Hungering for Jesus: An Interview with Heidi Baker

By Sloan Milliken


Heidi Baker co-founded Iris Global, a faith-based organization focused on serving the poor, with her husband Rolland in 1980. She is also an internationally known conference speaker and the author of five books. After working in Asia and Europe, the Bakers were called to the poorest country in the world at the time, Mozambique, and moved there in 1995. Upon arrival, they immediately started pouring out their lives among abandoned street children. As the Holy Spirit moved miraculously, a revival movement spread to adults, pastors, churches, and eventually throughout the bush across Mozambique’s ten provinces. Heidi is now “Mama Aida” to thousands of children and oversees a broad holistic ministry that includes Bible schools, medical clinics, church-based child care, well drilling, primary and secondary schools, vocational training, programs for widows and vulnerable women, and evangelism and healing outreaches in remote villages. She and her husband also oversee a network that includes thousands of churches across Mozambique and ministry bases in over 30 nations.

Her great passion is to live in the manifest presence of God and to carry His glory, presence, and love to a lost and dying world. She longs to see God’s people lay down their lives for the sake of the Gospel, pouring out their lives for Love’s sake and bringing God’s children home to the Father’s embrace.



Just as Heidi and I were starting to do this interview over email, massive flooding devastated Mozambique. Heidi’s assistant managed to write me one day in between power outages, describing the situation. She wrote:

“There have been torrential downpours and floods that are sweeping through people’s houses. We know of hundreds of people whose homes have been completely destroyed. Almost everyone we know has lost belongings or had some damage to their home. We are praying for God to break in.”

I had asked Heidi to open the interview like she often does her talks—by seeking the Lord’s face in prayer. As they were in the midst of the flooding, she asked to include a prayer about the situation with the floods as well.

Heidi’s Prayer in the Midst of the Storms: God, we pray that you would come. You are King over the floods. You are our Rescuer even in the midst of difficulty and trials. Please come and rescue us. Rescue our friends who are suffering. Daddy God, would you stop the rains and provide everything needed to repair the damages. You are our Provider. God, we pray that many will turn to you and be saved in the midst of these difficult situations. God, would you stir people’s hearts around the world to pray with us.


Psalm 17:6-8 New International Version (NIV)

6 I call on you, my God, for you will answer me; turn your ear to me and hear my prayer.
7 Show me the wonders of your great love, you who save by your right hand those who take refuge in you from their foes.
8 Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings.


She continued with the interview as planned from there, and it is printed below. I am stunned by her generosity to open her heart to us in the midst of disaster. I’m glad she did. What follows encourages me like never before that I can vividly encounter Jesus, not just in the secret place, but also in my circumstances as I yield my life to him. I had always thought of hunger for God as something expressed just between me and him, but I’m now seeing that hunger is a huge key for letting him manifest his life through me. Heidi’s life is a testament to how hunger, dependence, and obedience in laiddown love become a conduit for Jesus to reveal his overwhelming goodness, abundant life, and extravagantly joyful generosity—not just to her, but to a nation, one person at a time.

As she often says in her ministry, may we “learn to go low, and then go lower still.” I am confident that as we do, we will see Jesus like we’ve never seen him before. And others will, too.


Heidi, thank you for doing this interview, especially in the midst of such a trying time. The theme of this issue is “Seeing Jesus as He Is.” I don’t want the result of our time together to be an article where the readers only turn pages and read about him. I wholeheartedly desire for you, me, and the readers to encounter him in these moments. With that in mind, can you start off this interview like you do your talks—by engaging the presence of the Lord and seeking his face in prayer?

Matthew 5:3 says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.”

Many are hungry and thirsty and poor in Spirit. When you are hungry for natural food, you eat and are satisfied. When you are hungry for more of Jesus and you eat of Him, you just get more hungry. So come today poor in spirit, hungry and thirsty for Jesus. I was thinking about what God wanted to pour out, and my heart kept feeling it’s this place of kenosis where we are emptied out, and we are filled with Him. Let the riches of the Kingdom of God be released to the hungry children.

