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“Pastor” comes from the Latin word for shepherd, and is commonly used as a description for the person leading a congregation. You know how many times the term is used in that sense in the Bible?
Once: Ephesians 4:11.
The other ministries Paul lists there – apostles, prophets, evangelists and teachers – are much more described and discussed in the Scriptures. Still, in many churches and denominations today, pastors are much more common than apostles and prophets (and often evangelists as well).
Let’s focus on the ministry of the apostle. The Greek word describes someone who have been send, a clear illustration to Matthew 28:18-20. Looking at the lives of Peter, James, John, Paul and the others we see that their ministry simply is about missions and church planting. It’s a translocal ministry that equip local churches and start new ones so that the Gospel may reach the end of the world.
Catholics and Orthodoxs have tried to replace the ministry of the apostle with church tradition. Protestants have tried to replace it with the Bible. In both cases, apostleship is viewed as something cessational and temporary, a ministry that gave us the foundation of our faith only in order to disappear after that. This is contradicted by the simple facts that:
1. Apostleship is never described in the Scriptures as something that would cease or decline; on the contrary, more and more apostles pop up the further we read the New Testament (Rom 16:7, 2 Cor 8:23).
Dear friends of Iris around the world,
We in Iris continue to face more need, challenge, opposition, helplessness and perplexity than we can bear, yet daily God shows up and we soldier on. We are jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us (2 Cor. 4:7). We often feel under great pressure, condemned to failure. But we have learned that this happens that we might not rely on ourselves, but on God, who raises the dead (2 Cor. 1:9).
We cannot overstate how much more help we need in every way. We need administrators, organizers, technicians, engineers, mechanics, builders, doctors, nurses, teachers, farmers, computer and Internet geeks, donors, etc., ad infinitum, along with every kind of spiritual gifting. The reason is that Iris is not simply a church, or a children’s center, or a relief effort, or a Bible school, or a mission training base, but all these and more as one example of an entire Kingdom environment. We exist to demonstrate an all-encompassing love that flows from God’s heart, a love that the unsaved have never seen before. We are here to seek and save the lost, and in the process give them a foretaste of heaven and our unshakeable inheritance that is to come.
We came to Mozambique, one of the world’s poorest countries, to prove the Gospel, both in our own hearts and lives and among the neediest people we could find. And the Gospel has taken root all around us. Churches are being added to our number weekly, mounting into the thousands. After so many years of cruel colonialism, communism and civil war, the overall climate of Mozambique has changed, deeply affected, we believe, by the Gospel. It has recently been voted one the most peaceful countries in Africa. Its economic growth rate is amazing. Major energy resources are being discovered.
Evangelist Daniel Kolenda reports on the Christ for All Nations website:
Dear Mission Partners,
Have you ever witnessed a miracle? Watch the video above!
As many of you will be aware, Ivory Coast has been plagued by many years of civil war. Terrible atrocities have been committed and much blood has been shed in this place. In fact, our crusade field bears a grim reminder of the desperately wicked condition of fallen humanity. At the back of the crusade field there is a distinct area where curious mounds of dirt are grown over with thick weeds. As our bulldozers were clearing the field in preparation for the campaign, we were asked by officials not to clear that particular area because it is a mass grave where countless unidentified corpses are buried. Yet, this week, this very field, once the scene of death and destruction on a massive scale, has been transformed into ground zero for a historic harvest and a mass Holy Spirit outpouring. It is a striking metaphor of God’s redemptive work through the cross.
While Mozambique, DR Congo and South Sudan also are facing enormous humanitarian crises, Mali is perhaps the African country which has most problems right now. Islamists supported by al Qaida have taken control of the northern parts of the country to practice extreme sharia laws, and to stop northern Mali from becoming a terrorist state, France is cooperating with the Mali government in a military offensive. In the midst of violent conflict are millions of civilians that already were poor, hungry and sick before. The result is disastrous. UNHCR reports:
Since the start of the conflict in northern Mali a year ago, more than 150,000 refugees have fled to neighbouring Mauritania, Niger and Burkina Faso, while nearly 230,000 have sought safety in other areas inside Mali. […] Most are living in poor neighbourhoods with little or no access to housing or vital services such as clean water, education and health.
