The Power of One

Thomas Yerman sent this passionate call to unity just before the recent elections in the U.S. Now with a divided Congress, his plea is perhaps even more poignant. What can believers do in such a climate? Read on.


We have become a divided nation, In this divided atmosphere, the call for transparency and freedom of speech have now become tools of destruction.

Why should transparency and freedom of speech give a person the right to hurt others? Yet even good things can be abused when used without boundaries. Even God gives freedom with a “fence” around it.

Boundary fences provide us with the freedom to run and play—but also to protect us. Rules of law or guidelines in relationships are so important. Small compromises here can lead to bigger problems down the road. True freedom is not being able to do whatever you want without restrictions. Rather, to be truly free means a freedom to do what you ought—to do things you were unable to do before being set free.

We can clearly see the battles being fought around us. Our nation’s diversity has been used to divide us, blinding us to the commonality and core of our unity. We must step back and see the unseen battle. The fight is not so much Democrat versus Republican, or left versus right, or liberal versus conservative. The ultimate battle is between darkness and light. It’s called Spiritual Warfare. We are all in it, and we can all see the casualties. But we don’t all recognize the bigger picture.

Our national unity is being threatened! We’ve become a nation where people choose not to stand with their hands on their hearts honoring our flag and nation. We allow protesters with covered faces to destroy other people’s properties and assault those with different ideas and beliefs. We have officials influencing acts of incivility toward other leaders. We have teachers training our children to reject and oppose the foundational truths our nation was built on—or viewpoints that don’t agree with their own. We permit and advertise so-called “witches” to put hexes on Justices and leaders. We have a national media and “entertainment shows” unashamed about showing disrespect to the Office of Presidency. And we see justice used as a tool for favoritism.

Whenever we move away from truth, the moral lines of life begin to smear, the character of righteousness fades, and the distinction between right and wrong blur. Truth and its absolutes are overrun and replaced with subjective feelings. Everybody’s sense of what’s right stands opposed to any other views that might disagree with them. Open hearts close and become hardened.

We no longer are teachable and open to truth We are unable to imagine the progress and possibility of moving forward together. We are experiencing what happens to a nation when that nation moves away from the foundation of truth on which it was established. We ignore the influence of our Constitution and Absolute Authority to define what is right and wrong. We have wasted so much time and energy being distracted by our feelings, our pride, and our moral relativism that we became prey to the enemy’s tactics to divide, putting us in danger of forgetting our true identity of being united as One Nation under God!

Though many walk in the spirit of rebellion and denial, we have all been made in the image of God. And God invites his us into a relationship with himself. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me,” (John 14:6-7). Jesus, who revealed God the Father to us, was a model for our humanity, and points the way back to the God.  Truth can divide, but remember that truth must be held above our relationships for the sake of those relationships. It is more than possible that we can celebrate our diversity and yet stand in unity.

It’s time for people to make the right choices and stand united as One Nation under God. God has given his people a message along with the Holy Spirit, who stands behind that message to keep us unified. The Gospel keeps Jesus in the center of our lives so we who believe can be a letter from Christ to the world.

Begin to see yourselves as God sees you:

“…we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing” (2 Corinthians 2:14-15).

“…you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts” (2 Corinthians 3:2-3).

Jesus prayed for unity, that all of us may be one!

“[I pray] for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you…so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me” (John 17:20-23).

If we step back to see the bigger picture and get back to our roots in God, as well as our Constitution as a Nation, we will find a place of unity to move forward together. We are all responsible for our choices and actions.

It is time to stand up! As “Believers of God” in Christ, we are especially equipped and born for such a time as this. We are more than we know. We were made by God and for God. Unless we come to grips with that, life will not make sense, and we will not reach our “together potential.”

There is but one God and one Lord. Unity takes effort, but we have his promise, his power, and his presence. There is power in One. Let’s make it happen!

Tom Yerman is an FCA Pastor ministering at Living Hope Church in Elk Grove Village.

Baptizing the Immobile

by Drew Brattrud

When the coroner left, I felt a deep sense of sadness.

“J” lived in a neighborhood of section 8, government sponsored housing. Riddled with drugs and gangs, the San Bernadino projects seemed to be the end of the line for all who lived there.

A heavy sense of despair hung over the place. There was no hope, no motivation, and no reason to work. It seemed no one there tried to better themselves. Kids, neglected by single mothers, scurried constantly up and down cement stairwells. Out front, older folks sat smoking on porches and steps, staring into the distance, doing nothing. They were waiting, in the middle of the day, as though a parade were about to come down the street.

