Late Twentieth Century 1979
July—Port Elizabeth, South Africa – Rodney Howard- Browne
Rodney Howard-Browne has seen hundreds of thousands converted through his ministry, and many more renewed in their love for the Lord and empowered by the Holy Spirit. His ministry remains controversial because of the manifestations involved, especially laughter.
In July 1979 when he was 18, Rodney Howard-Browne of Port Elizabeth, South Africa, attended an interdenominational prayer meeting with about 18 other young people. He had been desperately crying out to God, and at that meeting he prayed with the abandonment of youth, “God, either You come down here tonight and touch me, or I’m going to die and come up there and touch You.”
He began shouting, “God, I want Your fire.” After crying out for 20 minutes, suddenly he felt engulfed in the fire of God; he was totally overwhelmed, weeping, laughing, and praying in tongues. That continued for four days until he cried out, “God, lift it. I can’t bear it any more…. Lord, I’m too young to die, don’t kill me now. ”
For two weeks he felt that intense Presence of God. Then that intensity lifted for about ten years but later became common in his ministry.
In 1980, while he was ministering with a group of young people in a Methodist Church in South Africa, a woman in pain asked for prayer in the vestry before a service. He told what happened:
I got up from my seat. I was going to put my hand on her head. And I lifted my hand and got it about here…like you’d pull a six-gun out of a holster and point it at somebody. And when my hand got about here, it felt like my fingertips came off, and out of my hand flowed a full volume of the anointing and the power of God, and it flowed right out of my hand and it went right in to her forehead and she crumbled in the floor. There was nobody in the room more amazed than me. And I looked down at the woman and I looked at my hand, and I’ll tell you what —my hand—the fire of God—the anointing of God—the virtue—the dunamis was still coming out of my hand. It felt like my hand was a fire hose. And now you start getting nervous—you think, I’d better look out where I point this thing. This thing’s loaded now.
And so the rest of the team came in, and I didn’t know what to do with it other than what we’d just done, so I said, “Lift your hands.” … Bam, they’re all out in the back of the vestry. Now I’m in trouble. If the priest comes back, I’m finished. So I went around and just managed to get them just right and sober them up and say, “Get up and pull yourself together, we’ve got to go in to the meeting.” We managed to get them all up except one girl. We had her propped between two men and got them out into the auditorium.
I get into the service, and that night I had to speak and I said to the Lord, “Lord, you know I’m not allowed to talk about Holy Ghost. You know I’m not allowed to talk about tongues. You know I’m not allowed to talk about ‘fall’ and ‘power’ and these words. Lord, how can we have what happened in the back room happen out here?” And the Lord said to me, “Call all those that want a blessing.” Everyone raised their hands. So I said, “All right, get up, come up, and line up.” And so I was going to go down and lay my hands on the first person’s head. And the Lord said to me, “Just be very careful, and so don’t put your hands on them because some people [will] think you’ll push them over if you do. ” I take my finger, put it on the forehead of the first person and I said, “In the name of Jesus….” It looked like an angel stood there with a baseball bat and smacked them up the side of their head. And the person hit the floor. And I went down the line. Bam, Bam, Bam, Bam. The whole row was out under the power of God. Some of the people were pinned to the floor… for an hour and a half. Some of them, the moment they hit the ground they were speaking with other tongues, and we had said nothing about it. And that anointing stayed again for a period of two weeks.
Let me tell you right now—for an eighteen-year-old to experience that kind of anointing—it’s dangerous. And then suddenly, it was gone. I prayed for people, they would fall down, but it was not the same. And I thought I’d lost the anointing. So now I’m starting to pray—to get before God and find out: “What have I done to lose the anointing, and what formula must I use to get it back?” He said, “You can’t do anything to get that anointing back.
That anointing is not you. That anointing is all me. It has nothing to do with you.” He said, “I just gave you a taste of what will come later on in your ministry, if you are faithful.” He said, “If I gave it to you now, you’d destroy yourself. I can’t give it to you now. There’s no formula for it. If there was a formula for it, you’d do it and you’d get it, and you’d think it was you. From now on, whenever that anointing comes, you’ll know it’s not you and you’ll know it’s all me and you’ll have to give me all the glory and all the praise and all the honour” (Riss 1995, Internet).
Rodney Howard-Browne moved to the United States in 1987 for evangelistic work. Then in April 1989 in Clifton Park, near Albany in upstate New York, he experienced powerful impacts of the Spirit during his meetings. He described it this way:
The power of God fell in the place without warning suddenly. People began to fall out of their seats, rolling on the floor. The very air was moving. People began to laugh uncontrollably while there wasn’t anything funny. The less I preached, the more people were saved (Riss 1995, Internet).
His influence soon reached worldwide proportions, with hundreds being saved in his meetings and thousands being overwhelmed in many ways.
One example, which has now been repeated in many ways, is how revival touched the Christian Teaching and Worship Centre (CTWC) in Woburn, Boston, in November 1993. Mona Johnian and her husband, Paul, lead the 450-member church.
Revival broke out in their church after they attended revival meetings led by Rodney Howard-Browne in Jekyll Island Georgia, in November of 1993. At first, Mona was not impressed by the various phenomena she observed there, but she was surprised that her own pastor, Bill Ligon of Brunswick, Georgia, fell to the floor when Rodney Howard-Browne laid his hands upon him. “Bill is the epitome of dignity, a man totally under control, ” she said. The first chapter of her book describes a meeting at her church in which revival broke out while Bill Ligon was there as a guest minister. From the Johnians’ church, the revival spread to other churches, including Bath Baptist Church of Bath, Maine, pastored by Greg Foster.
In a video entitled Revival, produced in his church in August of 1994, Paul Johnian said, “We cannot refute the testimony of the Church. … What is taking place here is not an accident. It’s not birthed by man. It’s by the Spirit of God. … The last week in October of 1993, Mona and I went down to Georgia. We belong to a Fellowship of Charismatic and Christian Ministries International, and we went down there for the annual conference. And hands were laid on us. And we were anointed. And I’m just going to be completely honest with you. What I witnessed there in the beginning I did not even understand. I concluded that what was taking place was not of God…because there was too much confusion. … I saw something that I could not comprehend with my finite understanding. And it was only when I searched the Scriptures and asked God to show me and to reveal truth to me that I saw that what was taking place in the Body of Christ was a sovereign move of the Almighty. And I, for one, wanted to humble myself and be a part of the sovereign move of the Almighty. And I came back. I really didn’t sense any change within me. But I came back just believing God that He was going to be doing something different in our congregation” (Riss 1995, Internet).
That story has now been multiplied in various forms in thousands of churches touched by this current impact of the Spirit.
© Geoff Waugh. Used by permission.