In Western culture, head knowledge, like analytical and critical thinking, has become the most celebrated form of intelligence. Those especially gifted in areas such as science and technology are lauded and celebrated. Their accomplishments and exploits are regularly featured in magazines, newspapers, TV channels and radio stations. This emphasis has influenced the development of education systems, hiring practices and how people in Western culture generally think and relate to one another.
But what about heart knowledge? What about the value of intelligence that is not inherently intellectual, but based more on emotion? The kind of knowledge that cannot be taught except through lived experience and action. Is there space for this in a society so permeated by an expectation that true knowledge must be grounded in proven facts?
For a group of 140 people, that answer is yes. From June 20-21 at West Highland Baptist Church in Hamilton, Ontario, Navigators from all across southern Ontario met together for a conference on listening and healing prayer called “Meeting God in the Broken Places.”
This conference, organized by Irv Augustine and Dennis Funk, is the fourth community conference that has happened over the last four years and has been the highest-attended. Rather than being focused towards a specific campus or workplace, conferences like this are intended to focus on the community of the city as a whole. The majority of the attendees were from Hamilton, but participants also came from as far east as Ottawa and as far west as Sarnia.
‘Fragrances of the Kingdom’
Irv says the point of doing this conference is to help people look past cognitive ways of connecting with God and others and see how they can connect emotionally. “Sometimes we can be subject to spiritual pride when we say ‘Look at these activities! I’m getting my quiet times statistically six days out of seven with a 93 per cent success rate.’ But we’re not asking ourselves, ‘How am I engaging the people around me in terms of bringing forward the fragrances of the Kingdom?'”
He says these ‘fragrances of the Kingdom’ translate into being physically and emotionally present for people, to “be responsive to support people in whatever they need, be it a Ping Pong game to just relax, be it a problem to solve, or be it a hug if somebody took a hit during the day.”
Coming closer to God
One of the attendees, Miriam Beatty, said a key takeaway for her was how the goal of this kind of prayer is to grow closer to God. “It isn’t that I’ll become stronger and more independent because God fixes my problems, it’s that I become more dependent on him and intimate with him.”
Steve Boos, a human resource specialist with the Navigators, said he went to the conference because he wanted to learn more. “I felt like the woman in the Bible who had been bleeding for 12 years, spent all that she had for healing and nothing helped. It was her reaching out and the touch of Jesus that healed her. I heard from him at the conference and know that he touched me. Now I am looking for ways to help others grasp this way of connecting with God.”
Worthy of Praise?
Another participant said going to the conference helped her come back to believing that God is her saviour.
“During my time with God, I was reminded of this time when I was really young, and my mom was singing the song ‘Shout to the Lord’. I remember getting really upset at her for singing that song. I was reflecting on why I was so upset and I was talking to God about it and realized that during that time, I cried out to God and I felt like he wasn’t listening to me. What I believed from that was that God wasn’t my saviour and that he wasn’t worthy of praise. I realized that theme of God not being my saviour and not worthy of praise is something I’ve struggled with my whole life. Whenever I go through something hard, I always think ‘well, God hasn’t saved me so I have to save myself.'”
Throughout the conference, participants split up into pairs to practice the listening and healing prayer they were learning about. She said those practice sessions helped her to hear God saying “to trust that even though I’m not in control and I can’t stop that hurt from happening, that God is there with me and he’s still worthy of praise.”
Ron Pagé, a licensed marriage and family therapist with The Navigators, has said that sometimes we’re going to carry scars throughout life. It’s not like God’s going to remove that scar. It’s still present, and we might cross the finishing line with a limp, but that’s okay.
If you are interested in joining the Navigators in upcoming events, visit our events page to see what is happening.