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This Week in AG History — May 29, 1920

May 25, 2017   //   by ccadmin   //   Announcements  //  No Comments

The first Pentecostal missionary to Argentina, Alice Wood (1870-1961), holds another great distinction: she served more than 60 years on the mission field, the last 50 without a furlough. When she finally retired at age 90, she left behind a thriving church pastored by Argentinians whom she raised up for the purpose of impacting a country for Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit.

When the call came in the December 1913 issue of Word and Witness for a gathering of Pentecostal believers in Hot Springs, Arkansas, E.N. Bell published the five reasons for this first General Council of what would become the Assemblies of God. The third reason stated: “We come together for another reason, that we may get a better understanding of the needs of each foreign field, and may know how to place our money … that we may discourage wasting money on those who are running here and there accomplishing nothing, and may concentrate our support on those who mean business for our King.”

Alice Wood received the call but was unable to attend. She was a single, 44-year-old Canadian Pentecostal missionary in Gualeguaychú, Argentina, with no visible means of support. Encouraged by the vision to support missions, Wood sent in an application to be included among the first official missionaries of the fledgling Assemblies of God. She was accepted onto the roster on Nov. 2, 1914.

Wood was an adventurous woman who looked on fearful obstacles as challenges to be overcome. When she was 7 years old, one of the older school girls told her, “Conquer a snake and you will conquer everything you undertake.” The next time she saw a snake, she ran to put her foot on its head while encouraging her sister to pelt it with rocks until it was dead. From childhood, she was a woman who ran toward things from which others ran away.

Orphaned at age 16, Wood lived with a foster family. While she was raised in the Friends (Quaker) church, she also attended Methodist and Holiness conventions and sought the presence of God in her life. At age 25, she enrolled in the Friends’ Training School in Cleveland, Ohio. Upon graduation she began pastoring a church in Beloit, Ohio.

When a young missionary visited her church, she “longed to go where Christ had never been preached.” She resigned her church and became involved with the Christian and Missionary Alliance, which sent her to Venezuela in 1898 and to Puerto Rico in 1902. While there, overwork took its toll on her health and she returned to the United States for rest. During this time she heard of a great revival in Wales and began to pray, “Lord, send a revival and begin it in me.” While in Philadelphia she heard of another outbreak of revival at a small mission on Azusa Street in Los Angeles, only increasing her hunger. Seeking after God, she received the baptism in the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues at a camp meeting in Ohio, along with a re-commissioning from the Lord to return to South America. Upon receiving the news of her Pentecostal experience, the Christian and Missionary Alliance broke ties with her.

In 1910, with no commitment of support, Wood sailed for Argentina as the first Pentecostal missionary to that nation, trusting that God would provide. After a few years working on the field, some health problems returned but, knowing of the power of the Holy Spirit, she turned to God rather than doctors for healing. She later wrote, “Then I learned to take Christ as my life. Jesus healed me of cancer, nervousness, and many other ailments. Let His name be praised.”

When she joined the newly formed Assemblies of God, the 16-year veteran missionary’s experience lent credibility and stability to the organization. However, she never attended a district or general council meeting, nor did she travel to raise support and share her needs. From the time she arrived in Argentina in 1910 until her retirement in 1960 at age 90, she never took a furlough. When asked why she never returned to America to visit and itinerate, she responded that God had called her to Argentina and she understood the call to be for life. 

When Wood was 88, a national worker became concerned about her overwork and made known to Field Secretary Melvin Hodges that a clothes washer would ease her load. Wood had been washing all the clothes at the mission on a washboard. Since she had been a missionary before the founding of the district councils, Wood had no home district that watched out for her needs, so her lack was sometimes overlooked. Wood, at age 89, became the proud recipient of a brand new 1958 washer paid for by the newly formed Etta Calhoun Fund of the Women’s Missionary Council. She wrote back expressing her gratitude: “You have greatly lightened the work … I have never seen anything like it. It is ornamental as well as useful.”

When Wood finally returned to the United States in 1960, a year before her death at age 91, her travel companion, Lillian Stokes, wrote, “As I saw her few little ragged belongings I thought, ‘the earthly treasures of a missionary,’ but the word of God says, ‘great is her reward in heaven.’”

This veteran single female missionary laid the foundation work for the revival that continues today in Argentina. In 1912, she wrote, “Ours is largely foundation work … but we believe our Father is preparing to do a mighty work and pour out the ‘latter rain’ upon the Argentine in copious showers before Jesus comes.” The sweeping Argentine revival of the 1980s and 1990s under evangelists Carlos Annacondia and Claudio Freidzon saw their beginning in Alice Wood, the fearless little missionary lady from Canada.

