A Studentís Life in Canada
by Claudia Wintoch
taken from News from Vienna 14 (Dec 1996)
It was my first overseas-flight and I enjoyed it very much. Like the whole week before my departure, Jesus was incredibly near to me in a very special way. During the flight I thought I was still dreaming like all those months before. I was so excited and it seemed even more unreal when I landed in Vancouver and got off the plane. It had always been one of those ďunachievableď dreams to go to North-America, and here I was, after 7 months of dreaming about Canada! I was totally overwhelmed at the goodness of God, how He had made everything possible! My Austrian friend Stefan, who studies at Vancouver, picked me up and took me to his home. Everything was totally unreal and like a dream to me. It actually took me over a week to grasp that I was really there and not just dreaming like all those months before.
From Tuesday (Sep 10) to Sunday I stayed in Vancouver. I took in as much as possible of all the new things I saw, the new culture, surrounding, etc., every detail. I also went to lectures at Regentís College with my friend, which I enjoyed very much. But all the time I was like on needles, hardly being able to await getting to Kelowna. Before that, Stefan invited me to their college-retreat that very weekend and so I have also been to the States now ! We went to Warm Beach, Washington, unfortunately only over night, so I have been to the USA for 24 hours. I was a really nice day though.
Finally Sunday came and I took the Greyhound to Kelowna. I was totally excited and looking forward to everything, no nervosity at all. When I arrived, I felt like dreaming again as I was picked up and taken to the camp. I had been day-dreaming about this moment for so many months!
We were about 50 students who stayed for the whole ten weeks. Then we had some more coming for the last five weeks and others just coming for one week or more. The maximum was 130 students when the Sandfords were teaching. Most students stayed in families; we were up to 30 on campus. The majority of the students came from Canada, with quite a few from the USA. The fist five weeks, there were only two British students and I from Europe, the last five weeks we also had one guy from Norway and one from Holland. We also had a few Asian women and Australia was represented shortly.
Those on campus all lived on the third floor of one building. The maximum was four people a room and I was in a room with two Canadian girls and one who comes from South Africa and lives in England. Thank you so much for praying for the right roommates! God has incredibly answered this prayer! It was absolutely perfect and I never had the least problem or didnít even feel uncomfortable!
Every week we had a different teacher and topic which brought a real variety in styles and teaching. The weeks were actually really different in their character and God had perfectly arranged the sequence to use them each in the best way possible.
We had teaching every morning from 9 to 12, including a feedback-time on Fridays. We also had teaching Mon and Thu afternoon. Tue afternoon we split into small groups, Wed afternoon was free before the ministry-night and Fri afternoon we cleaned up the camp.
We were also supposed to do 2 hours of ministry-outlet a week and I signed up for Set Free, which is a 40-hour counseling-program for one person. Unfortunately it never worked out for me. So, what I did regularly was going to the intercession-meeting on Tuesdays and I also went to the Life-house a few times, where they provide meals for the poor and opportunity to play games and chat. I also did a kind of jazz-dance course in the dancing studio in the church.
Saturdays were free and on Sundays we had two services in
which is called New Life Vineyard Christian Fellowship. The biggest surprise for me coming to Canada was to find out that Wesley Campbell is the senior pastor of this church (which organized the school). I had been to two conferences with him before and had always really been blessed and set on fire through him. The church also has 8 more pastors, one of which was teaching us the first week as he is the pastor of counseling & prayer and organized the school.
I really love this church! It has great worship, great teaching, a multitude of ministries, all the gifts of the Spirit operating, up-to-date teaching and vision, is active in world-missions and training leaders, and itís a real safe place to receive healing, to build friendships, to grow in your walk with God, and to step out in the learning-process with the freedom to fail. The church has been in renewal (like in Toronto) since 1987 and many lives have been transformed since then and the church experienced explosive growth in numbers and ministries. I have never seen a church like this one before. Being back in Austria, I really miss it a lot, the preaching, the worship and the opportunity to grow by having examples and moving out.
The staff of the school was pretty big. We had four of them stay with us on campus and they gave their everything for us. We also had quite a few leading the small-groups that met on a weekly basis.
