"I've Never Seen Anything Like This"
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Pastor John Lindell, who founded James River Church more than 30 years ago and has been in the ministry with his wife, Debbie, for 37 years, says in a voice filled with awe, “In all my years of ministry, I’ve never seen anything like this.”
Lindell says people have been healed before at James River, but nothing anywhere close to the numbers they are seeing healed on a weekly basis or the magnitude of the healings.
“Inoperable brain cancer, deafness, muscle tears, rotator cuff injuries, migraines, nerve injuries,” Lindell lists off. “People are coming from around the country to simply be prayed over . . . in some services we just have people move to stand in the aisle, and they’re being healed!”
What’s going on? Lindell says it’s all the Holy Spirit.
James River Church is a multicampus mega-church located in Southwest Missouri that sees around 11,500 to 12,000 attend every weekend.
Although the move of the Spirit with multiple healings occurring every week really “launched” over the last year, Lindell points back to a visit he had with a spiritual leader 20 years ago.
“Opel Redden, a former professor at CBC (Central Bible College), called and made an appointment,” Lindell says. “She didn’t attend our church, but she came to see me. She told me she had a word [from God] for me.”
“She told me, ‘God is going to pour His Spirit on this place.’ And I was like, that’s awesome. But then she said. ‘No. You don't understand. It’s going to be front to back, from left to right, He’s going to fill the people in this place with the Spirit of God!’”
After Redden left, Lindell considered her words carefully, but over the years, the prophetic words faded. Until now.
“Now I think about that prophecy a lot,” Lindell says. “There’s coming a moment that the presence of the Lord is going to rain down on this place like we’ve never seen and part of that is people being filled with the Holy Spirit . . .God is going to sweep through, front to back, left to right. I can’t wait to see that happen and I believe it will happen!”
Also, just prior to the presence of the Holy Spirit and His power being demonstrated through such a multitude of miracles, Lindell says he met with a minister who spoke frankly to him.
“I asked him what does it take to have a sustained move of God,” Lindell recalls. “And his response was, ‘It’s very expensive.’ So, I asked him what that meant, and he told me, ‘It will cost you everything you have.’”
Lindell says that conversation, which went on for several hours, changed how he and Debbie approach life.
“We purposed that we want to use our extra time to be with the Lord and that has really increased during the time we’ve been in this season,” Lindell says. “We just want to be with Him.”
Lindell admits that as co-pastors, he and his wife were at first intimidated by the move of the Lord — they didn’t want to do anything that would “mess it up.”
“But then God helped us realize that, hey, we didn’t make it happen in the first place — He did!” Lindell says. “All we needed to do was just walk with the Lord and allow His Spirit to work. So now, every service I’m praying, ‘Lord just show me what You want to do and what the people need?’”
HEALINGS AND TEACHING
It was after a Wednesday night prayer service that focused on the Holy Spirit when the healings really began to proliferate at James River. At the end of that service, the speaker led in a time of healing, asking the people at the altar to begin praying for one another . . . and people were being healed!
After that service, healings started to progressively increase in their frequency and location.
“We saw healings at youth camp, Wednesday nights, Sunday mornings, even Easter,” Lindell says. “We have never done a healing segment in an Easter service, but we had people step out into the aisles who wanted to be healed and people were [healed]!”
As the Spirit took hold and healings continued, Lindell says that he began holding special “come if you want” lunchtime meetings with the church staff to talk about walking in the Spirit and greater empowerment. He explains that people, including ministers, can have a diversity of views on healing, such as the way God heals.
“My goal was that we were all on the same page, all thinking the same way (according to Scripture),” Lindell says. “It really was a powerful thing.”
He followed those meetings up with similar sessions with the students who attend James River College located at the main facility in Ozark. All but a couple of the students were filled with the Holy Spirit along with many of the church’s employees (work staff).
“Baptism in the Holy Spirit is key to everything God wants to do through us,” Lindell states, “and unless we understand the necessity, power, and purpose of the Baptism, we will never prioritize it in our lives.”
Some of the miraculous healings taking place at the James River campuses have been of such a nature that when announced from the pulpit, they bring people to their feet in celebration and praises to God.
• ACL HEALED
In March 2021, 46-year-old Natalie Modglin, who attends James River South, was playing in a pickleball tournament when she heard a snap and then felt incredible pain in her knee.
“An orthopedic surgeon who specializes in sports injuries gave me an MRI,” Modglin says. “He confirmed it was a complete ACL tear — surgery would be required.”
Instead of setting an appointment immediately, Modglin and the surgeon agreed for her to come back in August after trying a rehabilitation program. However, the doctor warned her, as the ACL was a complete tear (no connections remaining), surgery would be needed to repair the ACL.
“It was about a week before my follow-up doctor’s appointment,” Modglin recalls, “and the surgeon was right — my knee was still wobbly.”
Modglin, who had frequently gone forward for prayer and healing during church services since the injury, says on August 11, she was attending a preservice prayer meeting group of about 25 people when a staff pastor mentioned someone has a prophetic word for someone in the room. The lady whom the Lord spoke to stood up and said, “Someone in the room has been praying for healing over and over and you have not received that healing yet.”
