The apostle debate shows no sign of losing steam, but we think you'll agree that the leaders highlighted in the following pages demonstrate the key characteristics embodied in the New Testament's description of apostolic ministry.
Each demonstrate humility and servanthood, intent not on building a personal empire, but on equipping and releasing others for effective ministry. Each received a dramatic call and possess unique gifts as a pioneer in his or her arena of ministry. Each has experienced signs and wonders in the wake of their ministries. Each is passionately committed to sound theology both in its practical and doctrinal expressions.
We hope that as you read, you'll agree: Apostles are among us today. And their ministry is crucial for the equipping of the body of Christ and the evangelism of the nations in the 21st century.
TO EUROPE WITH LOVE
Samuel Lee is training immigrant evangelists to bring new life to Europe's dry bones.
Samuel Lee was looking for something to believe in when he immigrated to the Netherlands from his native Iran.
A disenchanted Muslim, Lee studied sociology at the University of Leiden and became fascinated with the writings of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, ultimately embracing the atheistic doctrines of communism. A verbally aggressive ideologue, Lee mocked and criticized anyone who attempted to share Christ with him.
Nearly 20 years later, Lee has planted 19 churches around the world, mentors 150 pastors in 85 nations and leads a multicultural congregation of 300 in Amsterdam.
The change occurred when he met Sarah, a Korean woman and a dedicated Christian. Even as Lee mocked Sarah and others who witnessed to him, God spoke to her and said, "Though he's not a Christian, he will be your husband, and in the future I'm going to use him."
The two were married, and while on their honeymoon, Lee heard a voice in his room one night saying, "I am standing at the door of your heart, knocking."
Responding to this dramatic call, Lee was immediately baptized in the Holy Spirit and began to speak in tongues. Then the voice said, "Go back to the world and proclaim that I am alive and am coming back."
An immigrant himself, Lee had a desire to reach expatriates living in Amsterdam and launched a ministry among African immigrants there.
"When I look at the great men in the Bible, I see that the majority of them are migrants: Abraham, Jacob, Joseph ..." he explains.
A speaker of seven languages (including French, German, Dutch, Persian and Turkish), Lee is well-suited to lead in the multicultural environment that Western Europe has become.
"I'm going to do something great in Europe," God told Lee at a point in his ministry when some were suggesting he move his base of operations to the United States. Many may view Amsterdam as the axis of moral decay in Western Europe, but Lee sees it as a hub of world evangelism in Europe and beyond.
He believes that the key to this coming revival is the growing number of Christian immigrants living in Amsterdam and other European cities, working in diverse roles, from diplomats to housecleaners.
"When you reach Amsterdam, you reach the world," he says. "The fact that I am based here is a privilege from the Lord."
But the Dutch capital is not the only city that has become a haven for immigrants seeking political asylum, employment or religious freedom. Lee provides guidance for a network of 40 African and Filipino churches in Athens, Greece, leaders in London and Cyprus and countless East Asian and Sri Lankan Christians living and working in Middle Eastern nations where traditional missionaries are forbidden to enter.
The signs, wonders and miracles that follow this unconventional missions force are hard to argue with: from a professional violinist with skin cancer who was given a clean bill of health by his doctors to infertile couples blessed with children to occultists delivered from spiritual bondage.
While preaching in Africa, Lee became concerned when it was rumored that local Muslims were upset with his ministry and were planning to riot. His worst fears seemed to be turning into a reality as a group of men rushed to the platform during one of his services.
Instead, he discovered that a crippled man in the back row of the service had gotten out of his wheelchair--healed--and others were crowding forward for prayer.
Lee is tireless in his efforts to encourage, mentor and recruit pastors, and many of them look to him--not as an ecclesiastical supervisor, but as a spiritual father.
"I say to them, 'You know me as a preacher; now get to know me as a friend,'" he explains. "I'm not there to penetrate their churches and ministries. I'm there to serve them."
"For Samuel Lee, the virtue of integrity is a crucial and fundamental component of an apostle's life in following Christ and also important to model to those who follow him," says Gerhard Worm, a pastor in Nijmegen, the Netherlands.
"The word that Samuel Lee preaches and teaches, he lives," says Carlos Villanueva Jr., a pastor on the Island of Cyprus.
"He is what he speaks."
A "CELLULAR" CALL
César Castellanos' model of cell-based discipleship has found a home in churches in every corner of the world.
It all started with eight people in Pastor César and Claudia Castellanos' living room in Bogotá, Colombia. Twenty-one years later, the movement that was spawned in those humble circumstances has changed the dynamics of local churches in the United Kingdom, South America and beyond.
