"Interview with Paul Funfsinn"
Original Air Date: 10/25/2012
Welcome to Great Conjunction. I'm your host, John Michael Thornton and this week we're speaking with Rev. Paul Funfsinn, Co-founder and Director of Celebrating Life Ministries.
I've known Paul for a very long time now and I'm always astounded by his grace, faith and the simple truths that he brings to everything he does. Let's get started.
JMT: Paul Funfsinn, welcome to Great Conjunction.
PF: It's my honor to be here with you, John.
JMT: I met you for the first time back in the '90's and at that time you were traveling with Ron Roth and Celebrating Life Ministries was still very young, it seemed to me, and it was more about Ron's ministry. How did you begin traveling with him and how did you get involved in your spiritual journey?
PF: Well, that's a fun story I'd like to share with you. Growing up Catholic, my parents received the "baptism in the Holy Spirit" and they started attending Ron Roth services because he was a charismatic Catholic priest. So for two-years they were following him and they always wanted me, as their second son, they wanted a priest in their family so I was their best bet so they were pushing toward that and I resisted it totally. But eventually I'd made a boy's retreat and I felt touched by the Spirit.
My parents spent two-years inviting me to come to Ron's services and I resisted until I'd had that retreat. So I said, "Okay, on one condition. I'll go but I'm going to bring my friends." So they said okay, fine. What they didn't know is that we stopped at the bar and got drunk and then we went to the service. A lot of courage there, huh? Anyway, during the service I just felt this same Spirit with which I was touched a couple weeks ago with in this retreat and it's like all my friends didn't return, but I continued to return every week with my parents and something stirred within me. Eventually, Ron invited me to join him in ministry and, of course, what brought a fear in me was, "Oh, my God, he's going to make me a priest."
So I ran away for six-months because, again, I think whenever we know we're "called" to something, fear, I think, is the first thing that pops ups in our mind or heart so we try to resist it. To me the Spirit broke it down and eventually it returned again, the invitation, and then I said, "Yes".
JMT: About when was this? How old were you when this started happening?
PF: Seventeen when I actually received the Spirit and twenty-five when I responded to the Spirit. There was a lapse of time there.
JMT: So there was a small lapse. Just a little bit of a lag.
PF: To me, it really has, I think in everyone's life, we want. If we believe in God, we believe in a higher power, we want to fulfill what may be our destiny or our Call. But because of fear we seem to sabotage that. For me, I was doing that for how many years until finally the Spirit got a hold of me and said, "This is your destiny".
So I worked with Ron for twenty-eight years, yet those twenty-eight years were not easy years. It was about formation. It was about "obedience" because as a Catholic priest, you know I traveled with Ron and so I had all these conditions. I only knew what Catholicism said and of course, in the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, the priest, whatever he says is true. I had to figure that out in my own walk with God and with Ron. "Is he telling the truth or not?" "Is that just his human opinion or is this God's opinion?" So in my walk it really took me about ten-years to figure that one out and eventually I knew I was always supposed to walk with Ron and finish his mission but yet, I also had a mission in mind.
What Ron was taught was to heal the sick, raise the dead, cast out demons. Whatever that means, I want to follow that because I know I'm a Christ follower so I desire to now fulfill that even now though Ron has passed on the last three years.
JMT: I'd like to back-track a little bit here. While I know we've got some listeners from Celebrating Life Ministries , which of course, is the organization that you and Ron started, but for those people who are not familiar with Ron Roth, tell us a bit about who he was and how he started his ministry.
PF: Ron Roth was a wild character. My first impression of him was, "He's not a real priest". He was so happy and so joyful. He was full of life but he also healed the sick. You know, going to a regular church service you don't see that at a daily Mass or the Sunday Mass. And he inspired us to grow in our relationship with ourselves and with God but also have fun in life and that just blew my mind because growing up a conditional Catholic with twelve brothers and sisters we just obey what our parents said. So that conditioning stuck with me then Ron kind of blew me out of the circuits and said, "No, there's more; with the spirit you can have a fulfilling life. You can obey the Lord but also enjoy life to the fullest." Because of the gift of the Spirit that manifested in his life, it really awakened me to the truth that is within me and is within every listener today. There's a promise that we can actually have a loving relationship with God.