“I knew it was for me. I raised my hand and they came and prayed for me,” Modglin recalls. “All of a sudden I felt like an electricity going through my leg, like a jolt — I could actually feel the ligament mending like a buzzing inside my leg!”
That night, after service, she walked to her car, pain-free. She woke up the next morning — no pain — and her leg felt different. It felt stable. She then kept her appointment with her orthopedic surgeon.
She recalls him checking her knee, bending it, then looking at her inquisitively. “You have a stopping point now (meaning she had a ligament). What did you do?”
“I told him it was prayer,” Modglin says. That weekend she says she went out and played four hours of pickleball and her knee has remained pain-free ever since.
• HEARING RESTORED
When she was a young child, Rachelann Colson, 23, was diagnosed with degenerative hearing condition. Doctors estimated that by the time she was 30, she would be totally deaf. By July 2021 she was 75% deaf in her left ear and 50% to 60% deaf in her right ear. Hearing aids helped, but often words were still fuzzy and difficult to distinguish — and she laughs when recalling some of the struggles she had as a member of the worship team.
But that July, she was part of the James River College worship team serving at a youth camp in Indiana.
“They had a Holy Spirit/healing night at the camp,” Colson says. “I was leading worship and praying over the students when I felt the Lord tell me to start praying for myself.”
Handing off the microphone, Colson began to pray. Soon other members of the worship team gathered around her, praying. Then students started surrounding her and praying fervently as well.
The speaker, pastor Justin Smith, then anointed her with oil and began to pray.
“The first time he prayed, there was no change,” Colson says. “So, he prayed again and after just a few minutes I heard this pop and all of a sudden I could hear what everyone around me was saying — everybody was so loud! I just started sobbing and shouted out, ‘I can hear!’” She then shared what God had done for her as the students cheered and praised God.
When she visited the doctor, the doctor looked at her charts, and shook her head. For no known reason, Colson’s hearing was at 100% and she admitted she couldn’t explain it.
“I told her the Lord did this,” Colson says. “She was a believer and responded with, ‘Hallelujah! Praise God!’”
• MENISCUS HEALED
Dr. Jonathan Grantham, 53, is an orthopedic surgeon with years of experience operating on and repairing torn ligaments, muscles, tendons, and other injuries that can occur in a person’s body. So, when he felt the searing pain in his knee after stepping awkwardly, he knew he had torn the meniscus in his knee for the third time.
It was a Tuesday in February 2022 when the injury took place, and Grantham was reduced to a heavy and painful limp. He had only been attending James River Joplin for a little more than a year, but the stuff he had seen God doing week after week was amazing.
“I grew up a Sunday-morning Christian,” Grantham says. “I put my 45 minutes in on Sunday mornings, and I thought I was good for the week. Moving to Joplin and attending James River, a Pentecostal church, has been a journey of growth for me.”
The following night after the injury, Grantham attended the prayer service. When Pastor Justin Jahanshir asked those desiring healing to come, Grantham laboriously stepped forward.
“People came around me and laid hands on me and prayed,” Grantham recalls. “It was just a few minutes, when I suddenly felt the pain, almost like water, just running out of my leg! When they got done praying, the pastor asked if anyone receiving healing, I raised my hand — I had been healed!”
The next morning, Grantham says, he was still totally pain-free. In fact, he felt so good, the next week he decided to meet his son to go skiing!
“I know what they [meniscus tears] feel like, I know the natural progression,” Grantham says. “You don’t go from limping to pain-free in the space of two minutes!”
• BONES RESTORED
Tami Parsley has been attending and serving at James River for decades, currently leading the church’s preschool and the data team.
It was 2019 and Parsley, then 51, was helping her husband move a couch when she literally heard and felt her back break — in excruciating pain, they headed to the ER where their fears were confirmed.
“The doctor told me I had fractured the L5 and had a hairline fracture in the L1 vertebrae,” Tami says. “But they had a more serious concern. If a bone breaks when you fall, that’s one thing; if it breaks when you lift, that can signal something more serious — under normal stress, bones shouldn’t just break.”
Parsley went to Cooper Clinic in Dallas to be evaluated and have a DEXA (bone density) scan taken.
“I had scans taken in 2015 and at that time they showed normal, healthy bones,” Parsley says. “When I had my scans in 2019, my bones had fallen into the identification range for severe osteoporosis.”
Osteoporosis is basically the ongoing deterioration of bone tissue, which weakens the bones, and increases the risk of fracture. Parsley already had two fractures.
However, after multiple tests, the doctors could not figure out why she was experiencing the bone loss. But Parsley wasn’t done. She made other appointments with specialists, including the Mayo Clinic, a specialist in St. Louis, and another at the University of Texas Southwestern. She also became an avid researcher of bone health — changing her diet and using a bio-density machine to improve her bone health.
In 2020 she had another scan of her bones. Her results were worse. In 2021, her bones had declined even more.
