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Find a Need, Fill a Need — with Love

Jul 21, 2017   //   by ccadmin   //   Announcements  //  No Comments

For the people who live in the poverty-stricken areas around Victory Worship Center in Tucson, Arizona, the church not only represents a place of worship, but a source of compassion, love, and care for the community.

The difference between the church and perhaps some other efforts to assist the community is relationship. The church is proactive in finding and meeting needs that matter in ways that make an unforgettable and personal impact.

According to Executive Pastor Scott Berkey, the architect for the forging of the relationships between the community and the church has been Waylon Sears, the Victory Worship Center’s lead pastor.

“Pastor Waylon has done a great job — he really lives out the core value of People Matter,” Berkey says. “Because he embraces it, our church does as well. It isn’t just something he talks about; it is something he lives and models.”

A few of the church’s ministries include a free mobile medical unit, adoption of local schools, and a free farmers market offering fresh produce.

Dr. Theresa Allison heads the mobile medical unit (MMU) team that consists of about a dozen additional medical volunteers that work in the MMU on three-person rotating shifts.

Allison explains that the MMU is a converted semi-trailer and they offer free medical services on Tuesdays and Thursdays of each week from the church parking lot, with a bus stop only 100 feet from the unit’s entrance.

“We can do basically what any of the little clinics in places such as Walgreens or Walmart can do — including ultrasounds for pregnancy testing,” Allison explains. “Except we do it for free.”

Last year alone, the unit served 1,600 people, some who come from as far as 30 miles away — most of them by foot or bus. The MMU also sets up to offer school athletes free physicals, which is an incredible value for parents, whether they have insurance or not. As Allison observes, for many families, without a free physical, the question is: Do I let my child play sports or do I put food on the table?

Allison also enjoys being unfettered from typical clinical mandates — not having a certain number of patients she must see per day or insurance issues to consider.

“I take time to interact with people and talk to them,” she says. “And insurance or not, if you’re sick or you’re hurting, we’ll see you!”

Executive Pastor Scott Berkey says the MMU fits well with the church’s effort to be a support to its local schools and the school district. Berkey says the relationship with the school district grew when he and a small team offered to volunteer time at the local elementary school. Since that conversation with the principal, the church’s efforts to show its care have increased exponentially.

Berkey says that in addition to others volunteering time at the school, the church began working with a local pantry to provide kids weekend meals. “Nearly every kid in the school qualifies for the free or reduced-price lunch program,” Berkey says. “When they leave school on Fridays, they don’t have much to eat in their pantries at home, so we partnered with a local food bank and now every elementary kid goes home with a weekend snack pack of food.”

The church then met a need that made grown men cry. Sears learned that the middle school football teams had been using the same uniforms for at least the last two decades. Players were wearing the same uniforms some of the coaches had worn years before.

“As soon as Pastor Waylon found out about the need,” Berkey recalls, “he said, ‘We have to figure out a way to pull this off.’”

They did. When the school was presented the new uniforms, players were overwhelmed with excitement, parents expressed profound gratitude, teachers were speechless, and coaches struggled as “mist” clouded their eyes.

“Coaches kept telling me how we had no idea how much this meant to the kids, to parents, or to them,” Berkey says.

The church has invested tens of thousands of dollars and countless hours in the local schools over the past few years, earning the appreciation and respect of school leaders, students, teachers, and parents.

The farmers market is the latest ministry for Victory Worship Center to undertake. Sears had a vision to offer those living in poverty, free fresh produce — a luxury many residents in the surrounding community and government housing could not afford.

“We started exploring some options with different people in the church,” says Berkey. “We found that we had a partner who is a produce distributor, working with grocery stores all over the country — he could get us as much produce as we wanted.”

The church then connected with another church member who has a trucking company and was willing to donate a semi to pick up and deliver the produce. The monthly free farmers market began three months ago, and Berkey says the ministry has been deeply appreciated.

“In three months, we’ve distributed more than 100,000 pounds of produce — tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, zucchini, bell and habanero peppers, grapes, carrots, whatever is in season,” Berkey says. “So far, we’ve not had to pay a dime for any of the food and we’ve have 180 volunteers at eight distributions points helping with the food distribution and engaging people in conversations. And last month, we positioned prayer teams at each location — and we saw people healed!”

Victory Worship Center also has a Hispanic campus church. As much of south Tucson is Spanish-speaking, Berkey says the church is able to go into the area and really connect with the community through the different ministries.

The superintendent of schools, Dr. David Baker, is also impressed by the church. He came by one of the distribution points, stunned at what the church was doing for the families whose children were in his care. “He just kept saying, ‘I can’t believe that you are doing this for our people,’” Berkey recalls. 

Baker has been so impressed with the church’s ongoing commitment and care for the schools and community that he named the church the community partner — not just for the elementary and middle school, but the entire Flowing Wells School District — an incredible honor and show of trust in the church.

Are the ministries really that important to the community? Allison says a recent incident confirmed her calling. When an old wrap was being removed from the exterior of the MMU, people became confused and thought the program was going away. They began calling and stopping by the church and the MMU, asking if it was being shutdown, begging for it to remain open.

But Berkey says that the ministry blessing isn’t just felt in the community, it’s felt in the church. People being served in the ministries are starting to attend Victory Worship Center. Also, an increasing number of members are catching Sears’ vision for ministry and becoming actively involved in reaching their community through acts of compassion and care.

