Opening Virtual Doors

Whether scouting out the best seafood restaurants, looking for a plumber, or shopping for real estate, many consumers start in the same place: the internet.

Savvy businesses offer smartphone apps, social media pages, and other digital tools to meet people in their virtual worlds. And increasingly, houses of worship are doing the same.

“People are checking out hotels, vacation spots, houses, businesses, and churches online long before they make a call or decision to engage,” says Josh Skjoldal, lead pastor at Evangel, an Assemblies of God church in Bismarck, North Dakota. “We have to acknowledge that people think and behave differently today than they did last year, much less a decade ago.”

Those connected to the church can use Evangel’s app to view services, give tithes and offerings, read announcements, and even to respond to sermons.

“It allows seekers to test the waters without getting too uncomfortable or even having to walk through the doors of the building,” Skjoldal says. “Our hope is that the door to our church is an online portal, not just a physical structure.”

Nearly two-thirds of Americans own a smartphone, and more than half of smartphone owners have used their devices to bank or look up health information, according to a Pew Research Center report published last year. Another 18 percent had submitted a job application via a smartphone, the study found.

“In today’s world, evangelism and discipleship happen through relationship, and, like it or not, many relationships in this age of technology begin digitally,” Skjoldal says. “The Church is no exception.”

Wayne Murray, senior pastor of Grace Assembly of God in Greenwood, Indiana, says the majority of those who visit the church in person already have watched a full service or message online.

“For most people, you don’t exist if you don’t exist on some sort of social media or digital platform,” Murray says. “It’s where the conversations of culture take place.”

Grace Assembly’s smartphone app includes sermons, a Bible reading plan, and a digital giving option. The church also offers video devotionals on the Periscope web platform and a Bible study group on Facebook.

Murray says the Church must learn to use technology to reach this generation, just as a missionary to a foreign country must learn to speak the native language.

“We in the Church need to spend a good amount of time learning the language of the culture — media and technology — so the message and ministry we have can be heard and have impact,” Murray says. “When we speak that language to speak the message of the Cross and reconciliation to God, the message is heard and received and has power to change lives.”

Skjoldal says the rapid expansion of technology provides new opportunities to fulfill Jesus’ command to “go into all the world and preach the gospel” (Mark 16:15, NIV).

“The Church often seems hesitant and slow to adapt to new methods,” Skjoldal says. “With technology and the world quickly changing around us, we have to become much more founded on the gospel and fluid in our approaches. Evangelistic and discipleship methods will continue to change. It’s the message that remains constant, not the methods.”

Source: AG News

OK Not to Be OK in OK

The slogan “It’s OK not to be OK” underscores the welcoming message of People’s Church in Oklahoma City.

“Our church is a hospital for broken and hurting people that the power of Christ sets free,” declares Senior Pastor Herbert Cooper. “You can come to People’s Church with hurts, hang-ups, and issues. But we believe that Christ changes lives. It’s OK not to be OK, but it’s not OK to stay that way because of the transforming power of the gospel.”

Planted by Cooper and his wife, Tiffany, in 2002, People’s Church reaches on average 5,000 congregants on Sundays through 11 services on five campuses — four in Oklahoma and one in Indianapolis. The church also ministers to an online audience estimated at 3,000. Cooper preaches four services from the main campus, a 62,000-square-foot worship center. His sermons are streamed live to Parent Affiliate Church campuses in Northwest Oklahoma City for two services and to Midwest City east of the capital city for three services. These campuses have separate pastors and worship teams. The totally wired church maximizes social media for communicating with members and for follow up.

Cooper typifies the church’s multicultural flavor. People’s Church is about two-thirds African-American, 30 percent Caucasian, and 5 percent Hispanic.

“It’s a beautiful thing to see walls coming down when different races fellowship,” he says. “It’s a little heaven on earth.”

In 2015, Cooper gave his blessing to pastoral staff member Chris P. Smith to export the first out-of-state campus to northeast Indianapolis. Ministering from a middle school in Lawrence, attendance runs about 400 on Sundays.

“We enjoy an amazing multicultural diversity covering all age groups,” Smith says. In the congregation’s first 10 months, 111 people have been baptized.

Smith and his wife, Jamie, exude the church’s welcoming spirit, shaking hands at the exit after each service. The church’s First Impression team targets guests who receive hearty smiles, hugs, and handshakes. As the only paid staff member, Smith relies on more than 100 volunteers to share the load. Ministry partners commit to serving eight hours per week.

Partnering with God Behind Bars, People’s Church in Oklahoma City recently launched its fifth campus at the nearby Mabel Bassett Correctional Center, a maximum-security facility housing 1,055 females. Cooper’s sermons are streamed into weekly services averaging 150 inmates.

