A little background - The prophets are everywhere in the Bible, men and women who were given messages from God in visions, dreams, angelic messengers and audible voices. There is the miracle-working Moses, fiery Elijah, weeping Jeremiah, Jonah, Miriam, Deborah, John the Baptist, Simeon, Anna, and many more lesser-known prophets, some unnamed. Don't forget Jesus himself, Peter, Paul, and John who received an entire book of prophecy, the Book of Revelation.
Words of prophecy call us to be faithful to God and reveal Jesus to us. The purpose of the prophets is to build up the church. Prophecy is one of the 5 leadership gifts Jesus has given to the church: apostle, prophet, pastor, teacher, and evangelist. (Ephesians 4:11-12) The church today needs all 5, working together to help make Christians and the Church all Jesus wants it to be.
Its easy to see how the church needs pastors, teachers and evangelists, but apostles and prophets - not so much. But there a churches where the apostles and prophets have come.
I came to Brazil at the invitation of the President of the Pentecostal Church of God to speak at their Pastor’s Ministry Conference on The New Apostolic Movement. There were more than 340 pastors in attendance from all over the nation. Brazil has been a center of The New Apostolic Movement since 2001 and has seen the emergence of the gifts of apostle and prophecy in their churches.
In the last presentation of the conference, Pastor Joao Nunes and I were leading a presentation on Prophets and Prophecy, one of the hot topics in the Brazilian church. We ended our presentation recognizing how difficult it was to use the prophetic gift in the church because prophets are frequently judged and not listened to by the church. This devaluing has silenced many prophets in the church. Pastor Joao and I wanted to provide a time for healing and prayer over the prophets to step up and be bold in their gift. So we invited everyone with the prophetic gift to come forward.
I was amazed. The prophets came forward and the seats in the auditorium were emptied. Of the 300 plus pastors in attendance, I estimate half of them came forward. They came to the foot of the stage, pressed to the platform in prayer and standing 2 and 3 deep. There was a rousing cry for God to bless them, for healing from the hurts they had experienced in the past, and courage to boldly use their gifts again.
One young man stepped onto the stage and asked one of the denominational leaders if he could speak. A part of me felt sad because it evidenced the lack of confidence in this prophet to just speak. But he got permission and affirmation. He returned to the well in front of the stage with his fellow prophets and loudly shared his word. Many other words were spoken. A word in tongues with another standing near interpreting. Moments of silence between the prophecies captured everyone as we listened to God’s words to their church and future. It was an amazing experience.
What do you think? Half of the pastors in this church have the gift of prophecy. What could that mean? And what might God be up to here?