Ron, "they" would call him a charismatic priest, revealed the gifts of the spirit. He healed people of cancerous tumors; getting out of wheel chairs, blindness; I've seen them all and was a witness to that. Then after twenty-five years of being a Catholic priest, Ron left the priesthood in order to fulfill, I think, the greater Calling to go out into all the world and not just the Catholic church. So he opened that door and that's how Celebrating Life Ministries was created by him and I.
JMT: Now, I remember when I first met Ron, and I remember this very clearly. I would have been in my early twenties and one of the things that really impressed me was both his humor but also how seriously he took what he was doing. A couple of things that have really stuck with me over the years and, even now, I notice it has effected my own work as a psychic and a lecturer and teacher. Two things that he said really stuck with me. First, when he would joke that he's a recovering Catholic priest.
PF: I remember that one.
JMT: Which just cracked me up. The reason that really stuck with me was because it was a way of him saying that what he did was light-hearted and that there was joy to it and that it was stepping outside of the boundaries of a traditional priesthood or traditional religious setting. We've come into a period in human history where a lot of those institutions and organizations are beginning to fall apart and many people are trying to find their own path in a way that has never really happened before. You could say that this all began with the Reformation, but even that was still about groups and organizations and hierarchy. It may have been smaller, but it was still about that hierarchy. Now we have so many people who are looking for their own spiritual path.
That was very important to me. But also, one of the things he said was that he was trying to make God "credible" again.
PF: Oh, yeah.
JMT: That really stuck with me and, especially now, because so many people have had bad experiences with organized religion and have gotten to the point where even saying "God" makes them uncomfortable.
PF: Oh, yeah.
JMT: So we, especially in the New Age community, or the independent Spiritual community, we tend to dance around it and we talk about the Universe or the Divine or our Higher Selves and that's great. Find the words that make you comfortable. But I liked Ron's insistence in making the words credible again and we're taking back the vocabulary from the people who have run it into the ground.
PF: I think we all fall in that category and state of mind as we're maturing or developing our spiritual growth. I remember one time when Ron was invited to a conference to give a talk, or actually a whole weekend conference. He presented his synopsis of what he'd be teaching and the coordinator of the conference called Ron back and said, "You know, we like all that you said, but could you leave out the word "God"?" He responded with, "Absolutely not! That's what I'm all about!" They backed down, and that's in deference to Ron's personality. He loved life to the fullest but he took God seriously.
Ron's encounters with God were incredible. Being beside him twenty-four hours for twenty-eight years, you had to differentiate between the friend, the teacher and then the master teacher. He walked his walk It was night and day; black and white for him. He loved to have fun, but when it came time for his God time, his prayer time, no one could interrupt that. So, he really took serious, what I call, the relationship with the Divine. That's what he embodied in such beautiful ways for the people and it really gave them a calling back, a remembrance of experiences from when we were growing up and young adults when they have a touch of the Divine and this was God and they want to remember that and develop that. But because of tradition or disobedience or whatever, we've kind of fallen away or we got hurt and we just place God on the back burner.
I believe Ron's mission was to make God credible again in your own life; to show that there is a loving God, a presence out there that is beyond human form that can touch us at the deepest level.
JMT: I've recently spoken to a number of people about Celebrating Life Ministries and Ron Roth and I did a tele-service with Celebrating Life Ministries last week and that will be available as bonus content for our Great Conjunction listeners as well, for anyone who may have missed that. But in preparing for that and telling people I would be doing something with Celebrating Life Ministries, the things that people remember, who didn't meet Ron, who just heard about it or maybe just went to one brief service and didn't go to a conference, it's always the focus on the physical healing. The healing services that he did and that you still do, I remember, and I'm unclear if it was my first or second time attending... For anyone who is not familiar, these are the kind of healing services where the healer, or the priest, goes down the line, taps people on the head and they drop like rocks.
