Valley experiences are not meant to be permanent, says senior pastor of Bay City Outreach Centre in New Zealand Mike Connell; turn them into a well of life and blessing to others.
By Joelle Pang
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” It is with this powerful exhortation from John 16:33 that Mike Connell started his message of hope to overcome the valley experiences in life, preaching to the churchgoers at City Harvest Church on Jun. 2 and 3.
Connell, the senior pastor of Bay City Outreach Center in Hastings, New Zealand, is a name familiar to the congregation of City Harvest Church. For over a decade, he has been coming to the church on a yearly basis to minister at its weekend services, as well as to teach the students in the church’s School Of Theology, carrying with him the anointing of God to move powerfully in prophetic, inner healing and deliverance gifts.
With the aim of teaching the congregation how to experience healing in their inner soul, he first said that it is inevitable for everyone to go through painful experiences in life. But the good news is that there is hope, because Jesus has overcome the world. Jesus understands the pain of human life, and is a model for believers to lead a life of victory through Him.
Sin And Trauma: Doorways For Demonic Spirits
The analogy of a physical wound was used to draw parallels to the condition of man’s soul when he or she is hurt. When a person is hurt physically, there is a natural tendency to conceal or cover the wound; when hurt emotionally, the tendency is to control the pain by building walls around the heart.
The chilling truth is, just as a physical wounds becomes infected if left unattended, inner wounds and traumatic experiences become a point for evil and demonic spirits to enter if the hurt is not resolved in a Biblical way. Connell reveals this truth through a warning in the Bible from Ephesians 4:26-27 to “not let the sun go down while you are still angry and do not give the devil a foothold.”
Journeying From Strength To Strength
Having established this, Connell went on to equip the congregation with both Biblical and practical ways to address inner hurts in a Godly manner. Firstly, he encouraged the people to stop concealing their pain, but instead, to open up their hearts to God and allow healing to take place. If it’s a secret sin, they needed to allow God to shine His light into the darkness, and break free from the bondage of that sin.
He explained the importance of setting a path to a journey of change and reconnecting with God. Through a process of repentance, believers can experience God’s healing power and journey from strength to strength, out of the valley of grief and sorrow to become a well of life overflowing with blessings for others. This journey is depicted beautifully in Psalm 84, where God’s people can take heart in His promise that “blessed is the man whose strength is in [Him]”.
Secondly, this journey of change is one that requires a conscious decision to desire to exit the valley. Connell thus taught the congregation to confront the painful experience, asking himself the following questions: What has affected me? How has it affected me? How did I react to the incident? The process that follows will be of repentance, and releasing forgiveness to the matter or person who caused the hurt by coming to God in humility and a renewed mind.
When the service came to a close, an altar call was given, and many people who were touched by the presence of God came forward to give their lives to Him. On the service held on Sunday, Connell also demonstrated the power of God by drawing His presence down to some who have responded to the altar call. A time of ministry on Saturday evening allowed many to experience deliverance from the strongholds and hurts in their lives.
Many came for Connell’s service with an attitude of expectancy. Aaron Chua, 30, a trader, said, “I was reminded that we have to take ownership for our lives, our reactions, our responses, our actions and the need to attend to the issues of the heart in a proper and Godly way. I went with an open heart and expectations of being ministered to and experiencing inner healing.”
Annie Seah, 24, a Bible school student, even prepared her heart by fasting a fortnight prior to this service. She too, came with great expectations of seeing a great move of God and receiving deliverance.
Deborah Yap, 25, a visitor to CHC, had come with an open heart to hear the message. She was greatly moved and impacted by God’s faithfulness, and was convicted work alongside with God in His time.
More than seeing the power of God at both services, it was the love of God and His heart to set His people free that touched the hearts of both visitors and regular church-goers. Through Connell’s ministry, God’s perfected love brought comfort to many at the services.