Happy Trails

The cowbell rings on a Sunday night. It’s a sure sign that church is about to begin.

That’s the scenario at Northwoods Harvest Barn in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota, better known as Cowboy Church Perham. The welcoming and nonthreatening atmosphere allows folks of all ages — from the wizened farmer to the littlest buckaroo — to check out Jesus in a fun and unusual way.

After the cowbell starts the service, a mandolin, a washtub basin, and spoons — along with the traditional church organ — help cowboy congregants to worship. The pastor starts his message with a good-natured joke and an entertaining story before diving into God’s Word. The service concludes with the singing of “Happy Trails.”

The uncommon gathering draws more than 75 people each Sunday evening to the “church outside the box but inside the Bible,” as Pastor Brian Erickson likes to remind people.

Erickson planted the church in 2007 with 14 people at the first service. He had been assistant pastor at Northwoods Assembly in nearby Perham. He had a vision for doing something out of the ordinary to draw people to church who might not otherwise darken its doors.

So as not to compete with Northwoods Assembly or other area congregations, he decided to offer Sunday evening country gospel concerts. He searched the area for a place to meet and soon discovered a defunct church for sale. Although in terrible disrepair, Erickson felt God leading him to the place. When he checked into the details, to his delight he found that the AG Minnesota District Council owned the building.

The Minnesota District handed over the keys, and Erickson, along with his wife, Sandy, and a few others, got to work transforming the church into a cowboy and farm-themed “barn,” complete with a tractor and a hitching post out front.

People began to visit and then return.

“Most folks around here aren’t cowboys or farmers, but they’re drawn to our place because it’s filled with joy,” Erickson says. “The Bible says to be fishers of men, but there are different lures. We offer a folksy, relaxed environment to learn about God and grow in our faith.”

Sandy Marlett agrees. Four years ago, she and her husband, Seth, felt something missing from their lives. They had been intrigued driving past the church. So they gave it a try. Hooked immediately, they became regular attendees, bringing their four grandchildren (ages eight to 11) as well, so the youngsters could attend the Kids Korral Sunday School.

“It changed our lives,” says Marlett. “The Holy Spirit is really alive and moving in that place.” One weekend when the Marletts couldn’t make the 30-mile drive from their house to the church, their grandchildren expressed deep disappointment.

“They love going to church,” Marlett says. “I’m so grateful that it has planted those seeds in their lives.”

That kind of response thrills Erickson.

“People feel loved and accepted here,” Erickson says.

Source: AG News

Co-Creator of Junior Bible Quiz, George Edgerly, Dies

Rev. George A. Edgerly, 76, one of the original developers of the Assemblies of God Junior Bible Quiz (JBQ) program and the Bible Fact-Pak, passed away Saturday, May 21, 2016, in Springfield, Missouri, following a massive stroke.

In addition to pastoring six Assemblies of God congregations in Iowa, his home state, Edgerly was well-known for his work in Bible Quiz. Edgerly was a Bible Quiz coach in Gray, Iowa, in the mid- to late-1960s and later coached Park Crest Assembly of God in Springfield, Missouri, to the 1992 national Bible Quiz title.

Edgerly also worked at the Assemblies of God national office beginning in 1973, serving in various areas of the Sunday School Department, ultimately directing all of the ministries of that department. He also served for a time as a field representative for Marketing and Distribution.

However, most will remember Edgerly for his work in co-creating the Junior Bible Quiz program and in co-developing the Bible Fact-Pak. The Fact-Pak offers 576 graded questions that were designed to be memorized and included Scripture passages, Bible facts, and Bible doctrines, which Edgerly called a solid foundation of facts and truths upon which a lifetime of learning could be built.

What seemed a trivial thing at the time, has gone around the world,” Edgerly said in an interview conducted several years ago. “The Fact-Pak has been translated into French, Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, Russian, Swahili, Braille, Portuguese, and others [including German and Lithuanian].” JBQ and the Bible Fact-Pak have also been adopted by other denominations. Among these are Foursquare, Christian Missionary Alliance, and the General Association of General Baptists.

