June / July 2016 - Vol. 86

International Coordinators Meeting 2016
Reflections from the Sword of the Spirit
International Coordinators Meetings
Lansing, Michigan USA - May 27-30, 2016
Over the last 12 years the Lord has spoken very strongly to the Sword of the Spirit about an open door for mission and a special season of grace, especially on the young people in Sword of the Spirit. Given the increasing difficulties and challenges which Christians face around the word – increasing religious persecution, drift from Christian morality, breakdown of marriage and family life – there  has been a growing sense of urgency among Sword of the Spirit leaders to work more closely together internationally and regionally to strengthen the work of building Christian communities and preparing community members to be fully engaged in mission.

Every four years, since 2004, the coordinators from all of the communities in the Sword of the Spirit have gathered to seek the Lord together. This past May 27-30 2016, some 400 coordinators and main Kairos leaders met for four days in Lansing, Michigan. They came from the 75 communities located in Asia, South Pacific, Europe, Middle East, North America, and Central and South America.

The overarching Scripture verse for the International Coordinators Meeting (ICM) is from 1 Peter 2:9, ‘But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, that you may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.’ The Key topics and themes, drawn from that scripture verse, focused on Unity, Holiness, Mission/Proclamation, and Spiritual Warfare.
The following personal reflections from some of the participants give a sense of the personal impact and highlights among those who took part in the recent gathering of coordinators in Lansing. A more detailed report of the ICM will be featured in the August Issue of Living Bulwark.
ICM group shot by Nico Angleys
some 400 leaders from 75 communities world-wide were present at the ICM .

"The great cloud of witnesses"
It was such an honor and blessing to come and attend the 2016 International Coordinators’ Meeting here in East Lansing, Michigan. First, it was fabulous to see the “great cloud of witness” in our work in the Sword of the Spirit. Sometimes I get discouraged thinking how small, isolated and insignificant the work we do in New Zealand. But seeing and being part of the Army of God in a very real way through prayer, worship, fellowship, playing sports, teaching and sharing opened my eyes to see the significant role we have in doing our part in building his Kingdom here on earth. I had a great time building terrific camaraderie and brotherhood with my brothers in arms and co-workers in the Lord’s vineyard.

God spoke to me strongly in three areas:The first area is the unity God wants for his people and how much I should strive for building and maintaining unity at all levels in my personal life, and in my work and service. The second area that God showed me where I can grow more is in doing spiritual warfare. Lastly, God revealed me how blessed and fortunate that I am in the midst,and  at the cutting edge, of a work of ecumenism which the Lord is doing among his people at this time and age. Indeed, I now appreciate more the time I live in where I can see God’s amazing grace in action.

Ironically, it felt both like an oasis in the desert and a dry ember being set on fire – being refreshed and restored spiritually but also being convicted to act and move at the same time. God is truly good!

Tom Caballes, Lamb of God Community

 New Zealand

"Lord, use me"
International Coordinators Meeting (ICM) held in East Lansing has been grace filled, and a blessed opportunity to meet with many of the Sword of the Spirit leaders from around the world, some of whom I hadn’t seen for 15 or 20 years. One key highlight has been a stirring address to the community leaders by Anton Collela on our mission. [Anton is a coordinator from Community of the Risen Christ in Glasgow, WScotland.] Our mission, which is fundamentally to present Jesus Christ to a world dying in their need of him is something that we as leaders cannot just delegate to the young people among us. All must be engaged in mission.

Anton challenged each of us to pray a two word prayer “Use me!” As leaders we need to lead from the front in our mission. But the Lord also spoke to the leaders on Sunday night at our prayer meeting to not be those who would hold back our younger brothers and sisters in their own part of the mission. Rather, we are to rejoice as we see them in their own right as saints, missionaries and martyrs take up the call and mission of our people. May the Lord indeed do this in our midst.

Bruce Franson, Word of Life Community and Servants of the Word,
Ann Arbor, Michigan USA

An imperative to be a missionary in tune with the Holy Spirit
"This has been a blessed time at the ICM - rich times of prayer and worship together, excellent teaching, testimony and fellowship. A couple of things that have particularly struck me... One was Bishop Mike Byrnes speaking ( at his homily during Sunday's Catholic Mass) - He said that the Holy Spirit acts as a 'centrifugal force' always driving us outwards, bringing his life to others.

