisturbed, they began their own gathering of approximately 150 15-20-year-olds, and maybe 15 older adults.
‘If it was a divorce, they got the house but we got the kids…we didn’t even think of them as youth; these were the church with all the responsibility and privilege of the Church of Jesus Christ. When we first came to England in ’81, we didn’t notice until it was pointed out that our first team were teens. We thought of them as people. Perhaps that was key to our success,’ writes Carol.
John set the stage for this upside-down Kingdom. One young woman remarked to another: ‘It’s the greatest church—they don’t even have a preacher—the keyboard player (John) just stands up and tells stories.’ As the Spirit moved among them, John would interrupt his message and point to persons, often youth, on whom the Spirit was moving, and instruct him to pray for the afflicted one next to him. One teen left utterly changed after he healed the man next to him from a serious physical condition (The Way It Was, pp. 138,9). The young man didn’t know he could heal; Jesus did. So did John. Now we do.
“Thank You Jesus for leaders who set the stage for our full involvement in the Kingdom of God. May we never fail to act when You prompt us to give our gifts. May we never fail to provoke others to love and good deeds.
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.’”