ORIGINALLY WRITTEN JERRY ENGLER
Amazing prophecies, healings and a drawing together of families have all occurred, according to participants, since the Marion renewal or revival service began in May with meetings at the Senior Center.
More importantly, they added, the people who come are learning a further step in knowing Jesus Christ, and having the gifts of the Holy Spirit in their lives.
After nearly two months at Good News Christian Fellowship Church, the service has moved to 7 p.m. Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays at Eastmoor United Methodist Church, both in Marion.
One of the renewal leaders, Kevin Goodwin, is pastor of The Word of Life Outreach Worship Center in Great Bend. He is one of a group of Christians acknowledged as bestowed with Holy Spirit gifts who said they saw Marion as God’s target area for a Christian renewal in Kansas and the nation.
Goodwin said: “Our goal is to see lives changed, to see an understanding and drawing to Jesus Christ, to see the knowledge grow of the importance of the church, to see the face of the community transformed. We propose not just to draw men, but to draw them to Jesus Christ in relationship.
“We want to see people open to the mystery of God, to learn to hear the voice of the Lord speaking to them. We want them to understand how the Holy Spirit speaks to us.
“This has never been a one-church event. I am really excited by the laying down of denominational walls, doctrines and ideas, and the drawing together of christians in the unity of the gospel.”
These events in Marion are attested by one participating pastor to have been forseen in a vision more than 20 years ago. Don Matison, a pastor who leads Life Builders and the Children’s Feeding Network out of Republic, Mo., said that in 1982, after a ministry of 17 years in Southern California, he was led by the Lord to move to Missouri and to minister there.
Matison said, “I was sitting in a parking lot in Udall, Kansas, in 1982 when the Lord gave me a vision of a flaming arrow coming out of the west. The arrow came apart as it hit the state of Kansas with flames springing up around one main striking point.
“I had a fellow draw a picture of what I had seen, and then superimposed it over Kansas to see where the fires were to indicate where the fires of revival were to come.
“The main flame came down between Marion and Hillsboro.
“Funny then, two years ago, we were having meetings in Chase, Kans., and Ron Stewart from Marion came. It was revealed that he had cancer, and his whole body was really messed up.”
Stewart verified that Matison’s story is correct, and gave his permission for it to be written.
Matison continued, “Jesse (Jesse Bielby, another renewal leader, pastor of Word Ministries Worldwide in Benton) and I prayed for Ron. God healed him.
“Ron’s daughter and son-in-law had moved to Great Bend, and were part of Kevin’s church. We were in fellowship there, and Ron came back to start sharing with us and invited us to come to Marion. We didn’t know anything about Marion except that I saw where the arrow was going, and we said this could be where the Lord is really going to show his power.”
John Goering, pastor at Eastmoor, said at the time Matison spoke of, the pastors of the churches in Marion had been gathering together for six years to pray for renewal and revival in Marion.
Matison said, “Jesse and Kevin started meeting with the public at the Senior Center in May. In July they laid out to meet with the pastors of the city. They called me in to share in the meetings.
“All of the pastors together were seeming to want to do something, and we started walking with these guys. I saw the commitment of the pastors of the city as an indicator that this thing could be God’s way of going about renewal.
“We’ve seen people healed here, families restored, and we’ve seen the things Jesse has spoken in prophecy beginning to happen. We are involved in a pilgrimage walk together just as in Psalm 84. The Lord is consistent in showing us what we need, and we will continue to walk in Him together. This will go from here wherever He wants it.”
Goodwin added, “There is a sovereign move of God planned for the heartland of Kansas, and we believe Marion has a really major role to play in this, led by the Holy Spirit and with the commitment of the elders of the city.”
Goodwin said Bielby has a primary gift of prophecy that has been used again and again in the meetings as he has called people to stand to receive what he says the Lord has told him for their lives.
