Tony Cooke Ministries Meeting Reports
Norway, Russia, and Latvia
Sunday, July 14, 2002
Today is my last day of ministry in Europe on this trip. These two weeks have been tremendously fruitful and productive! While I’m looking forward to getting back home to family, I am so thankful to God for the great things I’ve witnessed and experienced.
This morning I preached at Good News Bible Church of Riga, and like all of the other meetings on this trip, it went excellently. The message was simple: “I am who God says I am, I have what God says I have, and I can do what God says I can do.” The people received the word with great gladness of heart, and eleven people gave their life to Jesus for the first time. Three additional people responded to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
At the 4:00 p.m. session, I shared about the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer. I spoke about what Jesus said the Holy Spirit would do for and in the believer (e.g., He will be with us forever, He will dwell in us, He will teach us all things, etc.). We then went into Acts and saw how the Holy Spirit repeatedly came upon people as they heard the Gospel and filled them. We also saw in Acts 10:38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and this enabled Jesus to go about healing all those oppressed of the devil.
Pastor Andrey and I then prayed for the sick, and we rejoiced as several testified of receiving instant healings! Ten people responded to the altar call to be saved and to be filled with the Spirit. God certainly blessed us in a wonderful way today!
In the final entry for this trip, please allow me to say a word of special thanks to all those who prayed for and gave toward this time of ministry in Oslo, Moscow, and Riga. That support means more than I can say. You are a vital part of every person who was saved and every church and minister that was strengthened. THANK YOU!!! You can read a report on the Norway meetings by Pastor Aage Aleskjar on the web-site under “Meeting Reports.” We’ll have reports from Pastor Rick Renner (Moscow) and Pastor Andrey Chebotorev (Riga) within the next couple of days.
Saturday, July 13, 2002
I spoke again to the same group of church leaders here at the church in Riga. Some of the pastors who were at the ministers meeting yesterday sent some of their leaders as well. My message today was on how to properly support your pastor and assist in the fulfilling of the vision God has given him. I provided numerous examples from the Bible (Aaron and Hur holding up the arms of Moses, Jethro advising Moses to appoint men and let them help him, the many ways that the disciples helped Jesus with practical matters, and how the apostles appointed seven men to assist in practical ministry so that they could give themselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word). I then gave them seven ways they could bless their pastor:
(1) Pray for your pastor.
(2) Be faithful in attending church services.
(3) Be faithful in giving tithes and offerings to your church.
(4) Serve diligently in your church.
(5) Have a good attitude, be positive and enthusiastic, and don’t be a complainer.
(6) Be an extension of the pastor in loving and caring for people.
(7) Apply the word of God your pastor preaches; be a doer of the word.
After the meeting, I was able to spend a good bit of time visiting with some of the pastors who attended the service, including some who had come in from Estonia. They had a number of questions about ministry, and we had a great time of fellowship and interaction.
Tonight, I went with Pastor Andrey to a large prayer gathering in a public square in the historic section of Riga. There appeared to be three thousand people or more at this event, and there were leaders from several churches across the country that spoke briefly and led the group in praying for their nation.
Friday, July 12, 2002
I taught a group of 70+ this morning for around two hours and then had a question/answer session. The great majority of these were pastors and their wives, and two of these were bishops with many other pastors under their oversight. It went great! Speaking from Genesis 1, I talked about the fact that chaos often follows creation (Genesis 1:1-2). This happens in marriage, in family, and in church. If we are going to be like God, which is how we were created… in His image and in His likeness, then we must be like him in the way we handle these things. God did not run from or avoid the darkness. His Spirit hovered over it, and He spoke creative words, resulting in change. He then separated the light from the darkness.
The response to these sessions was tremendous! Pastor after pastor testified to the fact that the Holy Spirit really spoke to their heart, and they saw very specific ways that God was leading them to deal with some of the problems and challenges they are currently facing.
In the evening, I spoke to around 260 local church leaders about God’s assignment(s) for every believer. So many times, people believe that God has provided grace for the person behind the pulpit to do his job, but fail to realize that God has called and made grace available for every believer to serve Him. Every person’s role and contribution in the Body of Christ is important, whether it’s behind the pulpit or behind the scenes. At the conclusion of the service, I asked for those who sensed that God was calling them to serve him in greater ways or to step up to a higher quality of service to indicate their recognition of this. It appeared that approximately half of the people were sensing God stirring them in this way. After prayer about this matter, the service was dismissed.
