Alabama LFTL Steak Wagon Tour Sets Record

“The Lord is really stirring the hearts of people . . . and they’re responding to what they felt the Holy Spirit prompted in their hearts.”

That’s the explanation David Strahan, the Alabama District Missions and Men’s Ministries director, had when the pledges from the Light for the Lost (LFTL) Steak Wagon fundraising tour resulted in $460,000 in faith promises, doubling last year’s $230,000 and breaking the previous Alabama district LFTL record by $180,000.

“We’ve done the steak wagon tour for decades — 40-plus years,” Strahan says. “We take the steak wagon teams into every single section where we grill a great Light for the Lost meal, invite pastors and their wives to come join us, and present missionaries’ needs.”

There are 15 sections in Alabama and the state has five steak wagon teams. This year, they visited every section in the month of November and, in a display of commitment, LFTL Director Rick Allen spoke at all 15 stops in addition to the missionary speakers.

“Our Superintendent Ken Draughon, host churches, and sectional presbyters were a big part of this,” Strahan says. “They promoted and shared the Light for the Lost vision leading up to the events. And then Rick Allen really knocked it out of the park. He was really sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit — each event was different — and God really used him.”

Strahan says that Allen, in addition to ministering at the 15 stops, was also leading the district in the Acts 2 Journey. “We worked Rick almost every day while in Alabama,” Strahan says with a laugh. “He didn’t get much free time at all.”

“The Alabama tour was one of the highlights of my year,” Allen states. “To see how the Holy Spirit moved each night, to see the people respond by releasing their faith for greater giving, and to watch God move during our Acts 2 weekends was amazing.”

The tour was also bathed in prayer. Strahan explains that even though the faith promises given this year was unprecedented in Alabama, they’ve been praying, “If God will get the funds to us, He can get it through us.”

Strahan says he believes Light for the Lost is playing a crucial part in fulfilling Scripture’s promise (Matthew 24:14) of once the gospel is shared with every nation, it will lead to the return of Christ.

“Light for the Lost funds are used for evangelism through print, audio, video, technology and media resources. Some of those resources are placed into the hands of missionaries who use it to share the gospel where we cannot physically place a missionary,” Strahan says. “We’re using Light for the Lost in ways we never dreamed about and we’re seeing the gospel spreading throughout the world — into every nation.”
Source: AG News

Youthful Trailblazer

At the age of 27, Cing Sian Hoih became lead pastor of Galilee Assembly of God in Arbutus, Maryland, a Burmese church chartered last June as part of the AG’s International Ministry Network. Hoih currently is the youngest female lead pastor on record for the U.S. Assemblies of God

For the past decade, Burmese have constituted the largest group of refugees resettled in Maryland. In December, the Myanmar AG Fellowship, serving Burmese people living in America, became the newest official distinct ethnic/language group in the U.S. AG.

Hoih arrived in Maryland at the age of 22, and she immediately connected with a nascent local Assemblies of God group of followers. Within a year, she and a group of 10 other Burmese refugees began Galilee Assembly of God without a pastor. After seven months and much encouragement from churchgoers, Hoih accepted the role of lead pastor.

“I prayed and read the Bible, and when I went to a crusade, the speaker pointed directly at me and said I had the calling of Moses,” Hoih says.

Hoih says her ministry experience began as a worship team member at age 6 in Myanmar. With the help of Chin Khua Khai, president of the U.S. Myanmar AG Fellowship, as well as the International Ministry Network, Galilee AG officially joined the Assemblies of God in June 2019.

Khai, who is lead pastor of Myanmar Full Life Mission Church in Alhambra, California, says refugees moving to the U.S. need someone who knows their language and their culture to help them assimilate.

“Cing Hoih drove people to visit hospitals and offices and translated for them,” says Khai, 64. “She has a heart to help her own people with social services and a heart to help them grow spiritually.”

Hoih, whose father, Cin Sian Pau, is an AG pastor in Myanmar, completed her U.S. ordination last July. She has a Bible degree in theology from a ministry school in Malaysia.

According to Hoih, the biggest challenge Myanmar congregations in the U.S. face is the language gap between first-generation Burmese refugees and those born in the United States — who tend to only speak English.

“At church, we struggle to reach all ages,” Hoih says. “Because of this, we are planning to begin an English service.”