With a church of 4,000 attenders, Berkey recognizes that only a handful of churches have that kind of depth to draw from, but he believes any church can make a difference. He recommends a congregation’s first step to be one of building trust.

“I would suggest that the pastor, or church leader, go to the principal and simply say, ‘I am here to help. What can I do?’” advises Berkey. “When you are faithful with those opportunities and you come through on what you have promised to do, you build trust and a community partnership is born.”

For the individuals and families connected to Victory Worship Center and its ministries, that trust in the church is leading them to faith in Christ.

Source: AG News

Midlife Calling

Jul 21, 2017   //   by ccadmin   //   Announcements  //  No Comments

Tim and Cindy Dudley are embarking on their first pastorate journey in their 50s.

“It’s the big bang before we finish,” says Cindy, 56. “God can still use us as an older couple. We feel this is the prime in our lives. We’re now walking in our purpose.”

Beginning Aug. 19, the Dudleys will oversee the first Assemblies of God congregation in Hurricane, a growing community in the high desert of southwest Utah.

The Hurricane congregation will be a parent affiliate church of New Life Christian Center, 25 miles west of Hurricane. For the past couple of years, the Dudleys have served in ministry through New Life. Tim, 53, has been a men’s leader and youth leader; Cindy has focused on assisted living and children’s ministries. Both have preached from the pulpit, served as home group leaders, and done hospital visitation.

A dozen members of New Life St. George will help the Hurricane church get off the ground. The Dudleys figured they would be associate ministers the rest of their days, but with the backing of New Life Christian Center they have received the requisite training to lead on their own.

“Tim and Cindy are ready to be pastors,” says New Life Pastor Javier Jimenez, 46. “They are hard workers and well prepared.”

The Dudleys, who are both New York natives, have lived in Utah since 2001, a couple of years after they wed as a blended family, with the childless Tim marrying a woman with four children. Neither Tim nor Cindy had been Christians for long at the time.

Southwest Utah is dominated by Mormon residents. In addition, Hurricane, which has nearly doubled in size to 16,160 residents since the turn of the century, is about 20 miles northwest of the epicenter of fundamentalist polygamist sects in Colorado City, Arizona.

Affordable housing is available in Hurricane, where almost two-thirds of the populace is under age 45. Jimenez figures the demographics will be different between the two locales. The St. George church has many longtime Christians who are comfortably retired. The Hurricane congregation is more likely to attract younger families.  

The Dudleys plan to distribute meat and bread to needy residents in mobile home parks on Saturdays. Another feature of the church will be monthly appreciation dinners for professionals such as firefighters or nurses who are often taken for granted. New Life Hurricane is renting the local American Legion building for only $100 on Sundays. 

The Dudleys attended a Church Multiplication Network training and launch event in June.

Jimenez, a former investment vice president for a reputable Wall Street firm, isn’t worried about forfeiting members to the church plant. New Life St. George, which now draws an average crowd of 150, has doubled in attendance since Jimenez and his wife, Ia, took over as co-pastors in October 2014. Working with the church board, the couple has steered the church to eradicate $1.8 million in debt.

IMAGE – Utah pastors and church planters are (from left) Tim and Cindy Dudley, Jan and Vern Fink, and Ia and Javier Jimenez.  

Source: AG News

This Week in AG History — July 24, 1937

Jul 20, 2017   //   by ccadmin   //   Announcements  //  No Comments

Zelma Argue (1900-1980) was the daughter, sister, sister-in-law, aunt, and cousin of great preachers. When her father, A. H. Argue, was asked on an evangelistic campaign, “Where is (your wife)?” his answer came quickly, “Oh! She’s at home raising the preachers.” As an evangelist with her family, Zelma ably filled the pulpit, but it seems she was even more productive with her pen. 

Upon her ordination and embarkment on the evangelistic trail in 1920, her family gave her a writing set and a portable typewriter. Over the next 60 years she put them to good use, penning eight books and writing for at least seven periodicals, including nearly 200 articles for the Pentecostal Evangel. Her first article, “Buying Gold,” appeared in the March 5, 1921, edition and her final article, “Threefold Purpose of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit” was published on March 23, 1980, just two months after her death.

Argue wrote with a passion, challenging readers that the Christian life must carry an ever-increasing surrender to God’s service. While her words were oftentimes hard, she wrote in such a way that the resulting effect did not convey condemnation but conviction. Her common topics were intimacy with God, revival, prayer, worship, and the importance of soul-winning. 

In an article in the July 24, 1937, Pentecostal Evangel, “The Next Towns Also: A Plea for Fresh Efforts at Direct Evangelism,” Argue examines the practical application of the words of Jesus in Mark 1:38, “Let us go into the next towns also…” In this passage, Christ is at the beginning of his ministry and has reached a zenith of popularity in Capernaum; so much so that He found the need to search for a solitary place, prompting Peter to remind Him that “all men seek for thee!” 

Argue makes the proposition that Jesus was at a crisis point in ministry — one that we often face, as well. If He chose to stay in Capernaum it seemed that all would be going His way. If He chose to move on, He had no idea the reception He would face in another town. In addition, if He focused on others, what would happen to those whom He left behind? Argue states, “but in solitude He had heard from above. His answer was ready: ‘Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also, for therefore came I forth.’ These last words seem to suggest that He had been pondering deeply and had only reached His conclusion by recalling what He must never forget: the goal set before Him.” 