As Castellanos recalls, a prophetic word was given during the meeting, encouraging the group to "dream, for dreams are the language of My Spirit."
The results of the dreams?
"The church that you will pastor will be as numerous as the stars of the sky," was the promise. "Or like the sand in the ocean, and whose number no one will be able to count."
Now, Misión Carismática Internacional (MCI or International Charismatic Mission) reports 48,000 cell groups composed of five to 15 people each, with nine services per week in a stadium in Bogotá that seats 18,000.
In 2001, Castellanos planted a sister church in Miami that now runs approximately 1,500 and meets on the campus of Florida International University.
Although in his early ministry Castellanos adopted the cell-church principles taught by Korean pastor David Yonggi Cho, it was not until 1990 that he believes God began to reveal to him the unique cell-church model now known as the "G12 Vision" or "Government of Twelve."
Based on the biblical account of Jesus and His disciples, the G12 model works to engender accountability, submission and spiritual maturity through groups of 12--each of whom are accountable to a leader and each of whom will eventually lead a group of 12 themselves.
"I began to see Jesus' ministry with clarity," Castellanos says. "The multitudes followed, but He didn't train the multitudes. He only trained 12, and everything He did with the multitudes was to teach the 12."
This model has allowed Castellanos to reproduce himself many times over, not only through the structure of the churches in Colombia and Miami, but also through the numerous churches worldwide that have duplicated the G12 model.
While the model is not without its critics, who suggest that--in the wrong hands--it breeds authoritarianism, many pastors who have implemented it have charted dramatic growth in their churches.
One of these churches is 6,000-member Jubilee Christian Center in San Jose, California, pastored by Dick Bernal, who believes God gave the idea to Castellanos because of his willingness to risk.
"César feels he would be in deep, deep sin if he did not obey God no matter how wild it seems to be to the natural mind," Bernal says. "He and his wife are 100 percent sold out to the will of God even when it's uncomfortable and costly."
Although Castellanos is convinced that the G12 model will work anywhere, he continues to be committed to adapting it as times change and revises his books to tackle challenges to the G12 vision as they arise. "Yesterday's revelation is like stale bread," he explains. "But truth comes as a progressive revelation."
The effects of Castellanos' vision have been felt beyond the confines of the church, and both César and his wife have sought to transform their nation on a governmental, as well as spiritual, level, by running for political office and launching the National Christian Party.
Colombian President Alvaro Uribe attends one of the cell groups at MCI in Bogotá and spoke at a conference at the church earlier this year.
In a nation often at the crossroads of the international war on drugs, political involvement can be more of a risk than one would think, however.
On their way home from church one Sunday in 1997, César and his wife, Claudia, were attacked in their car. Both were wounded by multiple shots fired into the car, and César remained in a coma for two weeks until his miraculous recovery.
In spite of Castellanos' connections with the power brokers of his nation and church leaders worldwide, those who know him best say his greatest joy comes from seeing people's lives changed.
"I've seen him with famous evangelists and I've seen him with brand new born-again believers," Bernal says. "He treats everybody the same. César's love for God shows in his love for people."
A SERVANT OF ALL
Mosey Madugba is raising up an army of young leaders to confront Islam in Africa and beyond.
Mosey Madugba learned servanthood the tough way. "My father sent me up the river to Bani in Ogoniland to try me in the field as a missionary," he recalls.
Just a teenager then, he underwent a tortuous nine-hour canoe ride, then trekked through a thick rain forest for several hours before arriving at his mission post in Bane, a community in the Niger Delta area of Nigeria.
Now, Madugba has devoted his life to training young people like he was for evangelism and church planting.
"Once youth catch the vision, they will right the wrongs of the past," he says. "I am going for the younger generation. I want to bring them from every part of the world, spend time with them and pour my life into them. That way they can multiply what I am doing and excel beyond what I have ever known or done."
After his missions term in Bane, Madugba attended university to pursue a degree in accounting. Then, in 1981, he joined the Scripture Union as an accountant--fulfilling his one year of mandatory service required of university graduates.
Madugba continued to serve as traveling secretary for the Scripture Union for nine years until he felt the call to evangelize and plant churches once again.
In 1991, Madugba founded Spiritual Life Outreach, a missions ministry which serves as an umbrella organization to several other ministries:
The Ministers Prayer Network, which Madugba founded in 1996, is Africa's foremost nondenominational gathering of ministers and church leaders and draws participants from Anglican, Presbyterian, Pentecostal and charismatic church groups.
