Friday, September 01, 2006

The Real Deal

We just got through having a meeting with Surprise Sithole with Iris Ministries ( in Mozambique, Africa. We had met him earlier in the year and were given the opportunity to host him again. For those of you who don’t know who he is, let me sum up. This guy is currently overseeing over 8,000 churches in 28 nations! He is a true apostle who has seen the Lord and has raised the dead many times. In addition, he and many with him have been beaten, stoned and suffered greatly for the Gospel. There is just something about spending time with someone like that, that can greatly change, shift or clarify your perspective. We were able to take him to dinner and over dinner I was able to ask him questions and pick his brain about what they are doing out there n Africa.

I was just telling my wife how much I can glean out of little impromptu meetings like that. When David Hogan was here in 2004 I had a couple of questions to ask him. When he answered them I was able to move forward in faith with what I knew the Lord was telling us to do. The result? We now are preaching the gospel on an almost daily basis and into 28 places every month! Pretty good fruit from a little conversation I would say.

Soon after I got baptized in the Holy Spirit, the Lord spoke something so important to me about who I should learn from and what I should learn from them. He gave me this scripture:

“Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.” Hebrews 13:7

If you pay attention to this scripture, it was save you a bunch of time and energy and greatly increase the produce of your life! This scripture says that we are to remember our leaders and consider the OUTCOME of their way of life! That’s where we get so tripped up! We don’t heed this scripture and follow after what leaders SAY, not the FRUIT or OUTCOME of their way of life! So basically, we are to look at our leaders FRUIT, not their great messages, not their revelations or even their personalities. FRUIT talks, everything else walks!

So what I do is simple. I scour the earth for people who have a significant ministry along the lines of what I want to see in my own life. The result is that I have found a few who actually LIVE what they preach about! Many talk revival, but who is walking in it? Many have theories on city taking, but who has conquered a city? Many have prophecies about revival, but who is living in one? Whose lifestyle is PRODUCING what they preach? Who actually has the FRUIT of the Gospel, not just pretty words about the Gospel?

My list is short, I don’t know about yours. But David Hogan in Mexico and the guys who are working with Freedom Ministries and Heidi and Rolland Baker and whoever is working with Iris Ministries are on my list. SO when these people speak about their lifestyle, you can take it to the bank! When I started doing in our neighborhoods what David Hogan does in the villages of Mexico I started seeing what he sees! It’s not rocket science! When I imitate their faith, I get what they have! I have seen this work with Hogan and now I am looking forward to seeing it work with Surprise Sithole.

Well, when Surprise was here I had a few more questions to ask him. Most of them centered on equipping and releasing leaders, something that they are doing a spectacular job of! I mean, do the math, 8,000 churches in about 7 years. 7 years x 365 days a year = 2,555 days. And they have panted 8,000 churches in 2,555 days! That’s over 3 churches planted EVERY SINGLE DAY! That’s crazy folks! And these are BIG churches! Many of them involve entire villages that come to Jesus as a result of the power of God being displayed. Many of these churches have 500, 1,000 and more!

One of the keys to their spectacular growth is because they can get in a place, preach the gospel, impart to leaders and leave leaders that produce other leaders! They aren’t churches in and of themselves, they are church planting churches! So when they plant one church in a village, many from that village will go out and plant churches. They plant one church and that church plants ten churches that plant 10 churches each! Talk about multiplication! It’s like MLM for Jesus!

So the questions I had for him were about raising up leaders. Our folks that lead people to Jesus and are discipling new believers can get worn out pretty quickly, especially when people don’t change or act crazy. And a lot is depending on them. Many times if we don’t show up in a neighborhood and lead everything, then nothing happens! What they have managed to do is QUICKLY release new leaders to lead people. With my American (business) mindset, this seems so hard to do. But that’s what I got from Surprise! Here’s a guy that oversees over 8,000 churches in over 28 nations and he is one of the most childlike, simple and joyful people I have ever met! Most church leaders that I know lead one church and are covered up in worry, doubt and fear about finances and people. Far from childlike, they are about as fun as a heart attack and have the personality of a head of lettuce. They more resemble CEO’s than childlike simplicity.

So as I peppered Surprise about raising up leaders, two qualifications emerged for their leadership. Now these two qualifications are so simple and so biblical that they have absolutely no place in the Western church. I guess that’s why we don’t raise up church planting movements that plant 8,000 church in 7 years and lead and disciple over a million people to the Lord in that same time frame? So, putting all your ridiculous notions of what leaders should be like, are you ready to hear how they qualify leaders in Africa?

Surprise told us that when they are raising up leaders, they never select the person who pushes themselves forward and desires leadership over others. He told me that they are the ones that produce all the problems. I can say that in our own ministry, that has absolutely been the problem. It’s like the more they want authority over others, the worse of a leader they turn out to be! So they look for the person sitting in the back, who doesn’t push themselves forward. They are looking for humility and childlikeness. Children aren’t looking for positions of leadership, yet unless we become like a child we can’t enter the Kingdom! So they award humility, not persistence. We have given people charge before basically because they wore us out with asking, asking, asking! But in every case it has turned out badly.

Lesson learned.

I kept asking and he kept telling. He said that the ones that drink of the Holy Spirit the most are the ones they are looking for! He said that the ones who get absolutely plastered in the Holy Ghost make the best leaders. The ones that stay full, get filled and keep drinking are the ones that will best take the move of God to higher and higher levels! I thought about this and besides being a command (Be filled with the Spirit!) being filled with the Spirit is EXACTLY what leaders need. They don’t need to be full of knowledge because knowledge puffs up. They don’t need to be full of good ideas or human gifts because the church isn’t built by human wisdom or ingenuity. They need the Holy Ghost! The church is built up and strengthened through the power of the Holy Spirit! So what we need is more of the Holy Spirit and the power of God!

How simple and how profound. What this did for me is make it so simple. We are looking for people who are full of the Spirit and who are humble. They can take the move of God to the next level. Their humility allows them to be led by the Spirit. Their being filled with the Spirit enables them to accomplish much more than the one full of themselves!

Look out world! Here we come, armed with the simplicity of the Gospel!


missy harris said...

Just got it this am... no work and laid in bed and did a study on Holy spirit and got filled and filled and filled. wow... i can understand because Holy Spirit told me to call on Him when I need HIm and the power will be there flowing thru me not me in any way just him flowing.............. His refilling was way out there but I knew it was Him and so I just kept saying more and my whole body started its shaking. Also the Lord just led me to Iris ministries cause they are haveing fruit... I'm so grateful for your insert in injesus... confirmation is wonderful... especially this kind... blessing to you and your family....

Heather Simpson said...

this is a great blog I have just become aquainted with! God bless you and these are DEFINITLY 2 of my favorite leaders out there too!! I just hope I can be as humble and drunk as is needed. I don't want to be a leader to be seen, just to get HIM seen! But I definitly want to lead people to Jesus too!

Paul Ferree said...

Awesome!! What a great lesson learned. You're definitely right about listening and following leaders. It's been a blessing to watch and follow after the work you've been doing!

You mentioned about drinking from the Holy Spirit. Well, for anybody who is interested. I know this guy Barry Hall in Oregon who has really put together some incredible teachings on the subject. I would highly highly recommend it: These teachings are absolutely necessary for people who want to drink and eat of the Lord instead of the world.

Be Blessed!

andrew said...

Sounds like great advice Ryan. I would love to hear how things are going in this area a year and two months after your time with Surprise. Feel free to send me an email if you want: