Categories
From The President

Facing 2022 With Confidence & Anticipation

We stand on the cusp of a brand new year and in 2022, like all new years, there is a great deal of uncertainty about what it will bring.

Will the pandemic become endemic? Will the inflation rate decline? Will the housing bubble pop? Will racism continue to foment in our culture? Will cultural divisiveness give way to greater cooperation?

The reality is—no one knows with accuracy what 2022 will hold.

There is a verse in I Chronicles that has recently captured my attention.

Then David said to his son Solomon, “Be strong. Have strength of heart, and do it. Do not be afraid or troubled, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not stop helping you. He will not leave you until all the work of the house of the Lord is finished.

1 Chronicles 28:20 NLT

David is giving a charge to his son Solomon who will, in the near future, succeed his father as the King of Israel. I believe that there are 4 principles from this verse that we can apply as we enter 2022…

Be strong!

When the pandemic began in 2020, we weren’t sure if it would be a sprint or a marathon. Twenty-one months into the pandemic, I would like to suggest that it has turned into an Ironman competition! The prophet Nehemiah said, “The Joy of the Lord is our strength,” and in Philippians 4:13: Paul said, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Being strong isn’t about us pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps, but it is the work of the Holy Spirit in our inner being.

In the same way that an athlete strengthens themself by training, so we strengthen our spirit by reading the scriptures and spending time in the presence of the Lord.

As we enter into 2022, I want to encourage you to take some time every day to “strengthen yourself in the Lord.”

Do not be afraid!

In 1989, a new brand of clothing appeared called “No Fear.” This line of clothing featured all sorts of slogans inspired by their love of extreme sports.

It has been said that the most often repeated command in scriptures is “fear not” or “don’t be afraid” or some variation of this command. I am not sure if it is the most repeated command, but it is found over 100 times in the King James Version of the Bible.

In 2021 with the Covid-19 pandemic raging, surveys indicated people’s top two fears were a loved one dying, or a loved one becoming seriously ill. Other things that people are fearful of include violence, terrorism, racism, being alone, civil unrest, and not having enough money for retirement.

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”

1 John 4:18

Perfect love is God’s love—and God loves us unconditionally—it drives out fear!

As we enter 2022, we need to remember that we have a good good Father who loves us unconditionally, and in the security of His love, we have nothing to fear.

The Lord is with you!

During the Christmas season, we are often reminded that one of the titles of Jesus is Emmanuel – God with us! He isn’t just Emmanuel at Christmas time—He is with us every moment of the year.

The reason that we can be strong is because He is with us. The reason that we can live without fear is because He is with us.

In Psalm 16:11 the psalmist says, “You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.”

The presence of the Lord brings joy, meaning, and anticipation to our lives!

As we enter 2022, it is with the joy and the confidence that comes from knowing He is with you.

He will enable you to complete the task!

David reminded Solomon that he had a task to complete—the building of the Temple. It was a place for the habitation of God. Peter reminds us that we “are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple.”

Jesus has commissioned us to make disciples. If we make disciples, Jesus will take those “living stones” and place them in His spiritual temple that He is building.

As we enter 2022, we have a task to complete, and that task is to make disciples. But we don’t do it on our own—he has promised to empower us by His Spirit in the task.

In spite of the uncertainty that a new year brings, we can be strong and we can live without fear—because the Lord is with us, and He has promised to enable and empower us in the task of making disciples!

Categories
100 Years of Memories

Jesus

It is said that 700 million* people worship Him.

Charles Lamb wrote: “If all the illustrious men in history were gathered together and Shakespeare should enter their presence, they would rise to do his honour; but if Jesus Christ should come in, they would all bow down and worship Him.”

Napoleon said of Jesus, “I know men, and I tell you, Jesus is more than a man. Comparison is impossible between Him and any other human being who ever lived because He was the Son of God.” He said, “I think I understand somewhat of human nature, and I tell you all these (the heroes of antiquity) were men, and I am a man, but not one is like Him; Jesus Christ was more than a man. Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and I founded great empires, but upon what did the creations of our genius depend? Upon force. Jesus alone founded His empire upon love, and to this very day millions would die for Him.”

“Now let us notice Christ’s birth,” Billy Graham said, “When God became man, it was not an ordinary birth. Consider the star, the shepherds hearing the angelic chorus, the magi, the angel speaking to the virgin Mary and later to Joseph. The very birth of Jesus indicates that He could not have been a mere man.”

The Apostle Peter inspired of the Holy Ghost said, “We believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the Living God.” (John 6:69)

The Apostle Thomas bowed his knees at Jesus’ feet and confessed, “My Lord and my God.” (John 20:28) A Hebrew, knowing the Holy Scriptures that states “For the LORD your God is God of gods, and LORD of lords, a great GOD, a mighty and terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward.” He was rendering intelligent worship unto the One who alone was worthy of it.

Paul, an even more intense student of the inspired Scriptures, states of our Lord Jesus Christ, “…in his times he shall shew who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, the Lord of lords.” (1Timothy 6:15)

Paul’s mind would be well versed in Zechariah 14 where it states that “the LORD (shall) go forth and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle. And his feet shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives, and the LORD my God shall come, and all the saints with thee…And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one.” (Zechariah 14:3-5, 9)

“This is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.” (John 4:42)

We shall worship Him as the wise men of old. We shall give Him glory and honour due His Holy Name. “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.” (Titus 2:13)

Jesus, you are my Lord.

