VOX magazine editor Ruth Garvey-Williams is at the New Wine Ireland summer conference in Sligo this week. She brings you summaries of all the Evening Celebrations and the morning Bible Teaching so you won’t miss a thing!
Tuesday 16 July
Gavin an Anne Calver are leading the morning Bible Teaching in The Arena at #Sligo19 this week exploring lessons from the book of Acts. Anne is a Minister at Stanmore Baptist Church and Gavin is Director of Mission at the Evangelical Alliance UK and chair of Spring Harvest. On Tuesday morning they spoke on our commission to share the life-changing Gospel message:
Anne: I feel so excited by all that the Lord is already doing and is yet to do. Acts 5: 12 - 25 The Sanhedrin tried to stop what was happening but God had another plan. We think we know we know where someone is meant to be and what should be happening. But when God’s power comes, there is a whole different agenda at work.
Our God is All Powerful
We are witnessing a God of power. In these first few verses, everybody was getting healed and people were being saved. The power of God was moving.
A year ago a friend invited me over to meet two ladies, identical twins from Israel who are in their 70s. When they opened their mouths to talk about the Lord, it was so powerful. They believed that the Lord had sent them from Israel because something is about to happen. One said, “I see fire coming up all over the United Kingdom and spreading across the UK and branching out into Ireland and across Europe.”
I found myself going weak at the knees and I could not breath. As I stood up to get out of the room, I ended up face down on the carpet of the lounge. The glory of the Lord came around me. I stayed down there on the ground until I could ask for help to go on the school run. All the way home I was asking, “Lord, what is going on?” That evening, I read Daniel 10 and I thought, “Now it makes sense.” When Daniel has a vision. He had no strength left. His face turned pale. He was sent trembling to his hands and knees. He bowed with his face to the ground.
God’s power is greater than we could ever ask, dream or imagine. When I was with my face to the ground, I was so aware that in one second my breath could be taken from my body. My God breathes life to me. He moves in ways I could never imagine. I want that power to sweep the nations. I want His will and His way.
The Lord is doing something in such an incredible way that people are attracted to the power of God. It is not because they are putting on a show. It is not because of anything the people are doing... it is because God’s power is moving.
John Wimber said, “If the Holy Spirit were removed from our churches, 95% of our ministry would carry on as it did before.”
Why would we continue without God’s power? I long for His power.
Christianity cannot be swept away
Gavin: If you want to see the church grow, then persecute it and put it under pressure. Iran has the fastest growing in church in the world. A country church where you can lose your life for owning a Bible is the home to the fastest growing church.
This time it was not just Peter and John who are arrested. All the apostles are thrown into jail.
The Bible is the most visual book in history. I like to ask, what does it look, sound and smell like? What about the feeding of the 5,000 when Jesus feeds a whole field with a boy’s lunch? What did it look like when Lot’s wife turns around and becomes a pillar of salt (not pepper)? What was the first thing Jesus does when He rises from the dead? He folds up the linen! The Bible is visual. We need to bring it to life for new generations.
In Acts 5, the angel let’s the apostles out and sends them back to do the very thing that they were arrested for. And then he shuts the door of the cell again!
You can’t get rid of Christianity. We know the end of the story. When you know the end of the story, you behave differently in the middle. However many good things or bad things happen, the end of the story is the same. Either way, Jesus wins. The church has got to rise up confident of the fact that we are children of the living God. Let’s be honest, we are not being persecuted; we are being moderately marginalised.
Paul, who was a little fella, he wrote, “I am not ashamed of the Gospel.” Christianity can not be swept away. We need to be more confident.
Compelled to share the message
We all find witnessing hard. I’m an evangelist but I still find certain things difficult. I don’t like preaching in parks. Preaching in a park recently, I felt like the Lord saying, “Do not preach like a lion in a church and like a mouse in the park.”
Afterwards, I noticed a man in the café and I began talking to him. He said, “I’m standing up because you told me to. You said to stand up if you want to give your life to Jesus.” This man had come for a coffee and a doughnut but he found salvation instead! We need to preach the gospel.
I come from a family of geniuses. When you grow up around geniuses, they have no common sense. I like to think of the Sanhedrin like this. They have brains but no common sense. They sent a messenger to the prison and he comes back to tell them that the apostles have escaped. They try to solve the problem until someone looks out the window and says, “Surprise!” The apostles were out preaching again!
We’ve got to get away from thinking that evangelism is for the big mouths. Every Christian is either an evangelist or an imposter. I’ll let you into a secret. I can be too much for some people! A Nigerian friend introduced me saying, “This is Gavin. He has the wrong personality for his nationality.”
It is going to take all people to reach all people!
When I say grace for a meal in a café, I ask the waiter or waitress how I can pray for them. We have done something wrong in the church. We’ve made evangelism a job and a personality type. We are not empowering the whole church to reach the whole world. We have got to stop out-sourcing our witnessing to other people.
It is never too late. Evangelism is not for professionals. All of us are witnesses. Don’t be bored of the Gospel. The Gospel is amazing. Jesus who is God comes from highest heaven to lowest earth that He might get the lowest and take them to the highest. He died so we could know life in all its fullness, now and forever. Three days later, He defeated death so that we can know life. Don’t get bored of the impact of the Gospel - it changes lives.
A mum told me, “Ten years ago you preached in a Young Offenders Institute and my son gave his life to Jesus. Now he is preparing to go back into that Institution on the chaplaincy team.”
A Commission from Above
Anne: The Sanhedrin was desperate to silence the apostles but because their commission came from above, the disciples wanted to obey Him. I struggle sometimes to give Jesus everything and allow Him access into every area of our lives.
When Gavin got the job working for the Evangelical Alliance, he started commuting to London. I said, “I’m not moving. I’ve started my training as a Baptist minister. I’m committed to these people. I’m not okay to go south.”
Gavin was struggling because he was coming home late, exhausted. I could feel this tug inside of me. At that time, we were writing a book called “Game Changers.” We were away on holiday and I felt the Lord saying, “You are writing this book on game changers but are you willing to change the game.” And I said “No. I’m comfortable where I am.” But when God says something, you know you cannot ignore it.
These guys were compelled to share the Gospel. Little by little I said, “Ok Lord.” There came a day when I said, “Ok, if the Lord wants us to move south, He is going to need provide for me.” Almost immediately, the phone started to ring. A Baptist minister called to say, “I have a job here for Anne. I want her to continue her training.” The house sold within four weeks and we were moving within two months.
You cannot stop what God is doing. If this is a work of God, you will not be able to stop this. When God is at work, something incredible happens. We are called to share. Our commission is from God. They filled Jerusalem with the teaching about Jesus. That is what we are living for.
Gavin: I have a passion to see every person given an opportunity to meet Jesus. My school reports often included the words “Could do better.” When it comes to evangelism, many of us need to learn to do better.