The success of the materials followed Edgerly’s passion for placing the Word of God into the minds and hearts of children. He stated, “I count JBQ to be the greatest contribution to our Fellowship with which I have been involved.”

“George’s contributions to kingdom of God and the Assemblies of God are innumerable,” states Dr. George O. Wood, general superintendent of the Assemblies of God. “Wherever he served, lives were impacted for Christ — he is a hero of the faith and will be deeply missed.”

Edgerly is survived by his wife of 57 years, Atha; three of their children, Dawn Rae Rethman, Max Allan Edgerly, and Jorin Lee Edgerly; five grandchildren; and his brother Veryl (Sally) Edgerly. He is preceded in death by his parents, Ralph and Edith, and an infant child, Ruth Mariee.

Visitation will be held at Walnut Lawn Funeral Home in Springfield, from 5-7 p.m. Wednesday, May 25. Funeral services will be at Life 360-Park Crest Campus in Springfield at 10 a.m. Thursday, May 26, and at First Pentecostal in Ottumwa, Iowa, at 10 a.m. Friday, May 27. Burial will follow the Iowa service at Mt. Moriah Cemetery.

Contributions can be made in Edgerly’s name to the Once Lost Now Found ministry at First Pentecostal in Ottumwa.

Source: AG News

Neuroscience Collaboration

After Aimee Franklin graduated in 2007 with a degree in biology from Southeastern University (SEU) in Lakeland, Florida, she moved back home to Alabama and took a job working for her father, who had to leave an Assemblies of God pastorate after a severe heart attack.

Franklin put her dream of becoming a physician on hold as she paid down school debt and socked away money for medical school by delivering newspapers with her father, starting at 2 a.m. Through hard times, Franklin says the soundtrack for her life became “It’s Gonna Be Worth It,” the tagline from an inspiring song by Rita Springer. Motivated by Galatians 6:9, the Texas worship leader wrote “Worth It All” as a testimony never to give up on God’s plan.

Just before leaving campus, Franklin agreed to take the entrance exams for graduate study in biomedical research at the urging of Debbie Hazelbaker, her SEU faculty mentor. With little to lose, Franklin applied to the prestigious University of Alabama-Birmingham (UAB) Graduate School, as well as for a highly competitive fellowship with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, ranked as the world’s fourth wealthiest foundation.

“Miraculously, I got accepted and I quit my paper route,” she says. But a defining moment lurked just around the corner. Could she be open about her Christian faith as a research scientist at a large secular university?

“I was interviewing with all of these researchers,” Franklin recalls. “One of them asked why I was going to graduate school. I said, ‘I felt called to do this.’”

The researcher asked who called her.

“I said, ‘I really feel like God has called me to do this,’” Franklin responded.

The interviewer wanted to know if she heard an audible voice.

“No, but doors keep opening and it’s something I’m very interested in,” she explained. The interview concluded successfully, and Franklin enrolled in the doctoral program in integrative biomedical sciences. She looks back on that moment as another open-door affirmation that she could follow Christ and excel in research science.

Across the next nine years, more doors opened. In 2009, Franklin began research with Lori McMahon, the renowned neuroscientist who in 2015 became dean of the 5,000-student UAB Graduate School. Under McMahon’s mentorship, Franklin discovered what has become her life’s professional passion: The human brain.

“Most of the other organs, we have them figured out,” she says. “We know so little about the brain. Everything you discover is something new. Everything is exciting.”


In 2014, Franklin completed her doctoral degree and then in a leap of faith accepted a full-time faculty job back at SEU as assistant professor of biology after turning down a highly sought-after post-doctoral job in Washington.

Recently, she and McMahon announced a verbal agreement to create the first-ever undergraduate research lab at SEU, a university with one of the fastest-growing enrollments  nationwide. Nevertheless, it is extremely rare for a major secular research university to collaborate so significantly with a faith-based school, especially one tiny by comparison.

“At Southeastern, we want a faculty that develops solutions to real world issues and problems,” says SEU President Kent Ingle. “We have created an amazing research lab.”

Under the agreement, UAB will send mouse brain tissue to the SEU lab for research so that SEU will not have to keep live animals on site. Franklin expects that the lab will begin receiving tissue before 2017. The mouse brain has become a frequently used model for neuroscience research because there is similarity with human tissue in key aspects.

