In last month’s President’s Newsletter I related that the word “Fellowship” as used in “Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship” is the translation of the Greek word, KOINONIA which describes “a unity brought about by the Holy Spirit”.
Many men who are currently members of the Fellowship, particularly those of the younger Generation, have little understanding of the issues that propelled the Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship from a single Chapter in 1952 to the largest Christian Business Men’s organization in the world, in something less than 30 years, and the subsequent issues, that caused the anointing of the Spirit of God to lift, and leave the Fellowship spiritually devastated and desperately hungry for a fresh move of the Spirit of God.
To help us understand the glory that fell in its beginning, let me share with you an unbiased view of the Fellowship as seen through the eyes of two observers, John and Elizabeth Sherrill, in the forward to their book, “The Happiest People on Earth”.
“We explained to Demos that we were reporters for Guidepost magazine assigned to investigate speaking in tongues, adding quickly that we were here “just to look”.
We had quite a look. The President Hotel was the scene that week of a regional convention of the organization called the Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship International, of which Demos was the Founder and President. Thousands had come to Atlantic City from all over the eastern seaboard, some to meet this same farm-tanned man in the Stetson hat, some to exchange stories about what the Holy Spirit was doing in people’s lives and some, like us, just to look-a little fearfully and more than a little skeptically.
Watch out for emotionalism, we warned each other – shouting, arm-waving, frenzied testimonies – the time-worn techniques for whipping a large crowd into a state of excitement.
We watched…and nothing of the sort occurred. From the front of the hotel ballroom Demos conducted the meetings with the hushed sensitivity of one who listened for a voice we could not hear. Instead of the chaos we expected, a restrained and orderly joy governed the Convention. Having armed ourselves against assaults that did not come, we had no defense against the love we actually encountered and that week we, along with hundreds of others, began our own walk in the Spirit.
In the fifteen years since that December we have followed the Pentecostal movement in many parts of the world, because we found this is where the good stories are – the excitement, the changed lives, the reality in the church today. And as we did we began to notice an interesting thing. Wherever we talked to people whose faith was alive – men and women, kids and old people, Roman Catholics and Mennonites- time after time the story would begin with this extraordinary group of businessmen and a dairy farmer from Downey, California named Demos Shakarian.”
I have also asked Jimmy Rogers a member of the Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship from the state of Georgia since 1960, to share with you the early days of the Fellowship as he remembers them.
“This is my 52nd year with the Fellowship and over the years I have been privileged to serve as a Member, a Field Representative, an International Director, then in the 1980’s, I was appointed by Demos Shakarian to serve as a Regional Vice-President in the USA.
In the early days of the Fellowship after God gave the “VISION” through Demos, we experienced a mighty out-pouring of the Holy Spirit in the American Fellowship.
Even though I grew up in a classic old-time Pentecostal environment, this move of God, which is often called the ‘Charismatic Renewal,’ was totally different from anything I had previously experienced.
By 1950 the traditional denominations had grown seemingly cold, and the people in these churches had lost interest in the things of the Spirit; not unlike what is happening in the churches today.
In the 1950’s and 1960’s, as the Fellowship was just getting started; The denominational walls began to crumble, and men from nearly every denomination began coming to our Fellowship meetings to receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues. This move of God in the Fellowship caught the attention of many individuals in the mainline denominations, as well as many business and professional people who were not a part of the traditional church. It seemed that the same outpouring of the Holy Spirit that was experienced in the early church, in the book of Acts, was falling on the Fellowship. The Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship was experiencing the same signs, wonders and miracles the early apostles experienced in the Book of Acts!
It was amazing to watch God use the Fellowship in America to carry the Vision around the world – first to Europe in the 1960’s, then to Africa, Australia, Asia and South and Central America in the 1970’s and 1980’s.
But as the Fellowship grew some of the same disagreements began to occur in our Fellowship that had occurred in the early church, and gradually the anointing of the Spirit began to lift off of the Fellowship.”
In spite of these human failings, the Vision that God entrusted to the Fellowship in 1953 is still as effective as ever, and in those areas of the world where men are pursuing the vision in a spirit of love and harmony it is still producing a wonderful harvest.
