I attended a conference in Los Angeles a few weeks ago. While I was there, I went on a bit of a GPS aided tour of some of the early sites of North American Pentecostalism. Our first stop was at Angelus Temple. Angelus Temple was built by Aimee Semple McPherson in the 1920's. It is spectacular. She obviously didn't have any trouble with prosperity, faith and building a beautiful place. The building itself is situated at the edge of a city park and her home (BEAUTIFUL) overlooks the lake there. If you've never seen the church, it has 3 levels and seats over 4000 people. The seats in the upper balcony are still the original wooden ones.
After we left, we crossed 'Bonnie Bray' street. (I knew something had happened there, but couldn't remember why until later.) William Seymour had a room in a boarding house at 214 Bonnie Bray. He also preached from that location until they moved to Azusa St. Azusa itself is nothing more than alley.
It appears that the site of the old mission is now part of the UCLA Japanese extension campus. (Education) There is a sign marking 'the spot' and it was kind of disappointing until I began to look around. It's fascinating to me that LA's tallest skyscrapers (industry and commerce) are across the block. City Hall, (Government) the police station and the Law Courts are down the block. (Justice) The LA Times (media) is between the courts and skyscrapers. Just past the Times you'll find the theatre and arts district.
As I stood there, I couldn't help but reflect on how the outpouring of the Spirit happened in the heart of the marketplace and I began to realize that it was all part of God's plan to parallel what happened in Jerusalem at Pentecost. They left the upper room and went to the streets and proclaimed the gospel in a spirit inspired language that was understood by the people.
This captures my imagination as I ponder it because suddenly 'spirit inspired language' takes on a whole new dimension that allows us the opportunity to declare the mysteries of God to the key pillars of our society and culture in language they understand. We need to research, study and observe but at the same time, we need to understand that without the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in the midst of it, we will fall terribly short of what we are aiming for.
What's remarkable to me is that as I read the history of the church during that period, their impact on their culture was profound. Thousands were added to the church because they heard a message that touched their lives. The result was a spiritual and social transformation that literally affected an entire empire.
Is it unreasonable to believe that God could use us to accomplish that same sort of change in the lives of key leaders and influencers in our world? From a natural perspective, the response could only be 'it's impossible' for list of reasons that are long and impressive. At the same time, those who went into the streets had experienced something powerful that gave them unprecedented confidence and courage as they engaged the people they encountered.
God hasn't turned His back on the marketplace. In fact, I'm convinced that God has begun something so profound and incredible in the marketplace of our day that it will be completely and utterly transformed on every level. He's just looking for people who are ready to go for it in ways that may seem a bit unusual but in the end accomplish His eternal plan.