There is a large and growing number of people in this country who believe that miracles exist today – that the miracles performed in the Bible, can be performed today. Calling themselves Christians and using the Bible as their guide book, these people are demonstrating that the human body can be healed by faith and that with God’s guidance, other problems can be solved as well.
These “Christians” are not just another denomination. Interestingly, many of them belong to branches of old line churches or denominations. Often, the churches are called charismatic, full gospel, or faith churches.
The Catholic Church, for example, has a large and well accepted Charismatic movement, with Father DiOrio of Worcester and several Boston priests prominent in this area.
Many Episcopalian churches are Charismatic. Oral Roberts University with its City of Faith Hospital is part of the United Methodist Church. Some Baptist and Congregational Churches are Charismatic. The movement is also characterized by widely viewed TV ministries such as Richard Roberts, the 700 Club and the PTL Club.
Most of the Charismatic churches springing up throughout Massachusetts and the country, however, do not belong to a particular denomination. They are independent, with names that reflect their fundamentalist beliefs and often include the words: faith, life, alive, believers, full gospel.
It is interesting that Charismatics call themselves Christians, not Baptists, Methodists, or independents. It is also interesting that the teachings in all of these churches are very much similar, an indication – one might assume – that they are inspired by the same source.
Charismatic churches range from small to large, but most are growing rapidly. Beginning churches meet in homes, back rooms of businesses, in industrial buildings and studios. Many meetings are ecumenical in nature, bringing members of several churches together for prayer and worship.
Several churches in western states have grown to more than 10,000 members each in less than 10 years. South Korea has the largest single Full Gospel church with a membership of 500,000.
Higher Ground Ministries
Pastor Kerry Twing’s “Higher Ground” church in Gardner, Mass., is one of many young and growing ministries in the area. The 32-year old Twing’s ministry started four years ago with a Bible study held in his home. When the group grew to 15, it moved to a local church, then to the Town Hall in Westminster and Twing started to study for the ministry.
As more members brought their friends, membership increased to 75. Sunday School classes were being held in hallways and the nursery was filled to overflowing with babies and toddlers.
The new church, in a rented space, was previously a meat packing plant. Members built a sanctuary, Sunday school rooms and two offices, clearing out musty and cobweb covered meat freezers and erecting wall-board to cover the steam pipes.
The sanctuary with its 12-foot white walls now gleams with cleanliness, the room comfortable and neatly decorated. The carpeted platform supports a handsome wooden podium highlighted by a simple brown cross. Plants and flowers provide decoration.
The front office has a full-time secretary. The pastor’s office is nicely decorated with comfortable furniture. There are three Sunday School rooms, a new nursery, and a room for clothing donations for the needy.
“God led us here and already our attendance has doubled,” Pastor Twing said. “Now our Sunday School is about 75. Our rooms are full already.”
Higher Ground is one of the many independent churches in Massachusetts. “We teach the Word of God, straight from the Bible. We believe that the Bible and God through His Holy Spirit has answers for every problem in life – family, financial, sickness, alcohol, drugs. Through His Word, God has given us formulas to solve all our problems, but we’re just starting to understand them,” said Twing.
Attending A Service
To attend a Charismatic service is a bit of a shock to those reared in staid New England church tradition. Every member and visitor is welcomed with a hug and is introduced to others, if time allows.
On the left of the sanctuary are stands with books and tapes for sale. And on the right is a piano and a recording station for recording the preacher’s message. As the praise and worship portion of the service begins, the congregation stands and the upbeat music begins. Two guitar players lead the worship, stopping from time to time to praise God and offer words of hope and encouragement. To aid the congregation, words of the songs are projected on a screen via an overhead projector.
Although you may be taken aback at first, it doesn’t take long to catch the beat and feel the enthusiasm of the group. Hands are raised in praise in some songs, in others, clapping is loud and vigorous. The words of the songs praise God and there is an energy in the air which fills your whole body and is strong and healing.
Looking around in the congregation, you’ll note a difference from other crowds. Most faces are excited and even joyful. If you have attended services over a period of time, you have seen these faces change from pale and tense to bright and joyful. People seem to get better looking each week, said Twing. Features improve and so do personalities and problems.
At the end of the 1/2 hour or more praise and worship period, the collection is taken. Pastor Twing, unlike some other pastors, trusts God for the church finances. There is no great plea for giving, the offering is free will – whatever you care to give. Twing believes that if he tends to the needs of his parishioners, God will provide for him, according to Bible promises.
