From the outset, I would like to establish that I am not under the delusion that I can influence pastors and leaders who have far more experience than I. Rather, my hope is that this article might influence those “east and west” of me, my peers. My prayer is that it can encourage and motivate other young ministers to step out and plant a church in the overripe harvest field.
There may be some senior pastor of a great Apostolic church who will read this article and hand it over to the young minister he has been mentoring, and it just may be that a small fire of burden can ignite. It is with this intention in mind that I “cast my bread upon the waters…”
“Hanani, one of my brethren, came, he and certain men of Judah; and I asked them concerning the Jews that had escaped, which were left of the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem. And they said unto me, The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire.” (Nehemiah 1:2-3).
Something breaks in the heart of Nehemiah as he listens to the report of his countrymen and his homeland, it wasn’t a superficial kind of feeling that washed over him, he wasn’t merely inspired for the moment. This emotion couldn’t be compartmentalized until the burden eased. No, verse four tells us his response – “And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven.”
In his book, “One God, One World, One Church,”
Bro. Kenneth Haney writes, “Before a people can perform a great work in the kingdom of God there must be a stirring of the emotions, a passion which brings us to a dependency upon God. As Nehemiah wept, fasted, and prayed, so must we.” Cornelius is waiting.
In their website, www.namb.net, Richard Harris, Vice-President of the Southern Baptist’s Church Planting Group wrote, “By December 2000, Southern Baptists will have approximately 50,000 congregations, this represents a church for every 5,700 people in the United States and one church for every 227,000 in Canada. If the North American population stopped growing today,
at out current baptismal rate, it would take close to 500 years for Southern Baptists to reach every one. Just among Southern Baptists there are approximately 1,500 new churches every year. This number needs to be increased immediately to 2,000 church plants annually.”
That report alone ought to cause a stirring in our hearts to plant Apostolic churches, to see souls baptized in the Name of Jesus Christ and filled with the Holy Ghost. However, as I once heard Bro. Doug Klinedinst say, “Other denominations don’t have enough truth to save themselves, yet they are committed to saving the world. The United Pentecostal Church has enough truth to save the world, yet we seem content to save ourselves.” Cornelius is waiting.
In July, 2001, my wife, Marisa, our toddler, Garrison, and myself had been evangelizing full-time for ten months. I had long felt a burden for church planting, and had done an immense amount of in-depth research on various cities in metropolitan areas that were without a United Pentecostal Church. My burden had intensified to the point that I no longer felt satisfied on the evangelistic field; I really felt as though I were out of the will of God. I had been praying and fasting for help from God in choosing a city to go to, but up until that time had not felt any direction.
We were preaching in the Florida district and basing out of the Tampa area. We were preparing to preach in Clearwater, Florida on a Thursday night, and it was while locked away in a Sunday School room, praying, that the Lord spoke to my heart. I prayed, “Lord, I will go anywhere You want me to go, if You just tell me, I’ll go.” Just like a conversation with a friend, I felt the Lord simply say, ‘Dearborn.’ I had researched three cities in the Michigan District; Kentwood, a suburb of Grand Rapids, East Lansing, and Dearborn, a suburb on the south-west side of Detroit.
Let me encourage you right now. Since we submitted to God’s will and direction for our ministry, we have felt a depth of burden, faith, grace, hope, and strength that I never knew existed. What follows is a report on some of the populations of the cities that surround Dearborn that are without United Pentecostal Churches.
I hope somebody will be stirred up enough to fast, pray, and come plant a church in one of these great cities!
In Acts 10, the Apostle Peter is on a rooftop praying. As he is drawing nearer to God, some servants from a man named Cornelius are drawing nearer to the Apostle Peter. After God is finished preparing Peter, and Peter hears what these servants have to say, they head for Caesarea, a city without an Apostolic church… “And Cornelius waited for them, and had called together his kinsmen and near friends.” (Acts 10:24). A spiritually hungry and desperate group of people were waiting on an Apostolic preacher to come to their city!
We need to realize that we are racing the rapture! As young ministers we cannot allow ourselves to sit idly and do nothing about all of the people like Cornelius in so many of our unchurched cities. They are hungry. They are thirsty. They are weak and dying and lost! There has to be a stirring and a burdening that would cause us to make up our minds, and, like Nehemiah, do something about the report. Or, like Peter, after prayer and fasting, and God has directed, to go to a city without an Apostolic church and begin a work! Cornelius is waiting!
I read a story about the Chicago Bulls that is applicable to all young ministers. Several years ago, when they were winning world championships and when Michael Jordan was still playing for them, they were in practice. The Bull’s coach, Phil Jackson, kept repeating the phrase, “There’s no I in team! There’s no I in team! There’s no I in team!” He was intending to drive the point home that sacrifice is integral to success, that teamwork was essential to winning.
Finally, Michael Jordan raised his hand. He said, “Coach, you said that there’s no I in team.”
“Yes, Michael, I did. There’s no I in team.”
“But Coach, there is an I in win!”
Coach Jackson, (the one relating the story to the reporter,) said, “That’s the last time I’ll say that!”
Jordan’s point was not to embarrass his coach, it was not to contradict him, but it was to point out that for the team to be successful, every single individual needed to do all he possibly could to insure victory. Everybody should take it upon themselves to make up their mind that, “It is up to me” Cornelius is waiting!
After being approved by the Michigan District Board to come to Dearborn, and after moving here, we held our first service in a smoke-filled V.F.W. hall on March 24, 2002, Palm Sunday. Since then, we have had well over 100 different first time guests. We have averaged over 20 in attendance, 16 have received the Holy Ghost, 2 have been baptized in Jesus’ Name, we have several ongoing Home Bible Studies, and God is doing great things! We didn’t know one single, solitary soul in the entire city of Dearborn when we came, but we found out that Cornelius is waiting!
There is nothing special about my wife or I. We have no outstanding qualifications or talents. Just like Peter in Acts 10, the credit belongs solely to God. God had done the preparatory work, Peter’s part was to simply go and find the hungry person. If we can do it – so can you! Cornelius is waiting!
Allow unchurched cities to bother you. Allow the multitudes who are lost to stir you. Allow the effort being put forth by other denominations to challenge you! This is the hour for young ministers to boldly and prayerfully step out into this overripe harvest field to plant an Apostolic church! Refuse to compartmentalize your burden. Refuse to wait and allow others to do all of the work. Refuse to stand dormant and inactive on the sideline! Submit yourself to your pastor. Pray, fast, research, prepare yourself; but make up your mind that you are going to make a difference. Make up your mind that it is up to you! Cornelius is waiting!
Written by Brandon Hartzell