Entrepreneur Turns Pastor at 50

Ron L. Ingelido spent years serving in volunteer ministry roles while juggling careers in rental properties and sales as well as an entrepreneur for a company that refurbished propane tanks. But at age 50, God moved Ingelido into full time-time ministry. He became pastor of New Stanton Assembly of God in Pennsylvania in September 2019, two years after obtaining his ministerial credentials.

Although the call came early in Ingelido’s life, his move into full-time ministry took years. While he waited on God, he ran multiple businesses, led New Stanton’s youth group, and later, its young adult group. His wife, Jamie, 39, always stood by his side, in commerce and in ministry.

“We knew all our lives that one day God would call us into full-time ministry,” Ingelido says. “We just didn’t know what it would look like.”

PennDel Ministry Network Superintendent Don J. Immel — former pastor of New Stanton Assembly of God — also is a strong support in Ingelido’s life. The two formed a mentoring relationship years earlier when Immel pastored New Stanton and Ingelido participated in a leadership program called Discover the Call.

Immel says he texted Ingelido one day, saying he had a job for him and he would call later with the details. Ingelido learned he had agreed to lead the church’s capital campaign. They both laugh about that call today, but Immel points out the significance of Ingelido’s agreement to take on the task.

“It is because of a series of ‘yeses’ throughout his entire life that Ron is where he is today,” Immel says. “His life has been a constant stream of yeses to God.”

Ingelido’s affirmations carried over into his enterprises as well.

“A lot of employees would come to my office and say things like, Hey, my mom is dying, and I don’t know what to do,” he says. “I realized my office was becoming more of a chapel than a business owner’s office. I actually led people to the Lord in my office.”

In the spring of 2018, a lack of supply caused the propane tank reconditioning industry to stall, Ingelido says. So he liquidated the company’s assets, paid off the corporation’s debts, and waited for God’s direction.

Ron and Jamie prayed, but had no clear sense of the Lord’s leading. Days turned into weeks and weeks into months, but still no word. Nevertheless, Ingelido stayed put, ministering at the church and continuing his credentialing process.

Then, the phone call came. Mike Hampton, pastor of New Stanton AG retired, and the church board asked Ingelido to consider leading the church. After prayerful consideration, he agreed. One month later, he became lead pastor of New Stanton Assembly of God. Along with assuming the many new responsibilities that come with being a pastor’s wife, Jamie stepped into the role of leading worship. Ingelido’s daughters, Rylee, 14, and Maddie, 11, help in the nursery.

Ingelido says entering full-time ministry at 50 comes with a sense of urgency. He is passionate about reaching the next generation for Christ.

“I only have so much time to accomplish God’s will,” he says. “If my life counts for anything, I want it to be about Jesus and the power He has to save and transform lives.”

Ingelido isn’t the only pastoral staff member who switched careers in midlife. David A. Lingsch became associate pastor at 56 after retiring as a psychiatric nurse.

Photo: Ron Ingelido (center) is installed as pastor by PennDel Secretary-Treasurer Jeff Marshall (left) as Ingelido’s wife, Jamie, looks on.

Source: AG News

This Week in AG History — Jan. 24, 1965

This week we commemorate the founding of Asia Pacific Theological Seminary (APTS) in the Philippines, which was originally called the Far East Advanced School of Theology (FEAST).

Through the years a number of Bible institutes were established in the Far East, but there was a need for advanced education for pastors and teachers. The Far East Conference of the Assemblies of God met in Hong Kong in 1960 and strongly urged the establishment of an advanced school of theology to serve the entire area of the Far East. Several years of careful planning followed, directed largely by Maynard Ketcham, field secretary for the U.S. Assemblies of God for the Far East.

Far East Advanced School of Theology (FEAST) became a reality in 1964, with Harold Kohl as the founding president and Derick Hillary as the first dean. This school marked an important step in Far East missions for the Assemblies of God.

Groundbreaking was held on Oct. 13, 1964, with messages from missionaries Harold Kohl and Derrick Hillary. Kenneth McComber, field fellowship chairman, and Rudy Esperanza, general superintendent of the Assemblies of God in the Philippines, assisted with the sod turning for the groundbreaking. The first building was constructed on the campus of Bethel Bible Institute in Manila. It served as the administration building and also offered housing for students and classrooms.

The curriculum of the school was originally structured to accommodate Assemblies of God ministers and Christian workers who had completed only a three-year Bible institute program. Bachelor of Arts degrees in Biblical Studies and Religious Education (four-year degrees), and a five-year Bachelor of Theology degree were offered.