Upon graduating from Evangel University in 1997 with a bachelor’s degree in Biblical Studies, Cooper devoted his energy to a full-time evangelistic ministry by conducting revivals.

His reputation grew as a speaker at conferences, youth camps, and youth conventions across the U.S. and abroad. However, in 2001, while driving home after speaking at a church in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Cooper says he heard God’s still small voice challenging him to plant a church.

“It didn’t make sense,” Cooper recalls. Relying on heavy doses of prayer and input from the AG Oklahoma District Council, the Coopers sold their home in Springfield, Missouri, the following year and moved to the Sooner State’s capital.

Cooper admits that he didn’t know much about church planting except to trust God’s leading. The first service on Mother’s Day in 2002 in a shopping mall theater attracted 65 friends, family, and locals drawn by a mailing campaign. From that modest start, the church’s come-as-you-are welcoming approach, evangelistic preaching, and outreaches have won over thousands to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Altar calls complete every service. Around 1,000 baptisms occur annually.

High-profile community projects are regular events. Church teams repaint elementary school classrooms in poorer neighborhoods, mow lawns, plant gardens, and clean up playgrounds. Every summer People’s Church sponsors a Day of Hope for families, with an average of 4,500 participants. Free dental checkups and haircuts are offered as well school backpacks, games, and food.

Cooper, who is a member of the AG Church Multiplication Network lead team, plans to continue ministering to the hurting with a heartfelt compassion forged from a broken family life as a child.

“I know firsthand what it means to be healed from abuse and pain,” he says. “The power of Christ has set me free.” 

Source: AG News

One Bible — Three Lives Changed

The Word of God is a powerful evangelism tool as Jonathan Lytle, a district appointed Chi Alpha missionary in Belllingham, Washington, knows. He became aware that a local Whatcom Community College student named Yenay* needed a Bible, so his team used Light for the Lost and support funds to purchase a Mongolian Bible for her. When the Bible arrived, it was mailed to Yenay as she was spending the summer with her aunt in Chicago.

Later that year, Yenay attended a Chi Alpha fall camp event. While praying after one of the sermons, she said to the Lord, “God, if You love me, please give me a hug.” Right at that moment, a friend reached over and gave her a huge embrace. Yenay decided to follow Jesus at that moment! 

Yenay later shared that during the summer her aunt became very curious about the Bible she received from Chi Alpha (a U.S. Missions ministry), so she began to read the Bible as well. When Yenay left to return to college, she chose to keep an English Bible and give her aunt the Mongolian edition, as her aunt struggled to read English. Through reading the Bible and attending church, Yenay says her aunt also met Jesus! Yenay says that her aunt loves reading the Bible — written in her own language — every day and falls asleep hugging it every night. 

But there’s more — the gifting of the Mongolian Bible has continued to produce fruit beyond Yenay and her aunt! Following Scripture’s direction, Yenay decided to be baptized. During the service, another international student was profoundly moved by Yenay’s statement of commitment to Christ. The student told her host mother that she wanted to be baptized too. When her host mother explained how serious a commitment that was, the student said, “Yes, I have decided that’s what I want! I want to make that commitment to Jesus!”

“Three lives — and likely even more by now — have been eternally changed and reconciled to Jesus simply because campus missionaries made a special effort to give a young woman the Word of God,” says Rick Allen, national Light for the Lost director. “But it’s important for each of us to remember, for every person that goes to the mission field, scores have to send him or her. Light for the Lost, through the generosity of our donors, is humbled to be able to make the Word of God available to missionaries to place into the hands of those who need it.”

*Name changed

Source: AG News

Attack in Nice Kills 84, Injures 202

See the latest updates on this crisis at AGWM.com or at the AG World Missions Facebook page 

Bastille Day festivities in Nice, France, on July 14 turned to horror when a single assailant deliberately drove a semitruck for more than a mile through a celebrating crowd. With 84 people killed, including at least 10 children, and 202 injured, 188 people were reportedly rushed to hospitals after the attack. More than 50 may not survive.

Alain Fauchy, an Assemblies of God presbyter in southern France, learned that a mother and child from a Gypsy Pentecostal church were among the victims.

Bastille Day celebrates the storming of a medieval fortress to rescue political prisoners during the French Revolution in 1789 and is a significant day in French history. Now a national holiday, Bastille Day is celebrated with fireworks, parades and food, similar to the Fourth of July in the U.S. The attack began shortly after a seaside fireworks display.