PF: That's it!
JMT: That's a simplified version of it but it's the kind of thing that Hollywood absolutely adores because it's big and dramatic and showy and you've got people falling over but not something that I'd ever seen before. I grew up Methodist with a very bizarre few years that my parents took us to a Pentecostal holy-roller church.
JMT: Every once in a while I ask my father about that and my mother always responds, "I don't know, It was your dad's idea".
PF: I like your mother.
JMT: My father responds, "I don't know, it seemed like a good idea at the time." So I had not been familiar with healings outside of popular media and then a couple of times I was asked to be a "catcher", which is super cool. A little scary because you've got people falling on you.
PF: Yeah, you become their pillow.
JMT: Yes. Especially when some of those people may be bigger than you or significantly older than you and there's that worry of dropping and breaking them. That focus on physical healing, which was such a big part of the ministry, but the more that I had gone to some of the longer programs and then listened to Ron's lectures and read his books and the continuation of the ministry now, as important a piece as the physical healing was, it seems to be a less important part of the whole, almost as if the physical healing was a way of getting the people's attention and bringing back some of that credibility that yes, there is power in the living God. I almost felt like it was Ron's way of convincing people to listen to the rest of the message.
PF: You nailed that. The scriptures talk about having signs and wonders. Signs and wonders are actually pointing the way to the presence of God. You can call it Divine, you can call it Jesus, you can call it Buddha, whatever you're pointing to, it's going back to, as I call it, the Father, the Mother. It really was Ron's gift to the world because he believed in the Holy Spirit, which in sacred text was the power, the presence of God that manifests in healing. When the Holy Spirit touched Ron, he was very obedient to that voice and he gave words of knowledge that were incredible and really awakened people to, "Oh, my God, there MUST be a God because only God could know this about me." Or then pointing to the ears and saying, "Open", and the ears open. It is about the presence.
He had his dwelling place, his prayer time, his meditation that he valued so immensely early in the morning. So when he went to services, when he taught, it really is a message. Even today, I meet people who read his books or had met him years before during a service, one of the common denominators that they tell me is, "Ron Roth brought me back to my spiritual roots", meaning their personal relationship with the Divine. That's the secret.
When we remember the first meeting with Ron or the services or his teachings, it's still that still, small voice that says, "Oh, I remember my beloved." To me, that's where I connect with Ron now is in the spiritual realm. It's in those quiet moments when the Holy Spirit touches me, it touches you. Those were sacred moments for Ron and when I enter into that, I know I am home with Ron, with God, with all the angels and the saints and anyone who's in front of me because it is about acknowledging the presence. That really was Ron's core of the way he taught. The simplicity, the humor yet he had this direct relationship with God.
JMT: And the no-nonsense side of it as well.
PF: Oh, yes, yes, yes!
JMT: Usually very nice and polite way that he would tell people off for being stupid during healing services and that also...
PF: You say that so well, John; I appreciate that. First-hand experience.
JMT: Yeah. As someone who traveled with him, I'm sure you got it more than anybody else. Kindness but also exasperation of, "Why are you people still fighting this? Why are you fighting this connection to God when you could have it? You say that you want it, you say that's what you're after and yet... no, not willing to make the commitment or do the work."
PF: Right. I'll give you a prime example that is one of my first time in a service with Ron and I was kind of like his executive director, which meant that I did everything for him. I remember, after a healing service, he laid hands on people, and then he'd ask people to come forward and he had healing teams which he taught how to lay hands upon the sick to heal. He gave me the finger like, "Come with me" and I was like, "Oh, what did I do now". So I went in back and he just reamed me out right and left and I don't even remember why, but I just remember his finger pointing and him yelling at me. I was devastated. You know, I try my best and I don't know what I did wrong, of course I'm sure he told me.
