The Old is New

William “Bill” Bjoraker, Assemblies of God U.S. missionary to Jewish people since 1993, is launching a new initiative equipping everyday Christians for Jewish missions. The initiative, which he calls Encountering the Jewish World, uses an informal practical training model, in contrast to a formal degree-granting program.

“Storytelling has a strong tradition in Jewish history,” says Bjoraker, an Intercultural Ministries missionary. “Training believers in the lost art of using Bible stories as an evangelism tool can be a very effective way to share the gospel.”

Based in Pasadena, California, Bjoraker and his wife, Diana, in their early 60s, are enthusiastic about the next phase of their ministry.

“If God gives us health and strength we are not going to retire but use our experiences and gifting to finish what God has called us to accomplish,” Bjoraker says.

The couple’s love for Jewish people was birthed in Tel Aviv, Israel, in the early 1980s when they met volunteering for a Christian hostel. They married and went on to serve in several ministries including Beit Immanuel in Tel-Aviv-Jaffa, a Messianic Jewish congregation. In 1990 they relocated to Los Angeles, seeking to bring the hope of Jesus the Messiah to the more than 500,000 Jewish people living in Los Angeles County. They began evangelizing on weekends with a simple tabletop exhibit providing messianic evangelistic literature on the boardwalk at Venice Beach in Santa Monica.  

In 1998, Bill Bjoraker founded Operation Ezekiel Inc., which conducted outreaches to Israeli émigrés and Hebrew language Bible studies, plus helped plant an Israeli congregation. It now focuses on Jewish people in Greater Los Angeles.

He earned a Master of Arts in Messianic Jewish studies and Leadership Development from the School of Intercultural Studies of Fuller Theological Seminary, plus a doctorate in Intercultural Studies from Fuller. He also has served as a part-time faculty member of William Carey International University in Pasadena and The King’s University, a school founded by Jack Hayford in Dallas.  

Bjoraker notes that 70 percent of the Bible is in story form, and Jesus used parables as His primary teaching model.

“Storytelling is Jewish-friendly,” he says. “Even biblically illiterate Jews know intuitively that the stories of the Hebrew Bible are the stories of their people.”

The veteran missionary hopes to mobilize and inspire Christians who know Jewish people to join a Bible storytelling movement. He wants Messianic Jews to adopt it as a means of replicable ministry as well.

Conversational storytelling can be done on the go, he believes, in coffee shops, and even in airport security lines or waiting for luggage at baggage carousels. Bjoraker’s vision is simple.

He offers 10-hour, two-day, and five-day workshops on the storytelling process. Each includes 30-minute model storytelling sessions. Beginning with prayer, these sessions cover five essential steps: telling the story; retelling it by a volunteer; a lead-through of the story, when all retell it together, responding to the leader’s direction; spiritual observations; and applying the story to everyday life.  

Bjoraker sees the oral word enlivening Scripture.

“Stories do the work of speaking to hearts, rather than trying to convince the defensive rationalist mind,” he says. “They also acknowledge the teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit through the power of the word of God and theology is embedded within every biblical story.”

Source: AG News

Assemblies of God in India Celebrates Centennial

In early June, thousands of Indian believers gathered in Chennai to celebrate 100 years of Assemblies of God ministry in their country.

As the Fellowship marked their centennial, they noted the ministry of individuals like Pastor A.C. Samuel, Mark and Hulda Buntain, Pastor Solomon Wasker and David and Beth Grant, and the roles they played in establishing, growing and serving the Assemblies of God in India.

The second largest nation in the world, 80 percent of India’s people claim Hinduism as their religion. But the Assemblies of God has experienced consistent growth and increased acceptance. To honor the centennial celebration, the Indian Postal Service issued a commemorative postage stamp recognizing the legacy of the India AG.

Looking to the next century, the Assemblies of God India continues to dedicate itself to raising up the next generation as followers of Christ, reported David Mohan, general superintendent of Assemblies of God India. Since their beginning in 1916, AG India has planted over 5,200 recognized churches and 6,000 house churches. They have sent out over 600 missionaries and trained more than 8,000 leaders, including more than 2,500 trained ministers today.

