It wasn't easy getting to Palikara. Leaving our ramshackle hotel on the Chinese border, we drove 90 minutes on progressively less traveled roads, finally turning left into a wide gravel riverbed. Three miles upstream, we precariously steered our minivan up the rocky bank, slopped along another mile of mud roads through a tea plantation, and stumbled into one of the most magical places on Earth.
The people here, stunningly beautiful and somehow possessing an almost supernatural peace, had heard about our teaching through a network of Assembly of God pastors and had prayed for two years that we would somehow find our way to Palikara.
Today was “Day One” of a three-day program centered on the Scriptural Practice of Healing & Deliverance. About 125 believers had crowded standing-room-only into a tiny church been loudly singing worship songs for church with garish green walls and purple curtains. It was well over 100 degrees inside, and, when the electricity stopped three or four times a day, the fans all stilled, and wet air hung thick enough to provoke a gag reflex. Nevertheless, people crowded in. When time came to teach, they scrunched down and sat cross-legged on the concrete floor. We taught the first day for five hours with an hour break for stewed fish, fiery curry, spicy lentil soup, mountains of rice and sliced fresh mangoes for dessert. Other than that and two breaks for hot chai, they engaged, barely moving, focused, inhaling Scriptural teaching.
For me, it was a dream come true. Here were people who had heard from clear across the subcontinent how some old white man had come and taught believers how to walk in the power of God, how to cast out demons and heal the sick. They heard how other churches we had visited were growing, how Bhuddists, Hindus and Muslims were drawn to a Messiah who could heal, and how people who were persecuting Christians were now coming to Christians for healing. These believers wanted the same. It didn’t frighten them or intimidate or provoke a lot of theological arguments. They simply heard and believed and wanted to share in this grace that God might, just might make available to them.
. Day Two in Palikara played out much like Day One, except that we moved into practical demonstrations. After lunch, we called for anyone who had come for healing to come forward. The first two people were a rail thin man who was dying of tuberculosis and a mother with a very ill toddler. The toddler coughed several times a minute, a rasping deep cough that left him sore and listless with exhaustion from the effort. The woman said they had consulted a doctor who told her that the boy would probably die. He had seen too many die before, and he held out little hope for her.
Beginning with the TB patient, we called up four volunteers and walked them through a series of seven steps, providing a plain format for them to follow as beginners. The volunteers moved and acted uncertainly, but, when it came to addressing the disease, they gained confidence and performed well. The patient cooperated and, as they finished, he walked back and forth across the front of the church, squatting, rising, breathing cautiously and probing places with his fingers where he had said before that he felt great pain and inflammation. He was still rail thin but, he said, he was hungry and had no pain at all for the first time in weeks.
The toddler, coughing in his mother’s lap, responded to a new set of volunteers and attended the next day without coughing at all.
Day Three always looks chaotic because the doors are thrown open not only to believers but to anyone in need of healing or deliverance. The students of Days One and Two are broken into groups, positioned around the room, and, one by one, sick people are escorted into these tiny circles. The noise grows louder and louder, but then, in this corner or here in another group, joyful clapping breaks out signifying someone who is now apparently free of their illness or pain. For three hours, this melee in Lankapara continued, and apparent miracles unfolded all around. Tumors disappeared. Backpain evaporated. Joints were set free. Pain disappeared. In the end, 75 or 80 people had testified that they were healed, and the church body glowed in new excitement and weary exultation.
So What Happens Now?
Before we left this area deep in the 10/40 rectangle, an esteemed bishop and seven other church leaders traveled 300 miles to share an afternoon with us before we all flew home.
“Pastor,” the Bishop told me proudly, “I came to share with you the fruit of your teaching in our church five years ago. Last week, I did a brave thing. As pastor, I completely released ten new churches that blossomed in the wake of your first visit to us. We have discipled and trained the pastors, their congregations are flourishing, and they are, as of last week, established as independent churches. Hundreds of people have come to Christ in these villages. They are healing the sick and casting out demons. People are meeting a God who is real.”
This work has blossomed and will continue to bear fruit because of God’s faithfulness in my partners and God’s continuous grace manifested through all those, like you, who believe in the work at hand and support us so generously. We are eternally grateful.
