A Man with a Mission: Pastor Danny de León

When beloved Executive Presbyter (EP) Jesse Miranda concluded his time as an Assemblies of God executive presbyter at the 2017 General Council in Anaheim, California, it had been 22 years since another person had filled the role of West Spanish Language Area executive presbyter. Simply explained: his shoes would not be ones filled with ease.

However, when Daniel (Danny) de León Sr., pastor of Templo Calvario in Santa Ana, California, was voted to succeeded Miranda, it only took a brief look at his biography to know that God had prepared the successor.

De León’s experiences not only have prepared him to lead, but prepared him to lead from the position of empathy and understanding.

As a teen, he became a hard-drinking, street-tough kid who was asked to leave the state of Texas by a judge. It may not sound like a promising beginning, but that “eviction” led de León to a real encounter with Christ at his brother-in-law’s church in New Mexico.

Transformed by God’s grace, de León enrolled at Vanguard University, where his faith became solidified under the teachings of professors such as Gordon Fee and Harold Fischer. Called to the ministry, de León instead began teaching while doing ministry on the side.

When challenged by a visiting evangelist to fulfill God’s call to ministry, de León responded — and soon learned what it meant to trust God to supply his and his wife’s, Ruth, every need. “It was incredible, trusting God for every penny that came in,” de León said in a 2006 interview. “God put me to the test, so I could learn to trust in Him.”

Spending seven years as a regional youth director for the AG, and another three years as a horse race track chaplain, a call from Templo Calvario arrested de León’s attention. Sensing God’s leading, he began ministering at the church in 1976. Within two years, the church grew from 60 to 750. In 1985, the church moved to a 1,400-seat facility — with Billy Graham as the keynote speaker. Then in 2007, the church moved to its current auditorium that seats 2,200 for a church whose average weekly attendance exceeds 3,800.

Templo Calvario is now one of the largest bilingual Hispanic congregations in the United States. The church reflects de León’s care for those who have little. Much of the church’s growth is a result of compassion efforts focused on improving the quality of life in Santa Ana. Ministries such as Obras de Amor (Arms of Love), affordable daycare, afterschool centers, and many other outward expressions of love have led people to the church.

The love for community isn’t limited to Santa Ana, either. Under de León’s leadership, Templo Calvario has established over 93 satellite churches in the United States and in Latin America. 

When de León was elected as an EP in August, he says he wasn’t expecting to be voted in as EP, but he had prayerfully opened himself up to whatever God desired. However, he also made the commitment that if he was in the running, but not elected by the third ballot, he would take that as a sign that God did not want him in the position and he would withdraw. He was elected on the third ballot with strong support.

As the executive presbyter for the nine Hispanic districts west of the Mississippi, de León says his main goal is to represent them properly, to hear and voice their concerns to the Executive Presbytery, and do his best to serve them.

De León has already had conference calls with each of his district superintendents, introducing himself and providing them opportunities to voice their thoughts and concerns. Of course, with de León’s very strong church planting ethic, his hope is to share what he’s learned over the decades with his districts’ leaders.

“I feel very strongly that God has shown us [Templo Calvario] a way to do church planting — a way that every pastor and church can do,” de León says. “I want to share that with the district superintendents so they can encourage their churches to open other churches. Whether they be PAC (parent affiliated church) or sister churches, the important thing is to start churches as God directs, for as we’ve discovered, it’s the best way to evangelize a community.”

De León who has master’s degrees in education and divinity, is also active on many boards and has hosted the 700 Club in Spanish, which is seen throughout Latin America, the Caribbean, Australia, Spain, and many parts of the United States. He’s also been a frequent guest of the White House and Capitol Hill to speak on matters that are of a concern to the Hispanic community.

“I feel very, very honored to have been elected,” de León states. “And it goes without saying, I will do my best to serve the constituency as best as I can as the Lord directs — and I’m looking forward to doing just that.”
Source: AG News

Broadcaster Switches to Ministry

Tychicus is Tom Murray’s favorite biblical character. The obscure missionary companion of the apostle Paul is mentioned three times in passing in Paul’s letters, but it’s the other two references, Colossians 4:7-8 and Ephesians 6:21-22, that intrigue Murray.

In those verses, Paul commends Tychicus for his faithful ministry service as well as his thorough reporting abilities. Murray is a broadcast journalist turned pastor.

