Spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ to the Nations
June 7, 2019
By Dr. Carey Akin, Associate Pastor
The original Pentecost was the day the Jewish people celebrated 50 days after Passover, but for Christians, it is the birth of the church. We are told in Acts 2 that “when the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.”
What a day! The Holy Spirit filled these disciples as they waited on the Lord in Jerusalem. Today, Pentecost is a Christian holiday that often comes and goes with hardly anyone noticing.
It’s my prayer that this June 9, Pentecost Sunday, we might remind ourselves that the cross and Jesus’ sacrifice made it possible for you and I to have the Spirit of God not just descend upon us for a particular moment but to dwell in us each moment of each day!
Why does Pentecost seem to receive so little an amount of attention? There are lots of possible reasons, but one reason that should get our attention is that we don’t spend much time focused on the Holy Spirit. If I’m wrong, you can certainly tell me, but that has been my experience over the years. And I think most of us who long for more of Jesus would agree it is time to reclaim the power and the presence that comes with God’s Spirit in us and the incredible difference it can make.
As a result of Pentecost in Acts 2, the Spirit filled them, and the church grew and the good news spread! I believe we are in desperate need of the church filled with His Spirit once again today. When the church in America is in decline, far too often imitating the world or taking on its values, a fresh infilling of God’s Spirit could once again allow us to be the church we read in Acts of grace and truth through His power and presence where lives are transformed each and everyday!
We have lots of great mission partners who live and serve through the power of the Holy Spirit in such a way that impacts the church in different places in the world, and I am thankful for all of them, but I would like to take a moment to highlight one that has been having an incredible impact for over 20 years: International Leadership Institute (ILI). Not only am I thankful for the impact that they have had around the world, but I am equally thankful that Mt. Bethel has been blessed to be in partnership with them for many years and see leaders transformed, churches planted, souls saved, and the gospel spread through the work of the Holy Spirit!
Some of you may not have heard of our partnership with ILI. Some of you may have heard it mentioned but know very little about it and how God is using it. The first ILI National Conference I attended in 2008 was in Uganda, and it had a profound impact of me. I have never been the same! Let me share some amazing statistics how our partnership has made a difference in a much bigger way than most people in our church realize. Since 2003, Mt. Bethel has sponsored over 50 conferences in over 15 different countries training 2099 leaders, a majority of which we have participated in. This isn’t even the best part! These 50 plus events, through the multiplication of leaders, led to 281 training events and a total of 10,705 trained leaders. The best part is that the results of this partnership between Mt. Bethel and ILI is that these 10,705 leaders have worked in their local church, sharing the good news and seeing thousands of others become disciples.
When I think of Pentecost and the Spirit of God, I think of God’s word and truth going out to the nations. I think of people on fire for Jesus! I think of a move of God that transforms lives! I am thankful that through partnerships, like the one we have with ILI, we are able to experience a taste of Pentecost. And I don’t know about you, but it makes me long for more!
Our Senior Pastor, Dr. Jody Ray, and one of our Associate Pastors of Discipleship, Joshua Toepper, will be going to Europe this month to do a 62-mile walk over three days from Auschwitz to an ILI History Maker Conference to raise awareness and funds to support History Maker (ILI Conferences for young adults) throughout Europe, where there is a desperate need. If you wish to support them, you may donate online. What a great way to celebrate Pentecost!