One of our two leaders was living on campus with us. They were both great! They had put all the single young girls in one group and so we were 10 people which was quite a lot. In the first meeting I didnít feel too comfortable already as I struggle with being with people of my age. I have always been drawn to older people. I was really surprised though, how much I struggled with the small-group. During all ten weeks, I had a really hard time opening up and felt rejected when I did. Very soon I was already fearing Tuesday afternoon as I was always down afterwards, even when I was up before.
The Most Difficult Thing
The most difficult thing was to find time and especially a quiet place to be with God. Most of the weeks there were empty rooms on our floor where I went (if they werenít occupied), at other times I locked myself into the toilet - the only place to be alone.
Counseling & Healing in the Kingdom of God
Speaker: Gord Whyte (pastor of the church)
The very first day was an introductory day so that I still didnít get any teaching what I was looking forward to so much. But the second day finally came. We had a week of getting the basics of counseling which was really good.
The first few days in Kelowna I was totally high! I was singing in my heart all the time and enjoying every single minute in the school. By the end of the week it started going downhill as hurt came up and I was confronted with truth about myself.
On the second day of the school I went to my first intercession-meeting in the church. God really touched me and the result was, that my ďeye-problemsď started again. Remember that it had been 70% healed at the conference in February but it had got a bit worse again. Now my eyes were totally squinting again and I was so embarrassed because nobody knew about it. Finally they realized and one guy prayed for the healing of my eyes. Normally the only ďcureď was going to bed, the next morning it was gone. But that night, a few minutes after the prayer, my eyes were totally restored again! I had never experienced that before!
Over the weeks, I had this problem several times. And several times I was healed as I was prayed for; once when it was really bad, no prayer helped. Even the last night, after our last prayer-time, it was there again. I received my last prayer against it and was healed again after a few minutes.
I have no problems now with half-hour worship-times but time will show how far itís healed now. I didnít even have problems at the prayer-night a few weeks ago. I have been wondering a lot about this strange eye-weakness. According to the doctor, there is no remedy for it and I have to accept it. Praise God for His healing power!
That night at the intercession-meeting, God had broken my heart for Austria again like many times during my stay in Canada. I have been interceding a lot for Austria, Vienna and my church and I was actually known for my passion for my country in the school. My heart was burning as I saw and experienced all those wonderful things God are doing there in Canada and I was longing for Godís move in Austria as well.
The First Weekend
The feedback-time on Friday turned into a ministry-time and brought more pain and hurt onto the surface. As a result I was really down but I was invited by a couple from the school to spend the weekend with them, one hour away from Kelowna. I gladly accepted, looking forward to see more of Canada. That weekend then was a bit lonely and I struggled on with my pain.
The Divine Plumbline
Speaker: Jeff Littleton
Jeff was speaking about how our life has swung away from Godís plumbline by wounds, sins and events in the childhood. After his teaching the first part of the week, he was ministering the other part of the week. Every person was sitting in front of the whole class, confessing sins, forgiving people and bringing everything to the light. After having prayed ourselves, Jeff would minister to us.
Now, I was quite down this week and intended to clear up my whole life. Unfortunately I made a big mistake by wanting to pray through my whole life. I had pages of notes of what I wanted to pray. I had misunderstood the purpose somehow.
Now my turn came Thursday night. Everybody had cried during the ministry and I made the vow not to cry when it was my turn. That was a big mistake. I went forward and started praying out, but soon turned to recite from the paper instead of praying. While I was reading, I was totally detached from everything. It was as if I was reading somebody elseís life. It also felt totally unreal and I was scared about my own non-existent feelings. Finally Jeff interrupted me and brought it to an end - just with a prayer and without ministry.
As I walked back to the room, I was wondering what had happened. Suddenly I realized how I had been deceived to do everything the wrong way. That night, when everybody was already sleeping, I had a panic-attack and was too afraid to go to bed. Finally I did.
The next morning, the breakthrough came the very moment my cell-group in Vienna prayed for me. As Jeff ministered to somebody else, I just broke into tears. Jeff finally came and ministered to me. As I was crying, I went back to be a 5-year-old girl who doesnít want her father to leave (thatís when he did). For the first time in my life I was grieving my fatherís loss.
