Author: fcaministers

2018 FCA International Convergence*

*Convergence: “the converging and connecting of distinct identities, ethnicities and nations into a unified whole.”

Mark Your Calendars!

The 2018 Fellowship of Christian Assemblies International Convergence is coming May 1 to 4 to Manitoba, Winnipeg RadissonCanada, to be held at Winnipeg’s Radisson Hotel. Plan now to attend this international gathering, bringing together delegates from multiple nations for inspiration and challenge. A reminder to U.S. citizens: You will need a current U.S. passport to travel to Canada.

International Delegates Coming to the 2018 Convergence!

Delegates from FCA partners in South America and Africa are making plans to attend. Their participation will greatly enrich our time together as a truly international convergence of the nations! Many of these leaders from third world nations share the same DNA as the FCA churches in North America. They have vision for local churches to train, equip, and send workers, making disciples at home and abroad. It is a vision for transformation beginning in their own families, communities, and nations—and then spreading to other nations.

The international delegates are receiving letters of welcome from Winnipeg City Councilor, Scott Gillingham, and from the Hon. Scott Fielding, Minister of Families with the Manitoba Provincial Cabinet.

God Is Doing a New Thing!

The Spirit of God is rising up from within the nations, and many church leaders from third world countries have much to teach us about raising up leaders who will reproduce disciples for the next generation.

We also expect that the Winnipeg Convergence will witness the glory of the Lord arising from among the First Nations in Manitoba, right in the heart of the continent!

Winnipeg has the largest urban native population of any city in Canada, and we are blessed to have some 25 First Nations ministers licensed and ordained with the FCA in Manitoba alone—people of history and destiny, showcasing God’s kingdom authority to release grace, forgiveness and the joy of God’s presence to bring healing to our lands! The native Cree word, Manitoba, refers to the place where the Creator sits and from where he speaks! Many believe there is a prophetic mantle upon this province, flowing from the Father’s heart through the hearts of First Nation believers who have been healed of their deepest wounds.

“Make a joyful shout to the LORD, all you lands! Serve the LORD with gladness, come before His presence with singing” (Psalm 100:1-3).

“Oh sing to the LORD a new song! Sing to the LORD all the earth. Proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day. Declare His glory among the nations, His wonders among all peoples” (Psalm 96:1-3).

Making disciples to make disciples from all nations is global vision—a grassroots movement within every nation. We are starting in the FCA to connect nation-to-nation with a growing, locally based vision!

This movement is growing out of the depths of people’s hearts, working its way upward and outward, demonstrating that God is indeed doing a “new thing.” He had the first word in creation; he will also have the last word in history!

Don’t miss the 2018 FCA International Convergence coming to Winnipeg this spring! Watch for registration information coming right after the New Year.

—News item submitted by Roger Armbruster, Sr.
Pastor of Maranatha (Niverville), Manitoba

 

FCA Connections in Africa

The U.S. FCA lead elder, John Sprecher and Beau Lee, a church planter in Manhattan, NY, recently returned from attending the Nigerian FCA conference.

Beau Lee, missionary from LifeChurch in New York City, teaches at the Nigerian FCA Conference.

“I believe this was a very significant trip—on many levels,” reports Sprecher. Two primary areas of significant impact were in the teaching ministry at the conference and in the developing relationships among the delegations from various African nations.

Sprecher and Lee spoke and taught at the convention. Lee taught the concept of “tent-making”—working for pay in the community while serving in ministry at no charge. The fact that Lee is “tent-making” himself in New York City added to his credibility. He was touched by the similarities between Nigeria and Haiti, having previously spent seven months there seeing poverty firsthand. Besides helping pastors, the “tent-making” approach is hoped to encourage business people to use spiritual gifts in developing more ministries.

They also addressed theological distortions and extremes in Nigeria—such as the “seed faith” teaching where pastors urge people to give everything in hopes of receiving material blessings, as well as the principle of tithing the increase and not “eating the seed.” Lee has set up a closed Facebook group as a forum for their ongoing discussion and interaction.

