Missions Summit: Ring of Fire
Pastor Terry Inman
Mount Sinabung on Indonesia’s Island of Sumatra was a doormat volcano for over 400 years until last fall. Then when authorities had decided it was safe for villagers to return to their homes it suddenly erupted again.
Last Saturday pyroclastic clouds burning at 700 degrees killed at least 16 people. Over 25 thousand are people homeless. As it rained down rocks and burning ash, thousands of acres of fertile plantations were destroyed.
Mt. Sinabung is one of over 450 volcanoes in the Pacific Rim known as the Ring of Fire.This strip encircling the Pacific Ocean from the west coast of the Americas to the Far East is notorious for earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. The Pacific coast of Japan is still recovering from one of the worst earthquake/tsunami disasters in our history.
This seismic volcanic loop runs along the edge of one of earth’s main tectonic plates. It is home to approximately 75% of the world's most active volcanoes. Nearly 90% of the world's earthquakes occur along the Ring of Fire.
It appears there may also be a parallel spiritual fire encircling especially the Asian nations of the Pacific Rim. A couple years ago the Holy Spirit spoke to Cindy Jacobs. She is well known for her prophetic ministry. She says, “Watch where the earth shakes. These will be the very places where God’s Spirit will be poured out.”
This year she added, “The nations known as ‘Ring of Fire’ will become ablaze for God. Countries like China, the Philippines, Indonesia, and many others will ‘erupt’ with a new move of God. It is harvest time.”
South Korea has been on fire for many years. The Pentecostal underground house movement in China continues to be explosive.
Breakthrough is begging to happen in Japan were eastern religion and materialism has been a stronghold. Singapore has several mega-churches full of passionate Chinese and Indian believers. Revival is breaking out in Indonesia even in the face of political and religious persecution.
Purdue University recently hosted scholars from all over the world to talk about what they called the Global Re-Orient of Pentecostal/ Charismatic Movements in Asia Pacific. It sounds like a spiritual ring of fire.
The San Francisco Bay area and Fremont in particular continue to experience dramatic shifts in Asian immigration. People are coming here from all over the Pacific Rim. I do not believe this takes heaven by surprise. The potential for spiritual fire was never greater than now.
Here’s a dot map of Fremont with one pen point for every person. Red is for Asians. Blue is for whites. Yellow is Hispanic. Green is Black or African American. Here are some significant local demographics.
In Fremont we are 50% Asian including 32% Chinese. We have one of the largest populations of Indian people in the US. Filipinos, Koreans, Japanese, Pakistani’s, Afghani’s, Island peoples live here in large numbers.
We are only 33 % white 14% Latino or Hispanic and 3 % black or African American. Close to half or our population is foreign born. Of our 230 thousand residents 77 thousand were born in Asian countries. This is a mission field as fertile as anywhere in the world.
Only 42% speak English at home. 30% speak an Asian language 10% speak Spanish and 46% of the businesses in Fremont are Asian owned.
This church is blessed weekly with new singles and families. Many are from the Pacific Rim. God is so gracious he is equipping us to be a house of prayer for all nations. He is making us a spiritual ring of fire!
Let me take a minute and share with you some stories. As you know Fremont Christian School is blessed with ethnic diversity. On our High School campus we now have 89 international students from 8 different Asian countries, 77 are from China.
Tom Bean who has helped us further develop this international program says, the tide is coming in--we can fight the tide or catch the wave! Here’s how we are catching this wave rolling in from the Pacific Rim.
Several individuals and families in our church are hosting our international students. These students are being exposed to our gracious hospitality and the love of Christ. Several of them are attending Harbor Light.
Kelly is a junior from Viet Nam. She is admired by her peers and serves as the International Representative on our student counsel. I would like for you to meet my friend Kelly and her host family Lou and Lucy Maselli.
As you know Iran is a country closed to missionaries. Many Iranian Pastor’s and Christian leaders are being detained, and imprisoned. Several have been martyrs. The culture is turning away from extremism and his spiritually hungry.
I want you to meet, Ebrahim Pookrah. He is in a Doctoral program at Golden Gate Seminary in San Rafael. I understand when he completes his studies he will be the first Iranian Pentecostal leader with a PHD. He also has a TV program being broadcast in Iran.
We have been very focused on the Asian world the last few years. Several of the 50 plus missionaries we support monthly are located there. Last week you gave eight thousand dollars to help send Tyler and Rebecca Schultz to work with Project Rescue and university students in India.
