New Leaders Consecrated

Three national Assemblies of God officials, half of the Fellowship’s Executive Leadership Team, are working in new positions following a consecration service Tuesday morning in Springfield, Missouri.

Doug E. Clay, 54, is the new general superintendent. Rick W. DuBose, 60, takes over as general treasurer. Malcolm P. Burleigh , 66, is now U.S. Missions executive director. The trio received formal commissioning charges at installation ceremonies.

Clay, a third-generation Pentecostal preacher, becomes the 13th general superintendent in the 103-year history of the U.S. Assemblies of God. George O. Wood retires at 76 after a decade in the post, the fourth lengthiest tenure for a general superintendent. Only Thomas F. Zimmerman (1959-85), Ernest S. Williams (1929-49), and Thomas E. Trask (1993-2007) served longer.

Wood read a commissioning statement to Clay, whose wife, Gail, joined him on the platform.

“You have been chosen to serve in a time of great opportunity and promise, but also a time of great need and challenge,” Wood said. “May you use the gifts and talents granted to you by God to lead this Fellowship in a spirit of unity and compassion.”

Trask, 81, prayed for Clay to be blessed with godly faith, a spirit of discernment, a tender heart, and courage to be strong in his convictions. Trask also exhorted Clay to keep the gifts of the Holy Spirit operative in the Assemblies of God. After Trask’s prayer, a congregant uttered a word in tongues and another interpreted the message, which affirmed God’s provision for Clay as general superintendent.

“I understand the need to steward this sacred Movement and this sacred assignment,” Clay said in brief remarks after the dedicatory prayer. He revealed he has been praying daily for God’s wisdom, discernment, and anointing since his August election.

Noting that the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation occurs this month, Clay said he wondered what a Pentecostal reformation might look like. If he could nail theses on the doors of Assemblies of God churches, Clay said the values would include:

  • The Holy Spirit is a person, not an it.
  • The Bible is absolute truth, not just a book full of pithy sayings.
  • Character matters, regardless of title.
  • Avoid getting sidetracked, and continue focusing on evangelism, church planting, and compassion ministries.

“We’re called to minister to a fractured world,” Clay said. “This fracture is a result of being alienated from God. Only Jesus can heal that fracture.”

Gospel Publishing House just released Clay’s biographical Ordered Steps: A Life Prepared to Lead. In the book, Clay indicates that biblical literacy, including a scriptural understanding of human sexuality, will be among his priorities.

Clay, a graduate of Central Bible College, had been general treasurer since 2008, when he succeeded James K. Bridges. Clay previously served as superintendent of the Ohio Ministry Network (2004-08), senior pastor of Calvary Church in Maumee, Ohio (1997-2004), national youth director (1995-97), and Ohio youth director (1989-95). Doug and Gail Deardorff Clay have been married since 1985. They have two daughters, Ashley B. Grant and Kaylee Frogley, plus five grandchildren.

Clay’s father, Art, died of a heart attack when Doug was only 9 years old. His mother, Audrey, now 87, raised him as a single mother while she served on staff of Bethany Assembly of God in Adrian, Michigan.

OTHER LEADERS INSTALLED

Leadership changeovers in the recent past typically have occurred during a chapel service at the Assemblies of God national office. This consecration service, opened to the public and with a broader constituency invited, took place at Central Assembly of God, adjacent to the AG national office.

The 45-minute gathering looked somewhat like a family get-together, with relatives, friends, and co-workers of the officials attending. A majority of executive presbyters and a smattering of district officials from around the nation also turned out, bringing the crowd to around 1,500 people.

Assistant General Superintendent L. Alton Garrison read the charge for both DuBose and Burleigh. Rita Stratton DuBose and Maria Burleigh joined their husbands on stage.

“As a new chapter begins, may you experience the fullness of God’s blessing in what God wants to accomplish through you as you are willing to submit yourself to Him and to be a servant,” Garrison said.

DuBose arrives as general treasurer — replacing Clay — at the national office after a decade as superintendent of the North Texas District.

Burleigh replaces the retiring Zollie L. Smith Jr., who held the U.S. Missions post for 10 years. Since 2009, Burleigh has been senior director of Intercultural Ministries, one of the seven departments of U.S. Missions.

Source: AG News

Remembering the Orphan

Allen L. Griffin is no stranger to the difficulties of the foster care system. Growing up in a home with 26 foster siblings, Griffin witnessed from a young age how the state shuffled children from household to household. To the state, the kids represented numbers in the welfare system. But to Griffin, they meant family.

“I never called them foster brothers,” he says. “I just called them brothers.”

But in 2012, one of Griffins former foster brothers, Addison Terrell, was murdered. Terrell had remained in contact with his foster family over the years and would visit regularly. Several months after his last visit, the Griffin family learned that Terrell had been shot in his apartment complex. No one had filed a police report.

“It was like this young man didn’t exist,” Griffin recounts. “And if we hadn’t said Addison was a part of our lives, there would have been no one to even acknowledge that he ever lived.”

Griffin has traveled as an ordained AG evangelist since 2001. He is a doctoral candidate of Southeastern University, the Assemblies of God school in Lakeland, Florida, where he received his master’s in leadership. Besides traveling to preach the gospel nationally and internationally, Griffin and his wife of 19 years, Hashmareen, have dedicated their lives to serving orphans and foster teens in their community of Ormond Beach. Only six months after Terrells death, they launched the Florida-based organization Excellerate, a 16-week program providing transferable life skills for orphans and teens in foster care. Their goal is to help students become successful and engaged community members before they age out of the foster system.

Through relational mentoring and group training, students learn about Excellerates five pillars: life skills, professionalism, financial responsibility, social skills, and spiritual growth. While the majority of state agencies advise about 10 hours of life-skills training for foster teens, Excellerate offers upwards of 90 hours.

Students learn about time management, leadership, problem solving, and study methods. They figure out how to write a résumé, give a presentation, and interview for a job. The program also utilizes Dave Ramseys Financial Peace University to equip students to steward their financial resources.