For Franklin, doing scientific research with undergraduates in a Christian university setting brings together more than she could have imagined as a first-year pre-med major at SEU in 2003. She now sees neuroscience as her mission field.

By doing research, she contributes new discoveries. By teaching undergraduates how to do quality research, she affirms that Christians who excel in math and science can do more than serve as clinicians or doctors on the mission field.

“In research, money is tight,” Franklin says. “You get a result in research and there are 15 next steps to take, but you only have money to do two of them. How do you pick? You’re going to make an educated guess. But it would be awesome to have Spirit-led people making these decisions.”

Franklin also has a commitment to local church leaders to help them understand the value of research science.

“In church, we always pray that God would guide the surgeon’s hands,” she says. “We don’t really pray for our researchers out there discovering the cures and treatments. Let’s start praying for our researchers that they be Spirit-led.”

McMahon says she is motivated to work with SEU because, “We don’t have the manpower to do everything we want to do.” She sees the arrangement as a win-win for students and researchers and is enthusiastic about working with her former student.

“Aimee is extremely talented, super-smart, and highly motivated,” McMahon says. “If given the resources to grow, she will do big things.” McMahon, a lifelong Catholic, endorses Franklin’s desire to bring faith and science into harmony.

“For those of us who are Christian and faithful, we can still do our science,” McMahon says. “Scientists do not have all the answers.”


The larger context is that federal funding for brain science research is growing rapidly. For 2015, the National Institutes of Health awarded at least $5.5 billion in research grants. Hundreds of millions more in research is spent on brain disorders and diseases.

In 2014, NIH announced a new 10-year, “moonshot” plan to spend an additional $4.5 billion to create new tools for brain study. “It’s a new era of exploration, an exploration of inner space instead of outer space,” Cornelia Bargmann, a Rockefeller University neurobiologist said at the time of the NIH announcement.

UAB and SEU, through the two women scientists, will support research in three areas:

  • Fragile X syndrome, a rare inherited intellectual disability primarily in males, in which an area of the X chromosome is vulnerable to damage. This condition accounts for up to 6 percent of autism cases. Researchers are pursuing therapies to treat autism and intellectual disability using Fragile X as the model.
  • Major depressive disorder (clinical depression). About 3 million people per year are diagnosed with clinical depression. Some research will examine why post-menopausal women are more at risk than men for this disease.
  • Alzheimer’s disease. One area of study at UAB is how plaques that build up in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients may interfere with normal blood flow to brain neurons, a possible factor in memory loss.

SEU President Ingle says he expects Southeastern over time to grow its capacity to do top-level research.

“The bottom line is that education is about life stewardship and life-calling,” Ingle says.  “Southeastern can provide stewardship of calling whatever that calling is. We believe in divine healing. But wouldn’t it be wonderful to pray for someone to be healed and pray for a cure?”

In the words of Rita Springer, that kind of prayer is gonna be worth it all.

Source: AG News

Igloos in Hawaii

They live on beaches, in parks, at bus stops, beneath highway underpasses, and even in airports throughout the tropical paradise of Hawaii. At night, they sleep on sidewalks.

The Hawaiian Islands have one of the highest homeless rates in the U.S., and each year the numbers grow. Last fall, Gov. David Ige issued a state of emergency concerning homelessness.

Pastor Klayton Ko prayed. How should his church, the multisite First Assembly of God in Honolulu, respond to the homeless — especially vulnerable women and children?

Ko says the Holy Spirit provided a single-word response: shelter.

The pastor’s internet search of the word led him to the Juneau, Alaska-based InterShelter, which manufactures temporary, portable affordable housing. Each domed igloo — the company offers them in colors such as tangerine and pink — can be assembled in just three hours by three people with socket wrenches and screwdrivers.

Thus, Ko launched The Shelter, First Assembly’s initiative to provide Christian community, job training, and transitional housing to homeless people.

“Homelessness is a heart issue,” says Ko, who also is superintendent of the AG Hawaii District. “We as believers have been anointed to heal the brokenhearted, and to set free those caught in grips of poverty.”

