Known to the City Harvest Church community as the “deliverance pastor”, Mike Connell’s arrival at CHC’s School of Theology on Jun 22 caused considerable excitement among this year’s students.
The senior pastor of Bay City Outreach Center in Hastings, New Zealand, was in town to teach at SOT for a week, imparting knowledge and ability upon the students on the topic of moving in the Holy Spirit.
Connell is best known for his gift of moving in prophetic word, deliverance and inner healing. His immense sensitivity and love for the Holy Spirit has enabled him to minister and bring healing to the broken-hearted.
LAYING THE FOUNDATIONS
He began by laying the foundations of deliverance. Reading from 1 John 3:8, he told the students that a major part of Jesus’ ministry involved deliverance.
“You don’t personally deal with the devil. Your problem lies with low-level evil spirits that pressure your life,” he said, explaining that deliverance is a truth and power encounter. There is a need for people to understand the truth before they can be set free, said Connell. Similarly, people need to understand how to release the power of God to be able to pray for the deliverance of others.
The Bible illustrates three words to describe a demonic person. Acts 10:38 describes that a person “oppressed by the devil” is being held against their will by a spiritual force. Such persons have no freedom as there is pressure coming from evil spirits. Mark 5 refers to a “demonized” man, who is troubled by demons that are holding him down and affecting his lifestyle. Lastly, Acts 6:16 tells of a girl being possessed by a spirit of divination. In this verse, Connell explained that the word “possessed” means to have, or to wear. This explains why people tend to say that they feel lighter after being delivered.
“Not everything is of demons, but demons afflict people everywhere,” said Connell. Demons are spirit beings without a body—people can only identify them by their manifestation. A demon has the need to inhabit a body in order to express itself and it has a need to destroy the people that God loves. These spirits recognize Jesus and are terrified of Him. Connell reminded the students that being a part of the Body of Christ and Jesus’ representative, “demons should be terrified of you, not the other way round because the same spirit that lives in Jesus is in you.” This means that believers have the same authority and power to cast out demons, just like Jesus Christ have.
The second day of Connell’s teaching began with the pastor ministering the Father’s love to the students. He wanted them to experience the love of Father God before learning how to pray for deliverance. Many students tangibly experienced the unconditional love of their Abba Father. The presence of God saturated the hall and many were deeply touched in their hearts. Connell then encouraged the students to minister and pray for one another.
Connell delved deeper in the subject of demonic deliverance this second day. He said that during deliverance, the demonic spirits flee from the presence of the Holy Spirit. However, the spirits can attempt to return to their “old home”. That explains why some people respond to the same altar call repeatedly—they never resolve the problems that allow the demonic spirits access into their lives and are never fully delivered from the same spirit.
In Ephesians 2:2 which reads, “in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience,” the word “works” in Greek means “energized”. Connell explained that demons energize things in people, such as wounds, hurts and sin. He reminded the students that ultimately, they are responsible for their own behavior. By blaming demons for every wrong thing that they do is disregarding the power and authority given to them by God.
Connell ended Day Two with an altar call for those with generational curses and idolatry. The students who responded were instructed to acknowledge their authority and power through the Holy Spirit in order to be set free. That night, many of them broke free from the bondage of generational curses and received deliverance.
Connell, as he has done with generations of SOT students, imparted fresh knowledge to this cohort. He taught them the foundations of freedom, that in order to be set free, people have to understand the need to recognize and be responsible for their own conditions. He reminded them to repent of and to confess their sins, and to release forgiveness to those that hurt them. Just as God extended this privilege to His people, they should do the same among themselves as well. Connell shared that forgiveness is a powerful tool to set people’s lives free because “by letting go of the injustice to the Cross, you’re focusing on what Jesus did for you, not on what someone did against you”
For the rest of the week, Connell taught on the topic of paving the way for deliverance to happen. He warned that having the mentality that only people who are anointed can pray for others would render a believer powerless. Since deliverance is a faith encounter, the person praying for deliverance must have faith in the power of the Holy Spirit in order to release that power.
Subsequently, Connell gave the students guidelines to diagnose problems in people’s lives. He taught them to turn to the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit knows what is really happening, and He will reveal the root of the problem. It is important to deal with the root problem, Connell emphasized. If the root problem is not dealt with, the same issue will grow and emerge again. He reminded the students to act out of love and respect consistently especially when working in the ministry of deliverance.
Bryan Tan, 20, a student, said, “The week was amazing because I got to learn more about deliverance and the practical aspects of ministering to others. This will be useful when we go to mission trips and have to minister to others.”
Merilyn Lim, 24, a tutor, found the week “amazing because we got to move in the gifts of the Holy Spirit. It also reminded me that if we don’t resolve the sin, trauma and hurts in us, the demons will have access to enter. But if we were to submit to God and resist the devil, they will flee.”
At the end, Connell reminded the students that they cannot live the Christian life without the Holy Spirit, and that it takes trust and surrendering to work with Him. In order to bring demons under authority, the person praying for deliverance must first surrender under the authority of Christ.