Red pill – Blue pill
It’s Wednesday morning, May 16, 2018. I’m in Hundborg, northwestern Denmark at a closed sports school that now serves as a Jesus Hub for longing souls from all corners of the globe. I attend Luke 10 Mission School, and along with the other students, I have just returned from a four day outreach in the world metropolis of Paris. I sit here with my Mac Book Pro and my herbal tea, and really feel a bit like Neo in the Matrix when he woke up after swallowing the red pill. Is this the real world? Have I really been fooled so thoroughly?
In the movie The Matrix, the protagonist Neo goes with a nagging feeling that something is wrong, but he can’t quite figure out what it is until one day he gets the security police on his neck. He is rescued at the last moment by the rebel leader Morpheus who tells him a harrowing truth. The world as he knows it is not what it claims to be. His nagging turmoil is confirmed by Morpheus, who reveals that his life is just a lie and scorn.
Morpheus offers him a red pill that will free him from the fantasy world he’s trapped in, but freedom has a cost. The real world seems far tougher than the dream world he is escaping from, and offers persecution and absence of luxury. What should he choose? If he chooses the red pill, he is free from captivity, but if he chooses the blue pill he can return to the safe and simulated reality of The Matrix.
I picked the red pill!
After finding myself in the safe lap of the congregation, constantly seeking the freedom and power we read about in the Acts of the Apostles, it has slowly but surely dawned on me that I have been deceived! The Western Church is just a shadow of the life we read about in the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles. The Western congregation has become like the Laodicean congregation. It thinks about itself that it is rich and has abundance and lacks nothing, but does not realize that it is squalid and pitiful, poor, blind and naked.
How can I be so categorical, you probably might think. That’s because I’ve experienced both. I spent my 15 best years in a protected world, running from one conference to the other, hoping to get a bit of the visiting, anointed evangelist. As we play church, usually completely devoid of spirit and power, the devil is enjoying himself, deluding the gospel as best he can, to keep people down in sin and deception. Today’s congregation, with its many religious programs and rituals, is best suited to keep the regular churchgoer happy, just enough for them to attend the Sunday meeting and pay tithing, so the pastor can keep the wheels going. However, if you get the individual churchgoer on a bipartisan basis and ask if they feel they are effective in what God has called them to, most people will probably deny it, if they are honest, or conscious enough. The Church, as we know it, is simply not structured to equip the Saints for all good work, as we read about in Ephesians 4:11-16. There is no room on the stage for more than a small selection of the congregation. The rest of the congregation is doomed to a fate as vegetarian “chair warmers,” who get just enough food to stay alive, and pay tithing, but not so much that they start to get upset and ask questions.
My claim is that the regular church in the West has accepted a seductive image of what the church is. And that seduction has put us in a situation where we stand snugly and ribbed back like a Samson, without the power and anointing enough to do a fly. We have been subject to the rules of this world and the deception of wealth, and stand powerless in settlement with the enemy’s cunning play in the cunning art of delusion.
We preach a diluted gospel with a license to sin, and in the face of sickness, demons and sin, we are toothless and stripped of all authority.
The Big Sleep
My sleep process began in 2002, when the congregation I was attending at that time was moving towards a more “seeker-sensitive” style of meetings and programs. The Discipleship School for which I was then General Manager was closed down, with the result that until then I had been up before sunrise each day to pray, finding it increasingly difficult to keep up the motivation and praying spirit without the same challenges as before. Eventually, the prayer meetings were also closed, and people were encouraged to pray at home instead. The decentralized prayer meetings did not work, and the congregation lost the spiritual excitement it was once known to have in the old days. Sure, we were relevant, but spiritually, we were completely harmless to the enemy.
I, and many with me ended up in a spiritual sleepwalking that it would take many years to wake up from again. The church landscape around us was also changing. The resilience and pull of the Charismatic environment in Norway, the Lutheran Charismatic Movement, the Faith Movement also in Scandinavia began to wane, and one church after another imploded as a result of abuse of power and unhealthy structures. Unfortunately, our congregation was no exception to this, and in the end of the first decade in the new millennium, the congregation was almost like a leaf on the high seas. The rest is history.