While government programs can finance physical needs, Ko says, “The church has the spiritual resources to bring healing and hope to the homeless.”

Ko’s vision begins with an agricultural tract the church owns on Oahu, on which the church could place around a dozen long-lasting rustproof fiberglass panel “igloos,” cool inside even in the tropical heat.

From there, the church would lodge the homeless in a “God-based family community where they’re not isolated on the street,” says Daniel Kaneshiro, First Assembly’s facilities pastor and director of the homeless program.

The Shelter aims to train the homeless for employment, Kaneshiro says, adding that plans include building a self-sustaining organic farm, freeing the project from dependence on donations.

Kaneshiro notes that many homeless are employed, but the high cost of living in the Aloha State keeps them without a roof over their head. Monthly rent in metro Honolulu ranges from $1,300 to $1,600 for a one-bedroom apartment. Some chronic homeless come from the mainland, attracted by the temperate winter. Others move from Micronesia and the Marshall Islands with few job skills. The government has put up some homeless in converted shipping containers, which are hot and prone to rust in the salty Hawaiian air.  

First Assembly always has maintained a homeless outreach, Kaneshiro says. The church’s program includes feeding and busing the homeless to services. Historically, however, there has been no ecumenical movement on social issues in Hawaii.

Last year, First Assembly ordered a single four-person 314-square-foot igloo (12 feet tall, 20 feet in diameter) for $9,500 and at Christmas set it up in the church courtyard. Meanwhile, Ko, Kaneshiro and the rest of the leadership team sought the Lord’s guidance on fitting the structure into a holistic Christ-centered homeless ministry.

The church’s model igloo generated interest and enthusiasm not only at First Assembly, but also from pastors and congregants within other AG churches and beyond. In April, First Assembly went public with The Shelter initiative when Ko shared it with AG pastors during Hawaii’s District Council meeting. Since then, three AG churches and two independent congregations have pledged more than $91,000, in addition to the $100,000 that First Assembly has committed.

As Ko continues to speak to pastors, he expects more churches to adopt an igloo “and possibly launch a Shelter village on their island,” he says. “I am excited because while most pastors and churches have a desire to help the homeless, they have lacked the vehicle.”


Obstacles hinder implementing the vision. Public shelters will accept those still using alcohol and drugs; in contrast, First Assembly isn’t equipped to provide social services for chronic homeless with substance abuse and mental health issues. The church campus itself couldn’t accommodate homeless residents because it’s near a school, which presents liability issues.

Another complication stems from how much control the church is willing to release when working with city and state officials.

“How do we partner with government but, at the same time, not compromise our beliefs?” Kaneshiro asks. “There’s a concern we cannot really create a program that requires someone to go to church or Bible study.”

Yet another holdup is getting required zoning and city permits for the church’s restricted agricultural land. Ko says church leaders have met with top city officials who pledged to find ways to either waive certain rules under the governor’s emergency proclamation or to speed up the normal process, which may take more than two years. With city favor, Ko says, the time may shorten to six months to a year.

Ko has been pleasantly surprised by the interest generated.

“Individuals, pastors, churches, and the mayor and city council [have said they want to] support in whatever ways possible,” he says.

The issue provides opportunity for churches to unite across denominational lines, working together to tackle this humanitarian crisis through the gospel. First Assembly joined the Hawaii’s first faith-based summit on homelessness in March. That opened deeper conversations in subsequent weeks with other church and parachurch leaders.

“It’s the body of Christ coming together with compassion for the least of these,” Kaneshiro says.

“I believe this will give the faith community greater leverage in the future to speak to other issues plaguing our state,” Ko says.

Pictured: Pastor Klayton Ko and one of the igloo shelters

Source: AG News

SAGU Named a 2016 Top Online Bible College

Southwestern Assemblies of God University (SAGU) was recently named to Bestcolleges.com’s “2016 Top Online Bible Colleges” list and was noted for its broad selection of degrees and programs offered.

SAGU offers more than 70 associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees on campus or online as well as fast-track, which combines bachelor’s and master’s degree classes in an accelerated online program, in a wide-range of disciplines.

