Prophet, Bible teacher and musician JARROD COOPER has had a monumental vision for revival in Britain. Tony Cummings reports.
Jarrod Cooper is a 33 year old singer/songwriter and worship leader with songs of breathtaking quality (1993's "To Rule By His Mighty Hand" and 1997's "Days Of Wonder" are both gems) and breathtaking quantity (Jarrod has clocked up an amazing 21 independent albums since 1990!). But there's more, much more, to Jarrod's ministry than music alone. This quiet, unassuming Welshman is an internationally recognized Bible teacher and, for those with ears to hear, a visionary prophet. Brought up in the Church, Jarrod's father was a leader in a large Pentecostal fellowship. It was a visit to his church by groundbreaking band Living Sounds, that hugely affected the six year old Jarrod. He remembers, "All these Americans piled off the bus, came into the church and did this concert. I can vividly remember sitting cross-legged on the floor in front of the platform lookin' at them and saying to myself, 'I'm gonna do that. '"
While still aged six Jarrod's parents felt called to be missionaries in Gibraltar (" a terrible hardship to live in a Mediterranean climate!"). By the age of nine Jarrod was playing guitar and showing a real aptitude for music. Then in his teens he unexpectedly extended his musical skills. "We were over visiting friends in England," remembers Jarrod. "I just sat down at a piano and found I could play. It was really, really strange. I just started to play. My parents and all their friends were in one room, in this house. They were sitting there and suddenly they heard this piano start to play. They looked round the room and realised all the piano players were in the room. They all came through and it was me sat there playing the piano. It just made sense to me."
Returning permanently to England in 1988 with his parents, Jarrod enrolled in some worship courses. Through those he ended up as one of the worship leaders for the internationally renowned Bible teacher and author Colin Urquhart whose Horsham-based Kingdom Faith ministry was becoming one of the best known charismatic streams. From 1990 to 1995 Jarrod worked with Colin, touring extensively and leading worship at events like the Faith Camp at Peterborough's East Of England Showground. Jarrod became a prolific songwriter. He comments, "When I had a lot more time than I have now, I used to write a lot. I've written literally hundreds of songs. The way I write would be to write 100 songs to find 10 good ones, really. I write for God and out of every hundred songs there are 10 that are performable or for an album."
In 1991 a ministry trip to South Africa was to expand Jarrod's ministry beyond music. "A friend, Bryan Spence, who was really my spiritual mentor for many years, took me out to South Africa as a young worship leader who played the piano in a Chris Bowater-esque style. That's really what I tried to do! He took me out there for a 10-week trip and we travelled all round South Africa. Slowly but surely he began to kick me off cliffs and say, 'You're not just meant to be on the piano, come on, I want to hear you teach. ' The first five or six times I got up I just fumbled for two minutes and sat down and Bryan had to take over; but he kept kicking me off. Next meeting, '" Right, you're going to speak, go for it'; and he kicked me and kicked me until I began to realise, 'No, I can speak. ' You know, there was a teaching gift found and a prophetic gift found and other parts of me that I didn't know were there. I was quite happy to hide behind the piano and be this musician. So, that 10 week period was probably the greatest learning curve that I've ever had in my life. We travelled all over. We travelled in a pick-up truck, got covered in diesel fumes every day, drove all round Zimbabwe. We met royalty, we helped establish a hospital in the northern area of South Africa. We met and stayed with a wonderful woman and her husband, she was a prophetess, and she had raised the dead many times, she brought prophetic words to government. It was the trip of a lifetime."
It was another trip to South Africa in 1996 where Jarrod had an experience so profound that it was to shape the rest of his life. "I was travelling over to South Africa on a pretty rough airline. It seemed to stop at every village on the way to Johannesburg, it took forever. In the middle of the night I woke up and couldn't see the plane, I had a vision of the glory of God, I saw angels around the glory of God. I just lay there terrified for about 10 minutes and fell asleep again. I got to Johannesburg, met my hosts, had our first day there, went to sleep and woke up in the middle of the night and the same thing happened! I couldn't see the room! I had a vision of the glory of God. This went on night after night, for five, six, seven nights. While we were there in South Africa we saw some wonderful moves of the Spirit of God. Angelic visitations in the meetings, drug addicts overwhelmed by the power of God. Incredible things. We went to one of the main churches planted by the great apostle John G Lake. We saw an incredible move of the Spirit. People were lying on the steps outside the church, as we left the building, they were just too overwhelmed by God. The place went bananas, it was incredible! But while I was there, what was more significant for me was God gave me visions of this country. He showed me stadiums that were turned into church buildings, the amount of people getting saved was so great. He said to me over and over again -I can't say I've heard God's voice audibly many times -but he said to me over and over again, 'The greatest auditoriums in the land will be filled. ' He showed me city halls and arenas and stadiums filled with thousands of people worshiping God, miracles, signs, wonders. These weren't meetings for just music. They weren't prayer meetings, though we've had some wonderful stadium prayer events and some wonderful stadium concert events in this nation. But, at the meetings in my vision a lot of the people were non-Christians gathering to experience the miraculous, as the power of God moved. God showed me politics affected, by the presence and the glory of God. He showed me the media -live television programmes where men and women of God were using prophetic words and words of knowledge and miracles on air, that couldn't be denied, as the presence and Glory of God touched the nation. That has shaped me ever since. That was a turning point, and I live and breathe and everything I do is for that."