Read one of Alice Wood’s many reports from the field on page 12 of the May 29, 1920, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

“Fire From Heaven and Abundance of Rain,” by Alice Luce

“The Great Revival in Dayton, Ohio,” by Harry Long

“Questions and Answers,” by E.N. Bell

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

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

Note: Quotations in this article come from Alice Wood’s missionary file at the AGWM archives.

IMAGE – Argentine Christians bid farewell to veteran missionary Alice Wood. (L-r): Pastor Ernest Diaz, Mrs. Diaz (seated), Miss Alice Wood, and Evangelist Ruben Ortiz; July 12, 1960
Source: AG News

Water of Life

May 25, 2017   //   by ccadmin   //   Announcements  //  No Comments

If the United States is a melting pot, Yuma, Arizona, is the nation’s salad bowl.

More than 90 percent of green, leafy vegetables Americans consume in winter are grown in this desert oasis near the Mexico border. The Colorado River, which flows through seven states and carved the Grand Canyon, brings life and fertility to the Yuma area. This is its waters’ last U.S. stop before it empties into the Gulf of California.

Victor and Elizabeth Venalonzo became acutely aware of the vital nature of clean flowing rivers when, seven years ago, they assumed the pastorate of Iglesia Betania, an Assemblies of God congregation of 250 in this city of 94,000. Much of the community and many of Betania’s congregants follow “la corrida” of seasonal agricultural work between Yuma and northern California.

When the couple moved to Yuma from Fullerton, California, in 2010, Victor, 50, noticed that the Colorado River had alarmingly less water than he expected. The peril seemed clear.

“We have a commitment in the book of Genesis to be good stewards of the resources,” he says, specifying the Colorado River, “If we don’t do something soon, we’re going to end up with nothing. If the water disappears, our city will disappear.”

“We saw the drought in California,” says Elizabeth. “Right here we see it firsthand.” For a time, the Colorado water level was too low for baptisms. Additional danger comes from contamination of the ever-dwindling supply. Not long ago, toxic methane gas — mine waste — poisoned the river.

Meanwhile, Victor says the Holy Spirit illuminated the Book of Jeremiah to him.

“It says very clearly we should do the harvest — continue with our lives but at the same time protect the resources,” he says. “I want to have a congregation for the next 50 years — or until Jesus comes. I want to keep serving my community, but if there is no water, there will be no community to serve.”

The Venalonzos began teaching Iglesia Betania congregants not only biblical, but also practical, means regarding stewardship.

“The next step for our people here will be to use less water for things,” Victor says. “Why wash your car in your driveway when you can take it to a car wash that recycles water? Why take a 15-minute shower when you can take one in five minutes?”

“We started speaking to our friends about it,” Elizabeth says. Part of raising awareness includes educating the community about stewardship, which includes using water only during certain hours.

Victor’s concern for water resources extends across the border into Mexico, which receives little benefit from the river. Instead, people must rely on wells for their water supply.

“Some of the pastors who are my friends on the Mexican side are very concerned about their communities,” he says. 

In addition, Victor connected to a faith-based alliance called Por La Creación (For Creation), which educates the public about stewardship of rivers in the U.S. That relationship brought a crew to Iglesia Betania to film a segment for the recent documentary Leche y Miel (Milk and Honey), including Victor preaching a sermon on water and a Betania baptism service in the Colorado River.

Source: AG News

New Ministry to Benefit Rural Churches

May 24, 2017   //   by ccadmin   //   Announcements  //  No Comments

Rural America Ministries (RAM) may not be a familiar name to most people yet, but ministers, ministries, and congregations located in the rural United States are soon going to have a new advocate and partner in ministry. 

RAM was recently approved by the Assemblies of God National Leadership and Resource Center (NLRC) after it was presented by Wes Bartel, the former Christian Education and Discipleship director and Senior Adult Ministries director at the NLRC. Bartel, who grew up on a cattle ranch in Montana, has always had a heart for the rural church, and he envisions RAM being nothing short of an empowering inspiration and blessing to the rural church pastor and congregation. 

“RAM is just in its beginning stages, but we want people to be aware of it and ready to reap the benefits of the ministry as soon as we’re fully operational,” Bartel says. “The focus of RAM will be on networking rural ministries to the benefit of the rural church, being a source of counsel and encouragement, providing access to effective and affordable training for church leadership that they otherwise may not be able to afford, and, as RAM grows, we also want to provide forms of financial help, through scholarships and grants.” 

Some of the rural ministries that RAM is partnering with include Rural Compassion, Church Multiplication Network, Lonesome Dove Ranch, Acts 2 Journey, along with other ministries and initiatives as they arise. 

Bartel says that the needs of today’s rural church, which can range from a handful of members to multiple hundreds, have sometimes been overlooked, misunderstood, or simply gone unknown. However, with RAM as an advocate and partner, the rural church now will have representation and a reliable resource. 