And now, there appears to be a new move of the Holy Spirit coming upon the Fellowship…and as we return to “the Vision” and begin to walk in unity with “His Banner over us of Love” (Song of Solomon 2:4)
It is clear from the Book of Acts that the key that released the power of God, in the early days of the church, was the love and unity which was demonstrated among the brothers.
Walking in Unity and one accord is the theme of the Book of Acts. The words “in one accord” for example are found seven times in the book of Acts: 1:14, 2:1, 2:46, 4:24, 5:12, 7:57, and 8:6. Now let me share with you this oneness in the Spirit as it is demonstrated in these scriptures.
In Acts 1, we see that the New Testament believers “all continued “with one accord” in prayer and supplication…”(Acts 1:14)
In Act 2, “When the day of Pentecost had fully come they were all “with one accord” in one place. And suddenly there was a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them divided tongues as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance”. (Acts 2:1-4) … “And that day about three thousand souls were added unto them” (Acts 2:41). “So continuing daily “with one accord” in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart” (Acts 2:46).
In Acts 3 – Peter and John healed a crippled man at the Gate Beautiful (Acts 3:1-19).
In Acts 4 – The people rejoiced when the crippled man was healed, but the religious leaders got angry, and severely threatened Peter and John, and commanded them not to speak or teach in the name of Jesus. “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled; and they realized that they had been with Jesus.” (Acts 4:13)…When Peter and John were let go they went to their own companions and reported what the chief priests and elders had said to them. “So when they heard that, they raised their voice to God “with one accord”, and said, “Lord, you are God, which has made heaven, and earth, and the sea…” (Acts 4:24). “And now, Lord, look on their threats; and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak your word, by stretching out your hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus” (Acts 4:29-30).
In Acts 5 – And through the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders were done among the people. And they were all with one accord in Solomon’s porch. (Acts 5:12).
In Acts 8 – And the multitudes “with one accord” heeded the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did (Acts 8:6).
When the believers came together “in one accord” with one heart and one mind and asked God to grant them the power to speak the word with boldness the place where they were praying was shaken, and they were all filled with the “Holy Spirit” and spoke the “Word of God” with boldness.
As long as our Fellowship moved in unity and one accord, we grew, in less than 30 years, to a worldwide organization with more than a million people meeting each month throughout the world. But when strife and division entered the Fellowship in the mid-nineteen eighties the Spirit of God began to lift, and the Fellowship began to falter. Unity was the key to our rapid expansion in the beginning, and it is still the key to our growth and expansion in the 21st Century. And I believe when the men of the Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship once again begin to walk in the “love of God” and “the unity of the Spirit“, we will see the Nations shaken and the Vision God has given our Fellowship fulfilled. The reason the power of God has not been demonstrated as God would have liked it to be in the past is because we have allowed strife and division to quench the Spirit of God.
I believe that when the men of our Fellowship come together once again in love and unity there will come a new out-pouring of the Spirit of God on the ordinary men of this Fellowship! UNITY IN THE SPIRIT IS THE KEY TO THE RETURN OF GOD’S POWER AND GLORY ON OUR FELLOWSHIP!
That is why I am so encouraged by the Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship / Business Men’s Fellowship Global Leadership Prayer Summit Scheduled for London on January 13-14, 2012. I believe that as the remnants of the Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship and Business Men’s Fellowship from around the world come together and humble ourselves before the Lord in London, to pray and fast, to repent of the strife and division that we have allowed to separate us, and as we return to the fulfillment of the “Vision” that God gave us through His servant Demos, then – the Glory of the Lord will return to our respective Fellowships!
When we unite again in the Spirit, under His “Banner of His Love” (Song of Solomon 2:4), the places in which we meet will be shaken, and men will once again stand in line to get into our meetings!!!
Please Pray for the following men who are the five Delegates to the London Prayer London Summit selected to represent FGBMFA. Jimmy Rogers, John Fay, Douglas Raine, Julius Templeton, Robert Bignold.
In the Name of Jesus,
Robert W Bignold
National President Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship in America