After Murray graduated in 2004 from Arizona State University, he relished working as a reporter and weekend anchor at KAAL-TV, an ABC affiliate based in Rochester, Minnesota. However, Murray experienced difficulties leaving the carousing lifestyle behind.

“In college, I was chasing a lot of the wrong things for the wrong reasons,” says Murray, 35. “I was spending too much time in the bar.”

Realizing he needed help to make a significant life change, Murray began accompanying different friends to their church services. The first week he attended Cornerstone Church  in Austin, Murray responded to an altar call invitation from Pastor David Simerson, who discipled him during the next several weeks.

Murray moved to Milwaukee in 2007 and started working at NBC affiliate WTMJ-TV.  He met his future wife, Jennifer, at the young adults group at the suburban Oak Creek Assembly of God. Tom and Jennifer wed in 2009, as he continued working as reporter and weekend morning anchor.

Independently, several Christian friends asked Murray if he thought about becoming a minister. Murray prayed about it, and consulted with Oak Creek Senior Pastor Jerry Brooks. Brooks, who has been at the church since 1979, saw Murray’s ministry potential and encouraged him to enroll in Global University. Murray is close to finishing biblical and theological distance learning studies.

“Tom has the ability to take a big story and break it down into a sound bite presentation that both makes sense and is engaging to the viewer,” Brooks says. “Because of his journalism background, he can pull out the most important pieces of a story and weave it together so that when it’s completed there is the whole counsel of God.”  

As Murray’s TV contract expired in 2015, Brooks asked him to join the staff as missions and Christian education pastor at Oak Creek, which has more than 2,500 weekly attendees. In addition to leading the Wednesday night Life Together Bible study and Sunday morning Power for Living groups, Murray’s portfolio involves recruiting congregants to go on foreign mission trips. The church sends people somewhere virtually once a month, and Murray began taking trips while still employed by the TV station.

Murray witnessed medical and construction teams using their expertise on such outreaches, and wondered why he shouldn’t do the same with his skill set. Brooks connected Murray with Assemblies of God World Missions communications personnel. Soon, Murray began shooting missions trip videos that AGWM produces for churches, including footage of rebuilding efforts in Vanuatu after a cyclone, refugee camps in France, and an upcoming account about the launch of a new FireBible in Myanmar. Murray delights in his role as a pastor-videographer chronicling the impact of the gospel.

“Our staff includes four full-time videographers,” says AGWM Communications Director Andy Raatz. “We create nearly 100 videos a year, and it’s a real asset to be able to call on additional personnel, like Tom, for key projects. Tom has a heart for missions, as does his church.”

“I didn’t run away from journalism,” Murray says. “Instead, I ran toward God in a greater capacity than I ever imagined. Whereas working in journalism gave me the privilege of a front-row seat to current events, serving in ministry gives me a front-row seat to see lives changed through Christ.”

When she wed, Jennifer — who has AG pastor and missionary ancestors on both sides of her family — never imagined Tom would become a full-time minister. Jennifer is glad she no longer has to wonder whether her husband will be called away from home for a breaking story.

“I’m so proud that Tom is following God’s greatest call to tell people about Jesus,” Jennifer says. “His heart has been changed for lost people.”

Jennifer is a part-time medical financial consultant, but for much of the time she cares for the couple’s three children: Savannah, 6; Dahlia, 3; and Tucker, 1. She also is on the church worship team.

Source: AG News

Former Revivaltime Announcer Lee Shultz Dies

Leland (Lee) Glenn Shultz, 90, well-known as the voice of the Assemblies of God Revivaltime radio program and former Communications director at the AG national office, peacefully passed away Thursday night following a long illness.

Shultz was born to Jesse and Minnie Shultz on June 19, 1927, in Fowler, California. He was one of seven children, and grew up in Fresno, California. When he was 16, Lee received Christ as his Savior, was filled with the Holy Spirit, and called into the ministry all in one eventful night at church.

Upon graduating from Southern California College (now Vanguard University) in the spring of 1948, Lee and Valerie (Peterson) Shultz began a 53-year marriage and ministry on July 17.

The couple’s ministry began quickly, starting off with directing the district camp at Huntington Lake, California, the summer of their marriage. Following that, Shultz pastored First Assembly in Jerseyville, Illinois; was an associate pastor in Oakland, California; and then spent a total of 10 years pastoring churches in Slayton and Sherburn, Minnesota. In 1959, Shultz was appointed to serve in the Minnesota District as D-CAP (district youth director) and Sunday School director. He also served on the faculty of North Central Bible College (now North Central University) in Minneapolis.