Argue illustrates the importance of consistently reaching out into new fields by comparing the church to a lively home where there are little children for whom to care. She argues that the home with babies is a much happier spot than a home where all the inhabitants were adults who “had little to do but sit around and disagree” with each other. She plainly states that an assembly with a stream of new blood constantly pouring into it was God’s best for a contented home church: “Fresh kindling catches fire better than burnt over wood!” 

The genius of Argue’s writing is that she not only points out the need for reaching beyond current borders but offers practical solutions that can be easily and quickly implemented. She says that in “railroad stations and other public places I never see a box of Christian Science literature that I do not feel that we should have a box of Evangels.” She encourages churches to consider moving evening services into a tent for the summer or renting out a building in another part of town when having a guest speaker so that new ears are exposed to the gospel message. 

Fifty years before they were widely popular, she encourages “Branch Sunday Schools” conducted in neighborhoods outside the church building to reach children and their families. Argue also admonishes churches to consider having meetings at different times of the day and week to reach those whose schedules or lifestyle is not conducive to Sunday or evening services. She also suggests that church take advantage of technological advances, like radio programming, to expand to new fields. 

She pleads with readers that “not only foreign fields, but our next towns, our neighborhoods, our next-door neighbors, may present fields of opportunity … if someone will leave the well-tilled and well-reaped field, and search out those not yet reached, as Jesus Himself sought so faithfully to do.” His vision includes “the next town,” and ours must, also. 

The Argue family continues to bless the Pentecostal movement with great Pentecostal preachers, such as David Argue (former Assemblies of God Executive Presbyter) and Don Argue (the first Pentecostal to serve as president of the National Association of Evangelicals). However, few would contest that some of the best preaching in the Argue family came through the pen of the lifelong spinster aunt, Zelma Argue. 

Read the full article, “The Next Towns Also,” on page 2 of the July 24, 1937, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel. 

Also featured in this issue:

“Spiritual Promotion,” by W.E. Moody

“Pioneering in Nicaragua, by Melvin Hodges

“Healed of Pneumonia and Tuberculosis,” by Eunice Bailey

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

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

IMAGE – A. H. Argue (right) standing with his son Watson (left) and daughter Zelma (center) in front of a car at the Ohio State Pentecostal Camp Meeting at Findlay, Ohio.

Source: AG News

Pioneers of the Slavic Evangelical Awakening

Jul 20, 2017   //   by ccadmin   //   Announcements  //  No Comments

The first few decades of Victor Gaiduchik’s walk with Christ were defined by risk and persecution. The most recent, by revival among his Slavic brothers and sisters.

“I was persecuted in many ways,” Gaiduchik says. “I didn’t get a diploma because of my faith. I was beaten and they tried to put me in a psychiatric hospital. But during each attempt, God protected me,”

Gaiduchik, 58, and his wife, Irina, 57, both were born in Ukraine under communist rule and attended underground Christian churches. The Gaiduchiks married in 1981 and immigrated to the U.S. in 1989, months before the Berlin Wall fell. They were among the first Slavic families to settle in the San Francisco Bay Area. 

“We came to America with our suitcases, but no English, no money, and no friend,” says Gaiduchik. “We were just subject to God’s plan.”

Gaiduchik did have goals, though. Since accepting Christ at the age of 13, he desired to attend Bible college and preach the gospel.

“I received a calling from God when I received Christ,” says Gaiduchik. “I went outside in the street and shared God’s love, even though it was dangerous.”

Soon after arriving in America, the Iron Curtain came down and the former Soviet states opened to the gospel. Victor was eager to return and preach, so he knocked on many denominational doors — Lutheran, Presbyterian, Seventh-day Adventist, Baptist —asking for prayer and support.

At that time, the Gaiduchik family attended Slavic Trinity Church (now Light of the Gospel Church) in Sacramento, California. Edward Johnson, then-assistant superintendent of the Assemblies of God Northern California and Nevada District, visited the church and Gaiduchik seized the opening.

“I told him about my story and my calling to preach the gospel to the Slavic people,” Gaiduchik recalls. “He told me I needed to get credentialed with the Assemblies of God, but before that I needed to go to Bible college.”

Without missing a beat, Gaiduchik enrolled in Trinity Life Bible College, now Epic Bible College, in Sacramento. During the years Gaiduchik attended the school, millions of Slavic people arrived in the U.S., while back in Ukraine millions more languished, desperate for work and food. This broadened Gaiduchik’s calling geographically.

In 1994, Gaiduchik completed Bible school and became credentialed — one of the first Slavic immigrants to do so, according to Scott R. Temple, 63, director of the AG’s Office of Ethnic Relations. Fluent in Ukrainian, Russian, and English, Gaiduchik has been a force for the Lord in reaching Slavic people. Victor and Irina Gaiduchik are AG U.S. missionaries with Intercultural Ministries.

The Gaiduchik family began ministering in Slavic-Russian Christian churches throughout the U.S. and started organizing and sending humanitarian aid — millions of pounds of food and supplies — to Ukraine.

In the Bay Area, the Gaiduchiks also helped new Ukrainian refugees settle and assimilate.

“Almost every day we went to the airport to greet and welcome and encourage refugees,” Gaiduchik says.

Also in 1994, Gaiduchik made the first of what would become annual mission trips to Ukraine and parts of Russia. He stayed three to four months at a time, preaching outdoors.