When he was through he turned around and said, "Okay, go out there and lay hands on the sick." I said, "What?!" And he stated, "Just do what I say." I am frozen in time; I'd never laid hands upon people before and so I stepped out there and the first person who came forward I laid hands on and, unbeknownst to me, this person was what's called "arrested in the Spirit", fell to the floor. To my horror, this was in an old Catholic church, she hit her head on this radiator and nobody caught her and she was down. All I could think was, "I killed her."
I spoke with this person afterward and she had never before experienced what's called "arrested in the Spirit", she didn't know what came over her. I asked how her head was and she said, "There's first pain and then there's no pain, there's no scar", and I went, "Wow". How do I interpret that? How could I be a vessel of God when I just did something wrong that I was accused of by Ron, trying to be in a state of holiness, which I wasn't, and I just did what I was commanded to do, which was lay hands upon the sick.
There's a principle behind all that and it's, "It's not about you". We think we have to be perfect. No, God is just looking for a vessel. Ron was a master of teaching that, probably in hard ways, but you got the principle right away. It is not about us and we think it is.
We'd laugh, we'd cry, we'd celebrate life, but he had those moments. You know one of the things that I saw while traveling with Ron, and we went to many different events at churches, organizations, so we'd meet, call it "highly evolved people" or preachers or ministers and they had their own, "healing ministries" or churches. When Ron would go in, Ron just took over. And I could tell that the pastor or minister or the leader was like, "This is my church". And it's like, "No, you invited me, now I'm in charge." And it is actually a spiritual principle because Ron always believed in controlling the atmosphere. In a better sense, we all have the Holy Spirit within us, it says, "We are the dwelling place", our bodies are the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit. The other point is it says the Spirit rests upon us and he was a master of letting it rest, like ooze out of us. So once the Holy Spirit was released into the atmosphere, then we control that, now we control Heaven, we can tell the body to heal. There are words of knowledge, there's that, let's just call it energy that's out there and now we can tap into it and direct that energy where it is. But it's offered by the master; I call it God, Jesus, you might have a different name for it but it's the relationship with the Divine.
So, when Ron spoke, the world listened. And I remember he had a conversation with a Jewish Rabbi and the Rabbi was condemning Ron because the Catholic church did "this" and the Christians, and that Jesus was not and Ron, in his wit, he came back and said, "Well, Abraham failed, too." I mean, Ron did not back down to anyone. But that was his persona, he had this way and because he was always the master teacher, he knew where he belonged. He was very quick at changing the moment when it probably benefited him most, but he took command of who he was and where he was in that moment. And besides celebrating life to the fullest, the humor, the joy and he loved to eat! He knew how to invite people into this meal called "Life". It was a joy for me to be with him those many years.
JMT: That segue ways us into something that I've also noticed. Even though Ron and Celebrating Life Ministries has very strong Christian trappings and that's very much the symbolism you use and with Ron's background with Catholicism, very strongly influence all of that. It is not necessarily a Christian organization. I went to one of your prayer and healing retreats last spring and it certainly was not a homogenous organization or group. In fact, a few of the leaders invited that weekend were Jewish, some spoke about Buddhism. All of those people began their talk with, "Imagine my shock when I ended up in a Christian organization."
JMT: There was a level of inclusiveness and in Ron's CD's and tapes that Celebrating Life Ministries made available, there was less of that focus on the Christian imagery. I think of the focus on the Aramaic, and of course, that's the language that Jesus spoke, but you're not gonna find Aramaic in any Catholic church that you walk into.
JMT: I mean, they go back to Latin but I don't remember anyone speaking that in Jerusalem except maybe the people running it. There was that focus on finding an immediacy and a connection within the various traditions. And, of course, Ron, when he was leading the service, you knew it was a former Catholic priest who was leading that service, but at the same time it was very inclusive.
PF: Very much so. He had this ability just to bring people to that place and matching, I believe everyone's spirit or tradition, and then inviting them to go deeper in it. Once he Ron stepped away from the Catholic church and just opened up to it all, really, the world just offered him the podium, the place to teach. Ron and I both believe that it's not just one form; we might have a personal relationship with God, and to me that was Jesus, but if for you it's Buddha or Padma Sambhava or Yogananda or Yama Bhagwan, there are multiple ways. But they all reflect, I call it, the sun, the light, but for us, we go back to the source which is the Light. To me, he had such an inclusive way of bringing people in and his tenderness and his humor did that. When they saw the power, the presence, they recognize that He knows more than I do and it is about that intimate relationship.