“I also want to partner with our Assemblies of God colleges to help them provide specific training to those preparing to enter the ministry,” Bartel says. “More than 50 percent of new ministers begin pastoring in a rural church, yet they leave college with little or no training that would assist them in understanding and ministering to the unique needs and the unique culture of a rural community.” 

Bartel is passionate about RAM not only because of his personal experiences, but because the Assemblies of God is, in many ways, indebted to the rural church. Much of the foundation, formation, and ongoing advancement of the Assemblies of God in doing Kingdom work can be traced back to the rural church. Even today, with 48 percent of current Assemblies of God churches classified as rural, they have produced an estimated two-thirds of the missionary task force and a strong majority of national leadership. 

“When Wes Bartel presented the idea of Rural America Ministries, there was an immediate confirmation in my spirit that this was the answer to a desperate need in our Fellowship,” says AG General Superintendent George O. Wood. “RAM will not only be a resource for the rural church body to turn to, it will be an ongoing voice, an advocate, and a place to network and connect with those who truly understand the challenges and victories only found in a rural community.” 

Currently, the rural church is a growing demographic that has also become very diverse, especially in the areas of the country that are seeing a renewed boom in coal and oil and the influx of extraction services workers. This also presents new challenges to the local church. 

“I believe the timing of RAM is part of God’s plan to help rural churches flourish and impact lives like never before,” Bartel says. 

Bartel, who expresses deep appreciation for the strong support the Executive Leadership Team has given to RAM, says plans are moving forward as quickly as possible, but he wants to be sure that when RAM launches, it is of immediate benefit and of a quality that it will draw rural church pastors and leaders to it repeatedly. 

“We plan to present RAM at General Council in August, with the full roll out being shortly afterwards,” Bartel says.

Source: AG News

Making the Rock Even More Solid

May 24, 2017   //   by ccadmin   //   Announcements  //  No Comments

For three decades, Ed DiBlasio has operated a parachurch ministry in low-income areas of Baltimore that features mentoring, food giveaways, sidewalk Sunday Schools, clothing distribution, and Bible studies.

Increasingly over the years, beneficiaries of DiBlasio’s nonprofit Solid Rock Ministries have asked DiBlasio the location of his nonexistent church.

“People have a desire to go to some place for formal worship,” says DiBlasio. “I’ve steered away from it, but now I realize there is a legitimate need.”

Subsequently, at 54, DiBlasio and his wife, Gloria, acceded to recruitment by the Fellowship to plant a church, to be known as Solid Rock and Redeemer Assembly of God. Central Christian Assembly in Baltimore will have oversight. Ed DiBlasio has attended the 34-year-old church for 32 years.

Ministry, particularly inner-city ministry, is rife for burnout. DiBlasio repeatedly heard lessons about the need to delegate at a regional AG Church Multiplication Network  training event in March.

The DiBlasios, married since 2009, have learned to take time for the Lord and for each other.

“This ministry is not our identity,” Ed says

“We will tell each other when we need to rest,” Gloria adds. “Although the area needs redemption, we’re not going to work 100 hours a week; we will do it in a balanced way.”

Solid Rock and Redeemer AG will be a missions-type church in the city, reaching especially African-Americans, single parents, and youth. The area is plagued by illegal drug use, alcohol abuse, gang violence, low school graduation levels, and high incarceration rates.

DiBlasio knows the plight well, growing up in a large Baltimore family that used food stamps. The last of eight children, including seven brothers, he recalls wearing hand-me-down clothes while living in a housing project area, and how his mother cried when she received a food basket every Christmas. Distributing groceries and turkeys at Christmas has been a Solid Rock Ministries tradition for 32 years.

A life-changing event occurred for DiBlasio at age 13, when a church for which he performed odd jobs gave him a new bicycle — one of the few new possessions he ever had during adolescence. DiBlasio went on to emerge from poverty, working his way through school to get an accounting degree, a certified public accounting license, and a master’s degree.

DiBlasio and his wife could be living a more comfortable lifestyle. Ed forsook a potentially lucrative CPA career; Gloria has a double master’s in education and a law degree.

“He hasn’t let up,” says Terry V. Kirk, founding pastor of Central Christian Assembly. “His passion for the city and for the kids moved him into ministry full time.”

Central Christian Assembly, a congregation of 1,180 weekly attendees located in a predominantly white neighborhood 10 miles away, has been a major financial backer of Solid Rock Ministries for more than three decades, starting with a bus ministry that transported youth to church services in 1986.

“Ed and Gloria are a perfect match,” says Kirk, 70. “Gloria has as much commitment to the ministry as Ed has.”

