Lessons from Inside the Whale

Faced with a budget shortfall for the Walnut Grove Assembly of God day-care program, pastor Bill D. Galus, had a whale of an idea to fish for funds and listen for a word from the Lord: spend three days and three nights inside a finned sea creature a la Jonah.

From Jan. 16-19, the 67-year-old Pennsylvania pastor fasted and prayed while holed up inside a man-sized model whale on the church sanctuary stage and studied the Book of Jonah by LED lantern, leaving only to use the restroom.

And, he reports, during those 72 hours, the Holy Spirit did give him that word, which he shared with the congregation moments after emerging from the whale during the Sunday church service. In addition, the project raised more than $8,000 to boost Walnut Grove Christian Daycare.

Galus, who received massive media attention as the “pastornaut” in 2015 when he spent seven days inside a mock space capsule, says the Jonah and the whale idea came to him soon after his successful NASA-inspired fundraiser for the youth group at the church in West Mifflin, a suburb of Pittsburgh.

Chrissy Miller, who taught art before becoming the church day-care center director, led the team that crafted the papier-mache whale of flour, water, salt, and newspaper over a PVC pipe skeleton, crafted on a 4-by-8-foot plywood sheet. While the idea initially sounded eccentric to her, “If there’s anything I’ve learned, when (Galus) gets something from God, you just go with it,” Miller says.

While Galus had planned to blog while inside the whale as he had during his time in the space capsule, the church’s internet service conked out right before he entered the creature. The pastor says that proved providential as it further eliminated distractions, enabling him to tune into what the Lord told him.

The church’s intercessory prayer group meets Thursday, the day the pastor entered the whale and closed its mouth. The group prayed and sang over him as he lay on his back on a six-foot-long foam mattress, his hands folded. “It felt like a coffin, especially the first day,” he says. The model whale allowed six inches above his head when he sat up. “People were around the ‘casket’ saying their last goodbyes, kind encouraging words.” He references Revelation 20:12 when the Book of Life is opened: “But really, the words most important in life are words God is going to speak of us.”

In that whale, Galus found rich revelation. When the Word of God came to Jonah, he fled to Joppa and paid the ship fare to Tarshish, the direction opposite from Nineveh.

“You can always find people to help you run from the Lord when you want to veer off from serving God,” Galus says. As with Jonah, “When you run from God, it’ll cost you something.”

Galus wanted darkness to simulate the darkness that Jonah experienced inside the whale. But light entered through cracks in the whale. “Light always finds a way to penetrate darkness,” he says. “No matter how corrupt it gets, the light of Christ has a way of breaking through.”

The pastor notes that God showed compassion for Nineveh by sending Jonah to the wicked city to rebuke the residents so they would turn to the Lord.

“We must get on our knees and pray for the lost in America, that they’ll find God amid insecurity turmoil and fear,” Galus says.
Source: AG News

This Week in AG History — Jan. 31, 1931

Samuel A. Jamieson (1857-1933), one of the founding fathers of the Assemblies of God, previously served as a denominational leader in the Presbyterian church in Minnesota. Despite having all the outward signs of ministerial success, Jamieson felt that inside he was spiritually dry. Jamieson shared his testimony in the Jan. 31, 1931, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Jamieson, a graduate of Wabash College and Lane Theological Seminary, was ordained as a Presbyterian minister in 1881. A pastor and church planter, he also served as superintendent over home missions for five Minnesota counties. He organized 35 Presbyterian congregations and 25 new churches were built under his direction.

Jamieson appeared to be a model minister, but he continued to grow more and more spiritually weary. What could he do? Jamieson and his wife, Hattie, had reached a point of desperation when they heard about the Azusa Street Revival (1906-1909) in Los Angeles, which was a focal point of the emerging Pentecostal movement. They believed it might be an answer to their prayers.

In 1908, Hattie Jamieson went to Atlanta, Georgia, where she attended services at the Pentecostal Mission for over three months. She was Spirit-baptized, and she testified that “He [God] flooded my soul with peace and joy.” She returned home and encouraged her husband to resign his position and also seek the Baptism.

Jamieson rejected his wife’s plea, fearing that identifying with the Pentecostals would be costly. “For me to give up my position of honor and my good salary,” he wrote, “would eventually lead me to the poorhouse.” Hattie continued to reason with him, saying that he needed to be “willing to pay the price” to follow God.

Finally, after three years, Jamieson relented. He began praying earnestly and, he recalled, “the Lord soon removed from my mind all hindrances to tarrying for the Baptism.” In 1911 he resigned his position in Duluth, Minnesota, and joined with Florence Crawford’s Apostolic Faith Mission in Portland, Oregon. The following year, they moved on to Dallas, Texas, where Jamieson was Spirit-baptized under the ministry of healing evangelist Maria Woodworth-Etter.

Jamieson attended the organizational meeting of the Assemblies of God in April 1914, and he became a noted pastor, educator, and executive presbyter in the Fellowship. He served as principal of Midwest Bible School (Auburn, Nebraska), which was the first Bible school owned by the General Council of the Assemblies of God. He also authored two books of sermons published by Gospel Publishing House: The Great Shepherd (1924) and Pillars of Truth (1926).

Jamieson, in his 1931 article, wrote that the baptism in the Holy Spirit changed his ministry in the following three ways. First, Jamieson realized that he had been relying upon his academic training rather than upon the Holy Spirit in his sermon preparation. He literally burned up his old sermon notes, humorously noting, “they were so dry that they burned like tinder.” Second, Jamieson wrote, “After I received my Baptism the Bible was practically a new book to me. I understood it as I never had done before. Preaching under the anointing became a delight, and my love for souls was very much increased.” Third, Jamieson wrote, “It increased my love for God and my fellow men, gave me a more consuming compassion for souls, and changed my view of the ministry so that it was no longer looked upon as a profession but as a calling.”