“Our classroom is a table and we sit together, we eat together, we learn together,” Griffin says in describing the classes. “It’s kind of like Thanksgiving.”

One of the greatest gifts students gain from Excellerate is the key to a donated vehicle. The car is intended to give graduates independence and the ability to drive themselves to school, work, and church.

With their new skills — and transportation — Excellerate graduates are equipped to start their adult lives. Many teens, once abused and neglected, have since gone on to attend college and launch professional careers. In addition, Griffin, 45, estimates that 25 percent of Excellerate graduates go into ministry.

One such student was Elijah Hudson, who started auditing Excellerate classes at 16 and stayed for two years. By the time Hudson entered the foster system, he had been abused physically, verbally, and sexually.

“I’ll never forget one of our classes I taught on forgiveness,” recalls Griffin. “Elijah wept over his table. And I heard him whispering, I forgive you. I forgive you.” That same day, Hudson accepted his call into ministry.

A few weeks later, Hudson joined other Excellerate members for a field trip to Bethune-Cookman University, a historically black school in Daytona Beach. He walked away with a full-ride scholarship.

Despite the pain of their experience in the foster system, many students like Hudson have found healing, faith, and the practical resources in Excellerate so that they thrive in early adulthood.

In the five years since the inception of the Excellerate program, the Griffins have seen over 100 orphaned teens enter the program, with 84 of them receiving automobiles so far. But the ultimate solution is not in professionalism training courses or free vehicles, Griffin believes.

“The Church is the answer,” Griffin says.

With over 400,000 students in foster care across the country, Griffins hope is for every church to advocate for children and teens in the foster care system and for church members to adopt and foster children in need. Ministries such as the AG’s COMPACT Family Services actively help local churches and congregants meet the needs of orphans in their communities.

“Allen Griffin is a trusted ministry friend and creative communicator of the gospel for those who need it most,” says Jay Mooney, executive director of COMPACT, which is based in Hot Springs, Arkansas. “Allen has a keen understanding of the aging foster youth need. Excellerate is tangibly creating better futures for Florida’s emancipating foster youth.”

Griffin would like to see satellite Excellerate campuses, and branches have started in Melbourne, Florida, and Green Bay, Wisconsin.

“We want to facilitate the growth of the age-out foster kids that have no hope, who literally have been forgotten like Addison Terrell,” Griffin says.

Source: AG News

More Seniors Cohabitating

Americans are experiencing more active and longer lives than ever before. Consequently, the number of older single adults also has increased, the result of the death of a spouse, increased divorce rates, and never marrying in the first place.

According to Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data, a record number of Americans — 18 million — are cohabiting, an increase of 29 percent since 2007.

Yet the group with the fastest hike in cohabitation isn’t millennials. It’s those aged 50 and over. The rate has risen 75 percent for that age group in the past decade, up to 4 million from 2.3 million, representing 23 percent of all those living together without being married. The majority — 55 percent — of senior citizens cohabiting have been divorced.

CULTURAL REALITIES

The evangelical church is one of the few institutions in American culture standing firm against cohabitation. A Barna Group study last year showed that two-thirds of Americans believe cohabitation is generally a good idea. A Gallup poll in September found that even 30 percent of Pentecostals believe sexual relations between unmarried men and women is “morally acceptable.”

That compares to 69 percent of the general public that sees nothing wrong with cohabitation. Prior to 1975, only 11 percent of couples lived together before marrying.

“It’s odd that it’s become so much more broadly acceptable to live outside of marriage,” says Scott M. Stanley, co-director of the Center for Marital and Family Studies at the University of Denver. “Mainstream views have become countercultural.”

Wes R. Bartel, director of Assemblies of God Senior Adult Ministries in Springfield, Missouri, says pragmatism is the overwhelming reason older couples choose to live together without benefit of clergy. Out of economic convenience, numerous couples decide to shack up. Some elderly people are wary of comingling assets because they want to leave assets to their biological offspring, not the relatives of a second spouse.

The lack of a commitment to marriage may be spurred by an apprehension of relinquishing financial benefits being paid by the pension or Social Security income of a deceased spouse. Bartel, 69, notes that for an individual aged 55-65, taxable income starts at $25,000, yet a married couple in the same age range must pay taxes beginning at $32,000.

“The Church needs to advocate for change and push for laws that make senior marriage more financially beneficial and pragmatically convenient,” says Bartel, who has been married to his wife, Diane, for 49 years.   

Contrary to popular opinion, cohabitation doesn’t mean freedom from financial fears. A 2014 report compiled by the National Center for Family & Marriage Research at Bowling Green State University found that the share of older cohabitants living in household poverty to be nearly five times higher compared to married couples.

Various studies also have shown that cohabitation isn’t as beneficial as marriage for multiple reasons. Cohabiting couples separate more frequently than married couples, reconcile less, experience infidelity at higher rates — regardless of age — have higher levels of depression and substance abuse, and are more prone to physical violence with their partner.

Even so, those who have spent decades attending church may be tempted to succumb to looser societal norms. Various motion pictures, television programs, and commercials all depict single seniors as satisfied while sexually promiscuous. Friends, neighbors, and relatives also may be advocating acceptance of the different lifestyle.

“If people don’t have values, they believe it’s easier than marriage,” says Stanley, author of The Power of Commitment. He points out that one party often is persuaded by the other to engage in conduct he or she really doesn’t think is moral.

“Beliefs tend to fluctuate with behavior,” says Stanley. “One wants to observe a line and the other one without moral boundaries wears that person down.”

MORAL GUIDELINES

The Bible doesn’t declare an age limit on maintaining moral standards. Although pregnancy isn’t a concern anymore, those in their senior years still are at risk for sexually transmitted diseases.

“Procreation isn’t a factor for seniors, but scriptural principles are for all generations, not just one generation,” says Judy Pompineau Wick, co-founder with her husband, Wes, of the ministry Young Enough to Serve. “Seemingly solid excuses for living together don’t hold up in light of Scriptures.”