Witnesses describe total mayhem at the scene, with people screaming while running in every direction and many suffering from catastrophic injuries. The country will observe three days of national mourning beginning on Saturday. A state of emergency in place since the Islamic State’s terrorist attacks on Paris last November has been extended for another three months.

Following this terror attack on their nation, France’s nearly 400 Assemblies of God churches are positioned to serve as lighthouses of God’s comfort and grace for their grieving countrymen.

However, churches themselves have not been exempt from attack. An AG church in Calais, which pioneered and maintains a strong ministry in a nearby refugee camp, was gutted by a fire earlier this week under suspicious circumstances following months of vandalism.

“Our hearts ache with the families of those who were lost, including our Gypsy brothers and sisters,” says AGWM Executive Director Greg Mundis. “Pentecostals throughout the world faithfully respond when tragedy strikes. We pray for the Spirit’s guidance and empowerment as they serve as testimonies of Christ’s love and compassion.”

“AG fellowships around the world join with our French brothers and sisters in praying for the people of France,” says George O. Wood, chairman of the World Assemblies of God Fellowship and general superintendent of the U.S. Assemblies of God. “May God’s comfort prevail in the midst of these horrific circumstances.”

Image used in accordance with CCY BY-ND 2.0 license. Photo credit: Furfante, Flickr

Source: AG News

Peanut Butter Discipleship

First Assembly of God in Portland, Maine, one of the oldest Pentecostal churches in the state, is bursting at the seams. Senior Pastor Memana Abraham says he soon will be knocking on the mayor’s door in hopes of finding affordable, larger quarters to serve the burgeoning congregation, where a lifelong lobsterman might sit next to a genocide survivor from Africa.

Sunday mornings, there is standing room only during the worship service. A Rwandan Christian interprets Abraham’s sermon into French and a Syrian pastor offers Bible lessons to Muslims.

By midafternoon Sunday, the crowd swells even larger, spilling out the door and down the street as First Assembly distributes 12,000 pounds of fresh food and grocery staples each week, from local groceries and restaurants, or purchased from a local food pantry, through its Harbor of Hope outreach.

This wasn’t the case 15 years ago when Abraham, a native of India, became senior pastor. In 2000, the church’s longtime pastor died and the congregation struggled for new direction and leadership.

The new chapter started with a loaf of bread, peanut butter, and a jar of jam plus one homeless man who after the Sunday service asked Abraham, “Is there anything to eat here? I’m hungry.” Abraham confessed his church did not have food on hand, so he gave the man enough cash for a meal.

Abraham turned this encounter into a defining moment for the congregation. From that moment, Abraham vowed that anyone who is hungry at church wouldn’t leave without food.

Nine years later, this PB&J sandwich-on-demand mandate has turned First Assembly into one of the region’s largest church-based feeding ministries.

Abraham estimates that the ministry feeds more than 600 people weekly. Church volunteers collect food during the week. They sort and pack it on Saturday and distribute on Sundays. The church has no warehouse or food pantry or paid staff.

This outreach has been a lifesaver to one of Maine’s most at risk populations: African immigrants. Over the past two decades, thousands of Africans have resettled in Maine’s two largest cities, Portland and Lewiston.

Why would Africans settle in Maine, which is known as one of the least ethnically diverse of all 50 states? Among the many reasons is the number of Francophiles. About 3.7 percent of Maine residents are French speakers, one of the highest rates in the U.S. About 120 million Africans speak French as their first or second language, so it makes sense that French-speaking immigrants might head to Maine.

African immigration also has become a lifesaver of sorts for First Assembly, causing slow but steady growth. Abraham, a graduate of the AG’s Southern Asia Bible College in Bangalore, India, encouraged the members of First Assembly to turn themselves outward toward people in need.

Volunteers with the feeding ministry include a 74-year-old retiree who is also a surgical nurse. “Baby” Matthew is an immigrant who donates 30 hours per week to outreach.

“There are so many people involved,” Abraham says. “God has to coordinate all of this. It is almost impossible to make this happen by human effort alone.”

As the ministry grew, relationships between churchgoers and Africans blossomed. Newcomers, many from a Muslim background, started coming to the Sunday morning service. Abraham says he consistently preached food is for the stomach, but there is greater need in life.

Over time, Africans joined Sunday worship, clapping their hands, singing praise songs, and praying. Some immigrants have accepted Jesus as Savior, been baptized, and asked how to study their Arabic-language Bibles and for Christian discipleship classes.

The church now has a worshipping congregation of about 200. That’s up from 70 people in worship 15 years ago. This is where First Assembly passes yet another milestone beyond outgrowing its limited worship space. Receivers have become givers.

