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 | By Stephanie Van Koevering

Unleashing the Power of the Holy Spirit: the Vision of Encounter Ministries

Here in the Diocese of Lansing — and, indeed, in a growing number of Catholic communities in Michigan and nationally — Encounter Ministries stands as a beacon of hope and renewal.

Founded on the bedrock of friendship and ignited by a shared passion for spiritual awakening, Encounter Ministries has emerged as a dynamic force, dedicated to unleashing the transformative power of the Holy Spirit into the hearts of believers worldwide.

“Encounter Ministries started actually through a friendship with me and my friend Patrick Reis,” says Father Matthias Thelen, co-founder of the initiative. “We attended a conference together and really desired to see the renewal of the Holy Spirit reach the whole Church. Our goal, our hope, is that the Church will come alive with the Spirit that Jesus died to give her.

“We wanted to begin demonstrating what the Holy Spirit can do in the Church, but also teaching people how to walk in that power, walk in that goodness that God has for the whole Church.”

At the core of Encounter Ministries is a profound commitment to equipping disciples and empowering them to cooperate with the Holy Spirit in manifesting God's love. 

The ministry runs a comprehensive two-year school of ministry aimed at teaching, equipping and activating disciples to walk in the fullness of their identity in Christ. The program encompasses a breadth of content beyond healing ministry, touching on subjects such as identity in Christ, prophetic ministry, and hearing God's voice.

“We want lay faithful to be equipped to release God's love, truth and goodness through the gifts of the Holy Spirit in their sphere of influence,” Father Thelen says.

With its main campus located in Brighton and a network of 33 campuses worldwide, Encounter Ministries currently has 3,800 students, fostering a global community of believers hungry for spiritual growth and revival. The ministry also hosts weekend schools on various topics, including prophetic ministry, healing and identity, inviting participants to be refreshed and equipped for their journey of faith.

Central to Encounter Ministries' mission is the belief that every believer, regardless of age or background, has a role to play in advancing God's kingdom. 

“Our goal is that the whole Church comes alive to the richness of life in the Holy Spirit,” Father Thelen says. 

Through innovative initiatives like online inner healing and freedom ministry that is open to anyone, Encounter Ministries extends its reach to individuals seeking wholeness and restoration in Christ.

Participants attest to newfound confidence in their identity as beloved children of God, equipped to bring the love of Jesus to their spheres of influence. Priests, lay faithful and missionaries alike speak of a profound shift in their mindset toward the Church and the world — a shift marked by increased faith, hope and commitment to evangelization.

For Father Thelen, Encounter Ministries has been a testament to God's faithfulness and a reaffirmation of his desire for renewal in his church. 

“Encounter Ministries exists so that the bride of Christ can come alive to what Jesus has entrusted to her,” he says. “It's about training the lay faithful and priests to come alive to what God has for us.”

Looking to the future, Encounter Ministries envisions a Church emboldened by the power of the Holy Spirit, poised to impact the world with the love of Jesus. As the ministry continues to expand its reach and influence, its ultimate aim remains clear: to see the whole church walking in the fullness of the Spirit, radiating the light of Christ in an increasingly darkened world.

“Our hope is that the whole Church becomes confident in the power of the Holy Spirit to manifest the love of Jesus and to convert the world,” Father Thelen says.

Encounter Ministries stands as a testament to the transformative power of the Holy Spirit, inviting believers everywhere to embrace their identity in Christ and join in the glorious work of renewal and revival.