Launched in 1991, West Africa School of Missions has as its goal to train missionaries specifically to evangelize the Arab world and other areas where Christianity is threatened by Islamic militancy.
"Their mandate," he explains, "is to first discover whatever Islamic stronghold exists in that area, address it in prayer and then raise nationals to mobilize the church to respond appropriately."
The Wailing Women is a group of intercessors, led by Mosey's wife, Gloria. These women travel throughout Africa and the world praying for revival and encouraging the church.
Through the various ministries he leads, Madugba has mobilized leaders in 17 countries, including Congo, Gabon, Ghana, Cameroon, Liberia, Brazil and Argentina.
While committed to the needs in Africa and other developing nations, Madugba often comes to the United States--at his own expense--to pray for spiritual renewal.
It is Madugba's belief that the church in many nations has been weakened by compromise and division--making it vulnerable to the attack of false teachings, idolatry and the occult.
Recently, Spiritual Life Outreach has launched a program aimed at recruiting, training and discipling young people for leadership in world missions. At last count there are groups in 50 of Nigeria's universities, and 3,000 students attended a prayer and missions conference in July, where Madugba challenged them to embrace the task of global evangelism.
The vicechancellor of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka--where the conference was held--was so impressed with the quality of the program he requested Madugba to put together a leadership course for his deans and heads of departments.
After the conference, some of the students were sent to neighboring West African countries, such as Togo, Ghana and Cameroon, where they will plant new churches, and train the youth of those countries to take over the work when they return.
While he has seen incredible success in recent years, those closest to Madugba know him first as a servant.
Recently, 15,000 church leaders from 30 countries attended the International Ministers' Prayer and Leadership Conference which Madugba hosted in Port Harcourt, Nigeria. Some of the delegates were having difficulty unloading their luggage from a car and taking it into the conference hall--that is, until an unnamed baggage boy helped them.
They were shocked later when they discovered that the "baggage boy" was none other than Madugba.
"Servant leadership is the only leadership example that Christ left for us," he says. "What counts is not how many people serve you, but how many people you serve as a leader."
AN UNKNOWN SOLDIER
Few Americans have heard of him, but Brother Z is China's answer to the apostle Paul.
Zhang Rongliang does not look like a leader of 10 million Christians. Wearing unkempt navy trousers and a wrinkled blue shirt, his black hair tousled, he easily blends into the crowd when mingling among the millions in China's Henan province.
But Zhang (affectionately known as "Brother Z" to those who work with him in the Chinese underground church) is no ordinary peasant from Henan.
This simple man--who prefers to sit on the floor when meeting with his team--is an apostle who has planted thousands of churches since the early 1970s, and foreign missionaries and Chinese-church workers alike consider him the most influential leader in the church in China.
Like a New Testament apostle, Zhang bears the brand marks of suffering. But he also has seen New Testament-style miracles.
Converted to Christ in 1963 at age 13, Zhang attended covert "house churches" in rural areas of Henan--where Mao Tse-tung's dreaded Public Security Bureau (PSB) officials were on the lookout for religious "counterrevolutionaries."
In 1974, PSB officers handcuffed him and beat him with sticks to force him to reveal information about his Christian activities. His refusal to deny his faith or betray his colleagues landed him in the Xi Hua labor camp for seven years.
Yet like the apostle Paul, Zhang's faith thrived even while he was imprisoned. He was put in charge of a work team and given unusual freedom to move around the camp's outskirts. As a result, he actually planted churches among rural villagers during his detainment.
Zhang has been jailed four times. He has endured beatings with iron rods and bayonettes. He was even shocked with an electric cattle prod.
Chinese-church leaders today view Zhang's years of persecution as a badge of honor. In fact, many in the underground do not trust those who have not suffered in one form or another.
They trust Brother Z. After Zhang was released from Xi Hua in 1980, he founded the Chinese for Christ movement--a vast network of churches that had grown to an estimated 10 million members by the year 2001.
"It is impossible to know the accurate number," Zhang says. "It's like the census of China. You can never be sure. Even while we are talking here, we are starting churches. The work of God's kingdom is so fast."
Much of this explosive growth has been linked to miracles, Zhang says. In 1993, in one rural county of Henan province, about 15,000 people were added to the church when news spread that a local government official was paralyzed for several hours after he tried to stop Zhang and his team from conducting an evangelistic crusade in a sports arena.
"The man pointed to us and told his deputies to arrest us," Zhang says. "But after that he could not move, and his deputies had to take him to his car even while his arm was still pointing."
