[my partial transcript of the November 27, 2009 Fred Hartley III radio show appearance.]
[announcer] "Do you want victory? You can have it in Christ Jesus. Time once again for Abiding in Christ, with Jim Wood. [Wood] `You have to step back, evaluate the various positions in light of scripture, and then reengage with a Godly perspective.' Pastor Wood is the founder and executive director of Wears Valley Ranch, a Christian home and school for kids from crisis family situations. [Wood] `Jesus said, As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Abide in my love.' You can contact the program by dialing 866-41-ABIDE or by visiting us the on the Web, at wvr.org. And now, without further delay here's your host, Jim Wood.
Wood: My guest today is Fred Hartley, he is pastor of the Lilburn Alliance Church in Metro Atlanta, and a dear friend of many years - Fred and I went to seminary together at Gordon Conwell [Theological Seminary] back in the 1970's. And both [of us] have been involved in ministry since, and it's been a delight for me having pastored in the Atlanta area with Fred back in the 1980's and early 1990's, to see the way that God continues to bless his ministry. Fred's the author of many books, and they're wonderful books I might add. He is also now the founder and director of a tremendous movement that God is doing. It's something called the College of Prayer, and I've asked him to come on the broadcast and share with us, particularly about the College of Prayer and what God is doing in that regard. Welcome to the program, Fred.
Hartley: Hey Jim, I'm excited to be on board with you here.
Wood: Tell us how God put this on your heart to do the College of Prayer.
Hartley: Well, I need prayer. I need to be mentored in prayer. And I didn't want to be a superficial Christian, I didn't want to live with a lukewarm heart or pastor a lukewarm church. I wanted to see people encounter God and I wanted to be at the front of the line. [Wood: Praise God!] I wanted to be among those who are walking in humility and in the fear of the Lord and in seeing the hand of God revealed in tangible ways. In my life, my family, my wife's life, my children, my church congregation and spilling over into the community and beyond and so I invited a number of pastors to meet with me initially and to my amazement a hundred gathered and [Wood: Wonderful!] some from Canada, some from places in Europe, and we agreed to meet three times a year for three years and it grew and invitations came and today we've got 52 campuses of the College of Prayer in over 20 countries [Wood: Tremendous] and over twenty thousand students who meet at least twice a year.
Wood: Marvelous. And you have a curriculum planned, is that right?
Hartley: We've got three years' of curriculum. Year one is "Lord, teach us to pray," it's designed for the individual and it's got ten lessons - half on fullness and the work of the Holy Spirit in the life and half on fulfillment - outworking the kingdom of God through your life and in the community you live in. Year two is "Lord, as families, and as husbands and wives, teach us to pray." It's designed to bring the blessing of God and to lead ourselves and those in our nuclear family to an encounter with God and to break off generational curses and invoke God's blessing on generations to come. And then year three is "Lord, as local churches and workplaces teach us to pray." So there's a natural succession from the individual to the family to the church and the community.
Wood: Yes, and you've been using this now in countries around the word - these are principles, Biblical principles, that therefore translate across cultural lines, aren't they?
Hartley: Correct. In fact, Jim, since we chatted a week or so ago, there was a man in my congregation Sunday who was a SIM missionary in Niger, Africa, who was here and he came up to me with tears in his eyes and he said, `You have no idea what this means to me,' he said, `Three years ago, the remote village that I serve in on the border of Niger, Africa, sent several pastors to the College of Prayer. They came back, their lived were transformed, they've been teaching the principles they learn each year to our village and now we're seeing our village transformed. [Wood: Praise God!] To sit in your church here in Atlanta and here you preach the same principles, I've been moved to tears. I'm indebted to you and to this congregation for the ministry that you're having around the world.' So that was really something! [Wood: Praise the Lord] Yeah!
Wood: That's tremendous. [~5:00]
Hartley: Jim, the Lord spoke to me a number of years ago, reading through the scriptures, from the Book of Kings, and Samuel, and Chronicles, that there were good kings and bad kings, those that did good on the side of the Lord and those that did bad. But even among those that did good most of them did not rid the land of high places, idols, and Asherah poles. And that is exactly our assignment in the College of Prayer - is to not only rule well in kingdom authority but to empower leaders to rid the land and their spheres of influence of idols and high places and Asherah poles. And to bring real transformation to our culture, not just window dressing or a dog and pony show - we want to see deep, lasting fruit. David Bryant, who is a leader in the prayer movement, says that the College of prayer is one of the few ministries today that's making sure that the prayer movement is not a mile wide and an inch deep. [Wood: Praise God] We lead in high worship, deep repentance, freedom from strongholds and forgiveness of sins. Then to be filled with the Holy Spirit and empowered for ministry back in their spheres of influence.
