Hi everyone, Chris Cartwright here on behalf of Elim’s National Leadership Team.
I want to bring you our greetings at the start of a new year and pray for a year of extending and stepping forward in God. We are living in a time when, all around the world, the Holy Spirit is awakening the church with fresh expectancy. It is my belief and it is also my prayer, that as we respond to that, the Holy Spirit will lead us into some adventures in reaching people for Jesus in some surprising ways. He will quicken us to follow the call of Jesus.
We are living in very challenging times, times of incredible conflicts and immense pressure, both in local senses in our communities and our own lives but also around the world. And in the midst of that, it can seem like things are not changing the way that we expect. And yet, God is a God of awakening. He’s a God who, in every season, wants to awaken his people to trust him, to serve him, to reach out with his presence, his power, and his amazing compassion and love.
And so, in this season, we are expectant for God to do something really significant in the familiar places where we are, to come with fresh power and fresh vision and fresh hope. And he wants to use us. Back in June of last year, I had the privilege of being in Amsterdam for a conference of Pentecostal and Charismatic Leaders with thousands of others from all over the world, 120 plus nations. And we were being called together under the banner of the Empowered Network to reach everyone for Christ over the next decade.
That ‘everyone’ message, that banner, caught our hearts afresh. ‘Everyone’ means everyone. It means every person, every child, every young person, every family, every culture, every community, to have the opportunity to hear for themselves the Gospel of Jesus and to know that he loves each one personally. And they were calling us to use our combined efforts and resources, our plans and visions for evangelism and outreach together for the sake of the kingdom of God, for the sake of global as well as local evangelism.
My heart was stirred there, but also in Elim churches right throughout the year when I had the privilege of being with our local Elim church communities. I’ve heard stories of fresh faith, new people coming to Christ and finding what it is to know him, to love him, and to serve him. One of the best measures of that is that we’re hearing so many stories of baptisms. Churches, perhaps that haven’t had a baptism in quite some time, have found over this past year that people are at the point of wanting to follow Jesus and they’ve opened the baptism tank and rejoiced together. We’ve got so much to be thankful for.
Others have had multiple services; some are planning some for the coming weeks and months. And I want to encourage you that as we begin to set our hearts afresh before God this year, many churches are praying with deep conviction and passion and stirring with fresh faith in prayer for God to break out more in their community. They’re praying for the town, the city, the area, the region, and the nation. Some of you will be having on your hearts nations far off and people groups that aren’t yet reached. And God is stirring that fresh spirit of prayer so that we might be committed together and full of fresh faith for evangelism, for reaching everyone everywhere in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Can I encourage you to, together as a church community and you as an individual, to begin to prepare your hearts with expectancy that he can use you where you are? God still comes. Jesus still comes to real people in real places going through real things, and he wants to lead us day by day to people who don’t yet know him.
In the midst of that, there’s also- as well as a fresh call for evangelism and a fresh expectancy that comes, that people are going to come to Christ- there is this call to equipping. In Matthew’s gospel, he said the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. That maybe you don’t see it, but the harvest is plentiful. People are ready to come to me, but I need workers. And so he says, pray for those workers. But also, he begins to encourage them to be those workers and to make, equip, train, coach, and mentor others into finding that God wants to use them too. That Jesus can use them where they are.
So, Ephesians 4:11, this equipping call is for us this year. It’s to equip God’s people for their ministry and not just to be concerned with our own. I believe that this is a year of accelerated evangelism, of fresh faith in familiar places for the people that we’re with, and for an acceleration of equipment. That every local church will be raising those workers. That as the Holy Spirit moves in our area, we’ve got people ready to love them, to care for them, to nurture them, to lead them, to encourage them, and to go out with them into the community, the neighbourhood, the town, the place with freshness of faith and hope, and with the power of the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit changes people when they come in surrender to Jesus. So, God bless you this year. May this year be a time of yes, of stretching, but of Holy Spirit surprises, of great news stories, of new people coming to faith in Jesus, and all of us finding our place as Jesus calls us together into his harvest fields. God bless.
God bless you!