Thursday, July 11, 2002
I don’t think I mentioned that several of the church/ministry staff from Moscow traveled by train to Riga. Most of them have never seen the Riga church before, so they made the trek over. We all had breakfast together today and then did a little sight-seeing. In addition to going through some of the large historic churches here (most of which were turned into salt and sand storage facilities during the Soviet years), we went through the Latvian Museum of the Occupation. During WWII, Riga changed hands between the Nazis and the Russians five different times, and each time the city underwent devastation. It is estimated that 555,000 Latvians (what was then one-third of their population) lost their lives during the war years.
Rick, Andrey, and I then drove out of town to see a memorial and the remains of what was a Nazi death camp during their time of occupation here. It is estimated that as many as 250,000 Jews were executed at this particular camp, 75,000 of them being Latvian Jews.
It is shocking and sobering to see what can happen when human depravity has run its course! However, the good news is that the church is alive and well in this part of the world!!! Churches are growing, and the people here have a deep appreciation for the spiritual freedom they are increasingly discovering and experiencing in Christ Jesus!
Wednesday, July 10, 2002
I ministered at the church in Riga tonight. It’s a beautiful building that the Renners had shipped over from the U.S. I was pleased that eleven people responded to the altar call tonight. In visiting with Pastor Andrey, I found out that years ago his grandfather had been imprisoned eight years for owning a Bible. I also was privileged to visit with another pastor, Nikolai, from western Russia who attended the service tonight. Years ago, his uncle and aunt spent 15 years in Siberia for having had a church in their home. Nikolai now pastors a thriving church, and says that there is a “night and day difference” between the way things used to be and how they are now. Praise God for the difference!
Tuesday, July 9, 2002
Today was a travel day. Rick and I left Moscow around 2:00 p.m. and arrived in Riga, the capital city of Latvia two hours later. Upon arriving, we were picked up by Andrey Chebotorev, Rick’s spiritual son and the pastor of the church here in Riga. We enjoyed a walk through the old city area. Riga just celebrated its 800th birthday this past year. Though much of the old city was devastated during WWII, much rebuilding and restoration has taken place, and the city is very beautiful with many historic and architecturally fascinating buildings. Ministry resumes tomorrow, and I’m looking forward to speaking in the church here in Riga.
Monday, July 8, 2002
This morning and afternoon, I spent around two-and-a-half hours teaching several Russian pastors and some of the staff members of the Moscow church. There were close to one hundred present, and all but around a dozen were pastors and pastors’ wives. In the first session, I shared “Lessons from a Fallen King.” I discussed seven major principles we learn from the life of King Saul.
After lunch I talked to the same group about the importance of relationships in the ministry. We looked at a cross-section of Paul’s relationships as he described them in 2 Timothy 4. There he describes relationships that were needful to him, relationships that disappointed him, relationships that needed to undergo a restoration process, relationships that were dangerous, etc. The remainder of the session was spent dealing with principles of team-building.
In the evening, I spent another two hours with the staff and key leaders of Rick Renner Ministries that are based here in Moscow. Just under seventy were in attendance, and the subject matter in these two sessions was the role of supportive ministers.
I continue to be very impressed with the quality of work that God is doing here, and I am so thankful to have the opportunity to minister here.
Sunday, July 7, 2002
I left Oslo at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, and changed planes in Stockholm, Sweden, en route to Moscow. Moscow is a massive and fascinating city. I understand there are officially 12,000,000 residents of Moscow, but it is estimated there are another 4,000,000 people living here who are unregistered. After dropping my bags off at the hotel yesterday evening, Rick Renner (the pastor here) took Terry Young (a RHEMA grad on Rick’s Staff) and me to dinner and to Red Square. Their ministry office is just a few minutes walking-distance from the Kremlin and the Bolshoi Theater.
This morning (Sunday) I ministered in the two services of the church here in Moscow. The church is quite young (21 months), and they’ve had absolutely explosive growth. God is really doing an outstanding work here! The church has over 1,500 members and is growing very rapidly.
Today was Communion Sunday for the church, and I geared my messages accordingly. In the 11:00 a.m. service, I spoke on “What Do You See on This Table?” When you study what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 11, you see there are several directions we should “look” in response to Communion.
1. We should look upward. “For I have received of the Lord that which I delivered unto you.”
2. We should look backward. “Do this in remembrance of Me.”
3. We should look forward. “…you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.”
4. We should look inward. “But let a man examine himself.”
5. We should look outward. “…when you come together to eat, wait for one another.”
In the 5:00 p.m. session, I shared one of my favorite messages, “The Blood Still Speaks.” There were eight first-time decisions for Jesus at the end of this message. The hunger and receptiveness exhibited by believers here is absolutely tremendous. They love the Word, and it was great being able to minister in this place.