But nothing was coming. There was no parade. There was no hope in this area frequented by the death team of police and coroners.

Despite all that, however, as I stood in “J’s” small, studio apartment, I found hope. A source of comfort—a piece of paper hanging on an otherwise bare wall.

I had visited “J’s” place numerous times. Each time would end with a prayer to cast out the voices he heard, telling him to “end his life.”

It wasn’t just the voices, however. He knew his liver could not handle the alcohol he kept hidden around his home. But why was he hiding it? He lived alone, alienated from his family by his dysfunctions. I wonder if he was hiding the alcohol from himself, hoping he wouldn’t find it. His drinking had taken almost all his health.

I was blessed, really blessed that he came to our little congregation a dozen years ago when we were starting out as a new church, meeting at J.W. North High School. He had hope in me as a minister—but much more than that, he put his trust in Jesus to save his soul.

I remember when his trembling hand went up to ask Jesus to be his Lord. The following week he wanted to be baptized, but his frail body would not do well being dunked. He had great difficulty walking, often opting for a wheelchair—and he was not light enough for us to carry into the water.

The solution was clear. The following week, I brought in five 5-gallon buckets. After the service we sat him on a bench just outside the door where we met and—to the roar of the congregation—on the count of “in the name of the Father, his Son, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit,” five of us each dumped out a bucket and dowsed him until he was thoroughly drenched.

If they can’t get into the water, bring the water to them. Even today, thinking of his smile brings tears to my eyes.

One room, two chairs, a tiny table for TV dinners, a mini fridge with a microwave on top and one simple decoration—his baptism certificate hanging on the wall.

For me, it was more than a decoration. It was a declaration of hope.

Andrew Brattrud is pastor at
Riverside Christian Assembly
in Riverside, California.

Back to the Altar: Returning to the Place of Divine Encounters

Maybe you’ve noticed a trend in Pentecostal churches—a shift away from altar calls and congregations yearning for an encounter with God. Samuel Rodriguez has.

Rodriguez is the founding and lead pastor of New Season Christian Worship Center (AG) in Sacramento, California. He also serves as the president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, the world’s largest Hispanic Christian organization.

He writes about the need for the altar on the Open Bible website. It’s well worth the read! Click HERE.

 

2018 FCA International Convergence

If you missed the 2018 Convergence — or if you attended and want to revisit some of the highlights — check out the links below.

VIDEOS — Presented at the convention

PICTURES — A gallery of photos from the week in Winnipeg. Have Winnipeg photos of your own to share? You can add them.

RECAP — Roger Armbruster gives a moment-by-moment overview of the people, the events, the speakers, and the atmosphere of the gathering in Winnipeg.

Report on the International Luncheon — Tuesday, May 1 at The Wave Church. Of interest to missionaries and those involved with international connections both in Canada and the United States.

TEACHING — Notes (provided by convention speakers) plus AUDIO of sessions:

Miracle Invasion

So many of the stories we hear about God’s miracles occur in distant lands or happened years in the past. That’s all well and good, but what is God doing today? Miracle Invasion: Amazing true stories of the Holy Spirit’s gifts at work today (Broadstreet Pub Group LLC, 2018) answers that question in dramatic fashion.

If you’ve ever wondered, like Gideon did, “If the Lord is with us…where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about?” (Judges 6:13), Dean Merrill’s latest book may be exactly what you need. 

This is not an over-the-top account of a single supernatural event that occurred in one person’s life. Rather, this is a collection of “everyday” miracles (can we call them that?)—God at work in the lives of ordinary people: healings, words of knowledge, deliverance, abundant provision, and more. Each story underscores a simple truth: the gifts of the Holy Spirit are still at work. Today.

The stories come from many places, but Merrill drew on experiences within the Fellowship of Christian Assemblies for a couple of them. This excerpt is from Miracle Invasion by Dean Merrill and is used by permission.


Lest anyone think that spiritual gifts flow only through pastors, evangelists, and super-saints, consider the cases of two different youth groups—one in western Canada, the other in central United States—that illustrate what the Spirit can do through “just teenagers.”

The Rolling Prayer Meeting

Fort McMurray, Alberta, sits far up in the northern forests—another 435 kilometers (270 miles) northeast of Edmonton, the provincial capital. But it’s no sleepy outpost; it’s the throbbing center of the Athabasca oil sands, where some 2 million barrels of petroleum are extracted every day—much of it headed to the U.S.

