I was born and raised in a small town called Soldotna, Alaska. A world-famous river runs through this town called the Kenai River, from which has come the largest king salmon in recorded history. It was wonderful place to grow up. I’m very thankful for the childhood and young adult years which I had to live in this land, start my family, and grow deeply in my relationship with the Lord.
I grew up in a local church which was very conservative in nature. During my time there I never really experienced the power of God. Miracles were something that was talked about from time to time, but never seen. The gifts of the spirit were vaguely referenced, but I never saw a demonstration of them. About the time I turned seventeen I began to realize that God was growing a deep hunger in me for true authentic supernatural Christianity. But how can you know what you’re hungry for when you’ve never tasted.
Then it came: My first encounter with the power of God. It didn’t take place at a church service or a summer youth camp. No, it took place while sitting on my friend’s couch watching the TV as a man in a white suit came walking out on the platform working miracles in front of the world. I had never seen anything like it. The more I watched the more I was moved in my heart to hunger for the supernatural. It was the Benny Hinn program which I saw that day, and that experience forever changed my life.
Over the next couple of years as I finished out my high school days I continued to devour everything I could get my hands on which was even remotely supernaturally. I read several books which contained stories of people like Smith Wigglesworth, John G. Lake, and Andrew Murray. I read for hours and hours online about great revivalists like Oral Roberts, Jack Coe, A.A. Allen, and T.L. Osborn. I was especially touched through reading the books of Kenneth E. Hagin. He was a prophet who had actually seen Jesus! That was the first time I’d ever heard of anyone seeing Jesus openly in visions. Seeing the Lord and experiencing Christ in supernatural encounters became my number one focus! I was already praying and reading my bible for multiple hours every day. As the desire grew so did my time shut away with the Lord. Some thought it was strange that I could just shut myself away for days on end to seek God. I was a young man in school that was clearly not doing what my other classmates were doing. But my parents had no worries. They saw the genuineness of my actions and could sense something special happening the more days I spent in prayer and fellowship with the Holy Spirit.
CONNECTING WITH TODD BENTLEY’S MINISTRY, & DEVELOPING MY SECRET PLACE WITH THE LORD
One day as I was seeking the Lord I began to feel frustration mounting in my heart. I began to pace around the room asking the Lord for a breakthrough. I felt like I had reached the end of where my desire could take me at that time. I didn’t know what I needed, all I knew was that I wanted more!
After praying for a while I laid down on my little twin bed, my feet sticking adequately over the end. As I laid there just in silence meditating on the Lord I heard the Lord speak clearly to me the name “Todd”. Immediately my mind went back to a brief conversation I had had with a local youth pastor over a year ago where he told me about a prophetic healing minister named Todd Bentley that was being used powerfully by the Lord in the nations. Until this moment when I heard the Lord speak his name to me I had not thought about that conversation once in that whole year. But I knew this to be the Lord. God had spoken this name to me and I had to go and find out what it meant.
Over the next several hours I combed through page after page on Todd’s website reading articles on the supernatural, gifts of the spirits, visitations of God’s glory, and miracles! I was most moved when I read his own personal testimony of being launched into full-time international ministry from a visitation of Jesus Christ himself in 1998. I had found what my heart was searching for. At this time I already knew I wanted to be a preacher, to serve the Lord in the ministry full-time. But what I really wanted was a supernatural commissioning like I read about in the bible, like I heard about in the stories of great men of God like Evan Roberts who was launched into the glory of the Welsh revival out of months of fasting and prayer. So I began to seek it with all of my heart.
Just as Todd did in the story I read of him, I too took time off from work just to shut myself away day and night, to seek God for a fresh visitation of heaven. It was the fall of 2004. I had just finished a summer job in a neighboring town working construction after my graduation from High School in the spring. In Todd’s story he took three months off from work to seek the Lord. I asked my parents if they would let me take five months off, not working, just shutting myself away in my room day and night to seek the Lord for this visitation which He had promised me. They agreed to let me take the time, and thus began my first visitation of glory which lasted months!
Let me just say that I am so grateful for the ministry of Todd Bentley because God used him to make the supernatural real to me. I love Benny Hinn, but for whatever reason, I could not bring myself to believe that God would use me in the same way He was using Benny. He just seemed too far out of reach. There was something there I couldn’t relate to. I’m not saying that others haven’t related. I’m just saying that for me, God used Todd Bentley to convince me in faith that God would visit me just as God had visited him. With Todd it clicked. I knew I was poised for a mighty visitation, so I began to seek it with all of my heart.
