The Intangible Factor
The Intangible Factor; the Secret to National Transformation
National Transformation is commonly thought of as the integration of God’s ways into the laws, government policy, economics and culture of a nation. While this is largely true, there is an intangible factor that must first be dealt with before any of these other “tangible” changes can effectively take place and create sustainable transformation. This intangible factor, the one that so often eludes us, is the healing of the heart of the nation. Only when the “heart” of a nation is healed, can true transformation take place.
God began making me aware of the centrality of the national heart back in 2004, when he first asked my wife and me to return to Canada to serve there. He was directing us to move to the province of Quebec, the province known by Christians as the “graveyard of churches and ministries.” When I wondered if, instead, we could move to the more temperate province of British Columbia (Aside from being a spiritual graveyard, Quebec is bitterly cold in the winter, too), He asked me, “What good is it if a person is beautiful and appears healthy but their heart is sick and they could drop dead any minute?” (We moved to Quebec!) Since the Lord first asked me that question nearly two decades ago, I have had the privilege to witness numerous heart transformations of nations, and the remarkable changes that have followed in the political, economic and spiritual landscape of the nation.
God’s question also prompted me to understand how God speaks of the nations in the scriptures. As I began to research, it became clear that the scriptural understanding of nations is not, as we understand in modern times, a geopolitical location delineated by arbitrary state lines on a map. A nation is a people group, an ethnos, a race and God views these people groups as corporate persons. We see evidence of this in the way God speaks to nations through prophets who employ language such as, “Zion my daughter,” “Israel my firstborn,” and “Babylon the harlot.” The term “the Body of Christ,” too, alludes to the Biblical understanding of a group of people being a corporate person.
It is not surprising, then, that like a person, a nation’s ability to thrive does not originate from the outside, but rather from within. For instance, when the people of Israel left Egypt they had a problem. While, outwardly, they had been delivered and freed, inwardly they carried the wounds, mindset and culture of slaves from Egypt. As a corporate people scarred by slavery and fear, their heart needed to be healed though a new revelation of God’s character. They needed to know He was not a harsh slave master but, rather, a loving Father. Only then did they become the warrior nation who could take the Promised Land. This illustrates well that, just as individual human transformation is an inner work that then manifests externally, national transformation also originates in the heart.
It also became clear through my studies that God doesn’t only judge individual people within the nations, He also judges each nation as a corporate whole. See Matthew 25:31-41 where Jesus says that He will return to judge all nations, either as sheep or as goat nations. Given that these nations are intended as Christ’s inheritance (Psalm 2:8) it is important that the nations be prepared because, “What joy for the nation whose God is the LORD, whose people he has chosen as his inheritance” (Psalm 33:12). Jesus will judge each nation according to their capacity to walk in the ways of the kingdom of God in all spheres of society: government, education, economics, health, etc. Goat nations are those who lived in their own ways instead of according to God’s ways and leadership. The sheep nations are those who have followed the ways of the Good Shepherd which is evidenced in the wellbeing of their society. None of this can happen unless the heart of the nation is healed. In fact, healing the heart of a goat nation can enable it to be transformed into a sheep nation.
How, then, do we, as leaders, assess or measure the health of a nation’s heart? A heart cannot really be quantified. It is, after all, an “intangible”. However the process is similar to a person going to the doctor’s office and filling out an intake form which may include questions such as: “Where is your pain?” “What are your symptoms and when did they start?” “What surgeries have you had?” “What illnesses run in your family?” To begin this process in a nation, I frequently begin by asking its people, “How is your nation?” This question evokes points of pain in the national history, things such as civil war, genocides, communism, slavery, depressions, colonization, divisions or separations, racism, foreign attacks, and betrayals for example. There are many other clues as to the brokenness of a national heart. These can be discovered in common sayings or mindsets such as, in Quebec, the belief that “Je suis né pour un petit pain” (I am born for a small loaf of bread/insignificant destiny), or in Czech the saying “About us but without us,” which alludes to the pervasive fear of betrayal and victimization by friends and strangers alike. An investigation into the history and culture of the nation will also invariably turn up areas of brokenness. All these details point to wounds or illnesses in the heart of the nation, wounds that God can then show us how to “treat”–much as a doctor would treat a person wounded in battle or life.