This last Nov. 13 - Dec. 18, our ministry partners enabled me to accept five teaching requests in five different cities in southern Asia. At each one, we taught "Scriptural Foundations of Healing & Deliverance," and, at each one, the power of God manifested not through my hands but through the local believers who received our teaching and then simply responded in faith. None was more willing, more gracious, more helpful than Richoniy, a lovely teenage girl in a city of seven million people. This was one of our follow-up reports.
At 16, Richoniy (ree-show’-nee) can’t boast the delicate features prized by so many sparkling Bollywood film stars, yet Richoniy is singularly beautiful. Beneath her dark eyebrows and lashes, her eyes glisten with compassion, intelligence and a quick wit. Richoniy’s high voice and laughter resonate like music. A pastors’ daughter, she walks unaware of how people almost unconsciously watch and admire her.
At the close of a lo-o-ong teaching day in this large Asian church, one woman, perhaps 35 in a pale blue saree, begged for healing. Tears streamed down her face. Pain and exhaustion yellowed her eyes and infused her cheeks with a feverish glow. A bad tooth had erupted into a throbbing abscess, and she had not slept in three days.
I motioned across the crowded room to Richoniy who came alongside to translate my English into the local language. I told the suffering woman that God would heal her through Richoniy’s hands. Richoniy had never seen or experienced a healing, but she translated without hesitation and clearly owned the faith to continue. Reminding her of Scriptural truth, I had Richoniy gently touch the woman’s swollen cheek and provided words for Richoniy to proclaim aloud. Cautiously Richoniy followed directions, not once but several times before pain gave way and every sign of infection disappeared. Under Richoniy’s fingers, the woman’s abcess evaporated. Tears of anguished exhaustion gave way to tears of joy. The woman’s eyes, now fever-free, danced with wondering gratitude.
From that point forward, Richoniy and the same woman led the way among those who attended our three-day program in in this bustling city of 7 million people. On the third day at Richoniy’s direction, a group of older women ministered and saw several dramatic healings, one involving a woman with a dislocated shoulder; healing manifested only after Richoniy led her in a prayer to forgive her employer who, in anger two years before, had wrenched her arm from its socket.
So a letter from Richoniy, handed furtively to me as I packed to come home but read at 35,000 feet somewhere over the Atlantic, is now a treasured possession. “I lack self-confidence,” she wrote to me. “Normally, people say I’ve got a gift of music and writing songs, but I’ve felt that I had so much more and never knew what that might be. Your words caused me to know what’s inside. God dwells in me. He can and will use my lips, my hands and my eyes. He uses me as His vessel. In just three days, you’ve made me feel so special about myself like I’ve never been before.”
God has revealed his tangible love to Richoniy, and, I’m convinced, she is forever changed by that. He indwells all those who, like Richoniy, simply trust in Him. He will speak and act through us -- all of us -- if we dare to believe what He plainly says is true. Thank you for empowering me to teach so many over these last twelve months and especially through these most recent 35 days spent in Asia. Both Debbie and I are deeply, deeply grateful.
The first time I ministered alongside David Samuel, the power of God in him blew me out of my socks.
We were in far eastern Asia, winding up three days of teaching. The believers there, embracing both us and our message with gales of over-flowing joy, were laying hands on the sick, and God was healing people. Regardless of their religious background -- all were being healed, and many were coming to faith. I was teaching. David’s wife, Victoria, was translating. David, always the organizer, was quietly attending to details, conducting every facet of activity without ever taking center stage himself.
“Please, sir!” A slight young man pulled at David’s arm. “Please, sir! Come with me!” For a few moments, David tried to explain that he was, in fact, leading the service. “Please, sir!” the young man insisted. “God is healing people, and my mother is too sick to come. She is in the next block. Please, sir! The service is almost over. You can come now!” The young man was correct. David picked up his satchel, advised me of his departure, and they left.
In a dark room, the young man’s mother was battling the final stages of lung cancer. Her lungs were so full of disease that she could no longer lift her arms. Her skin was gray, her shallow panting drawn through parched lips. David sat on the floor next to the reed mat which was her bed. “Auntie,” he said, using a common term of respect. “I have come to talk with you.” Very softly, they conversed. Very quietly, David led her in a prayer of faith. Talk continued softly. Pray. Talk softly. Pray. The woman was slowly caught up beyond her pain, enthralled by the love of Christ and the hope of which David spoke. After perhaps 90 minutes, David looked deep into her eyes. “Now,” he whispered. “lift your arms.”
