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As American missionaries to Paraguay, Jerry and Connie White see Jesus' love and the Holy Spirit's power daily change people in their church and in the hospital and prison where they minister with pastors and leaders from the Bible Teaching Center.
Until April 2014, the Whites didn't know the power of one biblical word to transform the spiritual, physical, mental and emotional health of the Paraguayans they love and serve as pastors and directors of Living Water Teaching Paraguay.
"Sozo," a Greek word that's found 110 times in the New Testament of the Bible, changed everything for the Whites' congregation, CEB Iglesia, and its surrounding South American community this year; the word means to be saved, healed, delivered, and made whole.
Sozo ministry is a unique inner healing and deliverance ministry aimed to get to the root of things hindering your personal connection with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. With a healed connection, you can walk in the destiny to which you have been called.
During three days of instruction in what's called Sozo Ministry, the Whites and four associate pastors along with 12 members of their congregation learned how to help Paraguayans conduct direct, two-way conversations with the Holy Spirit. Many Paraguayans are from Catholic backgrounds.
The Whites, their staff and eight other trained Sozo Ministry leaders from Colorado then used their new tools over the next three days, conducting 30 one-on-one sessions with CEB Iglesia members, before taking the ministry into a children's hospital and a prison that houses men and women.
Sozo's introduction into Paraguay is the first South American country to experience the fast-growing, intensely personal training that's reached 80 percent of the world's countries from its home base in Redding, Calif. Bethel Church began Sozo Ministry in 1997.
Nearly 200 Paraguayans – some of whom were not born again or filled with the Holy Spirit when they signed up for their private Sozo sessions – encountered a personal, relational God who, as a loving Father, desires to hear from and speak to them. Many were pleasantly surprised by their ability to hear God's voice in response to their conversations, and by their physical and emotional improvements after receiving Sozo Ministry.
A woman in her 20s and a member of the White's church says God – through Sozo sessions – changed her life, and physically and emotionally healed many others who've publicly shared their testimonies.
"I had bitterness and hate toward my husband, and I was a cold person," says Rocio Morel. "God has changed my life, removed the evil that was inside me, and made me happy. If Sozo hadn't come into my life, I would not have been healed.
"Before (Sozo), I couldn't understand where the love had gone," says Morel, whose husband is on the church worship team. "I felt so sad and hurt, but I am different now."
When Jerry White invited the presence of God into a worship service at the end of six days of Sozo Ministry, a man who had come to church with a demon inside him began to disrupt the powerful church meeting with screams. The dark spirit inside the man couldn't withstand the powerful presence of the Holy Spirit in the church, and left at the command of Jerry White and others who continued to worship and intercede during the commotion.
In several of the 185 Sozo sessions that were conducted in during the first week of April 2014, ministers say they saw, heard or felt bones move and legs grow out as some of the Paraguayans spoke to God about their physical limitations, asking Jesus if he was willing to heal them.
Carmen Benetiz, a woman in her 50s and a member of the White's church, told Sozo minister Coree Sullivan at the outset that her spine was crooked and caused considerable pain. So, as Benetiz talked to God and Sullivan laid hands on her and prayed silently, both were amazed at the response.
"The straightening of Carmen's spine was amazing," says Sullivan. "My hand has never felt anything like that previously."
Two months later, Jerry White says Benetiz continues to improve overall but, in her upper spine where there wasn't as much movement as in the lower portion, the healing and recovery is a work in progress. Nevertheless, Benetiz is able to attend worship services at CEB Iglesia.
Dramatic physical, spiritual and emotional improvements are convincing enough for the Whites to pursue advanced training at the International Bethel Sozo Organization (IBSO) in Redding, Calif., where the ministry was birthed almost two decades ago.
In 1997, the year Sozo was founded, its leader received prayer training from healing evangelist Randy Clark, whose "Ten Steps" was inspired by the successful deliverance ministry of Pastor Pablo Bottari of Argentina.
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