In 1962, Shultz began his career at the AG national office in Springfield, Missouri, serving as College Youth representative, editor of Campus Ambassador magazine, and the first full-time Chi Alpha Campus Ministries director.

But it was in 1964 that Shultz took on his most memorable role when he was asked to serve as secretary of the Radio Department, and be the producer and announcer of Revivaltime radio broadcast. He became famous for his baritone introduction of the show: “It’s Revivaltime across the nation and around the world!”

Shultz was named the national director of Communications in 1973, but would remain the announcer of the Revivaltime broadcast for a total of 26 years. As Communications director, his duties included administration of Advance magazine, Office of Information, Pentecostal Evangel magazine, Radio-TV, and Audiovisual Services. Shultz’s abilities were highly regarded across the nation, and in 1977 he was elected as second vice president for the National Religious Broadcasters organization.

During his tenure at the national office, Shultz also produced Turning Point, the Fellowship’s only national television program, originated Every Day With Jesus, a daily radio broadcast, and served on the adjunct faculty of Central Bible College (now a part of Evangel University) in Springfield.

Shultz retired from the AG national office in 1992 after nearly 30 years of service. However, as John Maempa observed in a 1992 article recognizing Shultz’s many accomplishments, “ . . . he [Shultz] has set in motion many ministries and programs that will continue to be a blessing to the church for generations to come.” And so they have.

Valerie preceded Lee in death, passing away in 2001. In 2003, Shultz married Regina Northrop McCorcle.

Shultz was known as a loving father to his four children, eight grandchildren, and 11 great grandchildren.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Funeral services will be held at Central Assembly of God in Springfield at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 6. Services are under the direction of Greenlawn Funeral Home East. Burial will be in Rivermonte Memorial Gardens.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Good Samaritan Boys Ranch.

Source: AG News

God’s Garage

After mounting medical expenses forced her to give up her car, Jeanne McCowan, 72, of The Woodlands, Texas — a suburb of Houston — was in dire straits. Getting to doctor’s appointments, attending church, and even going grocery shopping all proved difficult.

“I live in an area that requires private transportation,” McCowan says. “There is no public transit to speak of.”

In the fall of 2016, she saw information about God’s Garage on her church bulletin board. She visited the website and learned that the nonprofit based in Conroe, Texas, repaired and gave away vehicles to single moms, widows, and wives of deployed military. McCowan filled out a free car application. Nine months later, God’s Garage asked her to come to a workshop about budgeting and car maintenance.

“At the end of the workshop, Chris called a few names, including mine, and we were all presented with cars,” says McCowan. “It’s changed my life completely.”

McCowan’s car is just one of over 100 God’s Garage has given away since Chris “PC” Williams started the ministry seven years ago as a life group in his own garage.

“Once a month we’d fix somebody’s brakes, then it became once a week,” says Williams, 50. For 26 years he pastored on the staffs of Assemblies of God churches in Florida and Texas, including Lone Star Cowboy Church in Montgomery and Assembly of God Tabernacle in Houston.

When Williams and his wife, Kim, began searching for a new home, they picked one with land to build a shop. Around the same time, Williams had an encounter that propelled him to get even more serious about God’s Garage. While driving home from church on a rainy Wednesday night, he picked up a woman and her daughter on the side of the highway.

“They actually went to my church,” says Williams. “She told me her truck had been in the shop for three months. She’d been walking and asking for rides. She just couldn’t afford to get it out of the shop.”

That night he wept and prayed with his wife over the realization that women in his community were suffering — and he had the skills to help. He couldn’t sit idly by any longer.

Since then, three nights a week God’s Garage volunteers have been fixing donated autos, as well as doing free repair work for women. A few retired men staff the shop all day, five days a week. The nonprofit also graduated to a new, 3,500 square-foot facility — acquired through miraculous provision, according to Williams.

We couldn’t afford it, but I called about it,” he says. “The owner knew about us and dropped the rent by $1,000 a month.”

In addition to car repairs, God’s Garage also hosts budgeting, parenting, and job skills classes every other month, like the one McCowan attended before receiving her car.

“We want to offer a holistic solution for these women, not just a Band-Aid,” says Williams.

In addition to helping women, God’s Garage is also reaching into the lives of the men who volunteer there, providing community, and for some, a real-world glimpse of the Christian life.