The cancer was gone. Totally. Completely. Absolutely.
Before we left their home town, the whole family came to church. The woman walked slowly but steadily, arm and arm with her jubilant son. She had no pain, no trouble breathing, no evidence of illness.
The second most stunning thing about David came to light as Beth Baldwin, Deb Mauterer and I visited their home just last March. Entering their small apartment in the capital city shocked me. Their apartment is small and almost bare. In their bedroom, there’s no furniture at all. No bed. No dresser. No chairs. No mirrors or accessories. David and Victoria sleep on covers spread on a concrete floor. Clothes are stacked neatly on the floor against a wall. David, once a trusted buyer for a wealthy merchant, still works as much as his ministry calendar allows. But ALL they have goes into ministry.
David and Victoria will travel with me for five weeks this Nov. 13 to Dec. 17, and have already worked for months organizing every aspect of our upcoming journey. As I go, I want to bless them profoundly. A portion of whatever you send for this trip will go to that purpose. Thank you for blessing Debbie and me. Thank you for responding to the Holy Spirit’s prompting. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for making our ministry possible.
The core of Hannah’s beauty lies in her intensity! Yes, at 19 years old, she’s very attractive with long light brown hair and lean grace, but it’s the strength of her focus that arrests you. At odd moments in a conversation, sometimes even when she laughs, you get a glimpse of this agile and tenacious mind that’s at rest there, like a lioness in repose but poised to lunge in strength and power at the slightest provocation.
How fear could be an issue for Hannah was beyond me. But it was. Early on, doctors diagnosed OCD, and her family had struggled with its manifestations for years. Paralyzing dread over germs drove Hannah to wash her hands until her palms parched and fingers bled. An upset stomach could rob her of sleep for days. Houses with pets were off limits to her unless she clothed herself in layers, insulating herself against possible contamination. Unfamiliar places unsettled her, and unfamiliar bathrooms were out of the question. Hannah and her mom recognized that this thing was constricting Hannah’s life and relationships, as well as strangling long-term hopes and ambitions. They wanted Christ to set Hannah free.
Hannah and I spent the better part of two days together. There was nothing uncertain about her yearning to be healed. She focused like a laser on the Word of God, her mind whirring over vocabulary, attacking and digesting new concepts, then bounding ahead to suddenly exclaim some newly realized truth while I was still building the introduction.
On the second afternoon, I stepped out to meet an old friend and his wife. Talking at Taco Bell, I discovered that my friend’s wife, Wanda, was floundering physically. Her thyroid was wrecked, provoking spells of overwhelming exhaustion and crippling insomnia. And back trouble? Pain spiked in her back and hips, ignited simply by bending forward to pick something up or rising to stand from a seated position.
I called back to Hannah’s and was told, yes, I could bring them there for prayer. In Hannah’s kitchen, I explained that I personally would NOT minister, but that God would heal Wanda through Hannah’s voice and hands. Was Hannah up for that? Absolutely. I watched then as that lioness spirit stepped forward in untested but easy confidence. With little coaching, Hannah asserted her identity as a daughter of the Most High God, a “warrior princess” in His Kingdom. For several minutes over Wanda, Hannah boldly spoke forth Scripture about God’s goodness, healing and authority, ending authoritatively with “Now be healed.” It happened. With knees locked, Wanda bent over several times and effortlessly slapped the tile floor. That night, Wanda later reported, she slept easily and deeply for six hours until her cat woke her up. Symptoms associated with her thyroid have disappeared, and she’s beginning an exercise program to rebuild her strength.
Wanda is healed, but the greater work, I think, rests inside Hannah. A powerful revelation of her own spiritual identity, indeed, as a warrior princess has broken the grip of OCD and fear over her life. What a profound privilege to share in that experience! I thank you for that! Thank YOU for making it possible for me to serve in this capacity! Thank you for partnering with us in Faith & Freedom Ministries!
Dave & Debbie Diamond
It’s a chilling thing to visit a culture buried in terror.
