Prayer evangelism - 1
From an article by Transform Our World
At age 35, in San Jose, California, husband and father, Victor Pioli, was in the middle of a successful career as a firefighter, enjoying the respect of his community and content in his Catholic roots. However, a series of divinely-timed books and TV sermons came his way and stirred a hunger to know God more.
At the same time, he and his wife needed day-care for their two- year-old son and discovered the best match for him was one organized by a local Pentecostal congregation. The sense of God’s presence was strong there and as a result he became enthusiastic about a deepening relationship with God, which was intensified further yet when a friend on his street led him to a charismatic group in the Catholic Church. Something was brewing.
Victor began to devour the scriptures, serve in his local parish, assist in prayer meetings, and attend monthly charismatic liturgies. During this time, he gained favour and was even assigned as the Bishop’s liaison for the San Jose Diocese, representing him at national and international meetings. In the satisfaction of serving this prestigious post, one day he clearly heard God tell him to resign his liaison position, and start a new ministry. Victor replied in prayer, “I don’t know how to start or run a ministry!” The Lord replied back, “It’s OK, I do this all the time.” Victor gave in.
With a new ministry begun, a friend invited him to go to the Transform Our World office to learn about prayer evangelism. Victor had not commonly worked outside his church, but felt peace to go. The teaching resonated deeply and a hunger was born to learn more. The Lord then prompted him to step out further and teach prayer evangelism to a new core team of local prayer warriors from a broad range of denominational backgrounds that was forming, and he discovered that they, too, were excited. Victor says, “The book Prayer Evangelism by Ed Silvoso had a strong anointing on it, that was very apparent to everyone.”
One of the prayer team members, Joan Keller, was led to open a prayer booth at a local Farmers Market to offer prayer for felt needs to the shoppers. The manager of the shopping center where it was held, after hearing the concept, offered them space rent-free. Victor, Joan and the team began by praying blessings over everyone who passed by the booth, and engaging in conversation.
One day a man came to their booth seeking prayer. He had a heroin addiction and was an alcoholic. Victor felt the Lord say, “Pray for his deliverance.” He did and let him know that Jesus had forgiven him. Joan and Victor prayed for him to receive the Lord Jesus. The man’s physical countenance changed as he was set free and he yielded to Christ’s redemption.
Victor could feel his heart growing for the weary within his city. Soon after, one of the prayer team members, Yvonne Durand, had a burden to pray on-site for her grandson’s school, Andrew Hill High School. The school is in a high crime area of San Jose, with a concrete barrier in front of its buildings that made it look like a militarized zone. Gang members in cars would pass by the school shooting at cars in the parking lot and at the class rooms, and an officer had recently been shot and killed nearby. The school would often go into lock-down mode.
Victor and the team walked the area weekly, inviting the Lord’s presence to protect and infuse the students, teachers and administration. Soon, the shootings stopped and the barriers were removed. The Christian club grew from 4 students to 70, causing the 33 seat classroom it met in to burst at the seams.
One day, Victor asked a teacher for his prayer request. He replied that they didn’t have a contract with the school district and the teachers hadn’t received a pay rise in three years. Many teachers were also concerned that they wouldn’t have jobs after the summer break that was to begin in a few short days. He added that meetings between union and management hadn’t gone well, and that they didn’t agree on a single issue. Victor felt the Lord tell him that there was a barrier and that he was to pray right there for the Lord to resolve it. The school closed for the summer and when Victor returned to the classroom in September, he asked for an update and learned that the teachers were signing a new, three-year contract that very day and would receive an agreed-upon pay raise, with back pay!
Victor is grateful that he followed the Lord’s call and became a witness to His power to change lives. When asked to summarize his life message, he quotes Matthew 19:14: “Let the children come to me, for the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these.”
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