For nearly 10 years, I've been meeting three times a year with 10
business and ministry leaders in a small closed group we call “CEO.” We
gave it that name because you must be a CEO to be invited. It's for
accountability and for what the Bible calls “iron sharpening iron.” I
can't tell you how valuable it is to discuss important issues I'm
dealing with both in business and my personal life with men I know care
about me, who have come to understand me and will keep everything in total confidence.
It was my small group experience that gave birth to the idea to start the Ministry21 Network—a
relational network to bring together like-minded pastors and leaders to
develop their own leadership skills, connect them with others, provide
needed coaching, continuing education and wonderful resources. So far, we've had several hundred join; most are raving fans and tell me how
some aspect of what they've learned has changed their lives.
week, I'm combining the two for a special networking meeting at our
headquarters at 600 Rinehart Road in Lake Mary, Fla. I decided to reach
out to the 35,000 who have signed up for my blog to see if you'd like to
attend on June 16-17. read more
Last week, news
stories about Randy White and Eddie Long had special meaning to me because
there is a Matthew 18 story, which I have not revealed until now, where it says
to go to your brother privately.
Long announced last week that he settled with four young men who accused him of
having homosexual relations. Long had said he was innocent and would fight the
allegations, but he settled for an undisclosed amount so "his ministry
could go on." You can read more here.
The other news
item was former Pastor Randy White who was picked up on driving under the
influence in Tampa, Fla. You can read a secular report with the sad
details. Suffice it to say, at one
time, Randy was one of the brightest young pastors whose vision to reach Tampa
with innovative ministries brought him a lot of accolades from civic and
religious leaders. We once featured him and his ex-wife, Paula, on the cover of
Ministry Today. It's so sad because, for reasons we'll never know, White
let all that influence and potential go down the drain.
known until now is that in the late 1990s, I called Randy and asked to meet
with him privately to share a concern. We both drove to the small Disney town
of Celebration, Fla., about halfway between where we each lived. Over lunch I
told him I was concerned that his success seemed to be promoting pride and he
should be careful lest he fall. He thanked me for caring enough to come to him.
He responded humbly and said he'd take the warning. I felt I had done what God
wanted me to do and forgot about it. read more
I enjoyed attending the 19th annual Expolit trade show in Miami,
Fla., last weekend. Miami is a world of its own—or, as the joke goes,
one of the few places in the United States where a passport is required.
Miami is certainly one of the most international cities in the country
and is perfect for distributors from around Latin America. It makes
sense, then, that the premier trade show for the Spanish Christian book
and music industry is held there.
Luis Fernández, an industry veteran of more than 20 years, described
Expolit to Dr. Don Colbert, our bestselling health author who spoke at
Expolit, as “partly like NRB
[National Religious Broadcasters], partly like the International
Christian Retail Show and part bazaar.” I know that to be true because
I’ve been attending Expolit for 18 years. I’ve seen the growth of the
Spanish publishing market, and I have come to appreciate Expolits’s
cultural aspects: the trade show closing for afternoon siesta, then
staying open until midnight; the crowded aisles in the exhibit hall; or
the music blasting from nearly every booth, each one louder than the one
next door. I especially enjoy drinking sweet Cuban coffee! read more
Think Reinhard Bonnke and his ministry are all about the
numbers? You better believe it—and here’s why that’s a good thing.
I was a young journalist attending an international conference in
Nairobi, Kenya, in 1984 when I saw fliers all over town for a German evangelist
named Reinhard Bonnke, who was holding huge crusades throughout Kenya. Knowing
Germany wasn’t exactly a hotbed of evangelism, I was curious. African friends
told me about this man’s passion to see all of Africa saved. Soon we were covering
his ministry in Charisma.
One of our first stories was about his massive revival tent that held up to 34,000 people. In 1985, a storm
destroyed the tent in South Africa—but in the end, it didn’t seem to matter
since it couldn’t have contained the hundreds of thousands who showed up.
