Becky Fischer: One in every 54 children has autism, and one-third of those are non-verbal. Yet, they’re still a part of the Joel 2:28 generation. And you say, “Well, who’s that?” In Joel 2:28, God said, “In the last days I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters will prophesy.” So then, is autism one of the enemy’s modern-day strategies to silence the prophetic voices of the boys and girls in this generation that God has given this special assignment to?
Today I’m interviewing Tahni Cullen, the mother of an autistic boy named Josiah, who is over-the-top prophetic and profound. Though he is nonverbal, he cannot be silenced. He will rock your world. Don’t miss this interview!
Tahni: There were times in the middle of the night that I was almost on the floor in the glory of the Lord because what he was sharing was so heavy. But, I’m just like, “What is going on?” and he would talk about, like, “There’s an angel in the room”.
Shocking Heavenly Experiences
Becky Fischer: Thousands of non-verbal autistic children have shocking heavenly experiences. Through the unusual ability to type out their thoughts and feelings on tablets and iPads, one finger at a time, they’re able to share deep truths they’re learning from the Holy Spirit. They talk of visits to heaven, where Jesus himself teaches them things. They share deep spiritual truths that they would have no earthly way of knowing, except God. They prophesy on adult levels and have wisdom beyond their years, but, on the outside, they still look odd and dysfunctional. The world outside of the church doesn’t know what to do with those who hear voices. So, without God, they’re frequently diagnosed and labeled as schizophrenic. But are they? Or are their experiences real?
Tahni Cullen, the mother of a non-verbal autistic boy named Josiah is going to share some of that spiritual gems that have come from her son over the past seven years, as well as other un-assuming autistic children and teens. God is using the most unlikely and humble among us to declare His glory. Tahni calls these children, “The Hidden Ones.” They’re frequently tucked away in their homes, never getting to attend church or traditional schools because of their disabilities, and odd uncontrollable and disruptive behaviors.
She wrote a best-selling book a few years ago called, “Josiah’s Fire.” It tells the heartbreaking journey of two parents who had their little baby, who was developing beautifully, but, all of a sudden, he began to deteriorate dramatically. Within two short years he was diagnosed as severely autistic. The book tells their journey in the struggles they endured until one profound day, when Josiah was about seven and a half. They discovered even though he still could not talk, and in every way he looked like he was low-functioning, he began to reveal hidden treasures within him that he was learning from God.
Josiah is now a teenager and while things don’t look too different on the outside, he continues to astound those who know him. Tahni’s been interviewed on the Sid Roth Show, Fox & Friends, the 700 Club, Patricia King’s program, and many other lesser-known programs. But the things you are going to hear in this interview, you won’t find in any of the others. I highly encourage you to purchase a copy of “Josiah’s Fire”, which I have linked below. This would be an amazing book for you, but also to read to your own children to inspire faith in them. Be sure to share this video with those who have autistic children, as well as those who are therapists, those who care and teach them, and anyone else in the church world who’s involved in children’s ministry. There’s something in this program for everyone. This video is all about the hidden Joel 2:28 generation.
Becky Fischer: Tahni, thank you so much for joining me today. I have been looking forward to this ever since we met. And I think we met on Facebook, right?
Tahni: Yes, I think so.
Becky Fischer: Yeah, it’s been a number of years ago. I can’t wait to hear what are some updates on Josiah, your son, that we’ve been talking about. I have been fascinated by him, and I just want to give a brief introduction of why that is.
Autism and Children’s Ministry
It’s because, as a children’s minister, I run into all kinds of people. A number of years ago, [I] began to encounter parents whose children were autistic. And the things that came out were how sensitive that they were in the spirit realm. Everything from, I had one woman, who had contacted our ministry. She was at this time born-again and Spirit-filled, but had a very strong background in the occult. Her child, who was 6 years old at the time, would see and hear things in the spirit world. I never knew if I was hearing from a familiar spirit or if I was hearing from the Spirit of God.
Then, I began to hear, there was, someone tipped me off to this thing that autistic children hear voices in their heads. So, I started searching the internet on that, and I couldn’t believe how many of them are. Of course, the world just writes them off and says they’re crazy. I knew that there had to be a spiritual component to this. So, I just began to research. You came along just about the right time, and your son–I talked to him, [to] Josiah. And you wrote this book. I found the book. I saw you on Sid Roth. And it just hooked me because of my preconceived idea. And that preconceived idea is, because autistic children are so sensory sensitive to light–to sound–to touch–to the environment–to everything. I just had this theory that they were all so sensitive in the spirit realm, as well. And, Tah-da! “Josiah’s Fire.”
Now, I don’t want to go into the history, necessarily, of how you discovered that he was autistic because that could take up the whole show. What I wanted to do is just encourage going to the link below, and encourage people to buy your book.
Then, I just really want to fast-forward to when your nonverbal son, who had completely lost the ability to communicate with you through language, all of a sudden found his voice through a typing method. Would you pick up the story there, please, and tell us how this happened and what exactly came out of it.