Although Galilee AG is a Burmese congregation, Hoih says a great deal of diversity exists among the attendees.

“In Myanmar we have so many dialects and so many tribes,” Hoih says. “We are a mixed group, but we come together as one. When we have occasions, it is lovely to see the variety of customs.”

Photo: Myanmar pastors and International Ministry Network officials assisted Cing Sian Hoih (center) in her ordination process.

Source: AG News

Special Touch Blind Services

The retooled Assemblies of God ministry to the blind is steadily making progress in restructuring, including the hiring of a new administrator, following a move to Wisconsin from Missouri last year.

The Assemblies of God National Center for the Blind closed its offices in Springfield, Missouri, in February 2019, with subsequent relocation to Waupaca, Wisconsin, under the auspices of Special Touch Ministry. Both entities have been part of U.S. Missions.

After the move, Charlie T. Chivers, who co-founded Special Touch in 1982 with his wife, Debbie, started managing the ministry, now called Special Touch Blind Services. Special Touch Ministry, which became part of U.S. Missions in 1990 and is part of Intercultural Ministries, assists those with physical and intellectual disabilities.

Equipment transferred to Wisconsin last year remains in storage while the ministry awaits funding to erect a facility that will contain offices, plus apparatus such as a magnifier, braille embosser, and digital cartridges.

Eventually, Chivers wants the ministry to be more evangelistic. In the meantime, the parachurch nonprofit has implemented a daily recording of “God’s Word for Today” that the blind can hear by calling. In addition, monthly online Bible studies and fellowship gatherings now incorporate blind participants. By March, Chivers anticipates the My Healthy Church adult Sunday School curriculum will be available in braille. Restructuring other components of the ministry will take more time.

Last September, Chivers hired Nettamara Doak as the relocated vision-impaired ministry’s full-time director. Ultimately, Doak will be in an adjacent building, but in the interim she has a kiosk in the jam-packed, 1,600-square-foot Special Touch headquarters.

Doak learned about Special Touch at a conference last year where she worshipped, Rock Church in Fair Haven, Michigan. She subsequently met the Chivers at a disability training session in Ohio and participated in a Special Touch Summer Get Away program in Florida. In September, she and her family moved to Waupaca after her hiring as the new Blind Services administrator. Doak knew she wanted to work for the ministry as soon as she saw the website information.

“It’s like the Holy Spirit said, That’s what you’ve been preparing to do the last 10 years,” says Doak, who is certified as a braille reader, working toward her transcribing license, and finishing a bachelor’s degree in special education.

“We needed a director with a ministry, expertise, knowledge, and training,” says Chivers, 66. “It’s God-ordained for Nettamara to move here.”

Doak, 32, says she became interested in ministering to people with disabilities soon after the birth 13 years ago of her son Riley, who has autism. Doak says she has witnessed children with disabilities being excluded from regular church experiences because they didn’t conform to expected norms.

“My heart is for those who feel they’ve been left out,” says Doak, who helped lead a group for kids with disabilities at Rock Church. “I want them to feel welcomed, valued, and loved by God, and to find their identity in Christ.” Doak and her husband, Edward, also have an 11-year-old son, Elijah.

Rather than AG employees as in Springfield, new hired workers at Special Touch Blind Services will be U.S. missionaries or missionary associates who raise their own support. Doak received approval in October to become a U.S. missionary associate. As administrator, her duties include rendering materials into an accessible format and determining what sustainable programs and services can be provided.

U.S. Missions has donated $25,000 for the new building. Chivers is busy seeking funds from congregations and individuals — both longtime Special Touch donors and those on the former Center for the Blind mailing list — to ensure that the structure goes up without incurring debt. He hopes to recruit U.S. Mission America Placement Service volunteers to carry out the actual construction.

“Blind Services is a viable ministry that deserves investment by our churches and constituency,” Chivers says. “This is one segment of society that has virtually no outside support.”

Chivers is optimistic that construction on the new 30-by-45 foot building can begin by late spring.

Overall, Special Touch Ministry staff includes three full-time appointed missionaries plus 15 full-time missionary associates.

Photo: Nerttamara Doak (center) has joined the Special Touch team co-founded by Debbie and Charlie Chivers.