She notes a plethora of biblical admonitions for singles — regardless of age — to stay pure. For example, in 1 Corinthians 7:2,9 the apostle Paul advises followers of God to marry instead of living immorally with passion. Hebrews 13:4 proclaims that marriage should be honored by all, and God will judge the sexually immoral.

“While there is not a Scripture saying ‘Thou shall not cohabit,’ there are definitely Scriptures pointing to marriage as God’s design,” says Wick, who has been married for 36 years. The Wicks, based in Scotts Valley, California, are U.S. missionaries with Missionary Church Planters & Developers.

Sexual desire isn’t necessarily the prime motivator, especially for much older folks, to cohabit.

“With longer life expectancy, many times it’s not for sexual reasons,” Bartel says. “People are tired of being lonely.”

Despite all the reasons against cohabitation, its popularity is likely to keep climbing.

“Churches must be prepared to defend the gospel and reach out to people who are making poor choices that can affect eternity,” says Wick, 65. “Grandma shacking up is not a good message to communicate to a younger generation wanting to establish a stable family.”

Stanley, who has been married to his wife, Nancy, for 35 years, agrees that older couples should hit the brakes on such an arrangement.

“How do people deal with the conflict between their faith and their behavior?” asks Stanley, 62. “Do they really want to send the message to their kids that marriage doesn’t matter?”

Source: AG News

Called to Lee’s Summit

Since launching in the fall of 2013, Summit Park Church in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, has grown to more than 1,300 attendees in four weekend services. Pastor Scott Obremski says the church plant came about through incremental steps of obedience.

Prior to starting Summit Park, Obremski served on staff for 12 years as a worship pastor at James River Church in Ozark, Missouri. Obremski says he heard God calling him to start a congregation while visiting a church plant in Florida during a family vacation. As the family drove home from Kansas City International Airport at the conclusion of the trip, Obremski asked his wife, Jen, what she thought about planting a church in the Kansas City, Missouri, area.

Kansas City kept coming up in conversation and prayer, seemingly at odd times.

“We began to see how God was really putting this whole thing together,” Obremski remembers.

John Lindell, James River Church lead pastor, suggested the Obremskis consider the southeast K.C. suburb of Lee’s Summit. JRC gave a significant investment to help support Summit Park’s takeoff. In addition, over 40 people who worshipped at JRC made commitments to relocate 135 miles to be a part of Summit Park Church. The church initially met in a community center before finding a permanent facility.

The same approach of one-step-at-a-time obedience that led the Obremskis to Lee’s Summit is evident in their leadership of Summit Park. The church is intentional about discipling new people. In 2016, more than 500 people accepted Christ as Savior at the church.

Jena Lawrence, who has attended since the beginning, hosts guests as part of the church’s hospitality team. In addition to interacting with newcomers, Lawrence says ministry involvement has helped her discover and embrace her gifts.

“Since we’ve been involved at Summit Park, I’m more confident in my purpose and who I’m created to be,” Lawrence says.

Josh and Jennifer Main, who have attended the church since moving to Lee’s Summit in 2013, wasted no time before becoming a part of the church’s production and kids’ ministry teams. “We felt comfortable responding to the invitation to get involved,” Josh says.

The Obremskis received an award for overall achievement from the Church Multiplication Network during General Council in August in Anaheim, California. At the same time, CMN Senior Director Chris Railey announced a goal to plant 10,000 AG churches in the U.S. in the next decade.

Summit Park is now exploring the possibility of opening multisite campuses in the surrounding suburbs.

Source: AG News

This Week in AG History — October 7, 1962<br />

The Azusa Street Revival (1906-1909) in Los Angeles and the African-American pastor of the Azusa Street Mission, William Seymour, have become iconic symbols of the Pentecostal movement. However, historians and participants in the revival point to a lesser-known Baptist pastor and graduate of Spurgeon’s College, Joseph Smale, who helped prepare Los Angeles for the revival.

The immediate catalyst for the Azusa Street Revival came in the summer of 1905 when Smale, pastor of First Baptist Church of Los Angeles, returned from a visit to Wales. He had attended meetings during the great Welsh Revival, during which entire towns experienced an outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Smale witnessed countless people repent of sin and turn toward God, and he prayed for God to do a similar work in Los Angeles.

Smale opened up his church for daily intercessory prayer meetings. Spiritually hungry people came from across Los Angeles and cried out to God for revival – praying specifically for a new “Pentecost.”

The prayer meetings attracted large numbers of people. However, some Baptist leaders opposed the spontaneous character of the prayer. They forced Smale to resign as pastor. He formed a new congregation, The New Testament Church of Los Angeles, which became a hub for people who committed themselves to pray for revival.

In the fall of 1905, Smale preached a series of sermons titled “The Pentecostal Blessing.” He encouraged believers to seek a restoration of the spiritual blessings described in the New Testament. Under Smale’s ministry, countless people developed a great hunger for God and engaged in deep prayer and Bible study.

When William Seymour came to Los Angeles in the spring of 1906 and began encouraging believers to seek biblical spiritual gifts, he found fertile ground for his message. People from varied backgrounds and from numerous churches – including Smale’s church – crowded into the Azusa Street Mission to experience the modern-day Pentecost for which they had been praying.

Historians have long known that Smale’s sermon series, “The Pentecostal Blessing,” played a pivotal role leading up to the Azusa Street Revival. The sermons were a manifesto on the importance of recovering the spiritual life of the early church. They convicted and persuaded many to seek for a greater outpouring of the Holy Spirit. However, it appeared that Smale’s sermons had been lost to history. No copies apparently survived.

Then the unexpected happened. Several years ago, someone bought a copy of Smale’s sermons at a garage sale in Oklahoma. He was not aware of their significance and showed them to Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center director Darrin Rodgers, who immediately discerned their importance. The sermons were deposited at the Heritage Center, where they are safely preserved for posterity.

Importantly, Gospel Publishing House has just republished The Pentecostal Blessing, which was officially released as part of its “Spirit-Empowered Classics” series on Oct. 3, 2017. The book includes a series foreword by noted Azusa Street Revival historian Cecil M. Robeck Jr. and a biographical sketch of Smale by his biographer, British Baptist educator Tim Welch.

