The executive officers of The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada—David Wells, David Hazzard and Murray Cornelius—took the time to express gratitude to lay delegates and board members at the customary General Conference appreciation dinner held in their honour. It took place from 5:00 to 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday April 30 at Hilton Garden Inn across from TCU Place in Saskatoon.
Dave Wells, general superintendent of the PAOC, expressed his gratitude and soft heart for lay delegates and their sacrificial service, especially for those serving in the prairies, where he had his early church experiences.
Murray Cornelius, assistant superintendent of International Missions, thanked guests for the ongoing investment the churches make in sowing the seeds of the gospel around the world, in spite of the many challenges and obstacles that need to be overcome. “There seems to be so much chaos—but the Spirit of God hovers over everything and brings things together.”
David Hazzard reflected on his parents and their contribution to the life of their church. “Russell and Margaret Hazzard were lay delegates. They had 12 children, and all of them were considered to be ‘in the ministry.’ We are all called and we are all empowered by the Spirit to do what the Lord wants us to do. This Fellowship is 236,000 lay people strong … a very important part of who we are as The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada. I value everything you all do—everyone is ‘in the ministry.’”
John Drisner, Saskatchewan’s district superintendent, expressed his thanks on behalf of the district, and his appreciation that much of the smooth operation of church life would not be possible without the invaluable contribution of its volunteers.
Wilfredo de Jesús, one of the keynote speakers for General Conference 2014, was invited to speak to guests at the banquet that Wednesday afternoon. He noted that it was his first time in Canada, and playfully gave guests a little “advance training” on how to intersperse his upcoming messages with affirmations and encouragements (such as “Amen!”) at the appropriate times, in the hopes that they would lead the way in doing the same at his upcoming plenary sessions at TCU Place. “I’m not sure how you guys do it in Canada, but this is how we do it in Chicago!” he joked.
On a more serious note, Pastor Choco, as he is endearingly known in Chicago, affirmed the priceless role that volunteers play in their various ministries, and highlighted how important they are to the 130 ministries affiliated with his church, New Life Covenant Ministries. “[Volunteers] are the church that never sleeps. We are a firm believer in the lay people. All 130 ministries are run by volunteers. It takes a team to achieve a dream—it takes the body of Jesus Christ as volunteers to do what we do.”
Pastor Choco encouraged delegates to do their part to go after lost people, and to keep working hard at their ministries. “It will be the lay people who will go out and seek and save the lost. In Luke 15, there are three stories about finding the lost—the story of the lost sheep, of the lost coin, and of the prodigal son. In the first two parables, someone was looking [for what had gone missing]. But no one was looking for the lost boy. We have to go after lost people—pastors can’t do it all. Jesus is coming. Let Him come and find you working and looking for the lost. Whatever you do, do it as unto the Lord. God is looking for people who will do the work. Do it not because it’s a passion ... passion will only last nine months. When it’s really hard, people quit. You do it because it’s a calling. May God bless you in what you’re doing for this country. Dream big. Do whatever you are called to do, even if it costs you. God will reward you.”
In closing, Dave Wells prayed for guests, who then went on to hear Pastor Choco speak at his first plenary session at TCU Place on Wednesday evening.
Learn more about that powerful message from Wilfredo De Jesús here.