Don’t Underestimate the Supernatural Power of Conversion

by | Mar 14, 2012 | Blogs, Fire in My Bones

The
testimony of a former drug dealer from Ohio reminded me this week of the
priority of evangelism.

ShannonMcNeal1

Shannon McNeal: A total transformation

When my new
friend Shannon McNeal was just a little boy, his older brothers put him in a
washing machine, turned on the water and sat on the lid to trap him inside.
Another time they taped him in a cardboard box and
threw it down a flight of stairs to see if he would survive. And once they put
him in the kitchen oven, turned it on and blocked the door with a chair while
he screamed.

Shannon’s
mom wasn’t around to stop the brutality. A single mother, she worked long hours
at a Ford automobile plant in Lorain, Ohio, near Cleveland. Her husband had
walked out on the family when Shannon was 2, leaving the three fatherless
boys to fend for themselves.

Sometimes we get so caught up in the hoopla of
charismatic gifts—chasing the latest glittering manifestations and the
trendiest prophecies—that we forget true conversion is the greatest miracle on
the planet.

Without any
boundaries, Shannon’s brothers began dealing drugs as young teens, and they
threw wild parties in their house while their mother was at the factory. Then a
male relative exposed the boys to hardcore pornography. When Shannon was just 6 he was forced to watch pornographic videos; before he had even reached
puberty he was expected to act out what he had seen with neighborhood girls.

By the time
Shannon became a teenager he was drinking, abusing drugs and hanging out with
members of the Bloods, a popular gang. The pain and confusion caused by abuse
turned him into a ticking time bomb. He was angry and insecure. It was only a
matter of time before he would get in trouble with the law. He finally landed
in a state penitentiary for a drug-related crime.

As is often
the case for guys like Shannon, the abuse that marred his childhood continued
while he was in prison. Because he is bi-racial (his
mother is white, his father black), he was caught in the middle of the fray
when racial tensions flared. During his 18-month incarceration, a fight erupted
and a white inmate stabbed him in the back with a toothbrush that had been
sharpened into a weapon.

Amazingly,
Shannon survived the childhood abuse, the gang violence, the prison fights
and—a few years later—two serious car wrecks, one that sent his head through a
truck’s windshield. After his last brush with death, a friend invited him to Freedom House in 2006.

Everything
changed.

“I walked
into that church and I felt love, and I knew that was what I had been looking
for,” Shannon told me last weekend. His wounded heart was healed—not only by
the message of Jesus but also by the love of the Christians who didn’t judge
him for his mistakes.

“I had tried
everything else to fix the person I was destroying,” Shannon said, “so I
decided to give the ‘God thing’ a chance. I slowly started realizing God’s love
through the people from my church that He led me to, and through the drastic
changes He was making in me.”

I spent time with Shannon
this past weekend when I was preaching at Freedom House, a church located in Amherst, Ohio. He’s happily married now, he’s starting a
business and is beginning to mentor troubled youth. He and his wife have a
young daughter. Every door to his past is closed. He’s forgiven the
people who abused, neglected or rejected him. He’s a totally new man with a
bright smile, a servant’s heart and a loving nature.

I’m sharing
Shannon’s story because many of us in so-called Spirit-filled churches have
forgotten the raw power of conversion. Sometimes we get so caught up in the
hoopla of charismatic gifts—chasing the latest glittering manifestations and
the trendiest prophecies—that we forget true conversion is the greatest miracle
on the planet. Jesus Himself told us that it is only by the power of the Holy
Spirit that someone can be born again (see John 3:5-7).

How I wish
we pursued that miracle as passionately as we chased glory dust or goose bumps
or spooky revelations. The devil is perfectly happy when we become preoccupied
with spiritual sideshows. As long as he can lure us away from our primary
mission of evangelism and discipleship, we really aren’t a threat to his
kingdom. But when people like Shannon McNeal are translated from darkness to
light, their testimony sends hell into a panic.

Rescuing the
lost has always been our mandate, but too often distractions pull us so far off
course that we become religiously busy but spiritually fruitless. Of all the
manifestations of the Holy Spirit available to us, conversion is the most
precious—and the most powerful. In this fresh season of renewal I pray you and
your church will reclaim it.

