Sunday, August 05, 2012
Worship in Venezuela Today - Bishop Asbury Would Approve!
We engaged in a remarkable worship service today at Restauracion UMC in Barquisimeto, Venezuela. Ten years ago this was a congregation meeting on this corner behind a partially completed perimeter wall and a gravel floor. Now it is the largest UMC in Venezuela.
As we worshiped, there was a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit. I could not help but think: "This is what made Methodism so contagious in Great Britain and the US in the 18th and 19th centuries." We heard the spontaneous testimony of a young mother whose 2 year old son was healed of a terminal kidney disease. This was confirmed by a medical doctor. Several people came to faith in Christ.
The entire congregation was overwhelmed by the tangible presence of the Spirit as there was weeping and praying and singing and shouting and some folks so overcome by the power of the Spirit, they fell to the floor. Some were overtaken with shaking. Most, if not all, were visibly moved including this preacher. I am not a scholar of Methodist History, but this reminds me of my Methodist roots.
It also makes me weep for the church in the US to experience this outpouring of the Holy Spirit again in my lifetime. Further, it makes me wonder if I should spend the time I have left in the kind of worship we experienced today! While this church is the largest UMC in Venezuela, this kind of worship is not unique to this congregation. It is indicative of what we experience in most of the worship services here. No wonder these congregations have such a powerful witness in a pagan culture and lives are being transformed. Oh, how God must smile upon the vitality of the church here! What a blessing it is for this old man to be a part of what God is doing in this country.
Is this the only place in the world this is happening? Praise God, no. But it is happening here. Pray for more laborers in the harvest field here, especially with the Seminary. The preacher today, an associate, while a student in the Seminary, heard God's call to plant a new congregation. It is one of ten currently started by this church. The pastor and his wife are returning tomorrow from a mission trip to a neighboring country - another answer to prayer. So blessed today!!!