Samuel A. Jamieson’s testimony beautifully captures the early Pentecostal worldview. This worldview, at its core, included a transformational experience with God that brought people into a deeper life in Christ and empowered them to be witnesses. Jamieson concluded his 1931 article with the following admonition: “To those who would read this narrative I would suggest that if you want to succeed in your Christian work you should seek the Baptism in the Holy Spirit.” Jamieson hoped that his testimony would spur others to seek what he had found.

Read the article, “How a Presbyterian Preacher Received the Baptism,” by S. A. Jamieson, on page 2 of the Jan. 31, 1931, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “The Thrilling Experience of a Congo Missionary,” by Alva Walker

• “The Pentecostal People and What They Believe,” by Stanley H. Frodsham

• “After Twenty Years in Egypt,” by Lillian Trasher

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

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

Life Rescripted

Top Latin Christian vocalist-songwriter Jaci Velasquez and her husband and fellow musician Nic Gonzales, of the band Salvador, had high-profile careers performing for audiences in the United States and beyond. Then came the birth of their first child.

By the time Zealand turned 19 months old, the couple recognized he wasn’t meeting developmental markers for babies his age. Tests found “pervasive developmental delay,” which prompted speech and occupational therapy.

When doctors put a name on Zealand’s condition — autism — the couple found themselves facing an uncertain future of parenting a special-needs child. And Zealand’s prognosis didn’t lend itself to the stresses of life performing on the road.

That diagnosis featured prominently in how God rescripted Velasquez and Gonzales’ lives.

Velasquez, 40, grew up in Houston, the daughter of David Velasquez, an ordained Assemblies of God pastor. She began singing at age 9 as her dad traveled as an evangelist. In her subsequent career as a recording artist, Velasquez has sold 5 million albums, recorded three platinum and three gold albums, and has won seven Dove Awards, and the Univision Premio Lo Nuestro Excellence Award. She also has received nominations for two Latin Grammys, three Grammys, five Latin Billboard Awards, and an American Music Award. Velasquez has lived in the Nashville area for 25 years; Gonzales, originally from Austin, Texas, moved there after their wedding 13 years ago.

As an autism diagnosis often includes difficulty communicating, “It’s interesting and ironic that God called both Nic and me into music ministry, communicating the goodness of who God is and what He does,” Velazquez says.

Gonzales, 42, notes his and his wife’s dependence on the Lord.

“We have to completely rely on the Holy Spirit to teach our son what it is to know Jesus Christ,” he says.

Zealand, 12, is introverted; he doesn’t seek out friendships or relationships. His best friend is his brother, Soren, a relational boy 14 months younger than Zealand. The brothers are best friends, which moves Zealand to leave his comfort zone. “Only God could have orchestrated that to push past the boundaries of his comfort,” Velazquez says. “God gave him the perfect baby brother.”

Recently Velazquez released a book titled When God Rescripts Your Life: Seeing Value, Beauty, and Purpose When Life Is Interrupted about the unplanned and unexpected aspects of life, such as Zealand’s autism.

The couple regards their special-needs son’s different perception of life as a blessing. “He adds so much light and perspective to our lives,” Gonzales says.

When Nathan Kollar, pastor of GraceLand Church in the Nashville suburb of Franklin, Tennessee, invited the couple to join the church staff as creative directors — overseeing worship and media and mentoring congregants called to minister through the arts — Velazquez initially had no interest. “I remember watching my parents miss things my brothers did because they had to be in church on almost a daily basis,” she says.

Yet amid her reservations, she sought the Lord. “I knelt down at our couch in our living room, got on my knees and prayed: If this is what You’ve asked me to do, You’ve got to give me peace.” She says the Holy Spirit answered her prayer with peace, even as she prayed.

Gonzales also prayed to surrender his will. He notes how often in the Gospels Jesus calls people to do something outside their comfort zone. “We both felt God was calling us because He’d given us a season of equipping and resting,” he says. “We’ll walk in obedience and do what God has called us to do in this new season of our lives.”

Velazquez and Gonzales didn’t seek to be worship leaders at the church. “I had been getting burned out with lights and haze and spinning parts,” he says. “But God has given me an opportunity to walk into a situation where it wasn’t complicated. GraceLand is a small but growing church (attendance is 140) with no stage. “It looks like a prayer meeting in a classroom,” Gonzales says.

The couple came on staff in September.

“It’s a wonderful example of God raising up the leaders for His church and bringing a couple into our lives with a gift set that really complements ours,” says Kollar of his and his wife Jessica’s relationship with Velazquez and Gonzales. “They’ve also been in the Nashville area for years and have deep roots and credibility here.”
Source: AG News

Not Your Typical Baptism

When Ch. Jon Neil learned that two of the marines stationed at the Iwakuni Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) in Japan had rededicated their lives to Christ and wanted to be water baptized to demonstrate their commitment, he had just one problem — the MCAS chapel did not have a baptismal tank.

Although the MCAS has a swimming pool, the pool was being repaired, and the open ocean is about a 30-minute drive away.

However, Neil, a U.S. Missions military chaplain, had previously served with Destroyer Squadron 23 based out of San Diego. As the destroyers accompany aircraft carriers, Neil learned that on the carriers, jet and helicopter engine containers sometimes double as baptismals.