J. LEE GRADY is contributing editor of Charisma. You can follow
him on Twitter at leegrady. His most recent book is
10 Lies Men Believe (Charisma House).

CHARISMA NEWSLETTERS

Stay up-to-date with current issues, Christian teachings, entertainment news, videos & more.

The latest breaking Christian news you need to know about as soon as it happens.

Prophetic messages from respected leaders & news of how God is moving throughout the world. 


MORE FROM CHARISMA

Prophetic Words: End of Year Prophecies to Guide You into 2023

Prophetic Words: End of Year Prophecies to Guide You into 2023

Chris Reed's Prophetic Word Over China: Unprecedented mass protests are unfolding right now across China. The country is seeing the largest pushback in decades, following their "zero COVID strategy" still in place today. China's Communist Party has continued to...

Declaring a Great Awakening Among Prodigals

Declaring a Great Awakening Among Prodigals

Read Time: 1 Minute 23 Seconds It’s a shocking statistic! More than 80 and up to 90% of children who grow up in church are leaving the church once they reach 18. Sadly, only 40% return, according to Focus on the Family. I believe, with prayer, we can defy those...

Bible Verse of the Day, Dec. 8th: Advent Season, Isaiah 11:1-10

Bible Verse of the Day, Dec. 8th: Advent Season, Isaiah 11:1-10

Isaiah 11:1-10 And there shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots. The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the...

Marilyn Hickey: God Can Heal Your Emotional Wounds

Marilyn Hickey: God Can Heal Your Emotional Wounds

Read Time: 2 Minutes 2 Seconds Have you ever broken a bone? If so, you know what it’s like to go through a painful healing process. Consider what that might feel like in the spiritual realm. Sometimes we can get broken in various ways in life, but God wants to “set”...

COGIC Bishop Derrick Hutchins Sr. Dies at 65

COGIC Bishop Derrick Hutchins Sr. Dies at 65

Read Time: 1 Minute 59 Seconds Bishop J. Drew Sheard and the General Board of the Eastern Florida Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction of the Church of God in Christ announced Tuesday the death of one of its most beloved leaders, Bishop Derrick Hutchins Sr. Hutchins was 65....

RECENT ARTICLES

Don’t Criticize Charismatics

They are saying the charismatic movement is divisive. Whenever people get involved in the "new emphasis," there are disruptions in the status quo. Red flags go up. Lines are drawn. I would ask: What...
Jonathan Cahn Reveals the Mystery of the Molten Beast

Jonathan Cahn Reveals the Mystery of the Molten Beast

Read Time: 6 Minutes, 42 Seconds Is it possible that ancient entities known as "the gods" have returned to our world? Could these gods actually be the unseen movers and catalysts of what's happening in America and the world today? Could they lie behind the current...

Shining the Light of Jesus in Hollywood’s Darkness

Shining the Light of Jesus in Hollywood’s Darkness

Read Time: 3 Minutes 37 Seconds Most made-for-TV Christmas movies are like eggnog and sugar cookies—way too sweet, yet extremely addictive for a lot of viewers. But these Hallmark-style movies—the ones with predictable love stories that always end with jingling bells...

Prophecy: Goodness Is Following You, Turn and See

Prophecy: Goodness Is Following You, Turn and See

Read Time: 1 Minute 51 Seconds At a recent gathering where a member was struggling, I heard and declared by the Spirit of the Lord, “Goodness is following you, TURN and see; embrace His goodness in this moment and watch the shift!” There was an immediate shift and...

Man Who Spent 23 Minutes in Hell: You Came From God

Man Who Spent 23 Minutes in Hell: You Came From God

Read Time: 2 Minutes 25 Seconds If you search the phrase, “where does life come from?” the first explanation reads: “The origin of life is a result of a supernatural event—and readily arises from nonliving matter in short periods of time, today as in the past.” The...

Raise Your Praise!

Raise Your Praise!

These are the days that may leave you feeling defeated. You may be wondering when these present trials will end or how can you strengthen your faith for the battle as you wrestle against powers and principalities that come against you, in addition to the challenges...

Pin It on Pinterest