by Bruce Leaman
Being raised within the city limits of Detroit and attending Detroit public schools has given me an overwhelming burden for the urban population. When Home Missions decided to put in place the Metro Missionary program, I felt that at last we were taking a step in the right direction. As time went on, however, I began to realize that this was having very little impact upon the vast harvest of souls within the actual city limits of our urban communities.
In March 2003, while attending a Home Missions Board meeting in St. Louis, I went to my room after an extensive discussion concerning Metro Missions. Feeling the frustration of the greatness of the need, and the seemingly drop in the bucket that was being accomplished through much effort and many dollars spent, I asked God to give me an answer for the city of Detroit and the urban centers of North America.
If I have ever heard the voice of the Lord, it was then. The message was, “The men are already there; you just have to reach for them.” God began to deal with me concerning what is now called Preserving Apostolic Ministry. I went home from St. Louis with not only a burden but also a plan. With the help of our local congregation, we set in motion what was to be Detroit’s first Preserving Apostolic Ministry Conference.
This meeting was not designed to be another UPC ministers’ meeting. We were looking for brethren taught, the importance of true holy and righteous living. I also felt that there might be those truly Apostolic men who were hungry for fellowship with other wholly Apostolic ministries.
I have come to realize that we, the United Pentecostal Church, do not have enough men who understand the urban culture, nor do we have enough money to reach the vast urban centers of North America. But I do believe that there are a great number of good men who are Apostolic in message but have never had anyone take the time to love them where they are and then take the responsibility to explain more clearly why we believe in this absolute Apostolic message and its importance to salvation.
With that thought in mind we began to plan our first meeting. We started by looking through the phone book, searching online, and even driving the streets of Detroit in search of those churches that might have some tie to this Apostolic message. We initially sent out 149 invitations for pastors, ministers, and their spouses to attend. We invited Pastor Watson from New Orleans, and Evangelist Chris Smothers of Illinois to teach and preach Friday night, Saturday afternoon, and Saturday night. We prepared meals and put together book packages to give to each one who came. We did not charge a fee or take an offering. We were extending our hand to strengthen truth within the city.
Finally the night came. We prayed and waited. What a relief who had an Apostolic background when the first man and his wife but at some point had strayed away stepped through the door. Twenty from, or in many cases had never eight ministers, many with their wives, came to that first meeting.
Praise God! We have now had three meetings with a combined attendance of fifty-six ministers. God has begun to open doors beyond my greatest expectation, but the best is yet to come. Do they look Apostolic? Some do; many do not, but they are hungry. Those who do not like what they see do not come back. Those who do are asking questions and begging for resources. We have placed books on holiness and Bible salvation in the hands of many men thus far.
I believe the greatest revival to sweep North America will take place when we reach out in love to those already in our urban centers who have a burden, who are already sacrificing, but are waiting for someone to reach out and enable them. I believe that the United Pentecostal Church has the tools, but God is looking for someone to reach outside the box and minister to ministers.
Those ministered to may never become a part of the United Pentecostal Church. But if we have strengthened their message and brought them back to true Bible salvation and holy and righteous living, then we have invested valuable time, money, and effort to growing the kingdom of God. It is not about us as an organization-it is about Him and His kingdom.