That Sunday God opened my eyes to the deception that week and gave me joy and peace.
The Father Heart of God
Speaker: Lee Bennett
This week was like healing balm and holiday after the previous week. I enjoyed the ďlightď teaching very much and was totally in love with Jesus again, committing myself completely to Him and interceding for Austria. It was a great, joyful week.
Ingredients of Healing the Heart
Speaker: Charles F. Finck III
This was my favorite week. It was the first week where we got real tools for counseling into our hands. The teaching was fabulous and very helpful. I also loved the teacher very much. He is part of Elijah House which is the counseling & teaching ministry John & Paula Sandford founded. God actually put Charlie & his family that much on my heart that Iím supporting them in prayer now. I also feel that Elijah House is the direction I might go. The next step would be to do their three-week-basic school (which is very intensive), then the two-week-advanced school and then they also have internships. I donít know of any suitable school in Europe at the moment and it also costs a lot of money.
This week was for me a week of repentance. I came out of denial in many areas of my life and was convicted about the smallest sin in my life. I would have loved to write a letter to every single person I had sinned against. One significant moment was when I got a letter from a cell-group-co-leader which was full of accusations. Although he is very hurting himself, I took complete responsibility for everything, even if only a very small part was true. I also wrote a nice card to my mother, asking her forgiveness for not honoring her and telling her that I wanted to be able to talk to her about everything.
It was a really good week. The ministry-night on Wednesday was also significant as I received more healing.
Weekend In The Rockies
Everybody who wanted could be linked up with somebody from the church. After three weeks I also got a ďbuddyď: Carol. She is married and has a one-year-old daughter. They were all such an incredible blessing to me!!! I spent many Friday nights at their house, watching videos and sleeping in on Saturdays. That meant so much to me that I was even surprised! Getting away from the school and everybody for that short time was so refreshing as if I had been on a holiday for a week! They are such a wonderful couple and I was totally in love with the baby.
Carol invited me to come with them to the house of her parents in the Canadian Rocky Mountains, to celebrate Thanksgiving on the long weekend. It was such a marvelous weekend! The house is in a beautiful area and I enjoyed the nature very much. We also had a wonderful time celebrating Thanksgiving, having fun and watching TV.
Coming back to Kelowna, it was as if I had been on a very long holiday and I was ready for more.
A Christian Understanding of Feelings
Speaker: Mel & Sara Hanna
During week 5 and 6 I fasted by leaving out dinner which was a real blessing. The first half of week 5 I was totally high and in love with Jesus. The teaching seemed not to be so ďattractiveď but it was good.
The ministry-night on Wednesday was very quiet. I enjoyed Godís presence and asked Him for what I should go to be prayed for. He answered: the fear of butterflies I have had all my life. I felt a bit awkward but went. The person praying understood it as a symbol and prayed for freedom to fly, that I would get out of the cocoon. I was surprised about that but had a picture while lying on the floor: I saw myself in a cocoon where I had quite a lot of space because I had been working hard to get out. As a result the cocoon had become thinner and thinner and more and more light came in. I knew outside was freedom, colors, dancing and Jesus was standing right in front of me outside. I longed to get out. The person praying had said before that little time-bombs had been put inside of me that would go off in the future and I knew that that would be the way out.
That same night, the following day and especially on Friday I experienced a lot of fear. Somehow all fear inside of me came to the surface, quite strongly at times. I was trembling of fear all the time. Especially Friday was an usual day: We had feedback-time which turned into a ministry-time and I regressed to be three years old again. I was totally afraid and clung to one of the students who had the love of the Father shining forth from him. As a three-year-old I cried and asked my Father not to leave me and to say that it wasnít my fault he left. He answered representing my Father and then prayed for me. We then went for lunch but the fear and trembling stayed. I could hardly walk and was quite weak. We then went upstairs and sat down. I still was this little girl and needed desperately to be held. As I was lying in ďmy Fatherísď arm, totally quiet and peaceful, I regressed further to be a baby again. After a while, every loud word suddenly triggered fear and pain. Then the guy left and I stayed on my own. I just wanted some rest but people started vacuuming and the noise was so loud that I trembled and whimpered of fear. I sensed being back in my Motherís womb and asked God for understanding. Something must have happened during my Motherís pregnancy or delivery connected to a loud noise. I then suddenly could hardly breathe or move any more. I thought of how I was born, that they had had to pull me out because I got stuck on the way out. I longed for someone who could help me with prayer or so but I was alone. Then all the cleaning was over and everything was quiet. Some time later I finally was able to get up again, after about 6 hours of ministry by the Spirit of God!