Source: AG News

Magical Memories

Walt Disney called his theme park the happiest place on earth. Diane R. Swan of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, agrees, but not for escapist entertainment reasons.

Walt Disney World is where she met Jesus.

Swan’s life had been so rebellious and destructive in her teens and early 20s, with drug and alcohol abuse and promiscuity, that her mother often feared she would receive a call announcing her daughter had been found dead in a gutter. By 2002, the then-26-year-old Swan, a recently divorced, single mother of two young children, felt desperate.

Unsure how to turn her life around, Swan only knew for certain that she wanted to be a good mom to Nicole, 6, and Andre, 5. But growing up in an abusive and broken home, she didn’t know how. So she decided the best way to be a good mother would be to take her kids to Disney World in Orlando.

“It’s so ridiculous!” Swan says. “But that’s what I thought.”

She packed up her children and traveled to Florida. While touring a Disney resort for a time-share promotion, she became fascinated with her guide, Steven Paul Gonzalez.

“He had so much joy and peace pouring out of him,” Swan remembers. “It puzzled me.”

She finally asked. Gonzalez told her he felt so contented because had given his life to Christ.

“When I heard his story and looked at all his joy, all I could think was, If God did that for you, I wonder what He would do for me?” she says. She wanted what Gonzalez had and admits she didn’t care what she had to do to get it.

Gonzalez led Swan to salvation in Christ. Swan says that she, too, experienced an immediate and radical transformation.

“I never touched another drug or had any more desire for that lifestyle,” she says. In that void, she says the Holy Spirit filled her with overflowing peace. “Some people say it’s like a river. Mine was like a geyser!”

For the rest of Swan’s vacation, Gonzalez discipled her and encouraged her to get connected to a Bible-believing church. As soon as she returned to Pennsylvania, Swan called Karen Winters, her children’s former baby sitter, whom she remembered as a Christian. Winters invited her to attend Bethel Assembly of God in Chambersburg. As soon as Swan entered the church, she felt welcomed.

“I wanted to tell everybody I knew about what Jesus had done for me!” Swan says.

Swan, 43, a credentialed Assemblies of God minister through Global University, is still as grateful as ever. She is now a speaker and a core team member of PennDel Ministry Network’s Women’s Ministries. She also leads Seven Swans Ministries and works as a licensed professional Christian counselor with Greencastle Family Practice, where she specializes in helping people heal from past abuse, trauma, family difficulties, and drug and alcohol issues.

“I can look at what these people are going through and tell them I understand,” she says. “I’ve been there.”

Kelly Kipe, Swan’s spiritual mentor, who along with her husband, Garry, pastors Bethel Assembly, attests to Swan’s transformation.

“God has clearly placed His hand on her life,” Kipe says. “It’s exciting to see Diane step into what God has created her to be.”

“God is so good at redeeming every part of your life,” says Swan, who is grateful not only for her salvation and new purpose, but also for her husband of 15 years, Todd, as well as blended family of six: Nicole, 23; Lexi, 23; Andre, 22; and twins Isabella and Samuel, 14.

Seventeen years after that divine appointment at Disney, Swan is no longer the girl her mother feared would die alone in a gutter. For her, that’s truly a dream come true.

Source: AG News

Helping the Broken in a New Way

David A. Lingsch believes his life experiences in a nursing career helped him prepare for a full-time switch to pastoring.

The 56-year-old Lingsch, associate pastor at New Stanton Assembly of God in Pennsylvania, didn’t always readily acknowledge God in his life. As a high school graduate in 1981, he just needed a job. He went to work for the Pennsylvania Department of Welfare and took advantage of tuition assistance to become a nurse, specializing in psychiatric nursing. He worked long hours in often understaffed state facilities, including the Department of Corrections, eventually accumulating enough overtime to retire early.

For part of his life, Lingsch worked while a high-functioning addict, married, and raising children. He starting drinking alcohol as a teen to cope with his parents’ divorce, and his substance abuse increased with the access to drugs his nursing career provided.

Eventually his wife, Kris, gave him an ultimatum regarding his addiction and he got clean. In 2000, an Easter drama at an area church helped David finally realize just how much Jesus had done for him. He turned his life over to God, began to study and grow spiritually, and sensed a calling to ministry. Through former pastors Don J. Immel and Mike Hampton at New Stanton AG, he connected with the PennDel Ministry Network to obtain ministerial credentials. He became associate pastor at New Stanton in 2017.

