Men's Ministries Announces Annual Theme, Resources<br />

In today’s world, it takes courage to serve the Lord at home, in the church, and in the marketplace. In order to develop that kind of courage, men need a place they can turn to in order to resource and reach that goal. For that reason, AG Men’s Ministries has chosen “Courage” as the 2018 Men’s Ministries theme accompanied with fully supported free downloadable resources from its website.

 “It takes courage to live, lead, and love as God intended man to live, lead, and love,” says Rick Allen, national Men’s Ministries director. “So often in today’s culture, the media portrays men as weak. But God wants men who are courageous in Him, for Him, and like Him — especially in their homes, their churches, and at their places of employment.”

The annual theme is based on Joshua 1:9 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid. Do not be discouraged. The Lord your God will be with you where you go. The support resources made available by Men’s Ministries include: Courage Small Group Study, Courage 21-day devotional, a Courage mailer, and a series of five Courage banners — all available in English or Spanish as free downloads.

The Courage Small Group Study offers five lessons that focus on relationships each man faces within his life, his family, and his interaction in society. Each lesson provides an opportunity where a man can study by himself or with a group of men. Within each study there are conversation points to assist men at three levels of spiritual growth: Courage for men who are wanting to find or grow in their walk with Christ, Strength for those who want to strengthen their relationship with Christ and friends, and Endurance for the leaders who want to finish strong and help younger men in the journey of Courage. Each study is supported by Scripture references and application.

“Whether men do the lessons in group or individually, I believe it is vital for them to come together and discuss their responses,” Allen says. “Many times we can see a need for change in our lives, but we fail to make that change because no one holds us accountable. I urge men to have the courage — or pray for the courage — to speak the truth about themselves to each other and then be willing to be held accountable for the changes they want to make. In this way, they can truly become courageous men of God.”

To learn more about Men’s Ministries, see men.ag.org. The 2018 National Men’s Day in the Assemblies of God is Jan. 28.

Source: AG News

A Taste of Japan in Illinois

Although not a Christian, Sayaka Ikeda of Japan enjoyed herself in a Chi Alpha Bible study group when she began attending as a first-year student in 2001 at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale.

The Japanese L.I.F.E. (Love, Instruction, Fellowship, Evangelism) group offered the familiarity of home by providing a place to meet Japanese friends, eat Japanese food, and speak her native tongue.

Those in the group talked about a message of hope in a language she understood. The Bible study, worship, and prayer took place in Japanese, which helped the young student still developing her English skills learn about God’s love at a deeper level. She met Japanese Christians for the first time through the group.

“It opened my eyes to see how Jesus is God of all nations, even Japan,” she says. “At first I thought Jesus and Christianity were only for Western people.”

Ikeda accepted Jesus as Savior at Carbondale’s Calvary Campus Church in 2005. The multiethnic Assemblies of God congregation is a ministry partner of SIU Chi Alpha, part of AG U.S. Missions. Today she serves as a full-time Chi Alpha campus staff member at her alma mater, leading the same L.I.F.E. group she attended. She is also a pastor at Calvary, which started in 1988 as a way to minister to SIU’s international student population in the community of 26,000.

Calvary Campus Church Pastor Bruce David Payne is also SIU Chi Alpha director. Payne says the church’s founding pastor, Dale Call, felt led to reach out to international students, and believed God would provide Americans with a heart for the nations to minister to them.

Individuals from more than 30 foreign nations currently attend Calvary. Students from more than 90 countries have attended Carbondale student ministries. L.I.F.E. groups, such as the one Ikeda attended and now leads, are a primary avenue for connecting with international students on a cultural level.

In addition to Ikeda’s group, SIU Chi Alpha includes African, Caribbean, Chinese, Indian, and Latin American groups that meet weekly for Bible study, and often include a meal and fellowship. As with Ikeda’s group, some of the Bible studies are spoken in a native language. 

As Ikeda experienced, L.I.F.E. groups provide a safe place for international students to see what Christianity is about. 

“Hopefully, as they get saved, as many have, they’ll get discipled and start coming to church on Sunday,” says Payne, 53. 

The international students receive the opportunity to share their culture with everyone at Calvary. Once a semester, those in attendance celebrate international Sunday. The different L.I.F.E. groups sing praise and worship music in their native languages and wear clothing from their home countries. On other Sundays, the worship team translates songs so that the whole congregation sings in another language. 

