Whitianga, New Zealand 9/23/12
We visited Encounter Crossroads Church this morning in Whitianga. It was an Assembly of God church at the core, but they weren't directly associated with that denomination.
The mood in the sanctuary was one of joy and freedom. Children were running around in circles waving flags and laughing. The worship team played very simply and cheesy at times, but were sincere and generous in their praising of God. They were a church that insisted on being available to "flow" in the Spirit and be sensitive to His promptings.
I was blessed by the joy in that room and the foolish-looking way in which they let God be given all the glory and honor through their dancing and their out-of-tune singing. They held nothing back and I could sense God's presence in the room being glorified by what He was receiving from His kids crying out.
The Pastor Maury spoke with me after the service over a cup of tea and scones, and asked about the spiritual condition of the United States. I told him that in our region there is a neglecting of God and His provisions because of the confidence that we (Americans/Californians/etc.) put in our own ability to provide, heal, and care for ourselves.
We talked about the Western mindset of self-sufficiency being a hindrance to the movement of God's Spirit and His ability to demonstrate His power. We don't think we need much of God so we don't see much of God.
Maury told me that they've had gold dust fall on the people of the church, and that they are a church that believes in supernatural healing. Perhaps the gold dust left aside, I am so blessed by people who expect God to do what the Bible says that He is able to do. Shelby said that a man she was speaking with told her that another man who had died was raised back to life after being prayed over.
It's fascinating to speak and interact with people of the same Christian faith, but who work it out with different expectations in mind, and realize that God is massive and can't be understood or held within the limitations of my own understanding. God is mighty in power and able to heal, save, deliver, and accomplish anything He desires.
Two Sundays in a row now have the speakers at churches we've visited taught on knowing God and developing a more intimate relationship with Him. It's a theme that I haven't heard much of lately in the States, but it is one that I've been needing to hear and pursue with more of my heart, soul and mind. I want God to reveal more of Himself to me, and to open up my blind eyes. I know that He is faithful and will answer my prayers. I'm so grateful that He has given me this time in New Zealand to seek His face and develop a hunger for Him while in the midst of so much of His beauty.