DiBlasio has been such a fixture in the neighborhood where he ministers for so long he isn’t viewed as an outsider.

“When you form a relationship with people, they see beyond skin color,” says Gloria, a former schoolteacher.

Gloria experienced life as a single mom for 16 years, after her first husband died of leukemia and left her at age 29 with two girls, ages 6 and 2. Those adult daughters, Mollie Chin and Monica Amtower-Kollig, now are an integral part of the ministry.

“I know why single moms try to drink the stress away at 1 in the afternoon,” Gloria says.

Solid Rock Ministries impacts an average of 250 kids each week, through mentoring, tutoring, worship services, Scripture memory, field trips, and special events. When not engaged in ministry, Ed sustains himself by working as comptroller and estimator for a roofing company owned by a friend who attends Central Christian Assembly.

Among its other roles, Solid Rock collaborates with other ministries to supply groceries to the hungry, job training for the unemployed, yard mowing for the elderly, and toys for children at Christmas. A ministry house, donated by a Central Christian Assembly businessman, serves as a repository for donated furniture, linens, and clothing, plus doubles as sleeping accommodations for teams that come in throughout the year to help with the street ministry.

Neal Carter, 29, credits DiBlasio with helping to turn his life around. Carter, while homeless and 16 years old, says DiBlasio mentored him and took him to church. By 19, Carter started mentoring young teenagers himself through Solid Rock Ministries. Because of DiBlasio, Carter met his wife, Lichelle, who danced and perform drama as part of the sidewalk Sunday School. DiBlasio performed the couple’s 2009 wedding ceremony.

“Pastor Ed was the father figure so many of us young men longed for and needed,” says Carter, who lives in Ellicott City, Maryland. “He modeled his life, and is the key to who I am today. When I was wrong, he had the guts to tell me, and steer me in the right direction.”

With two of his brothers, Carter runs a Christian dance company ministry called Three Kings, which sponsors competitions and youth events. He continues to assist Solid Rock Ministries.

“Pastor Ed lives out what he preached to us,” Carter says. “He led Bible studies, took us to church, phoned to check up on us. Once you know someone cares for you and prays for you and invests their time in you, it can turn you around.”

Source: AG News

General Council Prayer Committee Appointed

May 23, 2017   //   by ccadmin   //   Announcements  //  No Comments

The establishment of a General Council Prayer Committee was recently approved by the Assemblies of God national office’s Executive Leadership Team to help facilitate prayer initiatives and to be a national and district prayer resource. 

Mark Forrester, senior director of Communications and Public Relations for the Assemblies of God, says the prayer committee, which he chairs, is made up of five additional ministers (four men and one woman) who are known for their passion for prayer and skilled leadership. 

In addition to Forrester, the General Council Prayer Committee includes: Ronald J. Auch Sr., Kenosha, Wisconsin; John C. Bates, Ovilla, Texas; Jamie Morgan, Williamstown, New Jersey; Kevin Senapatiratne, Blaine, Minnesota; and John Maempa, Springfield, Missouri. The committee members have each agreed to serve the Fellowship in this capacity for a two-year term. 

“The members of the General Council Prayer Committee have the task of speaking into prayer initiatives, such as the annual Week of Prayer,” explains Forrester. “They will also be a key resource for articles concerning prayer for PE News, assisting districts in connecting to prayer resources, coordinating prayer opportunities such as the General Council Prayer Room, and assuming other responsibilities connected to enhancing prayer in our Fellowship.” 

Auch, who spent 20 years leading prayer conferences before founding Prayer House Assembly 18 years ago, has recently resigned to resume traveling and teaching. The author of nine books covering varying facets of prayer, he says it’s a privilege and honor to serve the Assemblies of God as a member of the prayer committee. 

“We’ll be promoting the prayer life of the church as a Movement,” Auch says, “and searching for different ways to promote prayer in our churches.” 

Jamie Morgan, who has pastored Life Church for a decade and established Life House of Prayer in Williamstown, New Jersey, about two years ago, is also excited about being on the committee. 

I’m already a member of America’s National Prayer Committee (NPC),” Morgan says, “and as big of a deal as that is — and it is a real honor — for me, this [being a part of the General Council Prayer Committee] is a bigger deal because this is my Fellowship.” 

Morgan says she’s excited about the prospects of crafting articles on prayer and coming alongside districts to establish, offer insight to, or fulfill prayer initiatives. 

“The bottom line is, ‘How can we help you regarding prayer?’” Morgan states. “My desire is to see the Assemblies of God, collectively, cry out for revival.”

