When I felt led to start a small church magazine, I barely knew what
God had in store. That magazine released 36 years ago today, so I
thought it was appropriate to reflect on what's happened, and more
importantly what is on the verge of happening as we move boldly into the
Many of you know Charisma started at a megachurch in central
Florida. I was working full time as a newspaper reporter then. My, how
the media world has changed! The staff found this in the archives: a
black-and-white photo of me holding a copy of The Rock, a youth newspaper that I published before Charisma.
They had me hold an iPad to show the contrast. Back then I could have
never imagined today's iPad! Yet I dreamed that maybe somehow we'd reach
a million people. Do you know how many trees you'd have to cut down to
print that many magazines?
So from 1975—before the personal computer was invented and a time
when the electric typewriter I used was considered
high-tech—fast-forward more than three decades and now Charisma (and our other magazines) are available in digital format that's almost beyond belief. read more
I wish you could have experienced the powerful connections that
took place recently at our headquarters near Orlando, Fla., with high
level ministry and business leaders. It illustrated the “power of
connection,” which to me is important since I am a “networker”
Graham Power, a successful Christian businessman from South Africa
who founded the Global Day of Prayer, shared from his rich experience
in the marketplace and in ministry. He taught on principles of
leadership and living out one's calling as a believer in the business
world in a program he calls "Unashamably Ethical." Click
here to listen to an interview
We also had time to talk in a confidential round-table setting
about some of the opportunities and challenges we were facing in our
different situations, share ideas, offer counsel and of course pray
together. We all left encouraged and equipped. The emails I've been
getting have told how much they got as members of the new Ministry21
M21 Network (as we sometimes call it)
is a relational network bringing together like-minded pastors and
leaders to develop their own leadership skills, connect them with
others, provide needed coaching, continuing education and wonderful
resources. read more
For many, mother-in-law jokes have a ring of reality. But for me
they don’t. I had the perfect mother-in-law—Rose Ferrell who left
us this week. In the 38 years I've been her son-in-law, we never had
a cross word. It was well known in the family that she always sided
with the in-laws if there was ever an argument.
She lived with Joy and me for the past 3-1/2 years. She was always
independent and a pleasure to have in the home. She was a godly
woman, and I would hear her praying for her six children, nine
grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren.
Now she’s gone. On Monday, at age 96, she breathed her last
surrounded by family and friends. I had spent the night with her in
the hospital on Friday, helping the nurses care for her. I fed her
breakfast and she was doing so well I took off the next morning for
the annual booksellers convention in Atlanta. But she had been
hospitalized for congestive heart failure and Monday morning it was
obvious it was a matter of hours until she died. As soon as I found
out, I immediately flew home from Atlanta and arrived at the
hospital in Altamonte Springs, Fla., an hour before her heart quit
beating. read more
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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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