“We’re able to share that we’re real people committed to God,” says Williams. “The relationships built at the shop will continue for lifetimes.”

As will the positive impacts God’s Garage makes on the women served.

“Now I can do all the things I need to do,” says McCowan, who is excited to display a God’s Garage bumper sticker on the 2006 Chevrolet Aveo she received. 

“When we’re able to help it restores dignity,” Williams says. “It’s more than a repaired car. It’s freedom and independence.”

Source: AG News

An Unexpected Thanksgiving Blessing

Glory Hill Assembly of God in Potosi, Missouri (population 2,600), depended on their church van to bring as many as 20 to 30 kids to church twice a week. When their 2002 van recently broke down, requiring a costly repair, they were faced with a significant challenge — little money and more than two dozen kids who needed a ride to church. Little did they know, but God was preparing a blessing for them!

Glory Hill is not a big church, but every Sunday night and Wednesday evening, the church nearly doubles in size, as about two dozen children from around the area fill the church with energy and excitement.

“We pick up the kids and bring them to church,” explains Pastor Tom Slovensky, 54, who’s been ministering at Glory Hill for the past seven years with his wife, Regina. “But on Sunday mornings, the kids don’t like to get up early, so on Sunday and Wednesday nights we have our highest attendance.”

The rural church has become a magnet for area children, with kids eager to attend. So, when the church’s van broke down — costing more to repair than the van was worth — they were in a quandary.

Coming together, Glory Hill members decided to host a benefit sing/meal/auction the Saturday following Thanksgiving to help them raise money to buy a new vehicle. They spread the invitation throughout the community, including posting the event on social media.

Although Potosi is a small community, it has two AG churches. Potosi First Assembly of God is located about six miles from Glory Hill. Averaging about 115 in attendance, the church is vibrant and growing. Current lead pastor, Gary Petty, 73, is preparing to retire at year’s end, with associate pastor, Dr. Gary Greenlee, 38, currently transitioning into the lead pastorate.

Shortly after Glory Hill posted about the fundraiser for a new van, Gary Greenlee received a call from his wife, Kim.

“She told me about the fundraiser, and then said, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we could bless them with our church’s green van!’” Greenlee says, adding that the idea immediately resonated in his spirit. Greenlee quickly received a green light from Petty and then presented the idea to the church’s Deacon Ministry team, which gave its unanimous approval.

But even before Greenlee was able to present the idea to the Deacon Ministry team, he would receive additional confirmation that this was a “God” idea. Soon after speaking with Petty, Greenlee received a message from their youth pastor’s wife, who didn’t know what was already being considered, suggesting giving the church’s second van to Glory Hill Assembly. He would later discover one of the deacons had also been impressed with the same thought.

Following the vote, members of the ministry team quickly got busy. The van was thoroughly cleaned inside and out, the gas tank was filled, and the fluids checked. Then on Saturday evening, several from Potosi First Assembly attended the Glory Hill fundraiser to help that event be a success.

“In the middle of the fundraiser, I had to go out and pick up some kids,” Slovensky recalls. “When I came back, I saw the First Assembly van there, but I didn’t pay much attention to it because I knew Potosi First Assembly was going to be there.”

However, as the evening’s event drew to a close, Greenlee asked everyone in attendance if they could join him outside. As they exited, the van, now decorated with balloons and a “Glory Hill Assembly of God” sign attached to the side of it, was parked in front. Greenlee presented the van to Slovensky, handing him the keys and signed paperwork.

The gifting of the van caught Slovensky and Glory Hill members totally by surprise. “I was bumfuddled,” Slovensky admits. “I couldn’t believe what was going on!”

But Glory Hill members weren’t the only ones who benefited.

“Our church was so blessed by this,” Greenlee says. “When I got to announce it to the congregation on Sunday, there was applause to God for what He’s been able to do along with a lot of excitement, smiles, tears, and joy. We are all just so thankful and appreciative to be a part of something to build the kingdom of God together.”

Yet, the true impact of the gift didn’t fully strike Greenlee until he saw pictures of smiling, happy children in the van and later received a collection of letters written by the children, thanking him and Potosi First Assembly for the van.

“When I viewed the pictures they posted on Facebook with the kids standing in the doorway of the van, I just cried,” Greenlee says. “It’s all about souls; about building the kingdom of God.”

