The church that my family and I attended before we separated, and I stayed at for two years after the separation, was a lively church. Baptist roots, but claimed to be Non-Denominational. I loved being there. It was a slight conflict because with their Baptist roots they did not believe in the Gifts of the Spirit in operation, although the Pastor was a little more sympathetic because his grandmother had spoken in tongues, but as a whole there were major differences of opinion, and experience. None of that mattered to me because they were a family, and it was good, and insightful, to experience a different Church perspective.
In August of 2009 my Pastor approached me to teach a Bible Class. We decided, since he had just been preaching on the Kingdom, that I would teach about the Kingdom of God. That was my bread and butter, I had grown up in Kingdom Theology since childhood. Our churches in the UK, and the States, along with like minded ministries, were pioneers of the Kingdom theology that is prevalent today. I decided to take the class from Genesis to Revelation and teach the Kingdom. The plan was for bi-weekly classes on a Tuesday. I began in October and finished in May 2010. By the end of the Class I had produced over 50,000 words of notes
However, showing the Kingdom is the best teacher of Kingdom theology. So every week I introduced people to the ways of the Spirit. The majority of these people had never felt the presence of the Holy Spirit. It freaked some of them out at first. I would teach them about paying attention to how your physical body responds to the presence of God. Then I would ask them if they felt that God was saying stuff to them, and people did. Visions, words of knowledge etc. Many for the first time in their life. It was wonderful.
Then we had the healings and miracles that would happen on a weekly basis. One significant healing was of the Lead Deacon’s wife. She would come and do the media stuff for me. One night she walked in and the Holy Spirit said to me – “I want to heal her tonight!” I asked her how her shoulder was, torn rotator-cuff, and she said “Same as it’s been for two years. I saw my Doctor yesterday and he will do the surgery next week”, so I said “The Holy Spirit told me He wants to heal you tonight, you up for that?”, “Yes, sounds great!”, “OK, well, Be Healed”. Instantly her shoulder freed up and Jesus healed her right there, before the Class began, in front of the people. Sunday, in front of several hundred people, she stood to testify that she was able to get back in to see her Doctor and he could not explain it. The way she told her testimony was awesome “Monday – surgery booked! Tuesday – Bible Class God heals me! Wednesday – Surgery cancelled!”, all the while swinging her arm in a circular motion.
We would have strange phenomenon happen also. One night I had a word of knowledge that there was someone with pain behind both eyes and pain in their kidneys, the same person. No one responded. I explained how you have to take risks and sometimes you get it and sometimes you miss it. Move On! About thirty minutes later this man in his fifties walked into the class looking a bit bewildered. He looked around the room and sat down near the back. I gently welcomed him, and because of the look on his face, asked him “Is there anything we can help you with? and he said “I don’t know. I was driving past the church and a voice told me to ‘Go Inside that Church’. So that’s why I am here”, then the Holy Spirit prompted me and I asked “Do you by any chance have pain behind both of your eyes and pain in your kidneys?”, startled, with raised eyebrows “Yes, yes, I do!”, I offered to pray and then set the class loose on him, and Jesus healed the man that night.
One more. One night one of my protege’s was there, a 17yr old young man with a prophetic call on his life. As I was teaching I heard the Lord say – “Tell Nick that my hand is on his life”, as I turned to where Nick was sitting and he was looking over his shoulder so I had to call his name “Nick!”, he turned to face me, “God just told me to tell you that His hand is on your life!” at which point Nick started freaking out, eyes fully opened wide in shock and looking around at others. I asked what was the matter and he said “Joe, just before you called my name I felt a hand on my shoulder. It was heavy. So I turned around to see who was trying to get my attention. There was nobody there, then you called my name NICK!” Great times.
The last three sessions of the course I taught on the Gifts of the Spirit and everything was going great until I got to tongues, prophecy and discernment. Some of the staunch Baptists started getting concerned that I was teaching error. Also, the healings and miracles had spilled over to Sunday meetings. After every service there would be a line of people seeking prayer for healing. I was loving it, others were not. I was asked to leave the Church. That was a shock. At first I declined and said that I would not teach or pray for the sick, just to submit, because these guys had become my family here. They had been with me through the most difficult time in my life. God had a different plan.