Outside of town, however, it’s a long drive through the vast stretches of pine and spruce and birch trees to other population centers. That explains why McMurray Gospel Assembly’s youth group ended up chartering a coach bus a few years back to go to a winter weekend retreat at a sister church in Fort Saint John, British Columbia—eleven hours away. They would roll out well before sunrise on a Friday morning, arrive in time for the evening kickoff, have Saturday meetings, stay through the host church’s two Sunday morning services, and then begin the long trek back east again, not getting home until around midnight.

Paul Vallee, youth pastor at the time, had worked hard to sign up forty-some young people for the trip, plus half a dozen adults. He couldn’t quite convince one sixteen-year-old named Kelsey [pseudonym], however. “I really wish I could go,” she said wistfully, “but every time I take a long trip, it seems I get one of my migraine headaches. And once they start, they just kill me for three days or even four. I can’t risk it.”

The youth pastor thought about the fact that she had gone forward in the church more than once to be anointed with oil and prayed for. Still, her pounding pain and nausea kept coming back. Now he could only say to the girl, “Well, we’ll just have to trust God about that.”

Her girlfriends did some arm-twisting about the retreat, to the point that she finally caved in to their pleading. She happily boarded the bus that early morning with the rest.

However, about an hour and a half down Provincial Highway 63, sure enough … someone came up the aisle to where Paul and his wife, Patty, were sitting in the front row. “Kelsey’s having problems,” the person said. Paul went back to find the girl in excruciating pain. Her eyes had rolled back in their sockets as she gripped her head with both hands. She softly moaned. Concerned teens on all sides leaned up on their knees to see what was unfolding.

Now what? Pastor Paul knew they were still more than an hour from the nearest gas station where her parents could be called (in this pre-cellphone era) to come pick her up. Her suffering was intensifying by the minute. There had to be a better solution.

“Listen up, everybody,” he said suddenly. “She told me this might happen. But we’re going to pray. We’re going to believe God for a miracle.” He then began to lead out in prayer, with the teenagers joining in fervent pleas for divine intervention. From the front to the back, the chorus swelled: “Oh, God, help Kelsey! Please stop this terrible headache! We believe you can do this.” For the next twenty minutes, the bus became a rolling prayer meeting.

In time, the girl’s body seemed to relax slightly from its earlier tension. She slumped back into her seat as the voices subsided, although kids kept praying quietly around her. Paul returned to his seat up front.

It was not long afterward when there was a tap on his shoulder. He looked up, surprised, to see Kelsey herself with a calm demeanor. “This is a miracle, Pastor Paul,” she uttered. “This has never happened in my life!”

She went on to explain: “Once these migraines start, they run their course. But … but … I’m better!” The entire bus broke out in rejoicing and thanks.

Ripple Effect

The Fort McMurray group had much to celebrate when they arrived at the retreat site. Paul Vallee spoke that Friday night on the baptism in the Holy Spirit. God’s presence seemed especially strong in the meeting. “I was done speaking by eight-thirty or nine,” he remembers, “but kids were still at the altar at eleven-thirty, being filled with the Spirit, speaking in tongues, awash in the flow of God. Some said, ‘I don’t even know what’s happening to me’—though I thought I’d done a good job of explaining in my message! It was pretty dramatic.

“The Holy Spirit’s move was so strong throughout the weekend that when we got back onto the bus Sunday afternoon to start home, kids were still weeping as we drove. They came home and began starting their days on their knees before the Lord. Parents said to me, ‘What’s happened to my kid? I go by his room in the early morning and see a light under the door. If I knock and he says, ‘Come in,’ he’s there with his Bible open, and he’s praying!”

Some youth group members began voluntarily tossing out unhealthy media they’d collected, without any sermons on the subject. The Holy Spirit was doing his own deep, internal work in their hearts.

Soon the senior pastor asked if some of the teens might want to share their recent experience with a Sunday night audience of adults. Paul Vallee thought they might be intimidated—but when he put the question to the group, a total of thirty-two hands went up. It turned out to be one of the most memorable services the church had ever experienced.

Kelsey and her family ended up moving back east to Newfoundland but stayed in touch with their Fort McMurray friends. Several years later, her update came through: “Since that day on the bus, I’ve never had a single migraine.” God had done a permanent miracle in her body.


Dean Merrill, long-time member of the FCA, is a former magazine editor and writer best known for his award-winning collaborations with such Christian leaders as Jim Cymbala (Brooklyn Tabernacle), Wess Stafford (Compassion International), and Gracia Burnham (Philippine missionary hostage survivor).

Want to read more? You can order a copy of Miracle Invasion at Amazon.comBN.com, or CBD.com.