Source: AG News

Convoy of Hope to be Featured on <em>Shark Tank</em><br />

ABC’s Shark Tank will feature Convoy of Hope and show alum, LuminAID, in the upcoming holiday episode airing Sunday, Dec. 3, 2017, at 8 p.m. CST on ABC. “Shark Tank” alum, LuminAID, first appeared on the show in 2015 to pitch their idea for an inflatable solar lantern to make light accessible for outdoor recreation, as well as humanitarian aid. The upcoming episode will highlight innovations centered around the holidays and giving back.  

The feature will showcase LuminAID’s recent humanitarian work in Puerto Rico with Convoy of Hope following Hurricane Maria.

“It was incredible to be able to meet families and see their faces light up when they received [LuminAID devices] and were able to charge their phones,” says Anna Stork, co-founder of LuminAID.

Convoy of Hope has also distributed LuminAID solar devices to Southeast Texas after Hurricane Harvey and to the British Virgin Islands after Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

“Out of all the products I’ve seen and tried, [LuminAID] meets the needs during times of disaster,” says Paul Coroleuski, Hurricane Maria response director for Convoy of Hope. “It brings light and comfort, but it also gives people the chance to stay connected by being able to charge their cellular devices.”

In addition to providing LuminAID solar aid, Convoy of Hope has served more than 2.6 million meals and over 217,000 individuals in Puerto Rico.

Follow the response and learn more at convoyofhope.org.

Source: AG News

Community Cooperation

Lifehouse Church of Hagerstown, Maryland, is one of America’s fastest-growing churches. The church, launched in 2005, now hosts an average of 2,100 attendees weekly on four campuses in two locations.

Although the church has seen dramatic growth, Lead Pastor Patrick D. Grach http://www.lifehousechurch.org/team/ isn’t focused on reaching numeric goals.

“In nature, things that are healthy can feed themselves, defend themselves, and multiply themselves,” Grach says. “That’s how we approach everything in ministry.”

Grach’s belief in multiplication carries beyond the walls of Lifehouse Church. He leads the For Our City effort, a gospel-centered partnership with over 20 other churches in Hagerstown. Church leaders are coordinating outreaches, such as adopt-a-block and adopt-a-school programs; championing foster care and family advocacy; and addressing issues of marginalization, poverty, and injustice. The combined effort has resulted in hundreds of people making decisions for Christ and local churches growing by nearly 1,000 people.

“The idea is for churches to reach the people that are far from Jesus,” Grach says. “We multiply because there is a lot of work to be done.”

The efforts that Grach — who works closely with the AG’s national Church Multiplication Network — supervises extend beyond Hagerstown. Grach leads the Lifehouse Church Network, a church-planting network of a dozen congregations hosting 20 services each weekend in Maryland, Washington, D.C., Virginia, West Virginia, Wyoming, and internationally.

“Patrick’s vision is a vision for reproducing,” says Jeff S. Leake, lead pastor of Allison Park Church in Pennsylvania and a Lifehouse Network board member. “It is giving life and momentum to something that is reaching beyond one location.”

A Lifehouse Network goal is to raise up pastors to start works in unchurched areas. Grach facilitates multiplication in the network by developing church planters in a paid residency program, providing financial grants to church plants, and resourcing leaders with training and coaching relationships.

“Patrick is an all-in leader,” says Leake, who meets with Grach monthly. “People follow him because they see his genuine commitment.”

A recent addition to the Lifehouse Network, John C. Ware, launched Lifehouse Newport News in Virginia on a record-setting September day, as part of the Potomac Ministry Network’s C32 initiative. Lifehouse Newport News had an opening-day attendance of 417 people, and averaged over 300 its first month of services. In that span, over 20 people made decisions to follow Jesus.

Source: AG News

This Week in AG History — December 1, 1968<br />

William Frederick Padwick Burton (1886-1971) was an unlikely pioneer Pentecostal missionary. Willie, as he was known, enjoyed a privileged childhood. His mother was from English aristocracy, and his father was a ship captain. As a youth, Burton was not interested in spiritual things. He attended good schools in England and traveled around the world, developing a broadly-informed worldview. He excelled at cricket and tennis, and he became an accomplished artist. Realizing that art probably would not pay the bills, Burton focused on a more practical career path and studied electrical engineering at St. Lawrence College, Ramsgate.

