Largest Grant in School History

Vanguard University has been awarded a landmark, five-year, $3.75 million grant through the U.S. Department of Education’s Developing Hispanic-Serving Institutions Program.

The Assemblies of God school in Costa Mesa, California, will use the Title V grant to not only increase retention and graduation rates among Hispanic and low-income transfer students, but also to develop partnerships with local community colleges to enhance transfer rates. Students benefiting from the grant will be able to earn their single-subject teaching credentials while completing their bachelor’s degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.

“This recognition affirms our designation as a leading Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) in our richly diverse region and state,” says Vanguard President Michael J. Beals  . “As we approach Vanguard’s centennial in 2020, our commitment to student access, success, and growth in STEM disciplines will continue to strengthen our position us a nationally recognized leader in Christian higher education.”

Vanguard University received the Title V grant based on the school’s ability to address two priorities the Department of Education earmarked for the competitive program, which aims to increase the number of candidates qualified to teach in public elementary schools and secondary schools, as well as the rate of students transferring from two-year to four-year institutions.

Tara Sirvent, Vanguard director for academic writing and research, says the school preparing kindergarten through high school, as well as college educators, is part of the university’s core mission of pursuing knowledge, cultivating character, deepening faith, and equipping students for a Spirit-empowered life.

Vanguard University plans to launch an Integrated STEM Teach Achievement (VISTA) program fall 2019, pending California Commission on Teaching Credentialing and Western Association of Schools & Colleges approvals. This program is designed to decrease the number of science teaching vacancies by training prospective educators in chemistry and biology to receive bachelor degrees and teaching credentials in four years. In conjunction, the university will introduce an Intensive Pedagogical and Research Experiences Program (iPREP) designed as a postdoctoral training program for recent doctoral recipients aspiring to enter STEM education beginning fall 2018.

Also as part of the Title V grant, Vanguard University will partner with seven Orange County community colleges to create a four-year integrated program of professional preparation. The university’s planned STEM Transfer with Excellence Program (V-STEPs) will open access to teacher preparation for community college students and support them through that transition.

Further, Vanguard University will use the grant to augment its STEM Bridge Program — an intensive academic enrichment and leadership program for incoming first-year students who major in STEM degrees — grow its endowment fund, and acquire STEM equipment and conduct related campus improvements. 

The Title V grant not only represents the largest grant in university history but also follows just two years after Vanguard University earned another five-year, $2.57 million Department of Education grant for building an integrated student success initiative and faculty development in culturally sensitive education. 

Source: AG News

Convoy of Hope Receives Unusual Donation

Some of Convoy of Hope’s biggest supporters and partners are Assemblies of God programs such as Boys and Girls Missionary Challenge (BGMC), Speed the Light (STL), AG World Missions, and individual AG constituents who support the work of the compassion organization. Convoy of Hope also receives support through other entities and fundraising efforts such as concerts and online events and even through some famous personalities.

However, this weekend, Convoy of Hope, which has been delivering millions of dollars-worth of relief supplies to Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, British Virgin Islands, California, Mexico, and other locations suffering from the impact of recent hurricanes, flooding, wildfires, and earthquakes, received an unusual gift.

A car.

But it wasn’t your everyday “drive-to-work” vehicle. It was a rare 1965 Shelby Cobra re-creation — a true roadster!

According to Convoy of Hope’s national spokesperson, Jeff Nene, on Saturday at a car show in Las Vegas, the Shelby Cobra re-creation sold at auction for $150,000. The Shinn Foundation then donated all the money for the sale of vehicle to Convoy of Hope to assist with the organization’s hurricane relief efforts.

Thank you to George Shinn and the Shinn Foundation for their tremendous support,” states Hal Donaldson, president and co-founder of Convoy of Hope. “Because of our great partners and friends, we are able to give hope to those who need it most.”

Source: AG News

Trail Angels

An Assemblies of God church in central Pennsylvania has taken a different path to fulfill the biblical admonition in Romans 12:13 to practice hospitality.

This summer, Duncannon Assembly of God launched a unique ministry that caters to hikers of the Appalachian Trail, considered the longest hiking-only trail in the world. The church has provided shelter to individuals from every state, as well as 13 different nations.