I was moved as I remembered the prayer meetings Brother Hagin led in the late 70’s and early 80’s… praying for what was then the Soviet Union. I also remembered the church services held in the mid-80’s in the Rooker Memorial Auditorium at RHEMA, when Pastor and Mrs. Hagin had the church stretch out their hands toward the maps on the walls and pray for the different nations of the world. God is certainly moving in a powerful way here, and I am so privileged to be able to see it first-hand!
Friday, July 5, 2002
I just finished my final session here in Oslo, and had another wonderful day of ministry. I continued sharing about “The High Calling of God,” and focused today on the fact that God has given each of us grace to serve him in a specific way. I talked about the fact that we all have different assignments, and that we often get tripped up because we compare ourselves with how God has graced and called others. At the end, I asked for those who were sensing God leading them to step up higher in serving Him to come forward, and prayed for what seemed to be close to 100 people. God’s presence was very strong, and the people were very appreciative of my time with them.
I will attend tonight’s service with Brother Aage Aleskjar ministering. He is the pastor here at Oslo Christian Center… a wonderful and delightful man. God is really using him to make a huge difference here in Norway.
Tomorrow, I leave for the second leg of my journey… Moscow, Russia. Saturday is a travel day, and I minister there in the church on Sunday.
Thursday, July 4, 2002
Today when I got up to minister, the church had set an American flag on the platform, and the minister introducing me congratulated me on America’s Independence Day.
I continued today with “The High Calling of God,” emphasizing Paul’s statement about his desire “to know Him and the power of His resurrection.” I stressed that as we come to know God in the fullness of who He is, in His many dimensions, we are then able to tap into those various aspects of God’s nature and received from Him accordingly. The ministry of the Word is received so well and so respectfully here.
One of the interesting things about this area is just how long the days are. Oslo is much farther north than Tulsa, and the days are very long. Officially, sunrise today was 4:03 a.m. and sunset will be at 10:39 p.m. However, it’s still light long before sunrise and long after sunset, because the sun really never goes down that far. It’s unusual coming home from the night meeting at around 11:30 p.m. and it still being fairly light outside.
I mentioned the evangelist from Canada, Peter Youngren, who has been ministering here. He has preached in his native Swedish language from a Norwegian Bible with his notes being in English. Many of the people here understand English, but some do not. I’ve been blessed with a great interpreter named Eric. More tomorrow…
Wednesday, July 3, 2002
The trip and ministry continues to go very well! I spoke this afternoon in the 1:00 p.m. session, and continued on the subject of “The High Calling.” I dealt with the fact that we are created in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26-27), and that God has His mind on us, and has crowned us with glory and honor (Psalm 8:3-6). I also taught on the fact that Jesus has given us the glory the Father gave Him (John 17:20-22) and that Paul said that God has glorified us (Romans 8:30). God’s presence and blessing have been very strong in all the services.
It’s great to look over the audience and see several RHEMA graduates sitting in the audience. We’ve had a number of students come to school from the Scandanavian countries, and they are especially gracious and appreciative of my being here.
This is my third trip to Norway. I was here last year with Pastor and Mrs. Hagin at this same Campmeeting, and also around eleven years or so ago. I have always found the believers in Norway to be very hungry for the Word of God, and very receptive to ministry.
I may have spoken a bit early about adjusting well to the time difference… last night during the service I got very sleepy, but I slept great last night and have felt very refreshed and energetic throughout the day today. Incidentally, Peter Youngren from Canada ministered last night and did an excellent job. He is an evangelist, and there were many instant healings last night, as well as a number of people saved. God bless you!
Tuesday, July 2, 2002
I left Atlanta Sunday afternoon after preaching for Jeff and Kelly Taylor that morning. They are doing a great job in Marietta, Georgia. I had a very tight connection in Paris, and had to run a good bit to make the flight. Unfortunately, my luggage couldn’t run, and it did not arrive in Oslo until later in the evening on Monday (I arrived here around 1:30 in the afternoon).
Pastor Aage Aleskjar shared in the 10:00 a.m. service, and I followed at 11:00 a.m. The Lord had laid it on my heart a while back to speak about the subject of “The High Calling of God” from Philippians 3. When I arrived here and heard how God is leading the church in Oslo in the area of church planting, I saw the wisdom of God in him having put that particular subject on my heart. It really seems to complement well what the Lord is doing here.
Mark Hodgetts and Peter Pretorious, both of South Africa will be ministering in the later services today. Also ministering here this week are Peter Youngren from Canada, Ulf Ekman of Sweden, and Steve Hill of the United States. This is an excellent work here in Norway, and God’s hand and work is very evident.
I’m adjusting well to the time difference. When I spoke this morning at 11:00 a.m., it was 4:00 a.m. in Tulsa. Thank you for your prayers. More later…