Wood: Well, and the fact is, there are - when you speak of being filled with the Holy Spirit - there are a lot of pastors who are laboring, and I'm talking in many cases guys who are doctrinally sound, but they are laboring in the flesh to do the work of the Lord.
[ intermission, Jim Wood plug for $ ][ ~12:00]
Wood: Well, I am so thankful about for the way the Lord is using you - you shared a little bit with me about one country for instance where some remarkable things have happened - some people who hold very strategic roles in the secular realm, if you will, but are being used by the Lord in the College of Prayer. Tell us about what's happening in Uganda, with the College of Prayer there.
Hartley: Yes. Uganda, it's an amazing thing. Our leader, Bishop Julius Oyet, with Lifeline Ministries - I met him, a dear friend of Os Hillman, Marketplace Ministries, here in Atlanta - when we were introduced it was just a divine appointment and he invited us to come to Uganda. He has crusades with up to 50,000 people and I've seen three thousand saved in one night. He is friends with people in high places and the members of parliament came to the College of Prayer and enjoyed the time so much they invited me to speak at their parliamentary prayer breakfast this year. We were expecting maybe 25 members of parliament and 75 other city leaders. There were 248 who came, 50 members of parliament, and they invited me and the College of Prayer to come back twice a year for the next three years and mentor them. And we just, just two weeks ago I was with the members of parliament and had a marvelous time, these are dear brothers and sisters in Christ and they are in earnest about righteousness and the cause of Christ and the amazing thing is they are standing for righteousness in areas that where we have long ago sold ourselves down the river but they're looking to us for spiritual mentoring to, that they - as kings and queens so to speak - can stand in kingdom alignment and operate according to Biblical principles in their spheres of influence. And it's a great honor to serve them.
Wood: Tremendous. Well, I'm so thankful for what the Lord is doing and you know, when I pastored there in Atlanta one of the things I was involved in facilitating was a pastor's prayer meeting that met in downtown Atlanta and I know that the relationships of many of those guys who came together across denominational lines was a real source of encouragement and strength to them, but we never went deep in the way that you're doing now with this and that's why I think Dick Eastman's remarks are so appropriate, that you're bringing a depth to pastors coming together to pray that, uh, and other Christian leaders as well coming together to pray, that is greatly needed because sometimes, even when you meet together for prayer, folks can maintain the facade, especially those of us who have years of experience in religious environments. An accountability group is only as valuable as the participants are willing for it to be, If you're not honest about what's going on in your walk with God, if you're not honest in your prayers - and there are a lot of phony prayers that are offered all the time, around the country, around the world.
Hartley: You've really hit on something here, Jim - this whole need for leaders - the higher level leaders [are] the more lonely it gets at the top. And Christian leaders are no exception. They need a safe place with brothers of like heart where they can share vulnerably on a consistent basis. Whereas conferences, you go to a conference and it may be great - you take the notebook back and you put it on the shelf - and not really, there hasn't really been any real change to your life. The College of Prayer, on the other hand, is highly relational and the kingdom of God advances along relational lines. And this is why right now we've got invitations to go to Beijing, China, where they've said there could be 25,000 pastors attending the College of Prayer this coming year. We've invited - the leader of the Indonesian Prayer Network, for of all Indonesia, based out of Jakarta, they have 20,000 churches all across Indonesia, representing every island in Indonesia, it's part of the National Prayer Network - and the leader of that group invited the College of Prayer to come this August to train kind of the VIP pastors who can then train all 20,000 churches in the College of Prayer principles. We got another - I just met this past week with the leader, the same level leader, of the Thailand Prayer Network [Wood: Wonderful]. There are 5,000 pastors, based out of Bangkok, and they are inviting the College of Prayer to come this next year and to begin the 3 year training program. [Wood: Praise God.] We've got leaders all over Latin America who are inviting us to come. We're going to be having here in Atlanta advanced leadership training for English-speaking pastors the beginning of February and then the following week for latin, Spanish-speaking pastors from the US and from Latin America to be trained in how to take the College of Prayer all over Latin America.
