Report From The Tower
(November 9, 2003)-I was cleared by the Lord to return to this church. As I did, I found God's presence restored. I found repentance was evident in the countenance of the pastor, and in the worship environment, where reverence toward the Lord was markedly improved.)
I have had several questions from my readers over the last few weeks. I have openly disclosed that the manifested presence of Jesus, walking in the midst of us as we gather in His name, had departed from my covering church, Harvest Fellowship Church, on January 12, 2003.
On February 2, 2003, I “came out” of Harvest Fellowship, and the Lord has led me to ask pastor Virgilio Sierra of Buenas Noticias De Fe, of Davie, Florida, to serve as my new covering pastor. The following day, I composed this letter to my former pastor, Joseph Cella, and to Harvest Fellowship.
Now, I am led of the spirit to share it with you. It is my hope that many of you will be blessed, edified and brought to courage and clarity about what God is doing in this hour by reading this. Many who are going through similar things all over this land, as God has judged His house, and departed from many assemblies, are seeking God to understand, and to know what they are to do. May you walk with Jesus, all the way home.
Stephen L. Bening
Bening Financial Ministries
5720 Lakeside Drive, #619
Margate, FL 33063
February 3, 2003
Dear Joe and Harvest Fellowship:
God has told me to leave Harvest Fellowship.
Proper and fit words are not easy to come by. Letters are written at a point in time, while God is heard when we are on the move, and we are not always as certain about our actions as we would like to be. Some people feign a certainty about words, but privately, we struggle with the rightness or wrongness of our decisions, particularly where those decisions are weighty. I have preferred to silently pray my way along through this, keeping my mouth shut until I gained enough certainty to say anything. I certainly would like it if my actions caused no one any harm or hurt, but separations are hard, and that is, most likely, impossible.
Denise called this morning and said, “Were you planning to speak to Pastor Joe about this”? The answer is, yes, but when the words from the Lord are there. I take my words, and my actions, very seriously before the Lord. Today, the Lord has given me some words that I am quite sure about, and I therefore release them.
I do not want to leave as Ira Michaelson did: without a word and dodging every effort on your part to contact him.
(Ira Michaelson contacted me in July, 2003, and corrected me in this regard. This quote is from Ira's letter to me: "What concerns me is that what you refer to is false. I did not leave without a word, at least not to Joe, and every time I tried to call him either on my own, or returning his call he was unavailable. It does not surprise me that he would leave you and others to believe that he had been trying to contact me.")
I want you to know what is in my mind and in my heart. I have written a long letter, and it probably won’t make you feel any better about this, but at least, I have communicated my reasons and I have explained myself. You will read this letter as you are able.
This has not been something that I have petitioned the Lord for. As my last letter to you in August indicated, I have grown discouraged at times, and have wanted to leave, but God has always led me to remain at my post until now. It doesn’t even make me happy or comfortable, but I am now certain that the Lord wants me to go. I am mourning the loss today, but I must nevertheless, obey.
I will present now in the pages that follow my reasons for departure from Harvest Fellowship.
I) SENT OUT TO OTHER CHURCHES TO SERVE AND TO HELP:
When God called me as a prophet on 6/24/1992 and spoke to me from Jeremiah chapter 1, He told me that I must “go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee, thou shalt speak.” This sending has sent forth God’s words through me to the ends of the Earth via the internet, and has already taken me to many churches where I have helped or served in varying capacities. Additionally, God called me to the nations ten years ago, and I have been awaiting the sending for that part of my call. God is telling me that this is the year for me.
God is sending me to at least two more churches in Broward. One is “Equipping The Saints Ministries”, under Joseph and Francine Hanna. I have known them for five years, and have served as the accountant for their ministry, “Help From The Heart Foundation”, that ministers to sufferers of AIDS and HIV.
I will be serving there on Sunday morning, as the Lord leads and Tuesday evening at a prayer meeting. God spoke to me on Wednesday, 1/22/03, that I am to go to help Joseph and Francine with this work. I believe the Lord wants to do something there that involves my financial ministry. Joe Hanna is one of the strongest teachers of the word I have heard in years. His wife, Francine, has skill in obtaining grant financing. I am sure that God has more to reveal about His purposes in sending me there to help.