People fleeing the current fighting between French-backed government forces and rebels in the north of Mali tell alarming accounts of atrocities. A former resident of Gao, who left the northern town after recent air strikes, told UNHCR that food and fuel were in short supply.
“The situation in Gao is difficult. The rebels took all the medicines from Gao hospital. I saw dead bodies everywhere, in the yard of the hospital,” said Agesha, who fled the town last Sunday.
I strongly urge you to support Christian Aid’s West Africa Food Crisis Appeal, which will bring food and humanitarian relief to the people in Mali and surrounding areas. And I also urge you to pray for this country. There are few Christians in this country, and because of the rise of extreme Islamism, they are severely persecuted. Yet, the main thing Mali needs to get rid of war, poverty, terrorism and hunger, is a mighty Holy Spirit revival. They need a miracle, and they need it now.
Two weeks ago I wrote about how Iris Ministries combine humanitarian relief with supernatural healing in their response to super-typhoon Bopha that has created an urgent humanitarian situation in Mindanao, Philippines. After I had written my blog post, I discovered that one of the members of the response team, Christian Jung, has an excellent blog together with his family where he publishes information and pictures from the operation. In the midst of their aid distribution, the team shares words of knowledge, heal the blind and experience a multiplication miracle! Here’s some of what Christian writes:
Montevista, Philippines Wednesday, December 19, 2012 . Distribution in Barangay Kamansi and Concepcion
Yesterday our team traveled over treacherous roads along cliff faces with armed military escorts to Barangay Kamansi where we distributed aid to 125 families. 40 children prayed to receive Jesus in that place. Over 15 sick people came to us for prayer. All of them were instantaneously healed, including a blind woman. Then we traveled to Barangay Concepcion where distributed aid to another 50 families. We continue to pour out the love of Jesus to these precious people who have lost so much. Love always looks like something. We capped off the day sharing stories of miracles at a conservative Baptist Bible College. Love to you all!
Nabunturan, Philippines Friday, December 21, 2012 . Distribution in Compostela and Nabunturan
Just arrived back in Davao City from the Compostela Valley. Wow! I stand amazed at how God can use our little lives to carry the Father’s heart to the poor and the broken. Today our Iris Relief Philippines 1st Response team did a food distribution in Compostela. A church building that was still standing was packed with 193 families waiting to receive relief. We had words of knowledge for 25 people… who ALL received a healing touch from Jesus. Then the miracles of God worked through our hands confirmed the message of Christ as 230 people entered a personal, hand-holding relationship with Him this morning.
Remember the Christian Youth Conference in Odisha, India, that my friends Joel and Steve participated in? Now, we got some video shooting from there. As you can see, the youths were desperately hungry for the Kingdom of God, and the Holy Spirit responded to their hunger. Joel, who by the way just has become co-author of this blog, was awe-struck when he came back to Sweden, and I can see why.
Joel and Steve also got the chance to interview pastor Pratap Pradhan. He is one of the regional leaders of Touching Asia, and a humble man of God. He oversees over 100 churches that they have planted over the years. They help the poor and develop communities while they heal the sick, preach the Gospel and casts out demons. In the interview, Pratap gives some examples of that:
A month ago I was listening to Chinese pastor and revivalist brother Yun as he was conducting some meetings in Sweden. His autobiography, The Heavenly Man, was one of the first Christian books I read, and it has impacted me a lot. Yun describes both countless miracles and unspeakable suffering, persecution as well as revival. These aspects go hand in hand, he argues, the glory of the resurrection cannot be separated from the pain of Calvary.
As a Western Christian who at that point had neither experienced revival nor persecution, Yun’s testimony opened my eyes to what Christianity really is about. Having fled from China in 2001 to Germany, he had some very interesting reflections about the state of the Western church. Based on the story about the lame man in Acts 3, he wrote prophetically: “The Western church has a lot of silver and gold. The Chinese church rises up and walks.”
Of course there are exceptions, but generally this is painfully true: churches in high-income countries are rich in money but poor in spirit, churches in middle- and low-income countries are poor in money but rich in spirit. I would say the latter group is better off, still I am constantly aware of the urgent material needs they have in order to fight poverty and nurture revival. (more…)
In response to my blog post on how following the Sermont on the Mount is a key to revival, my friend Drew Gordon Meakin wrote:
Great article! I thought of some instances that back up your point.