These days, on those same trips, he is working with the AG Bible School in Kiev, training students to plant churches. To date, 15 have been launched throughout the country. He and Irina still are engaged in distributing compassionate aid, now to those displaced by the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.  

On the home front, the Gaiduchiks minister in the Sacramento area, where there are up to 200,000 Slavic-speaking people and 10 AG Slavic churches. At the national level, they’ve been instrumental in the formation of the Assemblies of God National Slavic District , now comprised of 55 congregations with 129 credentialed Slavic AG ministers. There are nearly 7 million Slavic people in the U.S.

“One of the key things Gaiduchik does is bring together independent and AG churches to build strong churches and a strong network,” says Temple. “He plants and trains leaders, and builds and develops powerful networks.”

Source: AG News

Paying Compassion Forward

Jul 19, 2017   //   by ccadmin   //   Announcements  //  No Comments

Hurt, heartbroken, and homeless, Brittney Simpson found herself out of options. Ready to give up, drowning in bitterness and depression, all hope seemed lost.

“I knew there was something better, but I didn’t know how to reach out and get it,” she says. “There was a void in my heart.”

She contacted a pastor in Mississippi, where she lived at the time, and asked for help. That’s when she heard about Teen Challenge, a ministry of Assemblies of God U.S. Missions. After a long week of waiting, she learned of an opening at the rehabilitation facility in Livingston, Tennessee.

After 24 hours of bus rides, she arrived at Teen Challenge of the Upper Cumberland.

Looking back on that day, Simpson, 29, says she is in awe of what happened when she surrendered her life to God. It’s been just under four years since Simpson entered Teen Challenge. Now she works as education director at the center she says saved her life.

“I remember how much God has brought me through and how much forgiveness He has given me that I can now offer to other people,” she says. “It’s taken time because I was very hurt and I had a lot of bitterness. God helped me see things through His eyes.”

Simpson grew up in a blended family, where she says she suffered abuse as a child. For 12 years, Simpson says she was sexually abused. She says her image of love was distorted, and she began seeking improper attention from others. She started using drugs and alcohol as a teenager as a means of escape.

“I’m not a victim of those things, the Lord has made me an overcomer of those things,” she says. “I just needed Jesus.”

She entered a yearlong discipleship program at Teen Challenge in 2013.

“You could just tell this lady was broken, no hope or light in her eyes,” says Tim McLauchlin, Teen Challenge of the Upper Cumberland executive director. “She didn’t know how to receive love.”

Simpson says the discipleship process focused on reading Scripture and learning about God’s purpose for her life. It took her a long time to work through the baggage she carried. She didn’t know how to respond to compassion.

“The staff saw the good in me that I didn’t even see in myself,” Simpson says.

Nearing Teen Challenge graduation, Simpson says seeing the love of God working through others caused her to want to help women in similar situations to what she overcame. She asked McLauchlin for an internship. McLauchlin says Simpson’s transformation since entering the program has been powerful.

“She’s come so far, and God has done so much in her life,” he says. “God has given her the opportunity to give back to others.”

During her internship, she traveled to Ireland for ministry with Global Teen Challenge. She says working with homeless people made a special impact.

“I remember being in that position, feeling like there was no hope,” she says. “I just consider it paying it forward.”

After returning to the States, Simpson became education director of Teen Challenge of the Upper Cumberland. She writes spiritually based curriculum and teaches women at the 11-bed facility for women.

“I was told that I was worthless, that I would not amount to anything,” Simpson remembers. “But the power of God lives in me. I have hope.”

McLauchlin says Simpson’s testimony is an effective example for the women at Teen Challenge.

“That’s the fruit of what God uses this ministry to accomplish,” he says.

Chelsea Hughes is another staffer at the facility whose life has been redeemed.

Source: AG News

The 24/7 Evangelist

Jul 18, 2017   //   by ccadmin   //   Announcements  //  No Comments

Assemblies of God evangelist Gerald Mayhan woke up one Sunday morning before church and started preaching to the coffee pot.

“I tried to get the coffee pot saved, but it was already saved,” the smiling Mayhan preached later that morning.

Mayhan’s sermons are old-school, the-Bible-says style. In the course of a 35-minute sermon, he may introduce a new Scripture passage about every 60 seconds alongside snippets of his testimony.

“Come on church, we need the fire of God,” he says swirling a white handkerchief above his head on one of his many YouTube videos. “I need the fire of God in my life.”

Evangelism is an around-the-clock lifestyle for Mayhan, a larger-than-life, barrel-chested African-American native of West Virginia. His friends and colleagues often retell stories of Mayhan leading restaurant servers or even perfect strangers to salvation in Christ at McDonald’s, Bob Evans, a parking lot, or a hotel lobby.

“I can talk to a person for two minutes and tell where they stand with the Lord,” Mayhan says.

Michael T. Zello Jr., co-founder of Teen Challenge North Central Virginia, recalls sharing a meal with Mayhan during one of these cold-call conversions involving a waitress.

“I met the woman 10 years later and she was doing youth ministry,” Zello says. “Gerald is absolutely on fire for Christ trying to lead everyone to the Lord no matter where we go.”

That hasn’t always been the case.

In the late 1960s, Mayhan met and married his wife, Phyllis. But shortly after their wedding day, he was drafted and shipped off to South Vietnam for 11 months in a combat unit.

Serving as point man, he was awarded two Purple Hearts for combat wounds. But like many foot soldiers then, he began to abuse street drugs and got hooked on heroin.