The sermons that prepared Los Angeles for the Azusa Street Revival – long thought to be lost – are now available to 21st century readers.

The Oct. 7, 1962, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel includes an article by Stanley Horton about the Azusa Street Revival, which begins by describing Smale’s role in the revival.

Read Stanley Horton’s article, “Pentecostal Explosion: Once the Spirit Fell at Azusa Street the Waves of Pentecostal Power Quickly Spread throughout the Religious World,” on pages 8-9 of the Oct. 7, 1962, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “Ecumenicity: False and True,” by Frank M. Boyd

* “Tribes, Tongues, and Triumphs,” by Marion E. Craig

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

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

Source: AG News

UPDATE: AG Responds to Global Disasters

A recent streak of natural disasters and tragedies has left millions of people injured, homeless or displaced, and without daily living necessities. As well, thousands of lives have been lost.

Around the world and at home, AG World Missions, national church leaders and members, AG U.S. Missions, and Convoy of Hope are on the forefront not only as first responders, but also as partners who will stand alongside victims throughout the recovery and rebuilding process. Their collective call to the church is to stay in prayer and stay involved.

The Caribbean, Cuba, and Puerto Rico

Within the first few days of September, hurricanes Irma and Maria laid waste to many Caribbean island nations, as well as Cuba and Puerto Rico.

Ninety-five percent of all buildings in the vulnerable nation of Barbuda were destroyed by Irma, with the notable exception of a Christian education wing recently built on to Barbuda Pentecostal Assembly of God that doubled as a community storm shelter. The intact building has allowed the church to better serve its devastated community in days since.

Irma battered Cuba for a full 24 hours, leaving 3.1 million people without running water and 26,000 homeless. Over 4,000 homes and 100 Cuban AG properties (including small houses that serve double duty as both parsonages and churches) were destroyed.

Hurricane Maria virtually leveled Puerto Rico on Sept. 20, becoming the most powerful storm to strike the nation in 80 years. The Puerto Rico AG suffered significant loss of property and equipment, including the headquarters building and Bible school. The entire island was without power immediately following the storm, and officials believe many Puerto Ricans will remain without power for months.

Such power outages create ongoing problems as residents run out of food and water. Additional challenges include law enforcement, as looters and thieves take advantage of the chaos, and public health, as the large-scale destruction brings increased risk of injury and disease.

In a video post by Hal Donaldson, Convoy of Hope’s president and co-founder, he states: “I have seen disasters across the United States and around the world. This is one of the worst I’ve ever seen. … we saw car after car, a mile long, waiting for gas, people waiting for food . . . the need here is so significant.”

However, Convoy of Hope has a team in Puerto Rico and they have named three locations as distribution hubs. Donaldson says that Convoy of Hope has committed to Puerto Rico District Superintendent Iván De la Torre that the organization will “walk alongside him for the long haul to make sure that his people receive the help that they need.”

Twenty tons of rice was purchased and is being packaged in Puerto Rico for distribution, with more loads to come.

“We stand firm and want to help the affected people and those who have lost everything,” De la Torre states. “In the midst of this, we want to give hope to our island, showing the love of God through actions and compassion.”

An unexpected blessing also came when the governor of Illinois, Bruce Rauner, donated a plane filled with drinking water to the district to be distributed to areas in greatest need.

De la Torre says that in addition to aiding the people of Puerto Rico, the district will maintain an auxiliary center for Convoy of Hope from which to serve the entire Caribbean.

Convoy of Hope has posted that a cargo ship containing three million meals arrived in the British Virgin Islands, which lie directly east of Puerto Rico. So far, the Convoy team has been able to send nearly 1.2 million meals and distribute hundreds of hygiene kits, tarps, and solar lanterns.

In the case of such widespread need, it is important to identify and address the most effective ways to respond. “My passionate appeal is to let our national church partners most impacted by the disaster be the ones to define for us what their actual needs are,” says Dale Coad, AGWM Caribbean area director. “As missionaries, we can’t assume we know specifically what the needs are. Rather, we join with our national church partners to assess the needs and then formulate long-term strategies to meet those needs. Our approach to disaster relief and response must keep a long-term view.”

“Our Latin America Caribbean leadership are interacting with our missionaries and national church leadership throughout the Caribbean to ascertain the greatest needs and how we can most effectively help the suffering,” affirms AGWM Executive Director Greg Mundis.

Mexico

On Sept. 19, a magnitude 7.1 earthquake struck Mexico near the town of Raboso in the state of Puebla, about 76 miles southeast of Mexico City. More than 366 people lost their lives.

While most of the rubble of collapsed schools, offices, and apartments has been cleared away, the Mexican government reports 60,000 homes were either destroyed or designated for demolition, and the total population considered homeless is 250,000. Drinking water is scarce, and mosquito-borne illnesses are expected to escalate.

Just two weeks before, a magnitude 8.1 tremor in southern Mexico caused buildings in Mexico City to rock for more than 60 seconds and killed 90 people. Experts have stated that much of Mexico City is built on a former lakebed, which can amplify earthquakes even hundreds of miles away.

The city of Juchitán in the southeast Mexican state of Oaxaca, and Jojutla in the state of Morelos, also sustained severe damage, but present much greater logistical challenges for relief workers. AGWM missionaries (all of whom were reported safe after the quakes) and Mexican church leaders report many individuals are living in the streets, suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and suicidal tendencies. Mexican churches are marshaling counselors and intercessors to minister, but the needy far outnumber caregivers.

Paul and Sandy Kazim, AGWM area directors of Mexico, are based in Mexico City. “The bottom line is that neither the federal government nor any of the relief agencies combined will be able to completely meet the need in this zone,” they state. “The people desperately need God to hold back the violence, sickness and despair. Prayer is urgently needed.”

AG World Missions was able to rapidly distribute desperately needed relief funds to Mexico to accelerate recovery efforts.