The first time our family ventured into the eastern Romanian village of Gemenele, we were thoroughly enchanted. Cherry and plum trees, weighty with fruit, grew in street-side ditches. Dazzling fields of sunflowers stretched sometimes clear to the horizon. Impossibly green grape arbors adorned almost every house. Gray geese foraged around in the shade of ornate concrete fences. Horse-carts lumbered from house to field, entire families carrying ancient hoes and rakes like standards into battle. The entire village seemed abuzz, a busy crossroads in an ocean of rich and verdant fields.
Debbie exhausted herself, defying daunting heat to stage a terrific children’s program, aided by Romanian volunteers, translators and our nine-year-old son Luke. The first time that hidden terror raised its venomous head was when Luke broke out about 15 Frisbees and began to toss them out like Mardi Gras trinkets to a mob of frenetic village kids. To our shock and dismay, the children who caught them clutched them tightly, turned tail and ran pell-mell for home. We had to send volunteers inside houses to convince the hoarding victors that this was not the intent of the game.
An explanation dawned later. Despite their numbers, each child had grown up in serious isolation. Most had no experience -- none ever -- of playing together outside of an organized school setting,...and for good reason. Under 45 years of murderous communist rule, as many as a third of the Romanian population was at one time or another paid by the government to report suspicious speech or activity. More reports earned more rewards, often with little regard for the truth. Children, by nature, talk. And a report of what some child might have spoken about his parents, a report delivered into the right hands, could bring armed police, interrogations, beatings, violent removal to labor camps, or even disappearance or death. So the truth dawned all around us: there were no shared toys, no soccer games, no playgrounds, no gatherings, no common play, not even spontaneous laughter -- and this 12 years after the “Christmas Revolution” brought the country “freedom.” Even curious mothers, talking among themselves, did so with scowls, pursed lips, cautious whispers. Men commonly retreated into silence and alcohol, the more relaxed environment of the local grog-house.
You can imagine the difficulty of trying to share the grace and healing in such an environment.
So this month Luke and I go back. We go to serve a persistent pastor whom we have come to know and deeply love. We go to strengthen a small circle of established believers, demonstrating for them how Christ in them can tear down strongholds, equipping them with a plan which allows them to carry a gift basket every month for a year into any home in Gemenele where the family is welcoming a newborn child. Twelve gift baskets for each family. Twelve months. Twelve opportunities in each new-born’s home to coax the family beyond the reach of terror and into grace and freedom.
It’s difficult for me to compare working in Europe and visiting Asia. Despite surging government opposition, hunger for Christ in Asia is massive, and opportunities abound. On the other end of the spectrum, working in Eastern Europe is excruciatingly slow and very painful. Yet the Scripture says Christ died for ALL men. Thank you for affording us the opportunity to carry His life, His name, His Spirit EVERYWHERE! We are literally eternally grateful!
Dave & Debbie Diamond
As I came in from cutting the grass, my phone screamed with four urgent messages from Vera. Not good! Even in her ramshackle house, as densely populated with kids and grandkids as Mother Goose’s shoe, I’d never seen anything about Vera that was “urgent.” Adventurous? Excitable? Extremely busy? Yes. But not “urgent” until now.
“Brother Dave,” she said, “come RIGHT NOW. We got spirits here IN MY HOUSE -- MY house, Brother Dave!!! -- wakin’ up my daughter Kierra at ‘xactly 2:30 in the mornin’ EVERY mornin’! An’ if ‘dat ain’t enough, she just told me she got a lump in her breast big aroun’ as a quarter, an’ she’s scared half out o’ her mind. I’m not havin’ this in my house! No, Brother Dave. Not my house. Not my family. You need to come RIGHT NOW!”
All the way across Tangipahoa Parish, I was aware of the electric presence of the Holy Spirit and, behind that, the wary opposition of some dark unidentifiable force. Vera, Kiera and Kiera’s husband Will waited for me, sitting in Vera’s tiny rough-hewn living room, expectant and yet, like me, not knowing what to anticipate. We talked for an
hour. Defenses melted away. Faith and confidence blossomed. In heartfelt release, Will and Kiera each recommitted their hearts and marriage to Christ in prayer, gratefully inhaling God’s torrential love and absolute forgiveness.
