Cameras flashed and onlookers waved and cheered as RHEMA Bible Training Center’s class of 2009 entered the Tulsa convention center. Following a procession of instructors and parade of flags, 420 graduates marched into the arena. Their caps and gowns made it clear that they had successfully completed their training, and they were equipped and eager to enter the harvest fields of the earth. Seventeen of the graduates represented seven countries outside the United States: Canada, Colombia, Nigeria, Northern Ireland, Norway, South Africa, and Zambia.
Tad Gregurich, presiding over his first graduation as RHEMA’s dean, welcomed those in attendance and prayed for the 2009 graduates. “We thank You not only for the effort, sacrifices, and accomplishments that have marked their paths to this point, but also for the destinies that lie before each one,” he said, “for the divine purpose that calls them to walk boldly into the future, carrying faithfully the light that they have received. We thank You for the training that has been imparted to them, and we rejoice, knowing that as they apply what they have received, their lives, as well as the lives of every individual they come in contact with, will be changed dramatically. Tonight these graduates stand before a congregation, but tomorrow they will go forth to reach a generation.”
After a time of praise and worship, Kenneth W. Hagin welcomed the graduates and their families and friends. He then introduced the commencement speaker, Douglas Crumbly, a 1996 RHEMA graduate and pastor of Journey Church in Acworth, Georgia. Rev. Crumbly challenged the graduates not to become sluggish and to remain faithful to the vision God placed within them.
Speaking from Hebrews 6:9–12 (NKJV), he encouraged the graduates to imitate their RHEMA instructors, and he urged them to faithfully take on the role of a leader.
“The Bible is literally telling us as ministers of the Gospel that we are not to be sluggish, lazy, stupid, or slothful, and the way to do that is to imitate people who have used their faith and inherited the promises of God,” Rev. Crumbly said. “For the last two or three years you’ve watched your instructors and Pastor and Mrs. Hagin inherit the promises of God. When you don’t know what to do, just imitate them.
“God is elevating and launching every one of you into a position where there are going to be people watching and imitating you,” he added. “You as a leader must live godly and use your faith so that other people who are following you will not become sluggish as well. Tonight you graduate into the leader position.”
Rev. Crumbly said that as he looked out at the graduates, he saw the faces of champions and visionaries looking back at him—people who were going to make it hard for those in the world to go to hell. But he also warned the graduates to protect everything God had placed within them during their training time.
“God has birthed vision in your heart while you’ve been here at school—vision to go to places and change the world and destinies of people you come in contact with,” Rev. Crumbly said. “When you leave here you’re going to have to grab the truths in God’s Word, because there is a real devil and there are real people who will try to impede your progress to fulfill the vision that God has put in your heart. You may not know how or when [it will come to pass], but someone is crying out to Jesus right now for you to launch out and take that vision that God has put into your heart to set people free!”
Rev. Crumbly concluded, “Students: from everyone in this room, from the hearts of the Hagins, from all of the pastors that graduated from here, from all of the instructors, from every usher and secretary at RHEMA—let’s make history together.”
Prior to the official presentation of the class of 2009, Dean Gregurich explained the significance of the red track-and-field relay batons the graduates received as they walked across the platform. In a message Rev. Hagin delivered to the students at the beginning of the year, he traced the history of revival through the generations and challenged each student to carry the baton of revival to this generation.
An inscription on each baton reads, “I commit today to carry the baton of revival to this generation. I will carry the banner of faith and God’s power to a lost and dying world. This is my time to do all God has called me to do.”
Rev. Hagin addressed the graduates after they received their batons, admonishing them through the Word of God. He finished with these words:
“Tonight, you embark on a journey that only God knows the destination of. I charge you—be true to the Word of God. Be true to what you have learned these last few years at RHEMA, and go out and tear the devil’s kingdom up!”
In his benediction, Doug Jones, a member of RHEMA’s inaugural class and a long-time instructor, thanked God for the faithfulness He had shown in the life of each graduate and asked for continued faithfulness as each one goes out into the harvest fields. He also asked for inner strength for the graduates to enable them to walk worthy of the calling God had placed on their lives.
As graduates sang the RHEMA alma mater, the arena lights were dimmed and the class of 2009 held up small faux candles symbolizing their willingness to carry the light of the Gospel to the lost. The new RHEMA alumni exited the arena holding a candle in one hand and a baton in the other, eager to bear the flame of revival to the nations!