Source: AG News

Multilingual Hope

May 23, 2017   //   by ccadmin   //   Announcements  //  No Comments

Casa del Alfarero — the Potter’s House — became the first Hispanic Assemblies of God church in the metro Washington, D.C. area 45 years ago. Although Casa del Alfarero started as a Spanish-speaking congregation, in recent years church leaders resolved to make every resource, from the sermon to brochures, accessible in both English and Spanish.

The decision to be bilingual stemmed in large part from a desire to reach second- and third-generation Latinos.

“Our young people would reach high school or college and never come back, so I started calling them to ask why they left,” says Pastor Jose Arce Jr. “They said they loved it and still considered it their church, but they couldn’t bring their friends because they only spoke English.”

And those friends don’t necessarily originate from the same places as their peers.

“John 3:16 doesn’t say, ‘For God so loved the Hispanics,’” Arce says. “It says He loved the world. We can’t just think about Hispanics and Latinos. Our vision is to be a multicultural, multilingual, and multigenerational church.”

Language can be a barrier for recently arrived immigrants. English soon becomes the primary language for most children and youth, yet many of their parents and grandparents converse in Spanish.

Jose Arce Jr. was installed as senior pastor in January, after serving under his father, Jose Arce Sr., for 30 years. When Jose Arce Sr. arrived in 1974, the church had 15 people worshipping on a weekly basis. Now 600 people attend regularly. Jose Arce Sr. continues to serve as pastor emeritus. 

The church serves a large migrant population, which is challenging due to adherents returning to their home countries or moving elsewhere in the U.S. for work. However, in the past five years, Casa del Alfarero has established systems and structures to support and maintain growth.

“Church leaders have never been satisfied with what they had,” says Manny Alvarez, superintendent of the AG Spanish Eastern District. “They always attend district events and regional conferences, and implement what they learned in order to grow.”

Three years ago, Arce Jr. sensed God calling him to discover the keys to Silver Spring, Maryland, the city where the church is located. He studied what others had done, prayed, and assessed the culture of Casa del Alfarero. This led to a focus on small groups.

“You don’t have to imitate what other churches are doing, but you can learn from them by finding common denominators,” he says.

Arce Jr. used the skills he learned as a certified coach to train other leaders in the church and to create an infrastructure to support small groups. He worked with 26 ministry leaders to establish goals for a three-month period.

“Everything is targeted to support small groups,” he says. “We need collaboration between ministries to reach more souls for Christ in different ways. Growth is about souls for the Kingdom, not numbers.”

Source: AG News

Chaplaincy's 461 Response Program Receives International Recognition

May 22, 2017   //   by ccadmin   //   Announcements  //  No Comments

The International Critical Incident Stress Foundation (ICISF) recently presented its Pioneering Spirit Award during the ICISF World Congress held May 3 in Baltimore, Maryland to the 461 (pronounced “forty-six one”) Response program. Chaplain Mike Reighard, director of the program, was present to receive the award. 

The ministry, a part of U.S. Missions Chaplaincy Ministries, is based on Psalm 46:1: “God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble.” The program was created in response to a perceived need in local AG churches and districts. “Many churches and districts are not ready to respond to critical incidents in their communities” said Chaplain Manuel Cordero, senior director of Chaplaincy Ministries. 

“When tragedy strikes, where does a church or district turn? Who has the knowledge, resources, and proximity to help with that specific incident?” Reighard asks. “Through the 461 Response program, districts and churches can access a database that helps them find the right people with the right resources in the right place to respond right away. The Assemblies of God fellowship is resource rich. But resources have little value if they cannot be found and used at the right time. The 461 Response ministry organizes these resources and makes them discoverable.”. 

However, what earned the 461 Response program the Pioneering Spirit Award was its three-pronged approach to tragedy: churches serve as caring, responding, and healing communities. In the caring community, the district or church serves as the hub where spiritual needs such as prayer or fellowship are provided. Sustenance and immediate needs such as food, water, and shelter are also met. Organizations like Convoy of Hope can utilize the church as a Point of Distribution (POD) or districts can offer campgrounds for shelter.

In the second component — the responding community — the church sends out teams of volunteers to help with things like, clean-up, repairs, or sandbagging a levy. 

“Most programs and response organizations offer these first two steps,” Reighard says, “but where we stood out to ICISF was in the healing component. This step focuses on the comprehensive emotional and spiritual care of people by training individuals to help those suffering from a critical incident — including things like school shootings and suicide — to build resiliency and continue on with their lives.” 

Cordero agrees. “Providing for the physical needs is critical and must be done, but it is not enough. Ministering to the emotional and spiritual needs must also be done,” he says. 

Reighard, who has spent decades interacting with first responders as a chaplain, believes the healing component is vital for the emotional and spiritual health of individuals. It also gives a church the opportunity to demonstrate extended compassion and possibly form lasting relationships with community members who otherwise have little or no connection to a church. 