Awakening, Part I
My first partial awakening came after a visit to the Saddleback Church Purpose Driven Church Conference in LA, summer 2008. I met a congregation who knew what it wanted, which had a clear understanding of the church’s biblical mandate, was concerned with healthy structures, healthy leadership, spiritual freedom for each to discover their ministry, and a common and individual view of how the congregation and the individual could live and act in harmony, loving God, loving people, and fulfilling the Great Commission. That was my impression at the time. I was so naiive. But thanks to God, who pulled me through this train of awakenings, I am able to see things quite differently.
When I came back to Norway after the US trip, I had a shocking experience. I suddenly saw the church – my own and other churches, with brand new glasses. Suddenly, I became aware of who was not present in our congregation, and the congregation’s unwillingness and lack of ability to reach out to the people in our environment with whom Jesus was concerned. My dawn awakening was far from complete, and in many ways I fumbled in the blind, but stumbled forward, with an ever-growing turmoil in my mind and a burning zeal to do Jesus’ deeds on earth. I first discovered that in our eagerness to seek the charismatic and spiritual gifts, I had become self-absorbed and superficial, without depth and mercy. Our gospel had become hard, and almost a “pull-yoursel-together-gospel,” only suitable to repel everyone except for the very hard-hearted enthusiasts. I needed a counterbalance, and engaged in what I could find of diaconal activity, to learn more about the service of mercy and charity. In the eyes of many, it was almost heretical to go from the utmost charismatic wing to the Church Mission (Kirkens Bymisjon), mostly dominated by liberal christians, but I really learned a lot about loving my neighbor, without waiting to get something in return.
Awakening, Part II
Spring 2016, I decided to attend a mission conference in Istanbul, June of that year. It was going to be a game-changing experience.
80 pastors and leaders from more than 20 nations, mainly from the Middle East, gathered to focus on what the Lord is doing in the Middle East. It was a sudden wake-up call, and I experienced the Lord challenging me with the following question: “Thor-Egil! How do you plan to respond to the Great Comission?” I was totally convicted, and felt that I had to repent of both disobedience and indifference. Norway was once a major missionary nation, mobilizing generations of Christians for inner and outer mission. Those who did not travel were actively participating in sock knitting and raffle to raise money for those who were out on the mission field. Over the past 50 years, we have seen an increasing degree of professionalization of the mission work, with the sad consequence that generations of Christians have no conscious or active relationship with mission field. The call still applies to all Christians, but in this area the churches have grossly neglected and depriving the growing generations of the opportunity to respond to the call from the Great Commission. The call applies to everyone!
My sudden alarm in Istanbul meant that I had to put everything on the altar – our house, my job, and all my plans of self fullfillment. I left Turkey with a new energy and a stronger urge to pray, than I had experienced for almost 15 years. I experienced Luke 10: 2 coming so alive to me, with the sincere calling for workers to the mature harvest fields hammering inside of me. I immediately began to sketch out how to mobilize the growing generations for a missions in the Middle East. Discipleship training is a key word, so I started pulling together a syllabus for a 3-month Discipleship School, with the Middle East as the main focus area.
The Mission Call
After attending a mission conference in Beirut, Lebanon, in the fall of 2017, I experienced that the awakening, made another bust. We had 100 Syrian pastors and church leaders as participants on our conference, and I felt that the cry for workers was only getting stronger and stronger. Syria is in a critical phase, where everything is possible for the believers who wants to sow its resources in good soil. The war has shaken the Christians, who have previously been characterized by divisions and a lack of unity. Now, after almost a decade of war, the church landscape looks completely different, and the Christians have “prayed together” as a result of the trials of the war, and few or no denominations find it worthwhile to stand alone any longer.
During the conference, I felt strongly about the call, but saw little or no opportunity to travel as often as I could possibly wish. Without financial support from Norway, a busload of debt and strained private finances, the opportunities were small to realize the mission call I knew God had called me to pursue. Thoughts of making some drastic changes in our lifestyle, began to rise up inside of me, and I became more and more desperate in my quest for changes.