Justin Nizuyumukiza, an immigrant to Maine from French-speaking Rwanda, joined First Assembly several years ago. While in Rwanda, he participated in a student-led revival movement after the 1994 genocide and was in training for youth ministry. His plans changed when the U.S. allowed him to immigrate.

Like many immigrants, Nizuyumukiza waited months before receiving his work permit.

“When I arrived in Portland, I was living in a shelter,” Nizuyumukiza says. “I was wandering around and found First Assembly of God.” Volunteers stood ready to help him.

Now, he is giving back by being one of the church’s French-English interpreters.

“When I started, there were 10 French-speaking Africans in the church,” Nizuyumukiza says. “Now there are about 50 French speakers. They listen and can understand.”

Nizuyumukiza, who also teaches the Bible in English, works as a refugee case manager during the week. He says immigrants face many challenges. Steady employment is difficult, housing is expensive, and public transportation is limited in Portland.

Abraham says God has provided other resources. A French-speaking Congolese pastor, Jean Kabwe, found his way to Portland in 2014 and soon joined the pastoral ministry team.

“People see that God loves them and cares for them and they give their hearts to the Lord,” Abraham says. “The hand of the Lord is evident and this increases our faith to trust God more.”

And that fateful loaf of bread and the jars of jelly and peanut butter? They are still available in the church basement kitchen.

Image used in accordance with CC BY 2.0 license. Photo credit: Hector Alejandro, Flickr

Source: AG News

From Magnate to Magnet

Daniel R. Holbrook says the Lord let him know two weeks before his 51st birthday in September 2007 that he needed to resign at the Honda transmission manufacturing plant in Russells Point, Ohio. Holbrook had worked for the automotive giant for 24 years, and with promotion after promotion became the transmission division’s highest-ranking non-Japanese executive.

Although his boss, the president of the U.S. transmission division, knew Holbrook had been involved in pulpit ministry for eight years, the reason for the departure seemed shocking: to work as a full-time pastor.

So, too early to retire, Holbrook walked away from a six-figure vice president’s salary, impressive fringe benefits, and a bountiful retirement package. In exchange, he took a job pastoring a small, failing Assemblies of God church in Wapakoneta, with no perquisites and an income of $200 a week. Holbrook even needed to buy a car to replace the pair Honda had provided for his use.

While such a middle-age career change didn’t make sense financially, Holbrook knew he must be obedient.

“There is peace when you’re where you’re supposed to be,” he says. “Ministry was my passion. It’s what I was meant to do.”

POSTPONING THE CALL

Earning a good wage figured largely in Holbrook’s vocational choice upon graduating from high school. Although he initially planned to be a history teacher and basketball coach, he instead eschewed college when he found a factory job.

Holbrook grew up in a Pentecostal Church of God (PCG) home and at 19 attended a revival, sitting on the back row. Although he hadn’t committed his life to Jesus yet, Holbrook already tithed and gave generously to others. During the service, the evangelist stopped, singled Holbrook out, and asked him to step forward.

The evangelist then spoke a word of knowledge: “I have seen your faithfulness in giving and because of that I will bless your life. I will cause you to find favor in others’ eyes. As a token of My favor I will elevate you.”

Holbrook tucked away the message, and two years later, in 1978, accepted Jesus as his Savior at another revival. The following year, he wed Peggy Fagan, whom he had known since childhood from church.

By the time he reached age 26, Holbrook realized God had called him to preach — but he didn’t want to submit. Instead, he switched jobs to work as a laborer in the new nearby Honda plant in Marysville. Although the decision meant he made $6 an hour, just half the earnings from his previous factory position, Holbrook envisioned more opportunity for advancement.

Despite never attending college, Holbrook continually found favor with superiors, and during the next decade received eight promotions. At 32, he became one of Honda’s plant managers; three years later, he became a vice president and general manager.

All the while, Holbrook served as a lay leader in his local church. At a couple’s retreat, he confided to Peggy that God had called him to full-time ministry. She told him she had known it for years.

“I didn’t mention it, because the calling has to be from God dealing with him,” Peggy says. “The Holy Spirit has to speak to him.”

While attending a church in Texas on vacation, an evangelist prophesied over Holbrook, telling him God would equip and anoint him for new positions he didn’t seek.

Soon, Holbrook gained PCG ordination and began filling pulpits on weekends — while working as an automotive executive during the week. The family began attending Abundant Life Assembly of God in Kenton so their children could attend youth group.

BECOMING A PASTOR

As he pondered fulfilling the call to full-time ministry, Holbrook met with Doug Clay, then superintendent of the AG Ohio Ministry Network. Holbrook transferred his ordination to the AG and in the waning months with Honda became interim pastor in Wapakoneta, a town of under 10,000 people 50 miles northwest of Marysville. The dilapidated storefront church had been constructed during the Civil War. Only 20 adults and a handful of children attended the church in the predominantly Catholic community.