“All over India, the power of God is really moving,” Mohan said. “God is doing a great work, and we are seeing a move of God and revival in this nation. Let us all join together, work together, to train more workers. We must put our hearts together to reach this nation for the glory of God.”

The India AG has established a goal of planting 25,000 new churches by the year 2020.

“Today we continue to see that the Assemblies of God of India is a strong and vibrant part of the World Assemblies of God Fellowship,” said George Wood, general superintendent of the U.S. General Council of the Assemblies of God. “It is with great joy that I express our heartfelt congratulations at your reaching this milestone of 100 years. We look forward to what God has in store for the Assemblies of God in India in the coming years.” 

Assemblies of God World Missions leaders offered their congratulations and encouragement.

“Pastor David Mohan and the India AG have established one of the most effective church planting initiatives in the world,” says Omar Beiler, AGWM Eurasia regional director.

“In this nation of more than a billion people,” adds AGWM Executive Director Greg Mundis, “our fellow believers share our commitment to reach, plant, train and serve so all can hear the saving message of Jesus.”

Source: AG News

Marathon Effort Helps Kids Attend Camp

Assemblies of God U.S. Missionary Isaac Olivarez, 37, is the director and founder of Urban Outreach Denver. However, he harbored a hatred — to this day, he vividly remembers his intense, passionate distaste for running. But God took something Olivarez “never ever” desired for himself (running), and made it an answer to prayer.

“I hated running, absolutely hated running,” Olivarez states emphatically, who serves as a Missionary Church Planter and Developer in Denver with his wife, Jaime, and their three children. “But one of our team members at Urban Outreach Denver was a runner and kept inviting me.”

Finally, about four years ago, Olivarez gave in and took a test run. “I couldn’t even run a quarter mile . . . it was awful,” he says. “But I had the sudden realization of how out of shape I was, so even though I hated it, I started running simply to become active again.”

What began as an effort to regain some form of fitness resulted in Olivarez shedding 55 pounds and taking part in area 5K races and “Tough Mudder” obstacle-race events. But even though his hatred for running dissolved, running a marathon wasn’t something on his bucket list.

That is, until God revealed a way to use running to raise awareness about Urban Outreach Denver (UOD) and help kids at the same time . . . perhaps something He had in mind all along!

“Urban Outreach Denver is an inner-city church that is full of drug addicts, the homeless, prostitutes, and hurting and broken people,” Olivarez says. “We run a Thursday night dinner church — community dinners — to feed and minister to a neighborhood called Five Points.”  

Darlene Robison, senior director of Missionary Church Planters and Developers, says the dinners not only bring the neighborhood together as a community, forging relationships as they share a meal together, there’s also a spiritual aspect. “It is clear that this is a spiritual community as well,” she says. “They eagerly worship, pray, and engage Scripture in a way that encourages each person to take the next step in obedience to Christ.”

Olivarez says that he was praying about ways to raise awareness about UOD as well as raise funds to help inner-city and poverty-stricken kids be able to attend the church’s annual summer camp.

The summer camp, Olivarez explains, is far more extensive than a typical VBS program. It runs four weeks and provides kids with breakfast and lunch. “About 95 percent of the kids who attend are African-American kids from the neighborhood,” Olivarez says. “The meals we serve are healthy and replace the meals they may now be missing because they’re out of school for the summer.”

The camp is filled with activities for the kids, including excursions out of the city for horseback riding and other activities. Olivarez says some of the kids have never been outside of the greater city limits. The camp also builds kids’ character and provides a regular and clear presentation of the gospel message. At the end of the camp, which runs June 27-July 22, each child is presented with a backpack filled with school supplies and a kids Bible.

Of course, all of this takes money.

“When it was suggested that I run a marathon to raise awareness and help fund the camp . . . ,” Olivarez says, pausing. “Well, let’s just say that’s what it took for me to even consider running a marathon. So, in January, I started training.”