Tahni: Sure. First of all, Becky, I want to thank you for having me here. I also want to just show my appreciation to you because when you did contact me, you were the first minister that was actually onto something with the autistic population, that I had been experiencing but really couldn’t find someone in the church world to come along and say, “No, I get it.” And for you, you have a teaching online, and I went and watched that teaching online. And you talk about the Joel 2 generation. And you talk about the prophetic voice. And all of these things, and that sensitivity in the spirit. Everything in my being, of what I knew and understood of what was happening with my own son, and as time went along, I saw happening with others. I didn’t know were happening at the time until they reached out to me. It really synced up with where God was kind of leading you. And so, I really appreciate that you bring a perspective to this that really isn’t out there at this time. So, that’s awesome.
Becky Fischer: Praise God!
Tahni: Yeah. So, my son Josiah, he was nonverbal–a very severe end of the autistic spectrum—couldn’t speak, had difficulty communicating. I went and took him to a place that helped children learn to communicate by pointing at letters to spell. So, I learned of a method called The Rapid Prompting Method. It was during that time I realized that, “Oh my goodness! He’s in there!” So, this idea changed in me, first of all, that said presumed competence. You think that you’re dealing with a child that has a mind of a two-year-old, and you treat him and talk to him as such.
But the reality is, is that many of these children that are autistic are actually intelligently intact. It’s just they are locked inside and don’t have the language or even expression with their skills and their motor ability to, even,facial expressions and things like that, to always show that they’re tracking with you.
To find out that he was in there and that he was answering responding correctly to things was a game changer. Also, the lady that showed me how to do this method with him said something interesting. She said, “He’s an auditory learner. You need to speak to him and talk to him as if he is blind.
Becky Fischer: Wow!
Tahni: So, instead of saying less words, talk more. Express yourself. Talk about, when you’re walking down the street, talk about the leaves on the tree, and talk about photosynthesis. Just talk more. It was in that, because you know when you don’t get that back, you find yourself not talking. You find yourself just not hardly talking. So, it’s like, you’ll fulfill that child’s needs and have physical expression. But you just kind of stop talking.
Becky Fischer: Yeah.
A New Approach
Tahni: Well, that ignited a fire inside of me, and my husband as well, to engage with our son in a way that we had kinda put on the shelf. So, that was the first thing.
Becky Fischer: Sure.
Tahni: I had to change my mind as to what was possible and presuming his competence. And seeing that he was in there was the first step.
I had been into this method for about a year, and it was hard. And he would, you know, he would kind of buck me a little bit, you know. It’s like I’d try to get him to come up and do a lesson, and he want to slide under the table. And he… I’d have to bring him back, and all those things. But I decided, “I’m going to keep trying, even if it’s a few days a week, 25 minutes a time, whatever. When I got into it about a year, and we’re sitting at the table one day doing a lesson. It was a Saturday night, and I had a children’s Bible. And so, I said, “Well, let’s read out of the children’s Bible.” And so, you know, I just picked a little lesson. It’s kind of a “teach, ask” sort of a thing. So, I read about how Jesus healed the blind man. So I read the lesson, and then I said, the first thing I said was, “Josiah, Jesus healed the blind man. What did Jesus do? Did He h-e-a-l, heal the blind man or did He p-l-a-y, play why play with the blind man? Write that on a piece of paper. Rip the paper in half. Tap on heal. Tap on play.” I’m thinking I’m teaching him how to spell, right? So, he chose heal correctly, and I said, “Okay. Let’s spell ‘heal.’” Now, there are simple boards. There a letter boards. We had a board on his iPad that’s in alphabetical letters a-b-c-d-e-f-g in squares, right? So, he presses, he presses “G.” And I’m like, “Oh, he’s not getting it.” Then he presses “O,” like “go.” And I’m, like, “Go?” He goes on to spell his first ever independent sentence—“God is a good gift giver.”
Becky Fischer: Oh, my goodness! Wow!
Tahni: And that was the moment that everything changed! It was, I have to call it a “cataclysmic divine, supernatural moment!”
Becky Fischer: Unreal!
Tahni: Actually, I thought, “Am I going crazy? Did I just see that?” And I start asking a question, “Josiah, yes, that is, God is a good gift giver. But how do you know that?” And he goes on to write different things, including, “God is very capable. God is Everlasting Jehovah.”
Becky Fischer: Oh, my!
Tahni: And I’m just like, “What is happening right now?” Well, I’m thinking he’s being healed right at that moment.
Becky Fischer: Sure!
Tahni: I’m calling my mom! My husband was out of town on a business trip. I’m calling him, I’m emailing my family! And, all of a sudden, I’m asking him all sorts of questions, you know. Cuz, I don’t know his favorite color. I don’t know his favorite cartoon.
Becky Fischer: Who would have thought!
