Late Twentieth Century 1988
August 4—Kambaidaniy Papua New Guinea, Johan van Bruggen
Johan van Bruggen, a missionary at the Lutheran Evangelist Training Centre at Kambaidam near Kainantu in the Eastern Highlands of Papua New Guinea, wrote in his circulars:
Tuesday afternoon, 2 August 1988: I was by myself watching a video of Bill Subritzky, an Anglican Evangelist in New Zealand, who has been mightily blessed by the Lord with ministries of healing and of deliverance from demons. A large group of Anglican Christians had been baptised in the Holy Spirit and were on the point of receiving gifts of the Spirit. I watched quite unemotionally when Bill said: “I will mention the gifts slowly and then just let the Holy Spirit impress on your mind which gift(s) he will give you.”
He had just started with the first one: Words of Wisdom—when suddenly I was surrounded by Divine Presence. When it started I wanted to run away, scared stiff! But back came the words: Don’t hold back, do not fear! So I stayed and said, “Come Holy Spirit, fill me completely.” Now I know what it is to be drunk in the Spirit. I couldn’t stand on my feet. I slumped on the bed, hands raised, trembling all over, tingling all over. I felt something moving up my gullet and I just said, “Out, out,” and I literally threw up. Don’t worry, I didn’t make a mess. I just got rid of the spirit of fear and doubt! And oh, I felt absolutely fantastic. I cried and laughed and I must have been quite a sight! It rained hard and that rain was a solid muffler! Nobody knew. I came around again because there was the noise of the video set with a blank screen. The programme was finished and I did not know how. I have had earlier fillings of the Holy Spirit but nothing like this time with that sense of being overwhelmed.
Then came Thursday 4 August, a miserable day weather wise, although we had great joy during our studies. Evening devotions—not all students came, actually a rather small group. I too needed some inner encouragement to go as it was more comfortable near the fire. We sang a few quiet worship songs. Samson, a fellow who by accident became one of our students last year, well, this Samson was leading the devotions. We had sung the last song and were waiting for him to start.
Starting he did, but in an unusual way. He cried, trembled all over! … Then it spread. When I looked up again I saw the head prefect flat on the floor under his desk. I was praying in tongues off and on. It became quite noisy. Students were shouting! Should I stop it? Don’t hold back! It went on and on, with students praying and laughing and crying—not quite following our planned programme! We finally stood around the table, about twelve of us, holding hands. Some were absolutely like drunk, staggering and laughing! I heard a few students starting off in tongues and I praised the Lord. The rain had stopped, not so the noise. So more and more people came in and watched!
Not much sleeping that night! They talked and talked! And that was not the end. Of course the school has changed completely. Lessons were always great, I thought, but have become greater still. Full of joy most of the time, but also with a tremendous burden. A burden to witness….
What were the highlights of 1988? No doubt the actual outpouring of the Holy Spirit must come first. It happened on August 4 when the Spirit fell on a group of students and staff, with individuals receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit on several occasions later on in the year. The school has never been the same again. As direct results we noticed a desire for holiness, a hunger for God’s Word which was insatiable right up till the end of the school year, and also a tremendous urge to go out and witness.
Whenever they had a chance many of our students were in the villages with studies and to lead Sunday services. Prayer life deepened, and during worship services we really felt ourselves to be on holy ground….
We have been almost left speechless by what God is doing now through our students. We realize that we have been led on and are now on the threshold of a revival (van Bruggen 1989).
David, a young student in his early twenties from the Markham Valley, had a growing burden for his area of Ragizaria and Waritzian, known and feared for its pagan occult practices. He prayed earnestly. As part of an outreach team he visited nearby villages and then went to his own people. He was concerned about the low spiritual life of the church. He spent a couple of days alone praying for them.
One Saturday night he was invited to lead the village devotions at Ragizaria. Johan van Bruggen told the story in his circulars:
Since most of the Ragizaria people are deeply involved in witchcraft practices, David made an urgent appeal for repentance. Two men responded and came forward. David put his hands on them and wanted to pray, when suddenly these two men fell to the ground. They were both praising the Lord. Everybody was surprised and did not know what to think of this. David himself had been slain in the Spirit at Kambaidam in August 1988, but this was the first time that this had happened to others through him. The next morning during the Sunday service scores of people were slain in the Spirit. Said David, “People entered the church building and immediately they were seized by God’s power. They were drunk in the Spirit and many could not keep standing. The floor was covered with bodies. It did not only happen to Lutherans, but also to members of a Seventh Day Adventist congregation (former Lutherans) that were attracted by the noise and commotion.”
David reported that there was a sense of tremendous joy in the church and people were praising the Lord. Well, the service lasted for hours and hours. Finally, David said, “And now the people are hungry for God’s Word and not only in my village, but also in Waritzian, a nearby village. And they want the students to come with Bible studies. Can we go next weekend?”
We all felt that some students together with Pastor Bubo should go….
Pastor Bubo told me, “Acts 2 happened all over again!” For three days all the people were drunk in the Spirit. God used the students and Bubo in a mighty way. On Saturday night the Holy Spirit was poured down on the hundreds of people that had assembled there. From then on until the moment the school car arrived on Monday noon, the people were being filled again and again by the Spirit. There was much rejoicing. There were words of prophecy. There was healing and deliverance. And on Monday morning all things of magic and witchcraft were burned. Everybody was in it, the leaders, the young, yes even little children were reported to be drunk in the Spirit…. The people did not want to go and sleep, saying, “So often we have had drunken all-night parties. Now we will have a divine party until daybreak.”
This area had been a stronghold of evil practices. Many people received various spiritual gifts including unusual abilities such as speaking English in tongues and being able to read the Bible. People met for prayer, worship and study every day and at night. These daily meetings continued to be held for over two years (van Bruggen 1989).
In November 1990, Johan van Bruggen wrote:
This is what happened about two months ago. A new church building was going to be officially opened in a village in the Kainantu area. Two of our last year’s graduates took part in the celebrations by acting the story in Acts 3: Peter and John going to the temple and healing the cripple.
Their cripple was a real one—a young man, Mark, who had his leg smashed in a car accident. The doctors had wanted to amputate it, but he did not want to lose his useless leg. He used two crutches to move around the village. He could not stand at all on that one leg. He was lying at the door of the new church when our Peter and John (real names: Steven and Pao) wanted to enter. The
Bible story was exactly followed: “I have got no money, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” Well, they acted this out before hundreds of people, among them the president of the Goroka Church District and many pastors and elders. Peter (Steven) grabbed the cripple (Mark) by the hand and pulled him up. And he walked! He threw his crutches away and loudly praised the Lord! Isn’t that something? What a faith!
Their testimony was given at a meeting of elders when Kambaidam was discussed. Mark was a most happy fellow who stood and walked firmly on his two legs. He also had been involved in criminal activities, but in this meeting he unashamedly confessed his faith in the Lord Jesus.
Later I talked with them. Steven (Peter) told me that the Lord had put this on his heart during a week-long period of praying. “I had no doubt that the Lord was going to heal Mark, and I was so excited when we finally got to play-act!” And Mark? He told me that when Steven told him to get up he just felt the power of God descend upon him and at the same time he had a tingling sensation in his crippled leg: “I just felt the blood rushing through my leg, bringing new life!” Mark is now involved in evangelistic outreach and his testimony has a great impact (van Bruggen 1989).
© Geoff Waugh. Used by permission.