The world will tell your story if it’s compelling enough. Vy Higginsen is a pioneer, producer and publisher who leads the Gospel For Teens Choir in Harlem, New York City. Her story was recently captured by 60 Minutes correspondent Leslie Stahl, who followed Vy for nine months, focusing on an outreach program established to rescue teens who live within the five boroughs of New York City. Through the voice and venue of a choral program, the futures of hundreds of youth have been radically changed.
Vy recruits several dozen youth, auditions them and then invests the better part of a year transforming their individual voices into a powerful choir with one voice. In the beginning, many of these young people have a difficult time publicly declaring their own names and where they are from. The program is designed to address their lack of identity, purpose, brokenness and often their guilt and shame.
If you’re like me, you’ll find it difficult to get through the segment without being deeply moved by Vy’s passion and her commitment to helping these young people reclaim their voice and ultimately their purpose. You can watch the videos here: 4sq.ca/60Minutes.
“Speak: Reclaim Our Voice” will be our theme for 2012. I have been deeply moved by the Holy Spirit in my times of prayer and reflection concerning this next season ahead. The church that finds its place of influence during the 21st century will not seek to play it safe. It will commit to taking risks, not being afraid of a world that is desperately seeking purpose and clarity.
Our roots are intertwined in the persuasive story of a creative entrepreneur who boldly declared her dependence on the Lord. Flawed and fruitful, Aimee Semple McPherson left a global legacy of a passion for the disenfranchised, a contending for the power of the Spirit, and a desire to tell the gospel story in a compelling way that would transform individuals, a city, a nation and the world.
Most of us would agree that the apostle Paul knew how to speak. He was bold and even boisterous in his pursuit of taking the gospel to the ends of the earth. Yet in Acts 18:9, the Lord spoke quite directly to Paul, saying, “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent” (NIV).
The city of Corinth would have presented multiple challenges to anyone on a mission to bring the message of the cross. A large, cosmopolitan seaport city of 500,000, Corinth was godless, immoral and idolatrous. Ministers of the gospel were up against significant opposition.
God confronted Paul’s fears, because giving place to them would squelch any possibilities of a spiritual transformation in this city. That encounter with the Lord re-energized Paul, and he stayed for 18 months, engaging in a powerful ministry partnership with Aquila and Priscilla.
The most talented and focused among us need to be reminded occasionally not to let life or circumstances rob us of our voice and influence. We must keep on speaking—and not be afraid!
The Foursquare Church is a MOVEMENT (of leaders and churches), with a MESSAGE (Jesus Christ as Savior, Baptizer with the Holy Spirit, Healer, and Soon-Coming King), on a MISSION (making disciples of all nations).
This past year, many in our Foursquare family read through the book of Acts every month, revisiting the foundation and MISSION of the early church. This coming year, I’m asking you to join us on a new shared Bible journey, as we read through the Gospels. Our weekly prayer emails will focus on the fourfold ministry of Jesus, as we revisit this powerful reminder that is the centerpiece of our MESSAGE.
The simple clarity that Matthew, Mark, Luke and John give us as witnesses to the most powerful life lived is a testimony to God’s great love for all of us! There’s a reason the Bible is still the bestselling book of all time—no other story provides such hope. Let it saturate your soul during this coming year, and may the Lord help all of us to reclaim our voice!
Let me share several important points of celebration, clarity and communication:
Phoenix, Ariz., will be the host city for our annual convention, May 28–31, 2012. We are excited about the guests who will unpack more of the theme, “Speak: Reclaim Our Voice.” Wayne Cordeiro, Chris Hodges, Ted Olbrich, Ralph Moore, Keith Jenkins, Margaret Feinberg, Obed Orozco and Ed Stetzer are among our speakers and guests. Worship will be led by Eric Diaz in the morning and Matt Redman at night.
We will provide a full day of learning tracks with something for everyone, including worship leaders, administrators, ForeRunners, NextGen leaders, international missionaries and guests, and senior pastors. We will also host a one-day Hispanic convention, called Conexión Hispana.
The team is working extra hard this year to make convention a place for all kinds of leaders, and Phoenix is a great opportunity to bring some or all of your team with you. In my recent mailing, we included a few “save-the-date” cards for you to share. We are encouraging everyone to consider sponsoring a younger leader and his or her spouse to come and experience convention.
Convention is the only opportunity we have each year to connect as a global tribe, experience our diversity, and discern God’s voice for us as a movement. Would you prayerfully consider whom you might invite and sponsor to go to Phoenix with you? Debbie and I have personally decided to give air miles, provide a travel stipend and cover the registration for one young couple to get to Phoenix.