The second church is in North Broward. It is called Igreja Batiste De Lagoinha, which in English, is Little Lake Baptist Church. This is the USA branch of the huge Brazilian church that has more than 250,000 members. I will be doing some teaching, and assisting with planning in that church. The extent of my involvement is in the infancy, but I am speaking there this Thursday night, for example, and I am currently involved in assisting the pastor with obtaining expanded facilities.
The third church where I am serving right now is Buenas Noticias De Fe, in Davie. I have been going there with my family on Thursday night and Sunday afternoon for the last six months, and I have felt a growing connection to this assembly. My teaching responsibilities in this church, particularly among the youth in the English speaking youth group, have been increasing. I have been asked to assume leadership responsibilities for a small group of young people.
I am also led of the Spirit to believe that it is time for my calling to the nations to commence.
Since the Lord first sent me to Cornerstone Church in 1991 at the end of seven days of fasting and prayer, I have always served in Churches where the Lord sent me. It has been a source of great strength and comfort to me. During those times, and in those places, when so many things were going wrong, or people were falling to the right and to the left, I just stood firm, and stayed at my post because I knew that I was where the Lord had placed me.
As a result, during these last twelve years, every stop and every move has been a result of the prodding by the Lord’s spirit, and not a result of my shopping around for another church. It is the same this time. Just as I knew in late 1999 that the Lord had sent me back to Harvest to “help Joe”, I know that He is sending me back out this time.
II) DEPARTURE FROM HARVEST FELLOWSHIP ORDERED BY THE LORD.
If it were only “the being sent out” to other churches, and then to the nations, I could continue with my membership at Harvest Fellowship, but there is more to it than that. The Lord has directed me to LEAVE Harvest Fellowship while at the same time, He has directed me to concentrate my efforts in these other areas.
The reasons He has given me are that:
A) GOD’S GLORY HAS DEPARTED.
First, the manifested presence of God departed from Harvest Fellowship on January 12, 2003, and has not returned. I can only speak from my vantage point. Others may testify that they are experiencing God’s presence at Harvest. I have not since January 12, while I still discern His presence strongly in my private times of prayer, and in certain other churches. This has happened at a time when God’s people all over this land are reporting that the Holy Spirit has, in some sense, departed from this land. Prophets have been struggling to understand what God has done. I have sat in the midst of a prophetic storm, and God has given me prophetic insight into what has happened. He has brought the judgement of 1 Peter 4:17 to the church. The judgements against America and the world will soon follow. In doing so, He has departed from some assemblies. He has removed His presence from some “apostles”. Some prophets have been judged. It is pervasive and widespread.
Upon the departure of God’s glory and presence from Harvest Fellowship, I began to pray on January 12 for direction. Three times God spoke to me, and then a prophetess spoke to me, and I became certain by January 30 that I had heard the Lord properly, yet still, even on Sunday, February 2, obedience was difficult and I still had to walk forward obediently so that I might have more sure words to describe what God was doing in my life.
First, there was the departure of God’s presence, then, God spoke to me on 1/22/2003, telling me to go to help Joseph and Francine Hanna. Then, last week, God spoke to me twice in answer to my inquiries, giving me reasons for His orders to me. These reasons are:
B) CHANGE THE COVERING.
The Lord says that there is a problem with my covering. He said then, later, that I need to “BE CAREFUL ABOUT MY COVERING.” I interpret that to mean that the pastoral and prayer covering for me at Harvest Fellowship is very weak and inadequate. I understand that it has some holes in it. There is also some other problem with it, but the Lord has not shown me exactly how or what. Another prophetess has said that it is blocking financial blessing. That is something I have known about already. I have a couple of suspicions, but that is all.
C) PROBLEMS WITH THE COVERING.
The Lord told me that other reasons for my departure go back to my last letter to you from August 14, 2002, so I have provided a copy for you of that letter. I know that parts of it brought you pain, but I wrote from my heart. When the Lord spoke to me and told me to leave, He told me to go back and look at that letter. There really have been no changes or improvements in what I wrote to you five months ago. I looked at those items I wrote about, and I suspect that my removal by the Lord has to do with some of those, but the Lord did not say that....He just told me to leave. What were those points?