Clay viewed asking a neophyte to take over as low risk.

“We were going to close the church,” Clay says. “I thought his being there would just buy us some time until we could liquidate what few assets there were. But Dan was so passionate about being engaged in ministry. The call was undeniable.”

After six months, because he had grown so fond of the congregants, Holbrook knew he wanted to accept the assignment on a permanent basis. Still, nine months into the venture, Holbrook began to wear down because of the ministry load.

One Sunday morning en route to church he told Peggy they could no longer operate the church by themselves without help. Before the service began, a spiritually mature congregant tapped him on the shoulder and uttered a word from the Lord: “My son, don’t fret. Haven’t I promised I would send leaders to you?”

Not long afterwards, new talented people began attending and assuming leadership positions.

Holbrook had advanced at the plant, in part, because of his concern for people. He knew all 1,000 employees working under him at the transmission plant by name, as well as details about their personal lives.

But showing compassion in the factory as an executive isn’t the same as full-time ministry. Holbrook notes that 10 unchurched people working at the Honda plant when he worked in management have since become faithful attendees at Wapakoneta Community Worship Center.

His resignation at Honda didn’t require a huge lifestyle adjustment because the family never wallowed in luxury.

“The job didn’t identify us,” Peggy says. “We never lived a life commiserate with his prestigious position.”

In fact, Holbrook donated back his salary the first five years at the church. Despite his much lower paychecks, Holbrook put his four children through college debt-free.

“We currently have more combined cash in the bank and net stock assets than the day I left Honda,” Holbrook says.

Sunday morning attendance at Wapakoneta Community Worship Center now is around 300, half of them under age 40. A new building on spacious property has a value, after a second expansion, of $2.3 million. Work has started on a new children’s wing, and the church is among the largest missions-giving AG congregations in Ohio.

The turnaround doesn’t surprise Clay, who now is the AG general treasurer.

“Initially, I saw in Dan all the key characteristics of an executive, including being confident and articulate,” Clay says. “I thought he would make a great executive pastor, but the Lord gave him the capacity and favor to be the lead pastor and to rebirth a church.”

As he himself has experienced, Holbrook encourages adherents to listen to the voice of God, both on their own and through others.

“God speaks directly to people through His Word or dreams,” Holbrook says. “When that word is confirmed through someone else, then it has an impact. God uses messengers, but you have to hear from Him for yourself, in your spirit, to step out in faith.”

Clay is heartened that Holbrook heeded God’s tug in midlife, and notes he has become a district presbyter and a mentor to younger ministers.

“The call of God is not limited by age,” Clay says. “Once Dan said yes to the call of God, he continued to be effective in his God-given gifts, but now he is recognized as a leader among his peers.”

Peggy obtained her AG ministerial credentials in May. She has done every job at the church, from driving the church van to teaching children. But now she is ready for pulpit ministry.

Long after he began serving as pastor in Wapakoneta Holbrook discovered an intriguing connection. An elderly uncle told Holbrook he had been in the church before — in his mother’s womb. When the church launched in 1956, Holbrook’s evangelist grandfather preached the opening weekend revival. Holbrook’s mother, then six months’ pregnant, accompanied the evangelist as a vocalist and guitarist. 

Source: AG News

This Week in AG History — July 16, 1961

When Mabel Dean (1884-1961) sensed God’s call to be a missionary to Africa, she was 40 years old. An unmarried, unassuming bank clerk in Chicago, she did not seem to be the ideal missionary candidate. But God opened unexpected doors, and she became a pioneer Assemblies of God missionary to Egypt.

 

When John W. Welch read Mabel Dean’s application for missionary appointment in 1924, he wrote across the top, “I would judge her to be a good helper for someone but not qualified to assume control.” Welch, who served as general chairman (now called “general superintendent”) of the Assemblies of God, apparently had good reason for this statement. The missions board felt that Dean lacked many of the skills that would be helpful on the mission field. Furthermore, at age 40, it might be difficult for her to learn a new language.

 

All of Dean’s life, people did not expect her to amount to much. Despite what others said, Dean believed that she had a mandate from God for missions work in Africa. She later stated, “I was the only homely one in my family. Yet I was the one that He chose for His work.”

 

Dean’s missionary story began with a vision from the Lord on her daily train commute. She saw Jesus standing with a small stone in his hand. He threw the stone across the ocean and said to her, “That small stone is you. I want you to go to Africa.” She pondered the vision but did not share it with anyone. It was at the very next church service that her pastor, Kelso R. Glover of Stone Church in Chicago, approached her and said, “Sister Dean, obey whatever God is telling you. Say ‘Yes’ from your heart.”

