It is unfortunate that at the mention of “Pentecostalism” so many people in the family of God have apprehensions, have the religious rolling of the eyes, have the embarrassment that these people are actually part of our family. These Pentecostals are like the family members that everyone knows about but hopes they don’t show up at the family picnic. But low and behold the somewhat backward, tongue talking, Spirit led and often shunned family members, are the very ones who are leading the rest of the family of Christ in world wide church plants, conversions, and as we read in Global Pentecostalism by Donald E. Miller and Tetsunao Yamamori, these family members are beginning to embrace a greater role in social activism. Though they may be the “new kid” on the block they are quickly taking on the heavy burdens of society’s problems. Whether it is educating “dump” children in Cairo, or preschools in Johannesburg, or bringing medical care to the very poor village in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, it is these crazy Pentecostals with their Spirit led world view that are making the greatest growth strides in both salvations and life transformations. The Progressive Pentecostal, as Miller and Yamamori have named them, move toward truly at risk children in order to “communicate a vision of human possibility and then serve as a vehicle for implementing this vision.”
Miller and Yamamori state, that “The assumption underlying holistic ministry is that it is impossible to divorce moral and spiritual needs from physical and economic needs. The two are inextricably linked.” When I read this I said, “of course.” I have been a Christian since January 27, 1987. Having only a Catholic upbringing, I dove into this new found relationship of mine and set out to find a church where I could call home. From Catholic, to Baptist, to Methodist, to Presbyterian, to Disciples of Christ, to Church of God, to Episcopal, to United Pentecostal, to Assembly of God and many other non-denominational churches, I visited them all. The United Pentecostal Church had the most active congregation while the Episcopal held the record for the most orderly and reserved. My search was finalized when I was invited to a youth service of a church I had not visited. When I saw the love of the kids in this group and the truly passionate desire to chase after Jesus I wanted to join. As ignorant as I was about this church stuff, I asked my friend what the monthly dues were to be a part of this group. Regardless of the cost I was going to become an active member. The free price was both a shock and a “confirmation” for the Lord. J
The Living Fire Youth Ministry was passionate about God and Man. Both seeking to know God and make Him known in a holistic ministry that did not divorce the spiritual needs from the physical needs of their fellow human beings. I was home. The church to which this radical-on-fire youth ministry belonged to was an Assembly of God church. Unlike other AOG churches that I had visited, this one was home to a well educated, mature, and very devoted group of people. They were much more subdued than the UPC congregation but were certainly more lively in worship than the Episcopal members. I believe I had stumbled, or as we Pentecostals would say, I was led by the Spirit to this group. They fully embraced the Pentecostal traditions of the power of the Holy Spirit, emphasizing a personal transformation, but also displayed the maturation of the Pentecostal movement as they engaged the world around them in a truly holistic presentation of the saving relationship found only in Christ Jesus.
From these Pentecostal roots I began to grow in my faith. It was in this same church that I began working with the Living Fire Youth Ministry as a Jr. High Youth Pastor only 2 years after my conversion to Christ. It was in this church that my worship and relationship for my Jesus deepened without any necessary external props. It was here that I first learned about missions, and it was at this alter where I was called into ministry. I heard, no, I felt the voice saying, “I am calling you to preach my Word.” My career path changed from medicine to ministry and I have never looked back. It is this deep passionate and personal love relationship with my Jesus that as Jackie Pullinger puts it, “We love others because of the great love by which we were loved.”
It is this outward thinking that causes us Pentecostals to know it is not just about us. It is about the King upon the throne that desires to share His love with others. We are his ambassadors imploring others to be reconciled to this passionate loving God. I love what Dominic Yeo of Trinity Christian Centre Singapore said on the DVD that accompanied the book, “Our destiny is in the nations. I believe that every church has a redemptive gift and we feel very strongly that our redemptive gift is really beyond the shores of Singapore.” I wish all churches, Pentecostal or not, would see that their redemptive calling is outside of themselves. Nations are waiting, may we see our destiny in the nations.
Unfortunately, I must conclude, there are still a few to many Pentecostal churches that are “mired in legalism and prefer to pray for the salvation of the world rather than to transform it through their actions.” There are also too many who too often “trade in magical thinking and psychological manipulation.” They are the odd ones that though I recognize them as part of the family, I hope they do not show up at any family picnics. If so, we will have words.
 Donald E. Miller and Tetsunao Yamamori, Global Pentecostalism: The New Face of Christian Social Engagement (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2007), 97.
 Ibid., 66.
 Ibid., 127.
 Ibid., 136.
 Ibid., 100.
 Ibid., 29.