Tahni: You know, just those little things. You know, and I just like–over the course of the next few days–just asking him all sorts of things. Getting to know my son for, really, the first time. Fast forward, Becky. He starts–you know, his language was a little, you know, different, and kind of, uh, the cadence and the way that he expressed himself. But he started writing things that, I was, like, “How does he, where’s he getting this? How does he know this?” He would write lines…
What was the Process?
Becky Fischer: Can I ask you? Just a minute, because I just finished reading his book. But what I have wondered from the very beginning is… I get the fact that he was able to start communicating. What I didn’t get is how in the world did he know those words and how did he know how to spell them?
Becky Fischer: Do you have insight or should I give out patient and let you tell your story?
Tahni: Well, no. I mean…That’s addressed in the book. As time is going on…First of all ,I’m thinking that I am teaching him how to spell.
Becky Fischer: Oh! Okay!
Tahni: I’m thinking, before this event happened, I’m thinking I’m teaching him how to spell little four-letter words, five-letter words, that kind of thing, right?
Becky Fischer: Yup!
Tahni: Come to find out, he knows how to spell. And so, time goes on, and he starts writing things that are, like, these wisdom words. Things like, “Faith is believing for kites to fly when there’s no wind in sight.”
Becky Fischer: Oh, man!
Tahni: Or, “Faith is, picture it done!” And I was, like, “Oh, my gosh!” Like, “Where is he getting this?” And then he would continue to write things that I’m ,like, “I don’t understand this. He’s seeing things of heaven somehow. He’s writing about things that are something that he’s not been exposed to, you know, in any way.”
Becky Fischer: Yeah.
No One is Going to Believe This!
Tahni: And one day, I said, Josiah, how do you know how to spell? How do you do this?” And he wrote, “Jesus taught me the order of sounds.” And I was, like, ‘He gave you “Hooked on Phonics?”’ I mean, this sort of thing kept unfolding, Becky. And it was almost, I felt like I was crazy. Because I’m going, “No one’s going to believe this!” Like, “How is this happening?” What I know [is] I’m not crazy, and I know this is happening. You know…
Becky Fischer: And now, you know Josiah’s not crazy.
Tahni: Right! Well, and he started sharing things about family members in heaven that he had never met.
Becky Fischer: Whoa! Whoa!
Tahni: People that we had never talked about, you know. They’ve been gone for so many years. And these things that were being confirmed by… I’d run it by my mom in, like, “What about this or that? He brought this up.” And she’s, like, “Oh, my goodness!” Like, “That happened! That’s this!” And so that started happening, and then one day(I asked him if I may refer to the book, because this is kind of important.), one day I asked him, “Can you fill in, like, the blank for me? So, I’m going to give you the first line.” And I said, “My favorite place in heaven is…” because he started having all these things. I’m like, “What what’s going on? I’ve got to see it what he’s going to say here.” And this is when he writes his first song or his first poem, okay? He writes, “My favorite place in heaven is over peaceful waters. Peace is real. Tired souls naturally test peace. Roses are so stunning! Worship the king. Sing loud to the prize pardon who requires praise. Angels taste of His holiness. Ordained great attitude of praise. Help us worship the Lord together. Please him. All you hail the King of Majesty forever. Make a noise to the King on the throne.
Becky Fischer: Okay, now wait. We’re talking about an eight-year-old boy at this time.
Tahni: He’s not even 8. He’s not even eight. He’s, maybe, seven and a half.
Becky Fischer: Oh, my word!
Tahni: At this point.
Becky Fischer: That’s the kind of stuff you would expect to come out of a teenager.
Tahni: It was the sort of a thing where I went, “How could you kind of make that up unless you’ve experienced something?” But I had no grid for that, Becky. Because, I’m like, “He’s not had an out-of-body experience. He’s not had, like, a near-death experience. I’m looking out there on the internet going, “Who has this happened to? What is happening?”
I had been brought up with some, you know, in some spiritual churches a little bit, and stuff like that. But even back then, like, we didn’t really understand, like, the prophetic. We didn’t really understand, like, the Seer gift or anything like that. So, I’m, like, wandering around kind of a little blind and just kind of trying to make my way. Like, what is happening here? Truly, it was disorienting, to say the least. And, some of the things that he would say, I could have to go, “Is this even like in my religious outlook? Is this okay?” I mean, “Is this from God? Is this, you know….”
Becky Fischer: Yeah!
Testing the Spirits
Tahni: Because I’m a minister. I worked at a church for many years. Like, I have grown up in the Word, you know. And so, that’s one thing that I would say to everybody. When you’re looking into things like this–of course, always test the spirits.
Becky Fischer: Yup.
Tahni: You need to know and discern, like, “What’s going on here? And is it from God?” So, as things would come on, just going, “I don’t understand it, but God is doing something here.”
Becky Fischer: That’s crazy. And, at that point, did you have a lot of exposure to other families that had autistic children? Did you hear of anybody else, or you just felt like you were the only one in the world experiencing this?
