The day I got the painting (Ruth's testimony)

By Ruth O'Connell

Sunrise, by D Carr, 2023

One of a series of blogs from team visits to Bethel Church (Redding, California), a large and well-known church that God is using to serve the body of Christ more widely. 

Imagine the whole of The King's Centre alive with expectation, worship and art! That's the scale of the healing rooms at Bethel Church that run each Saturday morning. Prayer teams arrive early. They were already expectant and joyful to be there from the off. No one needed to drive the pre-event prayer meeting, but everyone knew how to engage with the Holy Spirit and get in step with him for what he wanted to do that day. 

In the hall where the healing rooms took place, there was plenty of space to sit quietly and connect with God, to prepare your heart for receiving prayer. As I took communion and watched the dancers on stage, I asked God if he would renew a disc in my back that I had damaged nearly 20 years ago, as well as heal my hearing loss. I wandered to the centre of the room where five artists were painting live, and saw this guy starting a painting of a sunset - or was it a sunrise? Each time I glanced at the painting I sensed a jolt from the Holy Spirit. So my attention was caught, and I sat and watched and twitched for I don't know how long.

There were hundreds waiting, and eventually, I was called for prayer. A young man, one of the BSSM students, prophesied over me, describing parts of my character accurately, showing me that I was known by God! My expectancy rose and my heart opened wide. 

First, they prayed for my back. I was bent over double as the Holy Spirit bent me over and I sensed him moving across my whole back as if he were moving things and slotting new things in. I finally sat down, still quite overcome by the presence of the Holy Spirit. 

Then, one of the team then began to pray for my hearing and clicked her fingers next to my ears in a 'prophetic act'. This time I was doubled up, my stomach clenched. I was gasping and weeping all at once, and sensed God was at work on something deeper than my actual hearing, saying I would be able to hear him more clearly. 

Having given public testimony to everyone in the room about God's power at work, I returned to the man painting the sun. He was just putting finishing touches to the scene. I twitched again as I looked at the painting. I thanked him for painting and encouraged him that through his painting, I had really encountered the presence of God. 

He looked at me and said, "when I heard your testimony, God told me to give you the painting." I wept because I was so touched. We decided it was a sunrise - a new day dawning (which, as it happens, resonates with other prophetic words I received during our visit). 

The painting now hangs above my bed because I can see it as I pray. I still twitch as I look at it, and my expectancy is rising of what God has in store for me. 

And also for us as a church. Simon Jackman, one of our elders and a prophetic leader, noted, "Ruth, I’ve been thinking about your wonderful healing on our first proper day at Bethel and how significant it was. A sign of God’s favour on you but also I felt the fact that it was the straightening and strengthening of your back spoke to me of God doing that more generally in your life and also in the life we have at OCC. A prophetic sign."