Bishop Mike Byrnes
                          at International Coordinators Meeting 2016

Another was an image from some testimony and discussion .. the Lord has told us to go out into the deep as fishers,not sailors.

I have experienced a growing call - a sense of the imperative of the need to be a missionary - whether it be planned, focused mission work or spontaneous appointments set up by God. I pray that my 'spiritual antennae' will be tuned into the promptings of the Holy Spirit - to be ready to pass God's love and His message of hope and life to others.Thank God for a great ICM."

John Hampsey, Community of the Risen Christ,
Glasgow, Scotland

                          Cordinators Meeting 2016

“Knitted together” in brotherly love

I recently attended the ICM and was touched by many things.

The Worship:
I feel very blessed every time I attend the ICM because of the corporate spirit of praise. There is nothing quite like praying with 400 men who are baptized in the Spirit, who love the Lord, and who are from so many different countries. The praise we had reminds me of the way saints and angels pray in heaven (Revelation 4:8; 11; 5:9; 5:12).
I was particularly moved by the Sunday night prayer meeting. We had a blessed time that focused on words of knowledge - which I have hoped would be included at the ICM for many years.

 Brotherhood and Relationships: I am blessed to know so many people around the world. As always, I met a significant number of new men and I was able to connect with men I have known for 45 years—but many who I only see at the ICM’s. I was the only American in my small group. It was a real international experience. I was grateful to hear their stories about their personal conversion and their way of life.
I am deeply grateful to the Lord for the great work he has done in all of the men—the ones I just met and the ones I have known for what seems like 400 years. I feel the same kind of “knitted together” brotherly love with these men that David had with Jonathan (1 Samuel 18:1). I am also very grateful for the way they are giving their lives to God.

Teachings: The themes selected for each day—holiness, unity, warfare, and mission—were appropriate because they identified the delicate balance we all face as we try to follow and serve the Lord. Holiness is setting ourselves apart for the Lord. Holiness moves us to “love one another” and live in unity
. These are God’s marks. At the same time holiness moves us to go out. 

We are all called to go on mission. Paul said, “Devote yourselves to International Cordinators
                                        Meeting 2016prayer and pray that doors will open so that you can evangelize.” The he said, “Be wise in the way you act, make the most of every opportunity, and be ready with good answers to questions new people will have” (Colossians 4:2-6). In short, the talks urged us to find the right balance between the inward and the outward, between community building and evangelization.

Gratitude: Finally, I want to personally thank all the people who put in countless hours to make this conference so effective. For me, it was the best ICM yet! I purposely did not name any one person till now. But now, I want to take a moment to honor and thank Steve Clark, who I first met when I was 18—45 years ago. Over the years Steve has had in incredible influence over my life and I was glad to spend some time with him on Monday.

May the Lord bless our communities and have them more closely resemble the way we were told in “Acts 2:42-47.”  

Joe Difato, Spirit of Christ Community,
Jacksonville, Florida USA

A great bond of unity and joy together
International Coordinators Meeting 2016
This is the 1st time at an International Coordinators Meeting and my 2nd time in Michigan, having previously spent a year in Ann Arbor 27 years ago with the Servants of the Word.  Firstly, what a blessing to catch up with brothers from my previous time here. It is a great bond of unity being part of the Sword of the Spirit and a joy to see faithful brothers still committed to our life.  A joy also to spend time with brothers who have visited New Zealand over the years and been part of the Lamb of God’s journey.  

In terms of the conference the worship times were excellent, the teachings, life-giving and the sharing group I participated in very honest and supportive. What will I take away from it (other than too many extra pounds…), the encouragement of time with brothers travelling the same journey, refreshment for my spirit and an inspiration to be more effective in evangelism.  Thank you to all those who served selflessly to enable this conference to run so smoothly.  God Bless.

Mark Challies, Lamb of God Community
New Zealand

                          Coordinators Meeting 2016

Refreshed and transformed
By the end of the ICM I profoundly realized what a unique privilege it is to be part of the Sword of the Spirit. I now go back home as a new and refreshed man, touched and transformed by Him through the unity and fellowship amongst my brothers from around the world. The Lord showed me that our communities are a living evidence that He is at work. Come Holy Spirit, Use me in my daily life, service, and profession! Amen.