The Mexico AG’s National Missions Department is coordinating relief efforts in southern Mexico’s earthquake zone. Director Cesar Casillas has invited all U.S. personnel to work directly with them, and many Mexican Christians are spearheading recovery efforts in remote areas, doing their best to provide food and shelter to quake victims. Relief boxes for young mothers (diapers, wipes, formula, feminine products and chocolate), young students (backpacks, notebooks, pencils and crayons) and senior citizens (rice, beans, oil, pasta, tuna and coffee) are being distributed.

Vanuatu

Resting in the South Pacific’s geographical Ring of Fire is the island nation of Vanuatu. In September, Manaro Voui volcano – the country’s largest – showed increased activity, threatening residents of Ambae (a northern island of Vanuatu) with burning ash, toxic gas and acid rain.

Since then, crops have been threatened by acid rain, and many of the island’s sources of drinking water have been corrupted, leaving thousands without safe water. Explosions every 10 to 12 seconds hurled lava bombs up to 100 yards, and two small lava flows ran across the island. The rapid rise of heat from the volcano is visible to satellites.

Reuters described the ensuing government-ordered evacuation of Ambae’s 11,500 residents as “Dunkirk-style” (referencing the famous World War II evacuation by an armada of private small boats of more than 300,000 primarily British Allied troops from the coast of France).

Ambae residents were relocated to Santo, Malekula, Maewo, and Pentecost islands. On Santo island, AGWM missionary to Vanuatu Bryan Webb began leading relief efforts for evacuees.

AG World Missions immediately transferred relief funds to Vanuatu and Webb has modified the Sanma Bible Training Center (SBTC) campus to accommodate roughly 250 people, including putting in four septic tanks, 10 toilets, and 10 showers. Enough food has been purchased to feed the 450 evacuees staying on the campus and in nearby AG churches. Hygiene packs of toilet paper, laundry soap, hand soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, diapers, and other supplies have been purchased for the same number.

“The Red Cross and the Vanuatu National Disaster Management Office assessed our facilities,” Bryan says. “Both told me that our evacuation center is the best on Santo island.”

As funding becomes available, supplies are in place to immediately upgrade cooking facilities, put up a tabernacle, arrange housing for 50 more evacuees, and provide food and water for more than 1,000 evacuees being held in a football stadium while waiting for placement.

“For missionaries, ministry doesn’t stop when we respond to a crisis,” Bryan says. “Church planting teams are still going out every weekend. Primary school and Bible school classes are still being taught. Wells are still being dug in response to an ongoing, multiyear drought. Site work and preparations for building the next phase of SBTC are going forward, as is construction of a clinic on Pentecost island. Pray for grace and resilience for the missionary team as we add the responsibility of 11,000 evacuees to our existing work.”

Southern Asia

Massive floods have swept India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Pakistan following record monsoon rains this summer. OCHA (the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) estimates 41 million people in Bangladesh, India and Nepal are affected and endangered by current floods.

Approximately 1,200 deaths have been reported, with that number expected to rise as food insecurity and waterborne diseases come increasingly into play. Landslides continually threaten and compound existing problems. At least 1 million homes have been destroyed, with poor areas being the hardest hit. Enormous areas of farmland and crops have also been ruined.

“Pray for miracles of provision, restoration, healing, and peace for the people of India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan,” urges AGWM Eurasia regional director Omar Beiler.
“Pray for the protection of rescue workers and medical personnel. Pray that
AG churches and ministry teams in the region will have increased opportunity to share the gospel as they undertake local relief projects.”

The United States

Across the United States, countless lives have been affected in recent weeks by Hurricane Irma’s destruction in Florida, the devastation of Hurricane Harvey and subsequent floods in Texas, and wildfires sweeping the Northwest.

“Our prayers are with the persons impacted by the hurricanes, flooding, wildfires, and the recent mass shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada,” says U.S. Missions Executive Director-elect Malcolm Burleigh. “May God draw near with His comfort, as our Fellowship reaches out with an arm of compassion.”

AG World Missions, Convoy of Hope, and AG U.S. Missions are bringing practical, compassionate aid to hundreds of thousands of hurricane, flood and fire victims. Since responses began in the U.S. just over a month ago, Convoy of Hope has distributed more than 7 million pounds of supplies to hurricane survivors in Texas and Florida.

“We are grateful for the incredible churches and partners that come alongside Convoy of Hope during times of disaster,” says Hal Donaldson, president of Convoy of Hope. “Because of these partnerships, we are able to give help and hope to survivors in need.”

AGUSM missionaries David and Tammy Houck pastor Salt Life Church in Silver Springs, Fla., and run the Help Agency, Inc., a ministry that serves impoverished residents deep in the Ocala National Forest. The Houcks have been on the forefront of hurricane preparation and relief in their community.

“After more than a week without power or water, our families are digging out of the mess.” David says. “We cut an untold number of trees, delivered chicken dinners to as many families as possible, and facilitated the deliveries of ice and water. We also went down to Key Largo to help the church there feed their town. Pray that because the Church, people will continue to see the hand of Christ throughout the storm.”

Even beyond material assistance, ministry personnel within each crisis zone agree that prayer must remain the primary tool for recovery. Prayer support will continue to be vital as homes, churches and ministry centers are rebuilt. Communities will need faithful prayer as infrastructure and life necessities are restored. People who have suffered recent trauma need prayer for the restoration of hope and peace. Most critically, these crises bring powerful reminders of life’s transience and every person’s spiritual need.

Click here to contribute to ongoing relief and recovery initiatives in the Caribbean, Mexico and Vanuatu. To contribute to relief efforts in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico, visit here. Ongoing updates are available by visiting Assemblies of God World Missions, Assemblies of God USA, and Convoy of Hope on Facebook and Twitter.

Source: AG News

Missions Control

Malcolm P. Burleigh says God has a habit of pushing him into new ministry positions, including his forthcoming role as executive director of Assemblies of God U.S. Missions, even when he is perfectly content with his old role.

While some might consider Burleigh obstinate and irascible, he says he just wants to make sure it’s God, not just people, calling him.