In February 2018, I discovered that the movie “The Last Reformation – The Life” was to be staged at our local cinema. It immediately caught our interest. I had briefly heard of this movement a year in advance, but quickly dismissed it as a bunch of evangelicals who lived a carefree existence on the periphery of the established congregational structure. The movie trailer, and the obvious quality of the movie, triggered something inside of me. I had to find out more about this energic danish preacher, with his characteristic Danish-English accent. After hours and days of researching, I couldn’t really find anything problematic in his teaching, though I knew he was controversial in Norway. Sure, the message was radical, but his teaching at the PTS school I found on Youtube did not differ significantly from the teaching we taught at the time I managed our former Churches Bible School. Sure, the testimonies were noticable, and the number of healings we heard about was startling, but basically there was nothing controverial to be found, really. I decided to bring the whole family to the premiere, and what a premiere it was! The movie ended with prayers for the sick, and I also witnessed several healings, even demonic expulsions – a pretty unheard of thing to observe, even in the Bible Belt of Norway.
I was hooked and felt that I just had to go an check out this movement for myself.
Torben Sondergaard and his disciples, could demonstrate such a range of documented healings, demonic expulsions, miracles, wonders and signs that it simply could not be ignored. This was exactly what I had been longing for!
I discovered that Torben himself would be holding a so-called “Kickstart” at Easter that year, so I decided to propose to the family that we should go on a slightly different Easter holiday. Instead of relaxing at the coastline, go skiing or spand time at the familys cabin, we decided to attend a practically oriented 3-day seminar where the purpose was to learn how to pray for the sick on the street!
We were all challenged to the breaking point, and there was a lot of discussion in our family before we finally agreed to go to Denmark. Dut we decided to go. I increasingly felt that I really wanted Sondergaard’s experiences to be mine too, so I decided to fast for two weeks before the trip to Denmark, to prepare spiritually, and to dedicate myself to the Lord.
I really wanted to get the maximum benefit from this journey, and I felt in many ways that it was now or never. We had also played around with the idea of maybe selling the house, getting rid of some debt, and burdensome expenses, so daddy (me) could get a little economical slack, and mabe get the oporytunity to parttake in more mission trips. The breakthrough we experienced at the Kickstart in Denmark happened to be of such a character that I could not possibly have predicted, much less hoped for that kind of result in advance. Our oldest (son) met Jesus, and was born again. Our daughter was baptized and my wife was healed, and we all experienced being kick-started, wich means we all experienced praying for sick people, and seing them being healsed just before our very eyes. That was a totally new experience! We had seen some healings now and then, but this was totally different! The week after the Kickstart, our 12 year old daughter had the opportunity to pray for 20 fellow students, and they all experienced improvement or complete healing. Our son who struggled with gaming-addiction was unable to sleep in the same room as his expensive “gaming machine”, and had to put it in the hallway the first night after we returned from Denmark. He had been delivered!
My personal breakthrough came at the last meeting on Easter Sunday. There and then, I experienced taking my largest faith leap so far, namely putting our house up for sale – completely without any backup plan. It felt like jumping out of a plane at 10,000 feet altitude – with no parachute! Still, it felt like the best and most important decision we as a family had ever made! During the weekend in Denmark, Søndergaard launched the plans for a 3 month practically oriented missionary school at their campus in Denmark. This one I knew was an instant draw, but I did not get all the details, and thought that this might be something that started in the fall, but no. Luke 10 Mission School was scheduled to start in May 1st., and that was less than a month away. With our house to be prepared for sale, a strained economy and uncertainty in terms of work and leave, participation in the Luke 10 school looked like a hopeless project. I brought it to God in prayer. I almost begged, but soon I realized that this would not be possible to force through, in respect for the rest of our family. Everyone had to be a part of it, and it also had a practically and financially side to it. The family eventually felt peace of mind, and the job gave me a 2-month leave. We got the house ready for sale, just before I left for Denmark, and a few weeks later the house was sold.
40 Days of Fasting
One week after I broke my period of 14 days of fasting, I experienced the Lord’s presence during a Conference in our hometown. God’s presence filled the Sanctuary that day, in a way I can’t remember having experienced before. The first set of praise and worship lasted for 1.5 hours, and God’s presence washed over us in wave after wave. The speaker that night experienced Gods presence so strong that he could not deliver his speech. He just had to prophesy for 10 minutes before he could concentrate on the sermon. The presence of God was just Awesome! I experienced that the Lord spoke to me and said; now is the time to get serious! God wanted me to take it up to what, for me, was an extreme level of initiation, and I decided to enter a 40 day fast. Again, I experienced that the spiritual situation I had entered, required maximum concentration, and an dedication to the Lord that I had never been close to before.
