Appalachia is a region that has poverty in many places, drug addiction is normal, homelessness is a reality. That is just naming a few things the devil has been able to do in the area over the last quarter of a century. The answer is Pentecost!
Below is just one of the examples. Drug overdoses are 44% higher in the region that the average in the United States. The enemy is taking the youth at scary rates. In a county of 100,000 people, there is there someone overdosing on drugs every week!
In Appalachia, you are twice as likely to become homeless than anywhere in the country, including New York City. Thousands of people are living in their cars, abandon buildings, and in the backwoods. Those in the shelters are a very small number of the total population.
Domestic volience is just as much out of control. Many people in rural area and small towns were getting help is not easy and there is a social ill with talking about what happens behind closed doors.
Next, we can discuss the challenges of poverty that drive much of the rest of this issues. In some countries, it is one out of two people that live below the poverty line.
The Answer is Pentecost!
The answer to works of the devil is always the power of Pentecost! There is no amount of humanism or socialism that will change anything in the long term. To be clear, a bowl of soup is never a substitute for the Holy Spirit.
In Acts 8, there was the untouchable and the unreachable. There were called the Samaritans. No one wanted them. The Jews did not want them and everyone did not see any value in them, either. They were the throwaways of society.
Yet, an evangelist went to them with the gospel of Jesus in the power of the Spirit. The result was that thousands was saved by the miracles they saw and experienced personally.
When the crowds heard Philip and saw the signs he performed, they all paid close attention to what he said.
The only hope for Appalachia is the same as it was for Samaria: the power of God confirming the gospel of Jesus Christ. (Mark 16:15-20) No amount of humanism and good ideas will change anything. Social programs are dead on arrival.
- The answer is sickness is the healing power of the Spirit.
- The answer to addiction is the delivering power of the Spirit.
- The answer to poverty is the hope of glory, Christ in us.
Just like we read in the Book of Acts, there can be amazing results. When the gospel of Jesus is preached, miracles happen. Both the scriptures and history confirm this to be true.
For with shrieks, impure spirits came out of many, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. So there was great joy in that city. (Acts 8:7-8)
When the gospel is preached in Appalachia, demons will come out, healing will happen and there will the joy in the Holy Spirit!
Most people do not know what being Pentecostals really means. It is much more than just praying in tongues. When Acts 2:1 says “When the day of Pentecost had fully come..” What does it mean by day of Pentecost?
Pentecost was actually a festival in Jewish culture. It was also known as the Festival of Weeks. It was about remembering the deliverance the Jewish had and it was a harvest festival. (Deuteronomy 16:9-12) It was, by definition, about the harvest.
Being Pentecostal is about being evangelistic. It is in our name. We are about the harvest. When it came time for the harvest, the baptism of the Holy Spirit became a reality.
It is not possible to be a people of Pentecost and not burn for souls. It just is not. We were saved by the Father that wishes none would perish (Matthew 18:14), the Lord of the Harvest (Matthew 9:38) that came to seek and to save that which is lost, (Luke 19:10) and the Spirit that came to convict the world of sin, righteousness and judgement. (John 16:8)
It is sad that many have seen people who claim to be Pentecostal that do not care the burden for their soul like they should. Pentecost was never a profession but a passion. It is to our discredit that it has become a profession in modern times.
Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” (Acts 3:6)
Pentecost without legalism
In the mountains, one of the greatest challenge is discussion Pentecostalism without the image of legalism coming into play. Many understand being a Pentecostal by how long their hair is, how long of a dress a woman has and even if they handle snakes. All of these extra-biblical standards have nothing to with what is means to be baptized in the Spirit.
The passion of many, especially in the Oneness camp, has confused people with what is and is not being baptized with Holy Spirit fire. You can walk in power in jeans just as much as you can in a skirt to your knees. While modesty is required, what that means can be cultural. Holiness is more about your heart than your skirt.
Years ago, a church group pulled up to a meeting in a van that said on the side of it, “We’re for holiness.” In their mind, the ideas of holiness was about dress and what version of the scriptures that was used for preaching. None of this really mattered.
I am a firm believer in modesty and even prefer women in long dresses. However, to say this is what “holiness” and that is what makes one Pentecostal is nonsense.
We are defined by our evangelistic passion for the gospel to be preached with signs, wonders, and miracles and not our standards of personal holiness. Many get this confused. This is partly because many Pentecostals are also confused about it just as much.