“I asked one of the marines if he would like that option, and he told me that it would be really cool because he works on jet engines,” Neil recalls. So, that’s what they used.

In addition to the two marines being baptized, Neil says the 11-year-old daughter of the station’s provost marshal operations chief also wanted to be baptized.

“What was really unique about this is that I learned she actually was born here,” Neil says. “Her mother told me how fitting it was that her natural birth was in Iwakuni and now she was also baptized in water here, representing her spiritual birth.”

It took Neil about 8 hours to fill the container with water, which was then allowed to warm up a few days before the service.

“The provost even put a special guard on the container,” Neil says with a laugh. “He wanted to make sure the water stayed clean for the baptism.”

During the baptism, which was attended by several service and family members, Neil says that in addition to the three making a public confession of faith, he also asked those in attendance to commit to support the trio in their walks of faith. The event was also covered by Armed Forces Network and posted on YouTube.

“There are so many different denominations and religions represented on this station and wherever I’ve served,” Neil says. “But in 11 years, only once or twice has someone come up to me to disagree with something I said. I’ve really felt that God has always encouraged me to preach the Word, preach Jesus, and keep it simple.”

Neil, who has his affiliation with the AG noted on every chapel bulletin, says he enjoys ministering in the military because so much of it is done outside of the church.

“Most of the people I see during the week don’t come to services; they come to me because they need help with something,” Neil explains. “Although there are restrictions and challenges, the opportunities [to minister] outweigh the challenges. I am honored to represent Christ as a chaplain.”
Source: AG News

Nonprofit Assists Assimilation

Several years ago, Karen and Martin Yac participated in a three-day parenting seminar at their church, Centro de Vida Victoriosa, an Assemblies of God church in East Los Angeles. But Karen wanted to do more than implement the principles in their home — she wanted to teach them to other parents of public school students.

She presented a proposal to the Los Angeles Unified School District, which hired her for a year to teach the parenting program in two public schools.

The training at the church opened doors for Yac to teach other parents at the high school and elementary school her children attended.

“It’s like teaching the Word of God, because the program has biblical values,” she says.

That is one result of Centro de Vida Victoriosa’s growing community influence through its five-year-old community development corporation (CDC), called Instituto de Advance Latino. Vida Victoriosa’s longtime pastor, Carlos Rincón, a graduate of Latin American Bible Institute in La Puente, became pastor of the church when it had just three members. Today, Vida Victoriosa serves 300 families and has cell groups throughout the city.

Their CDC is transforming the way they do ministry.

“We have always been a church that provides for the poor,” Rincón says. “I’m interested in bringing resources to the immigrant community.”

But in prior years, he saw many families struggling, and young people losing opportunities because their parents didn’t understand the language or culture, or didn’t have enough money. He also witnessed immigrants being mistreated or underpaid because of their unfamiliarity with U.S. law and practices.

“People here don’t have access to housing, attorneys, finances, jobs,” Rincón says. “Instead of just praying with people, I was looking for a way to do more.”

In 2014, Rincón and his wife enrolled in an intensive two-year certificate program in community development through the University of Southern California’s Center for Religion and Civic Culture. Soon, the church had formed a CDC and was recruiting volunteers to staff a few small initiatives aimed at helping people build businesses, deal with immigration issues, and gain education and access to health care.

“We had no money at first, so it was all volunteers,” Rincón says. “We started programs based on need.” Initially, many new arrivals wanted to know their legal rights, so the church invited lawyers who specialize in immigration to talk and provide services pro bono.

The church also brought in housing experts and bank officials to connect immigrants to grants and opportunities to buy homes, start businesses, or earn scholarships to local universities.

Through the CDC, Andy C. Machic, 19, received a scholarship from a bank that helped him to enroll at USC, where he is studying industrial and systems engineering.

“I’m the first to go to college in my family,” says Machic, whose father is Guatemalan and mother is Mexican. “I want to be an example to my two younger brothers, and build my own company.”

In the past five years, the church’s CDC has raised $20,000 in scholarships for students. This also involves a 10-month mentoring program, which teaches students how to apply to colleges and to succeed in their careers. Recently, several local banks paid for the installation of a computer lab at the church.

Now, Vida Victoriosa is sharing its knowledge with other churches in the Southern Pacific District through a business association, which is empowering business owners and students.

“We are trying to bring those resources to men and women of this district,” Rincón says.

Last fall, Vida Victoriosa held a conference for AG churches, which drew 200 leaders from all over Southern California. The daylong event included sessions on buying a house, starting a business, applying for loans, and creating a business plan. Tech giant Google sent a representative to teach pastors and business owners how to market their products.

Today, USC’s Center is studying Vida Victoriosa’s work as a model of community development work for other pastors to follow.

“I want to do my part to create wealth in the community and in the church, and to make pastors more aware of the role they should play in helping their members succeed in life,” Rincón says.

Source: AG News

Pastor Miraculously Delivered from Death's Door

On Nov. 25 at about 5:45 p.m., Pastor Glen Berteau suffered a cardiac arrest. Different than a heart attack, a cardiac arrest means the heart stops dead — no irregular beats or partial blood flow. Lights on, lights off. Living, dead.

Berteau and his wife, Deborah, have led The House (AG) in Modesto, California, for the past 26 years. With 8,000 members, The House is a network of churches that include locations in Fort Worth; Hilo, Hawai’i; Slidell, Louisiana; San Diego; and downtown Modesto.