In Mark 10:14-15 Jesus says, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” I pray you come like little children and start receiving the more of God. God is going to shift the atmosphere because we want more of the Kingdom, and as we want more of the Kingdom, we are going to become more childlike and more poor in spirit. Hold onto the Father, come poor in spirit. Don’t be complacent. Yield yourself to God. He wants to fill you. I was praying, and I saw oil, wine, milk, and honey, being poured into people, people who were positioned like little children, those who came poor in spirit. God, we must have more of you. We want to be fully filled, oh God. We want to be fully possessed by you Jesus. We want to be vessels, dripping and overflowing with oil. We want to be overcome and totally undone. We want to carry your Kingdom God. We want to be burning ones.

God, take away every distraction. All of our affections are on you, Jesus. We are going to come like little children to our Papa today, to our Papa who loves us. It’s the great exchange. You lose your life and you find it. You empty yourself out and you are filled. You humble yourself and He lifts you up. Let’s give Jesus a drink offering of worship and adoration. We come low and slow and needy and wanting. We come like little children with full confidence that as we cry out, “Abba Daddy,” our Daddy, our Father who is in heaven, will come and meet us. Thank you, Daddy. Amen.

Thank you, Heidi. As you prayed, you spoke a lot on being poor in spirit. Can you share on what that means and how to cultivate such a life, a life that empties itself to receive his fullness?

When God is saying, “blessed are the poor in the spirit,” he means “blessed are those who hunger and thirst after him.” Or to put it differently, “Blessed are those who stay needy, blessed are those who depend on Papa God.”

Jesus depended totally on Holy Spirit, and he calls each of us to fully depend on Holy Spirit. Jesus came poor; He came desperate; He came needy; He came hungry; He came thirsty. God left heaven and came hungry, thirsty, needy, desperate, and poor, so much so he was born in a stable. If anyone carries the kingdom, it is Jesus. He came to the world and literally showed us what it looks like to be poor in spirit, and He calls us to come and follow Him.

Sometimes, though, people who are rich tend to not depend on anyone. They tend to think they can always do things themselves, and they aren’t needy. Sometimes, instead of being humble and needy, they are in need of nothing. Instead of being hungry, they always have enough. Instead of being thirsty, they never want to drink. So why does Jesus say that the poor in spirit are blessed? It’s because there is something about the poor that delights the heart of God. They are contrite. They know they are in need. They draw the kingdom of God to earth because of their dependency, hunger, need, and desperation.

In our Mozambican mud-hut churches, we have to have God show up—and we have to have fresh food—or no one will come. People wouldn’t want to come to church for the fancy carpets because, even if we had them, they would be full of dirt and bugs! People come to church to dance, to rejoice, to sing, to meet with God, and to be healed and delivered.

Are you thirsty for the kingdom of God to break forth? Do you want more? Sit among the poor. Learn what it is to be really desperate, to be humble and dependent and tenacious. Learn those attributes, and the Kingdom of God will break forth for you in a greater way.

Do you really want the kingdom of God to break forth? Poverty of spirit prays to God with desperation, “You MUST transform a nation, You MUST give me strategies from heaven, You MUST heal this deaf person. I will not leave until You bless me. I will not stop pressing in until I know Your presence is with me. I will not step out in the village unless You are with me and You come crashing in on these people.”

When we are poor in spirit, there is something about our neediness that brings forth the kingdom. And how do we get like that? We need to pray. To pray and learn from the poor. God wants us to learn from the poor the attributes that we need spiritually.

God answers all of us according to our faith and hunger and in fulfillment of His plans for us that were laid before the foundation of the world. God desires all His children to come alive with compassion and not shrink back in unbelief. Rich or poor, if you are tired of hiding from the world’s problems and want to partake of God’s nature to bring life to the dead, Jesus is more than enough. We need God, and we need each other.

God has sovereignly given us an outpouring of love, joy, and refreshment to the poor and suffering in Africa. But today, God calls all of us—rich and poor—to rest in Him and to love Him with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength, loving our neighbors as ourselves. For this Jesus died. We are also all called to share and to remember the needs of the poor.

When I think about seeing Jesus for who he is, in my mind the key word of that phrase is the last one—“is.” It’s so important to not just know about some guy named Jesus who lived 2000 years ago, but to know him as the living, breathing, God-man in heaven right now. Heidi, can you talk for a little bit about who you’ve experienced him to be? Can you also share some insights on how to live a lifestyle of encounter?