“One of the things I love about this missionary team is that they invest their lives in children in such a generous way,” Robison says. “They work hard and love deeply, and I believe God is using them to change the future for many families.”

The Colfax Marathon, which is an event that includes numerous race distances, is held annually in Denver, Colorado — this year on May 15. Urban Denver Outreach became a charity partner with the marathon and as a partner, other people could join Olivarez and Urban Denver Outreach and run one of the event races to raise funds for the kids camp.

“I had people who I didn’t even know who signed up to run and raise funds for us,” Olivarez says. “We had a lot of exposure — we had people running the 5K, the 10-mile, the half-marathon, and even a marathon relay team for the camp!” 

Olivarez, however, was the only one on the team who signed up for the marathon.

“In my training, I had followed the program and run up to 20 miles,” Olivarez says. “And on that 20-mile run, I felt great, so I was sure I could do the marathon.”

For many experienced marathon runners, 20 miles is simply known as the first “half” of the 26.2-mile race. The last 6.2 miles (or 10 kilometers) is often just as physically demanding and much more mentally demanding than the first 20 miles. It was a reality first-time-marathoner Olivarez would experience first hand.

“I didn’t hit the wall at 20 miles, but about mile 22 or 23, my legs began hurting really bad — I was hurting really bad,” Olivarez admits. “But then I began thinking of the people I was doing this for, about those who had told me that they couldn’t believe I was running for them . . . I wanted to be able to tell them that I finished for them, that God loves them — they are the ones I thought about those last grueling miles!”

Through his efforts (he finished in 4:07) and the efforts of others, Olivarez says they have raised a little over $5,000 so far, which is about half of the amount needed to fund the camp. “We could still make it to $10,000,” he says with optimism. “Additional churches and supporters are giving to my missionary account for the race, so I’m still hopeful that we’ll reach our goal.”

Following the marathon, Olivarez put together a short PowerPoint presentation, featuring all those who ran for the church and the camp. When he concluded, the church erupted in cheering.

Some may question how anyone can impact someone else for Christ simply by doing something like running. Aside from the money raised for the camp, Olivarez offers this insight: “After the presentation and service that night, one guy, Chuck, was getting ready to leave, when he stopped and became all emotional. He said, ‘Thank you for loving us like you do; it means more than you’ll ever know!’

“But you know,” Olivarez observes, “it’s not what I’m doing for them, it’s what Jesus is doing in them!”

Source: AG News

Transformed Through Trials

When a church grows from a dozen regular attendees to over 200 in just six years, the change is monumental. But when that church is in a town with a population of only 600, it can be transformational for the town itself.

Throw a devastating fire into the mix, and a picture of God’s grace working through a fellowship of believers who are committed to sharing His love with their neighbors is evident.

In 2010, Pastor Amos R. Self and his wife, Melodee, responded to a call to help get what was then called Verndale Assembly of God in Minnesota back on its feet after a time of hardship. A name change to Family Life Church came a year later. The new leadership and new focus helped a healthier congregation begin to emerge, according to Tahna Rurup, who serves as FLC’s communications director.

“Our new name says it all,” Rurup says. “The church really is a family. When someone comes for the first time, they’re greeted like a long-lost relative.”

However, just when it looked as though the church’s ministry had stabilized, faulty wiring installed during an upgrade to the sound system started a fire that burned the 80-year-old building to the ground. Two weeks earlier, the church held a communion service outside and leaders pondered how the building might be expanded because all 90 available seats had been maxed out.

While Family Life Church held services in a school, church leaders began looking for a new building in which to worship. A 28,000-square-foot rafter factory had been empty for five years and looked promising.

“We did a prayer walk around the building for seven days and asked for God’s will,” Self says. “People told us it wouldn’t work, but we voted unanimously to buy it for $220,000!”

With 80 percent of the remodeling work done by volunteers, Self says Family Life Church managed to stretch the insurance settlement so that virtually the entire building was paid for in cash.