Returning from Vietnam, Mayhan was in rough shape and he spent the next 18 years hooked on heroin, cocaine, alcohol, and marijuana. He served time in jail. He and his wife separated for 3½ years.

Desperate for a fresh start, Mayhan showed up at a detox center in Washington D.C., and then went to National Capital Avenue Teen Challenge, a Maryland branch of the 12-month, faith-based U.S. Missions residential program for former drug abusers.

“I couldn’t free myself,” recalls Mayhan, 67.

Zello concurs regarding Mayhan’s predicament.

“Older heroin addict, hooked in Vietnam,” Zello says. “It is so hard to change them.”

During the first four months in Teen Challenge, addicts after detox live in a spiritual boot camp-like context. Mayhan confessed Christ as Savior after hearing the testimonies of two former addicts.

“I am a witness of a man who was completely rock bottom to someone who was forgiven and got healing,” Zello says.

After completing the yearlong recovery process, Mayhan reunited with his wife and family, which includes daughter Trina Mayhan-Webb and grandsons Moses and Joshua Webb.

One Wednesday night, Mayhan joined the midweek Bible study that Pastor Thomas Gulbronson led at First Assembly Alexandria in Virginia. Afterward, Mayhan asked Gulbronson to teach him how to preach. This started a mentoring relationship that continues to this day.

“He’s New Testament,” says Gulbronson, 75, now pastor of Springfield Assembly of God in West Virginia. “People respond to him.”

Several years ago, Mayhan began working overseas. On July 2, Mayhan took a ministry team of 43 people to Swaziland for evangelism and leadership training. The extremely poor southern African kingdom has one of the lowest life expectancies — age 49 — in the world due to HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and other diseases.

First Assembly Alexandria is now Mayhan’s home base for such overseas ventures, where he serves as staff evangelist. But most of his ministry is in the mid-Atlantic region. He has put more than 400,000 miles on his cars visiting churches and conducting revivals.

Wes E. Johnson, lead pastor at First Assembly Alexandria, says, “You cannot go to lunch with him without him leading someone to the Lord. That’s who is he 24/7.”

Johnson believes evangelistic outreach in local churches is in steep decline.

“The gift of evangelist is a dying thing,” Johnson says. “If we are not careful, it will go the way of the dinosaur.”

Mayhan concedes he does crusade evangelism the same way evangelists led services a century ago: straight-up gospel preaching, testimonies, an altar call, and an offer to connect new converts to a local church.

“That still works,” Mayhan says. “It’s effective and the only way to go.”

Source: AG News

Back to Life

Jul 17, 2017   //   by ccadmin   //   Announcements  //  No Comments

One minute Clarence Williams was listening to Pastor Jeff McDonell preach about God’s plan for people’s lives and the next instant, he was in the presence of Jesus — if only for a few minutes. 

On June 11, Williams, who is 80, died during the Sunday morning service at Evangel Assembly of God in Cortez, Colorado. He had suffered a massive heart attack. He stopped breathing. He turned gray and cold to the touch. And for 8 to 10 minutes, he had no discernible pulse. 

Williams’ wife of 63 years, Shirley, was the first to realize something was wrong as Clarence didn’t respond to her gentle touch when he appeared to have fallen asleep. The touch went to a nudge and then a more urgent shaking of his shoulder — no response. 

“He was sleepy,” Shirley says, “but then all of a sudden he slumped and didn’t respond. I felt for a pulse and there was none.” 

A church member seated near Clarence interrupted McDonell’s message, simply saying, “Pastor, Clarence is in trouble.” 

As an usher was alerted to call 9-1-1, McDonell hurried from the platform toward Williams. 

“When I saw him, I knew he was gone,” McDonell says, who served in the U.S. Air Force and taught CPR in the military for five years. He placed his left hand over Williams’ heart and near his neck, looking for a pulse, and with the other hand, he grabbed Williams’ wrist, hoping to feel a pulse there. Meanwhile, the Williamses’ daughter Sharon, had her hand on her father’s carotid artery, also seeking a pulse. 

“There was nothing. Absolutely nothing,” McDonell says. “He was gone.” 

McDonell, who is 53, got up as three nurses from the congregation gathered around Williams and others prayed. As the sound of Sharon’s desperate cries for her father ringing in the auditorium mixed with the voiced prayers and prayers in the Spirit of others, McDonell quietly dismissed the congregation, asking people to continue to pray for Clarence as they left. 

While the congregation was experiencing shock, anxiety, fear, confusion, and the pain of the loss of one of their own, Clarence was experiencing something quite different — an encounter with Christ. 

“I saw the Lord coming down an old, dusty road. He didn’t talk to me at first, but I knew in my spirit who He was,” Williams says. “He was walking toward me and I toward Him.” 

Williams describes being in the presence of Jesus as beautiful — with the cares of the world forgotten and an indescribable feeling of total peace in his soul. “There was this bright light, a glow about Him — you couldn’t look at Him very long — it hurt your eyes,” he says. “The light was in a square . . . , we see the light, like the sun, is round, but there it was square, though it wasn’t like electricity.” 

Behind Christ, Williams saw millions of children of all ages. “There was no end to them,” he says. Christ would tell him that the children he saw were children who were victims of abuse, famine, abortion, or lives in some way, cut short. Some were images of children still alive, others were children awaiting the rapture. 

