The other day I was “thrown back” by Creflo Dollar’s request to the Christian community to donate the $65 MILLION dollars he needed for a brand new Gulfstream.
Yup…I went straight to my check book and wrote him a big, fat check for exactly $0.00 and mailed it to him. I even paid for the stamp myself. But as funny as that might be, Mr. Dollar’s audacity in asking for just 65 MILLION dollars is a sign of how irresponsibly and pathetically disconnected the Western Church is from reality. How dare he make such a plea in light of the Christian plight all over the world?
The Church of today needs Living Apostles of the Faith.
I had the honor of being raised on the street where the ministerial offices of the Evangelist Yiye Avila were located. Our developing community in Camuy, P.R. was literally built on a small, ascending hill that was located right behind his three-floored, ministry building.
I had never heard of Yiye Avila until we moved to our new neighborhood. I will never forget that hot summer morning before sunrise, when I was awakened by a loud human roar of voices that was carried by the wind into my ears. I had never heard so many human beings praying extemporaneously, crying out loud, and speaking in tongues at the same time; and especially not around 5am!
Their fervor aroused my 13-year-old curiosity. So one morning I woke up before 5am, and headed down hill towards the 3-story building. As I was approaching the building, one could already hear the sound of human voices beginning to slowly increase in heartfelt praise.
I followed the sound of sighs and deep moans, laced with inter-spread glossolalia. The prayer room was semi-dark; people spread all over the floor. The air was not foul, but one could smell the distinct aroma of people.
That morning, folks were more fervent and focused than usual. Evangelist Yiye Avila had returned from one of his Evangelistic crusades, and was there praying among them. I stood there…my senses captivated by the scene of a man that seemed to belong to another world.
Yiye Avila’s distinct method of praying gave him away. He was the man that was praying every word with the rigor of a body builder and the magic of a sorcerer. One could sense the power that proceeded from his mouth; declaring blessings, breaking demonic strongholds, claiming new converts, praying for miracles…all laced with his distinct form of extolling: “Hallelujah!”
“Certainly,” I reasoned, “Jesus must’ve prayed like that!” Yiye Avila’s method of prayer reminded me of the story of Jesus praying in Gethsemane; sweating drops of blood because of the intensity of his prayers. (Luke 22:44)
As the years went by, Yiye Avila would sometimes give me a ride from downtown Camuy to the neighborhood. My admiration and respect for him were comparable to the respect that one would confer to the Apostle Paul. Not only did I admire him for his deep devotion to God, but also because his personal life was extremely humble and simple. Yiye Avila lived in a humble, downtown house from the early days of his marriage up to his death on June 28, 2013.
Whenever I get stuck on a ministerial rut, I am reminded of Yiye Avila; the man who lived entirely by faith in The Faith, and who taught me the meaning of praying earnestly, by means of his example. Yiye Avila’s great success as a Pentecostal Evangelist was the result of prayer and fasting, alone.
Sometimes we Pastors forget that we cannot change our congregations by means of our own strength.
“…’Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty.” Zechariah 4:6 NIV
Sometimes we forget that hearts only change through fervent and earnest prayer… We forget that the people need to see us Pastors PRAYING rather than PAVING a road to ministerial success. We forget that our call is to be successful in the supernatural…and to be echoes of the Apostles, to the best of our ability. We forget that we are called to be living Bibles.
I thank God for the honor he gave me to place Evangelist Yiye Avila in my life and to have blessed me with his Biblical example of what a true servant of the Lord looks like…and how much I still have to journey towards the goal of total consecration to God.
But I will get there…I’m just a late bloomer.