Below is a letter from Pastor Joe Staniforth of Lighthouse of Holiness, an independent holiness missions’ work on the border of Mexico and the United States. Please take the time to read. It is an invitation to all those who have had to leave the Nazarene Church and other Wesleyan churches to support one another in prayer, and to join hands in fellowship. If you are interested, please contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org or (956)525-4144. You can also join their Facebook group here.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ! We are writing on behalf of those whose hearts are longing for holiness fellowships where brothers and sisters are secure in this knowledge: The incorruptible Word of God is both believed and taught amongst members and pastors alike. “How good and how pleasant it is for the brethren to dwell together in (such) unity!” (Psalm 133:1)
It could be that you have been a part of a church that claims “holiness unto the Lord,” but promotes programs that are primarily focused on entertaining like the world, rather than training in the Word. Perhaps you may have left what was once a sweet fellowship turned sour by false teaching. Regardless, you feel like an abandoned child, surrounded by an increasingly wicked world, and hungry for uncompromised preaching that once graced the pulpits of Nazarene churches or other Wesleyan denominations. Where is that sacred assembling that is needed, “so much more, as you see the day (of the Bridegroom) approaching”? (Hebrews 11:25)
There are many that we have come to know who share in this longing. We would refer to them as a remnant, and would like to compare them to the people of Jerusalem at the time of King Hezekiah. Surrounded by the taunting Assyrians, these last defenders of truth appeared to be on the brink of destruction. The Kingdom of Israel was gone and the rest of Judah was in tatters. King Hezekiah sent a desperate plea to the prophet, Isaiah:
“This is the day of trouble, and rebuke, and blasphemy; for the children have come to birth, but there is not strength to bring them forth. It may be that the LORD your God will hear the words of the Rabshakeh, whom his master the king of Assyria has sent to reproach the living God, and will rebuke the words which the LORD your God has heard. Therefore lift up your prayer for the remnant that is left” (2 Kings 19:3,4b).
Primarily, our plea is for prayer. We need to intercede for the remnant that is left. This is a day of trouble, as truth is under siege, and many are defecting – abandoning their allegiance – under the pressures of political correctness, moral relativity and other schemes of the evil one. It is a day of rebuke when the Rabshakehs of our day label those who still stand for the truth as “divisive” and “unloving.” Rabshakeh, the spokesman for King Sennacherib of Assyria, underestimated the God of truth when he rebuked those who defended Zion (II Kings 18:35). Finally, it is a day of blasphemy, when learned men – “wise in their own eyes” (Isaiah 5:21) – “suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Romans 1:18). They suppress such truths as His creation, a testimony to “His eternal power and Godhead” (Romans 1:20), by referring to the historical account in the Holy Scriptures (Genesis 1 & 2) as “allegorical”, “mythological” or “compatible with evolution.”
We do not believe our prayers should be solely focused on the enemy, for we know that Christ has promised that His bride will triumph over the gates of hell. King Hezekiah did not state that this was an end, rather a beginning. He believed that the remnant had “come to birth.” Before Hezekiah’s reign, the Kingdom of Judah had become much like its apostate neighbors to the north. Hezekiah had been born out of this heresy, as he was the son of the idolatrous King Ahaz, but “he did what was right in the sight of the Lord” (2 Kings 18:3). He would serve to lead his people out of idolatry (II Kings 18:4-5).
Now, this newborn remnant would need strength. The King recognized that it would never survive in its own strength or might, but was reliant upon the Spirit of God (Zechariah 4:6). They needed His strength “to bring them forth” as a victorious people. We need to pray for the strength of the Lord for the holiness remnant that has been born out of heresy. We are under siege, and we are weak, but the God whose truth we honor is Almighty. Praise His holy name!
I, Pastor Joe Staniforth, was born out of heresy. Three and one half years ago, I needed to strengthen myself in the Lord. I had been grieved by the present state of the Nazarene denomination in which I had spent most of my life. There was a growing disregard for the authority and inerrancy of Scripture that was fueled by the church’s academic institutions. In turn, “another gospel” (II Cor. 11:4 – often called “emergent”) was being preached. With heaviness of heart, I warned whenever given the opportunity.
Hell would soon seek to silence me, as it waged war against my calling and family. As the Kingdom of Judah had fallen, city by city, before the siege of the capital, we lost one position after the next. First, preaching opportunities were taken away. Then, as I continued to sound the alarm, I was dismissed from my position as a missionary and district evangelist. After I sent a letter to local pastors sharing my grief with them, I was fired from my own position as a local pastor. Consequently, we lost our flock, a home (which also served as a place for a fellowship) and financial support for the missions work. Finally, I was stripped of my ministerial credentials, as the Lord would not allow me to be silent.