Duncannon AG is located within 50 miles of Cumberland Valley, Pennsylvania — the halfway point of the 2,200-mile trail, which extends from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine. More than 2 million people complete at least a one-day hike on the trail annually.

Pastor Dennis K. Campbell says he had a revelation about what the congregation could do in the community of 1,500 to reach out to the world.

“The sidewalk, which runs in front of our church and the parsonage, is the trail,” Campbell, 63, says. “You can have one foot on church property and one on the trail at the same time. The world passes by Duncannon AG every day.”

So in June, based on the suggestion of a church member who is a hiking aficionado, Campbell and some church members went on a congregational hike along the Appalachian Trail after a Sunday service. They asked some hikers what the church could do to help them along their way. Hikers responded that sometimes they just need a place to rest, shower, change clothes, charge their cellphone, and maybe sleep for a night to escape the weather. The church decided to do something about the need.

“It’s about offering people kindness,” says Campbell, who moved to Duncannon in 2012 after living in the Pittsburgh area for 13 years. “The congregation has gotten behind this ministry by donating supplies, time, and money whenever there is a need.”

The hikers have access to the basement of the parsonage, which offers kitchen and shower facilities, as well as Wi-Fi, television, and games. The church provides a yard to pitch tents and wash lines to dry out tents and clothing, plus a pavilion to serve meals, hang hammocks, and be sheltered from inclement weather.

The hospitality ministry has been a blessing to hikers, who use “trail names” as a tradition. Trail names are given to hikers by one another, typically because of something a hiker will do or say or based upon how the hiker looks. Duncannon AG has received the moniker, “trail angel,” bestowed upon someone who provides goods or services to hikers in need.

“We so appreciated the church’s kindness and generosity in letting hikers stay in their fellowship hall,” wrote “Burning Man” and “Peach,” who are from Boston, in a note to the Duncannon AG. “It was such a treat to have a meal and shower provided with a smile. The church is truly the definition of trail angels!”

“Grandpa” from Jacksonville, Florida, agrees.

“Hungry for food and needing spiritual uplifting, this church provided for my needs,” he commented.

“Hop Along” from Greensboro, North Carolina, also appreciated Duncannon AG.

“You are opening doors that God will never close,” he said.

Word has spread fast among the hikers. Since the ministry started in June, more than 1,000 hikers have stayed anywhere from a couple of hours to the entire night on the property.

Scripture says go into all the world, but our situation was a bit different,” says Campbell, a native of Kentucky who never hiked much before. “The whole world is coming to us.”

Duncannon AG is developing a reputation all along the Appalachian Trail, spread by word of mouth from hikers.

“We are so excited that hikers are looking forward to staying at our church, because it means they’re expecting to be blessed, and we are here to bless them in the name of the Lord,” Campbell says.

The church in Duncannon, which is near the juncture of the Susquehanna and Juniata rivers, already is making plans for next year’s hiking season.

“There have been countless seeds planted, and some hikers have added me on Facebook to keep up with what we are doing here,” says Michael Schaffer, youth pastor at the church. “Next year we plan to strategically plan out our summer schedule to cater to hikers in a way that will encourage them to reach us in time for them to come to Sunday or Wednesday services, as well as having a Hiker Sunday, where the whole theme of the service will be about the hiker ministry.”

Source: AG News

SEU Men's Basketball Coach Speaks to White House Officials on Issues Facing Millennials

Southeastern University (SEU) men’s basketball coach R-Jay Barsh was part of a group that was invited to speak to White House officials in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, Oct. 18.

Barsh, who begins his sixth season in Lakeland, Florida, as the SEU head coach, was part of a group of 80 people who influence millennials and are leaders in their fields. The invitation was extended by Deputy Director and Special Assistant to the President, Jennifer Korn. The group spoke with White House officials at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, which houses a majority of offices for White House staff.

“You work hard for your community, and sometimes, God blesses you with a platform that you can’t explain, but you know you should steward,” said Barsh of the opportunity. “I feel like today was a big step forward in addressing issues in our nation involving young people.”

The group addressed various issues in each of their communities and areas of experience. For Barsh, he’s looking to build relationships between young African-American males and law enforcement.

“I feel this is an area I’m being called to, since I coach young males on a daily basis,” said Barsh.

For more information about SEU, click here.