JMT: We'll be back with more from Paul Funfsinn and Great Conjunction on Paramania Radio after a break.
Welcome back to Great Conjunction. This week we're speaking with Rev. PF:, co-founder of Celebrating Life Ministries.
PF: I remember Ron and I were traveling to California, visiting his uncle and he said, "Oh, this (I forget which church it was) is going to have a Buddhist healing service." And we were like, "They are? How is that even possible coming from a Christian background?" I was never introduced to Buddhism so I was curious. Ron wasn't sure if he wanted to go and told me to check it out and he'd do it later. I was always the guinea pig, that was it. He knew I was faithful and obeying what he wanted, so I went. Of course, I got healed during this service and it was my first taste of realizing that it doesn't have to be in this "religious setting".
It doesn't have to be in the Christian setting that actually God can heal. It just opened my mind to the greater awareness that just God Is. The Great I Am. Again, taken away our terminology and just going toward what I call The Presence. It manifests in so many beautiful ways as it is just as we're talking here today.
JMT: Yeah, that personal relationship with God; that personal relationship with the Divine.
PF: And I'm sorry some people are, what do you call it, can't say the word "God" because I believe they might use "Energy" or whatever, but I really believe it is about that inner connectiveness. And if we hit that, I believe we hit everything that we're brought here for.
JMT: Yes, and to not get bogged down in the vocabulary.
PF: No. Even though, personally, it was a long journey for me and I really stick with my traditional roots of Catholicism. Yet I am so open to anyone and I will not put anyone down because, ultimately, my role as spiritual leader at Celebrating Life Ministries is to bring them to the Divine Presence. Period. And how that is more my lifestyle, my prayer time. You know, it's just to be loved, which actually, is the greatest commandment.
JMT: Following that along, of course Ron passed away three years ago, now?
PF: That's correct.
JMT: One of the things that has been surprising to people that I've spoken to is that the organization is still around and that it didn't, um...
JMT: Yes. That when Ron left this earthly plane the organization didn't follow him home.
PF: He probably would've wanted that.
JMT: Yes, but that would have been his human ego side.
PF: Well, yeah. Of course! We take all our emotions with us.
JMT: And we can hold him to a higher standard because he's not around to tell us, "No". So, Celebrating Life Ministries still exists as an organization. Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems to me that the organization did become a bit less active for a while.
PF: Oh, yeah. Very much so.
JMT: During his illness and then immediately afterward. It seems that you guys are ramping up again.
PF: That's a good analogy. Because it has been three-years since Ron Passed but I think three-years prior to that, Ron had a series of strokes so I took care of him 24/7 as his caretaker, so to me, there was this huge transition. Yes, we had many people who left our community during that transition time and it left us basically dead in the sun. For my own self, trying to grieve this process, I thought I can do it in two-weeks and be back on the road again. It took me at least a year and a half to just walk that process through. It was like, "Wow." Just now, looking at the last year has been a total transformation and I've finally got my boots on and my walking orders and we're moving.
Next year I'm going to Poland in March to do services for two-weeks. We're going to Brazil with John of God taking a group there and also taking a pilgrimage to Israel in October. So these are wonderful opportunities. We love to explore different traditions but yet carrying our own "prayer closet" with us and devotion in order to meet God personally wherever we travel.
I do two retreats every year; it's been traditional for Celebrating Life Ministries and people come from all over the United States and from many different traditions or no traditions. It doesn't matter. Again, the last one we just did was about a month ago in Illinois. There was this tremendous movement of the Spirit where the common denominator was, "I feel so loved here." And again, when we bring our stuff, when we bring ourselves into a place, we really want to be welcome. We want to be encouraged and to know that God can use me, God can use you, the Spirit can use any of us to be a vessel for healing or reconciliation. I feel like I fulfill my life plan when I do that.