“Hi Honey, come sit next to me. My name is Joan”
I am so humbled by the people that God has allowed in my life to train and teach me. Joan is one of the greatest ever. She worked for Benny Hinn for over thirty years, and before Benny, she had worked for Kathryn Kuhlman for the last 9 years of Kathryn’s life.
One day a man called me who I had never met. He had heard about the miracles happening at the Bible Class and Church services, and he had been recounting them to Joan. I was with my kids at Bangert Park in Florissant when he called. He told me he wanted to meet up with me the next day at Church. He then mentioned that Joan wanted to have lunch with me. He told me that she worked for Benny Hinn and she knew that miracles did not happen at the church I was in because of their doctrine. At that point I didn’t know who Joan was, or so I thought. So, I met this man the next day at Church and on Tuesday I headed to the St Louis Healing Rooms, in Bridgeton, to have lunch with Joan.
My jaw hit the floor as I walked into the dining room. In my mind I said “Oh my gosh, it’s her! The woman with the big hair!” See, I have been going to Benny Hinn services since I was 15, so I had been seeing Joan since then. Benny prayed for me when I was fifteen at the Aston Villa Leisure Center in Birmingham, England. I knew little about Benny at that point, but the power hit me at 15. The crazy thing is that just three years before meeting Joan properly I had been sat only ten feet away from her when I sang in the Choir at a miracle crusade in London in 2007. I was leaping on the inside. I knew she had worked for Kathryn too, so now I knew who exactly Joan Gieson was. I was in hog-heaven. There began one of the craziest learning periods of my life as she poured into me all she had learned from Benny, Kathryn, and of course her own experience.
She had heard about me being asked to leave that Church and asked if I would teach the same class at her Healing Rooms. So I did. On the third week she approached me and asked if I would help her start a church at her healing rooms. I had some thinking and praying to do.
God’s Great Set Up
Before I explain more about my decision to help Joan begin a church at her Healing Rooms let me take you back to 2007 and what happened in the first month that I was here, as it ties in beautifully.
When I moved in November 2007 a particular leader, who was known to my family, invited himself over for coffee. In that first meeting he asked me two questions:
“What is the calling on your life? and, in the next 2-3 years, if you could be doing anything, what would it be?”
My response was my usual response – “Aw, man, I’m just happy to serve wherever I’m needed”. He pressed a little more, “I understand, but 2-3 years from now if….”, and my answer was the same. The conversation moved on.
These became weekly meetings for the next month and a half. I will admit that it was nice to talk with someone because all day I was a stay-at-home Dad, so the adult conversation was a break. To my memory, I believe that those two questions were asked, in some form, almost every week, and my answer remained the same. Except for the fifth week. In which I had this thought “What will it hurt if I tell him?”
This is what I said: “Well, in 2 to 3 years time, IF I could be doing anything it would be what Benny Hinn does. Ever since a child I’ve loved praying for the sick and the Gospel. So, what Benny does is the kind of thing I’d like to do. Also, before I moved to America I believe God told me that we (my family) would be part of a Church called Higher Ground International Church, but He said that I am not to start this Church. So, I assume that either I will be asked to help start it, or, there is already a Church existing with that name, wherever God has us move to. But He said that I’m not to start it. Finally, one of my mentors had seen a particular call on my life, but I don’t know what to do with what he saw, so I’ll leave that to God!” That was the information he had been trying to get out of me for over a month. Maybe you can see now where this is going. I noted the conversation in my Journal and forgot about it.
Fast forward three years to 2010. Joan ASKS me to help her begin a Church, and I asked her “What do you think about the name Higher Ground International Church?”, and I shared the vision God had shown me in Wales about this Church. Joan said “I love it!” and that was how I was asked to start a Church. Just because God is God and He has a sense of humor, when I was trying to register a domain name for our Church webpage I discovered that there was another Church in St Louis called Higher Ground International Ministries, so it could’ve gone both ways as I had said. That was around August 2010.