Goering said a prophet such as Bielby never reveals any correction for a person that may be perceived of as negative from the Lord in public, but may tell the person in private later. He said Bielby and other such persons are guided by God as to what to say, and do not give prophecies to persons because they simply ask for them.
Goering, Goodwin and Matison said they have seen individual prophecies for many persons at the meetings, usually from Bielby, begin to take shape in their lives, even when the parties involved didn’t expect such things beforehand.
The prophecies have led to the establishment of the Shepherd’s Shed in Marion, and work to establish a coffee house for youth on Main Street, begun by 18-year-old Brianna Smith.
Several persons said Bielby had correctly told of even private yearnings in speaking of their pasts and presents, and foretold of other things in their futures.
Goering, Matison and Goodwin said during one meeting, Bielby asked if anyone at the renewal knew a woman named Jennifer. He repeated asking them to think of anyone they knew named Jennifer.
The men said Bielby said Jennifer was connected to the renewal, that she was in crisis personally and financially that very night, and asked everyone to pray for her.
Matison said he thought tapes of the renewal revealed that night as Aug. 16. He said the night she was prayed for, Jennifer was unknown in Marion and living in Salina. She had learned that day that she had multiple sclerosis, and “her life was shattered.
Last week, the three men said, Jennifer showed up at the meeting with her two sons after moving to Marion and hearing about the meeting at the Shepherd’s Shed. The connection was revealed. They said one son stood up to start praying for his mother, and she asked for a healing.
Goering said the precocious Christian presence of the 9-year-old boy was a highlight of the evening.
Goering and Stewart said rumors that the renewal leaders are somehow taking excessive funds from the town are “totally untrue” because those leaders have largely donated what they have received back to the community for such things as the coffee house and a Christian concert for youth attended by 200 with 15 “saved by Christ,” and another 13 who recommitted their lives.
They said the effort actually has been a financial drain for Goodwin and Bielby.
Goodwin said attendance at the renewal has fluctuated beginning with 40 to 50 people, and going upwards to 150 people on some nights. It is open to anybody.
Goering said, “We have really seen our church families ministered to in these services. We’ve had kids saved and returned home after leaving. The youth have really participated.
“You know we’ve been in this meeting for two months in the two churches, and so much has happened, I really have to stop to think to be specific. It’s been tremendous.
“We started by praying over all our pastors in town for the Holy Spirit to come. It seems that everyone who has come has gone away with a blessing to their life. Marriages have been healed. People looking for help are getting it.”
Goering said the meeting have included healings for such things as epilepsy, and there have persons who left sick beds to come.
Goering said, “I can’t see how people can take a chance on missing God to not be a part of it. I can’t miss it because I want to see what happens next.
“You know, there comes a time when you ask for the Holy Spirit to work in your life. The more you release yourself, the more active He will be. Now He may make you go to work. He may lead you to do things you didn’t know you really wanted to do. This is a move of sanctification, of going on to more Christ-like perfection in your life.”
Mary Beth Bowers of Marion said for the Christian who considers himself already saved, going to the renewal meeting can be likened to taking a trip from Kansas to Colorado. To be saved, she said, may be analogous to only crossing the state line to Eastern Colorado where the land is much the same as what you just left in Western Kansas. But to go on to see the mountains, she said, is analogous to seeing what “wonder and glory” truly is offered by God. “The further you get in the mountains, the more spectacular is the scenery.”
Matison said, “I badly want to see what happens here. I’m looking forward to great things happening. This is just the beginning. Things began picking up again last week. I know with all my heart the Lord is in it.”
Matison said it isn’t the first time he has felt such leading. His ministry he founded with supporters in Missouri led to a Christian service that helps supply food to 7,000 American families a month, mostly with several children each, and also supports orphanages and children’s food programs in other nations such as Thailand and The Phillipines, he said.
Stewart said, “What a person sees is the bits and pieces of this thing as the Lord puts it together. It’s amazing to be a part of it.”