It was early evening yesterday, April 28, when a cell-phone
call let me know the devastating news: David Wilkerson had been killed in a
tragic traffic accident. Dr. George Wood, general superintendent of the
Assemblies of God, had just learned the news and felt I would want to report
it. Knowing how important this was, we had a story online within 40 minutes
that included a statement from Dr. Wood until we could get more details. The
traffic on our website was so great the site temporarily crashed, and the article
had more forwards on Facebook than any in the history of Charisma
That’s because David Wilkerson was one of the great
Christian leaders of our generation, and his passing is a loss to the global
church. He was the model of integrity, and he finished strong in a day when
some televangelists are photographed in foreign countries with women they
aren’t married to while others are exposed for secret gay activity while
publicly opposing the gay agenda. Wilkerson was the paragon of virtue and his
influence was tremendous. read more
What a global network of megachurch pastors can teach us
For more than three decades I’ve been reporting on the move of the Holy Spirit around the world. Much of what’s going on is wonderful. The church is growing, people and churches are being revived, miracles are happening. These are what motivated me as a young journalist to start Charisma.
However, much of what is happening isn’t wonderful. In the American church there’s more scandal and divorce, while a few so-called leaders seem more interested in enjoying a Hollywood lifestyle than in having godly character. There’s persecution around the world and culture wars at home. There’s a growing threat of humanism and militant Islam around the globe.Yet when I’m tempted to get discouraged I am reminded that no matter how bad things may be, God is in control.
This happened recently when I was invited to meet with a small group of Christian leaders in Seoul, South Korea. I’d never heard of their network, which consists mainly of several dozen megachurch pastors outside North America who meet for friendship, fellowship and to work together to fulfill the Great Commission. They have no website, and while they have a name, they’re so low-key I won’t use it here.
To be invited into the network, the churches (or networks of churches from a single church) had to have 20,000 members. Some were much higher. In Korea, 450,000; in Africa, a network with 250,000 members; in India, 80,000; in South America, 20,000.
This year, for the first time, they invited a few megachurch pastors from the U.S. They also invited CEOs of large parachurch ministries such as Campus Crusade, The Navigators, Mercy Ships, Open Doors, Alpha and several others to talk about how we can work together. I was the only one specifically invited from media and was honored to be included.
Because the meeting was below the radar screen, it wasn’t a “news event” to cover. Instead, I decided to write my opinion on the group and what I observed:
First, I came away encouraged at the state of the church worldwide. The pastors seemed full of vision. Even in countries with very difficult circumstances such as poverty in Africa or persecution in the Islamic world, they seemed to be encouraged.
I was impressed with the humility and character of those who attended. Instead of displaying huge egos as we have become accustomed to in the West, these leaders talked about their ministries with humility.
Dealing with Islam was the central theme of the meeting. Yet these pastors didn’t seem alarmed by the threat of Islam, unlike many American pastors who are stunned when they discover there’s a mosque in their town. They shared how thousands of Muslims are coming to Christ through signs and wonders, and through dreams and visions. One Arab pastor shared how his church is dealing with political unrest in his nation, adding that its churches “applaud the overthrow of the regime.”
Yet there are grave dangers and much persecution of Christians in the Islamic world. An Indonesian pastor shared how he and his wife learned to forgive the terrorists who planted a bomb in their car that exploded and left his wife without a leg.
An American attendee named Joshua Lingel has a vision to train the church in apologetics and Muslim ministry. He told us Muslims are trained in Islamic apologetics and most Christians don’t know how to answer them. His ministry, i2, has amazing training materials and a success record in winning Muslims to Christ. Well-known Christian apologist Josh McDowell added that many American evangelicals leave the faith when confronted with anti-Christian ideas because they don’t know what they believe.
Because of this extraordinary meeting I’m motivated to help American Christians understand their faith; to network more—none of us can do the job alone—to fulfill Christ’s command to share the gospel and make disciples; and to pray for more visionary, humble leaders to lead the church through theses difficult times. We Westerners have a lot we can learn if we would bother to listen.
I was in Korea the day the earthquake occurred in Japan
followed by the devastating tsunami. Last time I was in Korea I stopped in
Japan on the way home and met with missionary Ken Joseph
Jr. This time I'm glad I didn't stop! But I've developed a friendship with
Ken who emailed me the day after the earthquake to tell me how horrible it is.
As I flew home I knew I had to do what I could to help. That's when I decided
to reach out to you. One of the things I have through Charisma Media is
influence. I want to encourage you to help in some way—even if it's small.
