By: Cynthia Butler
John brought a cigarette to his mouth and took a long puff. Smoke rose in front of his eyes adding to the haze of his drunkenness. He could hear the sound of his grandfather’s melodic voice through the open hospital window as he sang a hymn. Johanna Muturi was on his deathbed, but his faith was still living. And he hoped that it would live on through his grandson. He had raised John in his own home ever since he was a baby. As an Episcopal minister, he had set an example of Holy living. But John had become rebellious, delving into drugs and alcohol without regard for the consequences. Mr. Muturi had not given up on his grandson, though. He knew that his time on earth was nearing an end, and he had something important to tell him. How grateful he was to hear John’s voice when he walked into the hospital room that day.
‘Grandpa, can you recognize me?’
‘Oh, my grandson, you have come to see me. I have been wishing that you could continue the work that I started as an evangelist. I would love you to continue the work of the Lord.’ But John just squeezed his hand noncommittally before going outside to smoke. He had no plans of becoming a preacher. He didn’t want anything to do with salvation. Still, he listened to his grandfather’s comforting refrain drifting to his ears. “Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine.” The song was gentle enough to soften his resistance. “Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine.”. . . until all of a sudden the singing stopped. What had happened? John hastily crushed his cigarette stub underfoot and returned to the hospital room. He gazed at his grandfather’s lifeless body. A hundred years, countless sermons, and his last words had been for John. Something stirred in John’s heart. But he was still not ready to surrender. Little did he know that he’d nearly be on his own deathbed a year later.
A devastating car accident claimed the life of a couple of his friends when he was riding home with them from the bar one night. But John’s life had been spared. Bleeding and bed-ridden, he promised God, “If you get me out of this bed, I will work for you.” Maybe alcohol numbed the pain of his loss. Or maybe the grip of his addiction seemed unshakable. For whatever reason John broke his vow and continued on his collision course until he finally came to an impasse.
It was 10:00 in the morning. John had been up all night ordering drink after drink after drink until he had run out of money. He staggered to the nearest bank and asked to see the bank manager. Concocting some story about how his children were sick and his electricity was disconnected, he pled with the bank manager for a loan.
“I don’t believe you,” the manager informed him, “but I’m going to give you an overdraft.” John reached for his checkbook to write in it. Then he noticed a red badge that the manager was wearing over the pocket of his suit. The words “Jesus Saves” were printed on it. Again his heart was stirred.
“Are you born again?” John asked.
“Yes, I’ve accepted Jesus as my personal savior.” The manager told him
“Ok, I have lied to you Mr. Manager. And I need this Jesus Christ,” John confessed. He had been given warning before: the words of his grandfather, the accident. Now he could feel the voice of God in his spirit: “It is now or never”. Tears welled up in John’s eyes, and he dropped to his knees. The bank manager began to pray for him, and John received Jesus that very morning.
God immediately drew John into a church that focused his attention on the Holy Spirit. The bishop and the elders mentored him and they often invited him to pray with them. Over the course of three months God began to transform John and wean him off of his addiction. He was learning to live soberly. But he had no idea that the high he had experienced with drugs and alcohol would be surpassed by the euphoria God would give him through worship.
One night in the house of God John was worshiping and thanking the Lord, praying the scriptures and getting lost in a song. All of a sudden his tongue became loose, and an unfamiliar language leapt from his mouth. He didn’t know what he was saying, but he quickly realized that he was in the midst of a divine visitation. He could feel his whole body vibrating as he fell to the floor of the sanctuary. There he prayed more intimately than ever before.
Now empowered by a fresh infilling of the Holy Spirit, John began to develop his prayer style. The gift of tongues that had come upon him involuntarily at first became a regular part of his worship experience. He would wake up early each morning and sometimes stay up late into the night to seek the Lord. One time around midnight John was praying alone at church when a scripture flashed across his spirit: “Heal me, O Lord, and I will be healed” (Jeremiah 17:14). “You’ve got to give that scripture to Beatrice,” God instructed him. John had worked with this young lady at the Kenyan Agricultural Research Institute until she had grown too sick to continue. She was beyond help as far as the medical community was concerned. Cancer had attacked her liver and practically turned her into a skeleton. The doctors could do nothing but send her home to die.