Source: AG News

Rebounding from Harvey

Ahead of fast-moving Hurricane Harvey, Robert Sáenz, 64, pastor of  La Primera Asamblea de Dios in Corpus Christi, Texas, and his wife, Liz, evacuated well out of harm’s way. As soon as the storm passed, Sáenz made a beeline to the church.

To his amazement, he saw no visible exterior damage to the structure, part of the Texas Gulf Hispanic District. He entered the sanctuary, likewise unharmed.

Then he went upstairs.

“I saw a light on,” recollects Sáenz, pastor of the church for 23 years. “Turns out it was daylight.”

The storm opened a hole in the church’s roof, which allowed water to destroy five classrooms on the second floor. Winds that gusted to 80 mph lifted the flat roof.

Because roofers had not removed an old roof before installing a new one following a wind storm prior to Sáenz becoming pastor, no company would insure the structure.

La Primera Asamblea de Dios sustained the heaviest damage in all the Texas Hispanic Gulf District, according to Rick Reyes, the district’s assistant superintendent.

The Sunday after the storm, Sáenz took photos of the damage, which he posted on Facebook. That Tuesday, his phone rang. Melody Cisneros Milstead, Urban Strategies’ regional director of Rio Grande Valley of Texas and national liaison with the Assemblies of God, knew of Primera Asamblea’s need and arranged for $20,000 worth of roofing materials to be delivered.

“I said wow, that was fast, Lord,” Sáenz says. “Who’s going to overnight $20,000 in roofing materials? Only God does that.”

The lion’s share of the work remains, however. Subsequent and equally potent hurricanes hit Florida and Puerto Rico. Volunteer hands and dollars are spread thin.

Sáenz wrote letters about Primera Asamblea’s plight. The congregation prayed over the letters before congregants mailed them to friends, churches where they had connections, and to other potential partners possibly interested in helping rebuild if only they knew about the church’s crisis.

More than $6,000 in checks came in from three churches and some individuals. A friend in Houston is sharing 80 sheets of plasterboard.

“God is supplying our need,” Sáenz says.

Now that the church has the roofing material, it needs certified roofers and an engineer’s certification, which will make the church property insurable once again. Sáenz sent out more letters, this time to five roofing companies.

“Somebody’s going to respond,” he says, citing Romans 8:28: “I couldn’t afford to fix the roof.”

So far, $16,000 has come in, but to repair all the damage, the church needs

$76,000 more. In the meantime, a tarp covers the opening over the second floor.

“Anybody I talk to, if they want to help, I give them a letter,” Sáenz says. “The more that word and pictures of the damage get out, people are going to help us.”

As Jesus says in Matthew Chapter 7, Sáenz is asking, seeking, knocking.

“I’m not ashamed to ask for the church,” he says. “God is providing, but we still need more.”

Many churches have fled the impoverished, drug-infested west side of Corpus Christi for the economically prosperous south side. Sáenz over the years has been tempted to move the church, with its 75 mostly low-income congregants, elsewhere.

“But these people need the Lord,” says Sáenz, who attended the church during his childhood and youth. “Somebody’s got to stay behind.”

Source: AG News

Granite Mountain Hotshot Wade Parker Placed God First

This weekend, Only the Brave*, a movie about the 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots who perished in the Yarnell Hills Fire in June 2013, debuts in theaters. In September of 2013, AG News (now PE News) shared a story about Wade Parker, one of the Granite Mountain Hotshots who died fighting the fire. He attended Chino Valley Word of Life (Assembly of God). Here is his story.



Sweat-stained and coated in a layer of black powdery dirt from their exertions, Wade Parker, 22, and his friends Clayton and Brendan and several other elite firefighters sat talking on the side of a New Mexico mountain, looking across miles and miles of sun-baked land. As often was the case, they were talking about God. As the discussion closed, Wade and Clayton led Brendan to Christ . . . .

From the time Wade Parker was a young boy, his role model, hero, and father, Danny, would tell him, “Wade, not everyone has the opportunity to change the world, but everyone gets the opportunity to change their world (the people around them).”

Being young and energetic, young Wade was all about giving 110 percent. Gifted athletically, his desire and effort on the playing field was never questioned. He led by example and as many have said about him, he didn’t demand respect, he earned it.