Assemblies of God general presbyters nominated Burleigh and five other candidates to succeed the retiring Zollie L. Smith Jr. as the new leader over seven departments. Since 2009, Burleigh has been senior director of one of those departments, Intercultural Ministries. Burleigh earlier succeeded Smith as president of the AG’s National Black Fellowship. The two men have known each other for more than 20 years.

“Malcolm is a dedicated and proven team player,” Smith says. “He has a positive attitude, a great personality, and enjoys working with people. Malcolm has a great sense of humor, and uses it to accomplish his assignments.”

Other candidates in the running for the U.S. Missions post were Wilfredo “Choco” de Jesús, pastor of New Life Covenant Church in Chicago; Rick Ross, superintendent of the AG North Carolina District; Bradley T. Trask , pastor of Brighton (Michigan) Assembly of God; Eric A. Treuil, director of Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship at the University of Louisiana; and Randy L. Valimont, pastor of Griffin (Georgia) First Assembly.

Burleigh, who turns 67 on Oct. 24, considered himself the least qualified and least known of the field. Instead of promoting himself, Burleigh merely handed a business card to people supporting his candidacy that read, “If God wants to use us, Maria and I are available, but we won’t help Him,” and said nothing. Maria is Burleigh’s wife of 46 years.  

Accepting the Intercultural Ministries post 8 years ago took some convincing as well. Burleigh initially turned down Smith’s request. A year and a half later, General Superintendent George O. Wood asked Burleigh to be interviewed by the Executive Presbytery. Burleigh had no interest in leaving Living Faith Assembly of God in Tampa, Florida, where he had been senior pastor for 18 years. In an attempt to deter being pressured, Burleigh instructed Maria to only answer questions in Spanish. Burleigh didn’t count on EP Saturnino Gonzalez interpreting. The body hired Burleigh.

“God made it clear He was sending me on an assignment,” Burleigh says. “This U.S. Missions election is a continuation of the assignment.”

Burleigh has a similar story for when he left Belmont Assembly of God in Chicago for Living Faith in Tampa. Fellow Chicago AG pastor Spencer Jones repeatedly told a disinterested Burleigh about the pastoral opening in Florida.

“The third time he asked, What is God telling you about the move? I told him — and I later apologized for my rudeness — God is telling me to tell you to leave me alone,” Burleigh recounts. Burleigh then told the Lord if He wanted him to interview for the opening to have the church call him. The phone rang almost immediately, an elder on the line. Despite Burleigh’s subsequent bids to erect roadblocks, the church voted him in as pastor.

“I don’t ever want to look back and say I missed God,” says the dulcet-voiced

Burleigh. He and Maria pray and fast about the ministry offers, with Maria typically receiving the identical answer first. She keeps quiet, waiting for the Lord to confirm the answer to her husband.

When Burleigh pastored in Tampa, Peninsular Florida District Superintendent Terry Rayburn tabbed him as district presbyter at large, and asked him to organize a black fellowship for the district.

“Terry saw something in me I didn’t see in myself,” Burleigh says. “He’s invested in me, and has always been supportive of me.”

ROUGH YEARS

That Burleigh is involved in ministry leadership is remarkable, considering his youth and early adulthood. Originally from Gary, Indiana, Burleigh lived in three foster homes beginning at age 8. He never felt as though he belonged, as foster parents always introduced him as a foster child and their biological offspring as their own. The foster families all went to church regularly, yet disciplined Burleigh brutally.

Repeated punishment with an extension cord left him with welts and a bloody neck, back, and arms. At 17, he fled for Chicago as a viable alternative to murdering his foster father.

“I had so much anger in me,” Burleigh recalls. In Chicago, Burleigh got involved in gang life, selling heroin. During an armed robbery, he got stabbed, and in a separate burglary sustained a gunshot wound.

Leaving the violent life behind, Burleigh went to work at an educational manufacturer plant. There he met Maria, who immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico at age 23 to look for work.

“I fell in love with this woman,” Burleigh says. “She was a total contrast from the women on the street.” They married in 1971. The couple now have three grown children and five grandchildren.

In 1975, Maria accepted Jesus as her Savior after watching The 700 Club. But Burleigh wanted nothing to do with God; he equated Christianity with physical beatings. He forbade Maria from attending church. She went anyway.

“I made her life miserable,” Burleigh says. Nevertheless, Malcolm agreed to send their children to a Christian school. In order to keep from paying higher tuition, Burleigh allowed Maria to attend church. She went to Belmont AG, then pastored by George Cope.

Burleigh made a salvation decision in 1981, at the second service he attended. Within months he started teaching 3- and 4-year-olds, learning the Bible as he went. Eventually, after teaching every other age group, he spent 7 years as senior associate pastor at the church.

The Burleighs are a multiethnic couple; he is African-American, she is Hispanic. Neither knew much of the other’s language at first. But early on in their relationship, Burleigh immersed himself in Maria’s culture, language, food, and customs, learning Spanish from radio and television programs.

While some might consider Burleigh gruff, Maria calls him a man of integrity and deep faith.

“He’s a good leader and an influencer,” Maria says. “People follow him. He’s a relational person and compassionate. He always defends the weak and has a good heart.”

Burleigh has experienced racism, but says it would be reduced — in part — if people learned other cultures.

“If we were all the same skin color, it would be the blue eyes versus the brown eyes, because sin makes us look for the difference where we can elevate ourselves over the other,” Burleigh says.

Although he has worked for U.S. Missions since 2009, Burleigh says adjusting to the executive director slot will be gradual.

“When you go into a place to establish your vision without understanding the culture, there is a collision,” Burleigh says. “It’s ignorant for an individual to go into a new position and start making changes immediately. Learn the process first, then progress will come.”

In his new role, Burleigh will nominate his replacement as Intercultural Ministries senior director, with Executive Presbytery approval. He is in no hurry, again waiting on God rather than fellow ministers to direct. There are 330 Intercultural Ministries missionaries ministering in a wide range of ethnic groups and compassion ministries.