With that settled, we trekked upstairs to their tiny pastel bedroom. There, the Holy Spirit nudged me. “Kiera,” I said, “some sort of spirit here wants to frighten and intimidate you. If you’ll stand right here and lock eyes with me, I’d like to speak through you and command this thing away from here.” With her consent, I gently held her upper arms, and, eyes locked with hers, began quietly but firmly commanding any spirit opposed to the purposes of Christ. “HUU-AAH!” Immediately, a violent spasm seized Kiera’s abdomen. As if she’d been waylaid, she grabbed her stomach, her breath exploding outward in a groan. Her mother, wide-eyed, grabbed a garbage can. For five to six minutes, Kiera, on all fours, wretched and heaved as I stroked her back and continued to rebuke and order away the
spirit that had seized her so violently. Finally emptied and spiritually clear, she rinsed her mouth, and we prayed together, drawing clear boundaries around her, Will, Vera and their home and bedrooms.
“NOW!” whispered the Holy Spirit, “Now speak over her breast.” So we did, Vera’s hand on Kiera’s back, mine on her left shoulder. Five times we proclaimed the Scriptural truth of God’s healing, accomplished on the cross of Christ and included in His gifting to ALL who believe. The mass softened at first and then began melting away. By the end, the lump had dissolved entirely, quietly evaporating along with all inflammation, soreness and discomfort.
To see that kind of immediate disappearance stunned and over-joyed all of us. It was a new horizon for me, and God’s evident power has strengthened and encouraged us. God is maturing us, raising us up “from glory to glory” in an exhilarating, liberating, day-by-day experience. Thank you for your prayers! Thank you for your generosity! We are so thrilled to host this powerful ministry and to point everyone we serve back to the Author of Our Salvation!
This afternoon, I’ll sit beside old people ravaged by dementia or bloated with cancer, holding hands or stroking their foreheads, passing through my fingertips the love of Christ and His abiding love for the wonder of their humanity.
This morning though is different. This morning, I stand before a host of junior high students, amazingly beautiful kids, healthy, barely balanced on the cusp of adulthood. Their lives are like that thin streak of light, rocketing upward on the 4th of July, triggered within to explode at any second into glorious color and overcoming light. I feel Christ within me, reaching out to them, calling them into the adventure and power of a moment-by-moment passionate relationship with God who designed and crafted each one to His eternal purpose.
“How stupid would it be,” I ask them, handing my I-phone to a wide-eyed girl, “if someone gave you this machine we call a ‘smart-phone,’ and all you ever did with it was make phone calls? Just phone calls. No games. No texting. No maps. No Facebook. No internet. No camera. You NEVER use it for anything except to make phone calls.”
“Look around you,” I urge them. “So many Christians live like that. They come to the cross, God forgives all their sin, and they stumble along for the rest of their lives waiting for the Rapture, believing that this alone, this one spiritual app -- His willingness to forgive -- is the sum total of their Christian life. They never reach beyond that, never ask themselves, ‘Hey, what else can this thing do?’ Look! Scripture says God ‘has given us’ (past tense) ‘EVERY spiritual blessing in the heavenly realm’! So how many Christians ever discover applications like power? Joy? Peace? Rest? Prophecy? Healing? Contentment? True freedom? Love? Love? Love?”
Students listen. They question. They respond gratefully. I pray for them, walking among them, touching their heads. One girl shudders. While I’ve taught, Christ in me has noticed a discomfort behind her beauty, a disconnectedness that prompts her to shrink in her seat, turning to avoid exposure even as she listens intently.
Later on with the office’s permission, I find her. We find a long bench on a school portico, and she talks. We pray together for Christ to forgive her, to erase all her fears and failings; that He would breathe His own presence into her body; and that He would so love her as to live His life in and through her forever. At the close, she’s visibly awe-struck, crying and laughing in amazement. “What are you feeling?” I ask her. “Mr. Diamond,” she responds, “ever since I was a baby, I’ve carried around this weight, this heavy thing that hung over me every day, everywhere. For the very first time ever, it’s gone! It’s gone, Mr. Diamond. It’s gone, and I’ve never felt this before.”
How rich is this? How good is God? What an amazing thing that, in part through you, He has put us in a place where we can so freely and easily dispense His life, His freedom and grace? I have no words to express the joy of this ministry except to say, “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you for walking with us in this incredible adventure!”
You are deeply loved and appreciated.