Glen, now 67, attended college on a football scholarship, and remained active and “in shape” throughout his life — even demonstrating for his grandchildren that he could still do vertical/handstand push-ups at his 67th birthday party.

When Glen suffered his cardiac arrest, it wasn’t the first time for him to have heart problems. In the late 90s, he had a pulmonary embolism (blood clot) that led to a cardiogenic (heart) issue. Several years later, he suffered a heart attack, due to blockages in his arteries, that required four bypasses and stents to be placed.

However, this time there were no signs of any problems. He had gotten his cholesterol under control and the racquetball-playing pastor seemed the picture of health.

“THAT” EVENING . . .

It was Monday — prayer meeting night at the church. Glen didn’t usually attend the prayer meeting as he was often worn out from the weekend services. However, Deborah was in charge of the intercessory prayer team that met at 6 each Monday night before the prayer meeting, and they were throwing her a birthday party — she wanted Glen to be there.

The party was in the church’s fellowship hall, but the Berteaus arrived early, around 5:15, so they could stop on the far side of the church to pick up a few things from the office and then drive around to the fellowship hall.

Having gathered the items they needed, Glen headed out ahead of Deborah to the car as she finished a conversation. When she arrived shortly afterward, she found Glen appearing to be feigning sleep — like she had taken too long.

“He was in the driver’s seat, his head back and eyes closed — no sign of pain on his face,” Deborah recalls. “I asked him if he was going to start the car and he didn’t respond. Glen loves to joke, so I thought he was joking with me, thinking this was funny.”

After a few more requests for him to start the car and asking him what he was doing, Deborah got out of the car and walked around to the driver’s side and sat next to Glen, telling him she was dialing 9-1-1 if he didn’t stop it . . . he didn’t.

This couldn’t be real . . ., could it? Fear crept in and then exploded.

“Glen? Glen? GLEN WAKE UP! GLEN!”

WRONG PLACE, RIGHT TIME

“I’m part of the intercessory prayer team (at The House), and I’m normally always 15 to 20 minutes late on Monday nights because of work,” says Penny Greaves, a nurse practitioner with nearly 25 years of experience, including 10 years as an ICU nurse.

Greaves hails from Toronto, Ontario. She and her husband, Brian, were making a comfortable living and enjoying life with their two young daughters. But the pastor of the Pentecostal church they attended, Emmanuel Community Church, had planted seeds in their hearts through his ongoing theme of learn, go, and serve.

“We prayed, ‘Lord take us were we should go,’” Penny Greaves says. “We sent out applications all over the world.”

The Greaveses moved to Modesto because God answered their specific prayers concerning the move in a way that left no doubt. They had come to Modesto to serve, even though they weren’t quite sure in what way.

In the intercessory prayer team classes led by Deborah, Greaves had been learning about praying with authority and confidence. Unknown to her, this night she would come to more fully understand what that meant.

Uncharacteristically, Greaves got done with work at 5 p.m. on Monday — early for a rare change. She headed out, calling her husband along the way. She had been sick with the flu over the weekend and she was worn out. She was hoping Brian had decided not to go, making it easier for her to skip church and stay home as well.

“He paused for maybe 15 seconds, then answered, ‘No, we’re getting showered and coming, so we will meet you there,’” Greaves says.

Greaves arrived at the church at 5:35 and she also parked on the “wrong” side of the parking lot, because she was so early. Getting bored waiting for the time to pass in the car, she got out and headed toward the church entrance. As she did she noticed the Berteaus’ car and some people around it. She also heard Deborah talking uncomfortably loudly to Glen.

“I didn’t want to pry, so I didn’t look,” Greaves says, “but when I got to the door, a voice in my spirit told me to turn and look. I saw pastor Glen, slumped over, pale white; pastor Deborah was distraught; and the security team had their arms up in the air, praying.”

PREPARED TO SERVE

Greaves hurried to the Berteaus’ car, identifying herself as medical personnel.

“I checked his pulse; he was pulseless. I knew he was dead,” says Greaves, who had spent years on various cardiovascular and medical intensive care units and as a member of a code blue response team. “We determined that he had been two or three minutes like that. I immediately went into action. Somehow I lifted him out of the car — he was a dead weight — put him on the ground, and started to do compressions and perform CPR.”

As she worked on Glen on the pavement, Greaves confirmed that someone had called for an ambulance. She also noticed a crowd of people had started to form on the nearby church lawn — many were praying. Focused on providing quality CPR, Greaves says she couldn’t pray, but she asked the people to pray more.

“For a split second my hands came off of him [Glen],” Greaves says. “I looked up and his eyes began to quiver and he took a deep breath. He threw up his arms and said, ‘Oh, God!’ and he took another breath — I’ve never seen anything like that as a nurse.”

Greaves says when Glen threw his arms up, it was almost like he was falling back into himself — like his spirit had returned to his body.

As Greaves labored over Glen, people continued to pray vocally on the lawn, in the church’s prayer chapel, and around the country as social media began to light up.

The ambulance arrived, with the EMS techs taking over. Greaves had been performing quality CPR for at least 10 minutes. Up to that point in her career, she had not performed CPR for more than four minutes before someone changed out with her.

Yet even with all of her effort and all of the prayers, the signs did not look remotely promising. According to the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation, nearly 90% of out-of-hospital cardiac arrests are fatal. Of that remaining 10.8%, only 9% percent are considered to have “good functional status” upon hospital discharge.

“I was standing there, watching the rhythm on the heart monitor,” Greaves says. “He had a rhythm that signals the heart muscle is not able to contract — the heart is quivering and there’s no cardiac output (blood pumping). It’s a rhythm that leads to death.”