“The Lord grieved a long time for what’s taking place all over the world [to children],” Williams says. 

As Christ and Williams continued to talk and walk toward each other, suddenly Christ began to fade away, His words echoing in Williams’ mind. 

“The next thing I knew, I was on a gurney being lifted into an ambulance,” he says. 

What happened? Prayer! 

After dismissing the congregation, McDonell returned to Williams. As he walked toward him, he says he felt the Holy Spirit tell him he should put his hand on Williams’ chest and command him to breathe in Jesus’ name, out loud. Forgetting he was still wearing his wireless mic, McDonell did as he was told as others surrounding Williams continued to pray. 

McDonell had his hands on Williams’ heart and wrist again; when he did as the Spirit instructed, the result was instantaneous. 

“Immediately the Holy Spirit brought him back to life. His heart felt liked it jumped two inches and his pulse hit his wrist so hard it scared me,” McDonell says, “It felt like a shot — like something was underneath his skin!” 

Williams is well-known in the area, having earned recognition and respect in his southwest Colorado community as a police officer and longtime sheriff in the city of Delores, serving the county of Montezuma. A U.S. Air Force veteran and church member, Williams is also a former member of the church board and he and his wife, Shirley, were store owners in Cortez. As his testimony has spread, he’s become even more well-known. 

But God wasn’t finished with His handiwork quite yet, physically or spiritually. After arriving at the hospital, the doctors would run tests on Williams and share with him the troubling news that the bottom half of his heart was dead, having suffered severe trauma due to the heart attack. They wanted to transport him to the Durango medical center for further tests and potential surgery. Williams didn’t want to go, explaining that God had healed him in the hospital. The doctors pointed to the test results — they weren’t buying it. 

McDonell finally convinced Williams to allow the doctors to send him to Durango, as their tests would be able to confirm or refute his claims of healing. After taking a battery of tests, including a tread mill test, the results, which McDonell read for himself, concluded Williams not only had a healthy heart, but the heart of 16-year-old — something not typically found in the body of an 80-year-old man! 

This wasn’t a typo or a diagnosis misunderstood. Shirley says that on a follow-up exam on July 10, the cardiologist again confirmed that Clarence had the heart of a 16-year-old. 

God was also at work in the church. The week before Clarence’s experience, McDonell had preached on Pentecost, signs, and wonders — and in his words, nothing happened. “We had 25 college students from the University of Georgia, who attend the Wesley Bible Study on their campus, in the service,” McDonell says. “Every year, they come to help us with our very large VBS outreach — they are all mostly non-Pentecostal.” 

That first Sunday, McDonell admits he was disappointed that the Spirit didn’t demonstrate His power to the students. But the following Sunday, the students were all sitting right across the aisle from Williams. As they exited that day, they believed, as did a majority of the congregation, that they had just witnessed the end of a life. 

When the students later learned of Williams’ miraculous experience, they struggled to comprehend what they had witnessed and what God had done — it was a miracle they will never forget! 

The church also had a surprising number of local visitors for that June 11th service — as 15 visitors had decided to come to the church that day. McDonell says all 15 have continued to come. 

Since his experience with Christ, Williams has become bold in his faith. During his stay in the hospital, McDonnel says Williams was like a “pit bull with a piece of steak” in his witnessing efforts to the doctors and nurses, asking if they died today, did they know where they would spend eternity. He was even able to share the plan of salvation with one of the nurses. 

Williams says that God took away his hesitancy to witness, and now he wants to tell everyone he sees about Jesus. 

Two weeks after his return from death, Williams was in church, sharing his testimony. Following the service, the Lord led McDonell to have Williams pray over anyone who wanted to be prayed over. Nearly the entire church of 150 to 200 got in line. Williams prayed for hours over people, with God giving him a prophecy for nearly every person as he prayed for them. 

God then used the miraculous testimony at the Central Latin District’s Family Camp to bring a businessman, there to make a presentation to church leaders, to Christ. That camp also led to McDonell being prophesied over by AG evangelist Chris Clock — signs, wonders, miracles, and revival were coming to Evangel Assembly! 

Some of the final words Christ imparted to Williams in their meeting seem to support the prophecy over McDonell, with the prophesied demonstration of the Spirit’s power being a “sign of the times” and perhaps being the start of the Spirit’s final effort to lead people to Christ. 

Williams says, “He [Jesus] told me, ‘There’s much work to be done. The time is short. I will return.’” 

Amen!

Source: AG News

The Restoration of Lee McFarland

Jul 17, 2017   //   by ccadmin   //   Announcements  //  No Comments

Lee McFarland experienced a meteoric rise in the corporate world, first at Honeywell Aerospace, then at Microsoft Corp. As director of worldwide operations at the Redmond, Washington-based computer technology company, McFarland amassed a $160,000 annual salary, $50,000 in yearly bonuses, and 16,000 shares of Microsoft stock.

Yet in 1996 McFarland walked off the fast track to vast wealth, spurning an offer to become a Microsoft general manager. Instead, he acceded to God’s call to pioneer an Assemblies of God church in Surprise, Arizona. He made $22,000 his first year as pastor.

Canvassing neighborhoods with clipboard in hand, McFarland repeatedly heard residents of the fast-growing community explain they didn’t attend church because they didn’t find sermons applicable to everyday life, and they didn’t want to dress up or hear money pitches.

McFarland intentionally adopted a casual attire when preaching, made Bible stories relevant to modern American situations, and avoided dire pleas for donations.