Charismatic Christians are normally generous givers, tithing or giving the church one tenth of their income as the Bible describes. Most find that instead of depleting their resources, it enriches them, that God gives back much more than they have given.
So far, the formula has worked for Higher Ground. The new church has no debts, is supporting youth group activities, and boasts new tape copying equipment.
Can just saying a simple prayer, like they do on TV, change your life and give you peace and comfort? Pastor Twing says it can. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve done, God will forgive you. All you have to do is ask Him to forgive you and ask Him to become Lord of your life.” Asking forgiveness and asking the Holy Spirit to guide you, brings change, he says. It’s just that easy. According to scripture, we become renewed inside, old things are passed away.
Sometimes a great change takes place very quickly. Negative thinking people lose their negativity and depression. They get energy and start accomplishing things instead of running in little circles. They start reaching out and helping others.
As we see ourselves change, we become encouraged, and our faith is strengthened. With God’s help, we really can change, said Twing, we can break habits such as drugs and alcohol and break them without the agonies of withdrawal.
This doesn’t mean that you won’t ever have any problems. What it does mean is that you’ll have the strength of God to face those problems and His strength to overcome them.
Knowing that we need to change is important. So many people run from material goal to material goal, thinking that the next goal will bring them happiness. If only I had a better job, a bigger house, or that fancier boat, then I’ll be happy. They reach that goal, but they’re still not happy so they set another goal and the same thing happens.
When we make God values central in our lives, like love for our families and kindness to others, we find that peace and fulfillment we’ve been seeking and material goods just don’t mean as much any more, said Twing.
In the past, Christians have made some of the biggest mistakes and have set a really poor example in many cases. We’ve pointed at each other, particularly at other churches, exclaiming that we are right and they are wrong. God hasn’t asked us to criticize each other, He has asked us to love and help each other.
Instead of seeing the bad, in churches and individuals, we need to bring out the good in each other. We need to let God, through the person’s conscience, do the correcting. It’s not our job.
I was once a pretty wild character said Twing. I raced motocross in California, had almost a black belt in karate, and played guitar in a rock and roll band. I’m not proud to say it, but I was a bar room brawler, using almost any excuse to pick a fight.
My family came from Westminster, MA, but moved to California when I was 11. At age 18, I moved back and got a job as a technician at Digital’s Westminster plant. I was there for 13 years. A year and a half ago, I left to go into the fuIl- time ministry.
For a time Twing watched as some of his co-workers “found Jesus” and changed, and he kidded them for being gullible. But one day, a co-worker with a small New Testament started to talk to him about the signs of the end times – the earthquakes, famines, disasters, etc., that the Bible states signify the second coming of Jesus.That got me, he said. I saw these things going on now. That’s when I started looking into the Bible and got turned onto the right track.
Church member Betsy (not her real name), told of the changes that have gone on in her life in recent months.
Betsy explained that she works in a bank where raises are given only once a year. “My boss came up to me the other day and told me that my attitude and my work habits had improved so much that he was going to give me a special raise. I almost fell off my chair. I knew I had changed. But I didn’t realize that he noticed.”
Betsy stated that her marriage had improved and her children were better behaved. She stated that her brother came to the church first. He had had an alcohol problem which started at age 16, and lasted some 14 years – a problem which destroyed his marriage.
He was back living at home and one day, out on the tractor, he hit his lowest point. He got off the tractor, threw himself on the ground and prayed for God to save him. The alcohol problem just went away.
He decided that if God was that powerful, he wanted to learn more. About one year ago, he started coming to Twing’s church. He came home all fired up talking about God’s Word and what was happening at the church and started talking to another brother who had a 13 year drug problem. Both of them are clean and free now and going to church. Then my sister started coming and now me.
“Even my folks have been affected. Dad drank and was losing his memory. He’s off alcohol now and is a changed person. He’s even smiling,” she said. “And we’ve just been praying for him. He hasn’t even been to church yet.”.
One thing is important to know, Twing added. You can’t think or reason your way to God. You can only get to God by faith. You don’t take Him into your head, He enters your heart. You can’t think Him, you must feel Him!
The Bible shows that it is easiest for the simple people to reach God – that you have to become as a child to enter the Kingdom of God. Highly educated people often have a difficult time experiencing this spiritual realm, but there are many notable exceptions which include some of our most famous scientists and writers such as Einstein and Thoreau. In fact, many of them credit God as the source of the inspiration and gifts which they gave to the world.”