“People in the church gave up a lot of evenings and weekends,” Self says.

Family Life Church started to grow numerically while meeting in the school. The increase in attendance has coincided with FLC reaching out to the community in ways such as building a playground in a town park, purchasing flashlights for each firefighter, and donating a stun gun to the police department.

By the time of the July 2013 relaunch, a little over 100 people showed up on an average Sunday.

“Since then, our church has doubled again in regular involvement and attendance,” Self says. He explains that a major factor in the church’s growth has been a shift in focus.

“We intentionally target a younger audience, from ages 18 to 28, and we have more than 50 kids in our children’s ministry,” Self says. He notes that nearly every week someone in a Sunday morning service makes a salvation commitment to Christ.

In March, Family Life Church began operating and staffing the Verndale community food shelf out of its new facility, serving more than 60 families and giving out around 3,650 pounds of food every month.

“The last almost four years has been a crazy amount of work and crazy transformation in the church,” Self says. “People have responded positively. We learned the value of hard teamwork.”

Rurup concurs.

“We have a volunteer base that is absolutely amazing,” Rurup says. “These people are here for the long haul.”

Source: AG News

Senior Fulfillment

An Illinois church’s food pantry ministry is meeting needs outside and inside the congregation, both feeding the hungry and providing a new assignment to a group of retired seniors.

Twice a week, City Temple Assembly of God, pastored by Al and Cindi Langston, opens its doors to distribute food and clothing to Madison County. According to church secretary Lisa Henry, the pantry in Granite City serves between 500 and 600 families a month.

Each family leaves with three or four boxes of food. On the fourth Thursday of each month, families are encouraged to return and participate in the mobile market. Anyone in need may come to the mobile market and leave with another couple of boxes of food.

Historically, Granite City had a thriving steel industry. However, an economic downturn in the 1980s resulted in layoffs and the closure of some industrial plants and commercial businesses. Those tough times continue to impact the community today.

“Even though Granite City is trying to recover and rise above, there are still many financially hurting families,” Henry says.

This reality motivated those at City Temple to take action. Former City Temple Pastor Richard Cope envisioned a food pantry run by the seniors of the church. Vicki Baxter brought the vision to reality in 2009. In 2011, Joe and Valerie Pearman stepped in to lead the pantry’s volunteer efforts.

The pantry is quickly outgrowing its space at the church. Henry, a food ministry volunteer herself, says church leaders hope to eventually have a separate building designed especially for the pantry.           

As many as 40 volunteers, primarily seniors, help throughout the week with various tasks, including collecting food, stocking shelves, greeting visitors, doing paperwork, distributing food, praying for families, and cleaning up.

Some volunteers come in wheelchairs or walkers. Others have various ailments or don’t always feel well. But all share the same passion to show the compassion of Christ to the needy.

Sharon Woodson volunteers with her husband, James, in the kitchen, where they organize produce for distribution. Although James has a heart condition and is on oxygen, he doesn’t let that stop him from serving.

“He can sit down and sort and divide the food up,” Sharon says. “He’d be lost without it.”

Being able to help those who are struggling and see the impact makes the work rewarding, according to volunteer Voyle Rushing.

“If I can do anything to make them smile or maybe forget about their problems for just a little while, I feel like I’ve done my job,” Rushing says.

The Langstons can tell just by looking at the faces of those at the distributions that they are hungry for more than just physical food.

“It is our goal as we reach out into the community to meet spiritual needs with as much love and passion as the physical needs,” Henry says.

Source: AG News

Calvary Church Wins National JBQ Title

Calvary Church (AG) of Naperville, Illinois, survived a close challenge to take home the Junior Bible Quiz (JBQ) team quizzing title during the 2016 National JBQ Festival held June 9-11 at the Sheffield Family Life Center in Kansas City, Missouri.

Calvary Church edged out Living Word Community Church (AG) of Mechanicsville, Virginia, for the title. Both teams finished with a 7-2 record in the Level 1 quizzing finals, but Calvary won the head-to-head match 160-145 to give them the championship. Central Assembly of God, Springfield, Missouri, finished third.