Another significant development at the conference was the increasing connections between FCA ministers from various African countries. Five Liberian leaders were present—as well as delegates from Ethiopia, Cameroon, and Ivory Coast—further integrating what God is doing through various FCA connections in Africa.

Pastor Kelvin Leo Seneh from Liberia, preaching at the Nigerian FCA Conference.

African FCA leaders met to determine the next steps in their developing relationship. Some newer members suggested naming an African “secretariat,” but Bishop Success Samuel (from Nigeria) and Kelvin Leo Seneh (from Liberia) explained that would be inconsistent with the character of the FCA. The group then decided that the FCA in each nation would remain distinct and independent—but connected in partnership with each other, similar to the FCA in Canada and the United States.

The attenders were enthused about their new relationships, and many are already planning to be in Liberia in February while also looking forward to another “official” African conference in 2019, possibly in Cameroon.

Bishop Success reported that 13 new members have joined the Nigerian FCA, which now has about 90 churches and 220 ministers.

Some meetings were held in the unfinished FCA Bible School.

The FCA Bible School is now meeting in a building erected with the help of U.S. donations. When completed, it will have five classrooms each holding about 40 students, a double-sized room, two offices, and two bathrooms. The building currently has no doors or windows, but it handles 28 students as they are able to use what they have. Another dozen students or so meet at another site. Additional monies have been made available for some students as partial scholarships as matching funds when they pay their own tuition.

Sprecher observes, “Without question we are seeing a coming together of a truly African FCA, and I am honored to have the opportunity to see it develop.” He notes that while there will undoubtedly be ongoing challenges and much work to be done, there is far more to be encouraged about.

Lead Elder John Sprecher and Bishop Success Samuel.

—This article was drawn from information provided by John Sprecher, U.S. FCA Lead Elder

How to Pray When Tragedy Strikes

By Scott Neubauer

There have been no shortage of heart-wrenching tragedies in just the past few months. 2017 has been the deadliest year for mass shootings in modern history, with Las Vegas and now Sutherland Springs, Texas, being the most recent. In addition, hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria wreaked havoc in Houston, Florida, and Puerto Rico; a major earthquake devastated part of Mexico.

After each one, you’ll undoubtedly begin to see the photos emblazoned with, “Pray For (Insert Location of Latest Disaster or Tragedy)” begin to flood social media. These will be followed by another chorus of those saying thoughts and prayers are meaningless in light of such tragedy.

If we believe that our God is, “a hearer of prayer,” as Psalm 65 says, then true prayer is not trite or inactive: it’s powerful and an entirely appropriate and necessary response in the face of tragedy. But while it’s easy to post, “Pray for Texas,” it’s harder to actually do it.

“How do I pray?”
“What do I pray for?”
“Who do I pray for?”

I’d like to offer just a few ways I believe we can pray biblically when disaster or tragedy strikes:

1. Pray that those affected receive God’s comfort.

Many Scriptures speak of how God comforts the brokenhearted (Ps. 34:18, Ps. 147:3, Ps. 94:19, Matt 5:4, Is. 43:2), but if you’ve ever been around someone experiencing grief, you know that they need to be willing to be comforted. The question is not whether God will comfort the grieving, it’s whether the grieving will be open to receive it.

2 Corinthians 1:5 tells us the more abundant the suffering, the more abundant God’s comfort. So when you pray, pray that those affected would be open and ready to receive the comfort and peace that only God can provide.

2. Pray against fear.

Scripture is clear that the enemy comes to, “steal, kill, and destroy,” and one of the ways he does that through tragic events like these — beyond those directly affected — is by bringing a spirit of fear.

If we are not prayerful and confident of who we are in Christ, we can easily become crippled by a spirit of fear. Afraid to go to the mall, afraid to board a plane, afraid to go a large city. Pray for courage, confidence, and peace to prevail over fear, especially in the hearts of Christians. If our Savior has truly conquered death, then there is nothing to fear, not even death.

