SAGU not only has a rich spiritual heritage, but a long history of strong leaders who listened to God. SAGU President Emeritus Delmer Guynes was a pillar of faith in a time when SAGU needed guidance. Under Guynes’ leadership, SAGU rebounded from a period of low enrollment and financial difficulty and achieved a record enrollment of 1,672 students. Guynes also helped pay off the federal loan taken out to renovate the Farmer Administration Building.
Dr. Guynes initiated the distance education program and established an accredited graduate program, the Harrison School of Graduate Studies. The Sheaffer Full Life Center, Regents Apartments and Guynes Dorm were constructed during his tenure. It was during his presidency that Southwestern Assemblies of God College was renamed Southwestern Assemblies of God University with the addition of master’s programs.
Dr. and Mrs. Guynes played a significant role in re-establishing the university’s intercessory prayer and missions emphasis. Before his second presidency in 1982, he began a personal prayer ministry where he encouraged churches to pray for specific needs around the world.
After a couple of years, the Guyneses returned to China to continue their ministry endeavors. In 1989, they returned to SAGU as missionaries in residence. Some years later, they stopped in Israel during one of their visits to Africa. On the back from a tour one afternoon, a rabbinical school caught Dr. Guynes’s eye. It was at that moment that God began to burden Dr. Guynes’s heart for the nation of Israel. He began the Jerusalem Prayer Watch.
“On your walls, O Jerusalem, I have set watchmen; all the day and all the night they shall never be silent. You who put the Lord in remembrance, take no rest, and give him no rest until he establishes Jerusalem and makes it a praise in the earth.” –Isaiah 62: 6-7
Jerusalem was razed in 70 AD by Titus and thereafter again and again. Israel was re-established in 1948 and immediately named Jerusalem its capitol. However, the nation was not fully liberated and brought under Jewish control until after the Six-Day War in 1967.
According to Biblical prophecy, Israel’s current events foreshadow the second coming of Jesus Christ. Jerusalem is mentioned 225 times in the Old Testament and 75 times in the New Testament. Jewish tradition, along with significant amount of supportive evidence, maintain that the environs of Jerusalem were the site of the Garden of Eden, and Adam and Eve were buried in the cave of Machpelah at Hebron.
Because Israel plays such a vital role in the ultimate redemptive plan of God, Guynes began a structured effort to arouse concern for the nation and to encourage intercessory prayer for the Kingdom to come. Through monthly newsletters, Guynes appeals to Assemblies of God Churches to cover this growing congregation in prayer.
Guynes shared, “This prayer emphasis focuses on the nation of Israel, and the city of Jerusalem, but more specifically upon a spiritual movement among Jews called the Messianic Movement. While in earlier years Jesus-believing Jews became part of the church, these believing Jews identify with the nation of Israel, rather than the church.”
He continued, “Messianic congregations have a unique role to play in bringing Israel to national restoration and spiritual transformation. In doing this, congregations may experience some very difficult days ahead as they prepare Israel and the world for the promised Kingdom of God on earth.”
He concluded one of his newsletters with this:
“It is to His Church, His Ecclesia, His Body and His Bride, who shares all of His redemptive inheritance, that Jesus assigns the task of unrelentingly reminding God of His covenant and prophetic promises to Jerusalem and Israel. Only the Church with Kingdom Keys can “loose or bind” on earth that which has been “loosed or bound” in heaven.
In the context of the widow praying for the unjust judge in Luke 18:1-7, Jesus concludes the parable with a prophetic question: ‘When the Son of Man comes will He find faith on the earth?’ Only a faithful Church who prays Jerusalem through her darkest hour holds the answer to that question.”