Update from Pastor Virgil. 2/15/23

Moving Christians from the pew to the harvest.” Matthew 9:36-38

February 16, 2023

Time to re-fire!

We had a wonderful time in Hermosillo, Sonora for the annual congreso. The theme of the conference was “Restoring the Altar.” Due to the pandemic and all the craziness in the world, many churches are still recovering. It’s time to get back in the presence of God and get renewed, refreshed, and recommitted. We started the meetings with a passage from Hebrews 13:

We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat. For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy places by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp. So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.

Hebrews 13:10-17 ESV

We are now the under-priests serving our Great High Priest by bringing acceptable sacrifices to our new altar. We’re not serving the earthly tent, but we have access to the Heavenly Holy of Holies. Glory! The messages all flowed from that idea, and were right on. Dear friend, it’s the last hour. The time for spectator church and fluffy “bless me” messages is behind us. In this time it’s important for New Creation Royal Priests to know what sacrifices please God:

  • Consecration: Present yourself for service. I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Romans 12:1 ESV
  • Worship: Bring the sacrifice of praise. Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. Hebrews 13:15 ESV
  • Charity: Do works of kindness. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. Hebrews 13:16 ESV
  • Finances: Get your giving right. I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:18-19 ESV
  • People: Bring others to Him. Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. Philippians 2:17 ESV

Oh royal priesthood, if you’re reading this, you’re probably a serious Christian. You know what time it is. Don’t let the distractions of life keep you from your first love. Stir yourself up, stir up your church, and let’s finish strong!

Congreso 2023 of Ministerio de Fe Cristian

You could sense the excitement from the opening chorus on Thursday morning. I taught each morning on the “Ministry of the Pastor.” The attendance was excellent. We had to print more outlines, which is a good sign. That means our student count was over 65. The President of the Hermosillo Pastors Alliance was on hand and got so blessed he invited one of our team (Pastor Randy Winkles) to preach in his church on Sunday.

Our Tucson team was outstanding. Pastor Randy, Pastor John Smith, Rev. Joshua Taylor, and Rev. Gabe Rascon were in tune with the flow and it just kept building. Our Hermosillo team did all the rest. The services flowed smoothly, all the messages were excellent, and the worship teams brought the glory down. I have been working in this region for over 20 years. With that in mind, there were several things that caught my attention.

Students at work
  1. The overall organization and atmosphere. The local pastors did all the groundwork and financial work. The result was a seamless operation and an atmosphere of joy and love that was palpable. Great job!
  2. There were pastors present from every graduating class of Instituto de Entrenamiento Ministerial de Fe in Sonora. The first class was in 2003, the last was in 2020. The 5th and next class is in training now, with a faculty made up entirely of grads from the previous 4 groups. All the speakers in this conference were either grads or current students.
  3. We were able to stay over to minister in churches on Sunday. Because God is good, you have been praying, and our churches have caught the vision, we had enough interpreters to send speakers to 4 different churches. This is a huge breakthrough!
  4. Pastors are teaching the material in their churches and having group discussions to help those who are enrolled to complete their assignments.
  5. The food was great, but that’s normal.

So many stories to tell, but one that sticks out was on Thursday evening. Pastor Santos brought a great message in Spanish on not serving the temple, but serving the God of the temple. Don’t be so involved in the activities and cares of service that we fail to follow the leading of the Spirit in our lives, especially in our church services. Pastor Randy was seated next to me praying and reviewing his notes. He was slated to follow Pastor Santos with the closing message for the evening. I leaned over to him and said, “What a great message that was!” He looked at me and said, “I don’t know, I couldn’t understand it.” Then he took the platform. It was as if he were giving the altar call for Pastor Santos’ message: Whatever you do, get in the Presence of God, and follow Him. The altar was soon full and lives were changed. Two languages, same God. The Holy Spirit orchestrated the whole thing.

There were so many testimonies we didn’t have time to hear them all. It was genuinely encouraging. One pastor who had been part of our group, but had gotten his feelings hurt and wandered off said he was on a bed of sickness unable to even get up. The Lord put on his heart to get to these services, so his wife helped him and they made it. The first time I saw him he was lying on the floor in the healing line. When he got up he was completely whole. There were 2 other pastors who returned to the fold in this meeting. God is restoring the altar.

Continuing to Battle Addiction. I’m still involved with a local rehab facility doing weekly services and God is touching lives in Tucson. In Hermosillo, Pastora Yanette Bustamante sent me pics from a rehab. She and her congregation are heavily involved in working with facilities there. After our class on the subject in December, I prayed with them and gifted them copies of our booklet “Grupos de Apoyo.” The pictures show clients using these books in their group settings. We have been helping addicted people for many years, but in this season it seems there is a greater hunger than ever. Be alert to the opportunity. If you need help in order to help, contact me. We have good material. Let’s share it.

Leaders and Pastors: If you’re in the Tucson area, there’s an event in April you should look at. April 21-22 I will be part of a team ministering at “Southern Arizona Pastors and Leaders Gathering” at His Presence Church. This is an annual event, and last years was a huge blessing. This year’s theme is “Presence over Performance.” I expect it to be powerful and helpful. It requires registration, and space is limited, so check it out.

Upcoming Events:

February 28-March 2. FCF West Regional Meeting. Faith Christian Fellowship of Tucson. Tucson, AZ.

March 23-24. IEMFe “Dinámica del dinero del Reino.” Hermosillo, Sonora, México.

March 25. Pastors Breakfast. Hermosillo

April 21-22. Southern Arizona Pastors and Leaders Gathering. His Presence Church. Tucson AZ. Registration required.

April 23. His Presence Church. Tucson, AZ. 10:30 AM

June 4-11. New York Spring Tour. Thousand Islands, Canajoharie, Johnstown, Glenville. Here we come!

Thank you for your prayers and support. As you can see, we are making a difference. Thank you for your support in what we do. It’s a time to stay focused on the mission as the world gets worse and the Church shines brighter. As we each do our part, God always does His.

Financial support can be sent to Faith Christian Fellowship of Tucson at the address below or given online at www.fcftucson.org. Make checks payable to FCFT and designate for missions or pastorvirgil and it will get where it needs to go. We pray consistently that God bless you as you obey Him in giving. He is faithful.

Please follow us at www.pastorvirgil.com. There’s new stuff every week. You don’t want to miss it. Share it with your friends. You can help by looking at the Pastorvirgil.com Facebook page and hitting “Follow.” Whenever you see a post, share it. This will help us reach more people. We also maintain a Facebook page in Spanish @IEMFeonline.

We are yours in His service,

Virgil and Judy Stokes

3141 W. Ironwood Hill Dr.

Tucson AZ, 85745


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