 

It was not long before Hattie Salyer, a missionary on furlough, visited Stone Church. After hearing Dean’s story, she exclaimed, “Why don’t you come with me to Egypt?” Taken aback, Dean replied, “But I feel that God has called me to Africa.” Smiling, the missionary replied, “But Egypt is in Africa!”

 

On October 1, 1924, Dean arrived with Salyer in Cairo, Egypt, where she assisted in a small school for children run by missionaries. Soon after their arrival, Salyer succumbed to illness, leaving her inexperienced assistant to continue on alone. Dean, who was used to contributing roles, was thrust into a position of leadership.

 

Two years later, Lillian Trasher, an Assemblies of God missionary who had begun an orphanage in Assiout, Egypt, encouraged Dean to open a work for children in the small village of Minia, located 70 miles north of Assiout. Bringing with her one small girl named Salma, Dean moved to Minia, where she started a Sunday school for street children.

 

After the move to Minia, Dean felt the urge to broaden her evangelistic work. She began praying for God’s guidance regarding how to begin. Meanwhile, a revival was taking place in Trasher’s work in Assiout. Six young girls from Trashers orphanage felt God leading them to go into surrounding villages and tell others about Christ. Trasher sent them north to work with Dean. These six girls, along with little Salma, became the first of Mabel’s evangelistic teams. She sent them out two by two into the villages around Minia. The girls were soon joined by several young men who began preaching under Dean’s guidance. Dean soon had 20 evangelistic teams engaged in church planting.

 

Dean proved to be an effective leader, despite the missions board’s initial concerns. However, the board’s apprehension about her linguistic abilities proved valid. Dean never did master Arabic. Her practice was to teach her workers enough English so that she could disciple them personally, then send them out to preach in their native language.

 

Dean believed in the power of prayer, and she would pray while her students preached. When the residents of one village, Izbet, responded to her workers with indifference, Dean told them, “Do not waste your time and strength there now. I will make this a matter of prayer.” Soon after she began praying, representatives from the village requested that a team return to Izbet and even offered to pay the costs for the establishment of a church.

 

Dean ran a faith mission. She always seemed to have more faith than money. But God always seemed to provide just enough money at just the right time. Dean kept the mission’s money in a tin can. When a need arose, members of her ministry team could go to the can and retrieve the needed funds. When the can was empty she took it to the Lord in prayer, trusting Him to refill it. In spite of this uncertain funding method, she was never afraid to spend money. She told her workers, “God’s money is like water in a faucet. You have to let it run to receive what’s coming next.”

 

Dean’s attitude about money and God’s provision was demonstrated when one of her gospel workers lost a five pound note on a trip into town to buy supplies. The young lady returned in distress, but Dean encouraged her to not cry. She told the girl that perhaps a very poor man had been praying for money, and God was using their loss to meet his need.

 

When Mabel Dean passed away at her mission house on June 4, 1961, at age 77, she had served 37 years in Egypt. She was one of a handful of early Assemblies of God missionaries who had never taken a furlough to return home to the United States.

 

Philip Crouch, fellow missionary to Egypt, lauded Dean for helping to develop “one of the strongest indigenous works in Egypt.” By the time of her death, Dean’s teams of young workers had established 15 churches that owned their own buildings and about 30 other active congregations meeting in rented facilities. The “little stone” that Jesus wanted to throw across the ocean had become a foundation stone for a ministry that continued long after her death.

 

Read Dean’s obituary, “Missionary Called Home,” on page 9 of the July 16, 1961, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

 

Also featured in this issue:

• “Tragedy on a Thailand Canal,” by F.A. Sturgeon

• “Going Up to Jerusalem,” by Don Mallough

• “A Day in the Life of a Missionary’s Wife,” by Mrs. O.B. Treece

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.

Source: AG News

Removing Barriers

The World Deaf Assemblies of God Fellowship’s website may be simple, but at the top of every page the group’s purpose is boldly declared: “To activate an alliance among deaf believers of AG and AG-like faiths all over the world and combine forces for a worldwide Holy Spirit movement for spreading the gospel to the deaf.”

The organization’s leadership reflects its global nature. WDAGF President and co-founder Emory K. Dively hails from the United States, while other officials represent Australia and New Zealand, Kenya, Venezuela, Estonia, South Korea and Japan. A total of 60 countries have connections to the group.

