The Global Congress of Empowered21, a worldwide gathering of Pentecostal Christians, will now take place as an online event after the Israeli government imposed a complete ban on foreign travelers due to the new coronavirus pandemic.
Empowered21 announced in a release Thursday that instead of the in-person event scheduled for the week of Pentecost 2020 in Jerusalem, Israel, they will be shifting to an online event that will stream from the campus of Oral Roberts University from May 31 to June 2.
The announcement came on the heels of a decision by Israeli authorities to shut their borders to all foreigners this week to clamp down on the spread of the new coronavirus which has infected at least 109 people in that country as of Thursday.
Israel is also limiting public events in enclosed areas to 100 people as part of their efforts to contain the new coronavirus.
“We find comfort in knowing that God is not surprised by this turn of events,” Billy Wilson, president of ORU and global co-chair for Empowered21, said in a statement Thursday. “We hold fast to our mission to see every individual on earth have an authentic encounter with Jesus through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit by Pentecost 2033. We believe that this adjustment to an online event will actually help us accelerate the mission that God has given us.”
The online event hosted by ORU is expected to begin with a live Pentecost Sunday celebration with special guests and worship teams.
“We ask that everyone would join us in praying against the spread of coronavirus, healing for all those affected and that many lives will be touched with the power and the presence of the Holy Spirit through our upcoming online global congress,” Wilson added. “In Matthew 24, Jesus tells us that there would be upheaval, including global disease, but that ‘this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations.’ This unique historical moment requires a new way for a new day.”
This is the second Global Congress of Empowered21, and is expected to focus on the next generation.
The next generation focus comes after concern was raised at the first global gathering which took place during the week of Pentecost in Jerusalem in 2015, that a generation was being lost.
Jentezen Franklin, senior pastor of the multi-campus Free Chapel Church, had urged thousands of Spirit-filled believers at that gathering to start preaching "the truth about being filled with the Holy Spirit" and speaking in tongues to their families or risk losing a generation.
"It is a slow process to the death of the language. The unity on the language, it's a soul thing. The less it's taught in the home, the less the children of the next generation will get it. I want to say to all of you who are parents here today, what language are you teaching your children? When you go home from church, what language do they hear?" asked Franklin at the time.
"If ever there was a time that we must engage ourselves in the active discipleship of our families, it's in this time. If Deuteronomy 6 ever had meaning to any generation, it is to this generation where it says that you shall diligently teach these things to your children. When they rise up, when they go to bed, when they walk, when they go to school, talk the faith, talk the Word. Let them hear the language even in the home, let them hear the language of the Holy Spirit. Let them hear, Mama," Franklin urged.