There are many ministries helping. We are publicizing the good works of many of
them as we find out what they are doing. Help us or help them, but please do
something. read more
February 1 is a significant day for our company. It's the day we drop the name "Strang Communications" which we have been using for nearly 30 years and go by our new name: Charisma Media. We've sent out "news releases" so you may have heard about this. But I decided to send this to you because I felt you would be interested.
I shared "my heart" in a column in the February issue of Charisma and told why, as the founder of this company, I feel led to make this change. The easiest way for me is to let you read my actual column below. And then below that is the press release we sent out which has the "who, what, when, where and why" journalistic angle to the story for those of you who are interested. read more
Much has happened since Charisma was started in 1975—in the church, in our culture and with technology. Over those 30-plus years I’ve been blessed to be part of many powerful moves of the Holy Spirit. Yet seasons change. read more
Growing up in the 1950s, I knew there were two Christian
leaders who stood head and shoulders above the rest—Oral Roberts and
Billy Graham. I never dreamed I would get to know Oral personally,
publish one of his books, serve on one of his boards and even visit him
“to say goodbye.”
Once Oral told some leaders that if they
were ever asked to speak and were unprepared, they should tell their
testimony. Now I feel inadequate to pay tribute to a man who did more
than probably anyone in the 20th century to bring God’s healing power
to the church. So I’ll just tell my testimony of knowing him.
I met Oral through my mentor Jamie Buckingham. I was
barely 30 when I was invited to a meeting of about 100 leaders in the
newly built City of Faith, on the Oral Roberts University (ORU) campus
in Tulsa, Oklahoma. During the meeting Oral walked around the room and
prayed for each person. When he came to me he said: “Never doubt the
gift that’s within you.”
I had only recently started Charisma. Oral must
have sensed I was unsure about God’s call on my life. Yet he saw God’s
hand on this fledgling magazine. He told me later he read every issue.
And once he recorded a short endorsement that I’m so proud of I put it
on the special online tribute we posted (charismamag.com/index.php/oral-roberts-tribute).
Once Oral asked me to serve on ORU’s board of regents. I felt as a journalist I needed to keep my objectivity, so I declined.
Now, 25 years later, my son Cameron (who graduated from ORU) is the
youngest member of ORU’s new board of trustees. Instead, I served for
many years on the International Charismatic Bible Ministries board. It
brought me to Tulsa for many years and I enjoyed rubbing shoulders with
this great man.
I have met heads of state and titans of industry. But
never had I met a man who could humbly walk into a room with such a
commanding presence. But Oral wasn’t perfect, and he spoke candidly of
And while he lived in utmost moral
integrity, he sometimes did things he must have regretted. When he was
desperate to keep ORU’s medical school afloat in the mid-1980s, he
threatened that “God would take him home” if he didn’t raise the money.
I wrote an essay in our local newspaper explaining that
many Christians believe after they accomplish all they can, God will
call them home. That comment is often made at funerals to provide
comfort when someone’s life is cut short. Apparently Oral felt that if
he failed to save his medical school he would have nothing more to
accomplish and he’d go to heaven.
The money did come in, but it wasn’t
enough to save the medical school. ORU suffered a great setback and it
left ORU heavily in debt. Yet the university and his vision survived
and lives on.
The day of Oral’s funeral on December 21 I looked out my
hotel window to the beautiful campus that had once been a farm on the
edge of Tulsa. I’d heard Oral tell how he had walked that vacant
property, prayed in tongues and then interpreted back to himself
direction from the Holy Spirit. I have used that prayer technique many
After Oral retired to Southern California, I arranged to
visit him “to say goodbye.” I took my friend R.T. Kendall, who wanted
to meet him. Oral admired several of Kendall’s books, so he wanted to
meet him and I went along to help conduct an interview we published in Ministry Today.
I saw him only one more time—at Mark Rutland’s
inauguration as the third president of ORU. After the ceremony others
on the platform exited amid great academic pageantry. As Oral was
helped off the stage by his caregivers he gave a great wave as if to
Later Mark spent some private time with ORU’s founder.
After their conversation, Oral put his feeble arm around Rutland’s
shoulder and said, “Now I’m ready to go home.” Rutland assumed he was
ready to go back to Southern California. Later he realized Oral meant
he was ready to go to heaven.
Oral Roberts inspired millions, including this former
newspaper reporter. I’m thankful he saw a gift in me. His legacy of
faith makes me want to use that gift to its maximum impact.
Steve Strang conducted several interviews with Oral Roberts, including this one in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in the early 1980s. read more
After publishing Charisma for 34 years, Steve Strang is taking a much-needed sabbatical. He will not be writing The Strang Report, so each week you will receive one of our other e-newsletters. We hope you will enjoy them and decide to subscribe. Of course, they are free, and all you have to do isclick here. read more