Within the short two months since I began serving you, I have basically been doing the same thing I've been doing for the past 45+ years--pastoring! But the privilege of writing you, yourself an experienced and pastorally prepared servant, causes me to feel peculiarly challenged at this moment.
My reason for writing is to accountably provide you with current awareness of things taking place--things that shape our life as a community of leaders. But, at this particular moment, as I've sat down to write you, I am "peculiarly challenged" in this: To a degree unmatched at any other season, Christmas brings out the "shepherd" in me. And right now, I'm finding it impossible to "get to the business" at hand without reaching out my hand...to touch yours--a respected fellow servant of Jesus. Why?
Because, from the moment I sat down to write, the words of Isaiah 40:1-2 began pulsating in my mind, seeming to "enlarge my heart for you." So while asking you for about 20 minutes with this letter, I feel compelled to take the first 2 minutes to share something strongly resonating in my spirit; something possibly for you, personally. It centers in God's word: read it aloud, would you--
“Comfort, yes comfort My people!” says your God.
Speak comfort to Jerusalem and cry out to her, that
her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned.”
This letter isn't a Christmas letter (a card was already mailed), and I don't wish to pretend to preach you a Christmas sermon. Because you labor with such dedication--seeking to care for and feed those you serve--I have one word from His Word: Let me underline it as He repeatedly does--"Comfort!"
Over 35 years ago, this text transformed my approach to public ministry. I was so gripped by God's call, both to receive and to give "comfort," that the texture and tone of my communication was permanently altered. Suddenly--in a brief but life-changing moment--I recognized (1) how much God's heart longs to embrace human experience with arms of comfort and forgiveness, and (2) how much He wants all who speak for Him to reach with His grace in that spirit: embracing to comfort.
Not knowing, of course, exactly what you may be feeling or facing as we approach Christmas 2004 but knowing we all intermittently are plagued by doubts, assailed by condemnation, and are often wearied-though-faithful warriors, I want to extend His comfort, His embrace and His reminder to...
...be at peace, for "your warfare is accomplished," and cast every burden on the One who bore it all--and conquered--at the Cross; then, ...relay His peace—giving the comfort of Christmas to all you touch and serve. "’Tis the season to..." give the gift of COMFORT; like the Apostle Paul to his flock, let's give from the resource we've received (1 Cor. 1:4).
Now, In Seeking To Update You
I'm grateful for a blest beginning in office, but it has been one of whirlwind proportions, as I have tried to (1) cultivate “team” in the L.A. offices; (2) make “seeking God” primary in all our pursuits, and (3) look ahead and be open to the mind of the Holy Spirit. Now, to update you, as in my first letter I am presenting a collection of 1-page reports and announcements:
Believe me, please--all my correspondences to you will not be as lengthy and content-laden as this, my second. But there's a lot to "catch up" and "patch up," so join me please along the issues in the following three points.
FIRST: I want to report on a wonderful event of HEALING.
I am receiving feedback from many of the 150 of our primary leaders who were present on Tuesday evening, October 26, at a service I was privileged to lead when John and Doris Holland were brought back into our fellowship. In my last letter, I reported our efforts toward bringing this about under God’s grace. That task was pursued, and revealed abundant evidence of our adversary’s success in blinding, binding, and wearying souls for years.
This is not to suggest I found anyone resistant to such a restoration. There have been many questions and uncertainties because John's severe illness at the time made follow through and communication virtually impossible. But as I worked with and inquired of all the key leaders--board members from that time as well as others--two things emerged: (1) Every individual was fully embracing and favorable, saying, "We want to welcome John and Doris back." (2) No individual could clearly explain--from either side--why nothing had been done during the seven years since John had resigned from the presidency, having served from 1988 until 1997. So, anyone would logically ask, “Why did barricades of inaction persist?” And I want to answer, forcibly.
Please hear me, and refuse the notion that the explanation I am giving is a cheap facade for some undisclosed secret: Whatever human failures or apparent blockage to restoration until now, the absolute and verifiable truth is that it has been manipulated by a satanic stronghold, not by human hands.
I don't want to belabor this, but, at some point, we as a collective body of leaders in our movement need to identify and confront the strategies of the adversary--not only against any of us personally, but against us as a church because--
Unless we choose to face the stark realities of the adversary’s hatred toward all our leaders (including you), toward all our unity (notwithstanding our gifted individuality), and toward all the Foursquare Church (in all its diversity), we are never going to experience the full measure of breakthrough our Lord Jesus has for our movement!
As I investigated, conversed, sought counsel and insight, I was amazed (though none of us should ever be surprised!) to discover how sinister and successful our adversary had been in stonewalling, and how effective he had been at sustaining a separation. But now, I want to offer high praise to God. I'm grateful for the way the occasion, led by John and Doris' personal request for forgiveness, brought a ready response from others who expressed our Foursquare family's regret for the long delay in bringing such a reconciliation about. Heartfelt words were spoken by many of our leaders, following which it was my privilege to lead all of us in observing the Lord's Table as we worshipped together. Reunion and reconciliation have taken place, so now let us pursue the restoration that will complete the Hollands’ full re-entry into the stream of our family life. They will be joining us for convention this coming year, and, further, I have asked John to receive appointment as an international ambassador and minister-at-large among us. That is an apt and respectable title for any former president, and I'm thankful he has accepted. (This will be an unsalaried role, and the Hollands will continue preaching and teaching across the nation and in many circles, just as they have been doing in recent years. Their office is based at 10117 McVine Avenue, Sunland, CA 91040. If you wish, write or send a card of greeting--welcoming them "home.")