The officer asked Zhang to come to his office after the campaign. "When we visited him he was still paralyzed in the same position," Zhang says. "Then the officer said: 'Please forgive me. I am so sorry. Please give me a Bible. I want to become a Christian.'"
Zhang's passion, besides planting new churches, is keeping the existing congregations healthy. He says the underground church's most serious challenge today is not persecution (which seems to only trigger more growth) but heresy--caused by a lack of Bibles and trained pastors.
"The need is always greater than the supply. We need about 7 million Bibles a year," he says, calculating the number based on exponential growth estimates. Zhang estimates that less than half the Christians in house churches have complete Bibles, making them vulnerable to divisive, pseudo-Christian cults.
Zhang's ministry is marked by an absolute assurance that China will be completely evangelized. Rather than cowering in the face of resistance from the government, he views barriers as opportunities.
Zhang has planted this same apostolic fervor in the hearts of all his leaders. Whether he lives to see China evangelized in his lifetime or ends his days in a Chinese prison, this man will remain one of the brightest lights in modern Christianity.
J. Lee Grady
God's Fire on Ice
Arctic church-planter Kayy Gordon is reaping the fruit of nearly a half-century of ministry in Northern Canada.
Nineteen-year-old Kayy Gordon was sitting in her church in downtown Vancouver, British Columbia, when she received a vision of herself preaching the gospel to native peoples in the windswept tundra. More than 50 years later, the Nunavut territory of northern Canada is sprinkled with churches planted by Gordon and now led by the national pastors she trained.
"It was God working," she says--almost bewildered. "I had so little to do with it--I just happened to be in the right place at the right time."
The only Christian influence the Inuits of northern Canada had before Gordon's arrival was a handful of Catholic and Anglican churches. One or two were evangelical, but, as Gordon explains, "Their message was clouded by tradition and ritual."
Historically sensitive to spiritual realities, the native peoples' interest in the supernatural had been smothered by the influence of civilization. Alcoholism, drug use and family breakup were epidemic.
Gordon crisscrossed the ice-bound territory, initially with dogsleds, then with snowmobiles and later in small airplanes, preaching the gospel and training converts to lead new churches.
Sparsely populated, only 30,000 people occupy the Nunavut territory, a land mass the size of Western Europe, primarily living in villages separated by hundreds of miles of roadless wilderness.
Called to ministry at a time when women were typically relegated to the nursery, Gordon initially encountered resistance in her home church to her call to preach.
But in northern Canada, it was her commitment to the Pentecostal message that caused an Anglican bishop to try to kick her out of the village in which she was working.
"They looked at me more as a threat because of the message I brought," she explains. "They didn't see that we were all on the same team."
Gordon still marvels at the hunger of the native people to the gospel--and God's response to that hunger. Miraculous healings, deliverance from drugs and alcohol and family restoration were regular occurrences among the new believers.
To this day, the ministries of the churches Gordon planted are characterized by signs and wonders, as indigenous pastors embrace the calling to build the church in the Nunavut territory.
People have been freed of long-term strongholds--or "sins of civilization," as Gordon calls them.
"Now, the Christians have the best jobs in town and positions of influence," she says.
Recently, there have been efforts to revive shamanism--the traditional practices of witchcraft and sorcery--in the villages of northern Canada. But Gordon notes that Christians in the villages gave themselves to fasting, prayer and seeking God.
"Every time," she says, "The rise of the shaman has been defeated."
Although still the president of Glad Tidings Arctic Mission, Gordon has adjusted her role from leading and supervising ministry in the 19 churches to supporting and observing it, frequently traveling from her missions base in the Vancouver area to encourage pastors, teach at the Bible school she founded in Rankin Inlet and speak at conferences.
"They are now running with the vision," Gordon says of the Inuit pastors. "To me, that's what it's all about--to teach faithful men who will teach others."
"As a missionary, I would not feel that I have completed my work if the torch of truth had not been gripped by local hands."
The December 2000 issue of Charisma magazine featured a profile on Gordon and her ministry in the Arctic. When Ministries Today interviewed her, we discovered that recent opportunities have frequently taken her to warmer climates.
Although semi-retired, Gordon has been invited to teach pastors in China, Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore and Africa.
Always practical, she recently asked her hosts in China whether they thought it would be more efficient for her to send money rather than putting the church there through the inconvenience of finding a place for her to stay and transporting her during her ministry there.
Gordon was perplexed by the response: "If we have to choose between what you can give us in money and what you can bring us in teaching, we want you to come."
We're not surprised.