Interestingly, but not surprisingly, the nuances of brokenness are not always readily visible to the nationals or the people who are affected by them because they are familiar and the people do not know there is an alternative. For this reason, the first step in healing a nation’s heart comes when God sends a messenger to the nation. God often anoints an “outsider” for this step. Once the message of God arrives through His person of choice, the healing (or the next stage of the healing) can begin.
Each nation and its healing journey is unique. However, just as with individuals, there are some common threads that are shared by all nations. The following keys can be used to unlock healing and restoration for a nation’s heart.
Key 1: Relational foundations. Family is the highest form of authority in the Kingdom. That is why God is our “Father,” not just “God”, and why Jesus taught us to pray “our Father” not “my Father.” Building relationships that are connected at the heart level is essential to a thriving nation.
The first commandment Moses received on Mount Sinai regarding interpersonal relations was the command to honor one’s father and mother. This command came with the promise that if we followed it, we would have a long life (Ex. 20.12). This aspect of family is the reason it is crucial, before beginning any new work in a nation, to reach out to the fathers and mothers in the land, the servants of God, and others who have been laboring in a land for decades. By doing so, we honor them and acknowledge what God has already been doing. It shows humility and honor, and enables us to join the strength of many faithful laborers. When we create such an environment of honor, it turns the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers which helps to prevent judgement upon the nation. (Malachi 4.6)
Key 2: Hearing and Obeying God. The key to success is to seek God for His ways and His timing. This is the model Israel followed to take hold of the Promised Land. As a family of believers seeking the healing of a nation, the key is to come before the Lord to ask “What” to do, “how” to do it, and “when” to proceed. The answer will be unique to each nation or corporate person.
For instance, in Czechia, after several years of repentance, forgiveness, and reconciliation between Protestants and Catholics, Czech and past oppressive nations, etc., God continued the process of healing by declaring, “It’s a New Day!” over the nation, and drawing the people into a new relationship with Him. In Slovakia, God proclaimed, “I see a New Slovakia!” and then began a process of renewing the hearts of the people. In Quebec, Canada, God instructed us to facilitate healing through a creative art festival called “Quebec, I love you.” While all the ways in which God has worked have been unique to the circumstances and “personality” of each nation, a common thread has been regional gatherings. These gatherings have played a key role in the progression of revelation and healing, though each one ended up having its own flavor or focus. God has a way of putting His finger on very specific issues.
Key 3: The Remnant. Second Chronicles 7.14 details the specific people to be part of the healing of their land. He calls them “my people.” These are not all people, but those whom God has called His own. This remnant can be likened to hinges that change the direction of a huge door; they are people who shift national history–they are the hinges of HIStory.
These individuals do not have to be numerous to make a difference. In Romans 11:4 we see that God told Elijah that He had set aside 7000 who had not bowed the knee to Baal. In the account of Abraham interceding with the Lord for Sodom, it is written that God would have been satisfied with a remnant of merely 10 righteous people (Genesis 18:32).
There is synergy in the corporate gathering; “One puts 1000 to flight; two put 10,000 to flight” (Deut 32.30; Josh 23.10).
Key 4: Biblical Prescription for Healing. National issues need to be dealt with on a national level. In Joel 2, they blew the trumpet and called a national assembly to stand before the Lord. The goal is not necessarily for every single believer to stand before God, but a representation of the entire nation is to stand before Him as the remnant. This can only be effective when the call is done on a national scale, and across dividing lines (such as political, denominational and racial divisions).
Secondly, as outlined in 2 Chronicles 7.14, God has laid out a kind of prescription for a nation’s healing. In order to see the fullness of healing in a nation, He calls His people to gather together to do four things: 1. Humble themselves; 2. Pray; 3. Seek My face; 4. Repent from their evil ways. All too often, believers focus on only the second part of the prescription, prayer, and so nations only see pockets of limited breakthrough. For the prescription to be complete, all four instructions need to be followed, and they need to be done on a national scale. Then God brings the breakthrough He promises. He: 1. Hears; 2. Forgives; and 3. Heals the land.
Key 5: God’s people will come. Sometimes people new to this process worry that they will go to great lengths to prepare a gathering, but that no one will come. However, in Psalm 110, the Lord promises to make His people willing for the call at hand. David writes, “Your people shall be willing in the day of your power” (Ps 110.3). It is our job to get the word out to the best of our ability, but it is God who will make His people- the remnant- ready on the day of power, the day of battle. There is a spiritual battle for the soul of nations. God’s people will be stirred and willingly be drawn to stand together; they will come and heed the call of God in the land.