Reigning in Life Through Prayer
Speaker: Dean Sherman
The teaching was quite light again, just listening to talking basically. The first half of the week I still struggled and was quite down at times, then the Lord lifted me up again. I had several encouraging pictures at the intercession-meeting and the ministry-night which was about grace. God gave me a lot of grace to be myself. In one of the pictures I saw myself as a wonderful bride, clothed in white and standing upright. I then thought: of course, me, Claudia the lame (= the meaning of my name). As soon as I had thought that, God gave me a new name: Rebekah. The picture then carried on as I saw the Holy Spirit as a dove coming down to rest on my head. Then I saw one white dove sitting on each of my two outstretched hands. Jesus stood right in front of me. I asked for understanding and knew they were doves of peace. The strange thing was that they represented my parents. I released them towards Jesus and they flew away in opposite directions.
I looked up the meaning of Rebekah which is a quarrel appeased. I think I understand part of the implication my new name has but not all of it yet.
At the conference later God then showed me that my name Claudia = the lame is not a curse, but a commission to go to the sick.
I could tell you about more pictures I had but there is not enough space for it here.
How to Minister Effectively
Speaker: John & Paula Sandford
They are the founders of Elijah House and pioneers in the area of inner healing. As a result we had the maximum amount of students which was 130. The teaching was absolutely excellent again and I could have studied all day every day! That week my feelings went a bit up and down all the time. At the intercession-meeting we prayed for the conference. I just found the following line in my diary which I find really interesting:
ďAs we prayed that the conference would be a turning-point for the participants, I felt Godís touch. If that was prophetic for me ? I hope so.ď
Just read on to find out!
At the ministry-night on Wednesday - which was basically the first session of the conference - God just bathed me in His love which was absolutely glorious.
Thursday night the conference started with Frank Sizer speaking who is an ex-catholic priest and now counselor and who moves in signs and wonders. It was incredible to see Godís healing power at work in front of my very eyes. John and Paula Sandford also did a few sessions, which was excellent teaching.
On Friday I received some helpful prayer and God touched me showing me more pictures to give me understanding.
On Saturday I had my breakthrough. In the evening we had absolutely glorious worship. Looking to the ceiling, I could sense the multitudes of angels up there worshiping with us.
After the teaching, we had a ministry-time and a few people were praying for me for physical healing. When they had gone I was still manifesting and heard the word freedom, freedom,.. in my mind all the time. The way I manifested was unusual for me. I acted like being a butterfly. I thought, great, maybe my time to be free has come, I have to find someone to pray for me. While I was looking around, I suddenly saw one of the students. I didnít even think, I just shouted, stop, I have to pray for you! I went over and as I started to pray, I suddenly started to prophecy and shout as I did. We both went to the floor where it went on till it suddenly stopped. I wondered what had happened. Then God suddenly convicted me deeply. I can remember the day I received the gift of prophecy and healing and I had always doubted it and didnít dare telling anyone. I had only stepped out in small ways secretly. The (to a certain degree) ďhostileď environment Iím in is not an excuse for that.
After having repented, I went to receive prayer for freedom. As a few people prayed for me I suddenly started shouting freedom from the top of my voice! Again and again I would shout it, as well as other words like no more, joy, victory, more, Jesus. I had never been able to shout and now I suddenly did! At the same time I had to hold on to somebodyís hand when I shouted so I wouldnít lose my balance. I went on from personal freedom to freedom for the church with shouting things like revival, Europe, freedom for the church. It just didnít stop. We left the church at 1:30 in the morning. One of the directors of the school actually called this incident one of her two highlights of the school!
The next morning Frank Sizer did the last session of the conference. Basically the same as the night before happened to me. I shouted freedom and other things and got specific things to pray for as I prayed for my friends. The ministry-time lasted about 2Ĺ hours. We had great fun praying for each other, being in the powerful presence of God.