Immel, who now serves as PennDel network superintendent, initially wondered whether Lingsch might regret giving up a career with good salary and benefits, but concern soon turned to encouragement.

“His calling, and his commitment to following it, were evident,” says Immel, 59.

Much of Lingsch’s ministry at New Stanton focuses on a young adult group, A Ministry Preparing Extreme Disciples (AMPED). Drawing on his previous career experience, Lingsch says many young adults coming to faith are struggling with broken relationships, severe anxiety, and gender identity issues. State funding cuts have resulted in fewer facilities offering counseling.

“When people don’t get the help they need, they can end up homeless, in jail, or just coping the best they can,” says Lingsch. “Some turn to church in desperation, and we need to be ready to disciple them.”

Ron L. Ingelido, who served briefly at another ministry and recently returned to New Stanton Assembly as lead pastor, previously headed up AMPED. The group meets on Wednesday evenings for a meal, study, fellowship, and a safe place to raise questions.

“Young people are given so little absolute truth these days,” says Lingsch. “Here, we speak truth in love. They need to know God is not pleased with certain behaviors, but the Holy Spirit doesn’t condemn; He convicts.”

Often, conviction from God is a new experience; Lingsch recalls one member initially could not sit through the entire meeting, but is now one of the leaders. A suicide of a peer a couple of years ago also helped more young adults admit they needed support and fellowship.

According to Lingsch, many young adults, even those growing up in church, haven’t developed a personal devotional life, strongly emphasized at AMPED. When attendees begin to learn, they become eager to serve.

“Satan is poised to attack when young people leave the safety and security of the church meeting,” Lingsch says. “We want to help prepare them to respond with God’s Word. We’re seeing hope restored, and then hope shared.”

Kris, 55, helps her husband with the young adult ministry and the church’s tech ministry, as does son Nathan, 28. Son Tyler, 26, is overseas with the U.S. Air Force.
Source: AG News

Week of Prayer is Jan. 5-11

Leveling the Praying Field is the theme for the 78th annual Week of Prayer in the Assemblies of God, taking place Jan. 5-11. The prayer emphasis week, held annually on the first full week of the year, begins on Sunday and runs through Saturday, with each day having a specific prayer focus.

Designed to help congregations begin the new year with a prayer focus, the Week of Prayer is fully supported with free online materials in English and Spanish, including an email header, presentation slides, bulletin insert with the seven prayer focuses, a sermon to consider, and an article about engaging people in prayer.

There are also six downloadable videos that vary in length from roughly 90 seconds to 3 minutes. The videos feature a variety of individuals, including a farmer, doctor, student, teacher, and others sharing about their personal prayer perspectives.

This year’s daily prayer points focus in on the individual and his or her personal prayer life/relationship with God. Points include commitment to prayer, contentment in God’s response to prayer, seeking and using prayer language available through the baptism in the Holy Spirit, sensitivity to divine appointments to pray for others, and more.

During the Week of Prayer, church attendees are encouraged to get involved personally by signing up (English or Spanish) for a specific time to pray that God would do transform hearts and lives of those they are praying for, including themselves.

Also, there’s an insightful message from General Superintendent Doug Clay posted to the Assemblies of God USA Facebook page concerning prayer. Click here to watch it now.
Source: AG News

Kern Family Foundation Awards Grant to AGTS of Evangel University

The Kern Family Foundation in Waukesha, Wisconsin, recently awarded a grant to the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary of Evangel University to support expanding its accelerated master’s degree program.

AGTS received this second grant to expand the 4+1 Fast Track Program for highly qualified students committed to full-time, long-term ministry in the United States.

Students enrolled in the program earn a bachelor’s degree at Evangel University in four years, and in one additional year at AGTS finish with either a Master of Leadership and Ministry (MLM), Master of Arts in Intercultural Studies (MAIS), or Master of Arts in Theological Studies (MATS).

“The ultimate goal is to prepare students for vocational ministry in less time and with less debt,” said Tim Hager, vice president and dean of the seminary.
“We are humbled by the confidence placed in the university and seminary by this grant award,” said Hager. “This is a catalyst toward our commitment to send well-educated, spiritually passionate, biblically literate and articulate ministers into U.S. churches.”