Source: AG News

A Lifetime Devoted to God and the AG

For any Executive Presbyter, district official, or minister in the Assemblies of God who connects with the national executive offices even on a semi-regular basis, there is one non-clergy member whose name — or voice — will likely bring a smile to their face — Jewell Woodward

Woodward, who is 71, has served as General Superintendent George O. Wood’s executive secretary since he was first elected General Secretary in 1993. Prior to that she was the executive secretary to General Secretaries Joseph Flower and Bartlett Peterson — 45 years in total serving on the executive row.

She has a well-established reputation in the national office as well as within her church for her gift of helping (1 Corinthians 12:28). Her time on executive row, which far exceeds the tenure of any other executive or assistant serving in the executive area, is a direct result of that gift. Whether it is a request from Dr. Wood or a caller looking to speak to someone about missions, Woodward is renown for her work ethic and connecting answers to questions.

Yet she didn’t just start out as an executive secretary. Woodward graduated from Central High School in Springfield, Missouri, on a Thursday in early June 1965. The following Tuesday, she reported to the Assemblies of God national office in Springfield, Missouri, to work as a teletypesetter.

Woodward admits that she knew, even as a young person, that she wanted to work at the Assemblies of God national office because she knew it would be working for God. “Frankly, if they had come and ask me to stuff envelopes, I would have taken the job,” she says.

Thankfully, Woodward wasn’t a teletypesetter for long as “out of the blue,” she was asked to work in the Secretariat Office in 1966, where her real giftings began to show through. She would serve in every position up to assistant supervisor over the next several years. She explains that was a blessing as when several people unexpectedly left, she was able to step in and train all the new employees.

In 1972, the secretary to General Secretary Bartlett Peterson became seriously ill. Peterson asked Woodward to temporarily fill the position, while his secretary battled cancer.

“I was glad to do that,” Woodward says, “Sadly, Lorraine [Aronis] passed away. Brother Peterson then asked me to remain as secretary, and I accepted.”

It was a decision that came with a “baptism by fire” for Woodward. She had no formal training in being an executive secretary, and then she had to prepare for and attend the 1973 General Council, which required her to take minutes.

“That was the worst General Council for me,” she admits with a laugh. “I had never taken minutes before, and at this General Council they had all sorts of serious votes and policies to discuss — we even had sessions at night after the evening services because there was so much business to cover.”

In 1975, Joseph Flower became general secretary and he chose to retain Woodward as his secretary. “Brother Flower was calm, steady — never ruffled,” she recalls. “I never minded working hard for him because he would be working hard before you — he set an example for his employees.”

Eighteen years later, in 1993, George Wood was elected general secretary. He, too, chose to keep Woodward on.

“I had worked with Dr. Wood prior to this as he was the Resolutions Committee chairman,” says Woodward, who is as personable as she is productive. “Since the resolutions were prepared by the General Secretary’s office, I had worked with him for three Councils prior to this.”

Woodward has attended 22 consecutive General Councils — 17 of which she wrote the minutes. “I also updated the constitution and bylaws . . . that would be 17 books I wrote, but none of them sold very well,” she says with a laugh.

With her long history at the national office, Woodward even recalls when the first computer came to the national office — a monstrosity that took up an entire room.  

For the last 24 years Woodward has been serving as Wood’s executive secretary. She has witnessed his abilities first hand too many times to count. “He is extremely intelligent and a master at writing articles,” she says. “He also has a ‘legal’ mind [he passed the California Bar Exam to become a licensed attorney] and his biblical knowledge is like no other, I would say.”

Woodward views her decades of service as service unto the Lord. However, she adds that there were some great perks. “I’ve met a lot of people I would have never dreamed of meeting,” she says. “I’ve met Billy Graham, Barry Mcguiar, Mother Flower, Aunty Anne [Anne Beiler], and so many great missionaries, like Mark and Huldah Buntain, David Plymire, Charles Greenaway, and Chaplain Cecil Richardson — and then there was Sister [Ellen] Blackwell, a 100-year-old pastor.”

Her list of famous ministers and missionaries – and even the not-so-famous – goes on and on, as she expresses her appreciation to meet and serve them.  Woodward also is thankful for the travel she was afforded through the job, traveling all over the country for General Councils — something she could have never have done otherwise.

Sitting back and reflecting, she laughs and says, “You know, I rarely go any place any more that I don’t see someone I know.”

Nationally, Woodward may be well known for her connection to key AG leaders and her personable service, but locally, Woodward is truly loved and appreciated for her upbeat personality and giftings, having helped and served countless numbers of people at the national office and through her church.

“I served as a [Girls Ministries] Prims leader for 25 years at Central Assembly,” she says, then adds with a laugh, “And I’ve catered more meals for special events at the church than I could ever count.”

“Jewell was our go-to caterer for our mother-daughter and father-daughter events,” says Lori Van Veen, Girls Ministries coordinator at Central Assembly. “Her experience made it easy for our team to rely on her to provide great food that our guests always raved about. I’ll never forget the year we had a luau theme. She used cored pineapples to build two palm trees as decoration on the fruit table. It was stunning!”

Woodward also served six years on the church’s deacon board — being one of the first two women to serve on Central’s deacon board. She also says that over the years, she and her husband, Jim, have taken a lot of kids into their home.

Add in her hobby of cake decorating — with many individuals at the national office and Central Assembly connecting with her for their wedding cake — in addition to raising three sons (Jeffery, Jonathan, and Joel), and spoiling 10 grandchildren (and a great-grandchild on the way), it’s easy to see that helping isn’t a “work responsibility” for Woodward; it’s simply who she is. 

“I’m now doing second generation wedding cakes,” Woodward says with a smile. “Cakes for the children of the couples that I made cakes for decades ago.”

“Jewell can spin more plates in the air than anyone I know,” says Wood. “She is so conscientious. From her years of working at the General Council she knows where everything is and who everyone is. I could not have had a better co-worker and I am grateful for the years we have served together!”

But even with all her activities, family comes first. “I love my kids more than anything in the whole world,” she says.

In 2015, however, the scale of Woodward’s gift of helping became plainly evident when she was awarded the General Superintendent’s Medal of Honor during the 56th General Council in Orlando, Florida.