Hearing from God
How does God or the Holy Spirit talk to you? With most people, Twing says, He’s pretty direct. While they are reading the Bible and meditating on the Word of God, thoughts just pop into their head. Some people call these thoughts intuition.
Many people find that early morning is the best time to “break for God” while it is quiet and before the bustle of the day begins. The more you learn and the more you act on God’s Word, the more skilled you become at understanding God’s messages. For example, if a plan of yours becomes thwarted, you may realize that perhaps God had a different plan and His was really better in the long run.
How do you know that the direction comes from God? There are all kinds of voices around, particularly the voice of our inner selves. With our own selfish needs in mind, we don’t make good decisions. With Jesus inside us, we become whole, i.e., we don’t have to constantly ‘get,’ from others or selfishly do things for ourselves. Now we are strong enough to give to others.”
Also, if the direction comes from God, it usually gives you peace inside, not upset. If a decision makes you nervous or tight inside, it is probably the wrong one. The ultimate test is whether the decision is in keeping with the Bible, said Twing. If it isn’t in line with what the Bible teaches, the answer is in error, said Twing.
If you study the Bible, when a problem arises, you will know what the Word of God directs under those circumstances. And you should know the Word so well that the right verse comes immediately to your mind. Then there is absolutely no question as to what God would have you do.
Does the Bible cover everything we need to know for today? The problems may look different but they are not really, said Twing. All problems of the world – sickness, war, drugs, unhappiness – would be solved if we followed God’s prescription for life. It’s actually breaking these laws, that brings on the problems.
The Effect of Emotions
Studies are now finding that many physical and mental problems are linked to bad experiences in childhood, such as rejection, lack of love, or lack of attention from parents.
These emotions lead to hurt, despair and discouragement which can later become anger, and bitterness, and even the desire to maim or kill. When we reach back to the source of these problems, and forgive the individuals involved, we free ourselves. It’s like lifting a weight off of our bodies and minds. We feel light and free. We start to understand that those who hurt us were probably hurt by their parents in the same way.
This God of ours is a very personal God. He will solve all of our problems, if we take time to pray before we act. Ideally, we should use Him in every facet of our lives as our doctor, our lawyer, our psychiatrist, our accountant. It’s not that we give up going to doctors or lawyers or accountants, although sometimes that might be true, but He directs us to the right people and places at the right times.
With God in charge, things appear to “just happen,” but looking back you can see that it was part of a plan. For example, you might just “happen” to turn on the radio or TV and hear a program that gives you information you need. Or you just “happen” to meet someone who has the right answer.
You’re never quite sure where the path will lead, but you have peace within you. When you are assured that God is on your side, you stop struggling. You learn to let God carry your burden.
The Gifts of the Spirit
Twing added, God doesn’t just talk to you, He talks through you also. The Bible says that if you are a believer, you will speak in other tongues. It is the sign that you have been Baptized with the Holy Spirit.
When difficulties arise, praying in tongues, either aloud or to yourself, not only calms you, but it gives you answers and wisdom from God.
The best way to start is by making a sound. You start the sound, then the Holy Spirit continues that sound. It just comes out of you with little effort on your part. The sounds may be primative at first, ah, ah, ah, or di, di, di, ni, ni, ni, etc. But as you practice, the language becomes more sophisticated.
Tongues is a special language in which you can communicate directly with God and as the Bible says, edify yourself. The word edify in the Greek means” charge yourself like a battery.”
Most members of Charismatic congregations pray in tongues – in languages that sound like foreign languages – and a few can interpret what they say. Often during the services God speaks to the congregation through one or more people. That same person may interpret the message or someone else might interpret the message. The language is usually beautiful, quite poetic, and God normally speaks to the congregation in the first person.
When such messages are being received, the pastor usually stops the service and lets God lead it. God may lead the pastor to healing or He may just speak to the congregation giving them a message of direction or encouragement.
Our spiritual beings are very complex, according to Twing. As imperfect beings we are made up of negative feelings and positive feelings, in constant war with each other.
The negative feelings can be almost any negative word in the dictionary. Commonly you would think of fear, hate, jealousy, anger, intolerance, greed, but they also include negative habits such as addictions to drugs and alcohol. The positive feelings include all the opposite of the above such as love, tolerance, calmness, generosity, kindness, etc.
