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Equipping the Church to Address Mental Health

THE LEGACY CONTINUES
In the twenty years since his death on November 17, 1997, John Wimber’s worldwide influence continues to expand. Wimber was one of the founding leaders of The Vineyard in the 1980’s. He ignited a fresh expression of the Holy Spirit that has led to a network of over 2400 churches worldwide. He also greatly influenced the leaders of the Catholic Charismatic Movement. And through Vineyard music, he made an indelible impact on praise and worship music.  Matt Redman, Tim Hughes, and Bethel music are just a few today’s worship leaders who say they were influenced by the Vineyard.

A special celebration of Wimber’s legacy is taking place Monday afternoon, March 12th from 2-4 pm in the Regent University library, which houses the John Wimber Collection, donated to Regent in 2009 by the Wimber family. The collection includes journal articles by and about John Wimber, conference materials, course syllabi, Vineyard publications, brochures, newspaper articles, correspondence and memorabilia.  Christy Wimber and Gordon Robertson are the guest speakers for the event.

Since John’s death in 1997, his daughter-in law Christy has extended his legacy through church planting and leadership training. She’s also breaking new ground of her own, equipping the church to help those suffering with mental health issues.

HELPING THE HURTING
After pastoring the Yorba Linda Vineyard for 11 years, Christy felt led by God to close the church. “When I laid my Church aside last year, I felt the Lord remind me that if I cannot lay aside the ministry I lead, then it is the ministry that is leading my life, rather than the God I serve. How easy that is to say. How gut wrenchingly painful it is to walk out.” Now, Christy feels like her focus has shifted to helping those dealing with mental illness (as well as training leaders and church planting). Today, 1 in 4 people struggle with mental health issues. With that staggering statistic, Christy feels we, as the Church, need a better theology of suffering--we have to learn how to bring healing and wholeness to the world around us. Yet, the church is not very equipped in that area.  “Real life is hard and real life is painful at times.” Yet, the church is not sure how to handle those who are “bleeding.” Being in ministry for over 20 years, Christy has prayed for thousands of people. She explains, “I’ve seen God do incredible things throughout the years. However, I have noticed some changes in what people are asking prayer for. I have noticed a dramatic increase in the last few years for those asking for prayer for anxiety and depression. In fact, one of the things that has really bothered me is talking with pastors and leaders who feel they need to be in hiding because they’ve been dealing with depression or anxiety and had needed to start taking medication; only to find the Church wasn’t so merciful to their condition.” For example, if someone is diabetic we are fine with them taking insulin medication or if they struggle with high blood pressure, we think it is normal to take medication. However, if we hear that someone needs antidepressant or anti-anxiety medication, the reaction is frequently different. In addition, the Church’s theology on suffering can leave people feeling isolated and alone. Christy explains, “Our world around us, no matter if someone knows God or not, when it comes to mental illness many thousands feel they can’t be honest about their struggle because of the stigma attached to it. Yet, when it comes to mental illness, many will choose to go to clergy, priest, and pastor of some kind before anyone else. This means, they will come, but somehow we don’t know how to respond or react rightly.” Christy believes that the Church is here to serve God’s people by bringing His heart to them and that this is our opportunity to become more effective in that role.

CHRISTY’S STORY
Christy grew up next door to the John Wimber family.  She accepted Christ at a young age but did not get serious with her faith until she was 20.  At that time John’s son, Sean Wimber, who is 9 years older than Christy, had gotten saved. With their newfound faith in Christ, they felt an immediate connection and soon married in 1990.  Shortly after, they began to travel internationally with John Wimber who was a founding leader of the Vineyard Movement. In 2006, Christy and Sean planted Yorba Linda Vineyard and pastored it for 11 years until they felt led to close it last year.

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Guest Info

Credits

Author, former pastor, and international speaker

In ministry for over 20 years

Planted and led church for 11 years

In 2009, Christy and her husband Sean provided Regent University with a full library of John Wimber teachings from throughout his ministry

Children: Camie Rose and John Richard II.

John Wimber's Legacy Celebration at Regent University

The John Wimber Special Collection

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