Tahni: Yes, honestly, before the book came out, I did not know of any other families that were experiencing what–how Josiah was experiencing things. In fact…You know Aquiana, who’s the painter?
Becky Fischer: Yeah.
Tahni: Okay. Aquiana, she’s kind of a child prodigy painter. She was the first one that–I came upon a book or my husband saw it in Barnes & Noble or something–and it was her paintings with some of her poetry. He said, “You need to look at this.” And she had had experiences where she said she was brought up into the heavens. And then she, is, like, this amazing painter and has these gifts, you know. I was looking at her poetry and I’m like, “This is really similar, in a lot of ways, to Josiah’s poetry. Or his cadence and the way that he writes. So, I’m like, “Well, that’s probably the closest that I…She’s not autistic. She doesn’t have special needs.” That was the closest I could find as to what was going on here. It wasn’t until after the book was released that I started getting people contacting me, saying, “Your story is our story!”
Becky Fischer: Wow!
Tahni: And that started blowing my mind!
Trips to Heaven
Becky Fischer: No kidding! So, at what point did you come to a confident reality that this was real, that your son was really having these trips to heaven? In the book you describe it. That he would tell you that Jesus comes at night and takes him to heaven!
Tahni: Yeah, right, yeah.
Becky Fischer: With what he was saying, it was factual information. Like you said, he was talking about family members. He was telling you things that he could not have known had he not talked to the person or whatever. It wasn’t something that he could’ve, you know, gone back into your mind. And because it was so focused on Jesus, the throne of God, worshipping Him and all of that, that certainly had to give you confidence that…Okay. This is not a psychic phenomenon. This is not anything demonic or anything like that. This is truly something spiritual that is happening to our little boy with God.
Tahni: Well, Becky, there were times that, like, literally Josiah would wake me up in the middle of the night. I’m like, exhausted. [He] drags me out to the living room, and he starts communicating on his iPad. And, you know, this is a messy process. It’s not like, oh, he’s typing away. It takes him a long time. It’s one finger, or one letter, at a time. At that time, he needed a little bit of support from my arm just to be able to, like, you know, move around. He doesn’t need any support now. But, you know, there were times in the middle of the night that I was almost on the floor in the glory of the Lord. Because what he was sharing was so heavy. But I’m just like, “Is this…? What is going on?” And he would talk about like, “There’s an angel in the room,” or he would talk about these things. And, you know, one night…And if I may share this…he said, “Mom, it’s time God wants to show you about the triune God, now, Mom.” And I’m like, “I wasn’t necessarily thinking about the Trinity or anything like that. But, okay.” And this is when he shared [that] in the Trinity, the Father is the manager, the Son is the lover of operations, Holy Spirit is worker. So, it’s the three-in-one getting things done. The world was created only by three functions that went like this. The Father thought it, Son loved it, Holy Spirit carried out the plan. “That is how the Trinity works, Mom. Father, Son, Holy Spirit lack nothing. They all talk together about how things should go. Life is simple if you know he is Papa, He is healer, He is helper.” And then he went on to finish and say this, ‘Man must voice, “Father, what do you think? Jesus, what do you love?
Becky Fischer: Wow!
Tahni: “Spirit, what should we do about it? This is your mission. Do what the Father thinks and what Jesus loves and what the Spirit tells.” I was almost melted into the floor. I was like, “Holy! Holy, Lord!” I mean, what you do with something like that?
Becky Fischer: Tahni, let’s just jump ahead here a little bit, because we could spend hours talking about the things that he has revealed to you and shared with you and the revelation that is coming out of this boy. Why do you think God is giving him such a voice in a unique way and not just giving him a voice that we’re accustomed to? Do you have any thoughts on that at all?
Tahni: Well, certainly, Becky. You know, in the book there’s a whole lot in there about, like, I’m constantly, like, pursuing God’s healing for my son.
Prophetic Gifts and Autism
Becky Fischer: Sure.
Tahni: Cuz I’m not of the persuasion that, like, autism is a great gift! You know, like we should just, like, love that person has autism. I really, honestly feel that God has given gifts, and I really feel like if Josiah didn’t have autism, that he would still have some of these prophetic and seeing gifts.
Becky Fischer: Yeah.
I feel like the enemy maybe comes against a lot of these children to stop their voices because of the gifting that God has given to them. I think a lot about that Acts 2, Joel 2 generation, you know. And so, you know, I think a lot about that. But, you know, it’s just–it’s interesting– because what was, what started happening was, I started realizing God has a purpose and a plan for each of these children. And that He is going to give them gifts. He is going to give gifts. And so, I had to start researching it for myself. As far as, if I am here to parent this child, I need to learn more about this myself. So, I started looking into people who had the prophetic gift that, you know, that had no disability, or people that were Seers in the spirit. And I’m going, “Okay, wait. This is this. This is this.” Because, you know, there were times and you talked about, like, “Okay, he’s seeing angels and different things like that.” He would also see demonic things sometimes.
