Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
During the recent ministerial conference in Canada, Dr. Elmer (he asked us to call him “El”) Colyer, gave us a wonderful presentation on “participatory, trinitarian, Christian faith” (click here for El’s bio). El’s use of the term “participatory” refers both to the divine life and love shared by the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and to our participation in God’s life, love and mission. Here is part of El’s comments on the Holy Spirit’s essential role in enabling and empowering our participation in God’s work of evangelism:
It is only the presence and the activity of the Holy Spirit that makes us and anyone free to know and believe and obey God’s self-communication to us in Christ. No one ever comes to Christ on the ground of a human argument or human witness apart from the Holy Spirit. This is why you really can’t argue anyone into the Kingdom unless the Spirit is also active. This is why praying for those that do not know Christ is so important – praying that the Spirit of God will be at work within them and in their lives. This is why prayer is the first act of Christian ministry.
Indeed, only the Holy Spirit can soften a heart – but as followers of Jesus, we are called to be his agents, bearing his love and truth to non-believers. Though this is important work, we should not fear it or make it more complicated than it is. El’s presentation on this was very helpful, and I encourage you to explore this issue further by clicking the link to the article in this issue of Weekly Update titled, Evangelism: simple. There you will find a story sent in by James Newby, which illustrates El’s point that evangelism really does not have to be contrived or complicated. Sometimes the opportunities show up literally on our doorstep.
The Holy Spirit is at work equipping followers of Jesus to take active part in God’s work, including his work of evangelism. His tools for equipping include seminaries that prepare women and men for pastoral and other ministries. Our own Grace Communion Seminary (GCS) is currently going through the accreditation process. Thanks for your prayers about this – the accreditation team recently visited us and they are now considering their decision. We will keep you updated.
We also are building alliances with other seminaries. In that regard, GCI was invited to participate in the recent annual denominational fair held by Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (TEDS) in Deerfield, IL (Chicago area). Representing GCI were Greg Williams (who coordinates the GCI-USA pastoral internship program), and GCI pastors Harry Kall (who also serves as district pastor), Richard Frankel, Willard High, Tracy Porter (who is also a TEDS student), and Becky Deuel. Becky addressed about 30 women and men who are enrolled in TEDS’ Master of Divinity (MDiv) program. Becky’s story concerning her journey as a woman into pastoral ministry within GCI was particularly well received. Becky and Greg met with several TEDS MDiv students following Becky’s presentation. A few ladies who will be graduating soon showed interest in connecting with GCI.
Your prayers about these developments are needed and appreciated. Please also pray about the issues noted in the Prayer & Updates feature, including an update on Bernie Schnippert’s health. Remember that prayer is the battleground on which we fight the good fight of faith!
Blessings from my family to yours,
P.S. The Advent season will soon be on us. For your preparation you might find helpful the resources (including an Advent sermon series) posted by World Relief at http://worldrelief.org/christmas.