A four-year letterman in baseball, Parker led his Chino Valley (Arizona) High School baseball team to state his final two years of high school. He then was given a scholarship to play baseball at Lamar (Colorado) Community College (LCC), a school known for producing quality players.

“Wade was an intense guy who worked hard and gave everything he had every day,” says LCC Head Baseball Coach Scott Crampton, “He was a young man coaches like to be around.”

But as much as he gave of himself physically to sports, when it came to worshipping God and doing his best to live for Him, he was just as committed.

“Even as a very young boy, Wade would close his eyes and lift his hands, worshipping God, singing at the top of his lungs,” Danny recalls.

An admitted “momma’s boy” who loved hugging his mother, Michelle, and was proud of it, Wade was unusual. He not only openly expressed his love for his family, he possessed a constant and infectious smile, and he noticed those experiencing problems around him — and did something about it.

He stepped in when a younger boy was being bullied on the school bus, putting an end to the bullying and walking the boy home from his bus stop. He took all his birthday money and spent it on a classmate whose clothes were ragged and shoes were worn out. Danny and Michelle also sent Wade four Bibles during his year at LCC as he kept giving his away to teammates.

Chuckling, Danny adds that Wade also invited friends home — not just for supper, but to live!

“There were those kids whose parents were going through a separation or divorce and having a really rough time,” Danny says. “Wade would talk to us and over the years we had several kids live with us for months at a time — they became a part of our family.”

Chris Hunter, a former high school teacher of Wade’s, says she recalls how Wade, as a senior, had come to her and told her how he wanted to pray that all his friends would come to know God.

“I told him, you’re thinking too small, Wade,” Hunter says. Wade said he would pray the whole class of 2009 and even all of Chino Valley High School would believe in the Lord. Hunter’s response: “That’s really nice, Wade, you should be doing that. But for who you are, Wade Parker, that’s just too small.”

Hunter remembers the moment the light came on in Wade’s eyes as he realized the truth of her prophetic words. “He said, ‘Okay, this is what I pray, that I have an impact on the world with the message of Jesus Christ.'”

After playing college ball for a year, Wade chose to follow his real passion — to become a firefighter like his dad. Not settling for the ordinary, Wade worked hard to be selected to an elite firefighting team. He made the team, and in 2012 he was named rookie of the year.

For over a year, Wade had been sharing Christ with his friends on his Granite Mountain Hotshots firefighting crew as they traveled across the West working the frontlines in fighting some of the fiercest and mostly uncontained fires. Some of the team had already made decisions for Christ — including his friend Brendan “Donut” McDonough on the side of that mountain in New Mexico — others, Wade had confided in his pastor, Todd League of Chino Valley Word of Life (Assembly of God), were just so close to accepting Christ.

But now, there was no more time. While working the Yarnell (Arizona) Hill Fire, a sudden shift in the wind had sent the uncontrolled fire raging in a new and unexpected direction, quickly blocking the crew’s escape route. Wade and the rest of his Hotshots crew were trapped, with no way out.

It was eerie. Desolate. Quiet except for the determined crunching of booted feet walking across the scarred, burned hills southwest of Yarnell, Arizona. Danny Parker was here to get his son.

A 20-year veteran and captain paramedic in the Chino Valley Fire District, Danny received a call at the station that fateful 30th of June. A friend from the Prescott (Arizona) Fire Department, where the Granite Mountain Hotshots were based out of, was calling to let him know that they had lost radio contact with Wade’s Hotshots team.

“I had heard what was going on down there as it was happening, and I had a check in my spirit that it was going to be a bad outcome,” Danny says. “My friend called me and told me not to panic, but they had lost radio contact with the team . . . ,” Danny pauses, his voice thickening with emotion, “every muscle went weak and I went straight to the floor.”

As he lay on the floor, Danny prayed earnestly for the boys and that God would surround the families with comfort and peace, but that through it all, God’s will would be done.

Now, as a member of the recovery team, Danny made his way across the desolate hills to reach his son and the other 18 flagged-draped bodies. When he arrived, he found the emergency shelters the team had deployed to protect themselves from the fire — individual cocoons made of layers of aluminum, Kevlar, and insulation — were all totally incinerated.