*It’s interesting to note, that today, 2.5 billion people are said to be Christians.

Categories
100 Years of Memories

Christmas is a Time for:

Worship

Almost 20 centuries ago the wise men led by a heavenly star, came to Jerusalem to worship Christ! They travelled on camels and arrived about two years after the birth of the child. They came to bow down and adore the “Messiah,” who was promised centuries ago.

Who would even imagine that any would travel that far from the western hemisphere to just worship Christ? Some perhaps would come to critically analyze this strange scene, as it affords amazing news for the curious crowd of the radio, TV, and newspaper audience.

These wise men came to worship. Oh, that this would be the driving force within our hearts this Christmas. Just to set aside the pagan customs of empty celebrations, and worship Christ, in spirit and in truth. Wise men still worship today and make Christ the Lord of their life.

“And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him…”

Matthew 2:11

They recognized the Deity of Christ, as Emmanuel, God with us, yes, God “veiled in human flesh!” May we too pause this Christmas to give our Lord humble homage and extol Him as the royal King, the Prophet, and Redeemer!

Christmas is a time for Worship! It’s not a time for revelry and commercialism, but a joyful moment to make our family reunions centered around Christ the Lord, who deserves our heartfelt worship.

Giving

The wise men did not come to receive, they came to give. Gold, frankincense, and myrrh they laid at the Christ-child’s feet. Typically, speaking of his threefold ministry they recognized Him. Gold speaks of His royalty; frankincense of his Prophetic ministry and myrrh of his Redemption.

Let us, first give ourselves to Him, who gave Himself for us, and then lay voluntarily at his feet our tithes, offerings, and wave offerings. In His name, let us make an investment to assist in snatching souls from darkness into the kingdom of Light.

I think of the Christians, this Christmas, behind the iron curtain, in prisons, and others in lands of poverty, where they are enslaved by communism. May our giving be merciful in the name of Jesus to His eternal glory. My fellow Christian, have you given Christ as a gift? If not, it’s not too late—do it now!

Missions

The shepherds “when they had seen it (the child), they make known abroad the saying which was told them concerning the child.”

Luke 2:17

This has always been the task of the church. We must tell the story of redemption! Evangelization is the urgency of the hour and is the only reason of our existence as a church of Jesus Christ. This past year I have spent almost nine months on foreign fields, together with our missionaries sharing the gospel of Christ.

Christmas reminds us of the first “Mission” from Heaven. The father sent His only begotten Son to seek and to save that which was lost. Tell someone about Christ in your gatherings. Make this season a time of joyful sharing of Christ with others.

A little boy asked me what my profession was, as I was lying next to his bed in the hospital. I answered, “I’m a missionary.” “What is a missionary?”, he asked. I said, “Someone that tells people about Jesus.”

That night when his parents came to visit him, he asked them if they know what a missionary was. They answered, “we do not know.” The boy replied, “The man in the next bed is a missionary because he is one who tells people about Jesus.”

That night I heard that little boy present the gospel of Christ to his Dad and Mom, the way I could never have presented. Yes, even a little child has a missionary message at Christmas. May we tell the story on the mountain, in the valley, in Africa, America, Japan, the islands of the sea, yes, to every creature and our neighbours!

Don’t allow the Christmas festivity to rob you of the joy of “Missions,” to a dying world. The wise men returned another way after they had worshipped and given their gifts (Matthew 2:12) and joyfully shared the message to their own people.

Worship! Give! Go! This Christmas!

Categories
Encouragement

Where is Your Bethlehem?

“Joseph went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem… He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.”

Luke 2:4-5

It wouldn’t have been an easy journey, especially for Mary, who was nearing the end of her pregnancy.

Why did she go? It was decreed by the government of the day that everyone had to go to their own city and participate in a census. It’s also possible that Mary was ready to leave the village of Nazareth where judgment about her pregnancy and unmarried status was in abundance.

Mary and Joseph knew they would travel far from family and into a city whose streets would be overcrowded with many people on the same journey.

Nearly nine months before their arrival in Bethlehem, Mary spoke life-changing words to God, words that were to comfort her in the many uncertain years ahead. “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.”

With those simple words of faith, she could endure the long journey on the back of a donkey, the cold streets of Bethlehem, the staring faces of strangers, and even the filthy smelly stable with its straw-lined manger.

Where is your Bethlehem?

The last few years have been difficult for many people and the journey has been long. Covid has changed how we live—how we interact with one another. It has put strains on marriages and relationships; pastors have had to pivot numerous times. People have been uncaring and even hurtful with their words, circumstances, and situations—difficult.

I want to assure you that when we give ourselves as servants to a loving God, we can—in quietness and confidence—add “May it be to me as you have said” no matter the place or position in which we find ourselves!

My humble prayer for you as friends, family, and community is that you would know that the overcrowded streets you walk are filled with many people on the same journey.

Although these days are uncertain, may God give you a supernatural ability to walk more confidently in the year ahead, no matter the situations or circumstances.

As you journey through the streets of your Bethlehem with staring faces of strangers and the smelly circumstances of this world, may you continue to extend grace and ignite hope in the community that God has called you to!

Categories
100 Years of Memories

The Scene at Bethlehem

The birth of Jesus at Bethlehem, Judea, was the greatest scene this world has ever experienced. It altered the course of history and can change the course of your life as well. At Bethlehem, God gave His only Son to be the answer for every need and desire of the human heart.