“That was an honor . . . it’s usually for lay people who are really special,” Woodward says softly, amazement still echoing in her voice. “That was very special.”

“Without a doubt, Jewell is one of the most extraordinary persons I have ever met,” Wood confirms. “For the past 24 years we have worked together, although she has served for a total of 52 years as an employee of the General Council. In all these years, I have never seen her get upset with anyone even though from time to time our office is on the brunt end of some not-too-pleasant phone calls and emails.”

It would seem though, as she’s now retiring, the gift of helping she’s been so ably known for could take a well-deserved rest.

But that’s not the case. In addition to spending more time with her family and doing some traveling, she’s also going back to work!

“I’m going to work part-time for Project Rescue with [missionary] David Grant,” she explains. “That is going to be a new page — a new adventure in life.”

The new position with Project Rescue is simply another sign of God’s hand upon Woodward’s life . . . what better place could He have placed a woman who He has given the gift of helping than a ministry that is focused on reaching out to women who are in desperate need of help?

Jewell Woodward truly has chosen to make her life a life of service devoted to God.

Source: AG News

Gridiron Calling

Although David A. Canales once spent five years as a bivocational worship leader, ultimately the 36-year-old Seattle Seahawks wide receivers’ coach sensed God calling him to football.

“I knew early on I wasn’t going to be in full-time ministry in the church,” says Canales, who joined Coach Pete Carroll’s staff in 2010. “I started to feel in junior high that I was being called outward.”

Still, as the grandson of Miguel Canales, the founding pastor of Mission Ebenezer Family Church in South Los Angeles, David also felt the pull of family expectations.    

Initially, he tried to mix high school coaching with church duties. Attempting to balance the two left Canales in inner turmoil — until he received a pair of prophetic messages.

The first came at a concert by the gospel group Shekinah Glory Ministries. The lead singer approached David’s row, motioned to him, and said, “The Holy Spirit is telling me: ‘It’s OK. You can go now. You’re ready to go.’”

Two weeks later, an associate pastor at Mission Ebenezer told him, “The Lord is getting ready to promote you. Prepare yourself for a rapid climb.”

That’s when the tug of war ended.

“It was freeing when I was prophesied over to go,” says David, who soon after advanced to coaching at the junior college level. “I am blown away by God’s love for me that He would speak through His people to give me the words that I needed to hear in His perfect time.”

The prophecy about his rapid climb came true three years after he went to El Camino College. After observing Canales volunteering at the University of Southern California’s summer football camps, Carroll offered him a position on USC’s staff.

However, just a year after Canales took his “dream job,” everything changed when Carroll accepted an offer to coach the Seahawks. With his wife, Lizzy, nine months pregnant, the question of whether Canales would be offered a job in Seattle — or be able to keep his old one — left them on edge.

David and Lizzy prayed about the situation at a park overlooking the Pacific Ocean. David concluded by telling the Lord they trusted Him. As soon as the couple said “amen” and opened their eyes, a massive hawk landed in a nearby tree and stared at them.

“We looked at each other with tears in our eyes and I said, ‘I guess we’re going to Seattle,’” David recalls. “Two weeks later I got the phone call to take this position.”

Initially hired as a quality control assistant, two years ago Canales became wide receivers coach. While David lives in Seattle year-round, he still is listed as a staff member on the Mission Ebenezer website. Executive Pastor Josh B. Canales is delighted with the spiritual maturity of his younger brother.

“The greatest example Dave sets for people in the church is to not despise small beginnings,” says Josh, 38. “In the last three years, I’ve watched him go to another level. He realizes at that level of coaching and sports, you have to be all in.”

David has come to appreciate that during the past two years, as he has solidified his direction. He says relationships are the most important part of his calling, including challenging players to ask themselves hard questions about their identity, future direction, and how they will get there.

Part of strengthening his sense of calling involved overcoming the reluctance that had developed because of the demands of the NFL and the time it takes him away from family.

Thankfully, some Christians in his profession helped David see the value of his vocation, sharing about players whose lives changed for the better after they decided to follow Christ.

“Just knowing that helped settle me in my spirit that this is where the Lord has me,” Canales says. “We don’t get to see the end of a lot of these relationships, but I know that they’re real.”

Source: AG News

Transition — God's Way<br />

Proverbs 21:1 states, “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes (NKJV)” I have seen this verse being vividly lived out over these past few weeks as I have witnessed the mutually amicable and supportive transition of executive leadership between General Superintendent George Wood and General Superintendent-elect Doug Clay. It has been an remarkable example of two godly leaders, responsive to God’s hand, acting with integrity and in the best interests of the Assemblies of God.

This is only the 12th time that the Assemblies of God has experienced a transition in top leadership. Dr. Wood has shown immense graciousness and humility in the way he has been handing off responsibility, and Doug Clay has exemplified a wise and generous spirit in the way he has been preparing to become the 13th general superintendent on Oct. 9, 2017.

From my position seated on the General Council stage when Doug Clay was elected as general superintendent, it was immediately evident that God was orchestrating the transitional events that would unfold. Dr. Wood laid the groundwork by removing his name from consideration in a way that did not divide the Fellowship or make it about himself. In turn, Doug Clay deflected the applause for his own election by stating his desire for the applause that day to be for Dr. Wood and his accomplishments.

Both men have continued to demonstrate great integrity in honoring one another and creating a smooth transitional experience. Behind the scenes I have watched them be nothing but gracious and deferring to each another. I have especially been touched to see them keep ego out of the process. They have had a sincere determination to do things in a way that honors God and preserves His church.

Psalm 32:8 says, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you (NIV).” Over the last two months, it has also been encouraging to see how God has prepared and continues to direct both men into the next seasons of their lives and ministries.

The Executive Presbytery commended Clay and Wood during its Sept. 12, 2017, session, stating, in part: “Appreciation was expressed to George O. Wood and Doug Clay for the godly and good way in which they are smoothly transitioning leadership. It is noted their transitioning process is a great example to our entire Fellowship.”

Source: AG News