While Greaves looked on, the EMTs were forced to shock Glen’s heart multiple times. After outfitting him with a mechanical CPR machine, the EMTs loaded him on the ambulance, while continuing to administer life-saving drugs and use an ambu bag to manually push air into his lungs.

GUARDIAN PRAYER WARRIORS

Within minutes of his cardiac arrest, people were praying for Glen. God had placed key people in the locations they needed to be, exactly when they needed to be there. And many seemingly random decisions proved to ultimately be life-saving decisions.

Although Glen had been surrounded by prayers while outside the church, once he arrived at the hospital, even family was stripped from his side as the hospital went into a frenzy of activity.

People were praying at the church, in the waiting room, in the hospital chapel, and through social media, but there was no one by his side — at least no one anyone else knew of.

Juan McKnight, 27, is a certified nurses’ assistant. He had recently started working at the hospital in Modesto, having previously worked in Fresno. He admits that some nights when he’s working he forgets that he’s even in Modesto. This was one of those nights.

“I’m a part of a float group, I have a new assignment every day, wherever the hospital needs me,” McKnight explains. “That night I was scheduled to work ICU. I had been there an hour or two when the whole story started unfolding.”

CALM TO CHAOS

It was slow in the ICU that evening, so McKnight periodically scrolled through Instagram. He follows Micah Berteau, Glen’s son, and he noticed a short post by Micah saying “Pray for Dad.” McKnight paused and prayed, having heard Glen minister several times at his old home church, Celebration Church, in Fresno.

McKnight continued with his duties. He began overhearing a number of nurses complaining about all of the equipment they had to set up, how it was a waste of time because of all the issues the new patient had, that he would never survive.

“It suddenly clicked with me that I was in Modesto,” McKnight says. “I looked at the patient list and there was pastor Glen’s name — he was the cause of all of the commotion.”

McKnight took a break and ran to the chapel to pray. On his way, he called a pastor friend to round up their church’s prayer team in Fresno to also start interceding for Glen.

When McKnight returned to ICU and Glen’s room, it was chaos.

“There was a lot of commotion, eight to 10 people all in the room doing all kinds of stuff to him,” he recalls. “I asked the charge nurse what was going on and she told me about his heart issues (previous heart issues greatly impact the odds of survival). I literally had nothing to do right then, so I posted myself next to his room and began to pray.”

As he prayed, the Lord led McKnight to start writing down Scripture verses about prayer on a sticky note pad. “I watched his vitals on the monitor, and when they would begin to sink, I’d begin singing the song, Great Are You Lord (It’s your breath, in our lungs . . .), and thank Him as the vitals returned to normal.”

Even as he prayed and sang, the chaos continued in Glen’s room, leading McKnight to also pray for peace and against the commotion. Finally, Glen was taken downstairs for tests, and McKnight took the Scripture sticky notes and placed them all over the room. Later, he took the notes down and placed them in the waiting room to encourage those there.

How was Glen doing? To McKnight, it was only God keeping him alive.

“He was hooked up to the most IVs and medical equipment that I have ever seen,” McKnight says.

McKnight also recalls a pair of nurses coming out of Glen’s room and one stating skeptically, “We’ll see if their prayers will work.” This motivated him even more to pray for Glen, urging God to prove himself to the hospital staff.

Working two days in a row in the same section is highly unusual for McKnight. But for three consecutive days, McKnight was scheduled to work in the same section Glen was located. “Every time I walked by his room and throughout the evenings I would pray for him,” he says.

McKnight says up until that Monday night, he had been contemplating quitting his job, unsure why he was traveling to Modesto when other options existed . . . he no longer wonders why he was still in Modesto.

A DOCTOR’S PERSPECTIVE

Dr. Manuel Canga (pronounced Kahn-guh), a medical doctor for 28 years with his own practice, is an internal medicine specialist who spent 10 years as an ER doctor. He became Glen’s physician in the late 90s, having assisted him through the pulmonary embolism and heart attack recoveries.

He was on his way home when he got the call that Glen had another heart attack [it was actually a cardiac arrest]. He immediately called the ER to make sure they got Glen into the cardiac lab and that they connected with a cardiologist to assist — he later learned neither instruction was followed.

About an hour later, Deborah called. Glen was dying. Canga headed to the hospital.

“He was really very sick,” Canga says. “He had been out for 40 minutes — really, really, really grim chances of survival.”

When the doctor called Deborah in to tell her that “they had done all they could do,” and basically let her know Glen was going to die, Canga was there to accompany her. As he listened, God planted thoughts in his mind.

“Did you talk to the cardiologist?” Canga inserted into the conversation. “Are you planning on placing a ventricular assist pump into his heart?”

If God hadn’t placed Canga there, Deborah wouldn’t have known to ask those questions. However, those two questions led to Glen going from a 1% chance to a 50% chance he’d live — though if he did survive, he’d suffer from significant brain damage and be on dialysis the rest of his life.

“Dr. Merlott, the cardiologist, did an angioplasty on pastor Glen and found all the stents in place and no significant blockages, which was a miracle considering his history,” Canga says. “It was determined arrhythmia led to his cardiac arrest.”

Canga credits Greaves for her excellent CPR, knowing she performed it well based on the number of bones broken in Glen’s sternum and ribs. But in reviewing the ER report, Canga caught a glimpse into why Glen was given so little hope to survive or at least have a poor quality of life if he did survive. In addition to having to shock his heart seven times and surviving on CPR for 40 minutes (after 30 minutes of CPR, it’s no longer enough and brain damage increasingly takes place with each passing minute), Glen had scored a three out of a possible 15 on the Glasgow coma scale — three being the lowest/worst possible score. Even Merlott, once Glen was recovering, thought Glen would require dialysis as he believed his kidneys would never recover.