Source: AG News

Gold for Iron

Nestled inside a musty velvet jewelry box from among the belongings of her late aunt, Adele Flower Dalton, Kathryn Flower Ringer found a curious antique – a lady’s pocket watch. The scrolling, elegant numbers and hands were real gold; but the face and the case, a steely black.

Kathryn discovered the watch’s significance immediately, as wrapped tightly around the jewelry box was the following article, written by Adele and clipped from the July 1985 Pentecostal Evangel International Edition:

Gold-for-iron for JESUS:

Around the turn of the century, Mary Alice Reynolds heard of an irresistible deal: she could give up her gold and get iron in its place!

Crazy? Maybe. But to her it made good sense, because giving up her gold would help advance the cause of foreign missions…and that was something she wanted to do.

In the early days of the Pentecostal revival over 80 years ago, Mary Alice and her husband, Charles Reynolds – my grandparents – were members of the Christian and Missionary Alliance. From the C&MA an appeal went out: “Gold-for-iron for Jesus!” Those who brought their gold and possessions would be given iron and the proceeds from the sale of the gold would be donated to missions.

So Mary Alice Reynolds brought her gold watch and, much to her husband’s consternation, her gold wedding ring – her two most prized possessions. A jeweler replaced the gold case with gunmetal, and the watch was returned to Mrs. Reynolds.

If the watch was precious with its gold, it was even more so after the exchange. Now I have fallen heir to it and love to wear it because of its priceless value.

It is not the monetary value that makes the watch priceless; rather, it is the memory of the gift and the cause to which it was devoted.

The memory of the gift presents a challenge to us as Christians today. What are we doing for missions? Have we sacrificed? Is our love for Jesus so full and sincere that we would obediently give up our dearest possessions at His request? He may not be asking for gold jewelry, but He does ask for our lives.

Adele was certainly familiar with sacrifice for Jesus. The second of six children of early AG leaders J. Roswell and Alice Reynolds Flower, Adele devoted her life to missions work, first for 15 years as a single woman throughout Latin America and then with her husband, Roy Dalton, in Ronda, Spain. Together, Roy and Adele ministered for 10 years in Ronda and throughout Spain. After Roy’s untimely death in 1968, Adele stayed on until 1976 before returning to the United States to care for her parents. She served as senior editorial assistant for what is now AG World Missions.

Kathryn — daughter of Adele’s youngest brother, David W. Flower — was inspired by her aunt’s life of missions ministry and the compelling story of Mary Alice Reynolds’ sacrifice of material treasures. Because Roy and Adele had no children, Kathryn and her husband, David, had inherited the Daltons’ wedding rings. The thick gold bands were engraved with the Daltons’ 1957 wedding date.

Kathryn says, “I looked at my husband and said, ‘What good are those rings doing, sitting in a strong box?’ Let’s sell them and let the money continue Aunt Adele’s work.”

The Ringers were unsure of exactly how to go about “continuing Aunt Adele’s work,” but proceeded with selling the wedding bands and other family treasures. With the assistance of AGWM Archives, they got in touch with veteran missionaries Scott and Marisa Smith, who have served in Spain since 1975 and as fully appointed AGWM missionaries since 1984.

Marisa’s acquaintanceship with Adele dated back to 1968 and Scott’s to 1983, so they were surprised and excited to hear from her niece Kathryn.

“We loved Adele,” they wrote. “Neither of us, unfortunately, were able to get to know Roy, but he is a legend in the Spanish AG. The church in Ronda is doing well. One of the first converts there was a man named Manuel Bernal who later pastored the church. The current pastor, Ezequiel Bernal, is his son. Ezequiel and his wife, Mari Carmen, are doing an excellent job. They are in the process of remodeling the building and developing vital social outreaches to the community (including a food bank and breakfast program for needy children). The church is growing; the pastors are maturing. The future of the congregation and its influence in the community looks very, very good. Adele and Roy would be so pleased!”

The gift was sent. Mary Alice Reynolds’ missional act of nearly a century ago and the Daltons’ missional lives of half a century ago continue to bear fruit.

“It’s hard to describe the impact of Mary Alice Reynolds’ sacrificial act on us,” the Ringers say. “Her legacy is challenging, stimulating, thought-provoking, requiring a response: the call not simply to give but to give in a way that included and honored Aunt Adele and Uncle Roy. May the fruit of their labors in Spain continue to increase.”

Source: AG News