Ordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things
The revival God is about to bring will require the efforts of all believers. Holy Spirit “added” thousands of believers to the church in Acts chapters 1-5. However, the word used to describe their growth changed to “multiplied” from chapter 6 onward. What caused this? Ministry shifted from the apostles only to including deacons and believers in general. Holy Spirit wants to use us all. Our dear friend, Quin Sherrer, speaks powerfully of this.
“By inviting God’s abiding presence to overshadow and help us, we can make a difference in the lives of many people. Who knows when you may discover a result of your “shadow ministry” - one that may totally surprise you. You go along doing what you always do. Then boom! Someone tells you how your life impacted him or her, and you had no idea.
“Several decades ago my writing mentor, Jamie Buckingham, author of more than 40 books, was the keynote speaker at an Aglow International conference; he told this unusual story about a trip he’d made some years earlier to the Sinai Peninsula for book research. He called the book Shadow Ministry.
“When Jamie had reached the summit of Mt. Sinai - almost 7,500 feet - he walked over to a white man who was standing around with about a dozen Aborigines and inquired about them. The man said he was a missionary accompanying these men - the first Aboriginal tribe from Papua New Guinea who had ever come to Israel; they came to see where Jesus walked and to Mt. Sinai where Moses received the Ten Commandments. These Aborigines wanted to discover if the places mentioned in the Bible were real or not and would take their report back.
“They had worked to earn the money to come and had elected these representatives to make this trip. Through this missionary’s ministry in New Guinea, there were 700 to 800 Aborigines in this tribal area who now knew Jesus Christ as Lord. He told Jamie he had been in a motorcycle gang in Australia when he read a book by an American author, received the Lord, and was eventually led to going as a missionary to Papua New Guinea.
“‘You wouldn’t know an author by the name of Jamie Buckingham, would you?’ he asked.
“‘You aren’t going to believe what I am about to tell you: I am Jamie Buckingham,’ he replied.
“There was much rejoicing and handshaking. The missionary took Jamie over and introduced him to these people he’d won to Jesus. The 83-year-old chief of the tribe, who had tattoos across his cheeks, looked up into Jamie’s face and said, ‘Thank you for casting your shadow over us.’
“Jamie continued his story. ‘I had sat in my office in Florida with my Bible open. In solitude, I wrote words. Someone gifted in editing worked on it, passed it to another who printed it, then someone else gifted in distribution got it. And the shadow went up across the world, ending up in New Guinea.’ Notice, it took people with various talents to get the book into the hands of a gang member in Australia, who then became a missionary for Christ.
“Jamie challenged us saying, ‘I wonder if so much that we think is insignificant may not be the most important thing in God’s eyes. The kingdom of God is carried on the shoulders of people who occupy their shadow ministry.’ 1
“The Bible reference the chief referred to came from Acts 5:15; it’s about believers who laid their sick on beds and mats so that when Peter passed by, at least his shadow might fall on them. All of them were healed. Earlier in Christ’s ministry, He took Peter, James, and John on a high mountain where He was transfigured, and a cloud formed, overshadowing them. Father God spoke from that cloud saying, ‘This is my beloved Son, listen to Him.’ (Mark 9:7 NASB)”
I explain these two references in my book, Intercessory Prayer, along with a third passage:
Our third example of Holy Spirit’s bringing forth life as He hovered or brooded over is found in Luke 1:35, the conception of Christ in Mary. The angel of the Lord came to Mary telling her that she would bear a child. She responded by asking, “How can this be since I am a virgin?” (v. 34).
The answer was, “Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.” “Overshadow” is the Greek word episkiazo, which means “to cast a shade upon; to envelope in a haze of brilliancy; to invest with supernatural influence.” It is, in some ways, a counterpart for the Hebrew word rachaph, translated “moving” or “hovering” in Genesis 1:2. Thayer says “it is used of the Holy Spirit exerting creative energy upon the womb of the Virgin Mary and impregnating it.”