“It was a miracle him just being alive,” Canga says. “Then he came out of his induced coma as if nothing happened — no sign of deficiency, recognizing everyone, when all indications were he should have brain damage. And in the real world, his kidneys are not going to recover, but I’m a Christian and I’m partial to prayer . . . all the problems, all the negativity have been taken off one at a time and he is making a full recovery!”

Canga then adds to the list of “shouldn’t-have-been-theres,” stating, “I was supposed to be in the Philippines at my niece’s wedding; I had known about it for two years. But suddenly I felt like I didn’t want to go, just so tired — so I didn’t go. I believe this was God’s will that I had to be here for my pastor.”

LOOKING BACK

The House is a praying church. The prayers prayed were not timid, but specific and grounded in the promises found in God’s Word, spoken with the authority of those who believe in miracles.

Every time nurses or doctors came to Deborah with bad news — he’s not going to make it, he’ll be brain dead, he’ll be on dialysis forever, etc. — Deborah refused it in the natural and in the spiritual.

“We were constantly praying, singing over him, worshipping over his bed,” she says. “We literally had a 24-hour prayer meeting for a week, someone was always praying for him.”

“Everyone in the medical field is shocked that I’m still alive with no brain damage, no kidney damage, and no bladder damage (due to the catheter),” Glen says. “My memory is perfect, I have no short term memory loss — my mind is just as good as it was.”

The Berteaus share that Glen’s continued recovery has been miraculous as well as he’s been progressing at a rate far beyond doctors’ expectations.

“We preach this stuff about God’s ability, we preach the miracles and know that Jesus does this,” Glen says, “but rarely do we see these unexplainable-type miracles.”

A WORD FROM GOD

The Berteaus believe that God doing the “impossible” in Glen’s life is not just about a healing, but that it will be used to spark revival.

Glen says his belief and others’ belief in the power of God to heal has also been affirmed. He explains that he sent an appreciation and testimony video message to a church that continues to pray for him, and 60 people chose to give their lives to Christ through his testimony.

“I can’t tell you why God chose me, I don’t have the answer to that . . ., but my faith is at a whole other level,” Glen says. “There’s not anything you’re scared of, that you won’t pray for, you know there’s not anything God can’t do. My whole desire is to help people, to see people saved, to see just what He can do — that He really is that powerful.”

EPILOGUE

Although Glen has not returned to the pulpit quite yet, he has left the hospital and is well on his way to a full and miraculous recovery.

PHOTO: Glen Berteau and his wife, Deborah, with Penny Greaves (center)

Source: AG News

Meeting Community Needs

Along the boundary line between Stone County, Missouri, and Carroll County, Arkansas, roads meander past rolling pastures, rocky streams, and woods. But the peaceful scene hides a darker side of the Ozarks. Many families live in poverty. Some commute to work at poultry processing plants or small-town restaurants, but jobs are not plentiful. Some are hindered by disability or lack of transportation. Some turn to drugs for money, or to cope with the lack of it.

Just south of the state line in Oak Grove, Arkansas, The Harvest is addressing those problems.

Chartered in 1948 with 25 members, the Assemblies of God church grew over the years, with construction of the current sanctuary in 1997. However, in 2004, after a change in leadership, attendance declined, and interim pastors served with district supervision.

In 2005, evangelist Todd L. Rogers filled in and the congregation asked him to stay. Subsequently, the church began to grow again; finances improved; facilities expanded. A food pantry began serving up to 300 families monthly.

Rogers, 53, says he can’t pinpoint specific steps responsible for the turnaround; the Holy Spirit simply began to move and people responded. As the church grew, though, so did the number of church families affected by the area’s drug culture. Rogers himself, growing up in an Assemblies of God church, struggled during his teen years and abused alcohol before rededicating his life to God in 1988. His wife, Karin, has a similar story. They married in 1990 and entered evangelistic ministry, and both wanted to help people caught in substance abuse.

Karin started a Celebrate Recovery group at Harvest in 2007. Another recovery ministry in nearby Berryville had been looking for a Spirit-filled church to partner with, and now Freedom Seekers, led by Ron and Kim Hutchins, is an important outreach of Harvest Assembly.

Growing up in neighboring Stone County, as a teenager Jason Schwyhart saw his father killed in his home by a rival drug dealer. The youth’s anger, drug use, and gang activity subsequently landed him in serious trouble. After miraculously being delivered from an almost certain death penalty due to his under-age involvement in armed robbery and murder, he began bargaining with God.

“I knew what God wanted, and even promised to devote my life to helping others, but I wanted to do it my way,” Schwyhart says. Still consumed by bitterness, he soon reverted to run-ins with the law, and planned to flee, robbing banks and settling old scores.

Amazingly, before running, Schwyhart decided to attend a Sunday church service to connect with family he might never see again. As he sat at Harvest Assembly, Rogers began interpreting a message in tongues uttered through a congregant.

“I’ve never said this before in my years of ministry, but God is giving someone their last chance,” Rogers stated solemnly at the service. Schwyhart knew God wanted to reach him, and that morning he committed to follow Christ. He gradually realized that by harboring revenge, he actually served the same enemy responsible for his father’s death..