I first met Bonnke in
Brazil in 1989 when he was there for his daughter’s wedding. My wife and I had
flown down to attend a Charles and Frances Hunter crusade in Rio de Janeiro,
and we stayed at the same hotel as Bonnke. A friendship developed that continues
today. Little did I know he would one day move his international headquarters
to Orlando, Fla., which allows us to interact several times a year—most
recently when he wanted to introduce me last fall to his successor, Daniel
Kolenda. I actually knew Daniel’s family and visited his dad’s church in Port
Charlotte, Fla., when Daniel was a little boy. In Charisma’s March issue we covered the incredible story
about how after some unsuccessful attempts to find a successor, God
supernaturally told Bonnke that the anointed must be appointed.
When I recently began inviting leaders to serve as guest
editors for Ministry Today,
I never dreamed someone of Bonnke’s worldwide stature would agree. But when we
mentioned to him our vision to devote an entire issue to the topic of
evangelism—and just how important it is for the church—he jumped at the chance. Bonnke served as guest editor for the May/June 2011 issue of Ministry Today. His successor, Daniel Kolenda, was the co-editor. Bonnke can explain better than I how Kolenda is transitioning to fill his huge
This isn’t just an opportunity to take over a large
ministry, but also to win millions to Christ. When discussing people and souls,
most of our minds. Yet I believe it. I’ve observed how conservative Bonnke’s
ministry is on reporting numbers. Sadly, many evangelists have exaggerated so
much that evangelistically speaking
has entered our everyday language to mean “exaggeration.”
L to R: Reinhard Bonnke, Anni Bonnke, Joy Strang, Steve Strang, Frances
Hunter and Charles Hunter
But I’ve seen the multitudes with my own eyes. In 2000, I
traveled to Lagos, Nigeria, to attend one of Bonnke’s massive rallies. One of
the greatest spiritual experiences of my life was being there the night he
ministered the baptism of the Holy Spirit to a crowd estimated at 1.6 million. For at least 20 minutes,
waves of power rolled over that crowd as seemingly everyone spoke in tongues at
the top of their voices.
On another night, I walked the crowd with one of his
staff. I saw how they marked off areas on the ground, actually counted people
in the squares and multiplied by the number of squares. I determined their
numbers were believable. And during the day I saw firsthand the Fire Conference
for 20,000 pastors and how they distributed the decision cards that had been
filled out. African leaders told me how Bonnke’s crusades built the local
church and how churches cooperated as a result.
It's estimated Bonnke has been instrumental in bringing 60 million souls to Christ and we believe that number is at least
close. (Only God knows the exact number.) But the point is not entirely the
number. Bonnke uses the number—as do we—not to brag but to give a frame of
reference of the absolute enormity of this ministry and to give glory to God.
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The Strang Report eNewsletters? Click HERE to view The Strang Report
website. read more
Pat Morley and Man in the Mirror
ministry are celebrating their 25th anniversary this year. They are
to be congratulated for outstanding contributions to the lives of many
people—including me—and for advancing the kingdom of God.
I’ve known and admired
Pat since the late 1970s when he was an up-and-coming real estate mogul in
Central Florida. He was well on his way to making his Morley Properties as big
as Trammel Crowe in Dallas, which was his goal.
Pat was always known as
a strong Christian. He even started a prayer breakfast in Winter Park, Fla.,
where Charisma began. It has changed and flourished and influenced many.
Pat was among those who persuaded Campus Crusade and other major evangelical
ministries to relocate their headquarters to Central Florida. read more
Note from Steve Strang: Attending this meeting of leaders was a great honor. Please read my commentary on what I learned. I took the opportunity to bring home "flip camera" interviews with about half of the participants representing churches and ministries around the world. Each one is only 2-3 minutes but gives you more information about that ministry. If you view several or all of them, you'll begin to get a feel for what is happening around the world—and that is my goal. read more
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