Monday, March 29, 2010

A message from Gerald Rowlands

Ecclesiastes 11:1 Cast your bread upon the waters, For you will find it after many days. NKJV
Approximately 20 years ago, whilst Elizabeth and I were living in Singapore, we conducted a Church planting training seminar in Surabaya, Indonesia. Amongst the delegates was a young man who was a relatively new believer and was working as a youth evangelist in Java. During the seminar we gave every delegate a set of books containing the basic subjects of our training material in the Bahasa (Indonesian) language. A couple of years later whilst we were preaching in Bali we invited the local pastor there to attend the Christian Celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem at which I was the director of praise and worship. When the pastor asked if he could invite another two colleagues who were also pastors, we readily and happily agreed. However, when they arrived in Jerusalem they had brought 300 of their church members with them including the young pastor who had attended the Surabaya seminar
Last year (2009) one of our Asian associates organized some ministry appointments for us that included a visit to a particular church in Sumatra. When we arrived in this city we were met by the pastor and his lovely wife. As we greeted each other he looked me in the eye and said, “You are my guru!” I laughed and asked him what he meant. He then explain that he was a delegate at the seminar in Surabaya 20 years ago and together with all the other delegates he had received copies of our training manuals that focus on soul winning, evangelism and church planting. He further informed us that he and his wife diligently studied the material and on the strength of what they learned they left Jakarta and went to Sumatra to plant a church. The only Biblical training they had ever received came from studying our material. They commenced a house meeting and in the first of these some five persons were present. To our surprise and amazement he then told us that in the fifteen years since then, the congregation in this heavily populated Muslim city and surroundings had grown to 15,000 members. Of course we were thrilled and delighted to hear about this tremendous response. What a blessing for us to preach and teach several thousand of these precious members.
Last week (March 2010) we again went back to that same church to assist in helping them to launch a new training centre which would use our training material to prepare hundreds of believers to evangelize their nation and also to prepare to go as missionary to other nations. Imaginer our delight when on arrival we discovered that the church now has 40,000 members! Obviously they cannot all fit into any auditorium in the city. So there is one main congregation that meets in six services every Sunday with approximately 3,500 to 4,000 members in each service. They have also planted many other smaller congregations that are increasing in number at the rate of one every eleven days. The first meeting at which I spoke was a communion service for over 1,000 pastors and workers. The second service was a prayer meeting on the Saturday morning at which more than 3,500 people prayed fervently for more than 3 hours. (This prayer is a weekly event). This congregation has also opened a small private hospital and a number of medical clinics.
The Senior pastor who gained a deep love for Israel when he originally attended the Feast in Jerusalem has instilled this same love into his congregation. He still visits Israel three times every year, each time with a group of his pastors and church members. I observed, during the week that we stayed with them that at least two of the factors what are present in this exciting church that is expanding so rapidly and solidly are strong, fervent, corporate prayer meetings and a deep love and support for Israel.
The church in which we were teaching last week has purchased a defunct hotel/resort with more than 80 guest rooms and sufficient land to build an auditorium to seat 15,000 people, plus enough land for appropriate parking. Whilst we were with them last week I had the joyous privilege of praying a dedicatory prayer on the building site where the foundations are now being laid. The training school will be accommodated on this site too.
(Incidentally even greater growth is present in the churches pastored by the other two ministers we had invited to Jerusalem. One of those churches has a building that seats 25,000 and is filled six or seven times every Sunday)

Gerald Rowlands
Church Planting International
Queensland Australia

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