A good understanding of our identity is essential for any individual or denomination. A thorough grasp of where we fit in and the uniqueness we ‘bring to the table,’ can save us from the wasted hours of duplicating what already exists and the totally unnecessary discouragement of trying to compare and measure ourselves against others. If all we do in life is spend our time trying to be someone else then who is being us while we have abandoned the post?
One hundred years ago, God birthed the Elim Movement and that Evangelistic Band burst onto the scene and soon developed a very clear identity. George Jeffreys’ background in Wales left him well accustomed to churches which took their names from Biblical towns and settings; names like Bethel, Shiloh and even Elim were often used to distinguish individual fellowships. The fact that George Jeffreys chose ‘Elim’ was no random allocation or light matter. The Biblical location mentioned in Exodus15:27 was a place of rest and refreshment; a place that meant the difference between life and death in an otherwise hostile environment. The world into which the new movement emerged was no different. It was a world facing the horror of war on an unprecedented scale with all the fear and uncertainty that can bring.
There’s no doubt that those early meetings lived up to the name, as souls were saved, bodies healed and people were brought into the wonderful experience of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. People were refreshed and blessed in God’s provision. Those gatherings, flooded by the presence of God with signs following the preaching of His Word, were unparalleled in the spiritual climate of the day. Elim soon became known as somewhere where the power of God could be experienced first-hand, as people received salvation, healing and power to live and speak for God.
Those early pioneers had a deep desire for God’s presence and power to be experienced in their gatherings but there was also a clear understanding that the new move of God needed to be Biblically based. In a day when many of the institutional churches were questioning and criticising the relatively new Pentecostal experience that was soon to sweep the world, there was a definite need to avoid the spurious and extreme phenomena that parallel any true move of God. The foursquare strap line, Saviour, Healer, Baptiser and Coming King was a simple formula to encapsulate the message being delivered. All four points were easily established from Scripture and the new movement was undoubtedly Word and Spirit based.
All of the above, coupled with a Spirit-infused evangelistic zeal which inspired those pioneers to work outside the box in terms of buildings, expectation, and style, shaped Elim from the very start.
Today, very little has changed. Our world may not be facing war but we are living in the same spiritual wasteland. Other more menacing spiritual enemies are knocking on Europe’s door. The threat to ‘freedom of speech’ and the exclusive claims of the Gospel have never been greater in the western world. If ever we needed a genuine move of God it’s at this time.
In 2015, as we celebrate one hundred years of faith, life and hope, we have a glorious opportunity to remember, to honour and to reflect. However, I fully believe that the mandate given to George Jeffreys and his team has yet to be fulfilled. They set out to win Ireland for Christ with a desire to take the full Gospel to everyone along Pentecostal lines. So, as we look back, let’s not go down in history as those who lost their way through introspection. But rather, let’s allow God to inspire us again, to give us a passion, a burden for the lost, and let’s recognise that God birthed Elim for a purpose; a purpose which He is still fulfilling.
As we move into the autumn and towards our Waterfront Hall Celebration on 3rd of October, let’s make ourselves available to be a channel through which God can show Himself in the 21st Century. Let’s continue to be a movement soundly based on the Word of God, excelling in the preaching of the Word. Also a movement that is truly open to the dynamic of the Spirit’s moving; a people who are not afraid to dream, to think outside the box, to expect and to step out in faith believing the truth that Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today and forever.