Pastor Norman & Judy Benz are lead Pastor Norman and Judy Benz are the founding pastors of Covenant Centre...
It was Father’s Day, June 15, 1997 when our congregation, Covenant Centre International in Palm Beach Gardens, FL received a remarkable visitation from the Holy Spirit. During the ministry time, the Holy Spirit moved very powerfully and people began weeping, crying out to the Lord with renewed fervor and falling to the floor in fashion similar to the days of John Wesley and Charles Finney. Many who were in the celebration were shocked and thrilled with what was occurring, and a hunger was sparked in the people for more of God. The River was flowing.
A small group of intercessors met spontaneously the next evening to experience the unusual outpouring of power and the glory of God. People in the body began experiencing the life and vitality of God in their everyday lives—at work, at home or even in bed at night. Clearly something fresh was occurring. We would never be the same.
I had been told that God was moving in Toronto, so my wife, Judy, and I made our first pilgrimage to the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship. What we had been told was correct. God was moving, and we were basking in the Father’s love and experiencing the glory. We visited often and began to look to TACF as one of our models of revival and renewal. I attended every prayer warfare and revival meeting I could get to. If God was there, I wanted to see what He was doing. In the midst of this, my relationship with God became much more intimate, and I became much more sensitive to the Holy Spirit.
For more than five years now at Covenant, the Holy Spirit has continued to move mightily. My paradigm for ministry has changed significantly. I learned from TACF the difference between the maintenance of church programs and the dynamic flow of ministry in the Holy Spirit, and I learned a different way to do outreach. It was wonderful, challenging and life-changing.
As a congregation, the way we prayed changed. Our desire for God initiated us into a new level of intimacy. Discovering this new dimension of God’s presence was phenomenal. We prayed corporately for hours as our hunger for Him increased. We made more room for God, and He continually kept on coming, and we kept receiving wonderful blessings from Him.
"God gave us a view for changing cities, regions and nations."
We began to pray prophetic and apostolic prayers. Now, when we started praying in these ways, we didn’t know they were called by these terms. We were praying predictively and declaratively. I mention this because the way we prayed determined the way we did outreach. Our mindset about praying changed, therefore our world view was changing. We did not only want to be receivers; we needed to give away the blessing.
Previously, we had ministered internationally in outreach to third world countries in impoverished areas. While this is a good thing, our focus was on personal ministry not on transformational ministry. God gave us a view for changing cities, regions and nations. We pursued this view with strategic prayer for cities, regions and nations. We have a great hunger to see revival in our local area, but also in the United States.
We began to go to strategic areas of Southeast Florida just to pray. We literally staked our county at its four corners declaring that Palm Beach County will be righteous and overtaken with revival fire. We began to prayer walk our communities and neighborhoods. Not only did we prayer walk, but we made prayer journeys to strategic cities in the United States that are financial, cultural and governmental centers.
Spiritual mapping became very important. The Holy Spirit helped us to see the strategies that we should follow so that the kingdom of darkness would be defeated and the kingdom of God established. He gave us incredible revelation that would tell us how and where we should continue in outreach. People were ministering with anointing and authority.
Many in the congregation began to move in personal ministry in the marketplace. It is common now to hear the testimonies of people being saved in the grocery store, the mall, in schools and in our neighborhoods. Where neighbors were at odds with each other, the Holy Spirit intervened to bring peace. The people were praying for the sick wherever they were. The place of ministry did not matter anymore. The need to give away the blessing was compelling them to minister outside the four walls of the church building.
"You have to find what the Holy Spirit is doing and then join Him, regardless of opposition."
God spoke to me and said He wanted Covenant to become a ministry center, a base for equipping and impartation; He wanted us to become a healing center where people could find wholeness—a safe place to receive ministry. He wanted us to become an apostolic center where many people would be trained and sent out. He told me He wanted us to be a River not a reservoir.
Since the outpouring in 1997, we have become a congregation of prophetic evangelists pioneering several new churches and ministries. Several more ministries have come under our spiritual covering. One thing that I have discovered: not everyone appreciates these new ministries. But you have to find what the Holy Spirit is doing and then join Him in His work, regardless of opposition.
These outreaches are not programs established by the eldership or some committee. This is God prompting people to respond to Him. Needing to find a way to release the anointing, members of the congregation organized and implemented community outreaches to impoverished areas. There were several churches in the area that helped in the outreaches. Children, teenagers and adults joined together in ministry resulting in inner city impact. Many great relationships have formed as a result. Several streams came together and made a greater River than before.
Another area of ministry God opened before us was the ministry of reconciliation—specifically between black and white Americans. God’s hand of favor was upon us. We were invited to African-American churches where we would pray identificational repentance for the white people’s role in oppressing the black people. Then the black churches would join with Covenant, and we would again reconcile, confessing our sins against each other and giving forgiveness. The result was a tremendous celebration of Jesus Christ. We found ourselves hugging each other, crying tears of joy and rejoicing in God’s blessing as walls were being torn down.
Since this ministry of reconciliation has been occurring, Covenant has become even more of an integrated congregation. Our people are from Africa, New Zealand, Europe, the Caribbean Islands, and South and Central America as well as the United States. Thank you, Holy Spirit, for your drawing power.
The doors have opened where the Covenant congregation has ministered to and with other congregations in our region. It is a delight to give offerings to other pastors and congregations. We have become committed to praying with other pastors and leaders and forming genuine personal relationships with them, not simply “polite and impersonal” ones. Reaching out to the churches and pastors and ministering to their needs has been a result of the Spirit’s outpouring. Once I had only dreamed about such things. Now they have become reality.
On an international level, God has brought leaders from around the world to come and be refreshed. We have become a crossroads center where many relationships have formed. Our international outreach is based upon these congregational relationships particularly in Wales and Latvia. Because of revival, we have seen walls broken down between the Russian speaking people and the Latvians. The congregations in the nation have been praying together, and the nation is receiving the fire of God.
"Following Him is wonderful!"
We visited Wales about three years ago, and the Lord gave us a great relationship with Prince’s Drive Church in Colwyn Bay. As we formed a relationship with the leadership, God impressed one of their leaders to start a week of prayer for Wales. God gave us favor to be a part of this ministry, and in May of this year 250 churches across Wales participated in the prayer week.
When I think of all He has done, I can only say, “You have done great things.” (Psalm 126) The River has dramatically affected our outreach ministries and our hunger to give away the blessing. During these past five years, not everything has been “joy unspeakable.” God has reshaped the congregation with some families leaving and many more coming. The influx of new people brings a variety of ideas concerning how outreach should be conducted. But when I need to rethink the direction of our outreach, I go back to those days when the River first began to flow, and I ask the question, “Holy Spirit, what are you doing and blessing?” Then I join Him. This always creates a greater hunger for God, and following Him is wonderful!
This archived article was written by Norman Benz for release in Sep, 2002. Circumstances and situations may have changed regarding the author, locations and ministries. This content may therefore be outdated or misinformed.