It’s funny. The people that have shaped my thinking the most have been John’s. John Wimber, John Paul Jackson and John Sandford. From Wimber, I learned friendship with Holy Spirit and how to be myself, naturally supernatural, while expecting God to move powerfully. From John Paul, I learned about the power of God, the reality of the supernatural and sensitivity to the voice of God. From John Sandford, I learned about the intersection of the heart of man and the heart of God.
John and Paula Sandford pioneered what we commonly call “inner healing,” ministry to the heart of people to restore them to full relationship with God. Not only has my life been changed because of what they taught and imparted, but I have used the principles they championed to help countless others. I can’t tell you how many times I have suggested that someone read The Elijah Task.
John Paul, my mentor, considered John Sandford a spiritual father. He looked up to him and learned from him. More than once, the Lord would send John Sandford to protect John Paul at critical junctures. I can remember talking to John after John Paul had passed. John wept as he lamented not being able to change what happened. My heart was touched to see someone who took his role as a prophet and intercessor so seriously, and I wanted to be more like that.
John Sandford came to the Convergence Council, a roundtable of prophetic and apostolic leaders from around the world that John Paul Jackson chaired. It was humbling to see how the room got quiet and everyone paid attention each time John Sandford shared.
I got to eat a meal with him at that meeting and asked him about burden-bearing. I was thinking I wanted more understanding so I could teach, but he saw something else. He reached over, patted my hand, and said, “You haven’t learned how to let go of all those burdens you are carrying, have you?” That simple question pulled years of pain I had hidden to the surface and as I wept out a “no,” his simple prayer released me from a heaviness I hadn’t even been aware of.
On Good Friday, March 30, 2018, John Sandford went home to his eternal reward. I find it appropriate that this burden-bearer would pass on the very rare occasion of a Good Friday matching the first day of Passover, exactly as it was when Jesus died.
Having heard many stories, I know the loss John’s passing is to the body of Christ around the world. Not just for those who have been touched by his ministry, but the many more who have been covered by his intercession and spared from difficult situations because he saw something and intervened.
The prophet Samuel, at his retirement, said it would be a sin against the Lord if he stopped praying for those to whom he was sent (1 Sam. 12:23). I believe John fulfilled his assignment, prayed to the end and taught the body of Christ the “good and right way.”
If you are not familiar with John and Paula Sandford’s ministry and legacy, I would highly suggest visiting elijahhouse.org. Elijah House (the ministry they founded) carries the Elijah mandate—to restore the hearts of children to the fathers and the hearts of fathers to the children (Mal. 4:5–6). You can find John and Paula’s books and teachings as well as other teachings from their natural and spiritual family who are continuing this mandate.
John E. Thomas is the president of Streams Ministries and the co-author of The Art of Praying the Scriptures: A Fresh Look at Lectio Divina with John Paul Jackson. Teaching on prophetic ministry, dream interpretation and the kingdom of God, he travels internationally and works to help restore the awe of God to a world that has lost its wonder. John and his wife, Dawna, live outside of Dallas, Texas.