December 31, 2000: California church trailblazer for city's revitalization
December 24, 2000: New Jersey township retracts impediment to A/G congregation
December 10, 2000: Christmas stocking project brings hope, gifts to needy kids
November 26, 2000: A/G church looks to second half-century with founding pastor
November 19, 2000: Quest for souls occupies Christians during Olympics
November 12, 2000: Three ministers reaching their world
October 29, 2000: A/G Minister to ride to each state capitol, pray for nation
October 22, 2000: Art academy connects students with Creator
October 15, 2000: Columbine survivors share testimonies, hundreds respond
September 24, 2000: Independent congregation receives help from Lousiana A/G church
September 17, 2000: California ministry team breaking strongholds
August 27, 2000: Bold outreach touches hurting in Allentown
August 20, 2000: Baptist church gives A/G congregation its facility
August 13, 2000: Climbers conquer Kilimanjaro, help A/G
July 9, 2000: New Mexico fires damage A/G families homes
June 25, 2000: God moves in Mississippi high school assembly
June 18, 2000: California skate park becomes 'teen church'
June 11, 2000: Convoy and partners team up to reach poor
May 28, 2000: Tornado damages A/G church in Texas
May 21, 2000: National Prayer Center ministry expands reach
May 14, 2000: Adventure, ministry on Pathfinder missions
April 30, 2000: Church reaching deaf students in Louisiana
April 23, 2000: 40-day fasts unite, renew A/G churches
April 9, 2000: Colorado church booms with bilingual services
March 26, 2000: Cell groups strengthen California youth group
March 19, 2000: Michigan church bounces back from brink of closing
March 12, 2000: A/G man holds world arm-wrestling title
February 27, 2000: A/G minister helps others get their wings
February 20, 2000: Former editor with Christ
Graham conducts final evangelism conference
Editors note: James O. Davis, national evangelists representative for the Assemblies of God, spoke at Amsterdam 2000 and served on the 16-person Program Committee. Regarding the historical gathering, he says, "At the beginning of the first century, church leaders met in Antioch (Acts 15) to discuss the vision and mission of the church. At the beginning of the 21st century, the church gathered again. In the years ahead, historians will record its impact, theologians will discuss its biblical imperatives and church leaders will be seen applying the principles outlined at Amsterdam 2000. It was a time when the nations of the earth came together to ask God to spark the flames of revival and spread them by the winds of His Holy Spirit to the four corners of the earth."
The most diverse international conference in church history convened July 29-August 6 in Amsterdam to devise strategies for worldwide evangelism. More than 10,700 evangelists, pastors, missionaries, theologians and church leaders gathered for the landmark event in the Netherlands. There have been larger church meetings, but none in which leaders from 209 nations and territories representing every major evangelical denomination came together. An estimated 40 percent of the constituency were Pentecostals, with the Assemblies of God representing the largest group of delegates from more than 40 nations.
The conference included 245 workshops plus 22 plenary sessions in 25 major languages simultaneously. Plenary speakers included Bill Bright, Charles Colson, Stephen Olford, J.I. Packer, Ravi Zacharias, Ajith Fernando, Paul Finkenbinder, John Stott and Anne Graham Lotz.
The thousands who gathered initially had hoped to hear Billy Graham preach, but the 81-year-old evangelist was too weak to make the trip to Amsterdam in person. He addressed the conference via videotape from Rochester, Minn. "I challenge you to light a fire in every nation on earth after you leave Amsterdam 2000," Graham said. "I challenge you not to spend your time cursing the darkness. Instead, light a candle and show people the way to Christ."
Many of the conference delegates risked their lives to attend because of persecution in their nations. "Amsterdam 2000 will be one of the greatest memories of my life," an A/G evangelist from Pakistan said. "Despite persecution, the Pentecostal church is growing rapidly in my nation. This conference has further equipped me to do the work of evangelism."
A/G evangelist Paul Finkenbinder spoke of the need to rely on the Holy Spirit in every area of life and told those gathered that God had appointed them as evangelists before they were born. In private life, the evangelist must rely on the Holy Spirit, not on his or her gifts, to enjoy a lifetime of lasting ministry, he said.
Finkenbinder emphasized the need for daily Bible study, meditation and prayer in devotional life while being conscious of Gods holiness and human insufficiencies. Evangelists must rely on the Holy Spirit so that preaching does not become performance, Finkenbinder said, and each message needs a fresh anointing for the sake of the people who are listening. "It is the Third Person of the Trinity, who takes the message and communicates it with power to the hearts and minds of men and women."
The conference, spearheaded by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, took five years to plan. Even though the BGEA invested more than $14 million in hotel, airfare and food expenses for participants from developing nations to attend, evangelists sacrificed as well. For example, an evangelist from a remote area of Zimbabwe owned only three cows, a small hut and a few other meager belongings. He sold two of the cows to pay for his food at the 10-day conference.
An evangelist from Manila borrowed $2,000 from a businessman in the Philippines so he could attend. "It will take me two years to pay off the debt, yet it will be worth the sacrifice in order to participate in this life-changing event," he said. The BGEA paid the debt upon hearing the story and challenged the evangelist to return home and evangelize his nation.
What will be the fruit of Amsterdam 2000? In 1986, the BGEA sponsored a similar conference, Amsterdam 86. There a struggling preacher from Wisconsin met a South African pastor who needed a new church building. At that time, the congregation in South Africa averaged 225 people while the Wisconsin congregation averaged 35. After the conference, the Wisconsin pastor shared the need with his congregation and challenged them to build a new 350-seat church in South Africa within a year, which members did. At Amsterdam 2000, the two pastors met again. Today, the South African pastors church averages more than 12,000 and has planted more than 20 churches; the Wisconsin pastors church has grown substantially as well.
Church leaders and missionary strategists of Amsterdam 2000 made a commitment to place indigenous churches among 253 unreached people groups in the next two years. "As a result of this unique gathering, there will be textbooks published regarding evangelism practices, principles and programs for every Bible college and seminary in the world," said BGEA President John Corts. "We are creating a worldwide evangelists community. Our vision is global evangelism and our mission is local salvation of the lost." An evangelistsnet.org website will be launched to further equip evangelists.
A/G author and theologian Stanley M. Horton said, "Amsterdam 2000 will be remembered for years to come as a time when the modern, technological church came together to refocus and rethink the main theological issues pertaining to evangelizing the lost, equipping new converts and exalting Christ in all areas of personal life and in the secular, philosophical arenas of the world."
James O. Davis
For more information regarding evangelists and evangelism: http://evangelists.ag.org.
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