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How to Raise the Dead in 2016 (Newsletter 2-9 Blog)

By Matthew Martin

Did the title of this article get your attention? I trust that it did and compelled you to read further. I admit that the subject of raising the dead seems to be a bit “out there”, however, I trust that by the time you finish reading this article it will make sense and have an impact on you and our mission of reaching the lost in 2016.

While we certainly do believe that the Lord can and has physically brought people back to life that is not the topic of discussion for this article. My focus is spiritual death and spiritual life. My purpose is to raise awareness of our responsibility of being the light of the world and introducing those around us to the life giving power of the Holy Ghost.

It is clear from scripture that humanity finds itself in a condition of spiritual death and in desperate need of eternal life. Paul addressed this condition in Ephesians chapter two; “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:” (Ephesians 2:1-6).

While we realize that it is ultimately the Lord that saves souls, it seems relevant to consider the role of the church in this process. We are reminded in Second Corinthians chapter five that we are ambassadors for Christ and have been given the “ministry of reconciliation”. It is our responsibility to reach out to the lost souls of our communities and help bring them to the knowledge of the truth and the experience of salvation.

Acts chapter nine chronicles the experience of a woman by the name of Dorcas being raised from the dead. A careful study of this miracle reveals five things that the Apostle Peter did which resulted in Dorcas coming back to life. It seems that if the church could implement these same five actions, the spiritually dead around us could come to life spiritually. Allow me to briefly mention the five actions of Simon Peter.

The first action of Peter was to remove weeping widows from the upper chamber. It would seem that he eliminated unbelief and doubt that would hinder the miracle. The first necessary action to experience revival in 2016 is to believe that revival is the will of the Lord. We must believe that revival is the will of God in our church, right now. We must remove the doubting thoughts and the unbelieving actions that would hinder this revival. We must also preach faith and by faith expect a harvest of souls. It seems significant that Jesus used this same action at the house of Jarius.

The next thing that occurred is that Peter knelt down and prayed. It should be understood that submission to the will of God (kneeling) and dependence on the Spirit of the Lord (prayer) are critical elements in experiencing our God ordained revival in 2016. We will never manufacture this revival; we must do our part but we must also depend on the Lord to bring sinners to life spiritually.

Following his prayer, Peter spoke directly to the lifeless body. He called her by the Hebrew equivalent of Dorcas and said, “Tabatha arise” (Acts 9:40). We must not only speak to the Lord about the lost, we must also speak to the lost about the Lord. Paul reminds us in Romans that they will not hear without a preacher. It is our responsibility to teach, preach, and share our personal testimony with those around us that need spiritual life. The end times in which we live offer a perfect platform from which to speak to the lost around us. We must not only speak to them, we must speak faith and hope to the lost around us. Peter told her to “arise”. He looked hopelessness in the face and released hope. The world knows they are in trouble; they are waiting for someone to give them hope. We must let them know that our God will deliver them form their addictions, save them from their sins, change them from the inside out, and that their lives will never be the same after they are born again of the water and the Spirit. This fourth action of speaking faith into the lives of the lost is a powerful ingredient necessary for them to come to life. Indeed we are able to offer hope that “… maketh not ashamed” (Romans 5:5).

Finally, he gave her his hand and lifted her up. This fifth action seems to be an expression of sympathy and tenderness. She now felt the uplifting power of his compassionate hand. There is no doubt that you and I can be an extension of His hand to reach the lost of Oklahoma in 2016. We have what they need to be lifted out of their sin and into new life. The Acts 2:38 message of salvation will bring anyone and everyone to life. This experience is indeed the “New Birth”.

As we progress into the New Year, I pray that the Lord will continue to pour out His Spirit across Oklahoma and that He will use each of us to see the dead raised in 2016!

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A Small Town Church

IBC Perspectives Volume 16 Issue 1 Matthew Martin A Small Town Church

Dewar, OK, was founded in 1907 with a few houses near the Number 7 coal mine. Its first church, “Little Green Mission,” was built in 1912.Dewar is still a small, blue-collar American town, with a population of 928 people. Its main industry is the nearby glass plant, along with the coal mines and agriculture. Sitting on the site of the first church, the “Little Green Mission,” is the Dewar United Pentecostal Church, with an average attendance of 210 more than 20 percent of the town’s population in Sunday School. “Our church is a little unusual because our town’s population is only 928,” Pastor Matthew Martin said. “It’s small-town America. We could knock every door in our town in one Saturday.”

The Challenges of a Small Town

Outreach in a small town can’t follow the patterns of churches in large cities, Bro. Martin said. “We can’t blitz the town with material because everyone already knows us,” he said. “We host functions for the schools regularly, things like baccalaureates and such.” One of the challenges we face is getting people to visit because they think they know everything about us before they get here,” he said. What has worked for the church in Dewar is one-on-one witnessing. “When people teach Home Bible Studies to friends and acquaintances, and they come to a service and feel the presence of the Lord, that is what works,” Bro. Martin said. The church has a New Converts Class for those who have just received the Holy Ghost. That way, the church is prepared to give each one immediate, one-on-one care. “Our motto is: ‘Reaching up to God, reaching out to others,'” he said. “We just did an evangelism month dedicated to how we can evangelize the community.” Bro. Martin divided the church into three groups: youth, young married couples, and those over 50. He had three teachers that rotated through the groups teaching lessons on: Reaching, Reviving and Retaining. “Reaching was about how we appeal to people to visit, how to answer questions, what to say and what not to say,” he said.” Reviving was about altar working; how we help them pray through,” he said. “And Retaining focused on visitor and new convert etiquette. For instance, one rule is that no visitor sits alone. There is always someone who sits with them.”