Please pray as we gather with over 200 national leaders and invited guests to help us pray, strategize, network and commit together toward an acceleration of taking the gospel to every nation. The summit begins on Friday, June 1, immediately following Connection 2012. We are most encouraged by the responses being received from our Foursquare family around the world. This event will be a dynamic gathering of global leaders. Following are two significant developments:
(a) A Global Prayer Strategy will be in place, in which the nearly 70,000 Foursquare churches around the world will join in prayer together for 21 weeks leading up to convention in Phoenix. Is that exciting or what? Having our global Foursquare family engaged in a focused prayer plan brings unprecedented unity and celebration. Beginning January 9, a three-part prayer strategy will begin to (1) Exalt His Kingdom; 2) Establish His Kingdom; and 3) Expand His Kingdom. More information can be found at 4sq.ca/globalprayer.
(b) We will be receiving a Global Summit offering to help provide scholarships for some of our national leaders around the world. On Sunday, March 4, we will ask our international family to consider taking a special offering to assist in making this Global Summit a success. (A video and accompanying communication will be sent out in January.) Thank you for considering how you can take part in this important statement to our global Foursquare family.
Five Missional Targets
Significant progress is being made on the five missional targets that we shared in Columbus this last year. The five targets are Leaders, Churches, Nations, People Groups and Resources. The National Church Office (NCO) has taken the lead on three out of the five (Leaders, Churches and People Groups). There will be an update after the first of the year on these targets that include Leadership Development and Church Planting.
Also, Foursquare Missions International (FMI) is helping to serve the focus on Nations, and with the launch of Foursquare Financial Solutions (FFS), we are laying the groundwork for covering the administrative costs of ICFG so that we can invest 100 percent of our tithe into field ministry.
We continue to make considerable progress in the areas of our financial stewardship. It looks extremely favorable that we will finish this year in the black and realize significant reductions in our delinquent loan exposure. A full financial picture will be given after the first of the year, as well as in Phoenix.
You may recall from our convention business in Columbus, Ohio, the topic of The King’s University building in Van Nuys, Calif. I am pleased to report that the original $14 million loan has been fully recovered. The actual sale closed at $14.75 million. Praise the Lord!
Foursquare Financial Solutions (FFS)
Officially formed on July 1, 2011, FFS is destined to be a world-class financial services organization, bringing the Foundation, Planned Giving, Retirement, Loan Funds, Income Property and Insurance departments under one roof. This will increase financial support to The Foursquare Church and reduce its dependency on the tithe dollar.
The FFS Loan Fund provides loans to Foursquare churches and ministries, and loan certificate investments to individual Foursquare constituents. The Planned Giving department provides personal assistance to help Foursquare ministries and ministers give to kingdom purposes while receiving significant tax savings. The FFS board and the FFS Loan Fund board comprise a balanced mix of talented clergy and experienced, ministry-minded financial and business professionals. You can learn more about FFS at: 4sq.ca/FFS.
Parkview Living: A Foursquare Senior Living Community
Within the last two weeks, you should have received a letter and FAQ that explains this exciting project. Funded by Foursquare Foundation investments (not tithe or operations money), this pilot project in Echo Park is a fulfillment and result of the fruitful legacy of KFSG, the radio station founded by Aimee Semple McPherson. My letter can be read at www.foursquare.org/news/article/parkview_living_announced.
Prayer and Bible Reading Plan for 2012
As mentioned above, the new prayer and Bible reading plan begins on January 1, 2012. If you currently receive the Foursquare Leader Prayer email on Mondays, you will continue to get next year’s. If you’re not getting Foursquare Leader Prayer, please sign up today at foursquare.org/newsletters. You can get a head start on the January readings by reading one chapter of Matthew each day.
We have also received requests to provide this year’s Acts reading in book form. I am pleased to announce that in early 2012, a full compilation of this year’s devotionals, as well as new and revised info, will be available in print and digital formats (e.g., Kindle, iPad). It has been designed specially for small-group study and includes reflection questions after each reading. More to come!
The church is often known more for what it stands against than what it stands for. My prayer is that The Foursquare Church will be known for our battle to rescue those who are victims of injustice, that we will be known for bringing the gospel to ears that have not yet heard, and that we will be known as a movement that contends for the entrance of the power of the Spirit into every facet of our lives and ministries.
Jesus declared that the revelation of who He is would give rise to a church that “the gates of hell shall not prevail against” (Matt. 16:18, KJV). May our fellowship rediscover who He is and, in so doing, find our voice again as Salt and Light to this generation. “Speak: Reclaim Our Voice.” Take some risks; be bold and stay focused on Him!
By: Glenn C. Burris Jr., president of The Foursquare Church