Pentecost: The Holy Spirit and the Church
Listen to the Sermon audio
Hear how the Holy Spirit is moving and working in our Lahu and Anywaa congregations! With Dorkham See and Ojaga Okony.
(Pastor Werthman) Today is Pentecost Sunday, and it is significant to observe because there was a momentous shift in God's saving work and among all his people that started on Pentecost Sunday. The prophecy of Joel, I will pour out my spirit, God says on all people - the beginning of that we saw on Pentecost Sunday. And what that means for you and me individually is that as we come into a saving relationship with Christ, where Christ as Savior and Lord the spirit fills us, that's that's how God accomplishes his transforming work that we call sanctification. That's how God uses us. That's how God gifts us so that we can serve him as we follow Christ. But even more than that, the pouring out of spirit on all people meant that the Holy Spirit's power and presence was no longer limited just to the nation of Israel, that it goes throughout all of the earth, wherever God is saving a people for himself, that is in fulfillment of Christ's goal, of building a kingdom from every tribe and tongue and race. We recognize that even in the work that we have seen him do here at Calvary over the years. Calvary, whether you realize it or not, is one congregation. But right now we have four worshipping communities and often those worshipping communities interact with each other. But because of some of the language needs of those different communities, we have several different services that happen here throughout the day on a Sunday.
And we want you to hear a little bit about what that looks like and how specifically the Holy Spirit is moving in those worshipping communities. So, first of all, I'm going to have Dorkham See come up door, come as the pastor of our Lahu worshipping community. And would you please welcome Dorkham as he comes up?
(Pastor See) Thank you Dan. (Greeting in LAHU) No, I didn't just speak in tongues, actually in a different language, I did in the truest form of the word. But what I said was, how are you doing? And God bless you. I want to thank Pastor Dan for thinking of the Lahu people l-a-h-u. And yes, after twenty five years, we're still meeting here at Calvary. And thanks for thinking of the Lahu people and allowing us to be a part of one of the congregations here at Calvary. Dan asked if I would share a couple of things and I'm just going to read off the questions and then try to answer them. First one is how do you and the rest of our Lahu brothers and sisters see the Holy Spirit ministry among you? And how is the Spirit moving in the worship service? I would say the first thing is just being aware of the Holy Spirit, because I would say in a lot of the churches, the third person of the Trinity, we tend to forget or at least put it in the back seat.
And so one of the things that we are trying to do is just being aware of the Holy Spirit. You know, I don't know if you know this person, K.P. Yohanan, he is the founder and the president of Gospel for Asia. And one of the things that he said that really caught my attention was that he said Americans are very practical. They're so pragmatic. If they need to get something done, they could get it done easily. If there is a building project that costs a million dollars, they could get it done in one year pretty easily that way. But when you ask them to sit down and to meditate on God's word and to memorize scripture and to zip their mouth and just be quiet before God, to be less busy, it's really hard for us to do that. And I think that's a sign, an indication that we are not reliant on the Holy Spirit. And so just being aware of the Holy Spirit. See, I have 12 minutes and I forgot where we are now. Scripture says that Jesus was full of the Holy Spirit. You know, you see phrases like Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit, Jesus was relying on the Holy Spirit. And if the son of God, the creator of the universe, according to John 1, if he was relying on the Holy Spirit. Now, I know you know what I'm about to say next. You and me, simple human beings, how much more do we need to be reliant on the Holy Spirit? And so just encouraging the congregation to be aware of the Holy Spirit and to be more reliant on the Holy Spirit.
Just some practical things that the Holy Spirit is doing. Conversion. God is converting people's hearts in our congregation, I think of my friend Jamie Sakita. His dad is Iranian and his mom is Caucasian, and he's actually married to a local girl in our congregation. And he told me that he grew up watching cartoons on Sunday morning and now he's worshipping the Lord. And that's so much better than watching cartoons on Sunday morning. And so we're seeing conversion. Spiritual conversations are happening, I think of Matt, who grew up in a church but went away from the church and he said he would never come back to the church again, but he texted me about a month ago and we're starting to have these conversations now. You might be wondering all these names that you've mentioned so far, they're American names where are the Lahu people? Maybe this is more of an update. But in our Lahu services now I'm preaching and we're leading worship in English and Lahu because we're seeing that since we live in America now, people are intermarried and so we have them. But then, you know, sometimes their friends or their family will visit or they even become a part of our community. And so we're doing Lahu in English.