After discipleship at Harvest Assembly, Freedom Seekers, and Crane Christian Church where his mother attends, Schwyhart wanted to make good on his promise to help others. Schwyhart, 47, serves on staff at Hope Homes of the Ozarks, an Adult and Teen Challenge ministry of Freedom City Church in Springfield.

“Jason really had some issues,” recalls Rogers, “but he applied himself to growing spiritually and I’m thrilled at what God has done.”

Harvest Assembly offers discipleship opportunities for people returning to faith, recovering from addiction, or just looking for fellowship and spiritual growth. Sunday School classes, including youth, children, and several adult electives, teach fundamentals of faith and Bible study. Practical teaching on Wednesday nights includes topics such as divorce recovery or finances. The Sunday night Freedom Seekers meeting and meal is open to anyone, although many attendees are in recovery or satisfying court requirements. The food pantry still serves the area, and the church partners with a government program to provide transportation for low-income area residents to medical appointments.

The Rogers’ son, Braydon, coordinates media and TV ministries, daughter Mariah Baker leads the transportation ministry, and her husband, Heath, is youth pastor. Youngest daughter Shaylne serves on the worship team.

Rogers is grateful for the lives being changed through Harvest Assembly. He believes Schwyhart’s testimony underscores the importance of welcoming the Holy Spirit to move in every service.

“That’s the whole point of being Pentecostal,” Rogers says. “You can plan, but all the programs in the world can’t replace the Holy Spirit working in someone’s heart.”

Photo: Todd Rogers (left) helped Jason Schwyhart turn his life around. 

Source: AG News

A Call to Grow

When Charisse asked Christopher Groh for a ride to church Sunday mornings so she could teach Sunday School in 2014, she didn’t know one day the pair would be preparing to grow a future family on unfamiliar soil among unreached people groups.

Christopher Robert Groh and Charisse Elizabeth Groh both grew up in the Assemblies of God and met while attending Evangel University in Springfield, Missouri.

Charisse is from Brea, California, the daughter of two Evangel graduates, Brenda and Doug E. Green, who is senior pastor of North Hills Church. Charisse enrolled in Evangel in 2012 to study elementary education. She had wanted to be a teacher since kindergarten, but a trip working in an unreached African island nation during her sophomore year altered her plans.

“God just broke my heart really for the unreached world,” she says. “I had no idea there were so many people on this planet who had never heard the gospel before. I felt this is what I had to do with the rest of my life.”

Charisse, 26, decided to continue with elementary education, knowing her passion for teaching would be used someday working among the unreached. Christopher, 27, grew up in a fourth-generation Assemblies of God family, and sensed a calling to missions as a child.

At Evangel, Christopher went to Ukraine on a spring break trip, where he encountered Crimean Tatars, an unreached people group. After spending more time overseas, he knew he wanted to minister in such a setting full time.

They bonded on the way to Springfield’s Central Assembly of God when Chris gave Charisse rides to teach her early service Sunday School class. They began dating later that year, just before both left to spend a summer in overseas ministry work.

Both realized upon returning to the United States their callings to ministry had been confirmed. They married 10 days after graduating from Evangel in 2016. During his sophomore year, Christopher changed his major from intercultural studies to agricultural science, knowing God would use his passion for plants someday.

Agriculture, conservation, and sustainability had been passions for Christopher. Through Jason Streubel, who heads the agriculture department at Evangel and also is full-time director of agriculture at Convoy of Hope, Groh came to learn about Convoy projects around the world.

After graduation, Christopher worked at the national office of Assemblies of God World Missions for a year while beginning a graduate degree at Missouri State University in plant science. In February 2019, he began working at Convoy of Hope as part of the agriculture and international disaster response team. Charisse began a career as an elementary schoolteacher in 2016. In 2019, the couple welcomed a son, Zea.

Shonna Crawford, Education Department chair at Evangel University, believes the Grohs have a great future.

“They both have been people who have been fully invested in whatever God has placed in their hand in that moment,” Crawford says. “Both of them display such an intentionality in investing.”

Charisse says friends, family, and mentors have encouraged them to remember their long-term calling during this season.

“Anytime we start to think this is so nice and comfortable, God reminds us of the burden we have for the unreached,” Charisse says. “The sheer number of people who have never heard of Jesus grips both of our hearts and we know that’s where we are needed.”

In 2018, Christopher and Charisse spent three summer months in the West African country of Mali. Christopher went for his graduate research for Missouri State, but the Grohs also connected with local ministries while there.

Charisse says she knows she will continue to teach, whether at a school or her own children, and if God gives her more opportunities to share her love of teaching the Bible. The Grohs also see their children as co-ministers in their new life overseas.

The Grohs are in the application process with AGWM to spend their first term reaching unreached peoples in Eurasia.

Source: AG News

Ability Tree Opens New R.E.S.T. Center

It took only about 10 months to build, but the new state-of-the-art Ability Tree R.E.S.T. Center in Siloam Springs, Arkansas, has been a dream in the making for U.S. missionaries Joe and Jen Butler for years.

The Butlers are the founders of Ability Tree and minister under AG U.S. Missions Intercultural Ministries. Since 2010, the Butlers have been working to minister to children with disabilities and their parents through Ability Tree. On Saturday, they cut the ribbon to their new 10,000-square-foot facility with an estimated 200 officials, staff, and community members present.

“It’s above and beyond ‘state-of-the-art’ in regards to helping families and individuals dealing with disabilities,” states Larry Moore, Arkansas district superintendent. “It’s such an opportunity for respite for parents and families — it was fascinating to me.”

