Blessings from the
My experience of the fruits that the life in the Spirit Seminars bring in peoples lives.
by James Wilkinson
The Life in the Spirit seminars are a powerful tool in the renewal of the Church. Lives are changed as the Spirit leads people into a new and personal relationship with the Lord Jesus. This is characterised by a deeper prayer life, a love of Scripture, a greater appreciation of the Sacraments, an openness to the promptings of the Spirit and a willingness to become involved in the mission of the Church.
Our God is a God of surprises and his Spirit sometimes touches people in extraordinary ways through the seminars. Between Easter and Pentecost 2004 I helped to run the seminars in Crawley in West Sussex. The Spirit came powerfully when we prayed for the Baptism in the Spirit on the fifth night. Those who attended witnessed people who had asked Him into their lives being touched in tangible ways. After the seminars were over it emerged that He had also worked in a remarkable way on the first night.
Vocation to the priesthood
Lewis Baldry-Reynolds, a man in his 20s, had been lapsed from the practice of his faith since he was 14. He gave his mother a lift to the seminar, intending to return to collect her at the end of the evening. Something made him stay. Charles Whitehead gave the teaching input that night. Speaking in his usual eloquent and measured way, he used the parable of the prodigal son to illustrate the theme of Gods love. The talk had a profound effect on the young man, challenging him to move out of his comfort zone to a place where he was open to Gods prompting. Lewis is now in his third year of studies for the priesthood!
That same year I also ran the seminars at a parish at Northwood, in North West London, this time over a weekend. I used a digital light processing projector to illustrate my talks. I had taken delivery of the projector a few days earlier and though I had switched it on to make sure it worked this was the first time I had used it for a thirty minute talk. I had already started speaking when somebody alerted me to the fact that there was a problem with the projector. When I turned round to look at the screen there was a very fast flicker of the image; the sort of thing that can trigger a migraine attack. I turned the projector off immediately.
For the next talk I worried that the projector would misbehave again. I felt a prompting to pray. I had prayed for people often enough but never for an inanimate object. There in front of about 80 people I prayed that it would work and everybody joined in the Amen. It worked perfectly for the rest of the day. It misbehaved the next time I used it however and I had to return it to the manufacturer who confirmed that it was faulty and repaired it under guarantee. This and other similar incidents have taught me that the Spirit is likely to affirm us when we step out in faith in some new way, particularly if we do so in circumstances where we run the risk of making fools of ourselves.
In 2006 I ran the seminars in Chertsey in Surrey between Easter and Pentecost. A lady who lived in another diocese had been struggling with a problem for some time. That Easter she realised that she could not solve it unaided and handed it over to the Lord. The words Life in the Spirit came into her mind and something made her Google them. At the top of the list was information about the seminars in Chertsey. She had never heard of the seminars and had never been to Chertsey. When I tried to Google Life in the Spirit, later our seminars did not appear at all. For those who are unfamiliar with personal computers Google is a search engine which identifies files containing the words you type in which are available on the internet and lists them in order of their importance. You can open the files and read the contents by clicking onto their titles in the list. It works with amazing speed. As I am typing this I Googled Life in the Spirit seminars and within 0.23 of a second the search engine had identified about 307,000 files which contain these words. The Spirit had led the lady to the seminars in an amazing way. She came along and was overwhelmed with a sense of Gods love. In summing up at the end of the final session I told the people that the seminars were not an end but a beginning and reminded them that they should seek ways of nurturing what they had received from the Lord. I suggested that attending an established Charismatic prayer group was a good method of doing this. It is a daunting undertaking to walk into of room of strangers and for many it is too much to contemplate. For this reason I always encourage the small groups into which people go to discuss each nights talk to continue meeting after the seminars are over to pray or to read the Scriptures together.
Passing on the blessing
The Google lady, after the seminars, started attending an existing prayer group. She told me that, over the months she went to the group, she learned much about prayer, about trusting the Lord, about the gifts of the Holy Spirit and about community. It has been, she said, one of the most wonderful times of my life. She is now very active in her own parish and has started a prayer group there. Through her initiative the Life in the Spirit seminars will be running in her parish later in the year.
Roy Hendy, from the House of the Open Door Community, was the speaker on the fifth night at the Chertsey seminars. He came without notes but with a crucifix and a Bible. Part way through his powerful talk he received a word of knowledge that a number of people in the audience had damaged relationships with their fathers. He invited everybody in the hall to whom this applied to stand. Over 100 people were present, and about a third of these stood. Roy next invited those who were near to lay hands on them while he prayed for the relationships to be mended. There were physical manifestations of the Spirits power, most notably a great outpouring of tears, as they responded to Roys prayer.
Which one to use?
I urge you to seek opportunities to run the seminars in your parish or prayer group. The seminars are available in different forms. I favour the original seminars which were formulated by the Word of God Community in the USA. John Vaughan-Neils Sons and Daughters of the Living God are equally powerful. Materials in the form of manuals and participants booklets are obtainable from GoodNews Books.
The potential benefits of the seminars far outweigh the effort of organising them. Careful forward planning is needed but the seminars must be built on a solid foundation of prayer. Fasting is also a powerful tool. Your first port of call for support should be your diocesan service team, details of whom appear in these pages. I will help if I can. You can contact me at JamesLWilkinsonaol.com or on 01932 569409