In Acts 6:8-8:1 we see Stephen praying for his enemies while being stoned to death. Saul of Tarsus, the church’s greatest persecutor, was one of the people there that he was praying for. Saul later has a dramatic supernatural encounter and becomes the Apostle Paul. I fully believe Stephen’s selfless prayer while dying was a seed in Paul’s conversion.
The movie “End of the Spear” tells the true story of five missionaries reaching reaching out to the most violent tribe in Ecuador. All of them are killed, but they die loving their enemies, and this leads to a dramatic supernatural encounter which eventually leads to the whole tribe coming to Christ.
David Wilkerson’s loving words to the violent gang member, Nicky Cruz, who threatened his life, led to Nicky’s conversion which also was a precursor to the founding of the most successful “Spirit-filled” drug rehabilitation programs in the world and the largest church in New York.
Martin Luther King’s commitment to the peace teachings in the Sermon on the Mount, while advancing his cause, not only changed policies, but changed hearts and led to the greatest civil rights movement in history. (more…)
My church Mosaik is a very small church, but we love missions! Together with the missions organization Touching Asia and local churches, we organised a youth conference in Odisha, India, October 23-25. My dear friends Joel Gabrielsson and Steve Ferris were speakers. When the conference was over, they told us that it had been completely amazing. Here are som pictures taken by Steve, as well as a letter from Joel:
“The three days were absolutely astounding and I am still amazed at the mercy of God and his goodness! Steve and I taught three days of meetings focused on God’s Love and Discipleship and together with the leaders and all the youth we worshiped and danced and praised Jesus and met his goodness.
The Lord executes justice for the oppressed, he gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets the prisoners free; the Lord opens the eyes of the blind. The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down; the Lord loves the righteous. (Ps 146:7-8)
Christopher Alam was born in Pakistan, fled to Sweden when he became a Christian, moved to the United States after a while, and today he travels through Asia and Africa to preach at big gospel and healing campaigns. The power of God is powerfully manifested as the poor and broken experience all kinds of biblical miracles. “God [has] chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom” (Jam 2:5). Alam reports on his Facebook page:
MZILIKAZI, MALAWI: Several thousand people received the Lord Jesus tonight. Many deaf ears were opened. A lady who was carried to the crusade got up and walked perfectly! A baby had a huge tumor the size of a grapefruit that instantly and totally disappeared. A totally blind girl received her sight. A man who became totally blind at night and a girl who almost totally blind also received their sight. A girl with one totally blind eye was also healed. Many others were healed from different diseases and infirmities.
All Glory to our Lord Jesus who Alone is Worthy! What a wonderful Lord and Savior He is!
Friday Night: Tonight was a great night. I asked Pastor Dennis Hunsinger from Penn-Del to preach and I prayed for the sick. Pastor Dennis shared a powerful testimony on how God had healed him from cancer. Several thousand received Jesus and there were many miracles tonight. Lots of deaf ears opened tonight. A blind lady received her sight. Many others testified of the wonderful miracles that the Lord did in their bodies.
All Glory to our Lord Jesus!
Last night we were received by the president of Uganda, his wife and his whole family at the state house, where we had dinner and wonderful fellowship. Afterword evangelist Bonnke preached the Gospel and we prayed over the first family.
Tonight evangelist Bonnke preached a powerful evangelistic message and thousands responded. Then we prayed for the sick and wonderful miracles of healing began to take place
An old lady who was totally blind in both eyes received her sight tonight.
A father carried his daughter from the hospital with the intravenous catheter (from an i.v. drip) still attached to her arm. She was inflicted with both typhoid fever and malaria.
Tonight she was totally healed and she walked, unaided, up onto the platform to testify.
A man who had a severe back injury in a motorcycle accident was confined to a back brace. Tonight, after the power of God came on him, he ripped that brace off and began to dance and jump!
- A lady who had four lumps in her breasts said that, during the prayer, she felt heat cascade over her and she felt like things were leaving her body. Afterward, she checked her breasts and found that
all the lumps had completely disappeared along with all pain!
A woman who had fallen into a pit and broken her arm went to the doctors, who put it in a cast, but it did not heal properly – it was twisted and misshapen. But during the prayer she said she could hear popping and cracking coming from her arm. Before her very eyes that twisted arm snapped into place and is now perfectly normal! (more…)