We've called it Lahu English service now. All right. People desire to get baptized. Actually, last year, I think we canceled church due to covid on baptism Sunday, I think. And so we still have people waiting to get baptized. And then the other thing that Dan asked was, how is the Holy Spirit leading in outreach and mission? In Acts 1:4 and 8, Jesus promised the Holy Spirit and that we would receive the power of the Holy Spirit, and they were to go out and share the gospel with the people around them. You know, when the Holy Spirit comes into our lives, you can't contain the Holy Spirit if it's inside of you. I guarantee you that because the Holy Spirit came in Acts 1 and then in Acts 8, the people were still in Jerusalem. They didn't want to leave. And then God allows this persecution to happen. And actually and they are forced actually to go out and share the gospel with people so if the Holy Spirit is in us, it will eventually get out. And so in terms of outreach, we're just encouraging people to have spiritual conversations outside of the church, outside the four walls of the church, in homes, especially your homes, train up your kids to love and serve the Lord in work in school during your play time, etc. So very simple things. It doesn't have to be overcomplicated. It doesn't have to be hard. Just have spiritual conversations with the people around you.
So in terms of outreach, very simple. But missions, how is the spirit leading us in missions? One of the things that we are beginning to talk about is supporting national leaders in Thailand and Laos. You know, mission work, I would say, has changed and it's continuing to change from sending Western missionaries to supporting national workers. And so that's one of the things that we have been talking about. Now, I'm not saying that we're opposed to Western missionaries going to these countries. For goodness, if God calls you, you must go. But if you are asking what is the most efficient and best method for doing what, for doing missions today or the best bang for your buck, as they say, we believe that it is to support national workers, national pastors, national leaders. And so that's one of the things that we are talking about. Let me just give you some numbers here. Maybe this is more anecdotal, but, you know, it costs about 50 to 70 thousand dollars to send Western missionaries. We're not even talking about the effectiveness there. But, you know, for about three thousand dollars per year, you can support a full time national pastor, a national leader, and they are very effective. And so those are the things that we've been talking about. Ninety eight percent of the people in Thailand, they've never heard the gospel before. They're still practicing Buddhist or Buddhism or Animism. Only three percent of the Laos people are Christians.
And so, as I'm thinking about these numbers, what are some things that we could be doing in the Lahu English service, as well as partnering with you guys in doing missions? And so the Holy Spirit knows where the needs are and we're simply just trying to listen and follow. So that's all I have.
(Pastor Werthman) I used an expression earlier that I want to repeat and I want to explain. And I hope this is something that sticks in your mind today. One congregation; four worshipping communities. Let me explain how that came about. As God has providentially worked in Calvary's history, he has drawn these different groups at different times to Calvary. But last fall, the fall of 2020, representatives from our pastoral staff and our leadership board met with the leaders of each of these three different groups, and they asked, what do you want to be? Do you want to be your own congregation that either may stay under our roof here as a separate congregation or go off and plant your own start your own new church someday? Or do you want to be part of Calvary in some way? And through a process of those discussions, the leadership of all three of these congregations affirmed, no, we want to be part of Calvary. We want to be part of the Calvary congregation. So we don't look at these as different ethnic congregations. We look and say God has blessed us as he's providentially worked by expanding us to for worshiping communities under one congregation.
So again, if you walk away with nothing else this morning, I hope that sticks in your mind. One congregation; four worshipping communities and it's our desire that there be more and more overlap. There is certainly a need for different services with different language abilities for the people that God is drawing. We pray that in our fellowship, we pray that in the leadership of the church, we pray that in our mission there would be more and more overlap between these four worshipping communities. One of the worshipping communities is the Oromo. We invited them today. They were slated to come and speak to us today. And this week kind of last minute, there was a scheduling conflict and they could not be with us here this morning. So we'll look for another opportunity in a future week to welcome our Oromo brothers and sisters here to speak and to tell you a little bit about what God is doing. But I want to invite a leader in our Anywaa congregation, Ogaga Okony, and I hope I pronounced the brother's last name correctly. Ogaga, what you come up and would you share? And as you come up, your congregation is a little bit newer to to many people in this congregation. So you might even add a little bit to where your people come from and how God has worked and in developing that worshipping community and then share what the Holy Spirit, what you see the Holy Spirit doing among your people. Thank you. Let's welcome.
