Steve Uppal Interview
Steve Uppal is the senior leader of All Nations Christian Centre, Wolverhampton. He was also one of our main speakers at Stronger Together 2016, and during the national conference we met up with him for a quick chat.
Can you tell us little bit about yourself and how you came to be Senior Leader at All Nations Christian Centre, Wolverhampton?
My family are from a Sikh background but converted to Christianity when a missionary knocked on our door in 1974 and shared Christ with my parents. I was five years old when I committed my life to Jesus, and that experience is still very real to me. I also remember, at the age of 11, encountering God through a prophecy and being called to ministry even though I did not know what it meant at the time.
From a very early age I had a desire for God’s word and a hunger for Christian biographies of revivalists. Reading the Bible and these books caused my heart to burn and my imagination to dream of God’s possibilities.
At age 13, when at an AOG youth camp, I made a further commitment to go ‘all out’ in my surrender to Christ. And from that commitment I never once looked back.
I started preaching soon after that, and I found myself being invited to speak at youth groups and also began something called ‘Christian Warriors’ when I was 14. This was a group of young guys (11-14 years) who met in my home each week and I did my best to disciple them. The Lord opened up opportunities for us to travel throughout the UK doing youth work. We used drama, mime, rap, song and the spoken word to reach people with the message of Jesus.
I often refer to these years as my Bible school. I was learning leadership and ministry by doing. I had a big appetite for the Bible, prayer and church history.
In 2001 I became the senior leader of All Nations Christian Centre in Wolverhampton, at that time it was a small traditional congregation and since has grown. The last 15 years have seen All Nations transformed as a community.
Along with All Nations Church, you’ve helped establish some links with churches in Burma and India. How have those experiences made you reflect on what it means to follow Jesus?
Interestingly, 18 months into pastoring, I suddenly had multiple invitations to many different nations. The international side of what I do has served to grow my understanding of different cultures. It’s also helped me to see the global church and give me a perspective that’s much broader than if I had only stayed in one geographic location. John 3:16 is clear that God loves the world, so following Jesus means that we too go to the world. I am also convinced that the Great Commission is not an option but the command of our King, and as such needs an appropriate, whole-hearted response.
For the benefit of those who weren't at the conference this year and are catching up online, what would you say were some of the key points to be taken away from your teaching session at Stronger Together on Wednesday 4th May?
There were three parts to my message:
1. The importance of knowing times and seasons
2. That we are called to a radical advance of the Kingdom of God
3. That Jesus must be central and supreme in our lives and ministry
At the end of Luke 11 Jesus strongly rebuked the people because they understand natural times and seasons but could not interpret the spiritual signs of the times. Amos 3:7 tells us that God does nothing without first revealing it to his servants -- the prophets. I am convinced that God tells us what’s coming before it arrives, and that there are clear signs that we should be interpreting. If a person knows the time they will also know what to do in that time. The converse is also true, if you are unaware of the time you will be unaware of what’s expected from you.
Jesus tells us in Matthew 11:12 that the Kingdom of God is forcefully advancing, and that forceful people lay hold of it. We are not supposed to be passive or just floating and reacting to circumstances. We are called to a radical advance of the gospel. Too many have not built up the strength and fortitude ready for advancing and are content to maintain. It’s the clash of kingdoms: light and darkness.
In many churches Jesus has become the forgotten man of the gospel. We are more fascinated with his stuff than with him. Leadership, church planting, end times, miracles and more have taken the central place and Jesus has been pushed out.
‘Our woes began when God was forced out of His central shrine and "things" were allowed to enter. Within the human heart "things" have taken over. Men have now by nature no peace within their hearts, for God is crowned there no longer, but there in the moral dusk stubborn and aggressive usurpers fight among themselves for first place on the throne.’ (A. W. Tozer)
Jesus is coming to his Church for a takeover. It is HIS Church, we are merely under-shepherds. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy (Colossians 1:18).