Becky Fischer: Ahhhh!
Tahni: We would be out–we would be out at a mall– and he might tell me, “Mom, there’s a demon, and it’s following me. And it’s a demon of lust and greed that is telling people you never have enough– you never have enough!”
Becky Fischer: Whoa!
Tahni: And I’m like, “Oh my, gosh!” I mean, I have warfare for this child who’s been woken up in the middle of the night with horrible dreams. You know, there is a lot to this. Not only can he experience things of the spirit that are really amazing and wonderful, and God inspired, but the enemy will come and try to absolutely barrage him with torment.
Becky Fischer: Yeah. Tahni, I find this very common. There are tons of children who are also spiritually sensitive–we would call them, “prophetic children–that are not autistic. They’re normal in every other way. And this is what we’re finding. That they will have angelic dreams and angelic visitations, and all the rest. And, at the same time, they will see the demons, and they will see the other side. And it’s because there is only one spirit world, and all of those things are in the spirit world. So, parents, a lot of times, get confused. Because they, too, have struggled with a child who will wake up with night–not a nightmare–but night terrors. Where they’re actually having visitations in the night with demons and all. And they want to know what to do about it and all of that kind of thing.
So, this is the first time I’ve heard you say that. That’s not even mentioned in this book–that he also has [demonic encounters]. And so, that’s very insightful and very common to any child, whether they’re autistic or not. In fact, let me just share. One of the…When I was just discovering children who were autistic. And I mentioned earlier that they would hear voices in their head. And a lot of them were telling them very demonic things to do. And telling them to hit people and do all these terrible things. And when they’re not a Christian, they don’t know what to do with that. You know, how do you handle it?
Becky: And so, it’s one of those things. It’s a very real issue. And this generation, this Joel 2 generation, Joel 2:24 generation, is ultra-sensitive to the spirit world. They hear things in the spirit, and they experience things. And they don’t know that they’re having a spiritual experience. They’re just that sensitive. They go in and out of the spirit world quite easily. So, thank you for sharing that. Go ahead.
Tahni: As a parent, and as someone who tries to cancel other parents who are having similar experiences, most of what I have to tell them is that you have to understand what is going on. and your job is to help these children understand what’s going on and to use their spiritual authority. Because these children, at a young age, need to understand what it means and who they are in Christ, what their identity is, what their worth is, and what the truth is and what a lie is. And to be able to send the devil packing. So, getting them equipped with spiritual warfare. Even if you have a child that doesn’t communicate with you like Josiah has opened up his communication, you need to assume that you can talk about these things with your children. And it will take some of that fear away. And you know, Becky, you have a great book that I read to Josiah years ago about the closet.
Becky Fischer: “Monsters in My Closet.” Really! Did that help him?
Tahni: Absolutely, and it’s a great book. Because, you know, I think that there are many children that have those experiences as children, like you said, autistic or not, that we’ve been taught, like, “Oh, it’s nothing. It’ll go away. There’s nothing there. It’s your imagination.” It’s not always your imagination.
Becky Fischer: That’s right.
Tahni: With autistic children… What makes this interesting, Becky, is that they’re not prone to make stuff up.
Becky Fischer: Interesting.
Tahni: They don’t use…They’re kinda’ black and white in their explanations of things and don’t use a lot of like imaginative explanation. They don’t lie. A lot of them, they don’t lie. They don’t manipulate that way. So, you kind of take things at face value, because they just don’t make that stuff up. You see what I mean?
Autism and Healing
Becky Fischer: You alluded–we were talking about a form of this–but I want to ask you specifically, cuz this really fits into the conversation right here. About the difficulties of living in the dichotomy of seeing God do the miraculous. And you believe in miracles. You’re a Spirit-filled, born again Christian. You believe in the prophetic. You’ve seen people healed. You’ve probably experienced healing yourself and all. And then, dealing with so many of these issues. Because, even Josiah himself, in his book, he fully believes that God has told him he’s going to be healed.
Tahni: Yeah. Exactly.
Becky Fischer: How you deal with those dichotomies?
Tahni: Well, I got to be honest with you. Here we are. So, it’s been exactly 7 years since the “God is a good Gift Giver” came out of Josiah. And “God is a good Gift Giver” kind of became the thesis for life. You know, God is a good Gift Giver. God is good. God is for us. He’s not against us. You know, so I’m thankful that that became, like, the underlying thesis for life. However, I would say, as time goes on and the years go on and the issues continue, and that kind of a thing. The thing that can creep inside a person’s heart. It’s not always, like, doubt, because, it’s like, you know what you’ve seen. You know what you’ve experienced. You can’t take that away. But, it’s as time goes, the time. You know? Another year went by. Another year. Another year. And, honestly, by now I would have thought we would have seen just massive amounts of springing ahead with Josiah. And, in fact, when he, you know, as he got older, with puberty and things like that. You know, a whole new set of problems, you know, came in with his difficulty with his body and with controlling himself and with impulses. And, you know, his level of care has increased. And you know, so, yeah, that’s a difficult thing where you’re just like, “Okay, God. I have seen. I know that You’re working here. I know, like, there have literally been angels in the room.” And Josiah will, like, put out this, this poem that just was like, “Whoa! Why won’t You touch him right now? Why won’t You heal him right now?” I don’t know the answer to that. All I know is that it’s something that I can continue to pray for and lean in for. I have a right to, because it says do not forget any of God’s benefits. He forgives your sins. He heals all your diseases.
