Jerusalem, Israel – Wednesday morning brought to a close Foursquare’s International Congress on Worship, Prayer and Our Corporate Witness at the Jerusalem International Convention Center in Israel.
As in previous days of the convention, delegates gathered in the main auditorium of the convention center in Jerusalem to intercede for the fulfillment of God’s promised salvation for the nation of Israel and the world. Worship in song and word bolstered the congregation of ministers and lay-leaders from Foursquare churches around the world as they brought petitions before the Lord, shepherded by Pastor Jack W. Hayford, president of The Foursquare Church.
During the final session—the Grand Commissioning Assembly—Glenn Burris Jr., vice president/general supervisor of The Foursquare Church, spoke from the Book of Acts about the promise of the Holy Spirit made to Christ’s disciples prior to His ascension. Every work of God begins with such a promise, he said. He then returned to the Old Testament and offered a synopsis of God’s dealing with mankind throughout the years before Christ and the many times God’s people were assured of His favor toward them and of God’s promise of a redeemer who would save His people.
As Burris’ survey of the patriarchs and prophets of the Old Testament came to a close, he pointed out again the significance of the word “promise” and concluded that every great work of God begins with a promise. God’s deliverance of His people from Egypt and the eventual conquest of the Promised Land began with a promise; in much the same way, he said, God’s plan of salvation through Jesus Christ by His death and resurrection here in Jerusalem also began with a promise.
He explained that sometimes he is surprised by the Holy Spirit in his own life. He said that God intercepts, interrupts and intervenes at just the right time. The promise of God becomes very important during difficult times, and sometimes the Holy Spirit surprises us. The people of Israel experienced 400 years of brokenness and bondage before God’s promise to Abraham in Genesis 12 became a reality. In fact, when God spoke to Moses in a burning bush, it took some convincing before Moses would fully cooperate with God’s plan.
God said to Moses: “I’ve seen the suffering of my people, and I’m going to deliver them. Would you like to go along with me?” At first, Moses wasn’t so sure, Burris said. He challenged leaders to put themselves in the place of Moses. He had experienced a period of brokenness and barrenness, yet God was now asking for his cooperation. Leaders, who can discover the way to walk successfully through their own barrenness and brokenness, will be able to lead others through periods of barrenness and brokenness. This too is a promise of God for His people.
Burris mentioned staggering statistics related to current social concerns about children dying for lack of water and the incredible number of people who are trapped in human trafficking with apparently no way of escape. He spoke of too many ministers who leave the ministry each year due to personal failure or burnout and suggested that God’s answer to all of these negative realities is for Christians to move out in the boldness of the Holy Spirit and leave their comfort zones to experience God’s promise, His practical solutions to meet every human need.
On the positive side, he talked of Foursquare leaders who are moving out in the promise of God for our world. He spoke of the Foursquare NextGen Summit ’07, coming to Anaheim, Calif., in December, that will network and release 8,000 young people and their leaders to take the message of Jesus’ love to a world in need of solutions to hard problems. He spoke of the 237 couples who stand trained and ready to plant Foursquare churches in the U.S. in the next year and of the incredible development within a prison in Nevada where every section of the prison now has a Foursquare mini-church in operation.
Police officers in Portland, Ore., report that the 3-year-old Foursquare church that now operates within a hotel in the community has effectively broken up the city’s largest distribution center of methamphetamine. Burris reported that the unusual approach to church planting was a real step of faith for leaders of The Foursquare Church and that a recently reported attendance of 600 people in this Portland church gave everyone great reason to rejoice.
Glenn shared a story he heard recently of an experienced fighter jet pilot stationed at Edwards Air Force Base in California who was flying from a military base to a civilian airport. As he made his descent through the clouds to land, the air traffic controller asked if he could help them with a major problem. The pilot radioed back that he would be glad to help, if he could.
The controller went on to explain that a fatigued, inexperienced and frightened pilot, who was also low on fuel, was flying in a Cessna above the clouds and could not get down. They hoped the fighter pilot could help the frightened pilot land safely. Traffic control gave the fighter pilot the radio frequency of the other aircraft, and he began climbing back through the clouds. Soon after, he spotted the small plane, pulled up alongside, radioed the pilot, and said, “Look over your left wing!”
Imagine the shock of the young pilot, Burris continued. The fighter pilot gave these instructions: “I’m going to turn on all of my lights, pull in front of you and do a few small maneuvers that I want you to imitate. Stay close. When we get the maneuvers down, I’m going to take you home!”
Burris brought his message to a close by reminding the congregation that the Holy Spirit is much like that fighter pilot. The Holy Spirit was sent by God to a desperate world and has promised to be our comforter, our counselor and our rescuer from difficult circumstances. A practical invitation was made for everyone in the room to receive the promise of the Holy Spirit and to allow Him into those places of personal brokenness and barrenness. Burris recalled how the promise of God was given to make people strong and courageous, and how important it was for leaders at this point of intersection to receive the promise of God for the particular area of need in their lives.
Every great work of God began with a promise, he said in conclusion, and every future work of God will be the result of the same promise.
Pastor Jack returned to the pulpit along with James Craft and Gregg Johnson, directors of Foursquare’s NextGen ministry and J12 ministry, respectively, to represent an increased emphasis in The Foursquare Church to reach youth and young adults and to help shape their future and ultimately the future of the church. Corporate prayer was offered for the youth of the movement and for the Foursquare NextGen Summit ’07.