In 1905, while in college, Burton attended an evangelistic service with a visiting American evangelist, Reuben A. Torrey. After hearing Torrey’s message, Burton became convinced that he was not a true Christian. Despite being a member of the Church of England, Burton came to realize that he had a very superficial faith. One night, Burton knelt by his bed, confessed his sins, placed his faith in God, and peace flooded his soul. Change was immediate in Burton’s life. He joyfully shared his newfound faith, he made restitution to those he had wronged, and he began what became lifelong disciplines of studying the Bible and praying.

Burton’s commitment to live wholly for God led him to identify with the Pentecostal movement. He heard about the Pentecostal revival in America and Scandinavia, so he and a friend decided to investigate the Pentecostal claims that Biblical spiritual gifts, such as speaking in tongues, healing, and prophecy, were still available to believers. They formed a group that met almost every night for the entire year of 1910, studying the Bible and praying for God’s power in their lives. Before the year was out, Burton and many others had been baptized in the Holy Spirit.

Burton felt God’s call to full-time ministry. He stepped out in faith and, in 1911, quit his engineering job and became known as a “tramp preacher.” For three years he walked across the English countryside, preaching in homes and on village greens. During this formative period, he led numerous people to the Lord, witnessed miracles, developed his ministry gifts, and helped the young English Pentecostal movement to grow.

Ultimately, Burton felt called to serve as a missionary to Africa, where he would spend the rest of his life. He left England in 1914, just as World War I was breaking out, and spent a year preaching at various mission stations in South Africa. He was joined in 1915 by James Salter (the brother-in-law of noted healing evangelist Smith Wigglesworth), and together they journeyed to the Congo. He married Hettie Trollip in 1918. When the Congo Evangelistic Mission (later called the Zaire Evangelistic Mission) was formed in 1919, Burton became its first field director. Importantly, he was an early advocate for indigenous leadership of churches.

Burton employed his significant giftings as a builder, engineer, teacher, and artist to advance the gospel. He authored 28 books, including an important collection of Congo fables and proverbs. Burton’s engaging stories about African missions were widely read on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. The Pentecostal Evangel introduced Burton to American readers in 1916 and, over the course of his life, published over 90 articles by him. Burton also raised money by selling his critically-acclaimed paintings and ink drawings of Congolese landscapes and life.

When Burton went to be with the Lord in 1971, the Congo Evangelistic Mission had grown to almost 2,000 churches. He had spent the majority of his life in Africa, far from the life of privilege he knew in England. While Willie Burton initially sacrificed a certain level of social status to become a Pentecostal preacher, he ultimately became a larger-than-life figure in the history of African Pentecostalism. 

Read one of William F. P. Burton’s articles, “Receiving Power from on High,” on pages 6-7 of the Dec. 1, 1968, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Eternal Security: Is It Conditional?” by Henry H. Ness

• “God’s Interruptions,” by Kenneth D. Barney

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

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

Source: AG News

Responding to Evacuees

Even though Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico more than two months ago, many residents of the U.S. territory still without restored electricity and running water have fled the island for the mainland.

In the aftermath of the Sept. 20 category 4 hurricane, an estimated 100,000 Puerto Ricans have moved to Florida, and state officials believe that number could reach 300,000 by the end of the year. 

Calvario City Church in Orlando is helping to fill the astronomical need for temporary housing, food, and clothing assistance, language translation, and employment aid.

Associate Senior Pastors Gabriel and Jeanette Salguero are leading the church of 3,500 in heroic efforts to provide relief and support to Puerto Rican evacuees. Calvario’s relief efforts begin the moment dislocated Puerto Ricans step off the plane.

After arriving at the airport, evacuees are greeted by youth volunteers, organized by Edgar Rivera, youth director of the Assemblies of God Florida Multicultural District and a member of Calvario City Church. The youth assist evacuees in reaching the Office of Emergency Management at the airport. Within the Office of Emergency Management, Calvario has set up a comprehensive welcome center, consisting of pastors, case managers, and other resource providers who greet Puerto Ricans with care packages and Federal Emergency Management Agency assistance. Evacuees soon are helped in gaining access to appropriate vaccinations and guidance for developing résumés, searching for jobs, and enrolling kids in school.

“We are taking a comprehensive and holistic approach,” says Jeanette Salguero. “We have to meet needs long term.” The Florida Multicultural District has become a supporter of the welcome center and provides weekly donations of diapers, bottled water, and medicine.

Calvario City has made such an impact at the airport that the church is now listed within the complex as a service provider.

