Aug 13, 2012

Jesse's Story

This is the testimony of Jesse Snow, a Facebook friend who agreed to let me post the story of his introduction to the supernatural life. The original message can be found on his Facebook page here

One day during the summer of 2010 I was checking my email and opened the latest update from Intentional Gatherings, my brother Aaron's non-profit organization. The email was talking about a new project that I.G. was starting to get involved with called Student CPx (Church Planting Experience). SCPx is basically a week long training for college students to plant simple churches on their college campuses and reach the world around them with the love of Jesus.

This email included a testimony from one of the recent SCPx's, which are held all over the nation. I read about how God healed the injuries of several football players after a student and one of the leaders prayed for them. This was completely foreign to me, but I loved it.

A few weeks later I was down in Austin, Texas with my brother Samuel visiting Aaron, his wife Morgan, and their baby girl Eliza. While I was there Aaron and I had a conversation about things he had been learning lately. He explained to me what it meant to pray "Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven." He explained that Jesus told his disciples to declare "The kingdom of heaven is near" and that when the kingdom of heaven comes supernatural things happen - like people getting healed. There is no sickness or disease in heaven, and according to Jesus' model prayer God doesn't want it to exist on earth either.

I thought that I ought to go to a SCPx before moving to Hawaii in late July. Aaron encouraged me to do so too. The next one was in San Diego and Aaron was already scheduled to be on leadership. We flew out to be there the week of July 19 - 23, 2010.

Student CPx

This week in San Diego is really where it all began. The event was hosted by Origins, a campus ministry at UCSD led by Brian and Cecilee Orme. There I met a group of (mostly) college students who truly lived together in community as a real spiritual family. Eric Waterbury came down from Sacramento to be one of the speakers and shared with us his personal testimony and teach us about spiritual family and identity in Christ. Brian Orme, Eric Waterbury, Brad McCoy, Erik Fish, Pam Arlund, and Neil Cole all came to speak. All of these leaders are simply incredible and if I go into depth on any of them this note will be way too long. They have all had a tremendous impact on my life. The first two days were all about identity in Christ - knowing who you are and whose you are. Knowing the love that God has for you and finding your value in Him and nothing else. This is something I will spend the rest of my life uncovering.

The next part of the training was on healing and deliverance taught by Brian Orme. Brian shared some amazing testimonies and taught us about the authority we have. Once again, this was all brand new to me and I was eager to learn as much as I could. I was asking him about it and he gave me a simple challenge: "Pray for 200 people [to be healed]. If you don't see anyone healed after the 200th person, then its not for you. But I guarantee you won't make it to 200 before people start getting healed."

That was exactly the type of prompting I needed. I needed something measurable, something I could grasp. Those words stayed in my mind long after the week was over. I had always wanted the power to heal people, even before I knew it was possible. I grew up obsessed with superheroes and superpowers. Then 20 years into my life somebody told me I had some, and I haven't been the same since.

Back to the week of SCPx. This week was my introduction to the supernatural. That week was the first time I saw people speaking in tongues (and they weren't crazy people, they were of a sound mind and passionately in love with God and humanity), the first time I saw people "drunk in the Spirit" (I'm sorry if that offends you, its just terminology people use, but it is a biblical manifestation, please ask me about it), the first time I saw prophetic dreams come true before my eyes, and the first time I saw a miracle of healing. It was also where I received the gift of the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues for the first time (see my note "One-Year Anniversary," this is another idea that offends people but is absolutely biblical).

A Dream Come True (literally)
On one of the days we were sent out to do a "treasure hunt." I had never heard of that before, but it is basically a method of evangelism. It starts by asking the Holy Spirit for clues about certain people that He wants to speak to. The clues can be names of locations, clothing/appearance, etc. After you write down enough clues your group sets out to find those people. When you find the people whom the Holy Spirit was telling you about, you tell them about how you're on a treasure hunt and they are the treasure (God's treasure). You show them the description of them that you had written down and share God's love for them and why He sent you to them. If they have any need you give to them whatever you can (money, food, healing, prophetic word, encouragement, direction, whatever).

We started in groups of 3 (ours was Caryn Werner, Erik Bagley, and me) and prayed to receive words of knowledge from the Holy Spirit (see 1 Cor. 12). I had never had a vision, received a WoK, or anything like that before, so I just kind of went with it and let Caryn and Eric write down all the "clues." We set out and found the people that they had written descriptions of, which was pretty cool in itself, but the coolest thing that happened was when we were finished.