Last year, you gave over 10 thousand dollars through Convoy of Hope for emergency food and pure water for the typhoon victims in the Philippines. We continue to support Convoy’s children’s feeding ministries through One-Day-to-Feed-the-World. We will do that again thanksgiving week.
It’s great to have Rob and Becky Clay visiting us today. Rob served for several years on the executive staff of Convoy of Hope. Several years ago he led the Convoy of Hope outreach right here in the Fremont Tri-Cities. In fact Rob was raised in Fremont and graduated from Mission High School.
There are several others in our congregation that make short-term missions trips and are supporting many ministries in the Asian world. One that came to my mind in prayer this week is Julie (Metz) Cwynar. She is a teacher who is serving in Hydrabad, India. She is the daughter of Dan and Kathy Metz leaders in this church who are now residing in Oakhurst. Julie is leading a ministry that disciples and equips young musicians and worship leaders to reach their culture for Christ.
Holy fire evokes a hybrid of exciting and ominous responses. Everybody is attracted to fire. I almost burned down the neighborhood when I was a kid playing with fire.
After Israel’s nomadic tribes got their freedom from Egypt. God appeared to Moses in the desert on Mt. Sinai in an awesome volcanic firestorm.
The commandments, laws and covenants he gave them were much like our nations declaration of independence and constitution. It was the rebirth of a holy nation governed by God.
God’s thundering voice and the pyrotechnics of Sinai were foreboding. The people were literally scared to death to even go near the mountain.
Jehovah was known by his people, as the God who answered by fire. This would not be the last time fire would serve a symbol of his powerful presence. Let me just read some passages about the fire of God from the Message edition of the New Testament.
The first one is a promise made by Jesus’ forerunner John the Baptist.
I’m baptizing you here in the river, turning your old life in for a kingdom life. The real action comes next: The main character in this drama—compared to him I’m a mere stagehand—will ignite the kingdom life within you, a fire within you, the Holy Spirit within you, changing you from the inside out. Matt. 3.11 (MSG) Wow there is a ring of fire in us!
Later the gospel of Luke also shares the minutes of a meeting Jesus held with his disciples after his resurrection and before his ascension.
As they met and ate meals together, he told them that they were on no account to leave Jerusalem but “must wait for what the Father promised: the promise you heard from me. John baptized in water; you will be baptized in the Holy Spirit. And soon.”
When they were together for the last time they asked, “Master, are you going to restore the kingdom to Israel now? Is this the time?”
He told them, “You don’t get to know the time. Timing is the Father’s business. What you’ll get is the Holy Spirit. And when the Holy Spirit comes on you, you will be able to be my witnesses in Jerusalem, all over Judea and Samaria, even to the ends of the world.” Acts 1.4-8 (MSG)
That’s a ring of fire. It begins in our Jerusalem, our hometown and spreads throughout the world. God has brought the world to us.
The Day of Pentecost was the day God chose to empower his people with the Holy Spirit. This feast was the annual celebration of Israel’s rebirth as a nation and the giving of the law on Sinai. It was like our 4th of July. It was this holyday that God poured out his spirit complete with fireworks!
The bible says, When the Feast of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Without warning there was a sound like a strong wind, gale force—no one could tell where it came from. It filled the whole building. Then, like a wildfire, the Holy Spirit spread through their ranks, and they started speaking in a number of different languages as the Spirit prompted them. Acts 2.1-4 (MSG)
Wow there it is: undeniable evidence that God was in the house, wind and fire and unlearned ecstatic praise. The fire was not just on a mountain or in a temple but over everyone’s head. The presence and power of God was erupting in everyone; men, women, old, young, servants and masters. Jews and Gentiles, every tongue and every nation, then and now!
Luke continues, There were many Jews staying in Jerusalem just then, devout pilgrims from all over the world. When they heard the sound, they came on the run. Then when they heard, one after another, their own mother tongues being spoken, they were thunderstruck. Acts 2.5 (MSG)
So how does this mean? What’s in it for us? People from many tribes and tongues were assembled when the fire of God’s spirit first erupted. I am praying for new spiritual tremors, for a fresh ring of fire!
Just a few days after this initial spiritual eruption, there was another shaking. The apostles were being held and questioned for a public miracle performed in Jesus name. The people of God held a prayer gathering.
The Message bible says, While they were praying, the place where they were meeting trembled and shook. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak God’s Word with fearless confidence. Acts 4.31
I am asking for a ring of spirit-fire. Lord Jesus fill our hearts with your passion, and your courage to share your story with the people you gave your life for. Give us your explosive love, your wisdom and your power!