Within its own walls, Calvario initiated and hosted a meeting of faith-based leaders, national FEMA representatives, and administrators of local schools and universities to prepare the influx of families. Other efforts within the church include grocery assistance to 150 families on a weekly basis and temporary housing assistance.

“Church members who work for hotels have made temporary housing available to evacuees, and the church itself has also made housing available as it is able,” Salguero says. She also notes that Calvario City Church has started offering English as a second language classes to help bridge language barriers.

“We have three classes in progress right now and they are packed full,” she says. “We have been asked to open more.”

The operations taken on by the church require thousands of hours per week from the 215 volunteers who are dedicated to helping these vulnerable families.

Not only is Calvario City Church meeting the needs of evacuees to the U.S., the church has partnered with the National Latino Evangelical Coalition and congregations across the country to adopt 10 Puerto Rico cities that will receive donations on a regular basis.

Gabriel Salguero is president of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition, a consortium of over 3,000 churches. Under the coalition’s Nehemiah Project, efforts are underway to “provide relief, receive those who have been dislocated, and rebuild the island of Puerto Rico,” according to Salguero. Through this project, churches are sending supplies, medical teams, and carpenters to the island to provide relief and to help rebuild what has been destroyed.

Subsequently, the National Latino Evangelical Coalition became the first Hispanic evangelical network recognized by FEMA and is listed as a faith partner in Puerto Rico.

“The purpose of tapping into this resource is to commit ourselves to the long-term efforts that will be necessary for a total rebuild,” Gabriel Salguero says. “There is still going to be a lot to do and we, the Church, will be there.”

Source: AG News

Adoring God Through the Pain

Brie Porubsky, 16, leads worship at Radiant Life Church in Wadsworth, Ohio, where her parents, Lance and Angel, serve as lead pastors. Brie’s passion for God — and life — runs deep. She also leads worship for youth group on Wednesday nights, participates in Assemblies of God Youth Ministries Fine Arts Festival, and ministers at various kids’ camps each summer.

Remarkably, she does this while living with mixed connective tissue disease (MCTD), a rare autoimmune disorder, which causes her immune system to mistakenly attack her internal organs and other cells in her body. MCTD can lead to serious and sometimes life-threatening complications.

Despite her illness, Brie pours her heart and soul into ministry.

“At a very young age at kids’ camp, I was called into ministry while praying at the altar,” explains Brie. “I heard God say, ‘You’re going to be a worship pastor.’”

For Brie, worship is a source of joy, peace, and an overwhelming sense of God’s presence. When she raises her hands during worship as a sign of surrender, her insecurities and doubts fall away.

“Her faith is unwavering,” says Angel, her mother. “It’s pretty remarkable to see how she stands on the Lord’s promises.”

With any serious illness comes loss. Although Brie had to give up competitive cheerleading and serving in the children’s nursery, her disease has opened new doors for ministry. For example, Brie authored the All Star Girl Devotional Journal. The National Girls Ministries book focuses on loving Jesus, honoring others, valuing self, having confidence in God’s truth, and influencing the world.

Physically, Brie has good days and bad days. She struggles with debilitating symptoms, including muscle and joint soreness, difficulty breathing when she sings, mouth ulcers, and stomach ulcers. To combat these symptoms, Brie takes between one dozen and two dozen pills daily, and participates in weekly physical therapy, aquatic therapy, and Christian counseling.

Angel admits that she and Lance sometimes cry and struggle with anger because of their daughter’s condition. But they’ve learned that talking it through and being strengthened by the prayers of others helps. Rather that dwelling on the pain, Angel and Lance have chosen to rejoice in what God is doing in Brie’s life.

Still, it isn’t easy.

In the past two years, Brie has been hospitalized three times. Once, a severe migraine led to an allergic reaction to the medicine used to treat her. Last May, she had surgery to correct damage to her bladder caused by the disease.

To raise awareness about mixed connective tissue disease, Angel and Lance established Hope 4 MCTD. The organization also raises funds for research in hope of a cure.

“Some days the enemy grabs a bigger foothold in your life than others,” Lance says. “We need to fight the good fight and press on toward the goal.”

Lance and Angel, while supportive of their daughter’s ministry efforts, also remind Brie of her limitations and of the need to rest.

Brie believes the pain provides a platform to lift the name of the Lord.

“I’m just an average girl who loves Jesus,” says Brie. “Some days, life is hard, but giving up isn’t an option.”

Source: AG News