Healing, Heaven, and Spiritual Warfare: Robby Dawkins on the Power of Prayer
Written by Shelley Barski
The Furious Love trilogy has taken the world by storm. These now beloved documentaries explore the mysteries of God and show what love can do in even the darkest corners of the earth. Pastor and power evangelist, Robby Dawkins teamed up with director Darren Wilson for Furious Love and Father of Lights – a wild ride of miracles and surprises caught on film that could only be explained as God. But for Dawkins, witnessing God’s miracles have become a daily occurrence.
Interviewed Exclusively for Risen Magazine
Risen Magazine: What was your childhood like growing up in Japan with missionary parents?
Robby Dawkins: Well we left Japan when I was young. The missionary directors wanted my parents to leave Japan and go to the Philippines to start a Bible college there, but my parents didn’t want to stop being missionaries. So they ended up leaving the denomination and started communes in Atlanta, Georgia and Dallas, Texas. They created these communes to reach out to teenagers that were runaways. As a missionary kid, your life was very sacrificial. I didn’t really feel pressure to be perfect though because everyone was on the same playing field in the commune.
Risen Magazine: You began serving as a youth minister at age 16, how did you know how to start? What were some of the challenges you faced?
Robby Dawkins: The whole thing was a challenge! The church and the commune were separate but integrated. We had a large amount of young people—half of the church was under 25 years old. Ella, my sister was 21, and would do administrative stuff and activities and I would do the teaching.
When I was 14 or 15 years old I would play drums and then preach while sitting at the drum set. One day I was preaching on the stage when a man came out and held a gun to my head. I just kept preaching and I’m not sure why I did, but he ended up walking away and not blowing my brains out. Over 200 people had gathered to watch us play in the yard of the church. Everyone kind of froze when he was behind me. My buddy asked me later, “Did you know that guy had a gun to your head?” I kind of knew what was happening, but there seemed to be a shield that was keeping me from being fully aware of what was going on. God told me that day, “That’s how I want you to live – not in anticipation of death – because you will be taken not one day too soon or too late. All your days are in my hands.” The guy ended up giving his life to Christ later that day. He said, “I want what that boy has. He’s completely fearless.”
Risen Magazine: Tell me about the first time you decided to go out with a group and start praying for strangers.
Robby Dawkins: When I was a teenager we were always going out doing outreach-type things, but not healing necessarily. When we planted our church in Aurora, Illinois, that’s how we started. We started going to bars – gay bars, professional bars, etc. People in bars will talk to you about their problems, which gave me the opportunity to say, “Hey you know what I found works for me is prayer. Can I pray for you right now?” And people would get really touched. They would say to their friends, “Hey, you should have this guy pray for you.” It seemed like the darker the atmosphere, the more that you would see stuff happen. The darkest places were where Jesus did most of his ministry. We would see someone healed quicker in a bar than in a church. Then we thought, What if we did this at New Age fairs? So we started going there too. In 1998 we started seeing more dramatic healings – cancer and terminal illness were completely healed. People we would pray for would go to the doctor in a few days and it would be completely gone. Now we see those kinds of healings a lot more because we are more engaged with the [Holy] Spirit.
Risen Magazine: What events led you from being a pastor to being a part of films? Who were some key influencers in your decision to pursue Furious Love and Father of Lights?
Robby Dawkins: Darren Wilson, the director of the movies, had come to hear me speak at church and approached me afterwards. I knew he was a writing and media professor at Judson University just outside Chicago and had done the movie, Finger of God. Darren told me, “I don’t know how to deal with the Q&A at the end of Finger of God. I need your help.” I told him at the end of the meeting to turn the whole thing over to me. So we showed the movie and I got up at the end and said, “I want everyone to close their eyes and put up their hands and ask the Holy Spirit to answer all of your questions.” Then people started dropping everywhere. There was gold dust on some, demons coming out of others and people getting healed. Darren invited me to join with him on his next movie, Furious Love, which is about going into the darkest parts of the world and bringing the light of truth to those places. We really wanted to go to “Burning Man” festival and film but at the last minute everything fell through. So we went to the largest New Age fair in the country – Mt. Shasta. God healed a lot of people there.
We also went to a church in Siberia. No one goes to Siberia; it’s not like there’s tourism there. We went out to the surrounding pubs to pray for people. At one of the pubs, I had a word of knowledge and told a man who was a communist leader, really personal details about his life that not even his wife knew. He ended up giving his life to Christ right there in the pub and Darren interviewed him.
I believe failure is something that builds faith because I see that the worst that could happen really isn’t that bad.
Risen Magazine: How did your expectations change as you actually began to get deeper into what God was doing?
Robby Dawkins: You don’t know what God is going to do, but there is an expectancy of God’s presence every time. I have faith that the coolest thing I’ve ever seen is going to take place. It’s like Christmas, you don’t know what you’re going to get. It’s not predictable but at the same time, it’s God.
Risen Magazine: What audience did you make the films for? Were there surprising responses to the films?
Robby Dawkins: We are hoping that believers will be inspired to do the stuff in the movies, to show everyone what the potential is for them. It’s exciting to see what God does, but it also doesn’t mean life will be free of persecution. Ravi Kandal, a missionary to India who I work with in the film, was telling me that the real stress is the persecution.