Dively, who is an Intercultural Ministries missionary with AG U.S. Missions, expresses his desire for WDAGF to provide fellowship, a platform for sharing ideas, networking, evangelism and the promotion of deaf culture awareness. To those ends, the group provides many events for deaf and hard of hearing individuals around the world.

WDAGF partners closely with the National Deaf Culture Fellowship, which began in 1991 under the sponsorship of the U.S. Assemblies of God. Among the goals of the National Deaf Culture Fellowship, which is part of the AG’s U.S. Missions’ Intercultural Ministries, is to remove language and cultural barriers that deaf and hard of hearing individuals may encounter in attempts to conduct ministry.

Some churches in the U.S. have started separate congregations for the deaf.

In 2014, the WDAGF and the National Deaf Culture Fellowship co-hosted a World Deaf Assemblies of God conference in California. Previously, the WDAGF had hosted its own conferences every three years, beginning in South Korea in 2003, followed by Estonia in 2006, and in Japan in 2009.

Government upheaval in 2012 in the planned location of Kazakhstan resulted in the postponement and eventual rescheduling of the fourth conference in cooperation with the National Deaf Culture Fellowship’s conference in San Francisco in 2014. More than 500 international representatives attended the event.

The next conference is scheduled for 2017 in Brisbane, Australia, and will commemorate WDAGF’s 25th anniversary.

Source: AG News

The Truth About "Honor Your Father and Your Mother"

Dr. Wave Nunnally, professor of Early Judaism and Christian Origins at Evangel University and an instructor for the Assemblies of God Center for Holy Lands Studies (CHLS), assists in providing a regular CHLS column to PE News. This column offers deep and sometimes surprising insight into the Word of God through close examination of the culture of the day, biblical sites, and archaeological records. In this article, Nunnally examines what Jesus really meant when He said to honor your father and your mother.

As a child growing up in the 1950s, I was consistently reminded that Jesus taught us to “Honor your father and your mother” (Matthew 15:4; Mark 7:10). What He meant, it was explained, was that we were to respect (say “Yes sir/No sir/Yes ma’am/No ma’am”) and obey our parents. While these are certainly biblical principles (see Leviticus 19:32; Romans 13:7; Ephesians 6:1, etc.), is this actually what Jesus had in mind when He quoted Exodus 20:12/Deuteronomy 5:16?

In Matthew 15:1-6, Jesus is pointing out that although the Scriptures require us to honor our parents, some Pharisees and teachers of the law were telling their parents, “Anything of mine you might have been helped by has been given [to God . . . therefore can’t be given to you]” (v. 5, emphasis added). The italicized words should already tell us that what Jesus is referring to is something we own, not something we should say or an attitude we should have. So reading a bit more carefully, we note that Matthew’s Greek reads literally, “doron [a generic word meaning “a gift”] whatever from/by/out of me you could/would have profited/been helped/benefitted.”

Thankfully, Mark provides the original Hebrew word that Jesus used, “…anything of mine you might have been helped by is korban” (Mark 7:11). This hearkens our attention all the way back to passages like Leviticus 1:2, “Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘When any man of you brings an offering [Hebrew, korban] to the LORD, you shall bring your offering [Hebrew, korban] of animals from the herd or the flock.”

The same word appears in Matthew 27:6 with the same meaning: there, the chief priests agree that they cannot donate Judas’ blood-money as korban (the Hebrew word is actually written out here in Greek letters) to the temple treasury.

Note that both of the passages use the term korban to refer to possessions offered to the temple. Since the late 1800s, numerous inscriptions have been found near the temple that use the term in this same technical sense: possessions devoted to the temple (see the discussion by Craig A. Evans, Jesus and His World: The Archeological Evidence. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2012, pp. 106-109).

The rabbis of the time taught the same interpretation/application of this commandment, amplifying the terse words of Jesus which assume knowledge of the traditional interpretation of Exodus 20:12. Consider these passages from Rabbinic Literature:

“What is a commandment pertaining to the son concerning the father? Giving him food to eat and something to drink and clothing him and covering him and taking him out and bringing him in and washing his face and his hands and his feet. All the same are men and women [with respect to their responsibilities toward their parents]” (Tosefta Kiddushin 1:11).

“What is ‘reverence’ and ‘honor’? …..‘honor’ means that he must give [his father] food and drink, clothe him, cover him, and lead him in and out” (Sifra Kedoshim 1:10).

