Reflections from the 10th Annual International Banquet for the Persecuted Church


Date:  2013-05-02

ANS Founder, Dan Wooding, was the inspiring speaker

By Patricia Streeter
Special to ASSIST News Service
Photos by Donelda Dansby

NEWPORT BEACH, CA (ANS) -- It was a beautiful, sunny day. In fact it was so warm that the beach goers were creating an enormous traffic jam on Newport Blvd. It wasn't much better on the Pacific Coast Highway, an alternative route I took to get back to my beloved church, St. James Anglican Church, 3209 Via Lido, in Newport Beach, California.

Dan Wooding speaking
at the event

I had been there all day, serving in various ways, but I needed to go home briefly to get the latest registrations for the biggest event of the year. Sure enough, there were updates I needed to get into my spreadsheet, but the adrenaline was flowing in my veins, urging me to hurry up and get back to church so that I could finish my last minute preparations.

What was this huge event that had me so excited? It was St. James' 10th Annual International Fellowship Banquet for the Persecuted Church, held on Sunday, April 28, 2013, and this year featured the enormously gifted Dan Wooding, founder of ASSIST Ministries and the ASSIST News Service, as the main speaker. His topic was "Letting the World Know the Truth."

It turns out that my excitement was very well warranted! The evening was full of delightful international culinary delights, wonderful fellowship, the wit and humor of a great speaker, and the sense of joy that only comes from being part of something close to the heart of God!

Dan pictured during his inspiring
and challenging talk

The approximately 75 who attended were hanging on every word of the story of Dan Wooding's life - a testimony of the Lord's grace in bringing him out of the captivity of sin that we all struggle with into the perfect freedom of serving God with holy boldness.

From standing with Brother Andrew as the bullets flew in Hebron in the West Bank during a gun battle and then traveling into war-torn Gaza, to his time spent in a Nigerian jail, Dan's life has been anything BUT boring. In my own rather meager experience, life with God is always an adventure! Our guest pastor, the Canon Rev. Alison Barfoot, at the morning worship service had challenged us to act with holy boldness rather than with chutzpah, a Jewish word meaning a rather selfish audacity. She gave an example of chutzpah -- a boy who had murdered his parents, begging for leniency before the judge, "Oh please have mercy on me. After all, I'm an orphan."

What is the difference between chutzpah and holy boldness? Chutzpah is all about serving myself; holy boldness is all about serving God, humbly asking for His help. Though we may think that chutzpah is more fun, the only real joy, fulfillment, and true freedom comes with holy boldness. As I listened to Dan speak of his life journey, I thought it was a perfect illustration for how the Lord will take us as we are, with all our gifts and talents, and transform us so that we can serve Him with freedom and holy boldness. And Dan has plenty of gifts and talents as a journalist that were sharpened early in life, even during his days of secular work during his time with two of London's large-circulation tabloids, the Sunday People and the Sunday Mirror, and also as a correspondent with the National Enquirer.

Dan Wooding being introduced by the Rev. Richard Crocker at the banquet. Both Richard, who heads up the church, and Dan were raised in Birmingham, England

But what was the toolkit - the "living stones", if you will -- that the Lord used for this transformation in Dan's life? It was the same "living stones" that the Lord has used in my own life to wake me up and teach me how to live - today's persecuted church!

As Dan shared with us how he met believers who were prepared to be martyrs for our Lord, we were all inspired to step forward in whatever way we can, even if with only small steps of faith, to offer ourselves more fully to Jesus.

We have so much to learn from today's persecuted church! We in the modern western church, in all of our comfort and ease, sometimes find it hard to truly understand the early church, which was a very persecuted church.

Patricia Streeter with Dan Wooding

We need our brothers and sisters in places like North Korea, Egypt, and Nigeria to help us unlock the treasures of Scripture and teach us what following Jesus really means! They need and deserve our prayers and support, but we really need them even more than they need us. Let's be intentional about being one with them in His love, as the Lord commands.

Thank you, Dan Wooding, for bringing the worldwide Body of Christ into vibrant reality for us! We were all enthralled as you shared about our precious brothers and sisters in Christ! In the words of Alison Barfoot, as she left the event Sunday night, "Keep going! Don't grow weary in doing good!" May the Holy Spirit fill you anew each day for the great work He has given you!

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