This summer I took a trip to John of God and it was incredible because there was such an atmosphere of, John of God is a huge healer in Brazil and really a mystic in his own right, and he has what I call entities or spirits that work through him for healing. So we just sit there and, we call it current, where you just sit there quiet and the Spirit works on you. So in that event I went up to him because you can walk up to him and ask him a question, so through the interpreter I said, "I really want to help fulfill Celebrating Life Ministries' destiny." That's all I said. And the interpreter said through John of God, "Oh, you're a friend of Ron Roth. Ron Roth had the keys to the kingdom here at the casa", what they call their spiritual home, and he said, "Now you have the same keys to the kingdom; do whatever you want. Do services, do masses, whatever." That one phrase really elevated me to the place I am right now; we'll call it a place of spiritual authority.
Isn't it amazing when someone recognizes your spiritual gift. You know, you need that permission or fatherly love or the mother's acknowledgement that you are someone. Once that happed it seemed to connect with the Divine with your spirit and now I'm off and running. I got to pray for people, did services, ordinations. It was just an incredible time and people saw the shift. To me, what my mission for Celebrating Life Ministries as the spiritual leader is to bring people into their spiritual gifts that are hidden, waiting to be released. And on the last retreat that's what we did, we released the gifts of the Spirit.
People are responding saying, "You won't believe what happened in my life". The healings that took place, the invitations that are happening now is because once I found my destiny, and like all of us, if you have something within you, which is your love of God with your own persona and you give it away, you bless another person with it. It becomes the fruit of who you are and I am just acknowledging what Ron has already taught the masses that he taught. Now I get to step into that and become the next step for the evolution of this ministry which is for all people and to make God credible again. That's what we're seeing from day to day and I'm excited about that opportunity.
JMT: When I went to the retreat in the spring... We've known each other for a while and...
PF: Yeah, we have. I love you, John.
JMT: I love you, too. It was seeing you in a completely different light and a different role. For so long, especially when I first met you, well, you were often the guy standing behind Ron carrying the boxes.
PF: You pegged that right.
JMT: I always enjoyed spending time with you and I really did appreciate the times that we got to spend together at certain retreats. I remember when you were in New York with Carolyn Myss and we got to spend some time together. Touching on that for a second to just tell a little story; when I was in New York, Paul called me up and said that he'd be working the bookstore for Carolyn Myss' big lecture in New York. It was going to be your first time doing an event like that and you were going to be doing it by yourself and would I like to come to the conference and help you do stuff.
PF: Right. Right.
JMT: I wanted to go see Carolyn Myss and I wanted to go see Paul, so sure! I'd be happy to carry, cart and do whatever.
JMT: Happy to be of service. And I will also say to those who know me now and knew me then, it takes a lot to convince me to schlep boxes and sit in the background.
PF: Wow! I moved a mountain.
JMT: At the same time, I have always been willing to do it when Paul has asked me. Take that as you will.
PF: That's a great honor. I did not know that. If I would have known that I probably would not have asked.
JMT: Well, hey. Things work the way they need to.
PF: John, you have such an incredible gift in your own right. Your readings, you really help people discover who they are or even find their paths when they've stumbled in life. I would tell anyone, if you're looking for guidance, spiritual guidance or even in the spiritual realm, seek out John because John has this great gift. Sometimes we think, "I'm humble and I don't know if people respect me." They do respect you. I always believe God puts certain people in our lives and our relationship was that twenty, twenty-five years. You knew Ron as a Catholic priest which most people did not. But we still have this relationship. Why? Because God brings us together just as he brings incredible people in our lives to give us the next step whether that's healing or meditation, whether it's just a direct "do this and you'll find the answer to what you're looking for for your destiny". John is an incredible reader; he's very, very accurate from my own personal experience. I just honor that and as much as you have evolved from that early twenties person to who you are now, that's just been a huge leap. Like myself, that process of working through life and saying, "Yes", "No", "Whoop, I feel", well, get up and let's move forward. And I believe the Spirit continues to build on that relationship in order for us to fulfill our destiny.