What makes the 461 Response ministry even more beneficial to districts and churches is that in addition to offering a database to quickly locate specific responders, training is also provided and conducted so churches and districts understand the urgency and sensitivity of critical incidents and can form teams that are qualified to respond to these incidences. 

“We offer training opportunities in developing a church emergency response program, an introduction to critical incident stress management, and an introduction to chaplaincy,” Reighard says. “We also provide certified training in seven ICISF courses, including suicide awareness, work place violence, assisting individuals in crisis, pastoral crisis intervention, and three additional courses.”

When a district or church that is part of the 461 Response program learns about a critical incident, they simply access the database and conduct a search for what they need. If the resource they are looking for is not found locally, they can contact their district for further assistance. If needed, the district can contact the national office for additional help. “This was demonstrated recently here in Missouri,” Cordero says. “The 461 Response program in the Southern Missouri District is crucial in the ongoing process of providing assistance due to the recent floods.” 

Any AG district, church, or member is eligible to participate and become a part of the database by filling out an online form that indicates things such as name, location, contact information, and specific skills and/or equipment offered. Missionaries or other AG ministries can offer their ministerial services to the whole Assemblies of God fellowship.   

Reighard says that the 461 Response ministry, which was launched in 2013, is steadily growing, but awareness has been one of the biggest challenges. This low maintenance, easily managed program offers huge benefits to any district, church, or ministry. 

“Once I meet with a district or church, the value of 461 Response and what it means to the church and the community it serves, quickly becomes evident,” he says. Several districts have built 461 Response programs, including Alaska, Puerto Rico, Northwest Ministry Network, New York, Southern Missouri, Louisiana, Oklahoma and N. California-Nevada. Currently, 30 districts are represented by individuals, including chaplains, ministers, missionaries, pastors, churches, and laypeople.

To learn more about the 461 Response ministry, email 461response@ag.org or review the 461 Response website at 461response.org.

Source: AG News

Return on Investment

May 22, 2017   //   by ccadmin   //   Announcements  //  No Comments

Long past the conventional retirement age, Hobby Lobby founder David Green seems to be in his prime, touring the nation to promote his new book, Giving It All Away … And Getting It All Back Again: The Way of Living Generously.

“I’m not going anywhere, I’m only 75,” quips Green, who remains CEO of the Oklahoma City-based retailer with projected sales of $4.5 billion this year. “The kids aren’t going to run me off as long as the profits are where they are.”

Green’s profile rose in 2014 when he and his family successfully defended the company’s religious convictions before the U.S. Supreme Court. Hobby Lobby refused to comply with the Obama administration’s Affordable Care Act mandate to pay for employee medications that terminate pregnancy after conception. Green’s book recounts how the entire family, including grandchildren, voted to file suit against the government to prevent Hobby Lobby from being forced to provide abortifacients for workers. Without the court victory in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, the business faced daily $1.3 million fines that would have put it out of business.

Yet in the wake of those trying times, Hobby Lobby — the world’s largest privately owned arts and crafts retailer — has thrived as never before. The conglomerate now has 780 stores and 35,000 employees in 47 states. The company started in the family garage in 1970 after Green secured a $600 bank loan to buy a chopper and materials for miniature picture frames.

In the past five years, the retail chain giant — which is owned entirely by the family — has given away half its profits.

“Here’s what God can do,” Green told PE News. “God has created this environment where we started with $600 to now giving away hundreds of millions of dollars every year.”

The generosity only seems to have boosted the company’s bottom line. Hobby Lobby opens 50-60 stores annually, all debt-free. And the company is noted for its munificence to workers, with a $15.70 starting hourly wage for full-time employees and an $11 base for part-time help.

“Scripture talks about not withholding good when we have the ability,” says Green, citing Proverbs 3:27. “The biblical thing to do is to care about people. It pays dividends.”

Part of the Hobby Lobby legacy is relinquishing millions in annual revenue by keeping stores closed on Sundays so employees can attend church. Outlets also shut down at 8 p.m. the rest of the week so personnel can get home to families.

Green, who attends an Assemblies of God church in Oklahoma, is a proponent of giving back to God, and he is saddened by the fact that Christians give an average of a paltry 2.6 percent of their income to church.

“God’s Word tells us when we tithe God will bless us,” says Green, one of six children of financially strapped parents who pastored small, rural Church of God congregations in the Southwest. “His blessing is greater than what we give. When we don’t pay tithes, we have a lack of faith and we don’t believe God’s Word.”

DOLING OUT PROFITS

The reputation for benevolence has resulted in the Green family receiving more than 300 requests a month for financial assistance.

“We base our giving decisions on whether the result will be some spiritual change in a person’s life, directly or indirectly,” Green writes in Giving It All Away.

