Our Trip to Lakeland
by Sally Hanan 6/25/2008 / Church Life
We left Austin on a Sunday with a 15 passenger van packed to the windows with the stuff teenagers like to bring. After some detours for lost money and restrooms, we arrived at the hotel at 3pm on Monday. Eager to go to the meeting, we unpacked the van, and in the process, yours truly lost the key. The locksmith arrived a few hours later and spent well over two hours fixing what could have been an impossible job, seeing as Ford service was closed and would not give us the codes to reset the locks. We shared our pizza with him and he talked about his broken dreams of dancing and playing sports. When he revealed that he had injuries in his shoulder and knee, I was delighted to pray for his healing-- he felt heat go through both places and had full healing. When I looked at the receipt a few days later, I noticed that his name was Angel.
We got to the tent really late, just as the last people were going through a fire tunnel (two lines of people forming a tunnel one and praying for everyone who walks through it). We had decided to go so as not to miss out on anything God had for us, regardless of the time. It's true what everyone had been sayingthe presence of God is thick in there.
We went to Ignited church the next morning, where we jumped into worship that was sweet and anointed.
That night was our first experience of a full meeting. Gerry (my husband) was the first one in and he ran right up to the front of the mosh pit to worshipproven by the many times we saw his face, arms up, eyes closed, on the TV screen that night! Heather Clark was playing, and she moves very freely with the Holy Spirit; we moved right along with her. The worship was different in that we could feel everyone really pressing in for more of God together; everyone wanted to praise his name with clapping and shouts and dancing. Hearing God speak to each heart was easy, and one could feel the presence of angels all around. There were many testimonies of healing on stage, and at one point a man showed a gold filling that God had put in there. Right at that moment, Gerry opened his mouth and asked if there was any gold in his mouth. I saw a gold tooth in the back of his mouth and fell over laughing. He showed it to everyone around us and then we went up on stage to show it to the watching world. He kept on opening his mouth to ask us if it was still there. Some of our teenagers were hesitant to join with the crowd in all that was going on, and they sat in other places in the room, watching and observing. It was all so new to themthe Pentecostal style of service. They did enjoy the testimonies, and it was the beginning of all the kids ministering to each other with prayer and wisdom throughout the week.
On our way home we saw a homeless guy walking along the grass with all his belongings, so we gave him a ride to an RV place up the road from our hotel and gave him a tent we had. His name was William, and he was in Lakeland to get as much of God as he could until he started his school bus driving job at the end of the month. We covered his stay for the rest of the week and picked him up in the mornings for the meetings.
Wednesday morning was spent at Ignited again and followed with evangelism at the mall. We divided into teams of two and three and talked with many shoppersgiving encouraging words, praying for the sick, and sharing the Gospel. We approached one young family and got to share the Gospel and pray for the young dad's dislocated knee (after falling off a roof) and he got saved and healed completely. Overall, we spoke with about 45 people and prayed for about 12.
By Wednesday night, more of the kids wanted to worship at the front to be a part of the collective passion for God. It was that night of jumping up and down that I realized that at my age I really should be aware of the effects of sudden gravity on the bladder! Another fire tunnel was formed at the end of the meeting, which all the kids passed through. Some were immediately affectedour daughter could not stand and had to be piggy-backed back to the car, where she laughed the whole way back to the hotel and then some. While it was weird to some of the kids to see her like that, they did get to laugh and smile with her (or was it at her??).
Thursday was our day for beach evangelisma great religious excuse to drive to St. Petersburg and catch some sun. Gerry took some great shots of our newly formed Baywatch team rising from the water and running along the beach. We got to pray with some kids there who were hungry for more of God, and then slowly the light dawned on the kids that sun block may have been a good idea. By the end of that night, most of the kids were Target red, and one even started to have blisters form on his shoulders. The fire tunnel had new meaning to them as they passed through the many hands of blessing. Yet again, our daughter was lifted off the floor and carried to the van.
We did some more evangelism at the mall on Friday afternoon. Some of the kids were really excited about being able to pray for people when they had not had the courage to do so before. Again, we talked with about 35 and prayed for about 10.
Friday night's worship was, again, amazing. No one wanted it to stop, and every time Roy Fields did, we all clapped all the harder because we wanted to keep worshipping. Todd had planned on staying in his trailer that night, but came out because the presence of the Holy Spirit was so strong and the worship was so pure. He shared his testimony and 130 people went up to the front for salvation. Another girl started to experience what our daughter hadshe could not stop laughing and even fell on the parking lot grass as the others stood around her and laughed with her. I had to fetch the van and drive up to her so that we could get her in.
On Saturday we went to a healing and deliverance training session. It was a really good eye-opener for the kids to see how much the devil can try and do if someone is not living a pure life. Most of the kids got prayerold wounds were healed, forgiveness and repentance were verbalized, and generational fear was prayed over.
That night was our last meeting, and the kids were determined to go home with all that they could. When the offer was made to have the Fresh Fire ministry team pray for them, they all got blessed and prayed for. One kid had been passive all week, and by that night was finally angry and desperate enough to stay in prayer until he could feel the Holy Spirit charge him up. He ended up being the most passionate one of all of us after that. The two kids that had been the most reticent about receiving asked for prayer, and all the others gathered around them to pray until they could. They both got a fit of giggles and enjoyed every bit of it the whole way home to Austin. I have never seen either of them so free with their joy before, so it was a real blessing to see that. Another kid got prayer from 2 of the boys, who poured passionate prayers into him for about 40 minutes, which he said felt like ten. By the end of it, he was smiling freely and enjoying it.
We made sure that William had a place to pitch his tent for the rest of the time he'd be there, and gave him all of our food that we could not bring with us. May God bless him on his trip back to California.
We stopped at a Subway on our way out of town and the kids were getting sneaky with their new-found anointing. Every time they passed each other they'd put a hand on a shoulder and pray, causing more giggles, laughter, and falling on the floor with laughter. The store owner asked us to stop behaving like that, that Jesus wouldn't act like that because he was mild-mannered, which only made them laugh more. Every time we stopped at a gas station or fast food diner after that they did the same thingvery sneaky. Basically, the kids were either laughing or praying for each other, when they weren't sleeping, the whole way home.
Even now, two days later, the phone is constantly ringing with new stories of people being prayed for. The hunger is to pray and see healing and pass on what we got. The more we do this, the more desire we have to spend time with him and with each other. There is an incredible amount of joy in us all, and the kids radiate that.
My husband called the dentist to see if there had ever been gold in his mouth. It turns out that he did have a gold crown in there long before we ever went to Lakeland, so we no longer have that testimony, but it was fun while it lasted. We'll be sending it on to Lakeland so that they know.
I would encourage anyone who can to go to Lakeland and experience God for themselves. More than that, take the youth groups too. Nothing can compare to the glory of God's presence. They will remember it for the rest of their lives, and strive to keep walking with God because of it. They are the ones who will take the greatest risks and inspire us all into action.
(C) Sally Hanan
Sally is an Irish writer who now lives in the U.S. with her family. Her husband calls her beautiful, talented and brilliant. He is a marvellous truth-teller :D