In October 2010 Joan invited us to be part of the Ministry Team at a Benny Hinn Miracle Service in Cleveland Ohio. That event was a major game changer in my life, the last night especially. The way that Benny conducts his services is to open the doors hours before the service begins so that the sick can be prayed for. Usually, one ministry team works one side of the auditorium and another the other side. We worked the right of the stage and another lady led a team on the other side. I had some time to sneak over and see what God was doing over there and saw Michael & Jessica Koulianos praying for several people. I was impressed by how long they took to pray with people, loving and caring. This was before people really knew who they were. I said to my friend “I think that’s Benny’s daughter and her husband”, I didn’t even know their names. I knew her because from being at many services over the years it was common for Benny to bring his kids on stage.
We looked official, we wore shirts and ties and had a Benny Hinn Ministries lanyard, and this person walked up asking for prayer. I prayed and instantly Jesus healed them. Someone else saw this from the stands and came down for prayer, and before me and my friend knew it, we had a long line of people. It took us almost four hours to pray for everyone and we estimate that it was at least a hundred people we prayed for. It was like heaven on earth. We saw around 85-90% of people receive instant healing, and the others partial healing. Healing power flowed easily, this was different to what I had known. I knew the power of submission and anointing. I acknowledged this being the result of serving Benny Hinn’s ministry, we were operating in the anointing upon his ministry. I said “Lord, I want an anointing like this for my life”.
I was on cloud nine that night. So grateful to God for these opportunities, and in awe of His power, might, and love for those who were suffering. Because we had seen so many healings before service we were called on by other ushers, and people, during worship, to pray for people around the auditorium. I remember going into a back office where two dear, and desperate, parents were asking me to pray for their autistic children. The main hall was too loud for them and the poor kids were having a difficult time. I mentioned to the parents that my background was working with adults and children with autism and learning disabilities, so I encouraged them to go and worship for 15-20 mintues and I would watch over, and pray, for their children. They were appreciative and went and enjoyed the worship for about ten minutes. I kept a distance from the children as they were off of their baseline. I sang gently and spoke in tongues gently, I had used this method many times before in my professional capacity, and the children began to calm down as the presence of God filled that back office. I did not see any signs of healing, but the whole episode brought hope to the parents.
At the end of the evening, after all of the people had left, we were gathering our things and a man, in his sixties if I had to guess, walked up to me and shook my hand. He said “I have been watching you the last few nights and I have seen what God has done. I appreciate the way you’ve loved and served the people. On behalf of Benny Hinn I’d like to say Thank You!”, not knowing who this man was, I simply said “No problem. Thank you, I appreciate that”. After he walked away, Frank, Joan’s husband, came up to me and said “Joe, did he offer you a job?”, I told him no, and asked who he was. Frank said “He runs Benny Hinn Ministries. There’s Benny, then there’s him. What did he speak to you about?”. So I told him what he had said and Frank, with a grin, said “Oh well done. That’s good!”
Fast forward about nine months, middle of 2011, and I was reading through my journal and I came across the entry concerning what that leader had asked me at the end of 2007. Well, three years later, almost to the month, God fulfilled two of the three things, Higher Ground Church and doing exactly what Benny Hinn does, quite literally. In 2018, the other ministry opportunity that my mentor saw in me back in 1995, came to pass. You just can’t make this stuff up.
The story serves to show that if God spoke to you, then He makes it happen. Don’t give up!!!! I have taught my kids this important lesson for years – “If God says YES and a thousand people say NO, then it’s YES. Just because the crowd shouts louder than you, if God said it then believe God. Don’t follow the crowd, stay with the power!“
All Glory to His name!
Some Media of Joan Gieson, Kathryn Kuhlman, and Benny Hinn – Click Photos to go to Video
Part 3 Coming Soon…