According to Calvary Church JBQ program leader Bonnie Papendick, the church has had at least one team qualify for nationals every year since 1988. This is Calvary Church’s fifth national title.

Bobbie Barnes of First Assembly of God, Benton, Arkansas, was the top individual scorer for the festival, with 2,875 points. Gabi Acevedo of Church in the City (AG), Milwaukee, Wisconsin, was second in scoring with 2,830 points, and Ryan Yumang of Hyland Park Assembly, Fayetteville, Arkansas, was third with 2,820 points.

Papendick, who has been involved in Calvary Church’s Bible quiz program for 34 years, says all five of her children (now grown) are JBQ sponsors, joining with other parents who volunteer their time to help kids memorize key Bible facts from the Bible Fact-Pak.

“I have seen it over the years,” she says, “kids getting involved in ministry, becoming pastors, missionaries, and church leaders because of JBQ — being grounded in the Word of God. I’ve had kids come back and tell me that they are serving God today because of JBQ.”

With the event being held in Missouri, the “Show Me” state, the theme for the festival was Show Me the Truth. In a brief devotional on the JBQ Festival website, it explained that “what’s showin’ on the outside is what’s growin’ on the inside,” referring to Galatians 5:22-23 and the Fruit of the Spirit.

“I tell kids and parents that our JBQ program is not about the competition,” Papendick says, “it’s about what they learn and what they live — that’s the bottom line and that’s what I want for these children.”

Mark Entzminger, senior director of AG Children’s Ministries, attended the national festival. “I am always impressed with how much dedication and commitment these kids have to God’s Word,” he states. “I was pleased to see an incredible amount of encouragement and support for every team regardless of where they finished in the tournament.”

Entzminger also commented on the excellent attitudes and spirit demonstrated by the coaches and kids he was able to interact with during the event. “I was really impressed with the spirit of the kids and the coaches who took an ‘attitude-before-competition’ approach.”

For complete results from the 2016 festival, see the JBQ National Festival website. For information about the JBQ program, click here.

Source: AG News

AG Church Held for Ransom?

It used to be that one of the easiest ways for scammers to make big money was simply follow disaster — pose as a legitimate contractors, make big promises, and take advantage of desperate victims. Today, as at least one AG church discovered, all it takes for a scammer to make quick money is for someone to click on the right (or in the case of the church, the wrong) link.

Recently, a small AG church in the Wisconsin-Northern Michigan District (WNMD), opened an email and then the attached file — when they did, a “ransomware” virus took control of their computer, demanding a payment if they ever wanted the files on their computer to be accessible again.

Although some might blame the church for opening an unsolicited email, this email was actually sent by the church secretary to herself as a reminder to do a certain task. That’s right, she was opening her own email!

According to Mark Morton, the Help Desk team lead in the Assemblies of God national office’s IT (Information Technology) department, the chances are good that the ransomware was already on the church’s computer and attached itself to the document so that when it was opened, it would be launched.

But how did it get on the church’s computer in the first place? Jeremy Rakowski, the IT specialist for the WNMD, explains that it’s not that difficult. “In an IDG recent report I read that 93 percent of all phishing/spam emails now contain some form of ransomware.”

According to the International Data Group (IDG), targeted victims can be anyone, including the average user, businesses, law enforcement or government agencies, emergency services, healthcare organizations, educational institutions, religious organizations, and financial institutions.

Rakowski says that even if victims pay the ransom to gain access to their computers again, it’s no guarantee that the computer will be released. “There was a hospital in California who paid the ransom, and their computers were released and they could access their files again; another hospital in Missouri paid the ransom, and nothing happened.”

Morton explains that it’s not as simple as just not opening emails from unrecognized addresses, because sometimes the addresses are recognizable businesses’ or individuals’ names that have been pirated and/or greet a person by name.

