Wednesday, August 22, 2007

A Ride With UPCI General Superintendent Kenneth Haney - Part 1

This past weekend (August 18-19, 2007) the Apostolic Faith UPC celebrated its fortieth anniversary. We had a tremendous time of worship, fellowship, blessing, and many memories came flooding back to us from the past.

The high watermark for our church was having the General Superintendent of the United Pentecostal Church International to preach on Saturday night and Sunday morning. On Saturday night, Brother Haney preached about “The Heelgrabber.” He started his message about Jacob grabbing the heel of Esau and having the tenacity and vision to get the birthright. He then went on to challenge our church to further pursue our mission of revival, growth, and progress. On Sunday morning, Brother Haney preached on “Spiritual Perception” and how important it was to see things from a spiritual sense and not miss the times that God was speaking directly to our lives through some of the circumstances and trials of life.

In addition to Brother Haney preaching, I was able to spend in the neighborhood of 220 miles driving him from Montgomery to Dothan and then back to the airport. As the mileage flew by, Brother Haney was extremely personable and warm to me and had much to say and I intend on sharing some of that in this blog.

A couple of weeks prior to his arrival, I had spoken to his secretary, Joy Hudspeth, a couple of times about travel arrangements. During one of the conversations, I expressed to her that we were a bit nervous about Brother Haney coming to Dothan as we had never entertained a UPCI General Superintendent. She assured me that I had nothing to worry about because Brother Haney was extremely easy to take care of. Joy’s statement about Brother Haney is going to end up being the classic understatement of 2007. She was more than right!

Pastor Larry McEndarfer, along with his son, Anthony, and I took Brother Haney to the Rosa Parks museum and the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Church on Saturday morning. This is the birthplace of the civil rights movement where Rosa Parks refused to get up from her seat that started the ball rolling. Montgomery is also the place where Martin Luther King Jr. pastored his first church that would propel him to the national scene.

After this tour Brother Haney and I headed for Dothan. Because I am always curious about the reading patterns of leaders, I asked him about the particular kinds of books that he read. He told me that he had read a lot of church history, particularly that which focused in on the 1st-3rd centuries. The reason was to gain an understanding of things that the early church had to deal with as they rose from the foundational level. The same kinds of difficulties the early church faced mirror similarly those that we are facing even today and gaining an insight of how the apostles reacted can be very helpful to us.

Brother Haney also related to me that he enjoyed reading biographies of great men. He talked for a bit about Richard Nixon and his great abilities with foreign policy (especially with China).

Brother Haney spoke about the huge challenge of materialism and spiritual lethargy facing the American church currently. It is very easy for us to relax in our society today and think that the mission has been accomplished. However, much work is still necessary to reach the world with the message of Jesus Christ. Brother Haney is very passionate about the Global Conquest mission which is going to be unveiled at General Conference in Tampa. In a ten year time frame, the UPCI is seeking to double everything! We must double our attendance in the local church and every church needs to get involved in a daughter work to double the amount of churches. Furthermore there needs to be a doubling of ministers in the UPCI. We will do this by tapping into our young men and women in the local church.

There was much encouragement from Brother Haney about this venue. He spoke of the local church in every city becoming a training ground for the apostolic message. The plan will include involvement not only from pastors but also from the constituents in every church. There will be a focus to assist pastors with tools to help accomplish this purpose and there will be a focus on how that saints in a church can help that pastor to see the vision accomplished.

Brother Haney related that he had just returned from a missions conference in central America. The missionaries in that region are having some good success with converting ministers and congregations to the message of Jesus Name baptism and the revelation of the oneness of God. In our day, we are becoming increasingly aware of missionaries from major evangelical denominations who are beginning to convert to the Pentecostal message.

Because of this shift in the Spirit, it is very crucial for the Apostolic doctrine not to be compromised. There are many shifting trends that are constantly trying to water down the American church that we must be very vigilant. Brother Haney and I discussed the fad of all the Purpose-Driven concepts that reached into the evangelical world in the mid-90’s. We are now beginning to see that this fad is going to have to be replaced with something new to hold on to the crowd. Yet in Apostolic churches where there is a true move of the Spirit, an experience of heart-felt worship, and a process of spiritual growth, congregations are thriving. For this reason we cannot allow a laissez-faire attitude to overtake us. Part of that fight is the constant battle with materialism and abundance.

Brother Haney spoke to me about the value of having elders in your life. The elders have the ability to bring a voice of reason into your life. He had recently finished a meeting with Brothers James Kilgore, J. T. Pugh, C. M. Becton, and T. F. Tenney at WEC in St. Louis. He said that he told them that they really did not need him but that he really needed them. He told me that having elders does two things for you. First, they will allow you to speak out frustrations that come about in trying to serve the church. They can listen to the frustrations and then they can assist you in making adjustments either in your personal life or in what you are trying to accomplish. Secondly, the value of elders allows you to see further with the eyes of their experiences. The experience of the elders can help prevent history from recycling itself again in negative ways.

After the service on Saturday night, we took Brother Haney out to eat. When we arrived at the tables, my brother-in-law told all the young men to sit across from Brother Haney so that he could address them. So my two boys and my nephew had a lifetime memory with Brother Haney. He told them that the most important thing in their life was The Call. As with all young men and women, Brother Haney believed that if they have the Holy Ghost that an incredible opportunity is in them to advance the Gospel. He told the fellows that there are enough physicians and lawyers but not nearly enough ministers, missionaries, and evangelists in our generation. Our young men and women need to fight against the tide to seek conquests in a very rapidly passing material world.

The next blog post I will give you a truckload of things that Brother Haney passed along to us on the return trip. He was triple-teamed on the journey back as I had my brother, Mark Harrelson, and brother-in-law, Mike Patterson with me. When Sunday night had finally closed down, I felt as if I had made another friend in Brother Haney. In fact on Saturday, he gave me his cell phone number to keep up with him while he was in Dothan. I told him that I would “lose” the cell number when he left for St. Louis. He told me that I could keep it and that I needed to call him later on in the year.

Joy Hudspeth was right! . . . . . Not only was Brother Haney a warm, down-to-earth leader, I also felt like that he was extremely interested in me as a person and wanted to see the success of our church in Dothan. . .

4 comments:

John Carroll said...

Brother,

Thank you for this insightful glimpse into the heart and mind of Brother Haney. Your writing is a great blessing, and is having more of an impact on the Kingdom than you probably realize.

Your friend,

John Carroll

Scott Phillips said...

Harrelson,

You are a gift. I so enjoy your sharing with the rest of us this opportunity to ride with Bro. Haney. I look forward to see what Brother Haneys says to me next... through you of course.

Keep it up,

Scott Phillips

Anonymous said...

Bro PH,
Again, I am inspired by your gift of the pen. Although I may never have the opportunity to ride 200 miles with Bro Haney you made me feel as though I was there with you.

Blessings,
Pastor Kenneth McClary

Kirk VanOoteghem said...

Bro. Harrelson,
I enjoyed reading this immensely. Your blog is a blessing to me. Thanks again!
Kirk VanOoteghem