Are miracles, including physical healings and prophetic words of knowledge, still possible?
More than 400 people come to Brighton, Michigan every Monday to attend the Encounter Ministries weekly school. A sold out Encounter Conference attracts thousands from across the nation. Healing services are also packed.
Most of those followers heard about Encounter through the “Fearless’’ documentary that debuted in 2017, available online. The sequel “Revive,’’ is rolling out. Invitations from around the world, including Poland and France, are being answered.
In “Fearless’’ we meet the Encounter founders, watching them pray at a Columbus, Ohio healing service and on the streets and at Ohio State University. We see people healed:
“We live in a culture where we are surrounded by the walking wounded,’’ Dr. Mary Healy, a Sacred Heart Major Seminary professor and member of the pontifical Biblical Commission explains. She adds:
“We are surrounded by people who desperately need the touch of the Lord. Evangelizing is not just communicating a message: God loves you, Jesus is Lord, Jesus died for your sins. It’s about communicating Divine Life and Power. It’s the Lord actually touching another person through you. When there is an anointing of the Holy Spirit, that person is actually coming into contact with the Lord through you. The Lord gives us gifts, not for us, but for the people He wants to reach through us.’’
In the followup, “Revive,’’ the Encounter Ministries team is invited to Catholic high schools, including one in California and Lansing Catholic High School in Michigan. Healings follow.
Priests and even a Bishop whose knee was healed at the January Encounter Conference have felt transformational changes and “on fire’’ for the Holy Spirit after getting involved with the Encounter movement.
Get ready for miracles
“I always felt God could do miracles very easily,’’ said Maura Smith, the veteran broadcast journalist who directed both films. “I lived in India for a year… The people of India would say ‘Miracles don’t happen in the West because Westerners don’t expect it but miracles happen a lot in the East and it’s not a big deal — it just happens — because people are ready for it.’ I think we’ve got to get more ready for it.’’
Who is the most “normal’’ Christian? Who defines normal Christianity, asks Encounter Executive Director Patrick Reis. The answer? Jesus Christ. And we are called to try to become more like Him in all ways.
“The Church has taught us to be Christ-centric, Christocentric,’’ Reis added. “It’s so old, you read the Bible, the Acts of the Apostles, but it’s so new at the same time. We’re kind of rediscovering the Gospel power in our own life.’’
In a crazy world and culture, miracles are a way to “wake people up’’
God’s Plan in a world being “dive bombed’’ by cultural change is for the Church to grow, effectively bringing the Gospel to a world that sometimes seems “bent’’ on self destruction, said Aaron Richards, who is featured in the film.
“If the culture no longer listens to reason, they’re not going to be convinced to change their life because of the five proofs for God’s existence that you can know by reason,’’ Reis said.
“Our culture probably looks a lot more like the culture of the early Church when everyone had their own god, there was human sacrifice here and there and it was just pretty crazy. How did the early Church do it? They didn’t do evangelization by persuasion. They did evangelization by power.’’
St. Paul stressed “demonstration of spirit and power’’ more than persuasion, relying on the power of God more than human wisdom. And now the Holy Spirit is inviting the Church back, Reis said.
“You can’t transform the Church until you transform yourself…’’
Encounter started in Columbus, Ohio before moving in 2018 to St. Patrick Parish in Brighton, Michigan, the parish pastored by Encounter’s president, Father Mathias Thelen.
The goal: teach, equip and mobilize normal Catholics. The two-year school of ministry has terms focusing on identity and transformation, power and healing and hearing God through prophetic ministry.
“It’s more about relationship than a special gift,’’ Reis said. “We use the language of gifts to describe the manifestation of Christ in us but ultimately it’s Christ Jesus in us, the Holy Spirit… The spiritual gifts are summed up by St. Paul as faith working in love. Everything is ordered to love, the love of someone that either doesn’t know Jesus, that’s sick, lost. We serve a God who leaves 99 to go find the one that’s lost.’’