Pentecost Sunday Update
Day of Pentecost
During a worldwide pandemic and social turmoil, the church continues to have revival. For the Day of Pentecost, the UPCI offered special online services in English and Spanish. To date, we have received the following reports:
- Views in English: 48,656
- Views in Spanish: 50,105
- Holy Ghost Baptisms: 2,294
- Renewals in the Spirit: 163
- Water Baptisms: 140
- Healings: 94
- Countries (downloaded or responded): 20
- Canada & US estimated views: 35%
- Global Missions estimated views: 65%
Here are a few outstanding testimonies:
- Over 40 people received the Holy Ghost in the crusade with Evangelist Mark Drost.
- Methodist pastor: I’m going to show the video tomorrow; already have five people getting baptized tomorrow morning! Going to pray with the people at the end of the service for the baptism of the Holy Ghost.
- My husband was away from God for years. He was just refilled with the Holy Ghost in our home.
- Home Missions church watched Pentecost Sunday service this morning; 23 in attendance and more watching online. Great service with one 60-year-old man being filled with the Holy Ghost, who’s been seeking for a long time.
- I have been backslidden for two years, and here in my living room by myself I received God’s Holy Spirit with evidence of speaking in tongues.
- In Spain, 79 were filled with the Holy Ghost.
We give special thanks to Pastor Jack Cunningham, director of the Strategic Growth Initiative, and his team at Bible World Church in Chesapeake, VA, for producing these services, as well as to our evangelists, Doug Klinedinst (English) and Mark Drost (Spanish).
The United States has been in social turmoil in recent days due to racism, racial tensions, and riots. Both racism and unconscious or unacknowledged bias are real problems in human society, and the church needs to stand against them. We cannot minimize the problem or explain it away. As a nation, we have made much progress over the years, but we need to keep moving forward to secure civil rights, equal justice under law, and racial and ethnic inclusion. “If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself,’ you do well; but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors” (James 2:8–9, NKJV).
Peaceful protests are important, but rioting and looting are not the answer, and they often hurt the very communities they are theoretically trying to support. “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21, NKJV). The ends do not justify the means. The Bible teaches that it is wrong to say, “Let us do evil, that good may come” (Romans 3:8).
In dealing with individual situations, we should promote truth, justice, and due process of law. Doing so is the best safeguard for all of us. We must hold people in authority accountable to fulfill this duty. Americans must maintain unity around the country’s ideals: “one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” We cannot let race, politics, or ideology cause us to hate one another or attack one another.
Even more importantly, we must maintain unity as the church, composed of every race, ethnicity, color, language, and national origin. The ultimate hope for our cities, our nation, and our world is the church and the gospel of Jesus Christ. The church needs to represent all people, be composed of all people, and speak with one voice on righteousness and morality. It must proclaim repentance from all sin, water baptism in the name of Jesus Christ, the baptism of the Holy Ghost with power to fulfill God’s will, and the pursuit of holiness both inwardly and outwardly, both personally and socially. The church should be an example to the world. The local church should be a witness in its community and minister holistically to the needs of people. Every person is important to God and to the church.
US Supreme Court Decision
As the world gradually reopens in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, some governments seem reluctant to treat churches with the same respect as businesses, entertainment venues, and other gatherings. One of our churches in California is part of a lawsuit asking for equal treatment under the law. After a district court judge ruled against the court, the church filed an emergency appeal with the circuit court and then the US Supreme Court. The bad news is that, in a five-to-four decision, the Court did not grant emergency relief as we hoped. However, there is also good news:
- It is significant that the Supreme Court agreed to hear the emergency appeal. Such an action is extremely rare, showing that the issue of religious freedom is extremely important.
- Four of the nine Justices would have granted emergency relief, saying that, based on the initial evidence, there is unlawful discrimination against churches.
- During the lawsuit the governor changed the rule from no more than ten persons in one service in one location to one hundred. The state realized it could not win otherwise and tried to persuade the church to drop the lawsuit. This action has provided significant relief, for even large churches can voluntarily comply by having multiple services and/or multiple auditoriums.
- The majority of the Court did not rule on the merits. It simply ruled that the case did not qualify for emergency action. In fact, four of five made no comment. Their ruling means the case must go through the normal process. Only one judge, at the district court, ruled against the church on the merits. Now the appeal must go back to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and if necessary, it could go back to the Supreme Court on the merits. In the process, the church is likely to prevail.
This situation shows the importance of appointing judges who fully understand and respect religious freedom. The case is not about the medical crisis or the government's ability to respond to the medical crisis. It is about treating churches fairly under the US Constitution and respecting religious freedom as stated in the First Amendment.
North American Missions
We are so grateful to be able to report that during the pandemic and because of your generous Christmas for Christ (CFC) offering, and in partnership with Ladies Ministry, Evangelist Ministry, The Pentecostals of Alexandria and The Apostolic Conference, North American Missions (NAM) was able to send emergency relief to every NAM missionary and every enrolled evangelist in our organization. Even though we know that we cannot meet every need, nearly $400,000 of emergency relief has been sent through NAM and our partners. We were also able to fund 100% of approved CFC applications for 2020 ($1.44M). Also, many districts have used a portion of the 40% of CFC that stays in the district to render further aid to North American missionaries and enrolled evangelists. To God be the glory! (162 checks will go out this week to NAM missionaries.)
As previously reported, Venezuela, which is our second-largest overseas field, has been in a lengthy economic and political crisis due to socialism, and this crisis has been compounded by the pandemic. With funds from the Because of the Times Conference, Global Missions has now provided financial assistance to 1,116 pastors and churches in Venezuela. Compassion Services International, our endorsed global relief agency, has also assisted many other nations in crisis.
Sincerely in Christ,
David K. Bernard
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