JMT: Well, thank you. Thank you.
PF: You're welcome, John.
JMT: At that meeting, I remember we were having lunch at a cafe, diner; cafe is too nice a word for where we were eating...
JMT: ...in New York. Little diner. I was going through a difficult time when I was in New York. I laugh off the whole experience now because I tell people, "So I moved to New York and I tried to be a normal person and it didn't work out."
JMT: That's the way that I try to wrap up a four-year experience. When you're in it, you often don't realize exactly what's going on.
PF: Oh, yeah.
JMT: I remember you saying to me as I was telling you what was going on in my life and probably venting a little bit.
PF: A little.
JMT: With great grace, you were listening to me. You said, "Gosh, to me it sounds like you're going through the long, dark night of the soul." And my immediate response was, "No. No. It's not that bad. It's not that bad."
JMT: "That's not what was going on."
PF: I remember that now.
JMT: Looking back now, I realize you recognized in me what was going on when I was completely, I wouldn't say oblivious but resistant.
PF: Resistant, yes. That would be the right word.
JMT: And you did it in such a way that was very gentle. Very much different from, well, the way that Ron would have done it.
PF: Well, yeah! Totally different.
JMT: He would have given me, at the very least, a verbal smack.
JMT: Probably more than that. The difference in your style, while still doing very similar work, is very inspiring to me and very moving because often, when we see a great spiritual leader, when you want that kind of connection, our first response is, "I want something like that. Does that mean I have to be like him? Do I have to be him or her or do I have to do things the exact same way?" That's daunting and ultimately feels very false because it's a very human or egotistical way of saying, "I want what you've got so I'm just gonna make myself as much like you, even to the externals, as possible." But that doesn't work.
To see you now, doing the same work and reaching people and touching people and bringing this ministry to the world in a very different way but still with the same authenticity, is very inspiring to me.
PF: Thank you, John. You identified, I call it "my struggle", of stepping into this role of spiritual leader. What I learned through my "two-year process" was yes, I wanted it to be like what Ron did so the people would follow. It was an ego thing. When I realized, it clicked with me that God would use my personality. I was afraid to laugh because then people won't respect me. But once I just entered into just Paul; whoever you are, be that and the Presence will show up. Ron was a great leader and he taught us that God, or the Spirit, works with our personality and it's really that attractive field, you know; some like it, some don't. The same spirit will acknowledge that and I can be used as an instrument for healing, for words of knowledge, to meet the heart. Personally it's just these incredible encounters that I've been having with God, with Divine energy that the words of knowledge have become so clear to me.
A side bar here, the first time that I actually gave what I call Words of Knowledge where you just speak to a person about things that might be going on in their life, I remember praying for this one lady, I forget what the Word of Knowledge was, but I remember her reaction. She yelled and screamed at me, "No, you're wrong! You're wrong!" I was like, "I don't know, it's just what the Holy Spirit told me." And she actually followed me out of the church. I've always remembered that for years, I wouldn't give Words of Knowledge because I thought I was wrong. I found out through a friend of hers when I told what I'd said to her, she said, "You're absolutely right". She couldn't confront the truth in her.
This is how we stop our giftedness by somebody yelling at us saying it's wrong. it can be that growing process I believe the Spirit takes us through, our journey, our process. Really our heart is to follow the voice of the Spirit. To be loved. Whatever it is. We don't have to join a ministry and we can just BE wherever we are, as a mother, as a worker in the fields or on the roadways. It doesn't matter where you are, we can actually have the same presence with us that we have in all of our encounters in church or synagogue or temple or wherever we might be.
This is just an amazing goal that God has called me forth and now I look back, twenty, thirty-years ago, this was all preparation time and it's a grace. I'm so grateful to walk through the door right now.
JMT: Excellent. How can people get a hold of you, how can people get involved with Celebrating Life Ministries and what do you guys have coming up?