Located in Waxahachie, Texas, SAGU is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award associate, baccalaureate, masters, and doctorate degrees. SAGU is noted for it’s flexible 24/7 access to online courses and all on-campus support and resources.

Bestcolleges.com compile their school rankings using the latest information from the IPEDS and College Navigator databases, both of which are reputable sources maintained by the National Center for Education Statistics.

SAGU’s online courses use Blackboard, which allows students to submit assignments, communicate with professors, complete exams and quizzes, chat with other students and instructors through an online discussion board, view video lectures, download PowerPoint notes and access 24/7 technical support.

To test drive a SAGU online sample Blackboard course, click here and use the username “sagu” and password “lions.” A full listing of SAGU’s degree plans can be found here, with fall semester enrollment applications also available.

Source: AG News

Covering the Missionaries

Growing up under the influence of grandparents Charity and Ruth Harris, who were pioneer missionaries in Tanzania, Jonathan Watson, lead pastor of Bella Vista Assembly of God in Arkansas, dreamed of emulating the life they led on the mission field.

While attending Central Bible College in Springfield, Missouri, however, he says he received a clear call from God to be a “sender” rather than a “goer.”

Watson and the Bella Vista congregation of around 375 are fulfilling that calling by recently committing to support an additional 13 AG World Missions and 13 AG U.S. Missions missionaries, bringing their total sponsorship to 86 full-time missionaries.

This is in addition to the $5,000 a month already donated by the church to support missionaries and missions organizations.

Although Bella Vista AG previously had been sponsoring 55 of the fully appointed missionaries from the AG Arkansas District, Watson says he sensed the Holy Spirit prompting the congregation to sign on to back the remaining 26. The church’s missions committee endorsed the proposal. 

“I tell my congregation that the natural consequence of becoming a follower of Jesus Christ is being a missions resource for the neighbor across the street and all the way around the world,” Watson says. “Whatever you emphasize as a pastor, that’s what people are going to get excited about.”

Watson, who is an Arkansas sectional presbyter, hopes many of the other 400 congregations in the district follow suit.

If 100 pastors committed to supporting missionaries as soon as they became fully appointed at $10 a month, Watson says it could potentially fulfill between a quarter and a third of their missionary budgets. The immediate funding would reduce some of the stress of raising income and speed their work in the field at the start of the itineration process, he says.

Watson says itineration serves as a great recruiting tool. He regularly invites missionaries to visit Sunday School classes and children’s church to talk about their work in the field.

Though his childhood dream remains unfulfilled, Watson says he is content to achieve his pastoral hope of ministering to unreached people groups.

“Giving and missions are a part of the heartbeat of God,” Watson says. “There will be unreached people groups in our world that will have access to the gospel and Jesus Christ because this little congregation has a missional mindset.”

Source: AG News

Appalachian Awakening Endures

A spiritual awakening that has led to an estimated 3,000 conversions and appears poised to last through the summer is creating continuing enthusiasm among Assemblies of God churches in southern West Virginia.

“The past six weeks our Sunday morning services have been more spiritual,” says Terry Blankenship, pastor of Victory Christian Center Church in Lenore. “The move of the Spirit has gone up two or three notches.”

It’s not church as normal, according to Blankenship, who in recent weeks baptized 13 converts, or about 10 percent of Victory Christian’s average Sunday morning attendance.

“Our kids want to be involved in Bible study,” Blankenship says. “It’s been a real change for our whole valley. It’s put me on my toes and brought more unity among churches.”

“Some of our pastors and youth groups have traveled a few hours to get there,” says Adam Pelfrey, director of the AG Appalachian Youth and Christian Education for the AG Appalachian Ministry Network. “This has had some pretty far-reaching results, especially for youth ministries.”

Pentecostal evangelist Matt Hartley of Cleveland, Tennessee, held mid-April services in Mingo County. Since then, the ongoing series of revival meetings has attracted visitors from other states such as Texas, South Carolina, Massachusetts, Georgia, and Florida.

After meetings in Williamson and additional areas of Mingo County, on May 14 the Appalachian Awakening shifted to Logan High School’s football stadium. Casey Doss, lead pastor of The Ramp Church in Hamilton, Alabama, spoke in place of Hartley, who had been preaching at a revival in central Kentucky.