The first silent night was charged with action as celestial messengers from another world carried out their assignments in preparing for the spectacular happening that would change the world.

Ignoring the kings in the plush palaces, the Pharisees in their pious prayers, they announced the birth of the world’s Saviour to common shepherds reclining beside their open fires on the Judean hillside. “There has been born for you a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord.”

The message of the Christmas scene contradicts all who would declare that God if He exists at all, has turned a deaf ear and an empty hand to the painful plight of man today. The christ child of Bethlehem’s manger tells the world loud and clear that God has heard the cry of every lonely and perplexed soul.

That prisoner pacing his cell on death row receives the joyous news; “There has been born for you a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord.” Jesus gives him the opportunity to begin life anew—eternal life in glory.

The young girl lying in her hospital bed with cancer writing “finished” to her life’s dreams and ambitions finds new hope, new life, as she too hears the message “There has been born for you a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord.”

In an east-end rooming house of a prairie city, there is a small dingy and dirty basement room. A seventeen-year-old high school dropout is lying on a mangled mattress. He is a slave of drugs. Soon his master will compel him to leave the meager shelter of his room to get another fix.

He will go, he lacks the power to say no. His future, his world lies shattered and broken around him, until he hears the message of the angels. “There has been born for you a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord.” In Jesus he finds forgiveness, and power beyond himself to be freed from his slavery to habits. Free to live again!

In a university library across town, a first-year art student’s mind strays from his textbook. There is a driving demand in his soul to find answers to life—his life. His studies are failing to answer the reason and purpose of life, why he is a living being, why he is in this university studying…studying and preparing for what?

Next birthday he will be twenty. No longer a teen-ager. An adult, expected to take his place in an adult world. A world that to him is shrouded in a fog the leaves values vaguely defined, obscures goals giving him the feeling of being detached from reality.

Life seems a mockery, with himself the object of a cruel joke. But light dawns over his soul, the fog is pushed back and a new horizon appears with the massage from a higher dimension, from God who knows and cares about his plight. “There has been born for you a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord.”

The message of the manger is the good news that there is a God who knows and cares for all mankind. He cares for you. God so loved you, no matter where you are, what you are, or what you have done; that He gave His only begotten Son to be your Saviour so that you might have life and have it more abundantly. Jesus is declared by God to be the Way, the Truth, and the Life—to all who will come to Him. O come, let us adore Him!

He’s the Saviour of your soul!

Categories
100 Years of Memories

Amazing Grace

The late Donald Grey Barnhouse, formerly editor-in-chief of the magazine “Eternity,” said, “If anyone should ask him—What man, in your opinion illustrates most dynamically the power of God to transform a human being,” he would reply John Newton.

That takes me back in memory many years ago to Los Angeles, California, to a trailer behind a large tabernacle where I was conducting a campaign. I was quite weary and went back to the house trailer to rest. It was late at night and I turned on the radio, and from out of the darkness a voice came announcing the singer as the “girl with the singing heart.”

She sang beautifully “amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.” Then as the sound died on the air, she began to tell the story of a sin-stained slave trader…

A mother dying with T.B. knowing that she had not long to live, poured out her life on her only boy, praying with him and teaching him the scripture.

When he was 7 years old his mother died. Later his father remarried, and neither had any use for God, so the lad grew into a life of degradation and sin.

He was dismissed from the Navy—publicly whipped and degraded. He went into the slave trade and having fallen off the ship he was delivered from the sharks by a harpoon in the haunch.

After another terrible and violent storm at sea, battling all night at the pumps, he said to the captain, who was a Christian, “If that won’t do then God have mercy on us.”

He afterward gave his heart to the Lord and was destined to become associated with the poet William Cowper. The two of them were to give to the world some of its most precious hymns…

Over 80 years old on his death bed he composed his own epitaph: “John Newton—Once an infidel and libertine, a servant of slaves in Africa, was by the rich mercy of God preserved, restored, pardoned, and appointed to preach the faith that he had long laboured to destroy.”

He left behind a most wonderful testimony to his conception of the Godhead of our Lord Jesus:

“Laboured applications of the Trinity I always avoid. I am afraid of darkening counsel without knowledge.

Scripture and even reason assured me that there is but One God, whose name alone is Jehovah. Scripture likewise assures me that Christ is God, that Jesus is Jehovah. I cannot say that reason assents with equal readiness to this proposition as to the former, but admitting what the scripture teaches concerning the evil of sin, the depravity of human nature, the method of salvation, and the offices of the Saviour.

Admitting that God has purposed to glorify not His mercy only, but His justice in the work of redemption, that the blood upon the cross is a proper adequate satisfaction for sin, that the Redeemer is at present the Shepherd of those who believe in Him, and will hereafter be the Judge of the world, that in order to give the effectual help that we need, it is necessary that He be always intimately with those who trust in Him.

In every age, in every place, that He must know the thoughts and intents of every heart, that He must have His eye always upon them, His ear ever open to them, that His arm is always stretched out for their relief, that they can receive nothing but what He bestows, can do nothing but what He enables them, nor stand a moment but as He upholds them.”

Admitting these and the like promises with which the Word of God abounds, reason must allow whatever difficulties may attend the thought, that only He who is God over all blessed forever is able or worthy execute this complicated plan, only part of which requires the exertion of infinite wisdom and Almighty power.