God is greater than Autism
Becky Fischer: Yeah.
Tahni: And autism is a big, fat, incurable disease. But God’s name is the name above all names. So, I still believe that we can continue to lean in for his healing. And, Becky, we were invited. There was a lady who had seen me on Sid Roth. And she said, “Hey! Our story is your story. We have a camp for kids that are from ages six to 36. But, will you come with Josiah? Bring your family. And will you speak at our camp?” So, we all went as a family to this camp. And, oh my gosh, it was absolutely life-changing! Here were other kids quite a bit, a little bit older than Josiah, but they communicated in the same way, with the same method. And they were very prophetic, as well. And this is a very Spirit-filled camp. And we were having chapels twice a day, and these children, and these guys, would go up there. And they would start prophesying on their board.
Becky Fischer: No way!
Tahni: They would… it would… literally, like, you’re going, “What in the heck is going on?” And then they had a social with one another. And so, they’re each talking with one another on their boards. And there’s this older boy named Aaron, who basically is like a mentor to Josiah–very prophetic, very sensitive in the spirit as well–And on the last day of the camp, Josiah is out there singing, and Aaron comes over and he is with his caregiver and he gives the blessing over Josiah writing it one letter at a time, that is, like ,the Aaronic blessing. I mean, literally, like prophesied over him!
Becky Fischer: Whoa!
Tahni: And I was just like…and, Becky, Josiah got baptized at that camp.
Becky Fischer: Water baptized.
Tahni: Yeah, in front of these friends. And we’ve gone back for three years in a row. What I have seen in these places—and this is a place where, you know what, it’s, I’ll all it chaortic– chaos and order kind of all together. It’s like, you know, kids are going to get up and walk around. They don’t sit still. They don’t, you know, stay in one place. They are loud. But, like, the glory of God falls in these chapels! And there is such honor given to these children. And even the ones that aren’t autistic– everybody has a job to do. So, come on up and play the bongos while the worship team is going. Come on up! Like, they get them up on stage. And the last time we were there, the guys that (they all happen to be guys, and I think, one girl that communicates in the same way as Josiah)…The lady who runs it, she said, “Do you have… what’s your message to the people out here? Here’s your chance!” You know, and she lined them all up to be able to say…I mean, it was like they preach the gospel message! And there were there were camp counselors that were there that came in there not believing in God and left going… “I mean, this doesn’t make sense! I see what they look like, but what they are showing and what there are telling, like, there’s got to be a God!”
Becky Fischer: Oh, my! That’s amazing!
Tahni: And it’s just amazing to see how God not only touches those kids and those young adults that have various special needs. But it’s the ones that come to work with them! He just grabs their hearts and just speaks to them! Why is this happening to this population? You know what, I looked at the Scripture, and it talks about how there’s a big feast. And it’s like, you know what, go out and invite people to the big feast! Tell ‘em ,come on in to the big feast. Oh, you know, I got things to do. I got crops. I got, I got to wash my hair. I got a wedding to go to. You know, all these things. And then they come back, and they’re, you know, they’re like, “Can’t come!” And Jesus says, “Go out and get the lame. Go out and get the poor. Go out and get the blind.” I really believe that they’re the ones attending to His call.
Becky Fischer: Wow! That’s amazing! Is this camp open? I mean, I know that there is going to be people listening to this, Tahni. And they’re going to repeat what you said, “You’re telling my story!” There’s going to be people who say, “I want my kid to go to this camp.” Now, it’s not your camp. But, is this something that people are welcome to go to? Is it open to the public, or how does this work?
Tahni: They actually have a church for special needs in Waukegan, Illinois.
Becky Fischer: Oh!
Tahni: So, it’s usually, like, kids around that area. And they usually go to this camp. But I’m sure that they are open to other people coming, you know, as well, as they find fit. Yes.
Becky Fischer: So, what church?
Tahni: Yes, Waukegan Foursquare Church, I believe, is the name of the church.
Becky Fischer: So, when Josiah leaves that camp, what’s it like for him? I mean, what is he like when he leaves this camp and being around all these other kids?