Jeroen Geleyn, Jerusalem Community,

                          Cordinators Meeting 2016

A witness of God's limitless power and love at work
I had an imagined that as I arrived I would see my many friends from my youth and we'd greet each other and catch up. I'd be encouraged and we'd talk about the old days and share a laugh about when I traveled in high school visiting other youth groups in the US and then as a young man doing a year of missionary service in Europe after UCO.

But when I first walked into the meeting room I was overwhelmed with the sense of God's power at work among us. It was tangible. I could definitely feel it. These leaders from all over world were a group of not just my young friends but also older men who have impacted my life since I was a youth, across all ages, and then even those younger than me.

Immediately I felt the power of God present among these men like it was a heat lamp. And I knew I had to tap into that power of God in order to be taken to the next level in my service and leadership.

Honestly I came in spiritually limping in many ways into this conference. One brother asked us to imitate each other. I thought, I am not an example myself, compared to these brothers, I am not worthy of imitation. Christ is worthy to be imitated, but I've got large areas of weakness. But then again I thought that in this room my brothers individually, like me may be limping.

Collectively, as a body united together as brothers in Christ, we can be a witness
of God's limitless power and love at work in each other.

That awareness off my need for greater strength and that of my weaknesses, prepared me for Sunday night's ministry time. And I felt and heard God speaking to my weaknesses and repairing my heart and mind for the service that I return to in the days ahead.

Jon Luea, Work of Christ Community,
Lansing, Michigan USA

fathers and sons
                          present at ICM - photo by Nico Angleys
several fathers and sons who attended the ICM

Blessing of unity and common mission
God has tremendously blessed us in the Sword of the Spirit. It was great to see, hear, and experience what the Lord is doing around the globe through our unity and common mission.
This is not a common experience nor natural because only the Lord can join us together as one. With many brothers and sisters in Christ from many nations, cultures, races, and Christian denominations - all sharing together our rich experience of being united together in Christ. This is a real living testimony of God's grace at work in the Sword of the Spirit communities.

Jim Orbe, Ligaya ng Paginoon and Servants of the Word,
Manila, Philippines

                          Cordinators Meeting 2016

We were challenged to engage in more personal evangelism
One of the most powerful aspects of the conference for me has been the small group time. My group was half younger leaders and half older leaders, with about an average of thirty years separating the two groups. During our four sessions together, we experienced the Lord speaking to us through one another. We were able to be very honest with one another, and found that we all struggle with many of the same difficulties in our lives and service. We prayed over one another several times, and everyone agreed that our group time was very special; the Lord was present with us. We concluded with a discussion about mission and evangelism, and we were all personally challenged to engage in more evangelism ourselves and we return home.

Jon Wilson, Word of Life Community,
Ann Arbor, Michigan USA

                          Cordinators Meeting 2016

Striving for unity in the bond of peace
"The Lord has always exhorted us his people to discern the ‘times and seasons’ in which we are living in - like the tribe of Issachar, who never flagged in that ardent  task. But that is easily said than done. However, I thank and praise the Lord that at every ICM, through the prophetic gifts, He has made this task easy for us in the Sword of the Spirit.

At this ICM, He has made it very clear, that we are to make this a 'season' to ‘strive’ to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace: to redouble our efforts in our ecumenical endeavors. Second, the Lord has revealed to us that we are to expect the Church to be drawn in to a more intense spiritual battle worldwide, and that we as Sword of the Spirit are to respond and prepare ourselves for this battle, courageously and fearlessly - knowing at the same time, that we can trust in his promises of deliverance, in the midst of these testing times. Thirdly, this is is to be a 'time' for us in the Sword of the Spirit to garner all our resources and energies to engage with a resolute urgency, in the proclamation of the Gospel - both corporately as local communities, as well as  in our personal capacities, on 'one on one' evangelism - expecting the Lord to confirm his Word, through  signs and wonders."   

Romeo Fernando, Community of the Good Shepherd
Vasai, India

Blessing of life together in covenant community

One of the things that impressed me at the ICM was the cumulative investment made by the men attending the ICM over the years in response to God's call to them to build and lead covenant communities.  Each of the men attending the ICM have given generously of their time, abilities, finances, and so much more over the course of many years in response to this call.  Yet even this offering, this sacrifice, is so far outweighed to the blessings God has poured out upon us in our life together.

