A Golden Opportunity with Dr. Ed Silvoso
Ed Silvoso shares how COVID-19 gives the church a prime opportunity to live out the Kingdom of God in a way that transforms their cities and nations
Have you seen any crisis similar to COVID-19 during your 60 years of ministry? And what opportunities can an unprecedented crisis actually provide for God’s people?
I don’t think there has ever been a worldwide crisis like this, at least in modern times. There’s not a single nation that hasn’t been touched by COVID-19.
What I see happening through COVID-19 is the Lord doing a total reset. When you study the book of Acts, the anchor for the church was the home. It was where they fellowshipped, they ate together, they partook of the word of the Lord through the apostles, and they prayed.
There is no doubt that COVID-19 is challenging and painful. But at the same time look at all the parents and children spending time together as they shelter in place. I have never seen so many parents riding bicycles or out playing together with their children. There is a reset.
I saw this funny cartoon that actually made a great point. The Devil was looking down on the globe, and wryly declared to God, “I shut down your church.” God said, “No, you shut down the building. I opened every home for the Church to be the Church world-wide!”
I believe this is a golden opportunity for the Church – the end game will be more people, more joy, and stronger Christians. But we have to take advantage of it.
What is the golden opportunity? What do you feel God is speaking to the Church through the COVID-19 pandemic?
With the utmost respect for the local church, as we know it, I think God is telling us, “Give me back the Church.” Look at how we often confuse terms. We say, “I go to church.” But no – you don’t go to church, you are the church. We then compound the error by saying, “I go to the church of Pastor so-and-so.” Actually, the church doesn’t belong to any of us, it belongs to Jesus!
I believe there are two sides to the coin in this situation. I don’t to minimize the pain and misery this pandemic has caused, but I believe this is a setup for the world-wide revival that includes the healing of people as well as the social ills among us.
When people realize “I am the church, and together with one or two others I can host the presence of Jesus,” that is a powerful thing. Jesus takes over that two or three. We can capture the mind of Christ and begin to pray the prayers that Jesus is praying, at the right hand of the Father.
Think of this – right now, in some of the world’s most persecuted countries, the church is active and growing. In places like Iran, Iraq, North Korea – they are having their greatest harvest. They have discovered the secret of “Ekklesia Everywhere” – it’s not about a church building but the people of God gathering together.
The church is the only organism that has a branch in every neighborhood, and now we can have an agent on every block. This is a golden opportunity.
What is actually behind these problems the world is going through? Between the pandemic and strife in our streets, what is the real issue?
The problems facing this world are caused first and foremost by the Devil. Our main issue is not our government or president or prime minister or governor – the issue is the Devil.
So how can we actually change the spiritual climate over our city and over nation? It happens when Christians go to spiritual warfare and take authority over the enemy – we have authority to transform the atmosphere.
The problem is the same one the Apostle Paul described in 2 Corinthians 4:4, “…the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ…”
But the solution is also the same as the one God gave to the Apostle Paul, when he had only been a believer for 3 or 4 days. Paul described this encounter in Acts 26:17-18, when God told Him “[I am] sending you to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.”
The Lord sends us to open people’s eyes, so they can come out of darkness into light and leave the dominion of Satan.
“If we don’t change the spiritual climate, the country we knew will not be here…this is the hour.“
Let me give you an example from the city of New Orleans in the USA of what can happen when the Church really exercises its calling as the Ekklesia.
During the violent protests that broke out after the George Floyd incident in the United States, a group of believers of every color gathered to pray for New Orleans. They were an Ekklesia in the middle of the city, and prayed for healing and reconciliation. They ended up being featured on the news, and got a chance to testify in the middle of the darkness.
Later, these same pastors had the opportunity to pray for a police captain in the city. Even as they prayed for him, the captain told the pastors he was an atheist, and didn’t believe in prayer.
Four hours later, these pastors got an email from this same previously disbelieving captain. He was shocked – as the pastors prayed for him, 2 suspected murderers had voluntarily gone to the police station and turned themselves in. The captain testified that it now “seemed like a Higher Power was at work.” Hardened criminals were turning themselves in, and the captain was overjoyed!
If we don’t change the spiritual climate, the country we knew will not be here any longer. It will disappear. We need to play our part. And this is the hour.
That is an incredible testimony – the power of what a united church can accomplish! What are the biggest obstacles that need to be overcome for the Ekklesia Everywhere dream to become a reality?
Imagine we are trying to make a business deal, and you are asking for my investment. You tell me what the business is and give me this incredible pitch – but then you say, “The mission is going to fail. We’ll end up miserable, we’ll be persecuted, we’re going to fail – but we’ll fail righteously.” Would that attract investment?
So I would say that the main obstacle to Ekklesia Everywhere is “doom and gloom” eschatology. We do not believe Revelation 12:11, that we––the Ekklesia––overcome the devil and his demons by the blood of the Lamb, by the word of our testimony and by our willingness to fight to the point of despising our own lives. We don’t believe Revelation 21:24, that the kings of the earth will lead saved nations in a parade into the new Jerusalem.
“Doom and gloom” eschatology is a new doctrine. It had no historical root, but only became common in the 20th century. Hollywood got wind of the Antichrist and the false prophet and the Great Tribulation, and now this sense of doom has taken over the thinking of the Church about the last days. That’s the first issue we have to overcome.
The other issue is that we don’t believe that we are the Church – we believe we go to church. We need believers to realize that they are the Church.
Where are you in terms of this vision being fulfilled? What’s the update on the movement?
Our vision is to see one million people sign up to host Ekklesias in their home. That is a grand vision and we are not there yet, but I am encouraged that we have almost 10,000 people who have already dedicated their homes as an Ekklesia on our Facebook page alone, and we have indication that this is only a drop in the bucket.
That means they agreed to three things:
1) I am the Ekklesia.
2) I can host the presence of Jesus in my home.
3) I will adopt at least ten of my neighbors, to bless, fellowship, and minister to.
We want to get the word out to as many people as possible – we aren’t using our own ministry name here but are just focused on establishing as many Ekklesias as we can. You can be part of this by going to our Ekklesia Everywhere Facebook page as well as our website.
I am encouraged by the response we have of more than 14,000 people, but I am not yet satisfied, I want to see a million!
Dr. Ed Silvoso is the Founder and President of Harvest Evangelism / Transform Our World, as well as the visionary behind the Ekklesia Everywhere movement. He is a leader of the Argentinian Revival and has seen transformation take place in cities around the world. He and his wife Ruth have been married for over 50 years and have four adult daughters and twelve grandchildren.
You can find part one of our discussion with Ed here, as he discusses the vision for Ekklesia Everywhere.