“‘Honor thy father and thy mother.’ I might understand it to mean only with words, but the Scriptures say, ‘Honor the Lord with thy substance’ [Proverbs 3:9]. Hence it [the commandment] must mean with food and drink and with clean garments…..no distinction is made between man and woman…..The honoring of one’s father and mother is very dear in the sight of Him by whose word the world came into being. For He declared honoring them to be equal to honoring Him, fearing them equal to fearing Him, and cursing them equal to cursing Him.” The rabbis then support these assertions by reference to the similarity of language used of God and parents in biblical passages such as Exodus 20:12 and Proverbs 3:9; Leviticus 19:3 and Deuteronomy 6:13; Exodus 21:17 and Leviticus 24:15 (Mekhilta d’Rabbi Ishmael BaChodesh 8 on Exodus 20:12-14).

“‘Honor your father and your mother’…..All the time that a person honors his father and his mother no sin can come into his hand…..And a man should not say to himself, ‘Since my Father Who is in Heaven gave me my start at the beginning, I will go and do the will of my Father Who is in Heaven and I will ignore the will of my father and my mother.’ Therefore, it is said, ‘Honor your father and your mother.’ ‘Honor the LORD with your substance’ [Proverbs 3:9; the inference is that since the same word ‘honor’ is used in both passages, people should also honor their father and mother ‘with [their] substance’ as well]….He should do the will of his Father Who is in Heaven and the will of his father and his mother” (Seder Eliyahu Rabbah 80:24).

In recent years, it has become vogue for scholars to suggest that Rabbinic Literature is too late to be relevant for New Testament studies. It has therefore become important for those of us who work in this material to produce proof that such ideas existed in the first century. One way this can be accomplished is to appeal to the works of the first-century Jewish historian Josephus Flavius. He states, “Honor to parents the Law ranks as second only to honor to God…for the slightest failure in his duty towards them — it hands him over to be stoned” (Against Apion 2:206).

The words of Jesus are precious, and those who serve Him should want to know what they mean in their original context and how to apply them to their lives. The larger context of Matthew 15:4, the parallel passage in Mark 7:10, the use of the same technical term elsewhere in the New Testament and Old Testament, the results of archeological discovery, the teachings of the ancient rabbis, and the testimony of Josephus all point to the same conclusion: Jesus understood the commandment to honor father and mother to refer primarily to an individual’s responsibility to provide practical support and care for elderly parents. While He would surely have supported verbal expressions of respect toward parents, the focus of His teachings pointed to a much more costly — and lifelong — support of parents. This is His attitude toward all aspects of the discipleship He calls us to (Luke 14:27-33).

Pictured: An inscription of the word “korban” on a stone vessel found near the Temple Mount in Jerusalem

Source: AG News

New Biography on J. Roswell Flower Released<br>

The long-awaited publication of J. Roswell Flower: A Brief Biography by Dr. David K. Ringer, which celebrates the life of Assemblies of God founding father J. Roswell Flower, has recently been released.

Ringer, an Assemblies of God Theological Seminary graduate and retired College of the Ozarks associate professor of humanities, is Flower’s grandson-in-law. Although Ringer never had the opportunity to meet him, he was deeply inspired by Flower’s spiritual, practical, and intellectual wisdom.

A poignant look into the spirit, mind, soul, and heart of an influential man of God from another era, J. Roswell Flower: A Brief Biography incorporates glimpses into Flower’s personal life throughout the years, including his falling in love with and eventual marriage to Alice Reynolds Flower, fatherhood, financial struggles, and travels. A collection of historic photos is also provided.

David W. Flower, J. Roswell’s youngest child and father of Ringer’s wife, Kathryn, says, “I hold few men, if indeed any, in higher esteem than my father. His counsel, wisdom, and example have challenged me to be the kind of Christian man I believe God desires. I am confident that Dr. Ringer’s writing will make an impact and inspire us all to cling to our Pentecostal standards.”

Flower, 91, is a retired AG minister of more than 70 years and also a former superintendent of the AG Southern New England District.

Ringer hopes his book will stimulate Pentecostal scholars to engage in “careful, ongoing, Spirit-guided study of Scripture, not allowing non-Christian or naturalistic concepts, assumptions, or ideas to be the starting point or center of our scholarly work.” He also hopes it will help stir up love for Christ, the Church, and the lost.

David Flower agrees, “My hope is that this book will renew the early commitments to the person and work of the Holy Spirit.”  

The book has gained notice within the Assemblies of God and is now gaining notice beyond the Fellowship. In his endorsement of the biography, Dr. Stan Burgess urges “…This is a must-read for all students of early twentieth century Christian history.”

J. Roswell Flower served God in his generation with all the love, fervor, and wisdom the Holy Spirit gave him,” Ringer concludes. “May we, by God’s grace, be stirred to do the same.”  

For more information about J. Roswell Flower: A Brief Biography, click here.

Pictured: J. Roswell Flower, third from left

Source: AG News