Mahesh Chavda leans into the podium, tilts his head and smiles, his face shimmering with specks of gold that seem to be seeping through his pores. Speaking with gentle authority, he talks about a few miracles of healing then suddenly stops.
Looking over the audience packed into the giant tent his Fort Mill, South Carolina, church has called home for the last 10 years, he asks, “Is there a Pamela here who has breast cancer? Please stand.” A woman responds. The presence of God transforms her face as she receives healing.
Miracles of healing occur regularly when Chavda calls out words of knowledge or touches peoples' foreheads. Ministering with his wife, Bonnie, whom some refer to as a prophetic powerhouse, he encourages people not only to receive more from God but also to get involved in intercession, reconciliation, and transformation of individuals and nations.
For the last 30 years, Mahesh, now 59, and Bonnie, 50, have traveled around the globe, preaching and leading people to Christ. As they speak, God manifests His presence. In recent years, people have reported seeing what they call glory clouds or gold dust and feeling sudden winds blowing inside the tent while the air outside is perfectly calm.
They saw their first glory cloud a few years ago. Mahesh noticed that the congregation seemed distracted and had ceased listening to him. Instead, they were poking each other and pointing to the middle of the tent, where a bright cloud swirled about, leaving the viewers awe-struck. The cloud remained for almost half an hour.
“It was beaming with light and glittery, gold-like particles,” Mahesh says. “It released a great sense of love and honor for the Lord Jesus in our midst.”
The healings and dramatic signs are not just conference phenomena. Nor do they occur more spectacularly when the Chavdas minister overseas. They happen on a regular basis in the church the Chavdas pastor, All Nations Church & Healing Center near Charlotte, North Carolina.
Some months ago, a wind began circling inside the tent while Mahesh was speaking, causing many people to think that a windstorm raged outside.
“We honestly didn't realize that it was a Holy Ghost wind blowing. People walking in from the outside let us know that the weather was calm and clear outside. The wind blew only inside the tent,” Bonnie explains.
Of all the signs the Chavdas say are manifestations of God's presence, the phenomenon of “glory” dust seems to captivate peoples' attention the most. Reports of gold-colored dust appearing on peoples' hands and heads have come from all over the world in recent years.
Bonnie first noticed a glint of the dust on Mahesh's cheek about seven years ago during a private gathering in celebration of a friend's birthday. She thought it was silly for a grown man to look as if he'd been playing with glitter. Not realizing it was a spiritual manifestation, she says, she went over, sat on the edge of his chair, nonchalantly brushed it off and then walked away. In a few minutes another gold-colored speck appeared on his face.
“When I noticed it happening again I knew it was coming from inside out. There was something in the anointing, a manifestation in the spirit that happened,” Bonnie says.
Since then, when Mahesh is sitting quietly during a meeting, meditating on the Word, the gold-colored particles often appear. At times they seem to come from within him. At other times, they rain down upon him as he speaks or upon those who come forward for prayer.
From Glory to Glory
Mahesh's life reads like a storybook of miracles. Born in Kenya to Hindu parents in 1946, Mahesh says he received a vision of Jesus while a teen that gave him the courage to break with tradition and convert to Christianity. Later he attended college in west Texas, planning to work his way through graduate school and earn a doctorate in English.
In 1972, God interrupted his career plans. After Mahesh received the baptism in the Holy Spirit and his mother was dramatically healed, he believed God was calling him to a different “school of higher education,” so he went to work at the Lubbock State School for Mentally Handicapped Children. It was there that he learned about the role prayer and fasting play in healing.
He also learned what he believes to be the secret to the anointing-that love is the foundation for every miracle. While working with profoundly handicapped children he observed that the more he allowed the Lord's tenderness, compassion and mercy to flow through him to the children, the more they responded. Their behaviors started changing, and many came to a higher level of functioning.
One boy with severe Down Syndrome was prone to raging out of control, mutilating himself and banging his head against the wall. Mahesh took the boy's case before God in prayer and heard Him reply, “This kind can only come out with prayer and fasting.”
After a 14-day fast, Mahesh took the boy into a small room and talked to him as if he were capable of understanding. Suddenly, Mahesh felt a surge of faith and anointing. He rebuked the spirit afflicting the boy and watched as God released him from his torment.
This incident taught Mahesh about the power of evil spirits to bring heartache and illness to people, the greater power of the name of Jesus Christ, and the importance of fasting-lessons that have played a vital role in his life and ministry ever since. Yet the greater miracle, according to Mahesh, was the heart of compassion birthed in him during those years, which he claims is the key to his anointing to heal and see miracles manifest in his ministry.
While pastoring a church in Texas Mahesh met Bonnie, a rancher's daughter from New Mexico who was attending a local college. They married in 1976 and started a family. The next year the couple moved to South Florida to co-pastor a church with the late Derek Prince and spent the next 18 years ministering in Florida and around the world.
During a time of ministry in Africa, they saw hundreds of thousands of people come to Christ and numerous physical healings. In every crusade or meeting, people with hideously disfiguring and fatal diseases, their open sores festering and putrid, pressed toward Mahesh for healing. He not only touched them on the forehead as he prayed but also took them in his arms.
The results were astounding. AIDS victims were instantly healed, children crippled with polio jumped up and walked, and the blind regained their sight. Sorcerers found themselves frozen to the ground unable to place curses on the Chavdas or regain normal functioning until they had accepted the Lord.
