Called to Be Courageous: Denver Day 3 Delivers Divine Dare
By Carl Stagner
One of the first things God commanded when Joshua assumed leadership of the Israelites was, “Be strong and courageous.” On the third day of Convention 2021 and General Assembly, it seems the Lord was saying the same thing to the Church of God. Be strong and courageous! Or, in the familiar words of Church of God Ministries’ general director, Jim Lyon, “Take the dare!” After all, Jesus’ call upon all his disciples is to move past the norms that limit our impact and beyond our comfort zones that confine us to spiritual impotence. Via Monday’s featured speakers—both gifted women pastors—a multifaceted, divine dare was delivered to the saints gathered online and in the Brotherhood Mutual Ballroom at the Sheraton Downtown Denver:
- to stand up and stand out;
- to call out and confront injustice whenever and wherever it appears;
- to be willing to get our hands dirty in pursuit of justice;
- to walk with the marginalized, the outcast, and the hurting to the very end;
- to do the courageous thing, even if it costs us everything;
- to welcome women in ministry with open arms;
- to cease believing the lies of the devil about who we are and who God is;
- to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God; and
- to tell the truth.
Kimberly Majeski communicated clearly her heart’s desire to see the Church of God embrace its call to be courageous. It may not be popular, it may not be easy, but it’s the right thing to do, and too often believers have stood on the wrong side of issues that matter most. “We need the courage to stand on the side of justice,” she asserted. “We need the strength to stand with the suffering. We need to get out of temple and into the dirt.”
Courage, of course, isn’t the lack of fear, but the willingness to take action in the face of fear. Too many choose the easy path, however, determining the price of action to be too high. “When Jesus calls you to stand up, is it too costly for you?” Kimberly asks. Thankfully, perfect love casts out fear. Would you dare to take action in spite of the fear, in spite of the cost?
Hosanna Wong certainly would, and she certainly did. Her gripping testimony of growing up on the streets of San Francisco in not always the most pleasant of circumstances captured the attention of listeners Monday night at Convention 2021. In embracing who God made her to be, and in accepting her own unique design, she was able to reconcile with her past and courageously share all her story, not just the pleasant parts. In owning fully her unique qualities, including her own name, she found a platform for preaching the gospel, which has been blessed in tremendous ways ever since.
“I used to think that the [not so flattering] details of my life story were walls but, in reality, they were doors,” she said.
Hosanna walked through those doors and soon came to recognize her identity should not, and cannot, be wrapped up in what she does. In fact, she understands that there is no other identity she could claim which could possibly trump her first status as a child of God. Sadly, the same Satan who came to steal, kill, and destroy, also steals and distorts Christian identity. This is why truth is so important, and those who bear the image of God must rediscover the courage to tell the truth about others who also bear the image of God—listening, being in close proximity to the hurting and lost, and clearly communicating the message of Jesus. “We’re here to open doors, sit at tables, and tell the truth!” Hosanna exclaimed Monday evening.
The enemy of our souls also lies about our individual roles in God’s kingdom. “Believing the lie that I have to do something big, in order to do something important, could be the enemy’s scheme to get me to do nothing at all,” Hosanna explains. We must stop believing and perpetuating the lie!
In a powerfully emotive moment, Hosanna concluded her message with a spoken-word recitation titled, “I Have a New Name.” The Spirit moved mightily, challenging hearts to reject the lies and listen to the Voice of truth.
Also on Monday evening, a beautiful, poignant tribute to ministers deceased over the past two years was juxtaposed with the inspiring report that 246 new ministers had been ordained over the same period, representing 37 states/regions and provinces. John and Gwen Johnson were commissioned, too, as Global Strategy regional coordinators to Africa. Earlier in the day, the General Assembly approved the budget and presented additional agency and university reports—but not before vice-chair Eric Livingston gave an encouraging devotion directed to all who have ever wondered if they still matter. Eric was also honored for his service. Finally, among other activities and events throughout the day on Monday, all four universities of the Church of God hosted receptions following the evening service, replete with all the sweet treats one could possibly crave.
Today, the waves are yet crashing, the lightning continues to flash, and the thunder still rolls. But Jesus is in the midst of the chaos, and he’s walking on water. Will you take the dare and accept Christ’s call to step out of the boat? Tuesday’s closing session features the new president of Warner Pacific University, offering all of us one more opportunity during Convention 2021 to turn “hunger for justice, righteousness, and Jesus” into courageous action.
For more information about Convention 2021, visit www.chogconvention.org.
Feature (top) photo: Hosanna Wong speaks at Convention 2021 on Monday evening in Denver.