Yet, I still had the most precious of all my possessions – my Zion. As Hezekiah would bring his case before God in the temple (II Kings 19:14) I came before my Jesus, the living temple. He made it evident to me, through his word and the counsel of those who had remained close to me during the time of trial, that we had become a part of a remnant. This trial was nothing more than the birth pangs of labor, when a remnant is born from heresy.
“In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried unto my God: he heard my voice out of his temple, and my cry came before Him, even into His ears” (Psalm 18:6). He provided my family with the necessary provisions, and revealed to me an area of ministry that was dear to His heart – underprivileged children. It seemed impossible that such a ministry could be maintained, without the support of a denomination. Yet, through the prayers and giving of a faithful few, the Lord has kept us these 3 ½ years. We began by making a left turn into a neighborhood filled with needy children where we preached the gospel out of the trunk of a car. A group gathered on a hot concrete floor, and a work of the Lord was born. Praise His holy name!
The Lord has strengthened our faith, and we now have children’s missions in Matamoros, Mexico and Brownsville, Texas. Though we are still only at the crawling phase of a baby remnant, we can say that God has given us the grace to get this far. We believe He will complete the work that He has begun. May He be glorified through His work!
I give you my testimony, in the hope that it will serve to encourage those who are still going through the labor pains of coming out from among the heresy. I beseech you to cling to Christ as your stronghold. He is the Truth to whom we hold and He is unshakable. King Hezekiah was triumphant because of his dedication to the Truth. “For out of Jerusalem shall go a remnant, and those who escape from Mount Zion. The zeal of the LORD of host will do this” (2 Kings 19:31)
Our second reason for writing this letter is that we are seeking to extend a hand of fellowship to the holiness remnant. We have already joined hands with one fellowship in Sequim, Washington and have acquaintances with individuals and fellowships around the country.
In fairness to those who are interested in joining hands, we would like to make our position clear. First and foremost, we can only extend a hand of fellowship to those who regard the scriptures as fully inerrant (without error).* Adam and Eve were the first to fall into a state of apostasy when they bought into the serpent’s lie – “Hath God said…?” (Genesis 3:1). Since then, many, including people that we once regarded as brothers and sisters, have fallen into this same trap. When one begins to doubt God’s Word, apostasy is inevitable.
We stand with Wesleyans such as Richard S. Taylor who wrote, “the sober teaching (of the Word) is that the human race began with a primal pair in a God-prepared garden, living with a challenging assignment and under an imposed law; that they disobeyed, therefore plunging themselves and their posterity into an incredible morass of sin and depravity, and thereby precipitating all the complex actions of the Triune God which we call Redemption. This is history, the truthfulness of which provides the spine and continuity of everything which follows, from Genesis to Revelation: and this history we are to believe. It is a teaching guaranteed by biblical authority” (Beacon Dictionary of Theology, pg. 74).
Secondly, we are not seeking to start another denomination, as many have become weary with representative church governments which have become centralized. Though elected in faith to represent the body of Christ and defend those doctrines we hold so dear, many have served to re-present truth in an effort to make it more agreeable to the world. Furthermore, they have excluded, and in some cases, removed those who have sought to defend those doctrines.
We simply desire to fellowship with those who have “continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine” (Acts 2:42) particularly those who are of the Wesleyan persuasion. Though we must love the wolves, we cannot extend a hand of fellowship to these or those who have failed in their God-given duty to warn us of them – the watchmen on the walls. “What fellowship has light with darkness…?” (2 Cor. 6:14).
Let us call to mind the second building of the temple. When those who were conformed with the world through unholy matrimony offered to help in the Lord’s work, the answer was clear: “Ye have nothing to do with us to build a house unto our God; but we ourselves together will build unto the LORD God of Israel” (Ezra 4:3).
To all the brothers and sisters who have been born out of the heresy, we extend a hand to you that we may join together in fellowship. We seek those who have “clean hands and a pure heart” (Psalm 24:4) that we may work together to build His kingdom.
Pastor Joe Staniforth
Representing Lighthouse of Holiness Commission
* Here is our doctrinal statement on this matter with which we will not compromise:
“We believe that the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments constitute the Holy Scriptures: They are the inspired and infallibly written Word of God, fully inerrant in their original manuscripts, and have been transmitted to the present without corruption of any teaching, even when they speak on points of history, science, geography or any other subject matter.* Most importantly, they are the sole and final authority in faith and practice.
Stand For Truth Ministry Notes:
Support A Missionary: Read about Simon and Margaret Bairagi’s ministry in Bangladesh, at their website. They reach out to college students on various campuses with the gospel. I have been supporting them for a few years and they could use additional regular support for their expenses.
Please prayerfully consider supporting them after reading about what they are doing in Bangladesh.
Mark Fonner’s Weekly Radio Program: Check it out weekly on the internet Error! Hyperlink reference not valid.. Mark covers many topics impacting the Christian world. “RECON Ministries was founded for the preservation of the Christian message, Christian marriage, and Christian values in the church and to reflect God’s attributes to the world.”