The Chavdas say that in 1986, while still co-pastoring with Prince in Florida, they experienced a visitation of the Holy Spirit that lasted for many weeks. Prince called it the most powerful visitation he had ever experienced.
Afterward, Prince decided to move to Jerusalem. The Chavdas believed that God was calling them to move their family of four children to the Carolinas. Soon after they moved, God visited them again.
“When we moved the presence was manifest around us,” Mahesh says. “Often when I came home I would have bodies lying on the floor in my house, faces full of awe in the presence, drunk in the Spirit. This continued for some weeks.”
Mahesh says that during this visitation the Lord said, “Watch with Me.” Mahesh understood this to mean that he and Bonnie should start a prayer watch. So in 1994 they began gathering local believers together to seek the Lord weekly at Friday night “Watch of the Lord” services, which continue today.
Since the beginning, people have traveled from out of state to attend the watch and pray all night. Rather than trying to pump up faith for healing, they simply worship God. Healings and miracles have become commonplace in the last 10 years.
“Our expectations are in the Lord; we don't make any demands of the Lord for healings. We pray in obedience to him,” Mahesh explains.
“You lay hands on the sick and these signs follow those who believe. He heals the sick. We don't have healing expectations, but if He chooses to heal, wonderful. If not, we still give Him the glory.”
The Chavdas started All Nations Church at the same time as the watch and have been slowly building on the property they purchased. After 10 years of meeting in a tent, the congregation expects to break ground for a sanctuary soon.
In the meantime, their Friday night watch service is linked to some 2000 groups in 180 nations live via Internet. Their weekly television magazine, The Watch, is also broadcast on cable across India, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Nepal and is carried in the U.S. on Inspiration Network.
Passing It On
Though the Chavdas still minister around the world, they are focusing more on releasing the anointing through their local congregation. According to Bonnie, “God is restoring His glory to the church. We are past the era of the individual mountaintop experience. God is a family man.”
They believe that this release of God's glory to the church results in a corporate anointing that will reside in many churches. In the months and years to come, they say, the world will recognize that there are places where God is manifest and that those places are where miracles happen.
Mahesh sees the level of anointing for healing continually increasing in his church. “I feel like God is moving us toward another level of anointing which is more corporate. That is where the commanded blessing of the Lord comes upon us and we learn to dwell together in unity.”
Peter and Monica Floyd discovered the power of that corporate anointing when the church placed their son Michael at the head of the prayer list and called the members to a 21-day fast. Michael had been diagnosed with Tourette's syndrome, a neurological condition that causes verbal and motor tics and includes symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder and obsessive-compulsive tendencies (repetitive thoughts and behaviors a person cannot control).
For six years, Michael's tics worsened until he had one almost every second and had to be taken out of school. He endured rounds of medication to correct symptoms, but they caused either rapid weight gain or emaciation as a side effect. At one point, Michael couldn't swallow or breathe.
“After almost four years of seeing a lot of different specialists and counselors, we were drained,” Peter says. “The church had already done a lot of praying for us, but they decided to pray and fast for 21 days.”
Not long after the fast ended, the Floyds were sitting down to dinner when Peter looked at his son and said, “Hey, we haven't seen any tics,” Peter recalls.
“Here at home we'd gotten used to them and didn't know the exact moment they stopped,” he continues. “It was a matter of weeks before we realized they were totally gone.”
His pediatrician believes Michael's healing is a miracle. But the specialists said that Michael could simply be in remission and asked the Floyds to wean him slowly off the medications he was taking. It's been a year since Michael has been off all medication, and the tics have not come back.
Mahesh says of healings such as Michael's that are occurring at the church: “The community is being trained to love and welcome the anointing and honor the King of glory. The more we have learned to have corporate grace, the better it is.”
It is an anointing they hope to impart not just to individuals but also to pastors and entire congregations.
“We're loosing the mystique of the anointing away from the pulpit ministry and into the domain of the everyday believer for use in every situation,” Bonnie says. “With the disintegration of the nuclear family amidst increasing signs of Christ's coming, people are seeking community, identity, relevance and empowerment. It is the hour for the saints of God to impact our era.”
The Chavdas are training them to do that partly through the rerelease of the book The Hidden Power of Healing Prayer (Destiny Image). In it, Mahesh encourages readers to lay hold of the healing anointing.
“There are some who have exceptional graces, but all of us have plenty of opportunity to pray for others,” Mahesh says. “This book is about how to increase that healing grace.”
They are also mentoring others through their new yeshiva-style ministry training center, Zion College, launched last year at All Nations Church. Using their combined wisdom and experience from three decades in international ministry, the Chavdas hope to equip a new generation of prophetic healers.
“The anointing is caught as much as it is taught,” Mahesh says. “The Great Commission is for disciples who have been trained in both word and deed. In this setting, classroom instruction is combined with personal mentorship and practical hands-on training for real life situations.”
Mahesh believes that the current proliferation of ministry schools in the United States is part of the Holy Spirit's strategy during this time in church history. “Certain places will be like wells where the river will come rushing forth, where people will be mentored and will in turn affect the nations,” he says.
The Chavdas' vision is to offer significant training opportunities to anyone who is eager to do the works of Jesus.
“Christians are not to be immobilized by the darkness increasing in every nation,” Mahesh says. “We are to be captivated by God and His glory being poured out now. It's time to arise and shine. As watchmen called to lead our families, cities and nations, a great day of destiny is upon us all.”
Julia Loren is a freelance journalist and the author of several books. For more information on the Chavdas' ministry, go to www.maheshchavda.com.
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