Joe Butler says the facility has few peers across the United States as it offers a vast array of indoor and outdoor activities and areas specifically designed to capture the attention, stimulate, and involve children with disabilities.

“The R.E.S.T. stands for recreation, education, support, and training,” Butler says. “The center offers a sensory playroom that provides physical and interactive activities, such as a rock climbing wall, hip-hop interactive activity box, monkey bars, padded trampoline, and a sensory integration swing system to name a few. We also have a multisensory room offering creative interactive activities for children as well as a calming comfort room for times when a child may become over stimulated or simply needs time away from others.”

Other features include a half-court basketball/volleyball court, arts and crafts room with Lego center, a huge covered patio and an outdoor play area made of synthetic grass turf with conga drums, grandioso chimes, wheelchair platform swing, a four-way accessible seesaw, drop shot, spinner, and more.

But perhaps what’s just as significant is that the new facilities provide the room and equipment needed for training.

“Where they were before,” Moore observes, “they did not have an adequate place to train people. This provides opportunities for people to go there and be trained on how to really minister to those with disabilities and their families.”

“This is a potential prototype that could go nationwide,” Wayne Huffman, senior director of Intercultural Ministries, says. “This is an incredible state-of-the-art facility birthed out of a family who has a son with disabilities and a passion to minister to families in similar situations.”

Butler says that the new R.E.S.T. Center will quadruple Ability Tree’s capacity to families, adding that the center has already seen an influx of families, a huge increase in volunteer applications, and many new faces who he says have been “blown away” by what the new facility offers.

Although the R.E.S.T. Center is designed specifically for kids with disabilities, Butler says that the center has drawn a lot of interest from kids without disabilities as well.

“We’re currently open five days a week, Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Fridays to 10 p.m.,” Butler says. “However, on Saturdays we’re open 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to the community, where community kids of all abilities can come play.”

Butler explains that the new facility is designed to also be a resource and training center. He welcomes churches across the country who want to better include individuals with disabilities and their families into their ministry to connect with the R.E.S.T. Center.

Phase II of the R.E.S.T. Center — an indoor interactive treehouse — is slated to be started in April, while Phase III — the purchase of the adjacent property to build and provide housing for new missionary staff as well as expand the current gym, is still two years out.

Currently, Ability Tree has four locations: the national branch in Arkansas, two more branches in Florida, and a branch in New Jersey.

“Our desire is to see the Church become the most inclusive place on the planet,” Butler says, “and we hope to be a part of that.”
Source: AG News

Entrepreneur Turns Pastor at 50

Ron L. Ingelido spent years serving in volunteer ministry roles while juggling careers in rental properties and sales as well as an entrepreneur for a company that refurbished propane tanks. But at age 50, God moved Ingelido into full time-time ministry. He became pastor of New Stanton Assembly of God in Pennsylvania in September 2019, two years after obtaining his ministerial credentials.

Although the call came early in Ingelido’s life, his move into full-time ministry took years. While he waited on God, he ran multiple businesses, led New Stanton’s youth group, and later, its young adult group. His wife, Jamie, 39, always stood by his side, in commerce and in ministry.

“We knew all our lives that one day God would call us into full-time ministry,” Ingelido says. “We just didn’t know what it would look like.”

PennDel Ministry Network Superintendent Don J. Immel — former pastor of New Stanton Assembly of God — also is a strong support in Ingelido’s life. The two formed a mentoring relationship years earlier when Immel pastored New Stanton and Ingelido participated in a leadership program called Discover the Call.

Immel says he texted Ingelido one day, saying he had a job for him and he would call later with the details. Ingelido learned he had agreed to lead the church’s capital campaign. They both laugh about that call today, but Immel points out the significance of Ingelido’s agreement to take on the task.

“It is because of a series of ‘yeses’ throughout his entire life that Ron is where he is today,” Immel says. “His life has been a constant stream of yeses to God.”

Ingelido’s affirmations carried over into his enterprises as well.

“A lot of employees would come to my office and say things like, Hey, my mom is dying, and I don’t know what to do,” he says. “I realized my office was becoming more of a chapel than a business owner’s office. I actually led people to the Lord in my office.”

In the spring of 2018, a lack of supply caused the propane tank reconditioning industry to stall, Ingelido says. So he liquidated the company’s assets, paid off the corporation’s debts, and waited for God’s direction.

Ron and Jamie prayed, but had no clear sense of the Lord’s leading. Days turned into weeks and weeks into months, but still no word. Nevertheless, Ingelido stayed put, ministering at the church and continuing his credentialing process.

Then, the phone call came. Mike Hampton, pastor of New Stanton AG retired, and the church board asked Ingelido to consider leading the church. After prayerful consideration, he agreed. One month later, he became lead pastor of New Stanton Assembly of God. Along with assuming the many new responsibilities that come with being a pastor’s wife, Jamie stepped into the role of leading worship. Ingelido’s daughters, Rylee, 14, and Maddie, 11, help in the nursery.

Ingelido says entering full-time ministry at 50 comes with a sense of urgency. He is passionate about reaching the next generation for Christ.

“I only have so much time to accomplish God’s will,” he says. “If my life counts for anything, I want it to be about Jesus and the power He has to save and transform lives.”

Ingelido isn’t the only pastoral staff member who switched careers in midlife. David A. Lingsch became associate pastor at 56 after retiring as a psychiatric nurse.

Photo: Ron Ingelido (center) is installed as pastor by PennDel Secretary-Treasurer Jeff Marshall (left) as Ingelido’s wife, Jamie, looks on.

Source: AG News