When Jonah decided to flee from the Presence of God and from his call to preach to the Ninevites, he decided to head for Tarshish, which is known as the southern Iberian Peninsula and, specifically, Spain. I do not know why Jonah wanted to go to Southern Europe to flee from God’s presence, but it is not a good thing for someone to want to come to your country to flee from his calling and live far from God.
In relation to the current situation in Spain, our country is one of the three main tourist destinations in the world. So, now we find ourselves in a different reality where many are coming to Spain. They are fleeing their routine to enjoy the benefits of this land, the sun, Spanish cuisine, and Spanish people. The city of Madrid has become third in the world in the number of large meetings. So, mak- ing preparations for our global event has involved arduous negotiation and planning since the reservation of spaces is a challenge that at the same time gives the Church an opportunity to be a light in the world.
In any case, unlike the reasons that motivate millions of people to come to Spain to enjoy and rest, or for the sad cause that prompted Jonah to come to the Iberian Peninsula, as leaders and workers of the Assemblies of God in the world, we are called to an encounter with the Presence of God in the land of historic Tarshish. In this sense, I know that Spain is not one of the countries with the largest evangelical population. Except for specific and brief moments in history, Spain has yet to experience a revival that brings leaders and believers from other nations. In fact, we are part of those places in the world described as “cemeteries of ministers and missionaries” due to the supposed scarcity of results and the cultural strongholds that emerged during the centuries in which religious absolutism reigned. However, at present, Spain finds itself far removed from that stagnant and monochromatic culture. Instead, it is plagued by a different form of absolutism, one rooted in ideology and accompanied by a distressing atmosphere of disbelief in God that permeates the core pillars of our society. Consequently, many question the rationale behind hosting a World Congress of the Assemblies of God in Madrid. Could there not be a more opportune moment and location elsewhere in the world to foster an encounter with the divine presence? Is it indeed accurate to label the land of Tarshish as a spiritual graveyard?
Allow me, as the host of the IX Congress of the World Fellow- ship of the Assemblies of God, to share with you my deep and total conviction that we are facing the right time and place to celebrate a congress that will mark a before and after in our World Fellowship. Throughout history, God has shown a propensity for choosing seem- ingly insignificant places like “a small” Bethlehem or “a despised” Nazareth to manifest His divine favor and deliver a prophetic message to the world. I believe this sentiment resonated within the heart of our former WAGF Chair, Dr. George Wood, when he announced from Singapore in 2017 that the IX WAGC would take place in Spain. Similarly, the Holy Spirit inspired the WAGF Executive Council to make the decision to hold the IX WAGC in Madrid. Therefore, our hope now rests on the leaders of the Assemblies of God worldwide, that they may unite in faith and be guided by the Holy Spirit to respond to the challenge of venturing to the lands of Tarshish, fully convinced that God is summoning us to a prophetic encounter with His Word and His Presence.
When we chose the theme: Shine! The IX WAGC had the clear purpose of responding to the challenge that the Church has to rise up and manifest the Glory of the Lord in this 21st century. This challenge proclaimed by the prophet (Isaiah 60:1,2) implicitly affirms what Jesus said when he said that we are the Light of the world and that we are to manifest the works that will make men see God in our lives (Matthew 5:14). With the Congress motto in mind, we have meticulously planned an impressive lineup of over forty speakers hailing from diverse countries across the globe. They will engage in a variety of sermons, presentations, and workshops. Moreover, this gathering will serve as the global launch of the MM33 Vision, a momentous occasion for us all. Concurrently, the Next Gen Con- gress will take place, welcoming hundreds of youth leaders from all corners of the world. Additionally, a pre-conference on the afternoon of the 10th will welcome superintendents and church planting directors. However, we must recognize the invaluable opportunity to partake in unforgettable moments of fellowship and worship. Believers from different languages, races, and nations will come together. We have worked with the clear intention of organizing an event that will be historic, strategic, and prophetic.
Just five months before the celebration of the IX WAGC, the ex- pectation grows as we approach the appointed date. There are already hundreds of youth leaders and more than a thousand leaders from 80 nations who have registered and responded to the call of this great gathering. Many are making a great financial effort to be present. Amidst immense challenges and indescribable hardships, individuals from countries where their freedoms are constrained are making extraordinary efforts to attend this event. They are determined to partake in a spiritual oasis, well aware of the price they must pay for their faith in their home countries. It has been over six years since our last global gathering in Singapore, and the time has come to reunite as a family driven by the same fervor: fulfilling the mission of Jesus.
I encourage you to share the information from Congress with the leaders of your nation. We have curated a selection of hotel, transportation, and meal options that may prove helpful during your stay. However, you are also free to make your own arrange- ments. It is important to note that Madrid is renowned for hosting major congresses, so it is advisable to plan ahead in order to secure your accommodation and obtain the most affordable plane tickets. For more information, please visit our website at https://shineworldcongress2023.com, where you can explore details about the IX WAGC Shine! Additionally, if you have any inquiries or require assistance, you will find our email and WhatsApp contact information available, and we will be delighted to help you.
Make space in your agenda and prioritize coming to Madrid. Sign up now and be part of history!
“But the path of the just is like the light of dawn, which increases until the day is perfect!” (Proverbs 4:18)