Katie Endicott, the Prayer Club sponsor at Mingo Central Comprehensive High School, says nearly 2,000 people turned out for the event, despite being buffeted by wind, rain, and 40-degree temperatures.

Hundreds of people responded to the Alabama preacher’s invitation to surrender everything to God. Ten people were baptized at the end of the evening in a portable tank.

“It was an ‘all-for-one’ altar call,” says Endicott, who has been a youth pastor in the area for the past decade. He says six people made salvation commitments that night.

Endicott indicates several stadium events are planned for the summer, the first tentatively set for June 18.

“We’re working on discipling kids and getting them plugged in to churches,” Endicott says. “We don’t think this is going to fade at all.”

The awakening resumed the evening of May 15 with Hartley preaching at West Logan Church of God (Cleveland, Tennessee). Then it moved to the Coalfield Jamboree Theater in Logan for three more nights of meetings.

Endicott says most scheduling of meetings has been on a short-term basis.

“We’re trying to be patient and go with the flow of the Spirit,” Endicott says.

No matter how long the rallies last, Billy Carrico says the gatherings already have made an impact at Bethel Temple Assembly in Nolan, where he is youth pastor.

“I’ve never seen the youth group get so excited,” says Carrico, who recently baptized the latest of six converts at Bethel AG. “They had a relationship with God, but this is making it more real for them. It’s excited the whole church.”

While numerous congregations in the region hold annual revival services, Blankenship says this one is different — and it has moved beyond West Virginia. The night of the rally in Logan, Victory Christian’s youth group had a FaceTime session with a church in Pennsylvania.

“It lit a fire for this church,” Blankenship says. “They wanted us to pray for them. It’s ignited Victory Christian Center. It’s been powerful. It’s like putting gasoline on a fire that’s already burning.”


Photo credit: Charlee Lifestyle Photography

Source: AG News

Missions Construction Team Powered by Women

Maybe it’s the sparkle of her rings, the glimmering of her polished nails, or perhaps the bangles on her wrist, but whatever it is, some people can’t help but express a bit of surprise when 64-year-old Linda Webb, the Potomac Ministry Network Women’s director, is introduced as the lead for a missions construction team!

What’s more, the construction teams Webb leads to multiple sites around the world to build churches and other projects, are made up of all women!

Webb, who pastors with her husband, Don, at Hedgesville (West Virginia) Church (AG), explains that at first, she just joined in the church’s missions teams and helped as she could. Not content to be regulated to “food service” or painting walls, Webb observed, learned, and developed construction skills through her trips, as did other women.

“I’ve learned a lot through the missions trips, from the simple stuff like digging and using a wheelbarrow to how to lay and wire rebar, roof buildings, and construct cinderblock walls,” says Webb, who admits to being a bit on the “foo-foo” (frilly) side and very much a “girly girl” in everyday life.

However, she is quick to credit the construction guys who taught her the craft. “They put things in terms I understood,” she says. “For example, they would tell me to use my trowel like I was icing a cake — that was something I could relate to and it worked!”

Having now led all-women construction teams for the past eight or nine years, Webb and her women have experienced all kinds of receptions. Laughing, she recalls that in the Dominican Republic, people literally lined up to watch them build a security wall around a church.

“They had this stereotype image that American women don’t do any kind of manual labor — that we’re all pampered, movie-star types,” Webb laughs. “We later learned that they were also amazed that we worked together and never fought, instead we seemed to be happy all the time.”

The novelty — and testimony — of working American women who treated each other so well impacted the community to such a point that the townspeople came together and unexpectedly threw the group a party to thank them for their work!

AG Missionary Brad Foltz, who’s on special assignment with Builder’s International, says Webb and her teams of women workers have not only completed a number of projects, but have built a strong reputation in the process.

“They do good work,” Foltz says. “What I’ve noticed in working with them is that although they may have to break some loads up into lighter amounts, they never stop working.”

Webb laughs in agreement. She explains that her groups take full advantage of sunlight (as electricity isn’t always guaranteed), starting at sun-up and concluding at sundown.