The foundation previously awarded a grant to AGTS to help create the 4+1 Fast Track Program. It was launched in the fall of 2016 with 21 students and has experienced steady growth — 29 the second year, 40 the third year, and in the fall of 2019, there are 55 students participating in the accelerated program.

Evangel’s strong pre-seminary tradition and the mature graduate programs of AGTS work together to form a solid foundation on which to build the program.
“God answered my prayer for provision by allowing me to receive help through the Kern Grant,” said Lance Langenberg, connections pastor at First Assembly in Rolla, Missouri.

“Since I received those funds, I was able to go all the way through seminary without taking out a single loan, and I am now able to focus all my attention on ministry tasks without the burden of student debt.”

Lance is one of the first five AGTS students to graduate from the 4+1 Fast Track Program. All five walked the line on May 3, 2019, and AGTS assisted each of the students in finding a full-time pastoral ministry position.

Landenberg added that linking the undergraduate degree from Evangel with the master’s at AGTS, “…is a crucial and wise way to encourage students to enroll in college and stick with it all the way through the graduate level.”

Mike Jaffe, AGTS professor and director of the accelerated master’s program, agrees.

“The program is easy to sell,” said Jaffe. “When we convey to the students the value of participating in the 4+1 Fast Track Program, the benefits are clear.”

As a bonus, the new accelerated master’s program at AGTS is flexible, with multiple access points.

Many students feel called to enter the ministry with a bi-vocational skill set. Many churches are small, and many introductory positions are part time. Having a business or counseling degree, for example, enhances the options for landing that first job.

“Evangel students can take a major that interests them and that they believe will enhance their calling, be it in business, music, communication or education,” Jaffee said.

Then, by applying for the 4+1 Fast Track Program and taking a select set of theology classes for the pre-seminary minor (21 hours), a student will still be able to graduate from AGTS in one additional year with one of the three master’s degrees listed earlier.

To read the unabridged version of this article, click here.

Source: AG News

This Week in AG History — Jan. 2, 1926

John Eric Booth-Clibborn, a 29-year-old Assemblies of God missionary, laid down his life in the French West African colony of Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso) on July 8, 1924. He died from dysentery and malaria only two weeks after he, his pregnant wife Lucile, and their young daughter arrived on the mission field.

Eric’s death came as a shock, not only to his family, but also to their friends and supporters around the world. Eric’s family was well known in evangelical and Pentecostal circles. He was the grandson of Salvation Army founder William Booth and the son of Pentecostal author and evangelist Arthur Booth-Clibborn. Articles in the Pentecostal Evangel and other periodicals mourned his passing.

A remarkable testimony of faith emerged from Eric’s tragic death. His widow, Lucile, wrote an account of their lives and short ministry, titled “Obedient unto Death.” Former General Superintendent George O. Wood called Lucile’s story, published in the Jan. 2, 1926, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel, “one of the most gripping accounts of faith in the history of this Movement.”

The young widow dealt with her grief by replaying in her mind every moment she had with Eric. Lucile recalled that she and Eric gathered with fellow believers just prior to their departure for Africa. Together, they prayed and sang a tune composed by Eric’s mother, Catherine Booth-Clibborn. The words of that song prefigured Eric’s impending sacrifice:

“At Thy feet I fall
Yield Thee up my all
To suffer, live or die
For my Lord crucified.”

Lucile’s article recounted in great detail their voyage and ministry together in Africa. She also described gut-wrenching moments at Eric’s funeral. Her emotional wounds remain palpable: “Then after a word of prayer, the top was put on the coffin and the nails hammered in. You can imagine the pain that shot through my heart at each pound of the hammer.” Reflecting on her pain, Lucile wrote that she did not regret going to Africa, “even though it tore from me the beloved of my heart.”

Lucile courageously viewed her loss through faith-filled eyes, seeing Eric’s death as an opportunity for God to be glorified. She wrote: “I realize that present missionary success is greatly due to the army of martyrs who have laid down their lives on the field for the perishing souls they loved so much … It has been said that a lonely grave in faraway lands has sometimes made a more lasting impression on the lives and hearts of the natives than a lifetime of effort; that a simple wooden cross over a mound of earth has spoken more eloquently than a multitude of words.”