God is holy
We came home from Denmark late at night before the 2nd Easter Sunday, and were in bed at 02:00 at night. I usually tend to be up in the morning to pray, but this morning I got up a little later, due to last nights late arrival. When my wife got out of bed, I still hadn’t finished my morning prayer, thinking that I could move to my study, as I often do on weekdays. I was in for a real surprise. As I open the door to the the study, I get an acute feeling of having to vomit, and feel that if I do not close the door a little quick, I will simply empty my stomach all over the floor. I immediately understand what this is all about. As a private person, I am a community committed person. I used to represent the City Council for the Christian People’s Party, in addition to that, I was a board member of several organisations, and project leader for a charity project. For the past year, I had also been the prime mover for the establishment of a festival, promoting kindness and doing good for the local community. A project that has received wide attention in the local and regional press.
They were all good and socially beneficial projects, in isolation, but the reaction in my spirit could not be mistaken. This was far from what the Lord had on his agenda, and kept me away from what the Lord had actually called me to do. The next day, I had no other choice than to call my superiors, and start exit processes in all engagements.
It felt like I had been on a spiritual mountain top, and God reminded me about Psalm 24:3-5, which talks about spiritual purety and idol worship. It came rather as a shock to me that God considered me an idol worshiper, and that He also considered my study unclean. I got His point, and it was a great relief to experience how God lead me to act in obedience to what He had spoken to me.
A new chapter
I arrived at The Last Reformations “Jesus Center” in Hundborg on Sunday, April 29, a day before the start on May 1, 2018. I was already a few weeks into my 40-day fasting period, and found myself just as much in a inner as an outer journey. Day two I had another experience with the Lord, which made another powerful impression on my spiritual life.
My motives for applying to the Luke 10 School were strongly linked to the desire to see God’s power manifested throughout my life, and that my future ministry in the mission field should be marked by signs and miracles. It was as if the Lord said to me with a clear voice; “Thor-Egil. Do not be too busy seeking my gifts, but rather seek my face. The rest will come naturally as the fruit of a heart that loves Me who has given everything”, I felt God said to me. The gospel is the power of God for the salvation of every believer.
The next day, I received another message from the Lord and experienced that He once again challenged my focus and motives. “I am the head of the congregation, and it is I who build My congregation. Are you serving Me, or are you busy building your own kingdom?”, God said. Two years earlier I made a decision to put everything on the altar, and once again I found myself in the same situation where I had to put everything on the altar again – even the mission call I had experienced in Istanbul. God really made it all so clear to me: ”You have nothing in yourself that satisfies me! There is only one acceptable sacrefice I will accept, and that is the redeeming blood of My Son, Jesus Christ!”
Just as I had experienced during the Kickstart one month earlier, I found myself in a holy place, where the fear of God was at a level I had never experienced before. The first two days at school, Torben Søndergaard shared his story with the Lord with us students. We sat around a table, and Torben just shared – often with tears in his eyes, stories of trials, persecution, loneliness, poverty, mistakes, hopelessness and lack of the true gospel manifested through his life and service. The first breakthrough was to come almost 20 years ago after a 40 day fast. The first fruit of this fasting period was an increased fear of God. Soon after, he was to see his first healing through intercession, and shortly thereafter he was renowned for praying for people on national television. The walk was long and tough and the downturns many, but he experienced that the fear of God increased, and he managed to preserve his heart through all of the trials.
I was blown away by this simple man’s testimony, and experienced a presence of God, a power and authority with the Lord that I had not yet experienced among any of God’s men and women i had met so far. I was soon to discover that this was only the beginning. During the first two days of the mission school, we were told that Luke 10 students would be hosting a Kickstart in Paris with over 1,000 participants. We felt both fear and excitement. What would it be like, and how should we prepare for this? After all, we all knew that Torben’s seminars were characterized by strong healings, demonic manifestations and strong repentance, only that this time we should not be spectators. We were the “Team!”We were the ones to serve the other participants. Suddenly there was nowhere to hide. We had to decide to sink or swim!
On the same day that the conference began, I was up early as usual to be with the Lord, and that day I received just a word from the Lord: BREAKTHROUGH! I wrote this word as a heading in the prayer diary that day, and knew that now I am closer than ever to what I have been longing for. I did not have the fantasy to imagine what was to come the following day. It was just so far beyond my imagination.