3. Pray for restoration.

Few people in all of humanity have faced an onslaught of disaster and tragedy like Job, and yet, in Job 42:10, we read,

“And the LORD restored the fortunes of Job, when he had prayed for his friends. And the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before.”

Our God is a restorer. Our God takes the broken pieces left from tragic situations and turns them into something beautiful. We can be confident in this, and pray towards this end for those facing their darkest hour.

4. Pray for the attackers.

This may be the most difficult prayer to pray.

In situations where an terrorist or attacker has embodied pure evil by taking innocent lives — and survives — we are called to pray for them. Why can Jesus say with such confidence to, “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”? Because our battle is not with them. They are not the enemy.

The evil powers and principalities at work in the supernatural realm are the true enemies. When we are praying in situations like these, we must ask God to open our eyes to see the spiritual realm where the real battle is taking place.

How to Pray When We Don’t Know How to Pray

Still not sure how to pray? The disciples didn’t know how to pray. They asked Jesus and He answered. I believe the Holy Spirit will teach us, if we just ask.

“The greatest tragedy of life is not unanswered prayer, but unoffered prayer.”
—F.B. Meyer


Scott Neubauer is pastor of Watershed Church in Elgin, Illinois. Read more from Scott’s blog here.

The Safest Place

by John Sprecher

The past few years have seen significant social upheaval challenging the status quo. Prejudice against African Americans mistreated by the police and others has been called out, and the Black Lives Matter movement which began after police shootings in a number of cities. More recently women have responded en-mass to revelations of sexual abuse, assault, and rape occurring in Hollywood and the corporate world.

Sadly, racism, abuse, and other injustice have occurred—some hidden, some exposed—even in the church. Nevertheless, I’m convinced that the church of Jesus Christ holds the only REAL HOPE for our world. The Apostle Peter says that judgment begins “at the house of God” (1 Peter 4:17), so when we point fingers at others, we also ought to examine ourselves. For instance, have we been willing to truly obey the instructions written by the Apostle John? “If someone says ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.” (1 John 4: 20-21, NKJV)

The challenge we face is to define what love looks like in a practical way in our communities of faith. Too often, those who are involved in wrongful behavior simply say, If you love me you’ll allow me to continue to do what I’m doing. Jesus’ comment to the woman taken in adultery is often quoted as justification: “Neither do I condemn you”; but his concluding statement (“go and sin no more”) is conveniently neglected (John 8:11). Real love holds us accountable for our actions and seeks the best for another person. It would probably be beneficial from time to time to remind ourselves of Paul’s definition of love in 1 Corinthians 13, where the primary focus is seeking the best for someone and not trying to maintain power, position, or prestige.

We can learn to love others by stirring our congregations to work for good with other believers, different denominations, and ethnic backgrounds. A number of our churches have intentionally engaged immigrants and those of color by bringing them together to understand each other better, and to care for one another.

As a result of intentional connections over the years, I’ve had the privilege of preaching at Sunday morning services at half a dozen primarily African American congregations in the city where I live. When we know each other, the suspicion goes down and the trust goes up.

I was profoundly influenced as a young teen when a black family joined our all white church in Madison Wisconsin. I will never forget my reaction when my mom told me in the early 1960s that they could not buy a house in a certain part of the city simply because they were black. Something rose up in me that has never left, and I blurted out “That’s not fair, they’re George and Doris.” It wasn’t about race; it was about my friends whose children I played with and with whom we worshiped every Sunday.

The church should be the safest place in the world—especially for the most vulnerable. That’s why we need to do all we can to protect our children, our women, our minorities and any suffering injustice. That’s why we need to truly show the love of Christ who said, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:13, NKJV). We must lay aside our prejudice, our blindness, and embody the love of Jesus Christ.

John Sprecher, after serving for decades as a pastor in Rockford, Illinois, is now the Lead Elder of the Fellowship of Christian Assemblies in the U.S.