Yet, being well versed in fires and how fear and flames can cause weak minds to break, he noted how tightly the 19 bodies were positioned next to each other. None of them had attempted to flee in an “every-man-for-himself” escape from the flames, which has occurred in other life-taking fires.

“It doesn’t take the hurt or the loss away, but these men died for the man on their left and the man on their right. Each one gave their lives for each other and that speaks volumes to what kind of crew they were,” says Danny, who is also doing his best to keep in touch with Brendan McDonough, who was the Hotshots team lookout and lone survivor that tragic day.

Pastor League says he had just finished pre-marital counseling with Wade and his fiancé, Alicia, the week before Wade left to fight the Yarnell Hill Fire. He says Wade desperately wanted to be a good husband, but he also took time to talk about reaching his Hotshots team members for Christ.

“Wade told me in our last session that there were several guys that were close to accepting the Lord,” Leagues says, “and I truly believe God allowed Wade to be there in those last moments for those boys!”

League says that he estimates more than 1,000 people attended Wade’s funeral and several of Wade’s friends have either made first-time commitments or rededicated their lives to Christ directly because of Wade’s death. Still fighting tears when talking about Wade, League says that now, no matter where he goes in town, people know him as Wade’s pastor.

“Countless conversations have been opened up with people I don’t even know,” League says. “In that way, Wade’s legacy lives on.”

In Lamar, Coach Crampton says when the community learned of Wade’s death, they were shocked. In his relatively short time there, Wade had made an impact upon the community and college. To honor him and the sacrifice he made, they created and named a baseball scholarship after him.

“Wade’s character, on and off the field, was just off the chart,” Crampton states. “He was a strong Christian, and that came across every day. I know he influenced several other baseball players with their decision of faith. Just overall, he was an outstanding young man.”

For Danny and Michelle, their three remaining children — Amber (31), Carrie (30) and DJ (18) — and Wade’s fiancé, Alicia, the pain of loss is still fresh. Tears are not uncommon. But Danny says that early on, he couldn’t understand that even though there was pain, he felt a peace and comfort that made no sense.

“Then the Lord reminded me of my prayer — that the families would be surrounded with peace and comfort,” Danny says. “And He did surround us. We’ve felt so cradled in the arms of the Lord since this happened. It’s indescribable. It doesn’t mean we’re not hurting,” he adds, voice cracking, “but He is with us in that hurt.”

Yet, even though the death of the Hotshots team made world news, the question remains: Was Wade’s desire to impact the world with the message of Jesus Christ to be fulfilled?

While in college, Wade, who was teaching himself guitar so he could one day be a worship leader, sent home a poem he felt the Lord had given him that he wanted to turn into a song. Two lines of the poem seem particularly poignant:

“…Till the end of my days I will speak your name into the world. So I lay my life down at your feet, the everlasting King.”

At his funeral, two of Wade’s cousins put his poem to music and performed the song. The poem was also read at the crew’s memorial service held in Prescott. Their memorial was attended by thousands of firefighters and dignitaries, including speakers Vice President Joe Biden and Arizona Governor Jan Brewer.

And then, of course, there is Danny.

“I don’t mind talking about my son,” he says with conviction. “I will tell the world about my son and God in his life, and I will never turn down the opportunity to tell the world about Wade and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

So perhaps, Wade’s true desire is already on its way to being fulfilled after all.

“The times I feel Wade’s presence the most is when I’m worshipping the Lord,” Danny says, his eyes closing as tears form again, “because Wade loved to worship. And the most awesome thing about that is getting to be in the presence of the Lord and feel my son too.”


*Editor’s note: No endorsement of the movie is implied or intended.

Source: AG News

More Than Blind Faith

Brandon Sims of Crystal Hill Assembly of God in Little Rock, Arkansas, is fulfilling his mission to inspire others in their faith wherever he goes. At just 18 years old, Brandon’s boldness of faith has impacted a wide swath of people.

In 2003, Brandon began attending the Arkansas School for the Blind in Little Rock. As his studies at the school drew to a close, Sims felt compelled to do something that would leave a Christian legacy after his graduation.

In 2016, Sims began meeting with teachers, the principal, and even the superintendent in an effort to organize the school’s first See You at the Pole (SYATP) event.

As organizer of the gathering, Sims needed to take a stand among his peers and present his idea to the entire student body. Risking ridicule and opposition, Sims made his pitch, and received permission to hold the first event of this kind at the school.