Day and night I sought the Lord doing nothing else but reading my bible and laying on the carpet as the worship music played. The glory was so intense at times that I felt like I was going to melt from the flames. The anointing was bursting in my life and I had never felt so close to God. About three weeks into this consecrated season I had my first face to face encounter with Jesus.
MY FIRST ENCOUNTER WITH THE LORD JESUS
I was up late one night just worshiping the Lord, standing at the foot of my bed with hands lifted, lost in the ecstasy of God’s intimacy. It was dark and everyone was in bed. It was just me and the Lord up that night. My attention began to be drawn to the hallway outside my door, as I heard a sound coming from there. When I opened the door to look all I saw was two burning eyes hanging there, suspended in the air, looking at me. Next I heard a voice which sounded like it was mixed with waters. The voice said, “I have sought you with burning eyes, now that I have you remain mine.” The eyes then moved forward toward me until a man appeared in the light. It was the Lord Jesus Christ. I was receiving my first gift of open eyed visitation from the Lord!
He spoke with me about many things that night. He instructed me on the nature of my calling, told me some of the amazing things that He would use me to do over the course of my life, and gave me many scriptures to meditate on which defined my calling. At the end of his instruction, a horn of oil appeared in his hand, and he asked me to kneel down before him. As he emptied the oil out over my head, I could physically feel it running all down my hair and my face. It kept running all over my body until eventually it completely covered me. As he imparted this oil he spoke these words over me:
“This day am I anointing you for the office which I’ve called you to. But this day I am also calling you into a wilderness season for your preparation in ministry. Like David of old you will not be allowed to touch your office for many years. But this oil shall be a sign unto you, a token that I have called you.”
After he finished pouring out the oil He began to walk away from me, far away into a barren wilderness. I just stood there watching the vision wondering what He would do next. Finally, after he had walked out a good distance He turned around and signaled for me to follow him. He said, “Come with me into the wilderness”. I never would have dreamed that God would visit me, anoint me for my work, and then call me into a place where I couldn’t do it. But God’s ways are not our ways. His ways are high above our ways, and it’s our job to listen, heed, and obey his voice, even when we don’t understand. I didn’t understand what was going on, but I knew I heard God, so I obeyed. I began to submit to the process.
“So He said, “I will certainly be with you. And this shall be a sign to you that I have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.”
Moses was given a sign, so that when the journey got hard and He was tempted to doubt the word of the Lord to him, there would be an abiding token there to remind him of the validity of the word. Moses was given a sign, and so was I. The oil that Jesus anointed me with that day continued dripping and running down my face and my whole body for many days after that encounter. I remember just sitting in church services as it would tangibly ooze all over my head, just being blown away at the goodness of God. Although no one has every seen it, to this day I still feel the oil running down my head and my face, just as if someone has poured fresh oil on me. It has always been a great comfort to me, especially at the hardest points during my preparation for ministry when I had no external manifestation of the call of the Lord on my life! Praise be to God! He is so kind, so gracious, with his gifts that he releases to his sons and daughters! Praise be to God!
POOLS IN THE DESERT
Shortly after this amazing season of encounter I met the woman that I would marry, Amanda Kay Smith! Since June 2nd, 2006 we’ve been happily married, we now have four beautiful children, and have been immensely blessed for more than a decade with the glory of God residing in our home!
From the years 2004 through 2012 my mandate from the Lord was very simple: Be a good husband, a godly father, stay humble, and seek the Lord in the secret place with all of your heart. I can’t tell you how hard it was for me as a young man in my twenties burning with the fire of God to preach and minister, having to go to church week in and week out watching others do what was in my heart to do. There were very hard times which I went through during this wilderness season, but at the same time it was filled with glory and visitation which God would graciously pour out for me from time to time. I called these visitations “pools in the desert” which God gave to me, which really kept me going and helped me to stay faithful to the promise. I grew tremendously in my walk with God, in the secret place, as I continued to seek the Lord year after year, being transformed in his glory. I had many more visitations of Christ himself. I was privileged to see and interact with several of the angels which had been assigned to my life and ministry. It was amazing, but at the same time I could not understand much of what was going on when I was in the process. Why was it that the more I drew closer to the Lord the further I seemed to get away from my calling in ministry? Then late in 2010 I hit rock bottom and I was fired from my job as a janitor.