A Big History

The Apostolic message came to Dewar in 1917, and in a few years, the church relocated to the Little Green Mission. The church was affiliated with the United Pentecostal Church in 1949, and later that same year, the original building burned down. With $1,800 from the insurance company, the church built a block building on the same property. In 1950 Bro. M.D. Deal and his family came to Dewar to pastor. In the 1960s under his ministry came a face lift, indoor restrooms and air conditioning. In the 1970s two more buildings were purchased to house Sunday School classrooms. The 1980s brought more growth and enthusiasm, but Bro. Deal’s health began to deteriorate. In 1989 Bro. Martin preached at the Dewar church for the first time. Bro. Deal wanted to retire and was looking for a replacement. “It was a difficult assignment because the church loved him and begged him not to retire,” Bro. Martin said. Bro. Deal became Pastor Emeritus and Bro. Martin was elected pastor of the Dewar church on Dec. 31, 1989. At the time, Bro. Martin was only 28 years old, pastoring a church in Lone Grove, OK, with about 30 members. “It’s really a miracle I’m here because people with far more experience were interested in taking the church,” he said. “But the Lord saved it for us.” Dewar had an attendance of about 85 when the Martins arrived. “There were a lot of elderly people there when we came, and a few young couples,” he said. “We started a youth group with four kids, started a Bible quizzing team, started teaching Bible studies. Our youth attracted people of our age group.

“A year later Bro. Greg and Sis. Susie Joki moved to Dewar to be youth pastors and built the youth group from four members to a youth group with more than 50 kids. “We have so many young couples and children now, we had to start a nursery so these parents could get something out of church,” Bro. Martin said. The 1990s brought continued growth. The Little Green Mission church is long forgotten. Now the church property includes a sanctuary that seats 330, a children’s chapel, a youth chapel that seats 75 to 80, a large prayer room and the M.D. Deal Fellowship Center, a 10,500 square foot facility that houses the gym, kitchen facilities and classrooms. “Nobody would believe in a town this size that our sanctuary was paid off in 18 months,” Bro. Martin said. “Our church is debt free, a miracle in itself. Our people just give and support the work of the Lord. We support more than 100 missionaries, and in the last five years two of our ministers have left to start home mission churches.”

Priorities of Leadership

The priorities of a small town pastor aren’t much different from any other pastor. “Your relationship with the Lord has to be your top priority,” Bro. Martin said. “I’m a firm believer in early morning prayer. If you don’t get it done early, you may never get it done. “The second priority is taking care of your people. “Feeding the flock is number two,” he said. “You need to be there when they need you.” Children’s ministry is a very important part of the church, he said. “We’ve found that you have to build a children’s ministry, because it is the feeder system for a strong youth group,” he said. “One of our goals is for every child to have the Holy Ghost before leaving Trailblazers.” Bro. Martin has completely departmentalized the church ministries and established a leadership committee that includes every department in the church. It meets quarterly. The departments include: Trailblazers (children 5-11); Youth Alive (ages 12-18); College and Career (post high school through marriage); Preserving Christian Homes (PCH) (married couples through age 50); Young at Heart (ages 50 and up); Iron Sharpens Iron (men’s group); Ladies Ministries; and Sunday School. “At each meeting we have dinner together, review the previous quarter, have a leadership lesson and a devotional, and then plan the next quarter,” he said. “I ask each department to have at least one function on the calendar each quarter.” About 50 percent of the church is actively involved in some form of ministry. “I teach that everyone has a ministry, and everyone can help somebody,” he said.” Sometimes people are too shy to volunteer, but they qualify for a job,” he said. “We just have to invite them to be a part.”

The Personal Touch

Bro. Martin grew up going to Calvary Tabernacle in Indianapolis, IN, under the ministry of Bro. N.A. Urshan. He received the Holy Ghost at age 7 in a New Year’s revival. He can’t remember the day he felt called to the ministry. “As early as I can remember, it always seemed to be there,” he said. He graduated from Apostolic Bible Institute in 1982 and went on the evangelistic field. When he was 23 he took the pastorship at Lone Grove UPC in Oklahoma. His greatest influences have been his father, Bro. Urshan, Bro. R.D. Whalen and Bro. M.D. Deal. “My father isn’t a preacher, but he is a good Christian man,” he said. “And Bro. Whalen was instrumental in our coming to Oklahoma.” He invested a lot in my wife and me and taught me a lot from the ministry perspective,” he said. “Not being raised in a minister’s home, he really mentored us.” Since coming to Dewar Bro. Deal has been very influential. “Anything that has happened here has been with his full support,” he said. Bro. Martin likes to preach and teach on practical subjects and doctrinal material as well as revival and growth. “Sometimes you preach to potential, and sometimes you preach to need,” he said. “It’s not just about relevance but about bringing us to a higher place where God wants us to be.” Bro. Martin has served as the district editor of the Oklahoma Beacon, sectional youth leader and president, district youth secretary and president, a sectional presbyter and currently serves as District Superintendent. He and his wife Kala have two children: Meghan, 18, and Matthew Paul Martin II, 15.

Final Philosophy

What does work in a small town? For Bro. Martin, the important thing is practicing the Golden Rule. “My philosophy of leadership has always been to treat others like you’d want to be treated,” he said. “I’ve always considered how I’d want to be treated if I were sitting on the other side of the desk.”

Posted in AIS File Library, IBC Perspectives Articles0 Comments

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