 “We typically break for lunch on the worksite — pb&j, chips, water, and Gatorade,” Webb says. “On some of our trips, we’ll also conduct VBS (Vacation Bible School) with the children, do health classes with the women, or teach the women a craft that they can make and sell at the market to help support their families.”

As to the quality of work her teams do, a recent disaster shed some light. Webb says that when a powerful magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck Ecuador in April, the epicenter of the quake was very near Bahía de Caráquez, the coastal city her team had constructed a cistern for in 2011. “One of the missionaries called us and said the cistern we had built was one of the very few that made it through the earthquake and still held water.”

Foltz, who is helping to conclude the Honduras 100 Project, where Builders International and U.S. construction teams partner with 100 new Honduran congregations to build a tabernacle, says that Builder’s International has been trying to do away with the stigma of construction teams being “men’s only” groups and show that women can build.

“Linda’s teams have repeatedly shown that construction is not a men’s-only ministry,” Foltz says. “In fact, Linda and her all-woman team have been selected to come build the capstone 100th church for the Honduras 100 Project at the end of this month in the city of Omoa.”

Yet, to add just a twist to the story, Foltz explains that Webb’s husband, Don, had led a team from their church last year to build church 96. And this year, Linda was coming in and staying for two weeks. The first week to build the 100th church in Omoa along the coast; the second week, another women’s team is coming to join Webb in helping build the 101st church in the small, mountain village of Pena Blanca.

Webb admits that some of the women on her team have a long history of missions-trip involvement, with some joining her on every construction trip she’s done over the past decade. But there are “newbies” too, who learn as they go.

“On this trip, there will be women ages 18 to 79 joining us,” Webb says. “College students, teachers, nurses, a pharmacist — women from all walks of life will be joining us. And the 79-year-old, she grew up on a farm . . .  the younger women are ready to stop and she’s saying, ‘Come on, we can finish this tonight!’”

According to Ryan Moore, director of Builders International, there is a certain type of person he believes makes the perfect Builders International team member: “You’re looking for people that have a willingness to serve; it’s that simple. They are people who are interested in serving somewhere around the world, regardless of their skillset — from highly skilled labor to totally unskilled labor — who are willing to work alongside others and serve as needed.”

For Linda Webb and her teams of all-women labor, that definition fits. 

Source: AG News

This Week in AG History — May 19, 1945

Minnie Abrams (1859-1912), in many ways, was a typical woman in the American Midwest in the late nineteenth century. However, everything changed when she heeded God’s call to the mission field. Abrams was reared on a farm in rural Minnesota and, in her early twenties, became a schoolteacher. After a few years in the classroom, however, she sensed that God was leading her in a new direction. She attended a Methodist missionary training school in Chicago and, in 1887, set sail for Bombay, India.

In Bombay, Abrams helped to establish a boarding school for the children of church members. Not content to stay within the walls of missionary compound, she learned the Marathi language so that she could engage in personal evangelism. Ultimately, she became a fulltime evangelist and began working with Pandita Ramabai, a leading Christian female social reformer and educator. Abrams worked with Ramabai at her Mukti Mission, a school and home for famine victims and widows.

After hearing news of revival in Australia (1903) and Wales (1904-1905), Abrams, Ramabai, and others began seeking a restoration of the spiritual power they read about in the New Testament. They formed a prayer group, and about 70 girls volunteered to meet daily, study the Bible, and pray for revival. Beginning in 1905, several waves of revival hit the Mukti Mission. The prayer group grew to 500, and many of the girls reported spiritual experiences that seemed to repeat what they found in the Book of Acts. Some prophesied, others received visions, and yet others spoke in tongues. Abrams wrote about the revival, which became the foundation for the Pentecostal movement in India, in the July 1909 issue of the Latter Rain Evangel. Her account was republished in the May 19, 1945, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

According to Abrams, the revival came to India because of deep prayer, consecration, and repentance. During the daily prayer meetings, the girls memorized Scripture, became deeply aware of their own sinfulness, and hungered for righteousness and an outpouring of God’s Spirit.

