However, in many ways for the City of Angels International Christian Church, the 2015 GLC began on the previous Sunday with several disciples arriving early and participating in our July 26th Sunday Worship Services!
On Monday after Staff, Elena & I headed down to the beautiful Anaheim Hilton Hotel where all of the events of the week were held!
That evening was the FIRST SESSION of the CROWN OF THORNS COUNCIL which oversees the plans for our vision of the evangelization of the nations in this generation! Jason & Sarah Dimitry were introduced as they are the newest members of the Council, because of their passionate hearts for God and their outstanding efforts for the Lord in Las Vegas and San Francisco!
On Wednesday morning, the CROWN OF THORNS COUNCIL hadMEN’S and WOMEN’S PROGRAMS! Carlos Mejia and Lianne Kernan spoke on THE WORD BECAME FLESH in these sessions respectively. Carlos’ message was one of the best messages I’ve heard in a long time! He shared in detail about being born and raised in El Salvador and the trials that he and his single mom endured. There were few dry eyes in the room! This message prepared our hearts for a time of sharing, confession of sin, and prayer.
During the afternoon CROWN OF THORNS COUNCIL SESSION, theSOLDOUT MOVEMENT ROAD MAP FOR 2015 – 2018 was presented; Michael Kirchner addressed the movement’s FINANCES AND ADMINISTRATION; and collectively the World Sector Leaders reported on all 59 churches in the movement!That evening was the MERCYWORLDWIDE DIRECTORS DINNER and the ICCM FACULTY AND BOARD RECEPTION!
As well on Wednesday night was the INTERNATIONAL CAMPUS DEVOTIONAL! This event was hosted by Raul & Lynda Moreno, who lead the incredible Sao Paulo Campus Ministry which now has 49 college students – 32 of whom are from the University of Sao Paulo considered by many to be the number one university in all Central & South America! Mike Patterson, who leads the incredible University of Florida Campus Ministry, delivered the sermon, THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD!
Friday morning was the official OPENING GENERAL SESSION of the2015 GLC! Amazingly, the 1,603 paid participants registered quite efficiently by our outstanding Registration Team coordinated by Rebecca Rico! Also, we all need to give a huge thanks to Tim Kernan – the GLCDirector – and the entire GLC Staff who worked so tirelessly around the clock! As well, special thanks to Jason & Susan Bond who were our liaisons with the Hilton Hotel!Astoundingly, Alex Rohde and the “Livestream Staff” reported through Google.com that the 2015 GLC was broadcast by Livestream into 69 nations which included Egypt, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Taiwan and China!
Paul wrote in his day in Colossians 1:6, “All over the world this gospel’s bearing fruit and growing…” We can now say as well that the world is being evangelized in our day!
The Welcome at the OPENING GENERAL SESSION began with a dazzling video over-viewing the life of Jesus by Jose Otero! This dramatic video inspired us all the more to appreciate this year’s compelling theme and opening message – SAVIOR OF THE WORLD!
As well, the Sobolevs of Moscow and the Tabizons of LA were appointed Evangelists and Women’s Ministry Leaders respectively!
In the afternoon were several events from which to choose: the AMS CONFERENCE, SHEPHERDS FORUM, LATIN FESTIVAL (in Spanish!),SONG LEADERS WORKSHOP, TEEN WORKERS SEMINAR, CHEMICAL RECOVERY CONVENTION, and the ADMINISTRATION WORLD CONGRESS!
Friday evening was the SECOND GENERAL SESSION – THE KINGDOM BANQUET! Many were on “encouragement dates” – even the Marrieds! And what a feast of food and love was that entire night!
So moving were the Kingdom Appointments of Princeton & Joy George and the remarkable reinstatement of Chris McGrath!
Appropriate for THE KINGDOM BANQUET was the message – THE FULL EXTENT OF HIS LOVE – by the truly electrifying Evangelist, Cory Blackwell! In his passionate presentation, Cory called us all to be more like Christ by being servant leaders!
Saturday we enjoyed the MEN’S and WOMEN’S PROGRAMS! Both sessions had the same theme for the main lesson: JESUS AND HIS DISCIPLES BAPTIZED! Elena fervently addressed all the sisters!
Kyle Bartholomew inspired all the brothers with his amazing accounts of the planting of the Metro Manila International Christian Church two months ago! Astoundingly, the 9 on the Manila Mission Team were joined by the 50 in the Manila Remnant Group to have God bring 306 to their Inaugural Service on June 7th! During these two months, there have been 38 additions – 24 baptisms, 8 restorations and 6 place memberships directly from our former fellowship!
Another equally moving event was the appointment by Andrew Smellie of Adam Zepeda as an Evangelist in the Kingdom of God!
In the second half of the WOMEN’S PROGRAM, eight sisters spoke onCHARACTER STUDIES FROM THE BOOK OF JOHN! Included wereMARY MAGDALENE, MARY THE MOTHER OF JESUS, MARTHA and the SAMARTIAN WOMAN!
The second half of the MEN’S PROGRAM had nine short CHARACTER STUDIES FROM THE BOOK OF JOHN, which included: ANDREW, BARNABAS, PILATE and JUDAS!