Nine years after launching, Radiant became the fourth largest in the Assemblies of God. By 2010, Radiant held five weekend services, with a total average attendance of 6,359. The adulation McFarland received in church circles proved equally as dazzling as commendations garnered in the corporate world.

Yet in 2011, McFarland’s idyllic life came to a crashing halt. McFarland confessed to moral failure, resigned from the church, repented, and submitted to a two-year period of healing and restoration.

Subsequently, a couple who formerly attended Radiant, filed a $6.6 million lawsuit against McFarland, the church, and the Arizona Ministry Network, making graphic claims of how McFarland had breached his pastoral and counseling duties over an 11-month period by manipulating the wife.

McFarland’s wife, Sandy, a skilled scanning electron microscope technician, easily could have supported herself. But Sandy recognized Lee’s genuine sorrow and repentance, and stayed in the marriage, now in its 36th year.

In the aftermath of the crisis, McFarland thought about switching careers again, even coming to the brink of opening a Chick-fil-A franchise. Yet every new vocational door McFarland sought to walk through closed.

Phoenix Dream City Church Senior Pastor Tommy Barnett encouraged McFarland to stay in the ministry. After a two-year rehabilitation process overseen by Barnett, the AG reinstated McFarland’s ministerial credentials in 2013.

Barnett, 79, acted as a spiritual father to McFarland, who turned 59 on July 5. Barnett convinced McFarland that he had many good ministry years ahead.

“So many ministers who go through the rehab process don’t return to full time ministry,” says Arizona Ministry Network Superintendent Stephen L. Harris. “Lee is a great example of one who fell, went through the process, and is restored to ministry, successfully pastoring again. I am very proud of him!”

Lee embraced the restoration process in a very exemplary way,” adds AG General Secretary James T. Bradford.

“Satan wants to label us with our failures,” says McFarland, who speaks forthrightly about his fall. “God says OK, that was for a season, but that’s not who you are.”

In his attempt to return to the pulpit, McFarland sparked much interest from pastoral search committees — until internet hunts revealed the pending lawsuit.

In early 2015, SoCal Ministry Network Assistant Superintendent John Johnson notified McFarland of a lead pastor opening at Covina Assembly of God, where Johnson’s daughter-in-law JoAnn Johnson is executive pastor. Church members voted to hire McFarland just before settlement of the lawsuit against him.

McFarland says he has safeguards in place to prevent a recurrence of the sin.

“I’m acutely aware of where I’ve been,” McFarland says. “You learn a lot about yourself if you go to weekly counseling for two years.”

Those sessions spurred McFarland to unearth childhood hurts he never had confronted. McFarland also came to realize he had brought the workaholic demands of the business world into ministry. But while 60-hour weeks may be the norm at Microsoft, McFarland succumbed to the added stress of always being on call in ministry. He reached the point of downing a case of energy drinks every week to battle exhaustion, a habit that led to poor decision-making.

McFarland says he now cultivates healthy ways of dealing with stress such as walking or reading a book, rather than caving to damaging triggers. 

Throughout his ministry, McFarland always has been a topical and expository preacher, a humorous and self-effacing speaker. Just as he preached openly about his struggles at Radiant, he remains transparent about his failures at Covina. That has given him an inroad to reach millennials, many of whom have absentee dads.

  

 “People are more willing to listen to someone who’s traveled through intense hurt and pain — and talks about it from the pulpit — than someone who just says life’s always been good,” McFarland says. He says he submitted to the rigorous AG restoration process, in part, to be an example to young people who looked up to him, especially his two children, Josh, 25, and Krissy, 24.

Although the suit has been settled, the lurid accusations still are on the web.

“The Lord lets you go through a fire because He knows you will be a better person afterwards,” McFarland says. “My struggles are out there for anyone to see, and that’s humbling.”

Meanwhile, Radiant Church has rebounded under the leadership of Greg Marquart.

Although Covina Assembly, like Radiant, is a megachurch — topping 2,400 in weekly attendance — McFarland says he isn’t interested in crowd size or glamour. McFarland, who has been a trainer with the AG’s Church Multiplication Network over the years, says he wants to help church leaders guard against temptations and decipher detrimental tendencies before they lead to isolation that causes a fiasco. He laments that he didn’t take a sabbatical in 14 years at Radiant.

“Anyone who is struggling, who is feeling empty or burned out, should take a break and get healthy,” McFarland advises. “That’s better than crashing in a spectacular failure that hurts the witness of the church.”

Source: AG News

James River Church Ties Record with Teen Bible Quiz Championship

Jul 14, 2017   //   by ccadmin   //   Announcements  //  No Comments

The Flames Bible Quiz team of James River Church, Ozark, Missouri, recently won its record-tying fourth Teen Bible Quiz (TBQ) national championship title in five years at the 2017 TBQ National Finals. 

The tournament, held July 2-7 at Sandy Cove Christian retreat center in North East, Maryland, featured 40 of the nation’s top Bible Quiz teams quizzing over the books of Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon. 

According to The Flames’ coach, Christina Quick, this year there were a lot of very strong teams in the Championship division (made up of the top 20 teams determined by the first day’s preliminary rounds). Case in point, The Flames just made it into the Championship final four, having a record of 13-6 in the round-robin portion of the quizzing, with no team entering the final four undefeated. 