Currently, Green; his wife of 56 years, Barbara; their three children, Steve, Mart, and Darsee; Darsee’s husband, Stan Lett; and nephew Randy Green comprise the committee that makes corporate pecuniary decisions. The panel determines who is on the Hobby Lobby board, the corporation’s investment portfolio, and what organizations or people receive assistance.

“We see ourselves not as owners, but as stewards,” declares Green. “The Bible says God owns it. We accept that.”

The family wealth rests in the Green Stewardship Trust, presently overseen by David, Barbara, and their three children. If the trustees ever decide to sell the company, 90 percent of the proceeds will be funneled into a foundation for ministry purposes.

Consequently, Green has resolved not to bequeath his fortune to his heirs. Any offspring seeking to become a billionaire won’t be able to derail the company, the fate of many a once-prosperous family business. Green currently has 10 grandchildren, and 11 great-grandchildren.

“Someone who has ownership has a hook in the company, but this is a whole different paradigm,” says Green, who speaks with a rustic Oklahoma dialect, a deeper-voiced version akin to humorist Will Rogers. “No one can profit off the value of this company, now or in the future.”

All members must agree to Christian tenets and sign agreements that they can’t touch company stock.

“God has taught me that with great wealth and power comes great obligation to the next generation,” Green writes in his book. “No family member, of whatever generation, must ever view Hobby Lobby as his or her source of well-being for all of life.”

In financing ministry efforts, the Greens give priority to projects that disseminate the gospel.

Younger son Steve is president of Hobby Lobby, but most of his time in recent years has been spent preparing for the Nov. 17 opening of the Museum of the Bible  in Washington, D.C. The state-of-the-art 430,000-square-foot building, once a massive brick refrigerated warehouse, is three blocks south of the U.S. Capitol and cost nearly a billion dollars to buy and renovate.

“We have a Book that has changed the world like nothing else has,” says Steve, author of The Bible in America: What We Believe About the Most Important Book in Our History. The museum will feature more than 1,000 biblical texts and artifacts.

Older son Mart is founder of Mardel, a chain of 35 Christian and education supply stores in the central U.S. He also is on the steering committee of Every Tribe Every Nation, which has formed a digital Bible library as an accessible collection of translations.

The Greens want to see the Bible taught in schools, not just in the U.S., but around the world.

“It’s a big goal, but God is pleased with big goals,” Green says.

EDUCATION BOOSTERS

Ironically, much of the philanthropy the Greens approve involves higher education. Mart is the only immediate family member to attend college, and that for just one semester. Green says God prompted the family’s initial foray into contributing to academic coffers. The kinfolk notably saved Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma, from extinction in 2007.

An infusion of $70 million and Mart spending seven years as board chairman returned the Pentecostal school to financial viability.

The Greens have assisted a variety of other Christian schools, including the donation of the former Bradford College campus to the Assemblies of God. In 2007, the family purchased the vacant 18-acre campus in Haverhill, Massachusetts valued at $16.5 million for Northpoint Bible College, and financed $4.5 million worth of renovations to make the site operational. Barbara Green is on the board of Northpoint, previously located in Rhode Island and known as Zion Bible College.

In March, Forbes listed Green as the 81st wealthiest person in the U.S., worth an estimated $6.2 billion.

Green, who began working in a five-and-dime store at age 15, isn’t likely to step down as Hobby Lobby CEO anytime soon.

“I’ve got 20 years at least, don’t I?” Green jokes. “You will see me as a greeter if I’m not the CEO. I don’t want to stay home.”

IMAGE – The Green family members are (from left) Darsee Lett, Mart, David, Barbara, and Steve.

Source: AG News

Running in the Gap

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

College professor and runner LeRoy Bartel is going the extra mile to stand in the gap for his family, friends, community, and even strangers.

A former dean of the College of Bible and Church Ministries at Southwestern Assemblies of God University (SAGU) in Waxahachie, Texas, Bartel started to incorporate Facebook into his prayer circle earlier this year when he prayed and ran during his regular jogging routes. 

“I have felt for some time that my runs were an opportunity for intercessory prayer,” says Bartel, who completed running 70 miles in less than a week in recognition of his 70th birthday in April. “During previous years, I’ve run and I’ve invited the individuals in our homeowner’s association where we lived to submit prayer requests. This time I encouraged Facebook friends to do it. I always promised confidentiality. Some serious needs were submitted.”

Due to the power of social media, word spread about Bartel’s prayer runs as requests flooded his inbox. 

“I’ve had prayers for wayward and rebellious children, the need for a job, cancer and other serious diseases, and husband and wife problems,” says Bartel, who continues to teach five doctoral students and serves as academic adviser for several distant education Bible Study classes, as well as two graduate courses at SAGU. “There have been answered prayers, including jobs received, healings, and passed exams.”