The Assemblies of God in Burkina Faso remembers John Eric Booth-Clibborn as a hero of the faith who gave his life to follow God’s call. Today, the Assemblies of God is the largest Protestant fellowship in Burkina Faso, with over 4,500 churches and preaching points serving over 1.2 million believers.

Read Lucile Booth-Clibborn’s article, “Obedient unto Death,” on pages 12 -14 and 20 of the Jan. 2, 1926, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.
Also featured in this issue:

•   “A Passion for Christ and for Souls,” by George Hadden

•   “How Pentecost Came to Barquisimeto,” by G. F. Bender

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.
Source: AG News

Domestic Violence Educator

Nicole M. Oldham thought she was simply sharing a part of her life with her women’s church group. All marriages go through struggles, she knew, and as director of women’s ministry at Highway Assembly of God in Fredericksburg, Virginia, she wanted to be transparent about hers to provide an encouraging example for others to open up as well.

But when she revealed details, the other women’s faces registered shock. Several group members informed Oldham that she needed to rethink her situation more seriously; the struggles she endured went beyond normal marital disagreements.

The licensed Assemblies of God minister finally admitted it: she was a victim of domestic violence.

Her then-Marine corporal husband’s drinking had turned to bouts of violence, repeatedly stunning her and leaving her in a constant state of anxiety.

“I couldn’t believe this sweet man was capable of doing these awful things,” says Oldham. She had faithfully stayed in the marriage and prayed for her husband, but the angry outbursts continued.

Maggie Journigan, a work colleague at King George Elementary School where Oldham taught fourth grade, encouraged Oldham to file a report with the military at Quantico base, where Oldham’s husband was stationed.

“I wasn’t out to wreck his career,” she says. “I wanted to get him help — because I knew it was only going to get worse.”
Her prophetic words proved true. In June 2018, with a second report filed, the military again investigated, found the charges met their criteria for abuse, and arrested Oldham’s husband.

Oldham fell into a deep depression, which led to her 13-day stay in Bethesda Naval Hospital. A forensic psychiatry specialist diagnosed her with major depressive disorder, anxiety disorder, and “relational distress . . . related to spouse abuse.” While there, and after just less than four years of marriage, her husband filed for divorce and kicked her out of their house, leaving her homeless.

“My faith was all I had to hold onto,” she says, tearing up at the memory.

Oldham, 30, moved to Chelsea, Oklahoma, to begin a new life near her family of origin. She found a job teaching fourth grade in nearby Pryor, connected with other Christians through ClearView Church in Claremore, and did her best to heal.

“She is committed to taking her losses and making them gains,” says Bob J. Warman, lead pastor of ClearView and Oldham’s pastoral counselor and mentor. With her divorce finalized in December 2018, she sought to become more involved in ministry. But she wondered exactly how to serve with a new identity.

As she prayed about her options, she recognized the need to help educate church leaders on how best to aid those affected by domestic violence.

“This is such a critical issue and our wonderful pastors are woefully ill-prepared to engage it,” Oldham says. From that recognition will emerge the ministry HANDS: Home and Neighborhood Domestic Safety. Though still in its infant stages, Oldham is determined to make sure domestic violence victims have a safe place within the Church “to run with their heart, and maybe with their bags.”

“These women never know when they are going to need the Church, so I want to help leaders be ready,” she says.

Preparing for HANDS’s summer launch, Oldham is enrolled with the National Anger Management Association to become a first level certified domestic violence specialist and also she has begun her ordination process, studying with the Oklahoma School of Ministry.

“I want to be able to meet and work with pastors as peers, not as some hysterical female who has gone through this terrible thing and wants to tell them they’re doing ministry wrong,” Oldham says.

Her commitment to ministry and to healing has been noticeable.

“She’s come a long way,” says Warman. “There’s a great light in her life now and she’s so joyful.”

Source: AG News

3 Ways I'm Praying in 2020

I was Michigan-born, new to Ohio, and proudly wearing my Michigan colors. My wife, Gail, was a Buckeye through and through. The local newspaper photographed us on opposite sides in a staged stare-down in a “superfan” column. The article began, “She says scarlet, he says maize. She says gray, he says blue.”

Be it sports, politics, or how you take your coffee, there will always be plenty of things to divide us as a society. But it is possible to disagree without living in division.