The word is only used three times in the New Testament. At the transfiguration of Jesus in Matthew 17:5, the passage says the cloud of the Lord “overshadowed” them. It is also used in Acts 5:15 when people were trying to get close to Peter - in his shadow - that they might be healed. Have you ever wondered how Peter’s shadow could heal someone? It didn’t. What was actually happening was that Holy Spirit was “moving” out from Peter - hovering - and when individuals stepped into the cloud or overshadowing, they were healed. 2
Quin goes on to say, “When we invite the Lord to overshadow us, like Peter, we can cast a shadow - have supernatural influence - on those with whom we have encounters or connections. To cast is to ‘send out, radiate, hurl, fling, give off.’ Let’s do it!
“Maybe you are saying, ‘I can’t do what a well-known author did.’ No, but you have your own sphere of influence. Years ago, a teenager shared on a Sunday night at our church, teaching us a big lesson. She had been in a juvenile detention facility in our town, she explained, but on weekends had been allowed to visit the homes of our various church families. Now, she was rehabilitated and going home.
“‘You fed me, clothed me, loved me, and best of all, you introduced me to Jesus. I am so thrilled with what Jesus has done for me. I want to thank Him. But you are Him here, so I will thank you,’ she said. ‘You are Him here,’ she repeated over and over, as her index finger pointed out across the congregation.
“Going home, indeed. She was going home to her parents. One day, she will go to an eternal home with her heavenly Father...because they cast their shadow.
“Our pastor had dozens of plaques made that read ‘You Are Him Here’ for those of us who wanted to display them in our homes as a reminder that we are Jesus’ hands extended to anyone who knocks on our door.
“‘Christ has no hands on earth but yours. No feet on earth but yours, no eyes of compassion on earth but yours. He has no body on earth but yours,’ said Teresa of Avila, a 16th-century nun.
“Who are we influencing for God? Each of us casts a shadow by the way we live our lives, what we say, how we act toward those with whom we have connections. Someone, somewhere is watching, listening, observing.
“The great harvest of souls expected soon in America could happen over backyard fences. For years, my New York City friend Janet talked to Sue about Jesus that way. Sue said she wasn’t ready to make a commitment. But on the September night, after the Twin Towers fell, she called Janet. She was ready. Janet led her in prayer and discipled her. Soon their weekly prayer meetings included other neighborhood women. I do not think it takes a tragedy to win others to Christ. We can just stay faithful to Holy Spirit’s leading and, in time, our shadow ministry will be fruitful.
“In closing, let’s hear Jamie Buckingham’s take-away. ‘You look back across your life and you will remember numbers of people who have let their shadow fall on you. Because of that, you are who you are today.’ I want to encourage you. Your shadow, perhaps unbeknownst to you, is falling on a number of other people. God is healing and God is blessing because your face is toward Jesus. Ordinary people, doing extraordinary things, through God, for God.”
“Live under the protection of God Most High and stay in the shadow of God All-Powerful.” (Psalm 91:1 CEV)
Pray with me:
Lord, overshadow me with Your presence. Help me, in turn, cast my shadow over those whom You choose. Give me creative ways to do this when there are still areas where social distancing is in effect. Help me not be bashful or intimidated, but give me boldness to speak and act as Holy Spirit guides me.
Just as You did with Mary, hover over me until I carry Your presence. I want to radiate the power of Holy Spirit in such strength that lives are changed and Christ is formed in people. Remind us daily, Father, that we are Him here.
I ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.
I will be conscious of my influence for Jesus wherever I go.
Portions of today’s post were contributed by Quin Sherrer. You can find out more about Quin here.
1 Excerpt from Quin Sherrer, Cast Your Shadow, Influence On Purpose, (Amazon, 2018), pp2-5. Taped message by Jamie Buckingham, New Orleans, 1991.
2 Dutch Sheets, Intercessory Prayer, (Ventura, CA., Regal Books,1996), p141