(leader Okony) (greeting in Anyuak) Yeah, this is not a town where is a dialect in Anyuak groups. We are divided between Ethiopia and Sudan, where we are kind of like the most marginalized people. We struggle a lot, but we have a beautiful country. And when I think about all of that, I thank God that this is not all the life that we have to live, knowing that there is another life hidden in Christ. That make me so joyful because what I just said in my dialect, it was like, how are you beautiful children of God? May God's name be glorified and be praised. So I was given a greeting in a different dialect. So, yeah, like I mentioned before, we are divided in Ethiopia and Sudan, but recently in the last two decades, there was a genocide to launch against us the previous regime. There's already been like in my lifetimes, I have witnessed three regime changing in the country and the previous one were kind of like in power us, open our eyes because Haile Selassie. But then there was some missionaries who came to our country to share the gospel and they were told not to open our eyes. But by the grace of God, they were only allowed to open a class from first grade to fourth grade.
And by the time when you finished fourth grade, supposed to be a teacher, then we were kind of like cover down there. But when that regime was overthrown, the second one was kind of like a totalitarian, the Dergue that when I was alive at the time and that my time to attend school, too. So it's opened many schools and allow a lot of children to go to school and when that was overthrown. Then the next one called Meles Zenawi. Came into power. And this is an ethnic and divisive and then very cruel regime. So came because they want to assimilate us or take our land. We were kind of like marginalized and brutally assassinated or victimized. And that's why even today, there's a lot of refugees who are still coming here because of that effect was back in 2003. And a lot of us, we ran to Sudan, to Kenya, Uganda, and that's why there's still a lot of refugees. So enough about their politics. Let's come to God. So God is very merciful. And I thank God that he's a God of love, God of kindness that accept everyone, no matter where you come from, where your background is, and also hope in our heart to know that he is the creator who created all of us in different shapes, but with one vision. And when we first came here, we struggled a lot with so many denominations.
There's a lot of denominations I've been running around to find which one goes by the words of God. You go read in the Bible, you come out here, you hear different thing that makes it even more chaotic. Then we try to gather to have a fellowship or a ministry, because we don't, a lot of us, we don't speak English and our dialect is not well known or probably recently, not too long ago after I already left the country. I left the country a long time ago. It's like when I came here it was in nineteen ninety five. I was very young and I didn't know the language. So the language was printed and then was introduced to school for the children to be taught. So I only tried to learn so I can read and speak so that I can help my other communities. And that is only for the purpose of the words of God, and I did that through the time and now I'm not very fluent, but OK and but most of my readings I read in English. So through that time, most people who are coming now, they're not very fluent in any different language except the Anyuat. And here, if you don't follow the words of God, you'll get lost so easily. So we try so many different things, but sometimes because we are not rooted deep down in the words of God, chaotic always happens among the groups and things fall apart. So before coming here, we used to I think there's a Covenant church.
We used to worship there. Then things happened. Then we we went to different directions. It's like sometimes the disciples, they do have some disputes, but even though it's supposed to be the wrong thing, God will use it for good purpose. So that was when Pastor Kevin was a pastor here. And we came searching probably through the Holy Spirit was the one that leading us. And so we sat and had some meeting and some talk and eventually we were allowed to come here and I thank God for that. And then I thank all the leaders and all the members of Calvary congregation, you people are very good people. So we were accepted here. We started our ministry and now the Holy Spirit is working. My, my, my, I don't know. English sometimes be difficult; magnificently so. Anyway, through that we, our number got increased. We are doing Bible study to get deep down into the words of God because most of our people, they rely on the Holy Spirit. Since you don't have any language or a book that you can understand, the only thing that they can rely on is the words to hearing from somebody else or the Holy Spirit helping them. But through our welcoming here, we have increased that level and we do Bible study outside. And certainly last year when corona hit us, we still maintain worshipping online.
We still connecting. But for some reason, I don't know, it could be the Holy Spirit. We are not afraid of the covid. We are still gathering somewhere and nothing is happening. And to the mercy of God to thank God none of us got severely sick. Only one child that sick, but to the prayers also that healed. So this week I come here not really prepared. I had some notes, but I forgot that's on the printer because this week I was so busy I got hit with so much. My son. I almost lost him last week. I didn't know he was diabetic, but suddenly something happened. We end up in the hospital for emergency and he was in ICU for four days. But Pastor Dan knows and John and other groups and also, Larry, Larry, I sent out a message asking for a prayer, but God is indeed is a good God. Our prayers got answered. My son survived. And we came back home last Saturday and no, not last night, this past Wednesday. So I spent about eight days in the hospital. So I didn't really prepare for all this speech because I was so distracted and so busy. But anyway, I'm not the one that's speaking, the Holy Spirit is one doing this job. So all of this could be like a temptation to the testimonies. But I know with God everything is possible and we could prevail and indeed we were victorious because of God.