PF: The best way is to go on our website which is www.ronroth.com. What we have coming up right now, I do a lot of tele-classes from all different traditions. We just did one on Buddhism; our next one next week is going to be on "God Is Love". We're going to explore the territories of how God will touch us in unique ways through different traditions but also the angels and the saints, which we seem to miss on our journey toward life and just reactivate people on their walk with the Divine. Of course, next year we have Poland and Brazil.
JMT: How do these tele-services work? I had never heard of this style of doing things before.
PF: Thank you for making that clear. They just go on our website and just register. Most of those are free of charge so you just put in your information and you'll get a phone number and an access point and it's usually an hour service over the phone. You can just sit and listen and just explore maybe some unique concept of spirituality or how to pray.
JMT: So, it's like a conference call.
PF: It's a conference call but it could be hundreds of people on it but you feel like you're individualized.
JMT: Okay. You've got the topics and the special guests and then also you occasionally just do services. Healing prayer services or communion services as well, I believe.
PF: Right. Usually once a month or twice a month we do that and anyone from any tradition is welcome because, again, we really focus in on the presence of God and to me it's about prayer. If anybody wants more information they can call our phone number at 312-912-8799. You can get more information from us. Sign-up on our website so you get our emails and come visit us for a retreat because I really believe your life can change. Most of the time, we desire to have a change in our lives but we don't know how. I believe once people step into our organization, our community, which represents Catholic, Protestant, Buddhist, Hindu, Judaism, it doesn't matter who. We all come together as one and it's really about the oneness that sets us apart from most ministries.
JMT: I can speak for, at least having gone to one, of your retreats and I would very much like to go to more. I went in trying not to expect anything.
PF: Well, thanks a lot.
JMT: I don't mean it in a bad way.
PF: Yes, I know.
JMT: But trying not to have any expectations of what it would be because I really didn't know. I knew, of course, it wouldn't be like what Ron did, but I still went in trusting you and feeling very strongly that that was where I needed to be that weekend. One thing that really stood out to me was how, when Ron was running the show, while others were involved, it was really a one-man show. But it's really impressed me how the entire community has stepped up both to continue this practice and also to support you. I had a couple of conversations while I was there and I really identified with the journey and the struggle you must have gone through. You could have said, "Alright, Ron's gone; we're done." Boxed it up and said that was that. I'm sure you've had many times when you thought you were going to do that.
JMT: Then to make the decision, "No, I'm going to continue this work; I'm going to take up this mantel. As I was saying that, so many of the people I spoke to there got a look on their face of, "I never even thought that he would do that". It never even occurred to them.
PF: Oh, wow.
JMT: The way that the community has come together to not just support you and not just to make it a one-man show again, but to really step-up and make it a growing ministry. Honestly, anyone who has any interest at all or if you're just wondering how to spend a weekend...
PF: There ya go!
JMT: ..."I've got nothing to do, what am I going to do this weekend?"
PF: They're all invited.
JMT: Definitely check them out. Of course, you've got the big trips coming up and people can find out more about that at www.ronroth.com. If people are interested in having a personal session or appointment with you, do you offer that?
PF: Actually, I do. Thank you for asking that, John. I call it phone sessions, private half-hour phone sessions. On the website, www.ronroth.com you can just click on there for a prayer session; you can just set it up. I probably do hundreds of those a year so to me, if you know me, and if you don't' know me you will know me, I'm very personal. I love to have connections with the people. I'm a heart person so by phone, in person, that's just one of the gifts God has used me. Ron had been more of the masses where I'm more individual. We can talk about your life and I can offer a prayer for healing at the end. If that interests you, check it out on our website.
JMT: Excellent. Well, Paul, thank you very much for being with us today and thank you for sharing your gifts and you knowledge. It's been an absolute pleasure to speak to you. Thank you for joining us on Great Conjunction.
PF: Thank you for the opportunity, John.
JMT: You're very welcome. Thank you for joining us this evening for Great Conjunction on Paramania Radio. As always you can find me at www.johnmichaelthornton.com. Listen to the archives for this show at www.greatconjunction.org and subscribe to our podcasts at iTunes.