Gleaning the idea from Christians who do prayer walks, Bartel embraced the concept of doing prayer runs after he turned 65.

Becky Hennesy, associate pastor of Trinity Church in Cedar Hill, Texas, also loves to run, and a conversation with Bartel led them to encourage others in the congregation to prayer walk or run city streets during the 40 days of Lent.

“We display maps of our cities and every Sunday, runners/walkers highlight the streets and neighborhoods they prayed over that week,” says Hennesy. “It helps make us more aware of the poor and needy among us.”

This year, the Trinity Church prayer runs covered 10 cities with intercession, Hennesy says. Church choir members surpassed a goal of prayer running/walking 500 miles.

“We really believe that our prayer runs have given us a love for the people in our cities and our neighbors,” Hennesy says.

SAGU President Kermit Bridges says Bartel’s prayer runs have been a blessing to the university.

“LeRoy Bartel is revered at SAGU as a man of great faith, Spirit-filled scholarship, and personal discipline,” he says. “To know he is interceding for the campus as he consistently logs mile after mile is both a blessing and an inspirational model.”

Bartel’s prayer runs were spotlighted in an online article published by Runner’s World magazine.

“My runs are no longer just for physical fitness, although that has been important to me,” says Bartel, who started running cross country in high school. “They have a pastoral and spiritual purpose. I feel like I’m making an actual contribution to the welfare of people.”

Source: AG News

This Week in AG History — May 17, 1959

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

The Pentecostal church in Cuba exploded in growth during a series of evangelistic and healing services throughout the island nation in 1950 and 1951. Several church leaders in Cuba, including Luis Ortiz, Dennis Valdez, Hugh Jeter, and Ezequiel Alvarez, hosted Pentecostal evangelist T. L. Osborn, and about 50,000 people made professions of faith in Christ. Jeter, an Assemblies of God missionary, wrote about this remarkable revival in the May 17, 1959, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.
 
Jeter wrote, “One of the greatest moves of God’s Spirit in our generation took place in the island of Cuba in 1950 and 1951. It was a common occurrence in many Cuban cities for crowds of 10,000 to 15,000 people to fill a baseball stadium or city park night after night to hear the gospel and to be prayed for.”

 
The revival effected immediate and lasting change. Jeter noted, “Thriving congregations suddenly came into existence in places where previously we had had no work at all. The entire stock of the Bible society was quickly sold out. The miraculous was continually in evidence and people were convinced that of a truth God was in our midst.”

What can we learn from the remarkable Cuban revival? Jeter identified five practical lessons:

1.  A revival can be judged by its results over time. While some people initially questioned whether the Cuban revival was genuine, over the years it became obvious that people who were converted had become faithful Christians. Small churches were strengthened, and new churches were planted. The Assemblies of God Bible school in Cuba, which had temporarily closed due to lack of students, was overwhelmed in the years following the revival with students who had a burning passion to share the gospel.

2.   True revival will be grounded in the Bible and will give glory to God and not to man. Jeter wrote, “Our principal evangelist, Brother Osborn, did not claim to have any special gift or revelation that would set him a class apart from the rest of us. He simply let us know what God had promised and inspired us to believe that God would keep His Word.” 

3.  Effective “follow-up” is essential in order to integrate converts into churches. The best “follow-up,” according to Jeter, is not merely a systematic visitation of converts, but the continuation of the revival spirit in local churches. The same spiritual vibrancy that brought people to faith in Christ will also inspire people to be faithful in church. 

4.  Church leaders must be willing and able to relocate their congregation if current buildings become inadequate. Pastors who showed flexibility regarding location could more easily retain converts simply because they could fit into the church. 

5.  Technology can help to reach the unchurched and to communicate with the faithful. In the Cuban revival, radio was an important tool by which news of the revival spread quickly.  

“Can this revival be duplicated elsewhere?” Responding to this question, Jeter suggested that “God is no respecter of people, or of nations.” He noted that revival came to Cuba following a long period of time during which believers developed their faith and prepared for a move of God. While recognizing that God is sovereign in bringing revival, he stated, “I know of no reason why it cannot happen anywhere else in the world.” 

Read Hugh Jeter’s article, “Lessons from the Cuban Revival,” on pages 6, 7, and 22 of the May 17, 1959, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.
 
Also featured in this issue:
 
* “Standing Together,” by Frank J. Lindquist
 
* “Led by the Holy Ghost,” by W. E. McAlister
 
* “Do the Deaf Speak in Tongues?” by Twila Brown Edwards
 
And many more!
 
Click here to read this issue now.
 
Pentecostal Evangel archived editions courtesy of the 
Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.

Source: AG News

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