Last year, Sims, then a senior in high school, joined five other students at his school’s flagpole and prayed for teachers, staff members, and peers. Despite graduating in May this year, Sims, now a freshman at the University of Arkansas-Little Rock, returned to the Arkansas School for the Blind and joined fellow students at the Sept. 27 SYATP event. More students showed up than last year.

Shane Walters, Crystal Hill youth pastor, says Sims has influenced the school in other ways. At the age of 11, Sims spurred school officials to find more adequate playground equipment for children.

“Brandon partnered with the Lions Club and got new playground equipment donated to the school,” says Walters. “Brandon is nothing short of inspiring.” To this day, the area is known as Brandon’s Playground.  

Sims says his faith is a result of watching his family’s commitment at Crystal Hills AG. Since childhood, he has been volunteering as a puppet master in the children’s area of the church. He continues to serve diligently in this role every week.

Sims credits Crystal Hills Pastor Terry W. Newman and mentor Randall Whitehurst for nurturing his faith.

Source: AG News

This Week in AG History — October 20, 1957<br />

Thomas Ball Barratt (1862-1940), born to a Methodist family in England, became the most prominent Pentecostal pioneer in Norway. Barratt was recognized at a young age for being a gifted writer, artist, and composer of music. He could have succeeded in numerous professions. But following a life-changing encounter with God, the young Barratt dedicated his life to sharing the gospel.

When Barratt was four years old, his parents immigrated to Norway, where his father worked as a miner. At age 11, Barratt’s parents sent him back to England to attend a Methodist school, where he committed his life to God during a revival. After he moved back to Norway at age 16, he became a member of Stavanger Temperance Society and became a joyful advocate of heartfelt faith and godly living.

When Barratt returned to Norway, he initially began working as his father’s assistant. However, Barratt’s artistic abilities opened other doors. He studied under Norway’s greatest composer, Edvard Grieg, and under noted artist Olaf Dahl. By age 17, he began preaching in Methodist churches. He became an ordained Methodist deacon (1889) and elder (1891) and pastored several churches.

With a deep interest in spiritual things, Barratt became a prominent proponent of revival in Norway. Through the Oslo City Mission, which he founded in 1902, and its periodical, Byposten, Barratt encouraged people to draw close to God.

In 1906, Barratt traveled to America to raise funds for the Oslo City Mission. Although he failed to raise much money, he returned to Norway with something else that would change the trajectory of his ministry. Barratt had heard testimonies about the emerging Pentecostal revival at the interracial Azusa Street Mission in Los Angeles, and he traveled there to see it for himself. His heart grew hungry for a deeper experience of God. Just before going back to Norway, he stopped at the Holiness Mission in New York City, where some of the gospel workers had been baptized in the Holy Spirit. These newly-baptized Pentecostals, Robert A. Brown and Marie Burgess, prayed with Barratt. He spent an extended period of time seeking God at the altar. After he “emptied” his soul of self, he received the Pentecostal experience with the evidence of speaking in tongues.

Upon his return to Norway, Barratt began promoting the Pentecostal message. He endured criticism by those who mocked the reported emotionalism of the Azusa Street Mission. The Methodist Church revoked his ministerial credentials, and his mission and newspaper were given to his assistant. Barratt had to start over, building up his ministry from scratch. Despite these impediments, Barratt kept his focus on the gospel and not on his critics. Crowds thronged to hear Barratt wherever he went. He founded the Filadelfia Church in Oslo, which grew to about 2,000 members. Pentecostal churches were soon organized across the nation. Under the leadership of Barratt, the Pentecostal movement in Norway became the second largest Protestant church in Norway, second only to the Lutheran church. Barratt’s influence also spread to North America, where he traveled on occasion and preached in English to American and Canadian audiences.

The story of T. B. Barratt is a reminder of the global scope of the Pentecostal movement. Barratt, an Englishman raised in Norway, identified with the Pentecostal revival during a visit to the United States. Barratt’s testimony also demonstrates that early Pentecostals prioritized the spiritual life. Barratt modeled heartful, joyful faith, which he lived out in a godly lifestyle. From his earliest days of ministry as a Methodist to his latter years as a Pentecostal statesman, he consistently emphasized the importance of deep faith. Barratt was willing to take risks to follow God’s will. And because he did, the religious landscape in Norway has never been the same.