You see, at the beginning of the day, Erik told us to let him know if we saw a girl with a fish on her shirt. He explained that he had had a dream 3 nights ago when he was still in Redding, CA (where he was a student at the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry). In that dream God showed him that he would soon meet a girl with a fish on her shirt. That girl would have back pain because one of her legs would be shorter than the other. I thought, "that's interesting."

Then at the end of our treasure hunt we were just hanging out when a girl walked by us. When Erik saw her he immediately left us and went to talk with the girl. When I saw them talking I immediately went to see if this was the girl. I walked up to them, looked at Erik, looked at the girl, looked at her shirt, which had a fish on it, and thought, "Noooo way." They were just having a normal conversation and then Erik asked her if she ever got back pain. She responded yes, that it ran in her family. He asked if she knew whether her legs were even in length or if she'd ever had that checked, because uneven legs cause back pain. She didn't know, so he asked her if she would mind sitting down to check.

We went over to a place where she could sit and Erik held her feet with her legs straight out in front of her. Her right leg was noticeably shorter than her left by about an inch or inch and a half. Erik spoke to her leg and told it to grow out in Jesus' name, then we watched it obey (see Mark 11:23). That was pretty exciting to say the least. Not only did I watch everything he told me about his dream come true, I saw a miracle for the first time of my life. She stood up, walked around and felt totally different and free of her back pain.

This girl had already told us she was getting involved witchcraft, but instead of shoving religion down her throat, Erik just introduced her to Jesus. Then he got to tell her how much Jesus loves and cares about her. He cares about every aspect of her life, even an inch difference between the way her legs grew and the way he designed them to be, even her back pain. I'd like to point out that God didn't say, "renounce witchcraft," "believe," or "repent" before he would heal her, he just showed her his kindness. Its His kindness that leads us to change (Rom. 2:4).

God Smells
One of the nights that week we were all gathered in our regular nightly meeting room to worship God. We praised Him in song and many sang songs of love in angelic languages (1 Cor. 13:1). I heard the most beautiful languages I had ever heard that night. Many were overwhelmed with the supernatural peace and joy of the Holy Spirit, what people call "drunk in the Spirit," and were laughing almost uncontrollably for hours straight. They had felt a touch of God's infinite love for them and couldn't help but be excessively happy.

Not long after a few girls next to me started getting really drunk, a scent manifested in that spot where we were. It was a sweet fragrance, and since we were in a closed room I looked around to see if anyone had opened perfume or something. No one had, and the scent, which I could now clearly distinguish as the smell of wine, only grew stronger and filled the room. I would have been really confused if I hadn't already been introduced to the supernatural, and if I hadn't heard a hint of such a manifestation earlier that week when Caryn mentioned that she had "smelled God" (which I thought was the craziest thing I had ever heard). I was still analyzing all this in my head and trying to come up with a logical explanation when Brian Orme came over to us. He leaned in and cleverly joked, "that's the best wine tasting you've ever been to, huh?" I realized that the scent was a sign the Holy Spirit gave us to confirm the word when Jesus spoke of "the new wine." The Holy Spirit is the new wine, and we are the new wine skins.

My First Miracle
I think it might have been Wednesday night when we were sent into the city to heal the sick. We went in groups and prayed for a man with a broken leg, he thanked us and then said he had to go into the restaurant for dinner. We didn't see anything happen, but we were still feeling pretty free and joyful. We didn't see anyone else that night who needed physical healing but did minister to some other people.

Once again, we were finished doing what we were doing and all just hanging out on the sidewalk at the end of the night waiting to be picked up. Courtney and I were sitting on some stairs with a girl named Sky with us who was visiting from China. I was telling Sky about the girl whose leg had grown out and she was pretty shocked. Courtney said, "Have you ever checked if you have a short leg?" (turns out its actually a pretty common thing). Sky put both her legs out straight and sure enough one was short. I looked at Courtney as if expecting her to do it, but she just told me to do it (she had already done it many times before and was wise enough to give me the opportunity to experience it firsthand).

