I will shortly be boarding another plane to fly to Argentina to minister the Gospel to thousands of people across the great city of Buenos Aires - a lifestyle I have had to become used to over some 30 years. Not because I just decided this is what I wanted to do with my life, but because God called me to it - in a most unmistakable way.
I was privileged to have a great education at St. John’s School, Leatherhead which was in those days an all-boys public school.
I was in my lower sixth form year when the teachers gathered us all into a large hall and asked those of us planning to go to university to stand on one side of the hall, and those planning to go into employment on the other. Assuming that “employment” meant a “normal” job, I didn’t feel that I fitted into either category, so I stayed where I was - standing in the middle by myself, feeling a tad awkward.
The teacher loudly asked me: “Conrathe, what are you going to do with your life?”
“I’m going to preach the gospel, Sir!” was my response.
“You’re going to what?!!”
“I’m going to preach the gospel, Sir”.
“You better come to the careers advice office!”.
He duly led me there, fed my details into a computer and, after spending a good 30 minutes trying his best to persuade me that there were a hundred and one better things I could and should do with my life, he told me to go away and think about it overnight. We would meet again the next day to review my decision.
An unmistakably clear call
That night I knelt by my bedside and asked the Lord to speak to me in a way that was unmistakably clear. For all the teacher’s good advice everything he said to me felt in conflict with this deep inner sense that I was being called by God to preach the gospel. After a brief, but heartfelt prayer, I got into bed and fell asleep.
Within moments I was in a spiritual dream that felt as real as though it were physically happening. I was standing alone at the foot of the cross, looking up at Jesus, who at that moment was hanging from it, looking down at me and repeating the words: “healing and salvation must be preached from my cross”.
This scene replayed in the dream for what seemed like half the night until suddenly it changed and, while I was still standing at the foot of the cross, I was suddenly aware of Jesus standing next to me. I looked at him, and he said to me: “now look and see who is on the cross”. I turned and, looking upwards, saw myself!
As I awoke, I felt overwhelmed by two strong internal impressions: firstly that Jesus was personally commissioning me, and secondly that there was a price to pay. Whatever the long-term implications of that may be, initially that meant turning down the potential opportunities that I may have had in other forms of employment.
Following the dream, I couldn't speak for 40 minutes, and was conscious of imprints on my hands and feet, though I could not see anything there physically. My mother, a prayerful woman, came into my bedroom, took one look at me and said: “You’ve met with God!”.
I finished my education at St. John’s, and embarked on a lifetime of making Jesus known wherever he would send me.
So far, it has been 30 years of full-time evangelism and healing ministry in over 50 nations of the world, speaking on occasion to crowds of up to 300,000 people in the open air, in churches, village halls and, at other times, just sitting with a beggar on the street, ministering the healing compassion of Jesus.
However many people I speak to, I always tell them of the one who gave his life that they might be saved. Around 250,000 people have responded to give their lives to him so far, many new churches have been planted and miracles of healing have been frequently recorded.
At 49 years old, I can truly say, it was grace that called me, grace that has brought me safe thus far and grace that leads me on.
Jonathan Conrathe is the Founder and Director of Valley Life Trust, which today encompasses Mission24, Child Life Homes and Life Link. For more information visit mission24.co.uk. He ministers widely in missions around the world, as well as to churches and leaders across a variety of denominations. He is also an accredited minister with Churches in Communities International (CIC).