So our mission and our ministry is now growing. And we have other people, too, who are moving to this area because of the ministry that we have here. Sometime we posted online our service and other groups who are not here like Askaris in different states because of what they are seeing here and the love and the and all these strong words that they see. Everyone wants to move here to join us. So that is wonderful. And we also our heart is aching, too, for other groups who are scattered a little bit in northern Minnesota and some St Cloud. There need to be some reach out to for those groups. The other one recently came from Africa, immigrated here. They kind of concentrated over there because of jobs. But yet still the words of God need to be preached to them, because knowing that we are here temporarily and our time is limited by God, we need to surely worship and put our faith in God. Should something happen to us peacefully we know that we will go and be together with our father. And also understanding and knowing that when you accept and worship God is not for the purpose of the life of this earth, but knowing that it's for salvation, the new life that is coming, that's hidden in Jesus because Jesus is risen and is alive. So those who are with him too, even though they are dead, they shall live again with them.
And that is a very encouraging, very important messages that we share among our congregation to increase our faith, to be committed to God, that since we have already seen so much atrocities on this earth, what else do you need? If somebody promised you a life that would be far more than all the joyful life that the rich people who are on this earth happened to enjoy, but is even far more than that, that should be a God to run to. And I was so humble and grateful that I'm so grateful that Jesus came into my life and the life of my family and the life of my brothers and sisters whom I know and missionaries for the mission. Like I said, I probably would be bouncing back and forth because it's not really organized in notes. We have some other groups who are still refugees in Kenya. They are worshipping over there, but sometimes they need a little bit help and we do reach out to them too and help them. And back home where we originally came from, we still do reach out and help them. They're there, too. So without forgiveness, life would have been even more bitter. But when you forgive, God, I mean, the Holy Spirit will help you move forward. And we are just so happy to be part of the Calvary congregation. And we, through the help of God, we want to move on and do what God put in our hearts.
So one testimony that I want to share by the Holy Spirit, The Holy Spirit is really it's like like a person you can talk to and then can also answer your questions. There was a time that one of our sisters was going through a lot of foreclosures and losing the house, but we were praying and the Holy Spirit gave the House number, but not the street. It says eventually you're going to get a house and the house number is four three, three three. And we were like, wow. So we waited to see that and through four years later, she got a loan and she got a house and that house, we were like, wait a minute, the house is four three, three, three - the number. Going back and see the documents because usually when there's like a dream or a message that God delivers, we write it down because we want to confirm that this is really from God. And indeed, we did confirm. So that is very, very encouraging that God is not just like image or somebody somewhere out there. God is real and encourage everyone to put their faith in this God who will not let you down will not shame you, but always you will be victorious with that. And I thank you for this time. And then may God bless all of you, you know.
(Pastor Werthman) Would you pray with me? Father, first of all, we want to lift up Ogaga's son and with this recent diagnosis of diabetes.
Lord, we pray for healing and maybe by your will, that is complete healing or maybe by your will that is healing through insulin and the other ways that diabetes is treated. Either way, Lord, we pray that you would heal in a way that this young man and his family and all those in the community around him would would see that you are real and your loving kindness is great and that you are faithful. Father, we're so thankful for these different worshipping communities that are part of our congregation. We're so thankful, Lord, for the Lahu brothers and sisters who've been here over two decades. We're thank you more recently for our Anywaa and our Oromo brothers and sisters. Lord, I pray, Lord, for us here today. I pray for us as the the fourth or however you count them, the fourth worshipping community. Lord, I pray that we would get a greater vision this Pentecost Sunday of the same spirit living and moving in all of us and Lord, that you would give us a greater desire for unity, for a brotherhood and sisterhood, for becoming one in soul and spirit with these brothers and sisters. We pray, Lord, you give us not only that vision, but that hunger for one day being around the throne, worshipping the lamb who was slain, who has drawn himself people from every race and tribe and people and language saying Glory to the lamb. We pray in his name. Amen.