However, in the finals, The Flames put together two outstanding performances, first defeating top-seeded Maple Lane Assembly of Deposit, New York, 190-140, in the semifinals, and then downing Calvary Church of Naperville, Illinois, 235-135, for the title. 

In the title game, team captain Hannah Quick led individual scoring with 130 points, and both she and teammate Travis Griessel “quizzed out” (answered the maximum of five correct questions, earning bonus points). Leisl Jansen and Cade Chrastina rounded out the national title team. 

First Assembly of Lexington, Kentucky, came back from a lopsided loss to Calvary Church in its semifinal match to defeat Deposit, 205-130, to take third place. 

“I’m extremely proud of these quizzers for their commitment to studying the Bible,” says Christina Quick, Hannah’s mother. “The countless hours they put in paid off in competition, but the real reward is in knowing God’s Word.”

With the victory, James River now joins The Church at Briargate from Colorado Springs, Colorado, and First Assembly of Owasso, Oklahoma, as the only four-time TBQ national champions in the 55-year history of the event. James River finished in third place in last year’s competition.

Another piece of history was also made this year when a second team from James River Church, Goals, won the Challenger division, edging Neighborhood Church of Bellevue, Washington, 125-115. This is the first time that both the Championship and Challenger divisions have been won by the same church.

In the individual standings, Hallie Reisenger of Newport (Pennsylvania) Assembly placed first in the Championship Division with 2,175 points. Zak Kellock of Dream City Church in Scottsdale, Arizona, was second with 2,095 points, and Hannah Quick was third with 1,780 points. In the Challenger Division, Zach Ponraj of Tacoma (Washington) Life Center led the way with 1,520 points.

Reisenger repeated as the TBQ Female Quizzer of the Year while Solomon Stevens of Maple Lane AG was named TBQ Male Quizzer of the Year. Christina Quick received TBQ Coach of the Year honors.

“At a time when few Americans read the Bible, it’s great to see young people from across the nation who are learning and memorizing the truths of Scripture,” Christina Quick says. “Bible Quiz is such an important ministry, and my family has truly been blessed to be a part of it.”

According to Bible Quiz Director Bernie Elliott, during the championship week, more than $27,000 was awarded to quizzers in the form of college scholarships. For the 2018 season, quizzers will be studying the Gospel of Mark, with the national championship tournament to be held at Calvary Church in Naperville, Illinois.

IMAGE – From left to right. Top row: Yvonne Jansen, Christina Quick, Leisl Jansen. Bottom row: Cade Chrastina, Hannah Quick, Travis Griessel.

Source: AG News

Overall Turnaround

Jul 14, 2017   //   by ccadmin   //   Announcements  //  No Comments

Devon Overall was 6 the night his father’s mugshot appeared on the evening news.

He remembers sitting by the television next to his grandfather, shocked as he recognized the face pictured with three others on the screen. The four suspects faced charges connected to several bank robberies in St. Louis County, Missouri.          

“I stood up and I was like, what’s going on?” Overall remembers. “My grandfather was trying to turn the TV off and fumbling with the remote.”

Overall’s father, later convicted, would serve the next 15 years in prison.

It marked the second time Overall lost a parent. His mother was murdered when he was 2 years old, too young to remember. He never called anyone mom.

But Overall didn’t let those early setbacks define him.

In May, Overall, 22, graduated from Evangel University in Springfield, Missouri, with a degree in business management and marketing, following a standout football career. He’s now living in Gulf Breeze, Florida, working as an independent operator at Emerald Coast Snacks.

Looking back, he says he can see the footprints of God walking through his life, even in the dark times.

“Everything in life happens for a sure reason,” Overall says. “You have to make the best of what it is.”

For 10 years following his father’s arrest, Overall and his half-brother stayed with their grandfather and his wife on the east side of St. Louis. They later moved to Monett, a small southwest Missouri town.

There, his grandfather regularly took the family to a nearby Baptist church on Sundays. However, some of the more than a dozen people rooming in the house abused drugs. That made living conditions tense. Overall found refuge with his friends and teammates.

“If it hadn’t been for football and wrestling coaches and my buddies on the team, I don’t know if I would have graduated,” he says.

His sophomore year, a neighbor couple, Jason and Andrea Huff, befriended Overall. They hired him for yard work and began attending his football games.

As tensions grew at home, Overall gathered the courage to ask the Huffs if he could move in with them. They accepted, and the state granted them custody in 2012.

For the first time since being a toddler, Overall had a mom and a dad.

Overall attended Evangel to play football as a walk-on. He was voted a team captain three of his four years and received all-conference honors at linebacker his final two.

Brenton Illum, the Crusaders’ head coach during his first three years, admired Overall’s leadership.

“There’s nobody that I have a higher opinion of as an individual than Devon Overall,” Illum says. “From a character standpoint, from a work ethic standpoint, from a loyalty standpoint, he’s one-of-a-kind.”

Along with football, Overall volunteered with the Springfield Boys and Girls Club. He says his professors and coaches helped him grow.

Bernie Dana, a business professor who served as Overall’s adviser, says Overall’s dedication impressed him.  

“There’s just a determination about him,” Dana says. “He sets his mind on something and goes after it.”

Following graduation, Overall moved to Florida. He now lives near the Huffs and has some contact with his biological father, released from prison 2 years ago.

Today, Overall says his background drives him to encourage others that God is in control, no matter what.

“If today is your worst day ever, tomorrow is going to be better,” Overall says.

Source: AG News

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