An interview and reflection with Ron Pearce
By Heidi Champagne
A vision of Jesus. A child raised from the dead. A meagre portion of food multiplied.
Stories of God’s miraculous power frequently emerge from countries around the world. Many Westerners wonder why these supernatural events are more prevalent in other cultures and why God chooses to work in this manner.
Ron Pearce, Founder and Executive Director of Empower Ministries, regularly travels to countries where miracles commonly occur. Empower encourages the National Church in regions Pearce refers to as “spiritual hotspots.” These places of spiritual awakenings are often found in nations where believers experience significant persecution and poverty. They faithfully share the gospel with their countrymen who are desperately searching for hope. “God is responding through supernatural events,” says Pearce.
During his many travels abroad, Pearce has observed commonalities in areas where supernatural events frequently occur. Perhaps most fundamental is a God-consciousness.
“All religions and cultures of the world have some knowledge of a god,” says Pearce. “It’s in their history, folklore, culture—their whole mindset.” Citing Romans 1:20 he says: “Everyone knows through general revelation there is a god. The question is: what is He like?”
Even in countries like China and Vietnam where religious freedom is restricted, traditional religions are such an integral and longstanding part of the culture that they remain an important basis of people’s attitudes and values.
FEAR OF DEATH
Another key aspect is the fear of death and the afterlife. The people of the world’s spiritual hotspots face a shorter life expectancy, and serve gods that terrorize, subjugate or must be appeased.
“The people are buying the gods’ goodwill through sacrifices and offerings,” says Pearce. “They’ve never heard of a life after death that is sure and in the hands of a loving God.”
God uses supernatural events to prove that He exists, to show that He is a loving God who wants to reveal Himself to mankind, and who has a plan of salvation through His Son, Jesus.
“When God breaks through the supernatural barrier into the natural world through a miracle or some other demon – stration of his power,” says Pearce, “it is always, always tied to the message of love in Christ. Every culture points to this rule.”
And the result is always the same: vast numbers come to faith in Christ.
“Every culture where there is revival, there are people looking for a God who loves them,” says Pearce.
Pearce also observes that God performs miracles in culture-specific ways, explaining that each people group has been shaped by God with particular characteristics. “When God sends His Holy Spirit,” says Pearce, “He does so in a way that makes sense to each individual society.”
In the Middle East and Arab world, dreams and visions are common. This can be traced back in recorded history to Genesis 28 where the Patriarch Jacob dreams about a ladder that reaches heaven. When he awakes, he knows he has heard from God, saying: “Surely the Lord is in this place; and I did not know it…. This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.” (vv. 12-16, NASB)
From that time onward, dreams and visions have been important to both the Jewish and Arabic peoples. In Ethiopia, for example, a man dreamt he was in a city filled with Christians that was surrounded by fire. The next day he mistakenly entered a Christian rally. He turned to run, but saw that the entire place was ringed by fire. He fell to the floor, was prayed for, delivered from demonic possession, and accepted Christ. He is now actively involved in Christian ministry.
In Asian countries like Vietnam, healings occur frequently which demonstrate God’s compassionate love. A key leader reported that his method for church planting is to go into a village, find the three sickest people and pray for them. God heals them, the gospel is preached, a church is planted, and the people are taught about Jesus.
In India, where the vast Hindu population worships millions of deities, God uses supernatural acts to prove he is above all manmade gods.
In Central and South America where people face scarcity of food and guerrilla factions, God shows His loving concern by supernaturally providing for one’s daily needs. In a culture highly influenced by the organized Church, where many do not know a personal relationship with Christ is possible, the realization that God intimately cares about a person’s most basic requirements is deeply significant.
There is another type of miracle that is occurring in vast numbers; one which cultures outside North America rank as highly as other miraculous demonstrations.
“Just as real and just as supernatural is when a person accepts Christ,” says Pearce. “The Holy Spirit indwells them and they can actually sense God’s presence in their life.”
Although Canadian believers experience the identical indwelling, Pearce suggests they often do not notice the indwelling of the Spirit in the same way because most are not converted from religions connected to demonic activity. Not only that, but North American society is so distracted by materialism and accustomed to taking care of their own needs that they don’t recognize their spiritual poverty without God.
But God is by no means less interested in the Western world.
“God so loved the whole world,” says Pearce, “that He sent and revealed his Son. The West cries out in need and God answers our prayers too because He loves us just as much. But unlike Western society which sometimes becomes more enthralled with supernatural occurrences than with the God who made them, the areas of the world where there is great spiritual darkness, the people are so hungry for a relationship with a loving God that they look right through the supernatural delivery system and cry out in amazement: ‘There is a God and He loves even me!’ This is the hope for a world on the edge of despair.”
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