Powerful messages and miracles marked C3 Church’s Presence Conference two weeks ago. City News brings you its report from Sydney.
Contributed By Andrew Ong
From the get-go to the final session, Presence Conference by C3 Church was an open heaven on earth for the record 4,500 delegates from 231 churches in 32 nations that took place at the Sydney Convention Centre at Darling Harbour, Australia.
There was no denying God’s holy presence throughout the entire conference. The unified worship, purpose and faith of believers brought on signs and wonders such as instant healings from physical ailments and diseases.
Now in its sixth year, this annual conference has garnered a faithful following across Australia and the globe over the years. One such follower is 42-year-old Frank Toro who is in the car trade industry from Melbourne, Australia. He has attended every Presence Conference since it began.
“I look forward to Presence every year. In fact, my year only begins at this conference as God never fails to prepare and guide me in my steps ahead for the next 12 months of my life,” said Toro. “And each year, it just gets better with invited speakers that usher a move of the Holy Spirit in these meetings.”
This year, sessions at Presence Conference—hosted by Phil and Chris Pringle, founders of the C3 Church Movement—were anchored by renowned leaders such as Marcos Witt, pastor for the Spanish congregation from Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas; Bill Johnson, senior pastor from Bethel Church, California; Kari Jobe, worship leader from Gateway Church in Austin, Texas; and Kong Hee, senior pastor of City Harvest Church, Singapore.
ARE YOU READY FOR JESUS?
At the very first session, Pringle set the tone for the entire conference with his opening message that rung like a battle cry for the Church to “step into the timetable of heaven.” Pringle urged the body of Christ to cross the threshold with the fresh oil of anointing for a new generation in these last, dark days.
Reading the parable of the 10 virgins (Matt. 25:1-13) as a prophetic message, Pringle implored those present to be prepared for the inevitable and most critical moment: the second coming of Christ, which is the arrival of the bridegroom in the parable. Like the 10 virgins, churches and believers must recognize the opportunities that lie ahead and be prepared so as not to miss them.
He emphasized that it is the responsibility of every church and believer to be ready for that day when Christ returns. Two essentials to render the believer’s qualification in being invited for that call:
• Purity. Like virgins who are physically pure, the Church needs to pursue purity of hearts and lives. We are to be living and holy sacrifices to God. Spiritual cleansing is required before the fullness of His oil of anointing comes upon the Church.
• God’s Word. The virgins in the parable all held lamps. This is symbolic of the Word of God as light to reveal the truth in the world. Christians need to hold on faithfully to the Word and believe in it.
But Pringle added that having the Word of God alone was not enough. Like the five virgins who ran out of oil for their lamps, anointing is needed—and that comes from the person of the Holy Spirit.
Bill Johnson drew the congregation in further with his message to the Church “to broker or release the presence of the Holy Spirit on the earth.” He reminded the audience that the Holy Spirit was a Person and the Christian life was in essence to illustrate the manifestation of our relationship with the Holy Spirit just as Jesus did during His ministry on earth.
Johnson stressed Jesus’ humanity—He performed those miracles as a mere mortal and not as God, as most would have thought. It is a compelling revelation that Jesus had set aside His divinity and put on the same restrictions that we as humans have. It was for the purpose of illustrating what man could do when he or she was in a right relationship with God through the Holy Spirit.
According to Johnson, every believer has the privilege to host this Person—the Holy Spirit, and ministry is about imparting that Person. Therefore, the believer needs to be conscious of the presence of the Holy Spirit in his or her life. And there are two fundamental guidelines in relating to the Holy Spirit. They are, one, to “grieve not the Holy Spirit,” that is to not do things that are contrary to His purposes, such as sin, wrong attitudes and behavior. Two, to “quench not the Holy Spirit,” or prevent the flow of His power through His gifts by disbelief or fear.
Johnson explained that the first guideline was character-centered while the second was power-centered. One is never less important than the other—both need to go hand in hand together to reveal Jesus.
“It is all about the Person of the Holy Spirit. It is not about a message, though that part is important. And it is not about miracles, though that is important. It is about my connection to a Person and to accurately represent Him well through speech, action and character,” he explained.
The conference was replete with messages that filled the hearers with faith and hope. Marcos Witt exhorted the congregation not to limit God, but to realize that He can use anyone.
Kevin Loo spoke at the youth conference, Love Is, encouraging the youth to wait on God.
Kong Hee shared two powerful messages about God’s immeasurable love, and fulfilling the visions and dreams that have been placed in our hearts, like the stars that God showed Abraham.
What was truly significant during the conference was the deep love and friendship between C3 Church and CHC that was exhibited between the two leaders and their wives: Phil and Chris Pringle and Kong Hee and his wife Sun Ho.
After Kong had recounted his grim journey for the past 11 months through his message of God’s unwavering love, the Pringles rallied around Kong and Ho on stage in prayer and intercession for CHC’s season of trials to come to a closure with the Lord’s clear deliverance and vindication.
That was clearly one of the most heart-rending moments of the conference for some. Former CHC member, 38-year-old Rena Moh who had migrated to Sydney with her husband six years ago teared after hearing about the ordeal Kong went through. Moh, a mother of two, is now a member of C3 Church in Oxford Falls, Sydney.
“Finally I understand why C3 was releasing Pastor Phil to CHC,” she says, of the many weeks that Pringle flew to Singapore to preach at CHC in the past year. “It was a truly God-moment when Pastor Phil shared in greater detail of what Kong Hee and Sun were going through. I felt there was a significant shift—a defining moment that united C3 and CHC as one.”
Presence also hosted a fun community event, Love Sydney, on the last day of the conference. It was an effort to demonstrate the practical love of Christ by meeting the needs of Sydney through the giving of C3 and the Presence community. A total of A$110,000 was raised and donated to charitable causes.
C3 Church also took the opportunity to launch the C3 Church App. For the first time, the conference was streamed live over the Internet, capturing an audience of 18,000 from countries such as the USA, Poland, Japan, Germany and Brunei.
Presence 2011 proved to be an extraordinary platform to encounter God in a way that empowered and united the body of Christ all around the world; to refresh, revive, renew, refocus the people of God and position them for His purpose on planet earth.
Loo, pastor of City Harvest Church (Kuala Lumpur) said that this annual event provided existing or emerging church leaders a glimpse of the true potential of the Church.
Next year, Presence Conference will be held again at Darling Harbour over four days, from April 10 to 13, 2012. It will feature guest speakers Bill Johnson, John Bevere and Steve Furtick.
Visit www.presenceconference.com for more information.