Jesus is my best friend and closest companion. We communicate continually throughout the day. I’m never lonely because I’m always with Jesus. Resting in His presence brings me perfect peace. Jesus is calling us to spend time with Him and be in unity with Him. I would never try to get through a day without being in God’s presence. All of us should be present with Him all the time so that we can stay connected to Him. Through spending time with Him, we reach a depth of unity where we start thinking His thoughts, dreaming His dreams, feeling His compassion. When we stay connected to Him, all that we do flows from that intimacy.

You live in Mozambique and work among the poorest of the poor, and when you travel you often speak on how you have seen Jesus in the face of the poor and the broken. Can you talk a little about that?

My old granny friend Tina, who I had lunch with today, has taught me so much about what it means to be poor in spirit. She was living under a veranda of a hut that was falling down, just borrowing this little veranda. Finally, we were able to build her a little, tiny house with one bedroom and one living room. When we got to the house to dedicate it, she just burst into tears, and said, “I never dreamed I would live in such a palace.” I saw the Kingdom coming in that situation, especially in the gratitude. She was just so grateful for this little, tiny house. Tina depends on God for everything.

That day, we were sitting by the latrine and there was a group of villagers who were wondering why Tina and I would be friends, being that we are from such different backgrounds. Long story short, we were able to lead them all to the Lord Jesus. Tina just shines for Him. She is one of the most poor in spirit people I have ever met and one whom the Kingdom breaks forth for on a regular basis. It is a joy to watch her and have her as my friend.

When God sent me to the poor, it was not for what I could give, but for what I could learn and for what I could receive. God did not start by telling me to minister to the poor but to be ministered to by them. Mother Teresa said, “Today it is very fashionable to talk about the poor. Unfortunately, it is not fashionable to talk with them.” We need to start talking with them. As we do, we will see him.

The poor are my friends and my family. Village life is quite simple compared to modern culture. I love to camp in the mud-hut villages and enjoy the simplicity of the poor. We sing and dance into the night, worshiping our beautiful Jesus. There are no computers, videos, CD players, or electricity to distract us. It is a simplicity of devotion.

What are some shifts in our thinking and affections that need to happen to let the love of Christ compel us into the highways and byways and the darkest, hardest places?

We need to live in the secret place, in the presence of God, staying full of oil. I live in the glory, receiving from the Father, offering my life to Jesus and being filled with Holy Spirit every day. I stop for the One who is the One, adoring and loving Him, and then I stop for the one in front of me. That’s how I stay full, and from that secret place of intimacy with Him, each and every no becomes a yes.


Flood Update

Below is an update on the flood recovery efforts from Heidi’s assistant, Laura Taranto. It gives a great window into how God has been answering their prayers at the time this issue went to print in early May, six weeks or so after we started the interview in the midst of the flooding.


The rains have stopped now, and the bright African sun has dried up most of the water, apart from a few muddy streams. Now we are in the rebuilding phase. Some roads have been repaired with bridges, others with sandbags and extra dirt. We still have to drive slowly since the streets were thoroughly damaged. We had a relief team come for 10 days from Bethel Church in Redding, CA, and they have been rebuilding and repairing homes. We also have a loan program for our workers to repair their houses. There are still several mamas and children staying in our church, but we are finding new homes for them.

Saide and Rita are both disabledneither one can walk. They and their two children lived in a mud hut. The rains completely destroyed their home, so they are sleeping at their neighbor’s hut. The Bethel Relief team is almost done building them a beautiful new hut with a tin roof and cement walls and floors. We love God’s perfect faithfulness to restore and rebuild. We believe that He will be known and glorified in this rebuilding process, which reflects His love to the community. He is the God of redemption, and we always trust in Him.

To learn more about Heidi Baker and Iris Global, and to learn the most recent news on the flood recovery efforts and how you can help, visit them on the web at



Sloan Milliken is learning to live as a son of his Father in heaven. He resides in Davidson, NC, where he owns a small house painting company. He enjoys playing music and rock climbing, and he puts his English degree to use by doing some editing on the side.


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