In this regard--and in the light of God's hand at work in this healing, I want to submit to you a possible point of faith's expectation: I believe the Holy Spirit is saying, “As you open the door to this healing, let your faith rise to expect a flow of healings in many matters within your entire fellowship. Expect relational healings, physical healings, and the healing of marital and church problems.”
My sense and perception is--This "word" prompting our faith is available to any to whom it is quickened by the Spirit. And, because we as a movement are seeking to "sow unto righteousness" in the spirit of healing reconciliation, God is giving us reason to expect a harvest throughout our ranks. So as you may be moved to receive it, and as we agree, I believe we will witness God dismantling other strongholds of adversarial contrivance--in Jesus’ Name!!
SECOND: I want to advise you of an unusually significant meeting.
Let me begin with some background: Last spring, each nominee for president was asked to write responses to several questions. Answering one question required that we describe our earliest priorities if we were to be called to this office. One of mine, I indicated, was that I would call a national leadership summit, in the spirit of Ezra 8:21, that we might “seek from God the right way for us and our little ones and all our possessions.”
Accordingly, I have been planning this, and I have called a group comprising all of our supervisors, board, cabinet, and a few others to set aside three days in mid-January to seek God together. With that, I am asking if you would do what Ezra asked all the people to do: Even though a small group were facing the responsibility of primary leadership, he requested that all the people fast and pray for the group’s direction. So my request is that you would consider fasting at least one day during the first week of January in order to focus prayer for that summit.
We will not be there to lay plans, but we will be coming together to “hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches.” The power of your partnership--of your supporting prayer going before us--is the immeasurable gift I’m asking for. Let me tell you the reason for my asking this--something of a desperate heart cry for your place in prayer beside us.
I have no question that each leader’s heart is as mine: None of us presumes that "position" guarantees wisdom. We need God's wisdom as we come together to inquire how we might join with you in discerning, being equipped for, and serving the distinct mission He has for us as a collective people called “Foursquare.” Finding that will never shape a grid that overrides the fullest release of the many and massive, unique and wonderful individual churches and ministries we have in our family. But it will release principles, concepts, and resources that can effect an ever-expanding role of local, national, and global influence for the Glory of God. So, we seek, “His way for us,” and thank you for reaching out to join with us before God’s Throne.
THIRD: Please think with me toward May 30-June 2.
I feel very vulnerable to have written you as I have on the enclosed page entitled, Chicago Convention ’05. There, I have articulated my heart and thoughts concerning our convention in Chicago this year. I hope to express how deeply, how strongly, I believe God wants to put His hand upon these days—to draw us to Himself and to ignite something fresh among us.
I have been privileged to lead many conferences myself through the years, but have never provided leadership for our convention. My experience in both speaking at and leading hundreds of conferences is this: Whenever God finds true hunger and thirsting, His Spirit begins to move where hearts truly welcome Him. Now, as we are reaching out to build the team who will plan for Chicago’05, we all want to urge you to plan to participate in that gathering.
There is a distinct hope that is laying hold of my spirit. It's that, in some new way, by some new, fresh grace of God among us, EVERY SERVANT constituting our Foursquare leadership--you and each one I write just now--will experience affirmation and advancement of individual value and position in our ministry as a team.
One of our leading pastors wrote me: "I desire to see each one leave our meetings more in love with Jesus, with one another and with our Foursquare family. May each gathering bring a deeper sense of comprehension that helps them return home (that way)." I called him, enthusiastic to thank him, and I assured him of my gratitude and mutual passion for the same.
However, we have habits--habits and thoughts and practices that we will have to overcome. Convention becomes too hurried, and as I've written you in the enclosed invitation, it takes time to keep a divine appointment. So begin now with me, will you? I believe we can experience more than having a few services (however good), clapping hands over a few songs and hearing a few messages (however inspiring), seeing a few friends (however fulfilling), and cramming in a few business meetings (however important).
I think you'll agree it’s setting out to see “what might happen if we all came together--with time to seek Him, time to love one another, and time to give God first place.” So, I'm proposing we come to Chicago to expect a very human yet very holy, nonreligious yet desperately real visitation of "naturally supernatural" working of the Spirit of God manifesting Jesus in our midst. As I have contemplated exactly what I felt in saying, “Holy Spirit Come,” I began outlining ways I would ask that He reveal Himself and that He might come...
...as the Spirit of Love, as the Spirit of Truth, as the Spirit of Life; ...as the Spirit of Fire, as the Spirit of Healing, as the Spirit of Grace; and finally, as He magnifies Jesus Christ among us, dominates all as we submit to His authority, and comes as the Spirit of God in manifest glory!
So, with those words I conclude. Thank you for taking time with me and, do, please, read the accompanying pages. I hope you will grow to sense the heartfelt desire all of us serving you here in Los Angeles have for you, and for your joy in serving the Savior, being fruitful as you labor, and finding peace in all with whom you live and serve. You are in our prayers.
Sincerely your brother in grace,
Pastor Jack Hayford