Then Pastor Jack introduced Mike Larkin, vice president/director of global operations and missions, who addressed the national leaders of the Foursquare ministries around the world and thanked them for their grace as they partner so faithfully with the U.S. church.
Larkin shared a dramatic story from his experience as a police officer when a baby—blue around the lips and clearly dying—was thrust into his hands by the desperate father. He was able to give breath to the baby and resuscitate her before paramedics arrived and pushed him out of the way. For a moment, he resented not getting the credit for saving the little girl’s life.
Then he remembered how his first reaction was to pray for God’s miraculous intervention and to give life back to the baby. The Lord said to him at that moment that every turn of his life, every career decision, his training for law enforcement and every other intersection of his life all pointed to this moment in time—and it had nothing to do with him; it had everything to do with the baby girl whose life had just been spared.
During his message, Larkin referred to Matthew chapters 9 and 24 and to a passage in Revelation that speaks of every tribe, tongue and nation worshiping around the throne of God. He spoke of the mandate given by God to all believers to take the kingdom of God to the world. The congregation rejoiced as he mentioned that The Foursquare Church today is present in 150 nations of the world.
He spoke of the miraculous expansion of the Christian church within countries like Turkey, Iran and Bahrain, and he reminded delegates that no ideology or doctrine of man can stop the expansion of the kingdom of God. He recalled a recent planning meeting with leaders of several countries who rejoiced at the doors God was opening for new ministry in their regions. When asked what made the difference, one of the leaders said it was every drop of blood from the martyrs of the church that made the difference. The convention body affirmed the statement and overwhelmingly agreed with the sentiment.
Passion and compassion drives the ministry, Larkin said. He told of Ted and Sue Olbricht, who while touring Cambodia experienced one such breakthrough several years ago. They encountered an elderly Buddhist man who was dying with a serious, untreated wound. The Olbrichts asked to enter the man’s hut to pray for him but were told it was too late. Upon further inquiry, they were permitted to enter the hut, where they saw a basket of fruit and an idol to which the offering had been made in hopes that the man would be healed.
The Olbrichts knelt beside the man, laid hands on him and prayed for him. Then they dressed the man’s wound and for two weeks ministered daily to his needs. After two weeks, the man died. Before he died, however, the man received Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. Further, Larkin said the man’s family and the entire village of more than 150 people committed to serve Jesus Christ as well. It was from this base that the Olbrichts were able to establish a thriving Foursquare work in Cambodia reaching the broken, the widows, the orphans and ultimately the entire nation for Jesus Christ. Today there are 2,000 churches throughout the nation, and it all began because of a single act of passion and compassion.
Pastor Jack and Rev. Larkin concluded the message by praying for those among the congregation who sensed the call of God in their lives to be obedient and offer themselves to go wherever in the world God tells them. Intercession continued for several minutes as many leaders responded to the call of the Lord and the poignancy of the moment.
As the Foursquare convention progressed toward its conclusion, the congregation prepared their hearts for corporate communion in the New Testament tradition of passing pieces of broken bread and cups of juice that represent the broken body and shed blood of Christ on the cross. The board of directors of The Foursquare Church in the U.S. joined Pastor Jack on the platform, and the national leaders of The Foursquare Church around the world fanned out throughout the auditorium to serve communion to the delegates.
The national leaders distributed bread among the congregation as Tommy Walker led in worship. Together, the nearly 3,000 delegates in one accord received the bread as a token of the broken body of Jesus Christ, just as the disciples had done 2 millennia ago during the last supper here in the city of Jerusalem.
Pastor Jack offered a prophetic word in which the Lord invited those taking the bread to receive from Him the wholeness through the perfection of His brokenness on the cross. This wholeness, he said, includes a physical, spiritual and emotional manifestation, as people allow Jesus Christ, the “Bread of Life,” to take His rightful place in our lives.
Olivewood cups were used, from which the juice was shared among the congregation as the delegates remembered the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and the hope of the resurrection. The communion service ended fittingly with Tommy Walker, Ken Medema, Pedro Eustache and Walker’s band playing together, as Walker led the convention body in his song “Send Us Out,” which has become one of the most popular corporate praise songs throughout the convention.
At the invitation of Pastor Jack, Ken Medema shared a prophetic summary in song, wrapping up the message of the Holy Spirit to the convention. It was a message focused on the brand-new day the Lord is bringing to The Foursquare Church. His song, full of hope and the Lord’s affirmation, encouraged the leaders represented in the congregation to be bold and faithful as God reveals His plan for the future and as the impact of The Foursquare Church comes into full fruition. He sang that those within hearing of the song were to be ambassadors to the nations and that they were to embrace whatever change God brings, knowing that it is for the glory of God and the expansion of God’s kingdom.
As a final song of commissioning, Walker led the congregation in a victorious benediction with his song “Do It, Lord!”, which in the last few days has become a declaration of the purposes of God in the lives of those who have received so deeply from the ministry during this convention.
Pastor Jack concluded the convention with a benediction and prophetic blessing of God on those who leave today to return to every continent with renewed hope and purpose, ready to take the message of Jesus’ love to the world.