One of the things that makes the Assemblies of God so great is the variety of local expression. One church may be singing in Korean while another is hearing God’s Word in Portuguese. One church may be meeting in a barn while another is setting up and tearing down chairs each week in an inner city.

There are three things that every Assemblies of God church represents. Those three things also align with three prayers that I believe God has laid on my heart for this Fellowship as we enter a new year and a new decade.

As we enter 2020, we’re quite possibly looking at one of the most divisive elections in recent American history. Globally, societies are divided on issues such as immigration, race, economic policies, and even the state of our planet itself. My prayer for 2020 is that we keep the pathway to faith in Christ totally free and clear from stumbling blocks of our own making. Our citizenship is different. Our calling is higher. The condition of one’s soul is more important than the label of the political party they wear.

I ask you to join me in prayer in these specific areas in 2020:

1. A SPIRIT-EMPOWERED CHURCH

“Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,” says the Lord Almighty (Zechariah 4:6).

If there ever was a theme verse for the Assemblies of God, Zechariah 4:6 would be it. The verse appeared on the masthead for the Pentecost Evangel during the Great Depression, World War II, and some of the greatest crises our nation has seen.

The message has always been clear. We aren’t a people who depend on favorable circumstances. Our hope is not in our own might, nor in political power, but by the power of the Holy Spirit.

As we enter into yet another divisive political season for the U.S. in 2020, may we be known as people of the Spirit — not people of the donkey or the elephant. May our churches be known for being houses of prayer, fully dependent on God for the sake of our nation.

Thank you for believing with me that Assemblies of God churches would be thoroughly led and directed by the Spirit. Pray that we would see a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit in our churches and in our communities.

2. A BIBLE-ENGAGED CHURCH
“Teach me knowledge and good judgment, for I trust your commands” (Psalm 119:66).

We are facing a crisis of good judgment. Trusting God’s commands and growing in biblical knowledge will have an immediate effect on our judgment and how we approach our daily lives.

Rather than passively complaining about a lack of judgment and moral clarity in our society, let’s make our churches outposts of hope delivered through God’s Word. An Assemblies of God church is a church that values Scripture and creates intentional pathways of Bible engagement for people of all ages. Dr. Tobin Perry says, “Faithful preaching of the Bible will never sit comfortably with a particular persuasion. No political party or ideology completely lines up with the Bible.” Biblical accuracy is our goal, not political correctness.

Join me in prayer that the hearts of children, teens, and adults will be turned to the Bible. Pray that as hearts are turned to God through His Word, that our society will see the impact of good judgment.

3. A MISSIONS-PARTICIPATING CHURCH
I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent (Luke 15:7).

God has blessed the Assemblies of God with remarkable growth. In 1914 when delegates in Chicago committed the AG to “the greatest evangelism the world has ever seen,” how could they have imagined that 106 years later the Fellowship would span 255 countries, territories, and provinces? How could they have imagined nearly 70 million people across the planet who would be part of the Movement?

Now is not the time to relax. Our mission is nowhere near complete. When Jesus shared the Parable of the Lost Sheep, He was challenging us to not be content with those who have come to faith, but to continue seeking the lost.

Assemblies of God churches actively participate in missions through praying, giving, and sending. Join me in prayer for our missionaries throughout the world that they would have increased effectiveness this year. Pray for our churches that they will increase their efforts in giving to support missionaries. Pray that many people this year will hear God’s call to reach our nation and the nations of the world as missionaries.

By 1931, the Assemblies of God had already codified its position as an apolitical institution with regard to missions and global affairs. The statement was reaffirmed in 1976, saying, “We cannot permit our testimony among the nations to be compromised . . . We affirm further our policy to remain nonpolitical in character in all our missionary outreach.”

As Chuck Colson writes, “When the church aligns itself politically, it gives priority to the compromises and temporal successes of the political world rather than its Christian confession of eternal truth.”

If you know me well, you would know I’ve been a Buckeye at heart for a number of years now. Maybe Gail won me over, after all? You may never convince those around you to come to your point of view. What really matters, though, is that we not let the systems of this world divide us and let God continue to grow His Church as a Spirit-empowered, Bible-engaged, and missions participating Church that will enter 2020 with purpose. That’s the kind of Church that is built on the Rock of Jesus and even the gates of hell cannot prevail against it!

Source: AG News