Facing Spiritual Warfare
Tahni: It’s so amazing! Because every single time that we’ve gone there, we have had to battle to get there! I mean, battle! Like we’re almost ready to turn the car around. Cuz it’s like, he is just beside himself. Or, you know, we have this seven-hour trip in front of us and it’s like, it’s just not working out. This isn’t going to work. How are we going to do this? I mean, it’s just a battle to get there. Literally, like, we’re fighting to get there. Like, he has about a day where he has a hard time just getting calmed down, you know. And then it’s like a bud opening in bloom. All the sudden, it’s like, you look, and this child who wouldn’t leave your side, and is like, holding like this, breaks free like a calf out of the stall running across the field. Or just has this, like, relaxed attitude, where it’s like he is fully accepted, fully loved. Fully admired even. You know– each of these kids– they have talent shows. And these kids have the quirkiest talents, you know. Like, they could, you know, “What day is it on May 25, 1929 was what day of the week?” “Oh, Wednesday!” I mean, but you know, they all get applauded for it. it’s like, “Yes!!!” They’re just showered with love. And by the time he leaves there, it’s just like we have seen something that in him that is an openness that we actually don’t see all year round.
Becky Fischer: I have had a question. And you’re the only one that I know that I can ask it to that would have any semblance of an answer. And I have often wondered– cuz I’ve seen so many miraculous things happen with people, this group of autistic children– who are extremely prophetic, but they have no voice. They can’t speak out loud. Have you ever heard of them being filled with the Holy Spirit, like you and I think of it, and when they pray, they can actually pray in tongues out loud like you and I. Has that ever happened to anybody that you know?
Tahni: Not that I know of, as far as, like, being able to speak it out. What I have seen with Josiah and one other person is being able to interpret it when someone else speaks.
Becky Fischer: Really.
Tahni: Interpret the prayer of tongues.
Becky Fischer: No kidding. Did you see that at camp, or have you seen Josiah do that?
Tahni: I saw Josiah do that, and I’ve seen one other person do that.
Becky Fischer: Oh, my! That’s amazing! That’s really amazing!
Tahni: And it’s the kind of language that is just like, you know, it’s not, it’s not typical. I mean, it’s just beautiful. Like, “Whoa! That’s what’s being said?” and “What?” Like, the prayer that’s high, you know, higher than our typical language. And it’s just like, “Whoa!” And they can translate it.
Parents of Children with Autism
Becky Fischer: Tahni, what, in closing…, Cuz we’ve got to wind up here. This has really been fascinating. What would you say to the parents, or maybe you said it a few minutes ago. But, what would you say to the parents of other autistic children, of their spiritual journey? Of course, the first word is, you need Jesus, you know. And I’m looking at your book here. I almost got done with it. I read it again this week cuz I wanted to refresh my memory on everything. But way towards the end, Josiah is talking to you with his little tablet. And he says you said something to him that is speaking about his healing, and he’s writing to you. And he says, so you broke down and you began to cry. And he says, “So your rich sobs show that you break to say, ‘I don’t see Jesus working this out. It looks so bad right now. My son is so autistic. He is richly worse than he has ever been when it comes to his real self showing through.’” And then he says, “Right?” Like, “Right, Mom?” And you wiped your eyes, and said, “What am I supposed to say, Josiah?” And then he writes some more. “Holy tears, though you cry, holy tears to say what you believe has to become true or is only half-true. Only delight in Me, and I will do this.” Now he’s speaking as the Holy Spirit. “And I will do all that I have said to you. He is walking out of autism, Tahni. I Am the first and the last, so he will speak like a real boy. Not on a machine, like the lady you saw picturing that maybe you could do that with his own eye one day.” So, this is your hope.
Becky: You hang on to this. Josiah hangs onto this. And this may not be what you want to say to parents, but there is a hope. And what would you say in closing to the parents of autistic children ?
Tahni: You know, there’s so much that is in your face on the outside. It looks–the circumstances look so bad sometimes. They really do. But if you can just open up and look behind that. There are children…Becky, I had I have counseled parents who say, “I’m so glad that your child is able to communicate. You are able to know that he is actually there, and he’s actually in there. And I have a child who’s in a vegetative state. I have a child that needs, you know, 24-hour daycare. Can’t see. Can’t talk, whatever.” And I say, “Speak to their spirits. Speak to them. Talk to them. Sing to them. Sing over them. They are in there! They are in there! There is, you know, there are things– there are places that God is going to touch in that child that you will never be able to touch!” So, trust that God is reaching places that you can never reach.
But, at the same time, there is a responsibility that God leaves with us as parents. And it is to bring up our children in the Lord. To direct and guide them. Speak over them. Talk to them about Jesus. Talk to them even if you don’t think that they can understand it. They’ll understand it. Talk to them about Jesus. Share with them about Jesus. So many of them are just ripe. They love Jesus already. They’re already, you know, drawn to Jesus.
So, I think that there’s a spiritual… there’s some of that stuff that we have to take the reins on to be able to instill that in our children that have special needs. Often times–they don’t–these kids don’t get to go to church, you know. Eighty to ninety percent of families that have special needs kids don’t go to church.