Abrams recalled, “I cannot tell you how I felt in those days of repentance at Mukti when the Holy Spirit was revealing sin, and God was causing the people to cry out and weep before Him.” The girls who had been touched by revival did not stay put; they fanned out into surrounding villages and brought the gospel to anyone who would listen.

Abrams recounted that revival at the Mukti Mission included not just remorse over sin, but also incredible joy that followed repentance. She wrote that “ripples of laughter flowed” in prayer meetings, that some of the girls began dancing in the back of the room, and that they were filled with a “deeper joy.”

According to Abrams, the early Indian revival provided valuable lessons for Christians everywhere. She also gave a warning to readers that is just as applicable today as it was in 1909: “the people of God are growing cold and there is a worldliness and an unwillingness to hear the truth and to obey it.”

How can we have revival today? Abrams offered the following admonition: “If you want revival you have to pour your life out. That is the only way. That is the way Jesus did. He emptied Himself; He poured out His life; and He Poured out His life’s blood.” Minnie Abrams wrote convincingly and convictingly from experience. She and countless other Pentecostal pioneers followed Christ’s example and poured their lives into serving others and building God’s kingdom.

Read the entire article by Minnie Abrams, “How Pentecost Came to India,” on pages 1 and 5-7 of the May 19, 1945, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “Speaking in Tongues,” by Howard Carter

* “The Tarrying Meeting,” by Stanley H. Frodsham

* “An Anniversary Testimony,” by A. H. Argue

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

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

Source: AG News

A Response to the Department of Justice Letter to Schools

On May 13, 2016, the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice issued a letter advising schools receiving federal financial assistance of their obligations under a federal law regarding transgender students. The letter addresses restrooms and locker rooms as follows: “A school may provide separate facilities on the basis of sex, but must allow transgender students access to such facilities consistent with their gender identity. A school may not require transgender students to use facilities inconsistent with their gender identity or to use individual-use facilities when other students are not required to do so. A school may, however, make individual-use options available to all students who voluntarily seek additional privacy.”

The directive from the Department of Justice (DOJ), however, does not specify how gender identity is determined. The Bible does. “In the beginning God made male and female.” An individual is either male or female. Even surgical procedure does not alter the gender identity one is born with, although it may alter certain sexual characteristics.

The attitude of Christians toward persons with confused sexual identity issues should be one of compassion, as well as giving the Good News that repentance and forgiveness of sins, and a new life, is available through Jesus Christ, who gives us power to overcome confusion and power to live joyfully with a clear conscience before God.

My encouragement to the Church is that it continue to proclaim by word and deed the Good News that through the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus delivers individuals from destructive lifestyles. God loves the self-identified transgender person so much that Jesus died on the Cross for his or her salvation and deliverance.

As both an attorney and a leader in the Assemblies of God, my profound objections to the actions of the DOJ in this matter are both legal and moral. While the DOJ letter does not apply to churches, it has raised various concerns among church leaders. For example, is a church legally required to:

  • Allow persons to use restrooms according to their sexual identity even if different from their gender at birth?
  • Allow transsexuals who have received surgical or hormonal treatments to alter certain sexual characteristics to use restrooms according to their gender identity?
  • Allow persons to stay in hotel rooms on church-organized trips according to their gender identity rather than their gender at birth?
  • Refrain from making employment decisions on the basis of gender identity?

The directive from the federal government regarding restroom and locker room use, as well as the decision by some major retailers to open restrooms to persons who self-identify as transgender, does not protect children, youth, and adults from invasion of their privacy by persons of the opposite sex (as defined by gender at birth). The government and certain retailers, at the behest of radical activists, have attempted to impose a social agenda upon others that is not consistent with concern for children, youth or adults who do not want to share a restroom, showers, or locker facilities with a male who self-identifies as a woman, or a woman who self-identifies as a man, or an individual who may conveniently claim so to gain such access.

This over-reach by the federal government communicates the critical importance of electing individuals to office who will not seek to impose the radical LGBT agenda upon the American people. 

Above all, America needs a great spiritual awakening — and that will require a revived church. In the words once prayed daily in our public schools, may our hearts cry: Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon Thee, and we beg Thy blessings upon us, our parents, our teachers, and our country.

Image Source: Department of Justice

Source: AG News