The world is in an unprecedented mess. All the things that Jesus prophesied in Matthew 24 for the end of the age are happening around us. We are being catapulted from one event to another in a never ending sequence of tragic events. This is no longer the page-turning dramas of a gripping novel. It’s for real!
This is For Real!
Through the agency of wall-to-wall television, coverage of the Israel-Hamas and Ukraine-Russia wars is creating a traumatised world, locked into a state of emotional numbness. The news is often too terrible to watch. And all of this is on the back of the worst pandemic today’s world has ever seen, without anyone knowing if or when another virus will turn the planet into a global hospital?
Moral integrity has sunk beneath a sea of atheistic secularism and anything goes, causing yet more long-term personal devastation. The anchors of an ordered world are breaking loose and the ship of society is beginning to drift on a storm of uncontrollable, global proportions.
It’s no wonder that fear is gripping the hearts of the young and the mental health resources of the nations are stretched beyond breaking point and, to cope, people are escaping into the attractive unreality of an artificial, on-line world or fall under the spell of social media influencers with many millions of followers. Meanwhile artificial intelligence (AI) is stalking the hearts and minds of mankind. Oh God help! Like the disciples on Galilee we cry out to Jesus, “Don’t you care that we’re going to die?” (Mark 4:38).
So, What Did Jesus Say?
So, what did Jesus say about all this? “See to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 7 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of birth pains.” (Matthew 24:6-8).
While the world starts to panic, Scripture cries out to believers with the unchanging comfort of words that echo round the courts of Heaven, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress” (Psalm 46:10-11). All is not lost! And it is in the midst of all this that Jesus says, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14).
But, we are living in an era when open evangelism in western nations is a distant memory of the elderly. In the UK, it’s forty years since Billy Graham preached to the nation through Mission England. Many churches are declining at an ever-increasing rate, broadly in line with the declining confidence of its leaders in the Gospel and Scripture. The question Jesus posed in Luke 18:8 is becoming ever more relevant, “when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”
And yet we read in Scripture of an end-time harvest that is waiting to be reaped. Jesus said, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field” (Matthew 9:37). It is hard to imagine how, in the present-day secular society and multi-faith world, that anyone could reap such a harvest. It’s no longer possible to openly preach the full Gospel of Jesus Christ without a societal back-lash. So how can the lost be reached and an end-time harvest be reaped?
How Can This Be?
Come with me to the 18th June 1970 when, at four-o’clock in the morning, I was looking at the crashed remains of my Alvis Speed 20 car. It was a total wreck, but it was then that God whispered to me, “You could restore this broken car, but I can restore broken lives.” In that moment a heavenly vision for both healing and end-time evangelism was birthed in my heart. I suddenly realised that just as Jesus proclaimed the Kingdom of God to an unbelieving generation by healing those in need (Luke 9:11), we would soon be entering a season of history when healing would once again become a master key to evangelism.
The mission statement of the Messiah was taken from Isaiah 61:1 – Jesus came to preach good news to the poor by healing the broken-hearted and setting the captives free! And, in today’s world, nothing has changed – that is still the mission statement of Jesus and, therefore, it should be the mission statement of the church, the Body of Christ the world over.
Back in 1986, at the beginning of my ministry, I was frequently asked why it was that God was raising up the healing ministry to prominence now, and not in years gone by?. My reply was always prophetic in nature as I explained that there were times coming when the healing ministry would be critical to the Body of Christ and without it, the church would have little to offer the hurting in a broken world. Nearly forty years later those times are rapidly encroaching.
There are many, many people, for whom God’s healing will become the doorway to faith and the key to evangelism – just as it was when Jesus walked this Earth. People were attracted to Jesus and followed Him because their immediate needs were being met – people were amazed at what they saw and heard (Luke 4:36). As has been the experience of many thousands, who have come to faith around the world, through the healing retreats I started back in January 1987.
Just as sparrows will always find a bird-table on which there is food, people who are desperate will go where help can be found. Now is the time for healing to take centre stage and, as a result, there will be a small army of people, like the woman who met Jesus at the well, who went back home and told her friends and family what Jesus had done for her, causing “many more to become believers” (John 4:41).
This first stage of evangelism is often not done by prominent church evangelists, but by the sick, the hurting and the broken who have a story to tell. People like the woman at the well, the Gadarene demoniac and the formerly blind man who told the world, “Once I was blind, now I can see!” (John 9:25).
There truly is a harvest to be reaped amongst the traumatised and hurting people of today’s world – people who are locked into the brokenness caused by the experiences of life. Even as I write these words I am receiving news from Israel, of how God is bringing deep healing to traumatised people through an encounter with Yeshua, the Messiah, right now, in the midst of the war.
Many years ago, we spent hundreds of hours ministering to a very broken lady. Some people complained that it was taking too much time and that I should be paying more attention to the many others who were waiting. But, I had remembered the parable Jesus told about leaving the 99 sheep and seeking after the one that was lost. In God’s divine master plan, it was through the lessons learned from ministering to this ‘one lost sheep’, that brought healing to many thousands as God took the ministry round the world. As the church learns and practices the keys to healing, confidence in the Gospel and love for Jesus grow in leaps and bounds.
God is at work bringing hope to the hopeless and if, in my latter years, I can inspire a generation of believers to proclaim Jesus as the hope of the nations, when my time comes I will die a happy man! I am excited in my spirit by the prospect of seeing the Messiah seek out the lost and hurting and through the Body of Christ bring hope to a hopeless generation.
Jesus said that it is the Gospel of the Kingdom that must be preached in these days. In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus taught us to pray “Your Kingdom come on earth, as it is in Heaven” (Matthew 6:10). When we bring God’s healing to those in need, we are truly bringing Heaven’s Kingdom down to Earth and, eventually, the end-time harvest of people on Earth, who have first experienced the heart of God through healing, will become the citizens of Heaven! Isn’t that what evangelism is all about?