Nor am I able to form any clear satisfactory thoughts of God, suited to awaken my love and engage my trust, but as He has been pleased to reveal Himself in the person fo Jesus Christ.

I believe with the Apostle, that God was once manifest in the flesh upon the earth, and that He is now manifest in the flesh in heaven, and that the worship, not only of redeemed sinners, but of the holy angels is addressed to the Lamb that was slain, who in that nature in which He suffered, now exercises universal dominion, and has the government of heaven, earth, and hell upon His shoulder.

This truth is the foundation upon which my hope is built, the foundation from which I derive all my strenth and consolation, and my only encouragement for venturing to the throne of grace, for grace to help in time of need.

Till God in human flesh I see, my thoughts no comfort find. The holy, just, and sacred three are terrors to my mind. But if Immanuel’s face appears, my hope, my joy begins. His name forbids my slavish fear, His grace removes my sins.”

I am well satisfied that it will not be a burden to me in the hour of death, nor be laid to my charge at the day of judgment, that I have thought too highly of Jesus, expected too much of Him myself, or laboured too much in commending and setting Him forth to others as the Alpha and Omega—The True God and Eternal Life.”

—John Newton

When this grand old man of God died, London went into mourning. Parliament suspended sessions, magistrates closed the courts, all shops were closed, and thousands lined the streets as the body of John Newton was carried to the grave. Thank God for his wonderful testimony to the Lord Jesus “The True God and Eternal Life” (1 John 5:20).


Rev. R. E. S. Toms, a well-known minister within our Fellowship, was saved over sixty years ago and brought up under Plymouth Brethren teaching in Redhill, Surrey, England. He received his baptism in the Holy Spirit in 1922 during the Old Knox Church Revival in Winnipeg. In 1930, Brother Toms launched into the ministry of evangelism on the Canadian prairies for two years. He become pastor of the Saskatoon Apostolic Church in 1932, where over 200 people were baptized in the Holy Spirit during the first winter, followed by many years of continuous revival with services conducted every night.

It was during his fourteen years in Saskatoon that he conducted a radio program over CFQC with the well-known theme song, “He’s Coming Soon.” He co-sponsored with the late Rev. E. W. Storie and Rev. R. Dawson, the Prairie Apostolic Bible Institute, and was its first and last principal. Brother Toms then spent six years of ministry in the United States as well as Europe, returning to Canada to pastor the Apostolic Church in Victoria for ten years. He is still active where there is an open door for ministry…

Categories
100 Years of Memories

The Iron Curtain Literature Project in Russia

We turned the curve in the road and stopped for the night in the drizzling rain. It was not a time to rest though, as we stumbled into the darkness of the night, down muddy unlit streets, through the tall wet grass with not much to go by but the pitch blackness ahead. As the odd car or truck would pass on the nearby road, we squatted in the ditch or stood erect behind one of the tall trees that lined the way. We were in Russia.

The realism of it all was not far away as we huddled for a minute holding tight the parcels of Bibles, concordances, and hymn books under our arms to protect them from the dampness.

It was nothing less than the hand of God that had helped us keep them from the eyes of the thorough customs officials. They are usually very careful about even letting one take in their personal Bible and contrary to their own regulations will even confiscate that. God has been good.

We now reached the house that was in darkness and in order to make sure it was the right one, I climbed up on the fence so as to bring my face within inches of the house number.

We had the right number and soon after arousing our brother, we were embraced with warm hugs and kisses of welcome. As joy flooded the face of our brother, there was nothing to show that this precious brother, washed in His blood, baptized in Jesus’ Name, filled with the Holy Ghost, and a father of four, had spent nine years of his young life in prison for his faith in Christ. This brought the life of the Christians in the book of Acts into a new dimension in my life.

We spent a wonderful time of fellowship together and the moments in which we watched the family gather around, opening the parcels which we had brought was very moving. Eyes filled with tears, they wanted to thank us and share with us some of their meager earnings. But on replying to them that it was a gift from God, brother Vlatimer turned his eyes toward heaven and thanked God.

Sometimes these saints meet, several hundred together at a time, in the woods, in homes, and in various places of secret to be able to worship. Bibles are few and many hymn books are written by hand.

One elderly sister once sat across from me and told me how he had prayed for years for a new Bible—hers was worn out completely and many pages were missing. I had only one left which I was using and how I wanted to give it to her, but restrained, because in the same service I knew of a young convert that had just started a walk of faith amidst the mountains of atheism in her country—she had no Bible. After service, we called her aside and slipped the Bible into her hands.

I think of others of our Jesus’ Name brothers and sisters that need help and encouragement, Bibles, and booklets to work with. A concordance is a treasured prize and many have given a month’s wage to get a Bible when the exceptional opportunity would present itself.

There is Brother Ivan who lives near the Black Sea, Brother Alexander in the north near Leningrad, Brother Ivan S. in the center of the country, who pastors many hundreds under extreme conditions and represents the needs of many thousands more.

Then there are brothers in the other Iron Curtain countries, Brother Richard near Warsaw, brothers in Romania and Czechoslovakia. I think especially about our Brother E. who had been under much pressure and finally last summer his church was surrounded by police during a service.

After many hours of questioning and searching each one there, all Bibles, hymn books, spiritual pictures, and even a typewriter, tape player, and cassettes were confiscated. Brother E. was led off to prison.