“Now, when I get an email with a link, before I click on it, I hover my cursor over that link to make sure the name that appears matches up to the link name,” Morton says. “If it’s a long string of numbers and letters, it’s a good sign that the link is not what it says it is and in all likelihood contains some form of ransomware.”

IDG says that religious organizations’ networks, especially in smaller churches that don’t have their own IT staff, are “often infected with malware [malicious email] because their personnel are not trained to ignore phishing emails and are unaware of cyberthreats.” IDG also sites two examples of churches targeted in February of this year with ransomware attacks.

“What makes ransomware profitable for criminals is that they rarely demand exorbitant fees,” Morton observes, “Most demand a fee that is easier for a person or organization to pay than it is going through the headache of having to purge and wipe your entire system and then reload it from a back-up system . . . assuming you have your files backed up.”

Rakowski also warns that owners of Mac computers, which have historically been less susceptible to computer viruses, should not be lulled into a false sense of security as more and more ransomeware viruses are now “Mac friendly.”

And as IDG points out, if a team sends out thousands or even millions of malicious emails, if only a small percentage are infected and pay the ransom, it results in not only easy money, but significant money.

“Some ransomware will not only lock you out of your computer, but it will also infect any computer or drive networked to that computer,” Morton says, “including your back-up drives.”

Rakowski says that one way to help keep back-up drives from falling victim is to unplug them after every back-up. However, he admits, if the virus is latent (meaning it’s already on a computer, but has not yet been activated), the back-up will now have the virus as well, so even after reinstallation, it shouldn’t be assumed that the system is now virus free and should be carefully scanned by software for viruses.

Glenn Tofte, the IT Director at the IDCAG (Illinois District Council of the Assemblies of God), says the district’s computers were attacked by a ransomware virus when someone who regularly receives résumés by email, received one that was malicious — not realizing it until after he opened the file.

Although they were able to isolate the problem quickly due to their advanced training, Tofte shares some sound advice for computer users to consider:

• Be highly suspicious of any file that ends with a “.rtf” as that’s the preferred type of file for malware.

• If you’re expecting a file, but something still doesn’t look quite right, upload it to virustotal.com where 50 antivirus softwares search the document for a virus for free.

• Look for clues — does the sender’s email address end with a period followed by two letters (codes for other countries). Are you expecting an email from out of the country?

• In addition to standard virus software, consider installing a free (or paid) version of the utility called CryptoPrevent by Foolish IT on your computer. Antivirus software looks for patterns and signatures, meaning it’s already struck computers. CryptoPrevent is behavior based, basically meaning if something attempts to write or modify files in a place it shouldn’t, it will block it — it’s only available for Windows-based computers at this time.

• If a company contacts you by email, such as eBay, directing you to click on a link as a security precaution or because there’s something wrong with your account, instead of clicking the link, access the website through typing in the known address into your browser.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) also has a vast resource of online downloadable helps, scam information, as well as free materials available to order. For churches interested in bulk orders of free publications from the FTC, they can find everything from campaigns to scams, identity theft, online safety, and much more on the FTC site.

Educating staff, keeping abreast of the latest scams to be watchful for, maintaining a back-up system, having the right kind of protection on your computers, and treating all emails with a healthy suspicion all help in keeping a church’s or individual’s computer virus free. But Rakowski, Tofte, and Morton agree, ultimately, when it comes to any computer becoming infected with a virus, it’s not a matter of if, but when.

Image used in accordance with CC BY-SA 2.0 license. Photo credit: Christiaan Colen, Flickr

Source: AG News

Embracing its Vision, Global University Resigns from DEAC

Founded in the Pentecostal tradition, Global University from its start established a concrete mission to prepare men and women for Spirit-empowered ministry worldwide. In order to advance this mission, certain standards for academics, governance, and the very nature of the institution were set in place. Global University developed relationships with multiple accreditation agencies and, through its work with the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) and the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC), was established as a pioneer in distance learning.

Recently, the DEAC paid an onsite visit to Global. They called upon the institution to redefine its mission, nature, academics, and governance. This was in sharp contrast to the glowing affirmation from the HLC, which recently gave Global a new 10-year accreditation through 2025.