“I was told that the strength and health of my bones had deteriorated to the point where I was on par with a woman in her 90s,” she says. “My chiropractor had to treat me as an advanced senior patient otherwise my bones would break.”
During this time, and the reason for a chiropractor, Parsley’s ribs in her back and chest began to unexpectedly and painfully pop loose. From that point on she had to visit a chiropractor once a week to keep her bones properly aligned.
“Doctors couldn’t diagnose what was causing bone loss, so they advised me to go on medication,” Parsley says. “But I was told once I go on it, I couldn’t go off of it and there were so many serious side effects — so I declined.”
The journey was very hard and discouraging at times for Parsley. However, she determined in her heart and mind that she could walk through this as long as God was with her. So, no matter what negative thoughts the devil might whisper in her ear, she decided that she would continue to ask people to pray for her at every opportunity she had.
“Every time I went up for prayer, I could feel God’s presence, His love for me — that He heard me and was with me,” Parsley says. “I recall someone saying that God heals in different ways — sometimes instantly, and sometimes more like a time-release capsule.”
It was March 2022, and she and her husband were driving to visit family in North Carolina. Suddenly she remembered there was a clinic in Charlotte that specialized in bone issues — and it was also time for her next DEXA test. She made an appointment.
“They have the latest technology there for evaluating bone density,” Parsley says. “You can actually watch the machines work. They did six different scans . . . and every report was ‘No osteoporosis, bone strength good.’ The doctor is looking at my records, and says, ‘I can’t explain this . . .’ and I’m bawling, ‘God healed me!’ and he says, ‘No, this doesn’t make sense. You do not have osteoporosis at all!’ When he said that, I asked him to say it again so I could record it on my phone — and he did!”
Since then, Parsley says she has sent her results to all the doctors she had visited. Some, who are believers, were excited with her for God’s healing touch; others, like the doctor in North Carolina, were left perplexed, grappling to put their minds around the miraculous.
“There is healing in His name,” Parsley says of the Lord. “And during these three years, God has given me a verse to hold onto that has come to pass: Isaiah 40:31 — But they that wait upon the Lord, will renew their strength . . . .”
These were just four examples of what’s taking place on campus. What’s more is that during the COVID outbreak, online viewership of James River Church services got up to 55,000 weekly, individual viewers (no multipliers). But since the Spirit has started moving in such powerful ways, online viewership has increased to 84,000 — and people are writing in saying how they’ve experienced healing while viewing an online service.
What’s taking place at the James River Church campuses is what one might call a cyclical pattern.
Through prayer, praise, and faith, the Spirit has performed “signs and wonders” in an ever-increasing fashion. As people are miraculously healed, prayer, praise, and faith of the body of believers increases. As prayer, praise, and faith increases, as more and more people are filled with the Holy Spirit, more of the miraculous occurs through the power of the Holy Spirit — and the pattern continues to repeat.
Modglin, Colson, Grantham, and Parsley readily agree. Each note how their faith has been bolstered in powerful ways — believing and coming to services expecting the Holy Spirit to move in a miraculous way.
And as the Bible clearly states, one of the purposes of signs and wonders is to draw the lost to Christ. Lindell says that every week 80 to nearly 100 people are accepting Christ — numbers the church has never seen on a sustained basis.
“There is a renewal of hunger for the empowerment of the Holy Spirit and with that the demonstration of the Spirit’s power,” Lindell says. “I think some leaders are afraid they would turn people off if they pursued those expressions. But man, when God is in a place, people know it.”
Yet, as Lindell has warned, if this move of the Spirit stays within the walls of James River Church, it will also die within those walls.
“The way to get change from the murder rate, crime, domestic abuse, drugs, and so many other things impacting our communities is that God’s people become so full of the Holy Spirit, that they’re able to carry the Spirit’s power outside the four walls of the church,” he says. “We need to take this to our friends, neighbors, people we don’t know — we’re starting to see that happen, but my prayer is that it happens much more as our communities desperately need it.”
Although the move of the Spirit has been increasingly apparent over the last year on James River campuses, Lindell says that he believes this is just the beginning.
“I believe we’re on the front end of this, not in the backend or the middle,” he says. “There’s more to come — we haven’t seen anything yet.”
Noting that there is a new openness and understanding of the importance and value of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, it is also the prerequisite to experiencing the power of the Lord in a miraculous dimension.
“Jesus said you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you (Acts 1:8) and unless we have that power and the Holy Spirit remains on us, we will not see signs and wonders,” he says. “It requires walking in sensitivity to the Lord; it’s there for the taking; it's there for people who desire it and God delights in showing Himself powerful.”
However, Lindell makes clear that this move of the Spirit isn’t just for James River. He believes that prophetic messages given over a century ago may be coming to pass — where another outpouring of the Spirit will spread across the land and that the outpouring will continue to build until the return of the Lord and lead to a great awakening.
“I’m praying for a greater Baptism than we ever had before, but I still have not yet received what I’m seeking. I know there’s more for me and I want the ‘more’ . . . Debbie and I are pressing in, our staff is, the church is, and I can’t wait to see what happens.”