He was treated like a common criminal, made to wear handcuffs—even at his trial, which was very short. The lawyer representing him did nothing to defend him—nor was he himself allowed to say anything.

Word has been received that Brother E. has just been released a very short time ago. The road for him will not be an easy one nor will it be for the several other groups in the area that continue to meet in secret.

Although all are not faced with prison as some are, the system they live under keeps them (at all times in a “disguised” prison) in which they have very limited religious freedom. Remember what Jesus said in Matthew 25:36, “I was in prison, and ye came unto me.” It is our duty to go to them in prayers and in every way possible.

Several thousand Bibles, New Testaments, concordances, and pieces of literature have been received by these needy and hungry hearts. They are to give away to new believers and to the unsaved.

As several hundred of these have already reached their destination it is hard for us to imagine what it is for them to receive a booklet of this type printed in their own language. This literature is also being translated and printed into other languages. Yet, this is all very little compared to the need there is to be met.

These are brothers and sisters intimate to us! Let us work together with them so that in turn they may win their fellow countrymen to the Lord.

Categories
100 Years of Memories

Lest We Forget

Many of the rural communities, as well as the urban centres, have erected a cenotaph in honour of those who laid down their lives in the wars past.

Often I was involved in Memorial Day services when war veterans would display their medals and march to the cenotaph to honour their colleagues and buddies.

On the prairies, the cold north-west wind would almost make outside services impossible, but those who were in the services could not retreat to a warmer surrounding. The dedication of the soldier and the call of duty did not make provisions for physical comfort or ease.

Each year on the 11th of November we pause to remember those who died in the wars since 1914. We also remember the members of families who are yet with us and say, thank you, for the great price that was paid so that we might live in a measure of peace and safety.

According to a recent publication, our Canadian Forces have been on ‘Peacekeeping duty’ for almost four decades. At the present time, a contingent of troops in the Persian Gulf are hoping that the eight-year war between Iraq and Iran will be halted. Our sincere thanks to those in our Armed Forces who are willing to serve in this capacity.

Wars seem so cruel, so senseless, there is such a waste of property and human lives. It is true that material things can be replaced, oftentimes at great cost, but what about the lives that are lost. They cannot be replaced, neither do the wounds of sorrow heal quickly.

It seems we have made so many advances in the scientific field, yet the human heart, whether educated or not, has a deep-rooted problem that is not changed by secular education.

Why are there wars? Where do they start? What can be done to stop them?

The Bible provides some answers in James 4:1-3. Wars are the external result of an inner conflict and struggle within the heart of man. The root cause of war is covetousness and the root cause of covetousness is sin.

Sin and rebellion against God often finds us lashing out against our fellowman. Often people will endeavor to blame God for wars, but few of us heed the Scripture when it says, “Thou shalt not covet.”

The truth of the matter is this. God, who knows the heart of man, sent His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to this world to die. He gave His own life to redeem and ransom us from sin and the enslavement to the ways of sin.

The greatest battle ever waged was both physical and spiritual. Jesus was willing and able to meet Satan, who really is the author of covetousness, sin, hatred, misery, and rebellion.

Jesus not only lived in our world facing all of the temptations and struggles we face but never once did He succumb to the tempter’s power. He lived righteously and Godly in our world. He died without having sinned or fallen victim to Satan’s power. He was a Good Soldier.

Just like our Nation pauses on November 11th to honour those who gave their lives so that we can continue to live in peace, so the Christian Church fondly remembers the One who died on the centre cross to purchase peace for us. Jesus died in battle, but He rose in Victory on Easter Sunday morning. Today He is alive. He now sits upon the throne of this Universe. He can also rule in the throne room of your heart if you will invite Him to be Lord in your life.

This Jesus is not only a loyal friend and true Saviour in times of peace and good health but will make you a partaker of His divine nature and allow you to enjoy His peace in your heart and life on a day-to-day basis, regardless of the circumstances.

As you remember those who have fallen, allow your thoughts to turn towards Jesus, who also died, but is alive to make intercession for you.

God Bless you.

Categories
100th Anniversary

Fruitful & Faithful

Introduction:

John 15:5-8

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.  If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.  If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.  This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

100 years ago today the Apostolic Church of Pentecost was Incorporated by the Dominion of Canada.

The eight incorporators were:

  • Franklin Small
  • Harry Sweet
  • William E. Booth-Clibborn
  • Harold A. Goss
  • Andrew D. Urshan
  • Clarence L. Cross
  • William Philips

These incorporators envisioned the establishment of a church for the purpose of:  

  • Worship
  • Instruction
  • Foreign missions work
  • Philanthropy
  • the publishing and distribution of Christian literature
  • Holding of property
  • And the receipt and distribution of funds for these purposes

The Apostolic Church of Pentecost was founded in Winnipeg, Manitoba

In 1921 Winnipeg was Canada’s third-largest city after Montreal and Toronto – it was known as the Gateway to the West.

Canada’s population in 1921 was less than 9 million, and Winnipeg’s population was 180,000 people.

Over the past 100 years, ACOP has grown from a single church in Winnipeg, Manitoba – to a global movement of 1500 churches with partner organizations in 26 countries.

ACOP has gone from 8 incorporators to over 400 credentialed ministers in Canada.