University President Dr. Gary Seevers may have put it best: “Our mission, our nature, and our academics all define our vision. To change our vision is to quench a flame of redemptive education for those most needing the light.”

With this sentiment in mind, Global University’s Board of Directors, in conjunction with the Board of Administration, through prayerful deliberation and as a unified body, has decided to voluntarily resign from DEAC accreditation. 

As an agency, the Higher Learning Commission represents more than a century of educational accreditation, encompassing the largest collection of collegiate institutions, which spans over 19 states. HLC’s recent reaffirmation ensures that Global University has retained, in full, its regional accreditation for the years to come.

John Bueno, Chair of Global University’s Board of Directors, reiterated the positive sentiments, saying, “Diligent prayer, the guiding of the Holy Spirit, and the HLC’s reaffirmation have made it very clear that we have made the best decision for Global going forward.”

 

Photo courtesy of Global University

Source: AG News

The Prodigal Returns

Once the keyboardist at one of the largest churches in the U.S., Stacy Hord forsook her strict Christian upbringing, divorced by her husband after 16 years of marriage, and started to regularly stay out all hours of the night, leaving her three adolescent sons to fend for themselves.

On her downward spiral to despair, Hord traded her churchgoing friends for non-Christian partygoers, even though she continued to drop off and pick up her sons for youth group at James River Church in Ozark, Missouri.

At 2:30 one morning in 2004, Hord hit rock bottom as she drove home after drinking. She knew she didn’t belong in the lifestyle she had adopted a year and a half earlier, yet she felt so estranged from the Lord she didn’t know how to get back.

Hord knew she needed to pray, but she couldn’t formulate any words. So she just started calling upon the name of Jesus, whispering at first, then shouting by the time she reached home.

A couple of nights later, as she pulled into the church parking lot, a mother of other sons in the youth group approached Hord’s car. Hord figured the mom wanted to chastise her for not being more involved in the spiritual development of her sons.

Instead, the other mother asked Hord if she was OK. She explained that the Lord had awakened her at 2:30 two nights earlier to pray for Hord.  

At that moment, the prodigal began her return path home.

Raised in a legalistic and sheltered environment, Hord attended a fundamentalist Bible college in the mid-1980s and married soon after.

However, harmony proved elusive in matrimony. Despite winning the Mrs. Missouri title in 1997, Hord increasing felt as though God didn’t hear her prayers for less strife with her spouse. Ultimately, her rebellion started when she blamed God for a failing marriage.

After Hord’s divorce, her pastor counseled her to wait at least a year, and preferably two, before she resumed dating. But Hord initially disregarded the pastor’s advice, dating various non-Christian men and walking away from church altogether.

“I threw off everything I knew to be right,” says Hord, still weepy at the memories of that painful period. “I had no character; I single-handedly destroyed my reputation.

“Even when I was still married, I thought if I found the right man to validate me I would have value,” Hord says. “As a newly single woman, I was still on a hunt to find that validation, no matter what it cost me.”

After she returned to the Lord, Hord reconsidered her pastor’s admonition and went seven years without dating. She wanted to make sure she healed from her misdeeds and that she devoted time to the sons she had neglected.

Hord, now a youthful-looking 52, says she feels the Lord put a hedge around her because no one asked her out those years. In 2009, she wrote a book, A New Vision for Dating.

Now single again for 13 years, Hord’s sons are grown: Dallas, 28; Dalton, 25; and Dylan, 23.

Tim D. Keene, a retired staff pastor at the church, helped shepherd Hord’s restoration process.

“Her return as a godly mother is proven in the lives of her children,” Keene says.

Hord says she has learned to trust in the Lord’s provision and timing.

Hord returned to lay leadership at James River Church a decade ago, and serves on the prayer team and as a Living Free facilitator. She also speaks to women’s groups.

“She has been steadfast in her return to follow Christ,” Keene says. “She has been faithful in working with people with life-controlling issues.”

