Conversation with David Yonggi Cho and Thomas E. Trask
In August, thousands of delegates from the United States and around the world will gather for the third triennial World Assemblies of God Congress (7,8) and 2000 Celebration (8-10) in Indianapolis, Ind. Recently, John Maempa, special assistant for the 2000 Celebration, interviewed David Yonggi Cho, chairman of the World Assemblies of God Fellowship, and Thomas E. Trask, U.S. general superintendent, regarding these gatherings.
Evangel: The 2000 Celebration will be preceded by the third triennial World Assemblies of God Congress. Describe the World Congress and the significance of its meeting in the United States.
Cho: The World Congress is the triennial meeting of the World Assemblies of God Fellowship that was formed in August 1989 at the International Decade of Harvest Conference in Indianapolis. The purpose of the WAGF is to pursue the fulfillment of the Lords command to evangelize the lost in the shortest possible time. This will be accomplished as Assemblies of God fellowships work together and seek the most effective means to fulfill the Great Commission under the dynamic leadership of the Holy Spirit.
We are pleased to go to the United States for the third congress. For many of us, the American Assemblies of God is considered our spiritual father, because American missionaries came to our countries and preached the gospel. So going to America is like going home.
Evangel: What kinds of issues does the World Congress deal with?
Cho: Partnership in world missions is a major objective. The Assemblies of God has a mission a co-mission given to us by the Lord of the harvest (Matthew 28:19,20). Missions is what unifies us; missions is the purpose of our Fellowship. Thankfully, many countries that once received missionaries are now sending missionaries throughout the world.
Also, since its founding, the WAGF has raised a strong voice against persecution of the church. Letters of protest sent from the Fellowship have had a significant impact on several occasions. Also, through the World Assemblies of God Relief and Development Agency, several countries have received aid following famines and other natural disasters.
Evangel: What events are planned for the third World Congress in Indianapolis?
Cho: In addition to the executive committee meetings and business session, several workshops will be offered on a variety of themes, including partnership in world missions. Details regarding the sessions will be shared as they are finalized.
On Monday evening we will hear from outstanding international speakers. Some are from countries where establishing the church is very difficult.
Evangel: Brother Trask, the 2000 Celebration has been on your heart for some time. How did the vision for that gathering develop?
Trask: As we approached the 21st century, I felt there were two things we needed to do as a church: reflect upon what God has done through the Assemblies of God these past 86 years and commit ourselves to the challenges before us.
What God has accomplished through the Assemblies of God is unparalleled in church history. From 300 people in Hot Springs, Ark., in 1914, we now number more than 30 million members worldwide. While we rejoice in this, it is not due to the cleverness of man or to the ingenuity of an organization. Jesus said, "I will build My church."
From this point we must seek a fresh enduement of power from the Holy Spirit. We must commit ourselves anew to fulfilling our Lords Great Commission as His Spirit enables us.
Evangel: What are some of the goals you hope to see accomplished as we gather and beyond?
Trask: This gathering will give us a fresh focus on the task before us. I believe that men and women of all ages will respond to Gods call to ministry. Furthermore, I believe that God will touch people afresh with healings and other miracles.
My prayer is that people will be inspired with a new passion and commitment to reach the lost across the United States. Reports indicate that approximately 10,000 people a day are coming to Christ through the ministry of the Assemblies of God worldwide. Presently, however, much of that growth is happening overseas. We need a mighty revival that will bring a surge in growth here in the United States.
Evangel: A major objective of the 2000 Celebration is to cast vision for the future. Describe that process.
Trask: The Bible says without a vision people perish. While some of our churches had already developed a vision statement for the new millennium, many had not. But we did not want a top-down vision, but one from the grassroots.
Here is the process that has been followed. Vision kits describing how to prepare a vision statement were sent to more than 12,000 churches across our Fellowship. Pastors and laypersons prayerfully considered what God wants them to accomplish in the years ahead. Vision statements were then formulated. Those statements were sent to the district offices that reviewed the statements, identified common denominators and wrote district vision statements. The district statements have been received by the national steering committee. Based upon these statements, the steering committee will formulate a common vision statement for the Fellowship nationally that will be presented at the 2000 Celebration.
In addition to helping the steering committee shape a common vision statement, the collected statements will help determine the resources needed to assist pastors in implementing the vision in their churches.
Evangel: Why should church leaders and laypeople attend the August gatherings?
Cho: They need to feel the power and love of the world family and to discuss better ways to promote cooperation in various fields of ministry.
Trask: Through media presentations our people will be able to hear and see what God is doing around the world. They will come away believing "if God can move in those places, He can move in our community or city as well." Also they will have a chance to see the immensity of this Fellowship and its ministries.
Our people will be challenged to scale greater heights for God. On the closing night there will be a commissioning service where the baton will be passed to many who will carry the gospel into the 21st century.
Evangel: How should people pray for these events?
Cho: May we praise the Lord for the blessings which God has bestowed upon the Assemblies of God, and pray for a new vision and goals to reach the world together.
Trask: The best-laid plans will mean nothing unless God comes to us. What we need is much more than just a celebration. We must have a visitation from God Almighty. May our prayer then be, "God, come to us again with a fresh Pentecost and touch us afresh with Your presence and power."
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