06 August 2006

a monumental weekend

i was able to observe a monumental, landmark event this weekend. something that previous generations of church leaders have talked about, dreamed about, even declared should happen, but rarely, if ever, we able to see become a reality.

i saw the pastor of one megachurch preach at the weekend services of another megachurch. not that rare, you think? take into consideration that these two churches were both included in the recent outreach magazine top 100 churches issue, and they have similar missions and target audiences. take into consideration that these two churches are less than 5 miles apart.

pastor dino rizzo speaking at bethany world prayer center today

healing place church and bethany world prayer center are both located in baton rouge, louisiana, and today dino rizzo who pastors hpc was the speaker for bethany. back in november of 2005, bro. larry stockstill (pastor of bethany) spoke at hpc. this just doesn't happen much. at least not in my 40 years of experience, i haven't heard of it much.

it's not just pulpit swap, either. there has been a divine appointment between the two great churches and their pastors. the pastors have made a covenant together to not let anything come between them. it's not about the two churches. it's not about the two pastors. it's about Jesus and reaching the lost for the Kingdom of God.

it's a long story that is worth hearing. i won't take the time to lay it all out right here right now, but trust me, God is in this relationship.


on another note, part of the weekend involved me doing something i've rarely had the opportunity to do lately, and that is to attend a service at a church other than healing place church. and even though bethany has been around since before i moved to baton rouge, i'd never been to one of their services.

i was very impressed. from the parking lot to the seat inside, i was greeted nicely (not cheesily, just nicely). i was made to feel invited and welcome (no one had a clue i was from hpc as far as i knew - i just went like anyone else).

worship was very good - quality music, true worship (jonathan stocksill led, did a really good job of leading worship - not just leading songs), and great interaction with the people around me.

when it came time for the visitor welcome, i debated about raising my hand. not a scenario i'm in very often. i decided to just go for it and see what happened - just take it all in. it was painless - an usher brought me a really classy piece of info and no one made a big deal of it but i did feel included. that was cool. not big hat to wear with VISITOR on it, and no making me stand while everyone sings "for he's a jolly good visitor" to me. thanks.

i was specifically impressed with their missions presentation - i've known for years that they have a huge impact in missions all over the place, but hearing firsthand what God is doing through the people of bethany to plant 10,000 churches in the last 5 years was just ridiculous (to use a tim elzea expression i've now added to my vocabulary).

jonathan read an email from his dad (bro. larry) who was in khazakstan at a church gathering. he told of a lot of great things, but the one that grabbed me was how there are five thousand young people who are preparing to walk from beijing to jerusalem down the "silk road", preaching Jesus the whole way. they are aware that it likely will cost them their lives due to the anti-Christian ruling powers in their path, but they are fired up and ready to lay down their lives for the sake of the Gospel.

i'm a weenie. that's all i could think.

i began to realize what an honor to be sitting there knowing that God has people all over the world who he wants to pull together and connect for the cause of Christ. some are in khazakstan, some are in danville, california, some are in iraq, some in gaza, some in nepal, some in miami, and some at bethany just down the road from where i go to church. we're all just His servants and we all just need to do what He's given us to do.

thank God for bro. larry and the great team at bethany. thank God for dino rizzo. thank God for those who are willing to lay down the egos and logos and just get after it serving the Kingdom.

it's gonna be interesting when we get to Heaven and all these stories start getting told. maybe that's what i'll do the first 10,000 years. well.... i do wanna eat some of that dinner the bible talks about....

Heaven's sure not gonna be boring. i can't wait. but until then, i'm gonna give my life to making it hard for people to miss Heaven.


Jamie said...

Definately, it's so awesome to see that we can look past our different signs in front of our churches and start to look at the bigger picture. I mean it's not about where you go to church; it's about people who haven't come to Christ yet. That should be our number one priority.

theinnerprocess said...

I love it!

Benny DiChiara said...


Incredible visualization of the impact from this weekend's service experience.
It IS awesome how God moves! In the gap for you...