For the rest of my time in Canada, all the three weeks, I was extremely sensitive to the word freedom and every time somebody said it, God touched me powerfully and I started manifesting.
Interesting note: looking through my diary I found out that the very first time I had been prayed for on the second day of the school, this total stranger had prayed for freedom.
Healing the Whole Man/Woman
Speaker: Frank Sizer
The Sunday of the conference was my first day of fasting. I was thankful for the powerful work God had done in my life at the conference and was hungry for more of Him, for equipping, what week 8 mainly was. So I fasted with juice only till Friday. That was the longest fast I have ever done - and it was worth it!
Word Of Knowledge
The first day after the conference, Monday, was a very special day. One of the pastors of the church was teaching their prayer-model and in the afternoon we had a practical time of ministry. When the pastor said we would have a time of listening to God for words of knowledge, the word dyslexia suddenly popped into my mind. I was surprised. I tried to remember what it was as we had had teaching on it weeks before. As the pastor prayed and we listened to God, I could actually see the word dyslexia written before my closed eyes. Then we were asked what we had received. One after the other gave his word but I didnít dare. I thought itís weird. Then I even had the impression to see the word written over the head of a woman sitting between the pastor and me! After a few weird words and Godís Spirit urging me to speak up, I did. To my surprise, the person concerned actually sat right where I had seen the word in the air, behind the woman. We then prayed for him and God touched him powerfully. Unfortunately this is not something where you can tell immediately whether you are healed. While I was praying for this guy, God showed me so many things, gave me words, etc., that I was really amazed. We were all so excited that we prayed for hours and hours for each other that day. It was wonderful!
We had a really wonderful week of equipping and my heart was set on fire! I was so full of faith like never before and ready for anything. We had a very special ministry-night and God challenged me on two things which were not easy to give up:
As you know, Iím in my sixth year at university as I first started studying astronomy and physics. While I finished the first of two parts of physics and got a certificate, I was always missing one hour only (!) to get the certificate for astronomy (which means one semester with one hour a week of computing). I have tried to do this one hour ever since and have never managed to somehow. So the only reason Iím still enrolled in astronomy is because I want to hold something in hands for all the work Iíve done the first years. Now I gave that up because it doesnít count in the kingdom of God anyway.
2. My Car
The other thing was that I had to give up my car. The leasing contract is running out in February and I had wanted to buy the car for the amount left, by borrowing it from somebody. Now God was challenging me not to make more debts but to release the car to Him. After 4Ĺ years with my car that wasnít easy. It has always been His car, being used for His glory and I had enjoyed it, especially traveling to England and the like.
How to Minister Healing to the Sexually & Relationally Broken
Speaker: Andy Comiskey & Team
The teaching we received was absolutely incredible! We mainly heard testimonies which were very encouraging. Itís important to hear about this area as well which is so much tabooized in Christian circles and Iím thankful for the teaching Iíve received.
The Power to be Set Free From Addiction
Speaker: Don Williams
It was a quiet week to close off the school. Everybody was already thinking of the departure. Thursday night we had graduation-night. We all received a certificate and had a time of testimonies and ministry. It was extremely hard, much harder than I thought. Tears ran down my cheeks as I listened to my friends giving their testimonies.
The next day was our last. We had communion together and the big good-bye time. It was horrible! In the afternoon we then left Kelowna ďforeverď, driving to Abbotsford.
John Paul Jackson-Conference
That Friday night was the first session which was really excellent. J.P. Jackson has a prophetic ministry and what makes him so unique is that he is a true servant, doing everything in love. I was thankful to finish my time in Canada with this wonderful conference. We were a significant remnant from the school there and enjoyed our last days together very much, making the most of every minute.
Abbotsford is about one hour away from Vancouver. As the guy driving the car is also from Vancouver, I stayed the last weekend with Stefan again. Unfortunately I hardly saw him before the last day as we left early in the morning for the conference and returned late night.
Rodney Howard-Browne, the ďlaughing evangelistď, also held a conference at Vancouver during that week and I was glad to get a chance to go to his last meeting on Saturday morning. I had heard a lot about him and wanted to see him in person. He was teaching on the anointing and then prayed for every single person individually (1500 people!). It was good teaching and quite unspectacular, besides that people go there hours earlier to get a seat. We didnít get a seat but were prayed for by him.
