Greetings after a long, hard day in Trujillo!
I need to start this report by going back several years. In my fourth or fifth year of ministry in the Evangelical Church of Christ of Peru, the denomination felt like God was leading them to establish five-fold ministry in the church, based on Ephesians 4:11, 12. At that time they asked me to serve as the denomination’s pastor, a role I was willing to gladly accept.
But the following year they asked me to serve as apostle, a role I was very hesitant to accept for several reasons. One reason was concern about what my evangelical partners would think. Traditional evangelical theology says there were only thirteen apostles—the twelve including Judas Iscariot’s replacement, Matthias, plus Paul. My own belief is that none of the five-fold offices has been done away with.
Another reason was to what I felt was a lack of qualification for the office. Apostles are spiritual fathers and church planters. And, though I am a spiritual father to many, I’ve not planted churches. A third reason is there are so many self-proclaimed apostles running around, and I did not want to be identified with them.
When I met with the denomination’s leaders to discuss their request, I intended to tell them I would not accept. However, I asked the president, Juan de Dios Huaman, what they would do if I declined, and he began to weep. Through his tears he said, “We have to do what God has instructed to do,” and I found myself saying, “Yes.” Since that time I have referred to myself as “a leader in the denomination” but generally avoided the title.
Thursday, during an afternoon session of the conference, I sensed the Holy Spirit saying, “You need to quit apologizing for the apostolic office and start functioning in it. They didn’t call you to that office; I did.” Then, just after I spoke the first time today, I heard Him say, “Don’t do what you think an apostle should do; be one.” I AM NOT AN APOSTLE AT LARGE; I am a pastor, and I won’t use the title or refer to myself in that office outside the realm of the denomination I serve in Lima. I know many of my friends will be uncomfortable with the idea, but I have a mandate from God to function in the office to which I’m called in the Evangelical Church of Christ of Peru. And all this is background for today’s messages.
The first message late this morning was taken from 1 Samuel 17, the story of David and Goliath. In the story Saul is a type of the old generation of leadership and David the new. It begins with David’s response to his brother Eliab’s criticism, to which David replied, “…is there not a cause. “Cause” is more accurately translated “word”…”Is there not a word?” David had a word from God, that this uncircumcised Philistine should be stopped. I would love to expand on this thought further, but this is a report, not a book!
Secondly, David had a willingness to fight Goliath. Third, when Saul said he was too young, David shared a witness—his testimony about killing the lion and bear. And, finally, David ha a way, using the ability God had given him, specifically his skill with the sling.
But the real message was that David was released to fight Saul, but Saul expected to use the king’s method—his armor—in fighting Goliath. Today our denomination is losing its young pastors and leaders because the church won’t release them. Or, when they do release them, they refuse to allow them to use new methods. My charge, based on the story, was 1)Listen to what the younger leaders are saying; 2)Release them to ministry; 3)Allow them to used what God has given them, and don’t force them to use the old methods; and 4) Don’t be jealous of their success.
I concluded the message by having the pastors over 40 to come forward—there were 16—and the pastors under forty—2—and those who felt they were called to pastoral ministry to come forward. After praying for both groups, I encouraged the over 40 crowd to embrace the under 40’s and mentor them. Response to the message was excellent.
I’m going to save this evening’s service for the next report. It, too, will take a little background explanation.
I couldn’t do what I’m doing this week without your prayers and support. Thank you for lifting me before the Lord. Tomorrow I preach in Pastor Primitivo and Daisy’s church, then back to Lima. God bless.