No one quite knew what to expect during the three-week mission trip that lay ahead. After all, this was the ministry’s first go at outdoor crusades. All anyone knew with certainty was that God was about to do a tremendous work—both in the team members and the people of Africa. But little did anyone realize just how great that work would be.
On Wednesday the 18th of June, the mission team of Shelley Wheeler, George Dossett, Scott Hogue, Harrison Hunter, Rodney Gattis, Tom Stoy, and Dr. Michael Lanier landed in Lilongwe, Malawi. Picked up as usual at the airport by their African partners Happy Gondwe and Rey Malunga, the team did their best to adjust to a serious case of jet lag and absorb what rest they could before ministry was to begin the next day.
Thursday came quick. Already the schedule had changed considerably, forcing the team to be fluid. So with virtually no advanced warning, Shelley was given her first ministry assignment. The invitation came to minister to the Area 36 Assemblies of God women’s meeting. Like a duck on a June bug and without hesitation, Shelley jumped on the opportunity. By the end of the day and out of a group of approximately 50 women, one lady embraced Jesus and about 30 more received healing.
On Friday, the full team traveled across town to the Christ for Nations Church. Michael brought the message with 72 individuals praying to receive Christ. Due to the size of the church, healing was proclaimed from the platform rather than the team praying for individuals one at a time. About 150 persons were able to demonstrate they’d received healing. (As always, every individual seeking healing was encouraged to demonstrate their healing by doing what they could not have done before.)
Saturday found the team ministering at the New Covenant Pentecostal Church, also in Lilongwe. The day was set aside for seminars, prophetic ministry, and a time for healing. During the course of events, approximately 30 children prayed to receive Jesus. The prophetic ministry to about 20 pastors was off the scale. Some of the most detailed and seemingly unknowable revelations came to light. Many of the unveilings detailed descriptions of specific individuals within their congregations—what they were doing and what happened in their lives to cause them to do what they were doing. In effect, prophetic words were aimed at specific people and needs known to individual pastors. Only the Spirit of our God could bring such matters to light. Another 15 individuals were able to demonstrate their healings later in the day.
Later in the day, Harrison was invited to bring a short message at an outdoor meeting sponsored by the Area 36 Assemblies of God Church. Since he was a part of a separate outreach, the number of individual responses is unknown.
On Sunday, the team split up so that it might minister simultaneously at two churches. Tom, Shelley, and Rodney ministered in the main service at Area 36 Assembly of God Church, while Scott ministered to the children. Tom brought the message. Twelve adults and 36 children prayed for salvation, and about 350 others received healings.
On the way to their own assignment, the team of George, Harrison, Happy, and Michael, made a brief stopover to visit a dear friend of Happy’s who was suffering from a leg injury. After ministering prophetically to the friend’s son who was home from college, attention was turned back to the father. With his leg in a brace and having received treatment from the American Hospital for the previous month for an acute case of nerve damage, hands were laid on the man. His resultant healing was immediate as demonstrated by his marching around the room, shedding tears of joy mixed with laughter.
With time running short, the team made their way to the Bible Baptist Fellowship Church, where George brought the message. Following the sermon, a surprising prophetic rebuke of the congregation came forth. Things unknown to the speaker were brought to light pertaining to conditions within the church and in the lives of individuals. Unsurprisingly, the normally sedate church began to show emotions. Could it be the seeds of revival had been sown? Michael called for a show of hands of all who needed healing. In all, 21 hands were raised. After commanding healing to come forth, Michael asked everyone that was healed to come forward to testify one at a time. A short time later, all 21 individuals had made their way to the front to demonstrate their healings! By this time, the church had erupted into joyous shouts of praise with bodies jumping and swaying to the beat of praise choruses now filling the room. Oh that we might see such things in our American churches!
Sunday afternoon found the full team once again at the Christ for Nations Church. Unfortunately, the experience this time was very different and quite troubling for some. Michael was given his time limitation for the sermon he was to bring and there was to be no prayer for healing, as an agenda was already in place. The pastor sent a subordinate to inform the team and then elected not to attend the service until well after the sermon had been preached. Following a musical crescendo, the pastor then made his debut to cheers and great exultation. It was “show time”! The only thing missing was the spotlight. It serves no redemptive purpose to detail the ministry’s oddities (and abuses) from that point on, but they were considerable in number; something Michael will not expose his team to in the future. Nevertheless, somewhere around 50 people demonstrated their healings when the team was allowed to pray for the congregation at the end of the service.
By the week’s end, many people had already received salvation and healing. No one could guess what lay ahead, but in due time, none were disappointed.