The first worship session of the Church of God 74th General Assembly was held last night and opened with the zeal and fervency expected of a Pentecostal service.
Worship leader Ricardo Sanchez, backed by a youth choir of beautiful and enthusiastic young faces, and an equally revved up band, soon had the congregation on its feet singing, clapping, and praising the Lord through a series of choruses—We Worship You, You Are God, and I Am a Friend of God.
Church of God Administrative Bishop, Raymond Culpepper, welcomed believers into a spiritual atmosphere where “Jesus is Lord and the Holy Spirit is welcome.”
“Our theme for this gathering,” the Bishop said, is “Living the Word.” He went on to read key passages from Psalm 119, words that echo in believers’ hearts the world over—Thy word have I hid in my heart…I will delight myself in thy statutes, I will not forget thy word…Teach me, O Lord, the way of thy statutes and I will keep it until the end…For ever, O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven…Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.
Following prayer by the overseer of the church in Indonesia, Sanchez once again lifted hearts in praise and worship—My God is higher than any other…Word of God speak…How Great is our God. Then he changed the tempo, leading into the beloved, more conventional, How Great Thou Art.
Highlight of the evening was special speaker and honored guest, Dr. Ravi Zacharias, founder, chairman and CEO of Zacharias International Ministries, headquartered in Atlanta, GA, but with offices around the world.
It was soon obvious why Ravi Zacharias is recognized as one of the great Christian Apologists of our day. He spoke with passion, illustrating his words with humor and at the same time heart-wrenching stories of evil men who lead others astray and hungry, troubled souls who find peace and salvation through Jesus Christ.
Dr. Zacharias took his text from II Kings 21 and 22, sharing the stories of two kings—Manasseh, the epitome of evil, and Josiah, who did that which was right. Each had a profound, but totally different influence upon their generation.
The pathos of the speaker’s heart came through when he mentioned there is “no guarantee of the next generation” if and when we fail our families and the youth of our day. A nation is characterized by what it does with its children.
He spoke of those who repudiate the faith, forgetting the sacredness of life. He asked how a secular society can teach morality and true values when it does not even understand the purpose of life.
In conjunction with a number of powerful testimonies of men whose lives were changed through the truth of the gospel of Christ, Zacharias closed his sermon with an emphasis on “the power to change” and an invitation for those needing God’s touch at that very moment.
Numbers of people stood for the speaker’s closing prayer.
Hoyt Stone, reporter