Hord, who became an executive assistant at Evangel University three years ago, says she finds fulfillment in talking to women on the brink of divorce, urging them to examine their own hearts in the relationship rather than to merely blame their spouse.

“I was arrogant and pharisaical toward my husband because I thought I was a better Christian than him,” Hord says. “I withheld grace. But grace is a changing agent.”

Friend Kim Bateman never stopped praying for Hord during her hiatus from the Lord.

“I applaud that she has been transparent with her story,” says Bateman, a real estate agent who has been married for 32 years. “I prayed during her struggle that the knowledge in her head would fall to her heart. Today, she’s a spiritually insightful person.”

Source: AG News

This Week in AG History — June 16, 1963

Growing up as an Assemblies of God missionary kid in Puerto Rico in the 1920s and 1930s, Paul Finkenbinder (1921-2012) dreamed of reaching not just one country but all of Latin America with the gospel of Christ. He returned to the United States to attend Zion Bible Institute (Providence, Rhode Island) and Central Bible Institute (Springfield, Missouri). In 1943, he and his wife, Linda, packed up and moved to El Salvador where Paul began to work his dream into reality.

As Assemblies of God missionaries, Paul and Linda spent the next 12 years teaching in Bible schools, ministering in churches and making themselves available for whatever needs arose in ministry. In 1955, God gave Paul a vision for expanding the message he was preaching through the larger avenue of shortwave radio broadcasts. At the time, radio was still a novelty for many living in Latin America.

Beginning with a Webcor recorder mounted on a missionary barrel in his garage, Paul began recording a short radio program called “La Iglesia del Aire” (The Church of the Air). By 1963, this 15-minute broadcast was the only gospel network program heard daily in all Latin America. Hermano Pablo (Brother Paul) began receiving testimonies from across the region of what God was doing through the radio messages. Of the six daily broadcasts two were devoted to evangelistic sermons, one to issues of morality, and another addressed Bible questions. The remaining two were given to Scripture readings, Christian poetry, and gospel music.

In 1960 the ministry, then known as LARE (Latin American Radio Evangelism), pioneered the use of Christian drama to present parables and Bible stories on television. The response was overwhelming. This led to the production of six Bible drama films that are still in use today throughout Latin America. The realization of Brother Paul’s dream required utilizing every tool available radio, television, the printed page, crusades, and special eventsto present the Gospel of Christ to all of Latin America.

In 1964 Hermano Pablo and his family returned to the United States and established their headquarters in Costa Mesa, California. After four years in a makeshift recording studio in their garage, God provided a building for their studios and offices. Today Hermano Pablo Ministries’ four-minute “Un Mensaje a la Conciencia” (A Message to the Conscience) is broadcast more than 6,000 times per day and is published in over 80 periodicals. The Spanish language radio and television programs, along with the newspaper and magazine columns, are shipped to more than 33 countries of the world.

Hermano Pablo was honored by the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) with the award for the “Hispanic Program of the Year.” Other awards include “Best Film of the Year” given by the National Evangelical Film Foundation (NEFF), and the “Best Spanish Broadcast” Angel Award given by Religion in Media (RIM). In 1993, the NRB awarded Hermano Pablo the “Milestone Award” for 50 years of service in religious broadcasting, and in 2003 he received the prestigious NRB Chairman’s Award.

On January 25, 2012, Paul and Linda celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary. Later that evening he complained of a severe headache and was taken to the hospital where he slipped into a coma. Paul Finkenbinder died in the morning hours of January 27, 2012, but the ministry of Hermano Pablo continues to live and thrive across an entire continent.

Hermano Pablo and his ministry were featured in an article, “La Iglesia del Aire,” published on pages 12-13 of the June 16, 1963, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “Should A Christian Have A Breakdown,” by Anne Sandberg

• “A Former Gambler Testifies,” by Arthur Condrey

• “Another Minister Led Into Pentecostal Blessing,” by Ansley Orfila

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

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

Source: AG News