ACOP was birthed with a tremendous missions vision.  In 1926 the Zion Apostolic Church gave $32,000.00 to global missions that is the equivalent of $450,000.00 in 2021!

Over the past 100 years over 330 missionaries have been sent out by the Apostolic Church of Pentecost.

A few years ago, one of our newer credential holders – Peter Chu was reading Streams of Grace – on page 274 he came across the name of Vernet Mills – in the list of missionaries that ACOP had sent out.  Vernet may be a relative of mine – if so a distant one – but all we knew about Vernet Mills was that he was a missionary to China.

Peter is originally from Hong Kong and was familiar with Vernet Mills ministry, and he brought me a biography entitled:

Dr. Mills – The Father of Orphans

  • Vernet (John Russell) Mills was Born in Birmingham England – May 12, 1913
  • His family moved to Winnipeg, Manitoba when he was 6 years old
  • At age 18 he completed high school and was planning to follow his fathers career path and work for the Canadian National Railway.
  • But God had a different plan…
  • A missionary on furlough was preaching at Zion Apostolic Church about the desperate need for the gospel to be preached in China
  • Vernet was the first to respond to the altar call at that service and he also responded to God’s call to become a missionary to China.
  • Oct 1, 1931 – his family saw him off at the train station in Winnipeg.
  • With a bible, an extra pair of shoes, two changes of clothing and $5.50 in his pocket he took the train to Vancouver and set sail for China.
  • Upon arrival he began his language study and his immersion into the Chinese culture
  • After several lonely months in China – Vernet wrote to his fiancée Miss Alma Kenny and invited her to join him in China. 
  • She arrived in China April 2, 1932 – they were married in a traditional Chinese ceremony.
  • A short while later God used Verner to deliver a demonized man – and it opened a whole village to the Gospel
  • During this time period the Mills’ encountered many testing’s of their faith.
  • One of those testing’s was “Financial support from churches in Canada was variable.”  — If you were to ask most ACOP missionaries and they would likely tell you that things haven’t changed much in that regard.
  • In 1937 Japan invaded China – and then in 1939 WWII broke out.
  • During this time of war, Vernet spearheaded a relief effort with 21 soup kitchens feeding 14,000 people per day
  •  During this same time, he established five orphanages that were caring for 700 children
  • Along the way, he got introduced to General Chaiag Kia-Shek – who helped him secure food for orphans from the military supply chain.
  • By 1948 Mills had established 42 orphanages and was caring for over 5000 orphans in China
  • In 1949 the Communist Revolution led to the seizure of the 42 orphanages – and all of Mills staff was replaced by communists workers.
  • Eventually the Mills’ along with other Western Missionaries were kicked out of China
  • But by 1951 Vernet is assisting 4000 orphans in 23 orphanages on the Korea peninsula and 6000 orphans in 60 orphanages in Japan.
  • In 1952 he returned to Hong Kong, where through a series of miracles he acquires 28 acres of land to establish an orphanage there.
  • By 1958 he has established the Chinese Children Fund and is helping 250,000 orphans in Asia
  • Vernet Mills efforts to assist children were recognized by:
    • Chiang Kai-Shek – President of the Peoples Republic of China (Taiwan) – Honored Mills for his humanitarian efforts in China
    • The President of S. Korea conferred on him the country’s highest civilian award – the Order of Cultural Merit National Award
    • Ewha University in South Korea conferred a honorary Doctor of Humanities on him
    • In 1974 the Emperor of Japan conferred on him the Third Order of the Sacred Treasure in recognition of his efforts on behalf of Children in Japan
    • In 1980 – Pope John Paul II awarded him the Golden Medal – As a Benefactor of Mankind.  He was the only protestant minister ever to receive such a recognition from the Vatican.

Vernet Mills died on November 21, 1996.

His Biography ends with these words:

“Dr. Mills had lived a life of faith.  By faith, he responded to God’s call to go to China.  By faith, he overcame cultural barriers and established churches and a bible school there.  By faith, he endured incredible hardship during the war and reversed the devastation of famine in the Sy Yup area.  By faith, he responded to another special calling: taking care of suffering little children, victims of senseless wars, violence, and human conflicts in China, Korea, and worldwide.  For this, he was affectionately called “The Father of Orphans”.

This is the story of fruitful ministry and a story that most of us in ACOP are not aware of.

But this story illustrates—this side of eternity, we will never know the full impact that our ACOP Fellowship has had.

We can’t take credit for all that Vernet Mills accomplished.

But what we can take credit for, is that a missionary on furlough tells the compelling story of the need in China – and a young man senses the call of the Holy Spirit to go to China – and becomes a world changer.

In the passage from John 15—there are two overriding themes – fruitfulness and faithfulness.

We should be grateful for all that God has accomplished through ACOP over the past 100 years—but we should not be content.

As we stand on the precipice of a new century – I believe that we need to rededicate ourselves to greater fruitfulness in our second century.

Because through fruitfulness we bring Glory to our Heavenly Father.

10 Keys to Greater Fruitfulness in Our Second Century

1. We Must Lean Young:

If the majority of the people in your church have hair the colour of mine – I have a prophetic word for you—in 20 years your church will be dead.

We need to be thinking about what kind of inheritance we will leave for future generations.

The ancient Greeks had an axiom that said “Society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they will never sit”

As leaders, we have the opportunity to plant seeds that will grow into trees that will bless countless people that we will never know.

This is both a privilege and a responsibility.

The influence you have, on the people that you lead, will echo for generations to come.

As you model what generous trustworthy leadership is – and they do the same for the people they lead – then they do the same for the people they lead – and they do the same for the people they lead – generations from now people will be influenced by you and you won’t know them – but they will be sitting under a tree that you planted.

A bad leader’s influence dies with them, a great leader’s influence echoes for generations to come.

Leadership is not the great work that you do, but it is the work you unleash others to do.

If we want to experience greater fruitfulness in our second century – we need to plant trees in whose shade, we will never sit.

2. We need Longer Tables and Shorter Fences:

The reason we put up fences is to keep something or someone out.

If we are going to be more fruitful in our second century, we need shorter fences so that we can become more inclusive.

We must be inclusive of Canada’s First Nations communities—we have heard a lot about truth and reconciliation—as followers of Jesus, we have been given the ministry of reconciliation.

We must be inclusive of the ethnic groups in our communities – we are nearing a point in our Canadian culture when more Canadians speak a first language that is something other than English or French.

Our churches for the most part do not reflect the ethnic diversity of our communities.

We must be inclusive of the poor and the marginalized.

The LGBTQ community must find the love of Jesus in our churches.

Not only do we need shorter fences – but we need longer tables.

Shauna Niequist – Bread & Wine:

“We don’t come to the table to fight or to defend.  We don’t come to prove or the conquer, to draw lines in the sand, or to stir up trouble.  We come to the table because our hunger brings us there.  We come with a need, with fragility, with an admission of our humanity.  The table is the great equalizer, the level playing field many of us have been looking everywhere for.  The table is the place where the doing stops and the trying stops, the masks are removed, and we allow ourselves to be nourished, like children.”

If we are going to be more fruitful in our second century, we need shorter fences and longer tables.

3. We Need a Bigger Tent:

100 years ago Pentecostals were focused on how we were different from one another.

I am grateful that we live in a day where we are more concerned about how we are the same and what we agree on with our Pentecostal and Spirit-filled brothers and sisters—rather than allowing our distinctives to divide us.

I have a friend who says “you can be married, or you can be right.”  Sometimes enjoying the relationship is more important than being right.

We must “seek to keep the unity of the faith in the bond of peace” – and if do, we will enjoy the benefits of a bigger tent, and we will be more fruitful in our second century.

4. We need to Recognize that we Are Better Together:

Jeff Christopherson says:

“The Kingdom of God prefers collaboration, interdependence, and community.

The Kingdom of Darkness prefers autonomy, independence, and individualism.”

The bible says—that one can chase a thousand and two can put ten thousand to flight. So just think of what 120 churches cooperating together could accomplish.

If we want to be more fruitful in our second century – we need to reject autonomy, independence, and embrace collaboration and interdependence.

Because we are better together!

5. We Must Embrace Change:

The message of the gospel does not change – it’s the same in the 21st Century as it was in the first century – “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.”

However, no flourishing church today is presenting the gospel the same way they did 100 years ago.

While remaining faithful to the unchanging gospel we must present the gospel in a relevant way to an ever-changing world.

If we choose not to change our methodology and we are making a tacit choice of slow death.

Robert Weber—Ancient-Future Evangelism:

Christianity is practiced within specific times and locations.  It always takes on some of the characteristics of its environment.  However, its essence is timeless.  The term ancient-future means that as our faith adapts to the needs presented by time and place, it remains rooted in “that which has at all times and in all places been believed.” Christ’s Church must be committed to both our faith’s timelessness and its relevance.                                    

If we as a Fellowship are going to be more fruitful in our second century, we must be willing to embrace whatever change is necessary in order to effectively present the gospel to our 21st Century world.

6. We Must Welcome the Power and Presence of the Holy Spirit:

ACOP was birthed in a powerful move of God. In any move of God, you will have the Holy Spirit, the Flesh, and the enemy.

Somewhere along the way we became a little too cautious and were concerned with the works of the flesh, and the enemy’s ability to distract us.

If we are going to be more fruitful in our second century, we need to go back to our roots and welcome the power and the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives and in our churches.

Jesus said “If you being evil give good gifts to your children- how much more will your Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit”

In order to be more fruitful in our second century, we need to welcome the power and the presence of the Holy Spirit to our lives and to our churches.

7. We Must Change the Scorecard of how we Measure Success:

 Most churches measure their success by how many people they draw in.

I would submit to you that in order to be more fruitful in our second century, we need to measure our success by how many people we send out as disciple-makers.

It doesn’t matter if we send them across the street to make disciples of their neighbour, or around the world to disciple unreached people groups—we need to measure our success by how many we send out on mission.

To be more effective in our second century we must change the scorecard of how we measure success.

8. We Must Prioritize Training and Leadership Development:

Thank God for Eston College, and all the other Bible Colleges that have served our Fellowship over these past 100 years.

Thank God for Eston College Online.

Bible College in and of itself is not enough – every ACOP member and every ACOP church must realize that they have a vital role to play in raising up the next generation of leaders.

Every ACOP member needs to be engaged in apprenticing younger leaders, and every ACOP church needs to welcome interns.

In order to be more fruitful in our second century, we must all be part of the process of training and developing the next generation of leaders.

9. We Must Become An “Ephesians 4:11 & 12” Movement:

Ephesians 4:11 tells us that Jesus has given five gifts to the church – Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors, and Teachers.

