Jose Torres started us off preaching from II Kings and the “lost ax”. “If we are not careful the next six months will be just like the last six months”. Revelation’s “first love”; pastors lose it, church’s lose it…no heart to make disciples…no men contending for ministry…no men willing to go. From a book “Hitler’s Cross” the church didn’t make waves as long as their state salaries kept coming. A memory of a German Christian singing in church and as the train carrying the Jews went by blowing its whistle the congregation just sang louder and louder trying to drown out the reality…he said no one ever mentioned again.
The something we have lost we must find. “You will not survive without God”. “Is this still personal?” “Is this between you and God?” We can find the ax and get on with the work God has called us to do.
Pastor Sergai from Vologda, Russia preached about dominion from Matthew 28…”All authority”. He started with a story about a woman in his church who had a drunken husband and a drugger son. They had trashed the house again and she was now staying with people from church. As she told the pastor of all her woes, he was going to say the normal comforting words one would say in that situation; but he blurted out that she had lost dominion and she needed to go and get it back and re-establish God’s dominion in her home. He continued on with the story of two American pastors who were preaching at the Russian conference on a tourist visa which is illegal in Russia. They are called down to the police station where their passports are taken. There is a guard at the door while “Helga” shows them pictures taken by an agent inside the church of the pastor in the front raising his hands and the Russians (at an altar call) kneeling down before him. Sergai could just see this photo in the paper. It was looking bad and “Helga” was glorying in her power.
Just a short detour, when Joan and I were going to get our visas to go to Russia and preach (Sergai at that time pastored in Sokal a small industrial town and now he is the leader of the Russian fellowship) we were denied by the man in charge at the consulate in Seattle. We came back again with the papers refilled and again he brusquely denied us saying “Russian didn’t need Christians meddling in their affairs”. As we were leaving one of the young ladies on staff whispered to us to come back in one hour. We came back during lunch while the man was at lunch and the ladies gave us our visas with smiles and encouragements all signed and ready to go.
Back to our story, Sergai is getting very nervous and I am sure that the American pastors are envisioning their worst fears. “Helga” wants them to sign a statement of guilt. Sergai calls a lawyer in the church who informs him that they cannot legally hold the Americans or confiscate their passports. At this point Sergai rises up with the spirit of George Washington (a later pastor would say the spirit of John Wayne) and grabs the passports telling “Helga” that she has no right to the passports and we are not signing anything and we are leaving right now. He turns with the passports in hand and walks by the guard with the pastors following, never looking back, until down the sidewalk a ways.
Authority comes to a submitted man. We need authority in our finances. We need to get dominion in our cities. Quit praying for God to save, He has already done the work of salvation on the cross, people are captured by the devil and we need to rise up in authority and take aim at the prison warden and set them free. Other Russian pastors from other fellowships would come and ask Sergai how he managed to have outreach every saturday in Vologda when every time they try they get shut down. His response is that we had to fight for it.
He concludes with one last story of the couple they planted into Cuba. Although the man has a functioning church he is operating illegally and the chance of getting proper paperwork is totally dependent upon who you know. He had met the English-speaking pastor of the downtown Havana Methodist church and when he came up sick his wife called him (an English-speaking Russian) to cover service for him in between his Sunday services. He entered this beautiful church willed with well dressed diplomats from all over the world. After he preached he was surrounded by gentlemen making themselves available to him to help him get his paperwork. God will if we do.