The classic song "Days Of Wonder" was birthed through Jarrod's unforgettable vision of revival. "It is a pure expression of that vision. It begins with the Biblical, Acts chapter two -which is taken from Joel, 'The young men will see visions, the old men will dream dreams. ' God's spirit and power moving upon a nation. It goes on in the second verse to begin to say when there's thousands filling stadiums, your Glory falling down like rain. The blind are seeing, the mute are talking. It talks about signs and wonders and leaders of the nation asking to be saved. I believe we'll see presidents and kings come to Christian events in stadiums to experience the presence of God and give their lives to Christ. That song is all about that. When we see these things we better say the days of wonder are upon us; and that's the name of that album that I brought out in '98. It's the name of that song which is the key song for the album. It's also the name of my ministry, The Days Of Wonder Trust based in Hull at a church pastured by my father, David Cooper."
Jarrod is quite candid in admitting that even having a monumental vision for revival doesn't stop the recipient experiencing frustration and spiritual fatigue as he battles against the daily grind of the here and now. "I think that spiritually I've probably had the driest two years of my life, spiritually. It's almost like everything became big, and I began to realise I was serving the animal, and the animal wasn't serving the vision. I think we need to be very careful when we're creating organisations. The early Church wasn't an organisation, it was an organism, a living thing. It's about relationships, not titles. It's about what God calls us to do, rather than setting up departments. Suddenly we can end up serving these pseudo spiritual models. It isn't really anything like the dynamic way that Jesus and the early Church lived. For me the big tester is, where is the power of God? Where's the prophetic? In my own organisation we've had to chop it right back and say, 'Let's remain fluid, let's make sure we're able to follow the Spirit. ' You look at religiosity often in many churches and ministries and you think, 'Oh, God, come and do something fresh. 'New wine needs a new wineskin. I've just written a book called Glory In The Church. The subtitle is, A Fresh Blueprint For Worship In The 21st Century. We need a new blueprint. King David gave his son Solomon a blueprint for the Temple, but actually God gave it to David, David gave it to Solomon, we all know that; but it's like when you build this temple as Solomon did, you find in II Chronicles 5 that the Glory of God comes. What's really important to me, with regard to the vision and the glory of God, and revival in the nation, is that we have a blueprint which is going to serve what God wants to do. Instead of saying to God, 'This is what we are doing. Will you come and bless it with revival, please? ' I think sometimes we need to clear the decks and see God come to our emptiness instead of our fullness."
Things are changing again for Jarrod. At the end of 2002 he got married; he's also returned to songwriting with a new zeal and has been working on an album 'Rend The Heavens' in a newly built studio located in his home. "There's some of the intimate worship stuff that I love doing. A little bit like 'Days Of Wonder', like 'King Of Kings, Majesty', that kind of stuff. Also there's some dance stuff, there's some far more exciting and invigorating stuff. It's all still very worshipful, even the up tempo is prophetic song. It's singing over the nations. The title of the album is 'Rend The Heavens'. It's, "Come on God, rend the Heavens and come down like you promised. ' We've got the worship group that I lead back at our church, which is getting a lot more young guys involved. The sound is changing, there's some good stuff happening. I think that's influenced me. I might be 33 but I realise, we want to hear different sounds in our churches. Different ways of playing. Not just to stick to the kind of stuff which we'd been doing the last 10 years. We're really looking for a new sound in the Church."
But however excited Jarrod might be about the fresh creative impetus he's finding in his music ministry, there's something else which is even more exciting, the first signs that the Holy Spirit revival glimpsed so tantalisingly in 1996 in that vision may soon be coming to Jarrod's beloved Hull. The singer/ pianist/ teacher /author/ prophet recounts a recent incident: "A friend of mine, Paul Gutteridge, went out on the streets in Hull a few months ago. He's an evangelist who works with us, in the church. He went out on the street and there were five or six lads there. He said, 'Can I talk to you about Jesus? ' They said, 'No, not really. ' So he said, 'If I can prove to you that God's alive can I talk to you about Jesus? ' They said, 'Okay. ' So he said, 'Well, you with the bad leg, can I pray for you? ' So he said, 'Yep, fine. ' Paul prayed for him and I won't use the expletive that [the young man used]. It wasn't quite rejoicing, in a Biblical sense, but y'know, 'What on earth is that?! ' he said, basically. 'It's God! ' The guy was completely healed. He had said he could feel this power go through him. Then all these lads said, 'Can we feel this power? ' So my friend Paul prayed for these lads and they all began to feel the power of God. Standing on the street, middle of nowhere, rough lads, 14/ 15 years old, of the estate. They'd had nothing to do with God, never been to church, and here they were shaking under the power of God. A load of seven, eight, nine year olds walked up and said, 'What's going on? ' Paul said, 'It's God. ' They said, 'Can we have some? ' So they all stood in a line and began to shake under the power of God. Arms raised out. They'd never been to church but they knew to put their arms out to receive from God. 20 of them came to church that night and gave their lives to Christ. We're beginning to see things. When the river flowed from the temple it began with a small stream."The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.