A call to covenant renewal

Then said Samuel to the people, Come, and let us go to Gilgal, and renew the kingdom there. (1st Samuel 11:14, KJV)

‘Come, let’s go to Gilgal and there re-consecrate the kingship.’ (1st Samuel 11:14, The Message)

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. (2nd Chronicles 7:14)…

The journey that we call life is characterised by times and seasons. Within these times and seasons are significant moments which mark special events in the life of individuals, families, communities, peoples and nations. The Bible is a litany of such occasions and events, with the nation of Israel providing us with the preponderance of documented examples in scriptures.

One such special occasion is coming up in the life of the Apostolic Church, UK. One of the things that God did as a result of the Welsh Revival of 1904-1905 was to bring to birth what has since become a worldwide Pentecostal and Evangelical Movement with a footprint in ninety two nations of the world and a membership headcount that runs into millions, and still growing.

Officially inaugurated on 15 January 1916, the official Centenary Celebrations promises to be a once-in-a lifetime experience in which thousands of members from the UK and around the world, plus ministers and members from other denominations and Movements are expected to come together in Cheltenham in August of that year. Only God can do what many generations have been part of and witnessed over the last ninety nine years. As I have reflected, I have found myself filled with a deep sense of gratitude for the past – grateful to God for all the valiant men and women who willingly, selflessly and sacrificially laid down their lives for the sake of the gospel, at home and in the foreign mission field, in pursuit of the Apostolic vision. We salute them. We honour their memory. We give thanks to God for the boldness and courage. They have gone before us to receive their great reward.

The forthcoming Centenary Celebrations is an opportunity to use what God has done, is doing and promised to do, to inspire, mobilise and move forward in the purposes of God as a world-wide Movement. It is also a time for us to look in a number of directions – within, without (or around), upward and forward (or ahead). It will begin with a prayer event of the National Leadership Team and regional Apostles in the Temple in the village of Penygroes, South Wales, which can be rightly regarded as the spiritual birthplace of the Apostolic Church worldwide.

When we look back and around, it should cause us to lift our voice in a thunderous shout of praise to God for what He has done. From humble, seemingly insignificant, and in many instances, despised beginnings; God in His infinite mercy and wisdom has raised up a people of power, of purpose and progress; through whom the footprint, foothold and frontier of Christ’s kingdom has extended. And the end is not yet.

Whilst I am grateful for the past, I am provoked by the present and filled with a sense of urgency and anticipation about the future. As someone said, ‘we build today a greater tomorrow on yesterday’. However, if we dwell too long on the past we are in danger of becoming prisoners of history, ensnared by the negatives of tradition and inherited practices which hinder rather than help the forward march of the Church of Jesus Christ. Very often the result is that we end up becoming a museum or a monument; whereas God has called us to be a Movement that gives birth to movements within the Movement.

It is on the basis of what I see as the Divine mandate and purpose for the Apostolic Church that I believe that God is calling us as a Church to re-affirm our covenant commitment. One of the core aspects of Apostolic Church is that we are the product of revival, birthed by the Holy Spirit, centred on Christ Jesus and rooted in the word of God.

There are many parts to the Centenary Celebration; however, the starting point is prayer. Prayer is an acknowledgement of our need for God. It is recognition that we have missed many opportunities in the past. We therefore repent and want to be better aligned to God’s will.

We need the wind of the Spirit to blow afresh on this Movement, so we can rediscover anew the fire and power of Pentecost, which energised and propelled our founding fathers to accomplish feats that are humanly impossible. Pentecost happened in the place of prayer. Without prayer, we miss it.

As Samuel did with the people of Israel, God is calling the Apostolic Church to her roots – to renew their covenant with God. Samuel recognised that even though a human king was about to be inaugurated, God needed to be enthroned in the life of the nation.

God’s word to another monarch of Israel, King Solomon, is also apposite. In essence God is saying that when His people, those on whom He has placed His name, align themselves with His purposes through humble prayer, turning from their sins, earnestly seeking His face, He will hear, forgive and heal their land.

So, as Apostolic people we begin with prayer, marked by personal and corporate reflection, appreciation of what God has done; personal and corporate confession and consecration to the service of God, as well as intercession for the work both in the UK and abroad.

The National Leadership Team prayer event of 15th January 2015 marks the start of a year-long period during which the Church in the UK is called to pray. Local churches, regions and clusters are encouraged to have monthly prayer meetings to specifically pray for the Movement and the Church of Jesus Christ. Each local church will be encouraged to come together on a regular basis throughout the year. To sustain and maintain freshness and encouragement on this prayer track, Impact Prayer bulletins will be issued, running from April 2015 to December 2016. We are also looking to hold a major prayer event on 15th January 2015, with a live link to the Apostolic Church, Ghana.

We are a Movement with a rich and blessed history. In Gilgal, we see the recounting of history. Secondly, we also see the celebration of national identity; an identity that was rooted in Israel’s covenant relationship with Yahweh. Thirdly, we see a pointing to where they were supposed to be going. History is where we come from. Identity is who (and whose) we are, and destiny is where we are going.

As a denomination the Apostolic Church has a rich history, wonderfully blessed by God. It is not one without its setbacks. Notwithstanding, it is a rich one. Our history defines, shapes and informs our identity – Apostolic, Pentecostal, Christological, Biblical, Missional, Sacrificial, Belief in the Supernatural work of the Holy Spirit, to name a few.

The challenge for us as the present generation is to take those core values that are at the heart of our DNA into the future; faithfully transmitting them to a new generation, who will in turn impart them to others, if Christ tarries.

As we celebrate God’s faithfulness, as we look back to our denominational, local and personal Gilgal; God is calling us to renew His Kingdom rule in our lives. We see this in the life of Israel. He calls us to do the same – recover our Apostolic DNA – baptism in the Holy Spirit and enduement with power from on high; absolute submission and surrender to the Lordship of Jesus as the Head of the Church, His Body; a fervent commitment to the fulfilment of the Apostolic mandate enshrined in the Great Commission; a life of faith, obedience and sacrifice. We must to re-discover and recover the missionary zeal, the vision and passion that drove our fathers to want to belt the globe with the good news of Jesus Christ.

As we re-discover and recover these values, we will possess our possession, as we see the increase of His government and peace; of which there shall be no end.

Let us go to Gilgal and there renew the kingdom. God will heal, restore and bless as we begin with prayer.

Pastor Emmanuel Mbakwe
National Leader, The Apostolic Church, UK

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