That night we were back at Abbotsford where I used my flag for the first time publicly. One of the very popular things today is to use flags and banners in worship. From the first moment on I was totally captured by it and finally got to make my own flag (after a picture I had had). Itís the Austrian national flag with the purple writing Jesus is King on it.
That night we had a wonderful time of worship, dancing and praising the Lord. It was great! Besides that, I had another picture for Austria.
That was my last day in Canada and what a gift the Lord gave me! After the teaching in the morning, I went to the front of the church and was immediately caught up in the presence of God. When somebody came to pray for me, I immediately fell to the ground - where I stayed the following three hours!!! During that time I had one picture, but basically I was just resting in the presence of God which was glorious. In the end, I had no strength in my body at all. Two friends came to help me up but I couldnít stand or sit or anything else. Additionally I burst into laughter as soon as they started helping me. I have never experienced that before but I was laughing and laughing without any real reason. Finally they carried me to the car because they wanted to go to a restaurant to have lunch. I continued laughing in the car and even in the restaurant a bit.
The Catholic Church
We still had some time before the evening meeting and ended up in a catholic service. At first I felt very uncomfortable but then God touched my heart very deeply and broke it for the catholic church. I interceded during the whole service and afterwards it was still obvious to my friends how my heart hurt. One of them said: You have a real heart for freedom in the catholic church, havenít you? He shouldnít have said the freedom-word. I immediately started manifesting in the middle of the catholic church as I agreed.
By the way, having grown up in a catholic surrounding, I was very bitter against the catholic church after my conversion. Meanwhile I have repented of my judgments and received forgiveness as well as forgiving them. I include them in my prayers for revival in the churches of Austria.
Our Last Meeting
After that we had our very last meeting together. We heard another excellent message from J.P. Jackson, had another wonderful worship-time and then we decided to pray for each other for the last time. The result was that I spent hours in the presence of God again, like in the morning, with the same results like in the morning. I was carried to the car, laughing uncontrollably.
Some of you might have concerns about the laughing. I can only tell you that I had prayed since meeting Jesus that He would teach me to laugh as I had never been able to. That day, it wasnít only a wonderful time with Him, it also brought a great emotional release. The result like always: being even more in love with Jesus.
The next day (Nov 25), the time of departure had come. Waking up I had a cough and as the day went on, it turned into a serious flu. I wasnít surprised at all as I had hardly slept at all during the whole previous week and especially during the conference. At the same time I had lived 200% physically and emotionally.
My plane took off at 8 pm. So I had some time to say good-bye and eat a last supper with my friends (I just couldnít eat any more because of the fever). As I was about to get into the plane, the fever was already very high and I was very weak. I think that made it easier to leave emotionally as I was distracted. Still, I was extremely hard to leave my friends behind. In this short time there, we had built such incredible friendships which will hopefully last a life-time.
As soon as the plane took off, a chapter was somehow finished and I looked forward instead of back. Unfortunately I couldnít enjoy the flight although I love flying so much as the fever had reached about 40įC. My whole body was aching, I had several blankets, and I was still freezing as well as hot. After a nine-hour-flight I arrived in London where I had only 45 minutes before flying on to Vienna. In the plane I then wondered how I would tell my family that I wanted to go straight home. All I wanted was my bed. Having landed in Vienna, I suddenly heard my name being called out. When I went to the BA-counter, I was told that my luggage had stayed in London. We had even prayed that that wouldnít happen and now I had to wait four hours for the next plane ! As I got out, my mother and grandparents already waited.
Finally the plane arrived. Now you have to know that I bought quite a few things in Canada. Because of lack of space I had put them all into a big box: about 100 teaching tapes, a few (15) books and my water-container (for my apartment). As I was only allowed to have two pieces of luggage, I had tied the box to my bag.
Now I was happy to get my luggage back and to finally get home, when the customs-officer suddenly stopped me! I could hardly believe it! He wanted to know everything about the box and asked a lot of questions. Finally he was distracted by a child and wove me through.