Key 6: Prophetic acts. We must never underestimate the power of prophetic acts to release victory well beyond the end of a gathering or meeting. When Elisha told the King of Israel to strike the ground with the arrows as a prophetic act of victory (2 Kings 13.18) and he only struck the ground three times, he only got victory three times. This prophetic act done with the prophet had national repercussions. There is grace for national breakthrough in prophetic acts when the remnant and the apostles and prophets of the nation come together and stand in the presence of the Lord.
Key 7: Laying down our agendas. When we stand together before God we lay down our agendas and become like a spiritual Switzerland, a neutral land. At the gathering in Antioch (Acts 13), the teacher did not teach, the prophet did not prophesy. Each and every person laid down their crowns and mantels and focused on the Lord. When we gather, we lay down our ministries, our agendas, and our passions in order to better hear the Lord for the nation. The key to doing this is trusting that God is the one who will bring about the fruition of our individual assignments. This frees us to hear God’s instructions in the context of healing the national heart and it helps us avoid the greatest hindrance of all to hearing God; offense. In this way revelation flows freely into the gathering.
Key 8: Minister to the Lord. In Acts 13, the believers gathered together to minister to the Lord. Their worship was focused on Jesus. It was not a “make-me-feel-better-about-myself” kind of worship. They were ministering to the Lord with gratitude and telling Him how amazing He is. Blessing the Lord attracts His presence and the Holy Spirit comes and releases divine strategy. At time of Acts 13, the Holy Spirit revealed the strategy to reach the gentile nations through sending Barnabas and Saul. King David understood the reality that God inhabits the praises of His people and he pursued God’s presence through worship. As a result, he was able to continually hear God’s specific instructions that granted him victory wherever he went.
Key 9: The Gibeonite Key. In 2 Samuel 21, there had been a famine in the land for three years and David inquired of the Lord what the reason was. The Lord answered David, saying it was because Saul had killed the Gibeonites. Israel had sworn to protect them, but Saul had violated this agreement. Because he inquired of the Lord, David was given a key to end the famine in the land. He met with the Gibeonites, atoned for the wrong that had been done, and the famine ended. Like David, we can inquire of the Lord and ask for the Gibeonite keys in the nations where God leads us; the keys that will end the suffering and pain, and bring restoration and healing.
Over the years as we have been working among the nations, God has often directed our path using the above keys, and we have seen significant breakthroughs for, when the heart receives healing, transformation flows into society. I will briefly enumerate a few below.
Canada: The nation that we now know as Canada was founded by the French but later was taken over by the English in a pivotal battle in Quebec. Centuries of tension between these two people groups–two nations–within Canada ensued. The history is far too long and involved to summarize here, but for years, prior to the 400 year anniversary of the founding of Quebec City (2008), the French Canadian province of Quebec had supported their strong separatist party which, on two occasions, had nearly succeeded in separating Quebec from the rest of Canada. However, God’s love was greater than any lines of division. Through many prophetic acts, gatherings for reconciliation, a unique Festival of Arts called “Quebec I Love You” and more, the heart of Quebec began to undergo transformation. At one point, 5000 French and English stood together, before the Lord, declaring they were of one heart, and together they rewrote the history of their relationship before God.
The cumulative work of the remnant tipped the scales in the spirit realm. The Prime Minister acknowledged the French Canadians as a unique “nation within Canada” and the heart of the French Canadian people ceased striving for separation. In the Federal election following the end of the “Quebec I Love You” tour, the people of Quebec completely turned their back on their own separatist “Bloc Quebecois.” In fact, the party received so few votes that it lost official party status! This was a miracle and could only have been accomplished after hearts had been restored. The political transformation continued with 60% of the members of Parliament being born again Christians.
During the years of the conservative (and largely Christian) governance, particularly from 2008 to 2015, the Canadian economy did very well relative to foreign advanced economies and the performance of the Canadian dollar was extremely strong, ranging between $0.8 USD and $1.05 USD. Moreover, employment growth in Canada between 2006 and 2015 was far stronger than in the US and many other advanced economies. Clearly, healing the heart led to quantifiable economic changes, as well as shifts in the relational climate within the nation.