Her husband was shocked when a knock at the door roused her from bed. It was the first time she had been able to walk since the cancer had overtaken her. “I am not here to stay,” John told them that dawn, “but the Lord gave me a scripture to give to Beatrice.” After he’d done what he came to do, he went home. He didn’t even think much about the experience until a letter came in the mail years later. Beatrice had enclosed her picture, the photograph of a healthy vibrant woman. She told John how God had delivered her completely after he had come to their home. She had been saved both physically and spiritually. What an encouragement it was to see the evidence now of what God had already revealed to him in scripture.
Ironically, when John was sent to speak healing over Beatrice he was still in need of healing himself. His blood had been poisoned by the toxins he had willingly ingested through the years. Chest pains, headaches, fatigue, tremors, lack of concentration; they were all signs of his body’s contamination. But God took John by surprise and healed him in an instant.
He and his wife Catherine were in bed fast asleep. Suddenly John awoke in the middle of the night. A laser thin light was traveling directly toward him. It hit his eyes and filled the room with brightness. He could hear a deep voice saying, “GET HEALED!” John jumped out of bed in fear. But on his window there was an image of Jesus smiling at him kindly. “GET HEALED!” he heard again. Then the light retracted from his eyes. All he could do was scream. Catherine sprung up in bed startled. “I have just had an encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ, and He has healed me.” John explained.
That week John felt as if cool water had been poured over him; his whole body had been cleansed. He was free from pain, and able to think clearly. It was like a heavy load had been lifted from him.
John had begun to experience abundant life in Jesus. Not only did God restore his body, He also prospered him in educational opportunities. After John finished his masters in analytical chemistry he was selected to continue his studies in universities all over the world. He traveled to the Netherlands, Great Britain, again to Kenya and finally to the United States. But while he was at Oregon State University working toward a PHD God redirected his course.
John was working at the U.S. Agriculture when Bishops Robert Mzomba and Wellington Irungu found him. “God has sent us to come and ordain you as a pastor,” They said. “We were praying in Kenya, and God spoke to us that he wants you to start a ministry here in America.” John trusted that this was a message from God, but he didn’t know where to start. After the unexpected ordination, John enrolled in a Bible school in Washington State. The director discerned that God had chosen him for ministry, so he, too, ordained John. Two more times John was ordained. And two more times God confirmed his calling, but still he was working as a chemist. Finally a lady from Kenya came to America and sought him out. She was a stranger, but she had a message specifically for him: “I have been sent by God to tell you that God wants you to stop doing what you are doing and start the ministry.” By that time there was no doubt in John’s mind that the time had come. He had no funds to start the ministry. It would be Catherine’s salary that would support the whole family. But she knew as he did that God was directing his steps. Even his children assured him, “Daddy, we are going to back you up; we are going to do whatever we can, because we know God has called you.”
John recalled how God had spoken to him while he was still at Oregon State: “Gather my saints together.” (Psalm 50:5) “The end of all things is at hand.” (1 Peter 4:7) John knew that the Lord would be returning soon, and it was time for revival. He and his whole family had packed everything and boarded a train bound for Houston, Texas. This was where God was leading him to preach the good news. But preaching is only one facet of his ministry.
Pastor John took the pulpit Sunday morning at End Times Revival Ministry Church, now 10 years past its inception. He called those who needed healing to come to the front. “The Holy Spirit is saying to me, ‘Don’t even preach if someone is in bondage.’ He proceeded to lay hands on the people and pray for their healing. The sermon could wait; healing ministry would come first. John knows from experience what a blessing it is to be free from infirmity, and He knows that God is still working miracles on the Earth. So Pastor John is not waiting for Heaven to seek the supernatural presence of God, and neither are those who worship with him. They come with expectant hearts. And God is moving among them.