Dallas Burkholder, Word of Life,
Ann Arbor, Michigan USA

ICM photo by Nico Angleys

Unity and mission together

This year's ICM was a truly blessed event where, I believe, all of us experienced the Lord's presence in so many ways: in our times of worship (the music team did a great job leading us in singing songs in both English and Spanish), through prophetic words received (I was personally struck by the Lord's assurance that his power and grace were especially available in these times of darkness), during times of fellowship when old friendships were rekindled and new acquaintances made.

The four major plenary talks made deep impressions on us, but for me, Dave Hughes ("Unity") and Anton Colella ("Mission") brought fresh and powerful perspectives on topics that would otherwise have been ho-hum.

This ICM has been described by a good number of brother-coordinators as being "the best" so far; I tend to agree. Maybe we have had three ICM's and so know what works (and what doesn't). Maybe it's because the conference venue served its purpose admirably. Maybe it's the presence of so many younger men (coordinator-trainees; Kairos leaders) while we still have the "giants" around (Steve Clark, Jean Barbara, John Keating among others). Maybe it's Ken Noecker's excellent presiding at all the sessions. Maybe ... everything.

To be honest, before the ICM I thought that such an event, involving much expense, time and energy, was not worth the effort. Now I am convinced otherwise: what a time of grace, spiritual ministry, and brotherly love!  May the ICM's long continue!

Jake Yap, Servants of the Word and Ligaya ng Paginoon,
Manila, Philippines

Transforming power of prayer for mission

As at previous ICM’s, it was very inspiring to meet with brothers from all over the world who are engaged in the same call and mission as we are in Pittsburgh and North America. My discussion group included brothers from the Phillipines, Ireland, Mexico and USA. The fellowship was refreshing, the talks inspiring and the worship uplifting. I was especially struck by Anton Colella’s talk on mission and the power of the simple prayer “use me” to transform our lives. I have been praying that prayer often since hearing the talk.

Joe Doyle, People of God,

Pittsburgh, USA

ICM group
                        photo by Nico Angleys

A bulwark of radical disciples on mission

For me, the Lord’s power was evident at the ICM. He spoke his word to us the first night about holiness, not making excuses, and obeying him even when we suffer. The gifts of the Spirit were more manifest than any Sword of the Spirit conference that I’ve attended, particularly words of knowledge. Brotherhood from all over the world was genuine, a real blessing for me. It was an honor to see hundreds of brothers from all over the world, each building their part of the wall (the bulwark). It’s incredible to see communities, after years of faithfulness, make their commitment as full members of the Sword of the Spirit. May the Lord continue to form us as life-long radical disciples together who have been entrusted with such a wonderful mission.

Jeff Smith, Triumph of the Cross,
Maryland, USA

ICM leaders from Ligaya in Manilla
Coordinators from Ligaya community in Manila at the ICM

God's refreshing presence and profound unity
I experienced a profound sense of God's refreshing presence throughout the ICM; not only at the sessions, but at everything we did together. I think some of this flowed from the profound unity present among all the men there from around the world. It was a concrete example of Psalm 133, the scripture we reflected on during the first session.

Ken Dorman, People of God,
Pittsburgh, USA

A great encouragement to grow 
I experienced the ICM conference as an encouragement to grow in three specific areas: spiritual, practical and relational. The first area is personal spiritual growth: The witness of many other men from around the world praying, teaching and sharing a common vision inspired me to give myself in a more committed way to the Lord.  I had an experience of being called "to approach the throne of the Lord" more often in my own life.

The second areas is growth in relationships: I was able to reconnect with men whom I have served with in Mexico and New Zealand. My roommate at the conference was a man I got to know ten years ago while living together in a Christian household in Mexico. I was also able to connect with many of the Kairos leaders whom I have served with on YES retreats for the past few years.

The third is a more practical area for growth in witnessing to young people: The "sounds bites" talk by James Munk was very insightful and we had a great session in learning how to come up with inspiring one liners that are easy to remember and which invite youth to think deeper.

Philip Quense, People of Hope,
New Jersey, USA

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