The negative feelings can start at our birth, actually be inherited, but often they come into our lives when we are at weak points, such as when we are treated badly by someone, suffer a severe trauma, such as the loss of a loved one, or have a physical accident. Negative feelings beget more negative feelings and displace the positive ones.
As we are now learning, these negative feelings can very definitely influ ence our physical bodies, actually interrupting the energy flow to our vital organs and causing disease.
When we learn to communicate with God through the Holy Spirit, we can begin to pray away these negatives, and welcome in the positive feelings, releasing tensions inside us that have built up over the years.
Without the guidance of God, few serious problems can be dispensed with. People try again and again on their own to shake unwanted habits without success. With God’s help, the release is often easy and the change is permanent.
Using Jesus’ Name
The Bible says that if you are a believer, you can use Jesus’ name to cast out devils (these negative feelings and thoughts) and to lay hands on the sick and they will recover. This statement doesn’t give this gift just to special people such as pastors. It means exactly what it says – it is a gift that belongs to any believer, says Twing.
The person receiving the healing is purged of problems, often many at once. In fact, sometimes the energy flow feels like a pouring that is perceptible to both parties. At other times, no such feeling occurs, yet healing takes place. In all cases, the person doing the laying on of hands is just a facilitator. The healing takes place between the person being healed and the Holy Spirit.
At the church in Gardner, there are cures at almost every service – everything from sinus problems and arthritis to cancer and heart disease. When you pray for or with someone, God often tells you what to pray, says Twing. He’ll tell you what areas in that person’s life need healing such as a personal relationships. Or He might reveal an area of the body that needs healing.
Pastor Twing, for example, gets “words of knowledge.” Like Evangelist Richard Roberts, he will get the thought that someone in the congregation is having a difficult time sleeping, or having pain in the right wrist, etc. When that person comes forward for prayer, he or she will often be healed.
To get these gifts, you have to learn about God’s promises, says Twing. They are free. Many, if not most people think they have to be without sin to come to Jesus. Just the opposite is true. Jesus’ ministry was to sinners.
All you have to do is confess your sins, ask forgiveness, and have an honest desire to change. God doesn’t expect you to be perfect, even after you receive the Holy Spirit. He knows you are going to fall, but He’s ready to pick you up again.
Once you open up, the gifts start coming, healing, prophecy, words of knowledge, all described in the Bible’s book of First Corinthians. Looking backward, you’ll be able to see that you are following a path – that you are actually being led to greater knowledge and awareness of yourself, of God, and of the people around you.
To Learn More
To learn more, start reading your Bible. Dust it off and get started. Then find a church that teaches the fully gospel and start learning, says Twing. Make the decision to come to Christ and start following the path he lays out for you.
That path will be different for everyone. Each of us has a different purpose, a different vocation, in God’s plan. We just have to find out what it is. God doesn’t want little automatons – each cast in the same mold. Also, he wants you to be interested and willing. You’ll find that the Holy Spirit is a gentleman. He never pushes. He allows us to choose.
If you already have a church, take what you have learned back to your church. I believe that God wants the churches to change, not people to change churches, he said.
It’s interesting that God’s world would eliminate most of our present occupations – doctors, lawyers, psychiatrists, police, pharmacies, jails, weapons manufacturers, hospitals. But there would be no unemployment either. God has jobs for all his people.
According to Twing, there’s one more thing … get started soon. If you check Bible prophecy, the signs show that time is getting short, Jesus is coming back soon!
DLH – 1986
Written for Pastor Kerry Twing
Dot produced as an 8-page booklet tract
Higher Ground Ministries Today
Prior to launching this website, I decided to look up Higher Ground Ministries in Gardner, MA. After almost 30 years, I wondered if they still existed. I found that they not only exist but are thriving. Pastor Kerry died unexpectedly in 2009 but Pastor Ginny, his wife, has committed to carry on their original vision of thousands coming to know Jesus, serving the community, especially the youth, and making disciples to reach the nations.
The church now owns and uses all four floors of the building which has housed many different businesses.
Other family members have taken up the reins with Pastor Ginny. Daughter Katie’s husband, Jonathan Kamenski, is Senior Pastor. Pastor Katie leads praise and worship, preaches occasionally and oversees the Youth Center. Daughter Sarah’s husband, Dave Hessel, is one of the lead singers on the Praise Team while Sarah fills in wherever needed.
Please check out their website. Services on Sunday are at 10 am and there are services throughout the week. I know you will feel welcome if you are in the area.
Here is a connection to their website: http://hgministries.org/