We as parents have to build ourselves up in knowledge in the understanding of God. Many of us talked—and it’s talked about in the book–many of us moms—dads too– have had similar experiences on this journey. And it’s that our lives get radically changed, and we learn the father heart of God. A lot of our religious boxes are deconstructed. We’re having to fall in love with Jesus ourselves. We’re having to wrestle through a lot of questions that we have, so that we can then pour into our children and see our children in a way that God sees them. And I have to say that, it is so imperative.
Right now, a lot of the work that’s done for–and thank you, Lord, for parents and for teachers and therapists and these people that work with these children and young adults. They are so amazing—But, one of the things that I’ve learned is that a lot of the teachers and therapists and things like that, that have read our book, say they treat these kids differently than they used to [treat them.] They speak to them differently. They go, “Hey! It made me realize they have dreams. They have interests. They have desires.”
It’s not about just getting the activity done or checking something off the list and making sure they can wash their hands. What do they love? God has put something in their hearts. They have a soul. They have a rich inner life. We’ve got to cultivate that from the point of their spiritual gifts and their strengths. They live their life trying to deal with the weaknesses that they have. We have to build them up through their strengths and through their interests and through their God-given abilities, and then move out the fear. Push out the fear with the perfect love of God and help them understand their worth. Help them understand that they are greatly loved just as they are right now. And help them understand that the Lord has a good purpose and plan for their lives. Because depression will try to come in and overtake them. Anxiety will try to come in and overtake them and the family. Stress and divorce and every kind of thing. We have to, as parents and grandparents, stand up and say, “I will not allow that to happen! Not on my watch! Not in my house!” And that takes a huge spiritual investment in yourself and in your marriage and in your relationship with other Christians that can help you.
Becky Fischer: In closing, if parents wanted to get in touch with you, Tahni, do you have a public forum? I know you have a Facebook page called Josiah’s Fire that they can follow, like, whatever it is. And what would you say to them if they’re looking for more one-on-one…
Tahni: The very best place to go is Josiah’s Fire. That’s the most active-is our Josiah’s Fire Facebook page. Instant message me or whatever. And, a lot of times, especially if there are people that are having very similar experiences to us, I am really interested and happy to get on a phone call with them and kind of talk about that–talk through that. Because I find that there are a whole lot of people that are like, “Okay. Now the spiritual side of this.” There’s just not a lot out there to help them. And I’m happy to help guide them. And I still have a lot of questions myself. But I feel like I’ve gotten a little farther down the road. To see, like, okay there there’s a lot of patterns that are very similar happening here. So, we need to be aware. God’s doing something. The church needs to be aware of it, too, and, you know, your cohorts in ministry.
Becky Fischer: Absolutely! We’ll definitely get this message out to as many children’s ministers and parents on Facebook [as we] can. We have a lot of avenues YouTube and various things. We definitely want people to be able to hear this. Tahni, let’s just close real quick. Would you just quickly say a prayer for the families that are dealing with this right now?
Tahni: Absolutely. Yeah. Father, we come to you in the name of Jesus. And Lord, we thank you for this opportunity to boast in You. God, I only want our story to bring You glory. That’s it. And God, I pray for each and every person that might be dialing in here. I pray, Lord, that you extend a rope of hope. It says that You are the God of hope. And this isn’t a matter of coping with all of these difficulties, especially with autism and every kind of special needs– there’s so much coping out there–You don’t even talk like that. You are the God of hope. You are the God of faith. And so, God, I pray that every limitation that has been put over these children and over these families, every barrier that’s been put up by the enemy, would be stripped away! And I pray that this Joel 2 generation would have a voice. That they would be able to speak. That they would be able to communicate. That they would be able to open up. And we thank You and praise You that the gates of hell will not prevail against this generation or these families in the name of Jesus. And Father, I just release, in the name of Jesus, a holy army. There are hidden ones out there that have been conspired against by the enemy. And we say, in the name of Jesus Christ, they will be revealed. There is nothing hidden that won’t be revealed in the name of Jesus. And I thank You and praise You that, for the glory of the Father and for the harvest in this time, that there will be the most unusual cases, the most unusual miracles, the most unusual voices, that point exactly to Jesus Christ, and say, “Look at the king! Look at the king! Don’t look at me! Don’t look at the circumstances. Look at the king!” So, we pray for that, Lord. And we thank You and praise You that this is the time, and this is the place. And embolden these ministers, Lord, in kids ministry, in supernatural ministry, to be able to do this work and train up those in this field. In Jesus name, amen .
Becky Fischer: Tahni, this has been fantastic! Thank you for taking time. Thank you for watching our show today. If you would like to know more about Kids in Ministry International and how we can help your children grow spiritually or anything to help your kids ministry, we invite you to visit our website and online store or like us on Facebook and Instagram. Until next time, God bless. To see a video version of this podcast, go to youtube.com/kidsinministry To take advantage of any offers mentioned ,please email us at email@example.com I mention the number and the name of this podcast
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