The Pentecostal Evangel featured the story of Thomas Ball Barratt in 1957, in celebration of the 50th anniversary of Pentecostalism in Norway. Read the article, “Norway’s Pentecostal Jubilee,” on page 20 of the Oct. 20, 1957, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “A Thirst for God,” by A. M. Alber

* “Where is the Lord God of Elijah?” by James A. Stewart

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

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

Source: AG News

Casting Bread Upon the Water

Nathan and Cindy Timmerman are looking forward to spending some time with family and friends, now that they’ve returned home after three months sailing the fjords of Alaska.

The U.S. missionary chaplains are back home in Seagoville, Texas, after 12 weeks working as volunteer naturalists on a trio of cruise ships. In those roles, the Timmermans gave talks to passengers on how to spot marine and wildlife, such as humpback whales, sea lions, orcas, bears, and dolphins. They also pointed out unique characteristics such as eagles mating for life, and went on deck at times to guide such sightings.

But the couple, married for 38 years, likewise seized upon myriad opportunities to minister as volunteer chaplains. For instance, they shared the gospel with a woman spreading the ashes of her recently deceased daughter, and prayed for another woman struggling with anxiety and insomnia.

In their chaplain capacities, the Timmermans also provide spiritual strength during medical emergencies, as well as solace to grieving staff members notified about the death of a loved one (often employees can’t leave the ship for a funeral without losing their jobs).

Their naturalist responsibilities create a platform for “the silent gospel,” according to Nathan, 61.

“People are intrigued by nature and marine life,” he says. “It makes a great segue to share the gospel.”

The Timmermans spent three months cruising the Alaska shores on three different ships. Every week, a new group of 2,100 passengers boarded. The chaplains also ministered to some of the 900 crew members, who represented around 40 nationalities.

Nathan estimates 80 percent of the vacationers hadn’t been to Alaska before, and for many of them, the fun and adventure excursion is a temporary escape.

“Just because people come on a cruise doesn’t cancel their life’s struggles,” Nathan says. “Below the surface are broken lives, wounded hearts, and the shame and guilt from poor life choices.”

Mealtimes around tables present prime opportunities for the Timmermans to identify themselves as chaplains, and to become acquainted with strangers, many of them internationals.

The chaplains especially enjoy connecting foreign crew members — who typically work 12-hour shifts every day — with other Christian workers. As volunteer chaplains, the Timmermans hosted Bible studies and church services, which typically draw between 30 to 50 people, but sometimes as many as 160.

The chaplains recall sharing dinner with a retired chief financial officer — on his first cruise since his wife’s diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease — breaking down in tears. The man began attending Bible studies, and found comfort.

“It all began by having a meal with him, and sharing ‘Ole and Sven’ jokes,” Nathan says.

A newly retired oncologist who attended Bible studies left the cruise with a new purpose: ministering to oncology patients.

“It’s so rewarding that God gives divine appointments,” says Cindy, who notes that a prayer team supporting their ministry prays specifically for such encounters.

“Every week is a new adventure, with new challenges and new opportunities,” Nathan says. One of his favorite Bible passages about Jesus is Luke 5:3: “Then He sat down and taught the people from the boat.”

Of course, seeking the Lord isn’t a priority for most tourists. The ships offer patrons plenty of opportunities to gamble, drink alcohol, and watch bawdy shows.  

The Timmermans also take groups of chaplaincy interns on cruise ministry opportunities. They do one-on-one training, and emphasize prayer walking the entire ship, including theaters, bars, and casinos, asking God to shift the spiritual climate.

While not on the water, the Timmermans have focused their ministry efforts the past 15 years on training more than 500 community chaplains, which initially involves 30 hours of classroom training. While interning, the community chaplain must spend at least 12 hours engaged in a specialized ministry focus and serve a minimum of 50 hours under the direct supervision of a professional chaplain. Subsequently, the trainee is classified as a lead community chaplain.

Kim Vastine, an ordained minister and a real estate agent in Southlake, Texas, wrapped up her community chaplain training on a one-week cruise with the Timmermans.