So I held Sky's feet, closed my eyes (I was afraid nothing would happen so didn't want to look), and started telling the right leg to grow out. I still had my eyes closed when I heard Sky start exclaiming, "Ah! My leg stretched! I felt my leg stretch!" I opened my eyes and she was freaking out (in a good way). But now instead of being even, her right leg was an inch longer than her left leg, which confused me. Thank God Courtney was there! She just said "that happens sometimes, just grow the left one out now to match!" So I did the same thing and her left leg grew out an inch. Both legs were now even and she stood up about an inch taller than before! Later in the car I heard Sky very excitedly telling her mom over the phone in China what had just happened. She was still freaking out and was nearly brought to tears. I was pretty excited too!

My Own Personal Prayer Language
I think it was Wednesday or Thursday night of that week when we were in that same room we had been meeting each night to worship. Brian stood up and started talking, but I had no idea what he was talking about at first. He said, "When I first heard about this I thought, 'There's more? Of course I want more.'" He said to stand up if if we hadn't been baptized in the Holy Spirit yet and wanted to. I wasn't sure what that meant, but I did know that anything that was of God, I wanted. I knew there was more and I wanted it.

I still didn't know what "it" was though. He taught us, "Its not just going to happen by itself, you have to choose to speak it out." A group of five or so people gathered around each of us who were standing and put their hands on us. They started praying in tongues aloud and every now and then one of them would tell me an instruction from God, like, "Don't over think it, just receive." I just stood there for a few minutes with my mind reeling. I had no idea what to do, how to "listen," or how to "receive." I knew I was supposed to "speak it out" but I had no idea what to speak out. Eric Waterbury was directly in front of me, and he told me to just start thanking God aloud. So I thanked God for everything I could think of, which at that time, didn't take very long (not because there wasn't an innumerable amount of things that God could've been thanked for, but because of my spiritual immaturity). After a minute or two I couldn't think of anything else and stopped speaking.

I was listening to Eric speaking in his prayer language and remembered what Brian said, that I had to speak it out. I decided to just move my tongue in my mouth and immediately it started dancing around in my mouth. That's the only way I know how to describe it. Then I decided to stop and it did. Then I started again and it started dancing again. So I figured I should speak it out now, though I was still timid and it was little more than a whisper. Fortunately the room was filled with people speaking in tongues so when I spoke out I didn't feel like all the attention was on me. I spoke for a few minutes and then we finished. As soon as we did, Caryn and Courtney Werner were like, "Did you feel that!?" "Yeah, electricity shot up our arms as soon as you started speaking!" I thought that was pretty cool, but I had still never felt anything like that before and didn't then.

Immediately doubts started coming at me about what just happened. It felt too easy, too natural, like it was something I could have done my whole life. Caryn helped explain to me in the few minutes we had and told me how I could test it myself. She said just count while speaking in tongues and you'll realize that its not your mind producing it, its your spirit, because your mind can still count and do everything else. I tried and realized I could think, count, and later realized that I could read and write and do anything while speaking in tongues. My mind is absolutely not involved at all besides choosing when to start and when to stop. "The one who speaks in a tongue builds up himself, but the one who prophesies builds up the church" (1 Cor. 14:4). "For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my mind is unfruitful. What am I to do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray with my mind also; I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also" (1 Cor. 14:14-15).

I hadn't yet learned these things though, so I was still struggling with doubt. It just seemed too easy and like something I could have done all along (later I looked back and realized that in the past I was never able to speak in tongues if I tried, for instance when I tried to fake speaking a foreign language it would not be fluent or sound real at all). So the next day when I talked to Erik Fish about it, he told me about his experience and showed me every chapter in the Book of Acts where it happened. He really encouraged me and solidified the truth of this for me.

Back Home
The last couple days of SCPx included awesome teaching from Brad McCoy (on prophecy), Erik Fish (on the origin of SCPx), Pam Arlund (on missions), and Neil Cole (on simple church, discipleship, and how "that stuff can't get on me"). They all also shared lots of amazing testimonies of God's supernatural works. I can't thank any of the leaders enough for what they do and the impact they've had on me: Aaron Snow, Eric Waterbury, Brian Orme, Brad McCoy, Erik Fish, Pam Arlund, Neil Cole, and Eric Bagley (even though he wasn't an official leader, he was still a leader and really impacted me, not just because of the prophetic dream and miracle, but the spirit of love and peace that he carried).

When I got back home I had less than a week left before I would move to Hawaii on July 29, 2010. I told my parents and my brothers almost all of what I had experienced. My brother Samuel went to the next SCPx in Austin about a month later and had amazing supernatural encounters too.

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