Caine Hits the Mark
Australian Assemblies of God minister Christine Caine urged Influence Conference attendees to stretch out of their comfort zones, take risks, and embrace pain Monday night at the Orange County Convention Center.
The service served as the kickoff prelude to the four-day General Council gathering in central Florida, the first Influence conference to intentionally blend generations. The gathering included hundreds of youth who flooded the stage area during worship times. A total of 53 percent of U.S. AG adherents are under age 35.
In a rousing talk, Caine, 49, declared that the days of spectator Christianity are coming to a close, and that Christians shouldn't shirk from ministry opportunities because of fear or complacency.
Caine said this is the first time in Church history in which three generations -- the wisdom of the elderly, the resources of her generation, and zeal of youth -- are willing to work together to influence society. She warned young people not to be arrogant and to appreciate heritage, and for older Christians not to compete against or compare themselves with others.
She recounted how the American women's relay team had the best competitors on paper in three consecutive Olympics at the beginning of the century, yet they failed to win any gold medals because of sloppy baton exchanges.
This is a pivotal moment for exchanges because the world has quickly shifted economically, politically, socially, and morally as never before, Caine said.
"It is your responsibility to take the baton of faith to your generation," Caine told the crowd. "We need a courageous generation of leaders who will pick up the baton, who say they will not be swayed by the shifting sand under their feet."
This is the Church's greatest opportunity to cooperate rather than Christians working as though they were individual sprinters.
"We are all connected; we are all part of an eternal, divine relay," Caine said.
God isn't freaked out at what's happening in the world, and neither should His followers be, Caine said. Despite the troubling signs of the times, the Church will multiply with a mighty harvest, she predicted.
"We aren't called to hide," Caine said. "We need to get out and get about the Father's business."
Caine and her husband Nick are founders of the anti-human trafficking organization the A21 Campaign which is active in 10 countries. The Caines, who have been married 19 years, also are the founders of Equip & Empower Ministries and part of the leadership team at Hillsong Church in Sydney.
Noted novelist Ted Dekker also spoke at the opening session. More than 10 million of Dekker's three dozen novels have sold worldwide. Most are suspense thrillers, notable for a distinctive clash between good and evil.
But Dekker talked about a part of his life that he seldom reveals, as the son of missionaries in the jungles of Indonesia. Along with other missionary kids, Dekker attended school on the coast, separated from his parents for months on end. When as a six-year-old boy he expressed homesickness, his house father told him to grow up.
Night after night he felt alone and cried himself to sleep. Eventually his stern house father beat him with a rubber hose. Dekker realized he never would meet the expectations of his substitute father figure, so he tried to gain acceptance with his Heavenly Father.
"Maybe God would love me if I did all the right things," Dekker said.
Dekker indeed knew the Scriptures well, graduated from Evangel University and Bible school after that. Still, he sensed he couldn't measure up to Jesus' standard of love. He spoke in tongues, fasted and prayed, and went on missions trips, but still felt fractured.
"In order to find significance and acceptance in this life I had to find a way to live up to people's expectations," Dekker said. "My entire life has been a search for love and acceptance."
As he entered middle age, Dekker said he finally understood that God loved him despite his failures. Only then could he truly love others, and stop keeping a record of wrongs.
"When you discover the love of your Father you will rush to Him," said Dekker, 54. "There is no love like this outside of the Holy Spirit's empowering."