The pastors at the Presence and Power conferenceFrom left: Pastors Hans Sundberg, Duncan Wylie, David McNeil, Christy Smith, Chris Simmons

Presence and Power conference

26-27 January 2024

Brighton Elim, East Sussex

The emphasis at the 2024 Presence and Power conference was on coming close to God in order to stay faithful to God in these uncertain times.

The speakers’ messages dovetailed, providing confirmation that God was speaking to his people.

It began on a rainy Friday night, with Christy Smith of Brighton Elim, the host pastor, speaking on transparency and authenticity in pastors and believers. This was accompanied by a strong presence of the Holy Spirit which touched those who had defied the weather to attend.

On Saturday Pastor Hans Sundberg from Sweden, who has been involved in church planting for 40 years, spoke of church history and revivals, particularly the world’s largest which has been taking place in China, with an estimated 200 million Chinese “saved” since 1949. This revival, he said, was happening without the West’s structures and finances.

He related the story of a Chinese pastor who refused to give the authorities his church members’ names and was imprisoned for 27 years and whose wife was only permitted two visits a year. He left when his wife was pregnant, so never met his son until his release. On his first Sunday back, he expected his church to muster around 50 people, but instead the building was packed.

Pastor David McNeil from Adore Church, Birmingham, who has been leading churches since the age of 19, explained how God commanded him, “Get this church ready for persecution”. Consequently McNeil has been teaching his congregation Bible truths – “not a broad acceptance of everything” – to strengthen them. He had advice for leaders, too: “If God has given you a way through to where you are now, don’t change the criteria for those who follow after”. He was also open about the effects of recent attacks on their own church leadership.

After being led to move their church from affluent Sutton Coldfield to Aston, which is more diverse and multi-cultural, they saw £750,000 owed for a new building written off in three weeks: “God said he’d given us a place to reach his city and serve his people.”

Both he and Pastor Duncan Wylie spoke of the Garden of Eden and the importance of the world seeing a Church at rest, not busy with religious duties.

Currently they are having morning and evening prayer meetings; when a Muslim girl walked in, she said: “I have to give my heart to this presence.”

McNeil replied: “It has a name – it’s Jesus.”

“Busy” Christians also featured in the address by Pastor Duncan Wylie from Peterhead, Scotland, who said: “Our lives are full of works, but unless you’re ‘dead’ to the self, you won’t walk in the spirit. Most of the issues in the Church today stem from the carnal man, whereas great revivals have always arisen through people who only wanted to do God’s will. In today’s Church, we’re living in the flesh, allowing our emotions and feelings to control us”.

Wylie also believes that God wants us, in our hearts, back in a ‘Garden of Eden’ relationship with him, because, “I believe with all my heart that we’re in a ‘kairos’ season where God is preparing his Church for a manifestation of his glory.”

The pastors invited all those present to receive prayer and prophetic words; I certainly received some very helpful, directional messages and am looking forward to next year’s conference!

Melanie Symonds

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