1. BUILT ON THE FOUNDATION OF THE PASTOR.
Concentration of control in your hands is a huge issue. You have had, and still have others in the church who are able to teach, yet you have chosen to hold on to almost all teaching duties in all meetings, and there are no planning meetings. There are no prayer meetings among the leaders, where we seek the Lord to determine who has the word of the Lord for the teaching meetings of that week. I know that you have done what you thought was right, but I do not agree. Harvest Fellowship is wrongly set upon the foundation of the pastor, but the Lord is moving to gifted teams where everyone who is gifted to minister in a church will minister. You have not moved upon this. You have not formed the team as a leader. You have not become the prayer leader of the church. I have told you about it before. It is serious and the Lord has moved on this all across the land.
2. LEAVEN IN THE LUMP.
With respect to the word from Jeremiah 8 that the Lord had me give you in August, 2002, I see it as still being the same at Harvest Fellowship. Sinners are being comforted in their sins at Harvest and hard teaching concerning sin is mostly absent. There is a lot of leaven in the lump: the Lord says this and not me. There are public appearances in the Church that are absolutely not right. One of the leaders travels around with one of the female members, giving the appearance of being man and wife. Smokers continue smoking after years in the church. Drunks come and go and their lives are not changed. While we want to be a place where the drunks can come to, we want them to change after a time of spiritual reformation. We don’t want them to remain a drunk, or a smoker, or mired in pornography or fornication. We want them to repent.
The Lord has given time for leaders to repent, but they have refused. My understanding is that the Lord significantly reduced, and in some cases, removed his presence from many assemblies at or around January 12 for just these reasons. I believe Harvest has been affected by this. I know that you do not agree. Nevertheless, I must in good conscience tell you that I believe His presence has departed from Harvest Fellowship. It is not my job or duty to tell others what to do, but I believe this is behind the Lord’s recent orders to me.
3. IRREVERENCE IN THE MEETINGS.
This has been visible before us during the corporate worship. I have been greatly grieved of late by many who come to church, and seemingly do not focus on worship. I have watched my daughter Rachel. When at Harvest, she jokes and fools around and does not focus on worship. When I take her to Buenas Noticias, she becomes a reverent worshipper.
Some are there to talk, to fool around, to joke and to jest. They poke one another and laugh it up while others are trying to press in to worship the Lord. There is a lot of walking around and going in and out, and the adults are just as guilty as the young people. Those who are there who are very obviously focused on worship of the Lord in an intense way has been very few during the last several months. I am not the only one who has noticed. It is my belief that behavior of this sort, during worship, is a sign that the Lord’s presence is absent, and that there is no fear of the Lord in a place. When the Lord is present, reverence is present as well. Some argue about which came first: did the absence of His presence lead to the irreverence, or did the irreverence cause the Lord to depart? I do not know for sure, but Harvest is holding irreverent meetings, and the Lord is not there, in the midst.
4) GOD MUST REMOVE STEPHEN TO DO A WORK ON JOE.
The Lord says that he must do some work on you Joe, and that he must remove me in order to do it. Somehow, I will mess it up if I am there. I don’t pretend to fully understand this.
I do not know the length of time I will be separated from Harvest Fellowship, or even if it is temporary or permanent. I only know that I must go.
I leave with no hostility. I’m not going to be calling around the body, trying to convince others to go. If I have anything to say, I have said it here, out in the open. There are no other reasons. I only know that the Lord has called me out, and I do not fully understand the why’s of it, but I know I must obey. If I don’t it won’t be any good for any of us.
I have included the $200 pledge that GAP made for the outreach. I’ll call or be in touch as the Lord permits.
NEW COVERING CHURCH.
I have asked, and Pastor Virgilio Serra of Buenas Noticias De Fe, of Davie, Florida, has agreed to provide pastoral covering for me and my family during this time of seeking for a more clear vision and leading of the Lord.
Stephen L. Bening
HUNDREDS OF CONFIRMING PROPHETIC VOICES
(For example: Position your mouse cursor over California on the map, and click to see a page of California Earthquake Prophecies)
"Man shall not live by bread alone, but by EVERY WORD that proceedeth out of the mouth of God" Matt 4:4
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