Saturday afternoon was dedicated to the WORLD SECTOR FORUMS!Because of space, we had to combine a couple of the World Sectors. So the forums were: UNITED STATES & CANADA, CENTRAL & SOUTH AMERICA, EUROPE & THE RUSSIAN COMMONWEALTH, MIDDLE EAST, ASIA & THE PACIFIC RIM, and AFRICA & THE FRENCH-SPEAKING CARRIBBEAN!
Then we were profoundly touched by the “selected” TALENT SHOW PERFORMANCE by the New York City Disciples!
Following the performance were the Kingdom Appointments of Amy Ciaramella and Jacob & Courtney Beas!
Concluding the evening’s festivities was the marvelous sermon by Chris Broom – IT IS FINISHED! Chris challenged each of us that “we are not finished” and “the evangelization of the nations is not finished!”
All of the previous week’s events were leading up to the SUNDAY WORSHIP SERVICE! The singing of the over 2,000 in attendance was beyond “off the charts!” After the welcome, we witnessed two touching restorations and four amazing place memberships!
Then came the remarkable Kingdom Appointments of Amadou & Angele Sountoura of Abidjan and Rebecca Rico, who also was the Women’s Valedictorian for the ICCM Class of 2015!
Our “international” COMMUNION was presided over by Argo & Anu Arneson, followed by the CONTRIBUTION “message” by Oleg & Elena Sirotkin!
After a brief break, Wagner’s epic composition – Ride Of The Valkyries – filled the auditorium and the historic THIRD COMMENCEMENT OF THE INTERNATIONAL COLLEGE OF CHRISTIAN MINISTRIES began with the processional of the ICCM Faculty and this year’s graduates!
A total of 83 BA Degrees were awarded in four different tracks: Ministry, Administration, Charity Services and Shepherding!
Then came the “hooding” of Cesar Limon and Raul Moreno who received the prestigious ICCM Master’s Degree which will allow them to “open” an extension campus in their cities of Portland and Sao Paulo!
Then perhaps for me the highlight of the week was my dear wife receiving the first ICCM Doctorate Degree awarded to a woman! Elena’s dissertation was on the “Women’s Elevation Section” found in Luke 7:11-8:56! All ICCM Doctoral Dissertations are written in book form. So Elena’s book – ELEVATE – will be published by the SoldOut Movement’s new Berean Publishing House this Autumn in five languages!
After this incredible event, we sang a new song that the whole movement so enjoyed, Let It Rise! On the final verse, we sang with all our might, “Let the Savior of the World rise among us…” Then Tim Kernan preached the message that we all needed to hear, DO YOU TRULY LOVE ME?
Then we witnessed 17 people answer Jesus’ question, “Do you truly love me?” with the good confession, “Jesus is Lord!”
Even then, there was more to come – the Spirit sending out the Sacramento and Stockholm Mission Teams! Globes were given to the mission team members and then Nick Bordieri and Tony Untalan – the Movement’s Shepherds – prayed over the teams mentioning each disciple by name!
Then we closed out the 2015 GLC as we do every year with Lou Jack Martinez leading us in the song that he wrote which records the modern history of the Discipling Movement – The Glory Song (International Version)!
Sunday afternoon, Elena’s and my two sons and their families gathered with a few of our closest friends in our spiritual family to celebrate not only Elena receiving her Doctorate Degree, but also to celebrate her 60th Birthday! (Our daughter and her family celebrated with us on Saturday!)
After Sunday lunch at the party, we had a time of sharing about Elena. I began the sharing by reading parts of Proverbs 31, “A wife of noble character, who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her… She gets up while it is still dark, she provides food for her family… She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy… She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and full instruction is on her tongue… Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also and he praises her; ‘Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.’ Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised!” These inspired words so aptly describe my very best friend, partner in the gospel and wife of almost 39 years – Elena!
Dearest Brothers and Sisters: As Elena wrote in her dissertation, it is my prayer that the 2015 GLC moves those of us in the United States from being “American Christians to Global Disciples!” Inspired by theGLC, in the Movement and in particular in the City of Angels Church, we will begin this week to focus on rebuilding each of our Bible Talks to be modeled after “Jesus and the Apostles.”
So three days ago, I delivered the Staff Lesson to the Men Region Leaders entitled, HIT THE RESET BUTTON! To reset your computer is to bring it back to its original setting or state… In the City of Angels Church we are determined to bring each of our 100 Bible Talks back to the “original state” of the planting of the City of Angels Church in Los Angeles on May 6, 2007! The original 42 sold-out disciples from Portland on the LA Mission Team were divided into eight Bible Talks which God blessed with 104 baptisms our very first year!
So the call to each Region Leader was to: 1) In the next two weeks meet with each one of their Bible Talks teaching from the Scriptures and discussing with them how to be more effective (Acts 14:1). 2) As well at this meeting to call the individuals in the Bible Talk to “reset” their lives by repenting of “viruses” (that slow us down) such as cowardliness, unbelief, contempt and laziness. 3) At the same meeting, the Region Leader is to help each Bible Talk come up with a “catchy name” such as Jesus called His group – “The Apostles!” literally “the Messengers!” 4) And lastly, if the Region Leader is not presently leading a Bible Talk, then he is to begin so thus having a fruitful example for his other Bible Talks to imitate.
Again, thanks to all who made such incredible sacrifices in order to attend the 2015 GLC!