I have good reason to believe the EPC—specifically the GA staff team responsible for putting on our General Assembly—is under spiritual attack. In response, I am asking all our churches to make this a matter of intentional and regular prayer between now and when we convene on June 22.
What would lead me to make this declaration? Consider these two recent events:
On April 9, Assistant Stated Clerk Ed McCallum was rushed to the emergency room with acute abdominal pain. He was subsequently diagnosed with a severe case of acute pancreatitis. I have not had much exposure to pancreatitis, but after some research I discovered that the most likely candidates for pancreatitis are those who abuse alcohol. Ed doesn’t drink alcohol. His pancreatitis was caused by his gall bladder “spitting out” stones that irritated and inflamed his pancreas. After a week of treatment, Ed was released from the hospital on April 16. On April 19, his doctors discovered that his white blood cell count was dramatically elevated so he was readmitted. Given the severity of his symptoms and this setback, I relieved Ed of any work-related responsibilities through May 15.
The 2016 General Assembly is Ed’s 19th. He has been the key staff person overseeing the “GA Planning Team,” which is the staff team that puts on the Assembly each year. His absence led to a major re-shuffle of duties to ensure the 2016 Assembly would stay on schedule.
On Thursday, April 14, the GA Planning Team was convened to update progress on arrangements and address the matter of Ed’s absence. With the hope that Ed would be able to rejoin us by May 15, his responsibilities through that date were given to others, with the majority of these duties given to Brian Smith, our Director of Communications.
On Wednesday morning, April 26, Brian was rushed to the emergency room with severe abdominal and lower back pain. The initial diagnosis was “kidney problems, possibly stones.” By the end of the day this was changed to a severe urinary tract infection.
On April 26, we had two key members of the staff team that puts on our annual meeting in the hospital. One, a non-drinker suffering from a severe case of acute pancreatitis. The other is a man suffering from a urinary tract infection, something that men rarely contract. I prayerfully decided that the staff team responsible for the 2016 General Assembly was under spiritual attack, and asked the Committee on Administration (which I consider the Session of the EPC) to pray.
Thankfully, Ed was sent home on April 29 after spending 17 of 30 days in April in the hospital. His recovery will be slow, but he is working from home as he is able. Surgery to remove his gall bladder, gall stones, and other pancreatitis-related damage has not yet been scheduled.
By April 28, Brian’s diagnosis was changed to “acute prostatitis” caused by a bacterial infection that is a “cousin” of staph. He was bombarded with antibiotics and finally sent home on Sunday, May 1. Brian hopes to return to work by the first of next week. He’ll be on Cipro through May to ensure he doesn’t have a setback and this infection is wiped out.
Why would the evil one single out the EPC and our General Assembly in June? Given the increase in sexual chaos he’s enjoyed in American culture since the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage last June, he cannot be pleased that the EPC is proposing a Position Paper on Human Sexuality in June that is firmly rooted in God’s Word and is redemptive and pastoral in tone. I am not aware of another Church in the United States declaring “yes” to God’s design for human sexuality this summer. In addition, in June we will consider partnering with the National Presbyterian Church of Mexico in church planting, one of the most effective ways that people come to saving faith in Jesus Christ. The evil one must be enraged at a fraternal agreement that could mark the beginning of an historic Kingdom growth movement in North America.
For several years, we have said that the evil one cannot be pleased that the EPC has grown from 182 churches to almost 600 that unapologetically and unashamedly declare the good news that Jesus Christ is Savior and Lord and that salvation is found only in Him. In 2016, I believe he has us targeted as we gather for our annual meeting at Ward Church in June. Will you commit to pray that our Lord Jesus Christ, reigning in power and glory for His church at this moment, will protect our “little band of churches” that is the EPC?
Thank you, and remember—He is risen!