There was one thing missing however, which we have reason to believe may be the cause of lost ground. There was no national level reconciliation between Catholics and Protestants. So, the victory we gained was limited to about a decade. The lesson we learned was invaluable in how to sustain victory in the future. As in the times of Joshua, when he did not address all the giants in the land, those left cropped up again. Think of Goliath. David had to deal with the things Joshua failed to complete. These invaluable learned lessons serve as a blessing to carry the breakthrough into the heart of Europe (Joshua 13:13).
Czechia and Slovakia: God has recently highlighted these two nations as being two chambers of the heart of Europe. Why two nations? It may, in fact, be more than two. We are still in the process of receiving revelation, as the Lord makes things clear through the gatherings. The people of Czech and Slovakia are originally part of Great Moravia, which used to cover a much larger area of land and which has subsequently been divided up geopolitically. However, God still regards the Moravian people as a nation and, it would seem, as the heart of Europe.
Czechia: In a nation where division, criticism and striving have been the rule of the day, we are seeing massive breakthroughs bringing down walls of separation in the Body of Christ. There has been restoration between Catholics and Evangelicals with remarkable results. Leaders of different streams in the body of Christ who have not sat together at the same table for decades are not only meeting, but are connecting in heart-to-heart friendships to see God’s New Day come to the nation. Believers from all backgrounds of the faith are not only “reconciling” but have come together to form a national family; they care deeply for one another from the heart and are pressing in for God’s promises for their nation.
God’s people have begun to again get in touch with their hearts. In a society where, due to wounds of the past, intellect has been esteemed above heart, many have lived stuck in their heads. As individuals have received the love of our Father and love from one another, healing has been breaking out all across the country. Families are being restored. Marriages are being strengthened and healed. People are learning to relate on deeper levels with God and with each other.
The work in Czechia is still, in many ways, in its early stages, and so we have yet to see how these changes within the Body of Christ will release changes in the nation. It is our experience that they always do. Just as judgement starts with the house of God, so also, do healing and transformation (1 Peter 4:17).
Slovakia: Oppressed for a millennia by the Austro-Hungarian Empire and more recently by communism, Slovakia suffered from the wounds of an orphan heart. But, in March of 2017, God released a word to the nation that He saw a “New Slovakia,” and a new era for the nation. A year later, on the heels of an investigative reporter and his fiancee being murdered by the government, the Slovaks took to the streets in mass protests, demanding corruption in their government come to an end. Everything began to shift. God has been taking the nation by the hand, revealing His vision for a New Slovakia.
In May 2018, we began regional gatherings across the nation according to the Joel 2 and Acts 13 model. In the last gathering, which took place a week before the national election (shich had been set in motion to replace the corrupt government), as we sought God and laid down our agendas, we saw the Holy Spirit reveal Gibeonite keys for repentance and reconciliation, as well as inspire prophetic acts to usher in a breakthrough in Slovakia.
He began to shake the nation free from insecurities, fears, the false spirit of religion, and the ego-centric political spirit. As the people entered their identities as sons and daughters of God, love, honor and genuine relationships between family members were restored.
As a result of the nation’s heart being healed, transformation is already flowing into the government of Slovakia. Prior to the 2020 elections, the left party had held power for three terms. But after the corruption in the government was revealed and the Prime Minister stepped down from power, in preparations for the February 2020 elections, Christian politicians began to unite with a coalition of other parties whose platform was anticorruption, and the public began to favor the values of the Christan politicians.
One week after our last gathering, the Slovaks voted for the Christian politicians and the coalitions of which they were part. As a result, a new government (a large number of whom are Christians) was formed that now holds a constitutional majority. Christians also now hold chairs in the State administration. This uniquely positions the nation for change and for the integration of God’s ways into laws and modes of governance.
To conclude, God promised the nations as an inheritance for our Lord Jesus Christ. As His ambassadors in the earth, it is our responsibility and privilege to bring healing and restoration to our nations, to present them to the Lord as an inheritance worthy of His sacrifice. This requires us to lay down our own agendas and walk with sensitivity to the Lord as he guides us through the 9 keys of restoring a nation’s heart. “May the Lamb that was slain receive the reward of His suffering!”