Before this time I had worked in the construction industry, building custom homes on the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska. After the housing market crashed in 2007 I wasn’t able to get another full-time job in construction. For years I just pieced things together as I could to make ends meet, having no college education, feeling very little contentment in the workplace, as all I could think about day and night was ministering out of the glory which I was experiencing in my secret place with the Lord. After all that time, the only full-time job I could land was as a night shift janitor for a local company which was owned by a Christian I knew from my former church. That’s where tragedy struck for me a young man barely holding onto the promise while at the same time struggling to make ends meet with my growing family.
It was late in the year. My wife was pregnant with our third child, and I received a call from the boss saying He needed to meet with me in private. As He called me into his office I thought that maybe He was just going to give me a new set of instructions for the night. Maybe we were waxing some more floors I hadn’t heard about, and He wanted to line me out on some of the details. But to my surprise He began to lay out the different reasons for why he was letting me go! I was shocked. Apparently, a few of the other employees on the crew didn’t like me, and had decided to band together to get me cut from the crew. They had come to my boss and demanded that he fire me. If he didn’t fire me, they threatened to all leave the company. Some of these employees had been with this small janitorial company for many years. They represented the foundation of this man’s work. Without them he had no company, so he succumbed to their demands and let me go that day.
At this time I was on a forty day fast in another one of my seasons of visitation. I had never felt so in love with Jesus. I was also watching Todd White videos on YouTube at the time, and was very much inspired with sharing the gospel on the job site. My co-workers didn’t like this very much, and it ultimately led to me losing my job. There was one person that I worked with that would become angry, almost violent, at just the mention of the name of Jesus or God. Simply saying “God bless you” would set her off at times. I could sense the tension, I could sense the discomfort I was causing some of them at times, but I felt compelled to continue to share the gospel with them in love. I felt so much faith after watching those online videos! “Love always wins” I would say. I wasn’t overbearing. I wouldn’t preach endless hours at these people. I just refused to stop loving them, and at times in different moments when I felt an opening, I would try to slip in words of encouragement in the name of Jesus. But they knew what I was doing. They knew that I was a Christian trying to “evangelize them”, and they would have none of it. This is my story, as honestly as I can tell it. I got fired for sharing the gospel out of the overflow of my relationship with God and I was devastated. In all of Todd White’s stories everything had always turned out so amazing, it seemed. His co-workers and friends came to Jesus, he got raises, God prospered him and eventually brought him into full-time ministry as He was faithful with his gift where he was. Why was it all going so wrong for me?
I had never felt so low in all my life. I had to move my pregnant wife and my children into my parents’ house because I could no longer pay the bills. That Christmas was dismal as we had to rely on the generosity of relatives to give our kids any form of presents. I quit going to church for three months. I gained a lot of weight as I battled a deep depression that came over me. At one point I was even fighting the temptation to curse God and walk away from everything. In fact, I did walk away from it all. After all, why would God give me such a mighty call, such a wonderful anointing, and then abandon me; allow my life to just get worse and worse the more I tried to serve him faithfully? I felt like Jesus when He said on the cross, “Father why have you forsaken me”. I felt like Joseph who kept spiraling deeper and deeper into the pit as He continued to do the right thing before God. When you’re in the pit, even though you know the ending of the bible story, you can’t see the ending in your life. You can’t see your ascent from the pit to the throne. I couldn’t could see any light. Darkness had eclipsed me. Hopelessness and despair were all around me. I even began to doubt all the encounters I had. I doubted everything and saw no way out. But in my darkest hour God’s overcoming grace prevailed in my life. Even when I let go of him, he never let go of me. And in his glory and grace he used every situation to position me for my release into my calling, even when I had no idea what He was doing! I learned firsthand that God is faithful. I learned firsthand that “the trying of your faith works patience, and when patience has it’s perfect work, you come forth perfect and complete lacking nothing” (Ja.1:3-4). I thought that I was wasting my twenties, my best years of passion and endurance for the Lord. But in reality, I was investing them in the most precious and valuable thing that one can give to God: a life of sacrifice and intimacy at the feet of Jesus; giving myself over to the school of the Holy Spirit in the secret place of the Most High. There remains to this day no better school for ministry. Encountering the Lord is what qualifies one for ministry!
Next week we'll continue with my journey into Ministry and my introduction to the revelation and manifestation of financial glory. I'll share with you my experience of when I first met Todd Bentley, and I'll also recall my account of my first visitation from the Messenger of Money when I was on an airplane in California!
Love & Blessings,
"You may be surprised at the maturity and revelatory gifting from such a young prophet as Stephen Powell."
- Steve Shultz
"Stephen Powell may be a relatively new voice within the prophetic movement, but it's clear God is using him in a very powerful way."
- Bob Eschliman