After hand-raising on day two, we could estimate that about 120 participants who wanted to be baptized in water and the Holy Spirit. The final number ended on 180 baptisms before the day was over. In front of the stage, there was complete chaos of people asking for intercession. We felt acutely understaffed at first, but as we got started, things went really well. Among other things, I prayed for a former Jewish rabbi who had strong demonic manifestations, and was not totally delivered befor he ended up in the baptismal pool. Then he was redeemed and given the gift of the Holy Spirit with tongues as a sign.
I had several repentance talks with candidates for baptism. It is important that the candidate understands the Gospel and has a true repentance in his heart, and at the same time is willing to put his og her old life behind. Some of the baptismal candidates would like to be saved, but was not willing to repent of their sin, and then they where politely asked to return when they had repented.
One of the baptism candidates I talked to with was a 30-year-old Frenchman who had served as a worship leader in a Church in Paris. The story he revealed, he had never told anyone before, and he testified to sins of such severity that it was associated with bottomless shame. The sins he confessed, also represented an addiction and degree of temptation that it was difficult to escape. During Torben’s preaching of the Gospel, it was revealed to the young man that he actually never had any true repentance in his life and that he had served in the congregation while living in obvious sin. Now he was full of remorse, and seemed simply shocked that he had not seen this before. He was ready to turn around and looked forward to burying his sinful life once and for all.
When we enter the baptism pool and are ready to baptize the man, he asks for a quiet minute because he wants to pray to God. The next thing that happens, testifies to a meeting with the Almighty, Holy God, which causes such an awestruck reaction, like I have never seen before. The man was totally crushed. He broke down completely before the Lord, and was utterly inconsolable. Then the manifestations began! They were so strong that we had to be 3 big guys to manage to hold him upright. He is shaking, and shouting, and he spits out false tongues, oaths and curses. We calm him down a bit and the breaks down once again. My God, my God he cries, with his arms outstretched to the side. He agrees that it’s time to baptize him, and when he emerges from the water, the demons manifest themselves with renewed vigor, before eventually leaving the man with loud cries and screams. First it becomes completely silent, before the Holy Spirit comes upon the man, and he begins to whisper in tongues. His voice increases in volume and intensity, before he finally cries out the tongues of what sounds like the purest battle cry, and testifies to a strong spiritual manifestation and victory over sin. When he then sits on the edge of the baptismal pool, we witness a very relieved man, who looks up at us slightly, and says, “I come from somewhere far, far away.” A few days later I get some beautiful reports that our friend have been praying for sick people – and two of them havd thrown their crutches, and was walking with no support anymore. He baptized a comrade who rose straight out of the bath and preached the gospel to his brother-in-law who had a sore knee. The comrade who had just been baptized then laid his hands on his brother-in-law who was healed immediately. Kickstart works, and puts people into training disciples, baptizing them and teaching them to keep everything He has commanded us to do.
The point of no return
I have reached the point where there is no way back. I hope that the western Church will soon wake up, but I hope it is not too late. But if is should wake up, will the Church be able to hold on to the new life without losing its balance? Jesus says so himself; “It is impossible to put new wine in old leather bags, because then they just crack and the wine goes to waste.”
Each one of us has a personal responsibility for managing that call and the gifts the Lord has given us, some 30 fold, some to 60 fold and some to 100 fold. I want to be a part of this movement and invest my seed where I believe it can provide the greatest harvest. I hope that the congregation, as we know it, is finally willing to open up to those who know the call to a life outside the church walls, without trying to control the life.
The end-time congregation is promised a life of persecution, but at the same time with spirit and power as evidence. I think there will be a stronger distinction between those who have given their lives to the Lord and who are busy doing Jesus’ deeds on earth, and the congregations who are more concerned with building their own small kingdoms. Jesus has commissioned us to go out and make disciples of all nations — that is, followers of Jesus, who do the deeds He did, and who will even do greater deeds than Him. If we are only obedient to the Lord’s command, He has promised to build His church, Matthew 16:18
There is a reformation going on. If it is the last, I will not say, but it is not until Jesus comes again. Shall we not learn from the wise virgins, and be sure to have oil on the lamp when He comes, so that He will not find us asleep on duty?