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Experiencing Life in the Spirit: an interview with Frank Billman

One of my current Doctor of Ministry in Supernatural Ministry students is an associate pastor of a very “successful” UM church. It is a large church with multiple services. It is growing. The bills are all being paid easily. They have many great programs going on. The Word is being preached and the people are hearing and learning the Word. This pastor has been “successful” in other churches and he is certainly “successful” in this one. He is a self-reliant pastor serving a church of self-reliant people. But he is in this DMin program believing that this self-reliant pastor and self-reliant church need to experience how much more they could do with the supernatural power of God working with them and directing them. He is seeking more than being a “professional pastor.”

 

PneumaReview.com: Do you think there is greater openness to the gifts of the Holy Spirit in United Methodist churches in the Majority World? If so, why do you think that is?

Frank Billman: It does seem that generally there is more openness to the gifts and manifestations of the Spirit in UMCs in the Majority World. When we were leading a team at a UMC in Nepal close to the border of India, we heard a church member testify that she had been a Hindu and her child was demonized. She prayed to her Hindu gods and made multiple sacrifices with no results. Then some ladies from the local UMC came over to her house and cast out the demons from her child so she became a Christian and a United Methodist. Another lady was preparing to become a Buddhist priest. She became very sick and she testified that her Buddhist prayers did nothing for her. But the ladies from the local UMC came and prayed for her and she was healed. She was then preparing to become a UM minister.

In Tanzania, Africa we were teaching on healing and were going to use anointing oil during the prayer time but first we had to teach what the Bible says about healing through anointing oil because the people were very familiar with the “special oil” of witch doctors. We had to stress that it is not the oil or some magical spell that would do the healing, but it would be the power of the Holy Spirit.

Earlier this year I was asked to review a manuscript for one of the main publishers for our denomination. The manuscript was titled The Practice of Exorcism in the United Methodist Church in Africa. The very fact that this publisher would consider publishing a manuscript on this topic is supernatural. But it also reflects where our church is in Africa.

In the West we can solve a lot of our problems ourselves by just pulling a piece of plastic out of our wallets and swiping it through a machine. That is not the case for most of the Majority World.

These stories reflect a difference in worldview. In much of our UMC in the West our worldview does not have a place for the demonic or the supernatural intervention of God through healing. That is one of the places where we are greatly deceived in the West. But it also reflects a level of desperation in the majority world. In the West we can solve a lot of our problems ourselves by just pulling a piece of plastic out of our wallets and swiping it through a machine. That is not the case for most of the Majority World.

In the West, it is not surprising that when a person who generally looks askance at anything seeming to be Charismatic or Pentecostal and gets a diagnosis of stage 4 cancer for which the doctors say there is nothing more they can do for them, all of the sudden they are open to prayer from the Charismatic or Pentecostal person. The western person has gotten a taste of what desperation feels like, just like the woman with the bleeding problem who spent all she had on doctors. She reached out and touched the tassel of Jesus’ tallit and she was healed. Desperation can make skeptics open to receive anointed prayer cloths from Charismatics and Pentecostals!

I was part of the leadership for the Estonian UMC summer conference in 2017. There were about 200 people there from Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Russia, Finland, Germany, the UK, the US and a man from Egypt who was seeking Asylum in Estonia. The speakers had to be translated into 3 different languages for the people to understand. A 93-year-old lady had come to the conference for several years and her favorite part was going into a neighboring town with a team to deliver words of knowledge to people there. The main sessions were held in a tent outside and when it came time for prayer ministry people kept coming to the prayer teams which had to be arranged by language. They rested in the Spirit on the wet grass with biting black flies. That situation alone would have turned off many in the West. But these were people who were hungry and desperate. Many of these were people who had been oppressed by the Nazis and then the Soviets. Now they are free and spiritually hungry.

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Category: Ministry, Summer 2018

About the Author: Frank H. Billman, B.A. (Houghton College), M.Div. (Trinity Evangelical Divinity School), Th.M. (Trinity Evangelical Divinity School), D.Min. (Eastern Baptist [now Palmer] Theological Seminary), is an educator, pastor, author, and international speaker. He is currently leading the doctor of ministry program in supernatural ministry at United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio. While on the staff of Aldersgate Renewal Ministries for 12 years, he led workshops, local and regional renewal events, was supervisor for International Ministries, Methodist School of Supernatural Ministries, and Supernatural Ministry Intensives, and was a general session speaker at the national conferences. In addition to numerous articles, he is the author of Shepherding Renewal (Aldersgate Renewal Ministries, 2011), and The Supernatural Thread in Methodism: Signs and Wonders Among Methodists Then and Now (Creation House, 2013).

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