Wood: That is absolutely tremendous. When you talk about the relational aspect, I know that during those years when I was in Atlanta, in addition to that large group of pastors that met downtown I had a very small group that met during that same period of my life and it was in that context that I was able to be much more transparent and we prayed much more fervently for one another and still do. That group of pastors still meets together to this day, and that's been now twenty years. That has been a blessing not only to them individually but to their congregations because, you know, people in those churches know our pastor is not in competition with the pastor of that other megachurch or that pastor of that megachurch - these guys are praying for one another, they're encouraging one another, they've even spoken at each other's pulpits, and they speak well of one another as well as praying for one another and that makes a real difference and I believe that it strikes terror into the heart of the enemy.
Hartley: There you go. There's one country that we're serving in, in Africa, where missionaries who've been there 25 years said, "In the twenty five years we've been here we've seen the evangelical church community divide 5 different times in different schisms." They said the College of Prayer since it's come, it's the first ministry in 25 years that's brought the church back together. We require the servant leadership teams that we establish in each region to be across denominational lines [Wood: Wonderful] - Southern Baptists to be working together with Assembly of God, and so forth. And it is, it's the kingdom way - when we put down our little side agendas and focus on Jesus Christ, his resurrection from the dead and the fact that every knee shall bow and confess his lordship one day - when we focus on the main thing, God is pleased and heaven and Earth get together in a hurry [Wood: yes.] And his kingdom is advanced in ways that we never could in our own little parochial denominational huts.
Wood: Absolutely. I believe that what we have needed in recent decades is a charigmatic movement [Hartley: Right] and as folks come together - the original fundamentalist movement was not `49 Essentials of the Faith' - it was guys who understood that there were certain things that are critical - they're the charigma - and those essential doctrines transcend denominational lines. And unfortunately fundamentalism as a movement got hijacked and turned into a much longer agenda, of very legalistic boundaries, that got the people's focus off Jesus and off of scripture and onto a bunch of tertiary issues, a bunch of things on the periphery, and basically said, `If you don't agree with me on everything then you and I can't work together.' That is the opposite of what the term `fundamentalist' means.
Hartley: [laughing] Well put. Yeah, well, Paul said it right in Ephesians, that we're to maintain the unity of the spirit and the bond of peace - that we don't have to create it, we've got it in Jesus Christ and we just need to major in the majors.
Wood: Well, and when people who really love the Lord get together, all of a sudden those denominational lines and those other doctrinal differences really become strangely dim, if we turn our eyes on Jesus. [Hartley: There you go] And, you know, again, for you to be leading folks in real worship and then leading people in real repentance - it's real hard for me to look down on somebody else because of a doctrinal difference when God's convicting me of the sin in my own life. I remember as a teenager going to a meeting for the express purpose of gathering ammo so I could better criticize these theological liberals who were holding the meeting. I went because I was a self-righteous Pharisee who really thought it was my job to go and gather ammo about how bad and unorthodox these guys were. And God spoke to me and said, `You're here to find a basis to criticize these people. What do you think you're doing?' I realized, in my zeal for showing my doctrinal superiority to others I was a million miles from the heart of Christ. He came to save sinners - like me! [Hartley: right] And that was so different than my heart. Now, I am not for a moment suggesting that doctrine isn't important. Sound teaching is vital to the health of the church. But if we don't love one another then we don't really love God. And if we don't love God, what in the world are we doing claiming to be his followers? So, I thank God that through this movement and the ministry that he's given you, hearts are being rekindled, people are learning to love the Lord and love one another and go together to the throne of God - not to throw stones at each other but to make ourselves available to do God's bidding in a world that desperately needs to know Jesus.
Hartley: And let me just say, for those listening and want to get in the game, would like to taste firsthand a God-encountering environment in the College of Prayer, we have campuses here in Atlanta, Washington DC, in New York City, Ohio, Wisconsin, and various places across the US and internationally and we'd love to have you join us at the beginning of February for a module of the College Of Prayer. You can register or find out more about us - collegeofprayer.org - online, and you can get in the game internationally. If you're a pastor or a business owner we would love to have you travel with us to one of our campuses overseas and to be part of partnering with us in seeing the church revived and pastors build and these God-encountering prayer environments extended to areas where the church is really desperate.
Wood: Amen, and I am so grateful, again, that you're doing this, and that it is the Lord's work. Because he is reviving his church. [Hartley: He is] And that's tremendous. That's good news. Very encouraging in the times in which we live.
Hartley: He is, and he's doing it here in Lilburn. Our congregation is on the crest of a breakthrough year in so many ways that God is bringing authenticity to his church and through discipleship, and deep repentance - we're seeing marriages healed, and God's doing a great work here locally as well.
Wood: Praise God, that's marvelous. Fred, God bless you, keep up the good work, my brother, and stay in touch.