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Pentecostal World Conference focuses on emerging generations

By John Maempa in Surabaya, Indonesia

Pentecostal leaders from around the world gathered July 17-21 to acknowledge the spiritual messages a new generation of Christians is raising. Gathering under the theme “Pentecost Today: Impartation to Impact the World,” delegates from 34 nations convened in the 20,000-seat auditorium of Bethany Church in Surabaya, Indonesia, for the 21st triennial conference of the Pentecostal World Fellowship.

Opening ceremonies filled the sprawling, dome-shaped auditorium. A parade of flags from countries represented in attendance included Botswana, Brazil, Cambodia, Cameroon, Ghana, Hong Kong, Japan, Liberia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Singapore, Slovakia, Sri Lanka, Sweden, United Arab Emirates and Zimbabwe.

Events of the conference included morning plenary sessions, a slate of 28 workshops, and evening rallies. All meetings had near- or at-capacity seating. Multiplied hundreds of attendees responded to altar calls for salvation, healing and God’s direction in their lives.

Brian Houston, president of the Assemblies of God in Australia, focused on the importance of empowering the next generation, a theme that surfaced numerous times during the conference. Though fathers generally represent knowledge and experience and sons represent the unknown, the untried, the unproven, and unpredictable, Houston warned that human nature wants to keep things tied to the known and predictable.

“God thinks and moves generationally,” declared Houston, pastor of the 20,000-member Hillsong Church of Sydney and overseer of more than 1,100 churches across Australia. “We must not try to pump new life into the ways of the fathers, but move forward toward the sons, moving from the predictable to the unpredictable.”

PWF Chairman James Leggett, general superintendent of the International Pentecostal Holiness Church in Oklahoma City, challenged Pentecostals to keep the fire burning.

“Jesus’ passion is for His church to have the fire of God,” Leggett stated. “We must have that passion for the fire and pass it on to our sons and daughters.” Leggett noted that the fire of God releases women for ministry, breaks down racial and cultural barriers, brings the supernatural in the Church, and empowers the Church to cover the earth with the gospel.

William Morrow, general superintendent of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada, addressed key issues of oppression, poverty and lack of opportunity for many people around the world.

“As long as there is suffering, the Church must be the voice of hope, life and healing,” Morrow said. He emphasized the importance of investing in emerging generations. “Younger leaders are more interested in function and results rather than in traditional ways of defining purpose and authority,” he said. “If we learn to understand the younger generation, we can join together to reach the world.”

Dag Heward-Mills of Ghana, founder of Lighthouse Chapel International, a charismatic denomination with more than 400 branches, said many Christians have forgotten a message of suffering often is required to see God’s work accomplished.

“We have many big churches with lots of money, but they are powerless to bear fruit,” Heward-Mills said. “Sacrifice and suffering release God’s power. Jesus paid with His life. We must be willing to do the same.”

Prince Guneratnam, president of Calvary International Ministries, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, focused on the need to invest in emerging leaders within the Pentecostal movement.

“There is a great need for leaders as we move closer to the coming of Christ,” Guneratnam said. He cited his own experience as a young minister benefiting greatly from established leaders who supported him. By age 28 he was elected general superintendent of the Assemblies of God in Malaysia. Guneratnam noted that he developed as a leader because spiritual fathers had faith in him.

“They didn’t see failure as final,” Guneratnam said.

Charles Crabtree, assistant general superintendent of the U.S. Assemblies of God, urged the delegation to believe fully in the promises of God.

“Some people spend too much time trying to understand the process, but God is bigger than our thought processes,” Crabtree said. “We need to come away from trying to understand the ways of God and know He is able to accomplish what is needed. The power of the Holy Spirit is greater than all our problems.”

Crabtree cautioned against dwelling on nostalgic memories to the point of thwarting future accomplishments.

“History is a beautiful place to visit, but a terrible place to live,” Crabtree declared. “God’s promises are bigger than doubting and unbelief. Nothing can stand against the Pentecostal movement if we stand on the promises of God.”

Jack Hayford, president of the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, warned against the tendency to be impressed with achievements.

“When we become preoccupied with success, we succumb to the temptation to measure our successes against one another,” Hayford said. “Comparisons are outside of God’s order of things.” Hayford noted further that young leaders are particularly vulnerable to the success syndrome.

Four members of the PWF Executive Committee were re-elected July 18 to serve the 2007-2010 term. Bishop James Leggett of the United States will return as chairman. Other re-elected officers are Lamar Vest (U.S.) as vice-chairman, Prince Guneratnam (Malaysia) as secretary and Isak Burger (South Africa) as officer.

The 22nd Pentecostal World Conference will convene in Stockholm, Sweden, in August 2010.

JOHN MAEMPA is director of the National Prayer Center for the Assemblies of God. The Pentecostal World Conference marked the completion of his term as president of the International Pentecostal Press Association board of directors.

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4872 • 9/23/07

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