Pastoring After Covid

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Spirit-Filled Trailblazers An interview with Dean Merrill Dean Merrill is the author, co-author, or editor of more than 30 books. His newest is 50 Pentecostal and Charismatic Leaders Every Christian Should Know (Chosen Books), forthcoming in March. Merrill recently talked with Influence Executive Editor George P. Wood about the lessons learned from these Spirit-filled trailblazers.

“‘These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come’ (1 Corinthians 10:11). The same can be said about our more recent spiritual trailblazers.”

WOOD: Why should pastors read biographies? MERRILL: Don’t think only of big, thick, 350page biographies. For many people in my book, those full-scale treatments haven’t been written yet, and may never be. But I did a page count of how much of the Book that God wrote (the Bible) is narrative/biographical, and it came to 41%. God apparently thought such material was worthwhile to teach us about courage, priorities, sin, the value of wise counsel, what prayer actually accomplishes, and other topics. “These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come” (1 Corinthians 10:11). The same can be said about our more recent spiritual trailblazers. The past year was difficult. What do your sketches teach about suffering and hope? Read about John G. Lake’s wife collapsing (probably of malnutrition) within 10 months of arriving on the mission field; Dennis Bennett getting railroaded out of his elite Episcopal church soon after he told of his Spirit baptism; Jack Hayford wishing he could leave his tiny, struggling Foursquare congregation in Van Nuys, California, but hearing the Spirit say, “Stay”; and Reinhard Bonnke

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having to shut down a campaign in northern Nigeria when hostile Muslims started burning Christian churches. The point: Spirit-commissioned work has never been a cakewalk. Racial justice is an important topic. What light does Pentecostal history shed on this? We got off to a terrific start at the Azusa Street Mission, notwithstanding the Jim Crow laws of that era. At the mission, all races sought the Spirit’s empowerment shoulder to shoulder. Visitors from the South and elsewhere were amazed. To quote eyewitness