We benefit when Apostles exercise their apostolic gifts, when prophets are prophetic, when evangelists are evangelistic, when pastors are pastoral and when teachers teach.

Ephesians 4:12 says that the primary role of the 5-fold ministry gifts is to “equip God’s people for works of service.”

But to be more fruitful in our second century we need the fivefold ministries to more fully embrace their role of equipping the saints for the work of the ministry.

10.  We Must Continue to Extend Grace and Ignite Hope:

If ever our world needed the message of the Grace of God – it’s now.

If ever our world needed hope – it’s now.

In order to be more fruitful in our second century, we need to extend more grace and ignite more hope.

Those are keys to greater fruitfulness in our second century.

Fruitfulness must be coupled with Faithfulness:

I Kings 14:25-28

In the fifth year of King Rehoboam, Shishak king of Egypt attacked Jerusalem.  He carried off the treasures of the temple of the Lord and the treasures of the royal palace.  He took everything, including all the gold shields Solomon had made.  So King Rehoboam made bronze shields to replace them and assigned these to the commanders of the guard on duty at the entrance to the royal palace.  Whenever the king went to the Lord’s temple, the guards bore the shields, and afterward, they returned them to the guardroom.

When Solomon was king, he had 500 gold shields made for his elite bodyguards.  The value of the gold that was used to make those shields today is $137 million dollars.

Rehoboam succeeded his father Solomon on the throne of Israel – but did not inherit his father’s wisdom and nor did he walk with God.

When the Egyptians laid siege to Jerusalem, Rehoboam gave Shishack all the treasure out of the temple as tribute—including the gold shields.  As a result, Israel became a vassal state of Egypt.

To save face Rehoboam replaced the gold shields with shields made out of bronze.  He didn’t have the resources, the wisdom, or faith of his father.

When polished, Bronze is shiny and glints in the sun – but it is not the same as gold.

Today, you can make a bronze shield for about $80.00—a pittance compared to the cost of the quarter-million dollars of a gold shield.

Rehoboam was pretending that nothing had changed – when in reality everything had changed.

We have inherited some gold shields from our forefathers:

  • Message of the Grace of God
  • The Baptism of the Holy Spirit
  • The fullness of God in Christ
  • Healing in the the name of Jesus
  • And the imminent return of the Lord Jesus Christ

As ACOP enters its second century we must preserve these “gold shields” that have been handed down to us, and not settle for a cheap imitation.

In our second century—let us determine to be more fruitful—but remain faithful to the timeless truths we have inherited.

Categories
100 Years of Memories

The Power of Character

A strong character, above any suspicion, is the greatest quality any man can possess.

Character must not be confounded with reputation. Character is what a man is. Reputation is what people think of him. Character is the true, stable, and enduring quality of a man. the reputation of a man is like his shadow; it sometimes follows and sometimes precedes him; it is sometimes longer and sometimes shorter than himself.

Character is indispensable. Professor Blaikie of the University of Edinburgh more than half a century ago, addressing a class of young men said, “Money is not needful, power is not needful, cleverness is not needful, fame is not needful, liberty is not needful, even health is not needful, but character alone.”

Character is not inherited, nor conferred. It is made. Jesus has a peerless character. E. S. Brightman in “Moral Laws” said, “in Jesus, the idea of personality had its highest historical illustration.” Jesus Christ is the faultless exemplar of virtue, a self-determining will, perfectly bent on perfect ends. This was the power of His influence.

Jesus did not have wealth, but He had power. He did not have a position conferred by the voice of the people, but He influenced men as no other. The power of His life was inseparable from the strength of His character.

This is what placed Him at the head of His contemporaries. Because of the unquestioned quality of character, He has received the homage of men through the centuries. There is no situation in life where Jesus could not be your example and guide.

He taught truthfulness in speech and life. The cross was a vivid enactment of self-denying love. I quote Fodkas-Jackson who relates this truth to human experience in a very effective way. “The cross teaches the spirit of genuine self-sacrifice. All genuine nobility of character springs from self-oblivion, and self-oblivion is the spirit of sacrifice. The toil of the mission, the zeal of the Apostle, the meekness of endurance, the heroism of action, the courage of martyrdom—all these are fruits and tokens of the cross. It is the source of their energy and the rule of their fulfillment.”

The preaching of the cross, received and personally applied, will cause us to live above the spirit of the world—to “overcome the world.” It will subdue the pride of philosophy and tame the fire of lust.

The true disciple of Christ is born of His Spirit and by the seed of God’s Word. The center of his life and the motivating factor is no longer self, in the sense of personal prestige, nor in the world, to be successful in the eyes of the world; but it is in the crucified and risen Christ.

Not an outward conformity to stipulated standards. Christ is the object of our love. He stands as leader to challenge by example. Christ at the same time becomes a new source of power available to reinforce our old moral inabilities. Because virtue still flows out of the risen Christ a new moral achievement is possible. “He remains the central and renewing principle of the ethical life, the power which conforms human nature to the Divine Law. Christian living centres in his personal presence. He constantly communicates new life to His followers.”—C. Henry

Louis XIV ruled large France, but he could not conquer little Holland. He wondered why, so inquired of Colbert his minister, who replied, “Because, sir, the greatness of a country does not depend upon the extent of its territory, but on the character of its people.”

The effectiveness and success of the Christian witness of the Organization to which we belong depends on the character of its ministers and people.