Hear From Dr. George O. Wood
Heath Adamson- Hello, my name is Heath Adamson. I’m here with Dr. Wood. Dr. Wood, good morning.
Dr. George Wood- Good morning to you, Heath.
HA- I’m just curious, what in the world is the significance of General Council in 2017 being held in Southern California?
GW- Well, there are multiple reasons for that. One is the last time a General Council was held in Southern California was 1983. That was a couple years before I was born. And so, Southern California, what many on the West Coast realize is we have several thousand churches on the West Coast. We try to move General Council around to let people have the experience of being in various parts of country. And Southern Cal is just an absolute ideal location. But also in Southern California, kind of the epicenter of 110 years ago, when the Pentecostal movement really had a jump start with the Azusa Street Revival.
HA- Okay, so you mention Azusa Street Revival. There was a small building, if memory serves me right, where a group of believers gathered on Azusa Street and cried out to God. And you mentioned an epicenter – what are some stories that came out of the Azusa Street Revival that you can share with us?
GW- Well I think one of the remarkable facets of Azusa Street was the multicultural, multiracial nature, in a day when there were Jim Crow laws and a lot of racial discrimination. And it’s very fascinating today to see that the Assemblies of God is over 40 percent ethnic minority in the United States. We’re really living out today the ideal and the dream of what Azusa Street represented.
I think also, with Azusa Street, there was such a tremendous hunger for the Lord. You know, the building was un-air-conditioned – there was no air-conditioning back then –, the place was packed. It had been a former, it had been an African Episcopal church, a black congregation. They had built new facilities, and later converted it into being a place for horses, a stable.
One of the fascinating things that happened at Azusa was people were tearing for the baptism of the Spirit. Often, they would have to deal with two unpleasant things – the amount of flies, and the amount of dried horse manure that had not been cleaned out between the planks. So, you got a bare floor, you got people seeking the Lord, and they are doing it in a hot climate with flies and the smell of the remains of horse manure in the cracks.
You have to be hungry for the Lord to do that. It's no wonder that the Azusa Revival had the incredible spiritual impact that it had over that three-year period, really launched the Pentecostal movement in so many different ways.
HA- So barriers were broken down between races, between genders, between social classes, and a Pentecostal spirituality in many ways is what the Lord used to break down those barriers. And there was a hunger, and a diligence that each believer had to seek God.
I’m just curious then, what advice would you give us as ministers if we’re going to seek to pass the baton, if you will, to the next generation to make sure that the future of the Assemblies of God is still a Pentecostal one?
GW- Well, it comes with a combination of making sure that we have a doctrine that is sound and an experiential basis that builds upon our doctrine. There must be opportunity given to people, young people, old people alike, to encounter the Spirit. And simply a cut and dried hour-long service, while necessary, doesn't provide the kind of waiting time that's needed to seek the Lord at an altar or places of prayer. And in order to see this Pentecostal flame kept alive, we must continue to make sure that we are in accord with the doctrine of the apostles, but also the experience of the apostles. There must be a time given for that.
I think when the apostle Paul got to Ephesus he said, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit since you believed?” And his first question was whether there was a fire lit in their heart as a result of what the Holy Spirit had done in their lives. That has to be our question as well, and will be one of the aspects that will be emphasized at this coming General Council – an ongoing vital experience with the Lord as we go from generation to generation in this Spirit-empowered movement.
HA- So as we seek to make sure the next generation is firmly anchored in Scripture, as well as firmly committed to experiencing Jesus through the work and power of the Holy Spirit, please pray with us as we continue to believe God for a fresh outpouring on this generation of our sons and daughters. God bless.
Join us in prayer as we prepare to gather at the place where it all began, and consider one question.
What if it happened again?
Registration is now open to give students the chance to experience the same Holy Spirit at National Youth Convention that was at the Azusa Street Revival. For more information and to register online, visit http://anaheim17.ag.org.