Friday, September 19, 2008

Fridays with Craig Keener ... Part Six

This is the sixth installment of an eight-part interview with Craig Keener, Professor of New Testament at Palmer Theological Seminary in Pennsylania.

He and his wife, Medine, both have doctorates. Their marriage story can be read here.
JR: You ministered in the Democratic Republic of the Congo this summer. How did that go?

KEENER: Although I was in the DRC for a day, most of the trip was in Republic of Congo (the smaller country also named Congo, across the river), where my wife is from. Ministry went well but I personally learned a lot more from those doing ministry there.

Let me tell one story, about Mama Jan. Because she prays for us regularly, my brother-in-law said she wanted to meet with us. We went to the tin structure outside her home where she meets with people much of the day to pray for their needs. She is not a pastor, but is a deacon in one of the local evangelical churches. (Although the "evangelical church" is the country's mainline Protestant church and is not Pentecostal, there is great openness to any of God's activities in Scripture.) Mama Jan prayed for us and began to prophesy at length, and what she shared about my work was deeply encouraging to me. When we were parting I told her that I have always had very high respect for prophetesses. She responded very humbly.
A few days later we returned, because I was collecting some healing testimonies for a book that I was writing, and my brother-in-law assured me that Mama Jan had some. This humble woman began to narrate various healings in a matter-of-fact way (as if to say, who wouldn't expect Jesus to heal people?), including three people raised from the dead directly through her prayers. (In one case, there was someone in the room who was present at the time and could verify the story; my brother-in-law knew some other people in her stories.) I was dumbfounded. "Mama Jan, if I write these stories in this book, you will have people from the U.S. wanting to come have you pray for them!" She broke up laughing and pointing to an old picture of Jesus on her wall. "It's just Jesus!" she said. In other words, Jesus is the same in the U.S. as he is in Congo.

As I have said about the other questions, I have a lot of growing to do. Some of my fellow charismatics may think, "Keener is a charismatic scholar; that's great." But Keener has a long way to go in the Spirit. I thank God for giving us examples like Mama Jan.
NEXT FRIDAY'S QUESTION: Knowing that you have great admiration for Gordon Fee (as I do, as well), I can't let this interview close without giving you an opportunity to explain something of what Dr. Fee has meant to you.

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