Heaven on Earth (Chapter 15)

Catch live footage of Reverend David Woodfield recounting the following "Move of God" on The Jeremiah Tree Youtube Channel.

This is an excerpt from Sandie George's autobiography "I Will Rise and Stand" about her experience of the Selly Oak Elim church renewal of the 1970s.

Unknown to the congregation, from the beginning of 1975 a hunger for more of God was growing in our Pastor, he later told us. He was becoming increasingly dissatisfied with his spiritual life and that of the church’s, so he decided to invite any who wanted to join him, to a special late night prayer meeting he was going to hold on the last Friday of each month. Chairs were taken to the front of the church, where a circle of people would sit and pray. There was no organised programme; those who attended would just sing and worship and seek the face of God. These were joyous meetings. An air of expectancy grew as the presence of God gradually increased in the meetings. It became more and more evident that God was doing something new.

Although these meetings only took place once a month there was a knock-on effect at other meetings as God began to move throughout the church in a remarkable way. People who had been bound by long standing issues were suddenly and wonderfully set free. One man, who had been very sceptical about what was happening, but was also hungry for more of God, had a dream, in which he went to David’s house and demanded the Pastor pray for him to receive the baptism in the Spirit, he woke up gloriously filled and speaking in other tongues. There were other accounts similar to this one.

Ed Miller an American, who had spent many years as a missionary in the Argentine was the guest speaker on Sunday evening 13th of July 1975. The congregation was full of anticipation, having heard a little of this man’s background. When Ed Millar got up to speak, he told the full story of how he had pastored a small band of nominal believers for a number of years when he first went to Argentina. His small flock was quite unresponsive to anything he tried to do; in desperation he finally cried out in prayer and fasting for God to do something in these people. God told him to call his meagre congregation to a week of prayer, which he did. Apparently, during most of the meetings the congregation sat in awkward silence. At the end of each evening Ed Miller asked the people if they felt God had said anything to any of them. There was no response at all at the end of the first meeting. When the same thing happened at the end of the second evening he pleaded with his congregation to share if anyone had even a suspicion that God may have spoken to them. One woman said she thought God may have spoken to her, but refused to divulge what it was. The same thing happened on the third night when the same woman said again she thought God had spoken to her. After much cajoling she eventually told Pastor Miller she believed God wanted her to tap on the table, but refused to do it. This happened every night and on the final night of prayer this disheartened Pastor instructed the congregation to walk around the table and to tap on it in turn. When this woman’s turn came to tap on the table every person in the room was baptised with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in tongues. This seemingly insignificant step of obedience was the spark that ignited the fires of revival that raged across the Argentine for many decades.

Following this inspiring account of the origins of Argentinean revival, David Woodfield invited Ed Miller to lead the worship. We repeated hymns and choruses more times than we were used to. We sang the chorus “The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty” so many times, I became quite exasperated. However, eventually the truth of these words seemed to reverberate throughout my whole being. Like hearing the sound of a train in the distance getting louder and louder, I began to faintly hear the sound of tongues in my head. They became louder and louder until I could not hold the unlearned language inside any longer and the words poured out of my mouth exactly as described in the book of John, ‘Out of my inner most being flowed rivers of Living Water,’ as the power of the Holy Spirit surged through me like an electrical current. I opened my eyes to see my raised hands were shaking like leaves in a thunderstorm. As I stood worshipping God I felt so euphoric I was hardly aware of anything else that was going on around me. Paradoxically, almost like a spectator to the event, I felt quite detached from this amazing phenomenon, aware I could stop it any time I chose. It was as though an invisible Tsunami had swept through the church, leaving a glorious devastation in its wake. People spontaneously left their seats to kneel at the front of the church where they wept bitterly in contrition and repentance.

It was quite late when the service finally ended, nevertheless the young people still met at Pastor Woodfield’s house as usual. We were delighted to have the privilege of being joined by Ed Miller. Everyone sat round him as he happily recounted to his captivated audience many miracles God had done in the Argentine. This fount of knowledge did not tire of answering the innumerable and diverse questions that were put to him by his listeners. I sheepishly asked, “If you were the lowest person in Heaven do you think God would like you as much as everyone else?” secretly believing that place was probably reserved for me. He must have known the reason for my question, for his kind eyes looked straight into mine as he said, “My dear, the lowest place in Heaven is a million times better than the highest place in Hell.”

Pastor Woodfield had informed the congregation he would open the church the next evening for anyone who wanted to come back for an informal meeting. He was amazed to find that nearly the entire church turned up, for so many wanted to be where the presence of God still seemed to saturate the air. The church was open all week for anyone who wished to come. Night after night the little building was filled with people, as testimony after testimony was told of what had happened to different individuals because of that extraordinary Sunday evening service. There was resounding laughter when one man told the congregation that he had been so disgusted at the noise and seeming chaos he had thrown his hymn book down on his seat with the intention of leaving the church, instead he found himself kneeling at the altar weeping before God. The congregation also giggled when a newly married young woman testified that after the service she could not speak in English. When she asked her husband what he wanted for his supper it came out in tongues! Every evening, one particular man patiently waited in the queue for his turn to tell the congregation of his experience that night. However, as soon as he attempted to speak big tears rolled down his face and he just wept into his handkerchief. Later he explained that he was so overwhelmed with the goodness of God that he cried continually for the entire week.

Although the services returned to their usual timetable, there still continued to be an almost tangible presence of God in the building. People were so eager to be at church that many arrived up to an hour before the meetings began, just to sit in the atmosphere. It seemed we touched Heaven as the Glory of God came down when we rose up in worship. With rivers of tears flowing down my face I would gaze in wonder and awe at the splendour and majesty of the risen Lord through the eyes of the Spirit, as I soared to realms no chemically induced highs I had ever experienced could compare. There was such a liberty in the services no one took exception to anything unusual that took place. Seeing one child lay hands on another and pray for them to receive the baptism of the Spirit was commonplace. When even mature Christians, who had been in the church for many years, spontaneously and uninhibitedly danced for joy before the Lord, not an eyebrow was raised. Many healings took place and people were set free from long standing issues, just from being in these Holy Spirit saturated meetings. As peoples' love for each other grew many broken relationships were healed as individuals became much more tolerant of one another’s shortcomings.

At the end of the services few people made any attempt to leave. They would sit in silence with eyes closed, soaking up the presence of God. Pastor Woodfield sometimes resorted to turning all the lights off and on in a lighthearted attempt to eject his congregation from the premises.

Click the picture to go to the book and read more about the goodness of God in the life of a British woman.

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