The Great Commission of Jesus was taken seriously in ancient times. Subsequent generations, too, have taken up this divine charge. Untold stories exist in abundance. Church history is full of them.
From the late 1880s well into the first decade of the 20th century several places around the globe became sites of outpourings of the Holy Spirit. A few of the places had global effects: several persons felt led to go the nations. In years past, an old style of ‘faith-missions’, the pay-as-you-go method, was employed, a venture in which one trusted that daily provision from here to there would be given directly from God’s hand to the missionary’s mouth. A handful of countries benefited from the divine call of these anointed persons.
At the close of World War I the region of Central America was targeted by early Pentecostals. Open-air meetings were held, churches established, and natives (or host-country nationals) were empowered to fan the flames of revival through their preaching. The termination of World War II saw the initial rise of the Latter Rain and Voice of Healing movements. Again Central America became an area of interest. Many were healed and filled with the Holy Ghost as men and women ploughed the ground of new spiritual territories. The bulk of those who had gone forth until that time had been sent forth by their denominations.
The 1970s and 1980s saw national independence come to many islands. Citizens, freed from the yoke of stronger political powers, enjoyed a new-found liberty. Encouraged by the surging joys of freedom, non-denominational fellowships were born and thrived. Honduras was not left out of the moves of God sweeping the regions. The Spirit-filled message touched thousands of folk. It is for this reason that I am writing.
This month we would like to draw attention to the work being done by WMF member Jeremiah ‘Jerry’ Hardwick. Full of the Holy Ghost, he served as WMF’s first military Chaplain. His ministry and assignments have taken him all round the world. And through a series of divine providences while ministering in Israel the Lord opened a door for him to launch new efforts in Honduras, supporting pastors and aiding them in their efforts to reach their people. Anyone familiar with that region of the world understands the hardships, all too common also to other localities of the world, which rural ministers face. Traveling ministers understand that thousands of people can be reached simply by blessing those men and women who faithfully shepherd them. Effective national pastors and evangelists who sow in fertile fields reaped by the poorest of the poor still see God’s power and glory in various ways. This truth I know from first-hand experience.
One time I was ministering in the interior of Mexico. My wife and I were in an area where no nearby houses could be seen. I wondered if anyone would show up for the meeting. That night, while the stars shined overhead, people came from all directions: this church in the badlands was packed with hundreds of people. It was easy to preach to people so enthusiastic about Christ: they were earnest; afterwards, some were filled and others cried out from a keen sense of God’s healing power on them. Altar services like those kinds usually provoke questions. So I asked the pastor, ‘what is the greatest miracle that you ever have seen?’ He replied: ‘as far as anyone could search, on either side of his or his wife’s family, everyone had been won to the Lord.’ I never have met another human who could confess so plainly something we all long for so earnestly. However, this Mexican Apostle’s life was radically changed by one foreigner whose heart God had touched on his behalf (see Acts 16:14). The foreigner believed that this God-called minister serving quietly in his own wilderness was worthy of a few gifts to support his vision of ministering in rural districts.
Throughout in the history of missions the ‘silver and gold have I none…’ conviction has spurred on some of our most anointed ministers. Some construe ‘lack’ to be an impediment; others take it to be a stepping stone, thrusting one upward into greater blessings. At present, we simply want to encourage WMF membership to extend a liberal hand in assisting brother Hardwick not only with prayer, but as well with monetary gifts as he works to expand the borders of the Kingdom of God in Honduras, a Central American nation. Here at the office he has our full support, and offerings designated to him will be dispersed to him. In giving to the work of God, let us remember that anything is better than nothing. Still, let us not forget the words of Christ in Paul’s admonition: “it is more blessed to give than to receive” Acts 20:35. Last of all, as Jerry presses onwards during this mighty trial with his health, as described in the prayer request section of this email, let us believe with him that he is healed in Jesus’ Name, Amen!
- Brother Darrell Sutton
Acts 14:7-15 contains an amazing story of healing at Lystra. The written account is clear: the customs, language and superstitions of people played a prominent role in how God's power was interpreted in ancient times. Obviously misunderstanding abounded. Misinterpretations are no less a problem today. Whenever the Gospel is announced in regions where citizens are unfamiliar with Christ the living God, either the Sun of righteousness will become visible or real to them or they may come to believe erroneously that a demon or native god is manifesting itself in a new way. I've seen it all before. Awareness of native traditions is helpful to any missionary endeavor. Two months ago my wife and I participated in a city-wide campaign among the Kikuyu people, the largest tribe in Kenya. Islam had made inroads there years ago. A pastor wanted some help. I wanted to be of some assistance to him. So a few years ago, I preached at night in Arabic on the local radio station there in order to aid the Christians in their resistance of Islamic proselytism.
The place is rife with other odd beliefs and practices. Cults of all kinds are overspreading the area. Ancestral religions, too, remain strong within some influential families. One Kenyan Pastor, who oversees a Full Gospel a movement along the Kenya/Uganda border, traveled a long distance to request repeatedly that I come to minister in his territory: a region where curses still are performed by witch-doctors, holding those who are fearful of them in bondage; a place where children often are kidnapped and sacrificed to evil spirits; an area where a few wives continue to copulate with their deceased husbands' corpses long after they have died. Of course the light of Christ is needed in such places. Over the years we have conducted various meetings in the Middle East and in Kenya, all of which have been extremely fruitful. So again we returned.
In the city-center of Nyeri, Kenya, our host church had established an upper room from which a mass of downtown city workers could hear God's word preached. Each afternoon the loudspeakers covered the area with African praise and worship. One by one people from all segments of society made their way to these hallowed grounds, drawn by the lively music, and at times by our preaching. Praise the Lord for the power of God unto salvation! One young man comes to mind. He was in desperate straits. His immediate family was a mess: family members had burned down his mothers' business twice, and his father's life was being destroyed through alcohol etc.
Indeed his story was not unlike that of thousands of others; but having lost everything, and while wandering through the streets, he heard me preaching from Habakkuk 3:2. He then came into the meeting and fell under deep conviction. Later my wife and I and our host pastor led him to the Lord as he knelt on the floor. We observed how tears of repentance gave way to tears of joy immediately as the fist of God beat back the clouds of despair in his life. Youth discover a marvelous thing when they find hope. In my final service an invitation to come forward to receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit was extended. Oh what a joy it was to see these souls filled to overflowing. Languages inspired by the Holy Ghost suddenly burst forth from their lips. Its a great day to be alive, and to God be the glory for furnishing another Day of Pentecost among the Kikuyu!
In the next installment we will share testimonies (and some needs) from some of WMF's dynamic workers in the mission field. Please pray for them. So press in and pull hard folks because Jesus is coming soon!