“Nathan and Cindy provide top-notch training, both in the classroom as well as working side by side on the cruise line,” Vastine says. “They are a stellar couple who gave practical skills and wise counsel about the nuances of personal interaction.”

Since becoming certified community chaplains, Vastine and her salesman husband, Wade, have gone on another cruise and implemented the training they received.

“We had God encounters with people on a daily basis,” says Vastine, 56. “It’s amazing how many opportunities there are to pray for people and reach out with compassion.”

Source: AG News

A Providential Calling

Maggie Dunn was a licensed therapist in southeast Michigan in 2001, working in the juvenile justice system with difficult, hard-core offenders when she began to understand more clearly a vision she and her husband, Jason, had received.

Dunn was raised as the second of 14 children in Oakland Township, Michigan. Her parents, Jim and Michele Smither, were passionate about making faith real in the lives of their children — eight of them adopted. Because of her parents’ example, Dunn knew as a teenager that she wanted to make an impact in the lives of others.

After the Dunns wed in 1995, they spent 18 years in pastoral ministry, first as children’s and youth pastors in Troy Assembly of God in Michigan, and later as lead pastors at The Well in Mt. Clemens.

The couple raised two biological children, Nathanyel and Grace, now 19 and 18. The couple also became foster parents, and adopted six of those foster children: Jessica, now 27, Grant, 15, Christian,14, Dominique, 10, Layla, 4, and Myles, 3.

The Dunns witnessed the plight of unwanted youth in the foster care system. Jason, a licensed Assemblies of God minister, and Maggie both sensed a mission to kids who flailed, suffered, and sometimes even died in Michigan’s foster care system. As Maggie worked as a therapist in the system, the couple understood their calling more clearly.

“The Lord is not here to give us assignments that make sense,” she says. “What are a few sleepless nights in light of the destinies of these kids?”

Even though raising eight children sounds daunting to most people, Maggie and Jason, who have been married 22 years, felt called to do more.

In 2012, the Dunns quit their career jobs, and stepped out in faith to establish House of Providence, a residential foster care facility, to fulfill the vision God had given them when they started working with the foster care system.

As God continued to direct them, miracles began.

Jason, now 44, and Maggie, 43, received a call from the director of Life Challenge Ministries. The Adult & Teen Challenge affiliate offered the gift of a sprawling but ramshackle campus in Detroit, with a bank account of $10,000 included. Over the next eight months, renovations took place and unsolicited large financial gifts poured in.

“God wasn’t providing for us,” Maggie says. “He was responding to the prayers of those abandoned children who cried themselves to sleep every night.”

House of Providence began accepting girls ages 11-17 who had suffered physical and sexual abuse. The girls sometimes had been trafficked by parents looking for a drug fix. Dunn maintained a low staff to resident ratio, and immediately established 24-hour on-site therapeutic services. Girls who come to House of Providence learn that God cares about them, yearns for them to be whole, and that they have worth in His sight.

In 2015, at the Assemblies of God General Council in Orlando, Florida, Dunn received recognition from Her Green Room for her work with foster children.

Mary Beth Bradshaw, leader of the Church Multiplication Network Wives blog, nominated Dunn for the honor.

“The Dunns expanded their own family by adoption, bringing life, hope, and a future for these kids who were written off by society,” Bradshaw says. “They not only love those kids, but are also teaching them life skills, emotional stability, and how to be a family.” 

In 2016, House of Providence miraculously purchased 118 acres in a bucolic setting in Oxford, Michigan, a suburb northwest of the Motor City. The ministry is in the process of getting settled in its new location. In June, House of Providence commemorated 50 girls who have been removed from the foster care system and placed into permanent families.

What society offers foster care children isn’t working, Dunn maintains.

“Children who age out of the system at 18 without being adopted are given a stipend and sent on their way,” she says. “Eighty percent of those girls will end up in a role in the sex industry as modern-day slaves. But the Lord has given us a model to rescue children that is working.”

Spiritual growth and emotional healing are emphasized at House of Providence. Children experience safety, stability, a high-quality individualized education, and future-focused mentoring in a loving, caring environment. The ministry now reaches both girls and boys, ages 7-19.

“The state of Michigan is asking us to expand,” Dunn says. “The Lord is hearing our cry. No one should be alone on the planet.”

Photo Credit – Kate Panza Photography

Source: AG News