My two oldest sons have been physically persecuted. My 17-year-old son was beaten for his faith. He could have been killed when guys jumped him and left him in the middle of the street. But he ended up leading all of them to the Lord. He said he wanted to get revenge against the enemy. My sons have been beaten up many times. My oldest son Judah, now 19, told me later that there was a time when he got beaten after school every day – every single day. He didn’t tell us because he was afraid that we would take him out of public school and put him into a Christian school and that would limit his evangelism opportunities. Now my oldest sons go to emergency rooms and pray for people.
Risen Magazine: How do you reconcile with the fact that God does not heal everyone you pray for?
Robby Dawkins: I don’t believe God ever withholds healing. I don’t believe God ever says, “I’m not going to heal that person.” Healing is a form of warfare. I have an autistic son. When he was two, the doctors said he would never speak and that it was one of the worst cases that had ever seen. Today he’ll look you right in the eye and talk your head off. He will pray for you. People are healed when he prays for them and he’s nine. My wife and I have prayed every morning and every night for him. We still do. If we had just prayed one year, we would have lost an immense amount of ground.
Satan is in great opposition. Christians are harder to pray for than non-Christians because there is a higher level of demonic resistance.
I believe failure is something that builds faith because I see that the worst that could happen really isn’t that bad. If we’re going to keep a continual working of Kingdom activity, we have to celebrate the failures along with the successes. The greater miracle is when I keep coming back even though it [the healing] didn’t just happen.
I just prayed for a man who was deaf and his ears popped and he was healed. He actually had to wear earplugs because everything was so loud!
Risen Magazine: What do you think is a common misconception about God among Christians?
Robby Dawkins: That he’s holding out on them or that they don’t deserve what he has…that they are not good enough. The reality is that God is a benevolent father. But there’s a part we have to play and do. It’s God saying, “Go.” The power is waiting for us. It was given on the cross. Everything we need is within us already!
Risen Magazine: How have you learned to balance your marriage and family with traveling the world as an evangelist and filmmaker?
Robby Dawkins: When I’m home, I’m home. During the day, I come home from the church and I’m here by the time my son comes home from school. I make sure after 2:30 to not meet with anyone, so I can be present with my family. My associate pastor helps me a lot. It takes a team to make it work. My family is really supportive. My wife is Wonder Woman raising six boys. I couldn’t do this without her.
Risen Magazine: When you get to Heaven, what is the first question you’ll ask God?
Robby Dawkins: Are aliens real? [Laughs] I’m not too curious.
I’m not sure if I should share this, but I had an experience where I was taken to Heaven when I was sleeping. God didn’t look like what I expected him to look like. He told me part of it is what I was projecting him to look like. He was clothed in a jacket and leather vest – totally casual and comfortable. The whole time I was asking him these theological questions. And he responded, “Really? You’re asking me these questions right now? Let’s just be together.” This was at a time when he was asking me to take more risks in my life. Many times we don’t take risks and pray for people because of self-preservation. We think, “How foolish will I look?” But when you try to save your life, you’ll lose it.
The experience in Heaven was an all night long experience. There’s a lot that happened that I don’t have time to go into here. But at one point we were standing at the top of this mountain and God asked me, “How much would you trust me to jump off this?”
I said, “Well, I trust you.”
He said, “Well jump, then.”
I asked, “Do you want me to demonstrate trust?”
He said, “Either you’ll crash or soar. That’s why it’s called risk.”
I went to lean forward and he held my shoulder. He told me if I’m going to jump, I need to go all out. So I got a running start and dove off and as soon as I did, I saw his hand on my shoulder. We began to fly and soar together.
Then he said to me, “See, you would have never known this was here if you didn’t take the risk.”
When we get to Heaven, we are going to be so dumbfounded by God that our questions won’t really matter. This experience happened right before we saw a huge increase of healings happening in our church.
Risen Magazine: What projects are you working on right now?
Robby Dawkins: I was just in Bolivia training churches on power evangelism – teaching them how to pray for the sick and see results and how to have a prophetic word ministry.
Risen Magazine: Define power evangelism?
Robby Dawkins: Power evangelism is using the power tools and gifts the Spirit gives us for the purpose of bringing people to Christ. It’s Jesus’ form of evangelism including healing, words of knowledge, manifest presence and deliverance of demonic power.
Risen Magazine: Interesting… so let’s go back to the power evangelism training and the projects you’re working on.
Robby Dawkins: I took the people from church out to the town square to go out and pray for people. One woman had really bad knees and she was healed. It was amazing because earlier that day she was lonely and had prayed, “Jesus if you’re real, show me you’re real.” And then we showed up. A girl from Iran came for the training in Bolivia too. The pastor from her church in Iran had been persecuted and just got out of jail. Sometimes it’s easier to bring people out of their countries for training instead of going to them. I’ve been to 38 different countries. I’m gone almost every weekend doing power evangelism training. I usually only preach at my church once a month.
I have a book coming out in June titled, Do What Jesus Did. It’s not just speculating on the question, “What would Jesus do?” (WWJD) but talks about what Jesus actually did. It was really tough writing a book. I have never considered myself a writer. I am more of a speaker and an external processor. The discipline is sitting down and writing. I had to have someone help me to not make a 40-page chapter with run-on sentences. It’s being published through Baker Publishing Company.
Exclusive interview originally published in Risen Magazine, Spring 2013