In 1978 the program was expanded to include master’s degrees in Biblical Studies and Christian Education. The Master of Divinity degree program was added in 1982.

In 1985, property was purchased in Baguio City, Philippines, to provide a permanent campus for the school. Operations were moved to the new site in October 1986. In the years that followed, a number of buildings were erected on the new campus to house the growing student body and academic programs.

The name was changed from Far East Advanced School of Theology to Asia Pacific Theological Seminary (APTS) in 1989 to better reflect the nature of the school in offering graduate degrees in theology.

In addition to the classes offered on the campus of APTS, courses are taught in extension centers in several Asia Pacific countries. More than 3,000 students have studied in APTS extension classes held on multiple international locations in the Asia-Pacific region.

Fifty-five years ago, missionary Derrick Hillary wrote about the first student body, which was made up of pastors and teachers. “Able to choose from more than 80 universities and colleges,” reported Hillary, “they have elected instead to come to FEAST and share its humble beginnings because they prize their Pentecostal heritage.”

The school’s original motto was “Zeal With Wisdom.” The motto has since been changed to “Zeal With Knowledge.” APTS was founded with the purpose of educating leaders who would be in the forefront of the expansion of the Pentecostal movement throughout the Asia Pacific region. The school promotes scholastic ability as well as the fire and zeal of Pentecost.

Read “Zeal With Wisdom, ” by Derrick Hillary on page 14 and 15 of the Jan. 24, 1965, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Evangelism in the Home,” by J. F. Culpepper

• “We Camped With the Christian Gypsies,” by Evelyn M. Ford

• “Highway Tabernacle Marks Its Seventieth Anniversary,” by W. Howard Roberson

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Pentecostal Evangel
archived editions courtesy of the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.
Source: AG News

From Hollywood to Helping the Hurting

E. Anthony Sluzas worked as an aspiring actor living in Hollywood who had landed speaking roles on sitcoms of the early 1980s such as the highly rated Three’s Company. But back at his apartment, he cried out to God every night to rescue him from a life of addiction.

“Sometimes it was almost as if someone whispered in my ear, Son, you’re not doing with your life what I called you to do,” Sluzas recalls.

Freaked out, he would jump on his bed and shout to be left alone.

“I knew what I was doing — all the debauchery — was wrong, but I was in chains of bondage,” Sluzas says.

Rock bottom came when he started selling clothes, electronics, and his record collection for money to buy cocaine. One night, while preparing to commit suicide, the phone rang. His mother, Elinor, called very late from his hometown of Dayton, Ohio.

“Son, are you OK?” she asked. “I was sitting here praying for you and felt the strongest sense I needed to call you.”

Sluzas replied honestly that he had reached the brink. Knowing his life hung in the balance, he moved back to Ohio, suffered a nervous breakdown, and went into outpatient therapy. His road to recovery included watching Christian television.

“I couldn’t turn it off,” Sluzas says. “They had something real, something I didn’t have: joy, fulfillment, life.”

He gave his heart to the Lord while watching pastor E.V. Hill teach about the cross of Jesus Christ. But dragging his new wife, Debbie, to a local Assemblies of God church proved to be a challenge.

“She and everyone else thought I was crazy,” Sluzas remembers. “Some people were more accepting of me when I was on drugs and alcohol than when I was saved.”

Debbie came to the Lord as well, and Tony began studying for the ministry through Global University. Pastor Stan Tharp at Christian Life Center in Dayton mentored Sluzas, who now has been a credentialed AG minister for 25 years.

Having left his Hollywood ambitions, Sluzas, now 61, served as lead pastor of several local churches for 16 years, then became a full-time traveling Assemblies of God evangelist and creator of a podcast to reach unchurched people. His ministry, based in Hoschton, Georgia, is called Your Place of Grace Ministries .

“Tony is one of the most sincere, loving preachers I know,” says Todd H. Wagner, 64, pastor of New Life Church, an Assemblies of God congregation in Springfield, Oregon, where Sluzas has ministered several times. “The strongest emphasis of his ministry is helping people go deeper in their walk with God. He helps bring hope and points them to the strength of what the Holy Spirit can do in their lives. He operates through the joy of the Lord.”

Sluzas, who has been married for 35 years, feels particularly drawn to people deemed hopeless by society and their families.

“People thought that about me for a couple decades,” Sluzas says. “Healing is a major thrust of my ministry, and not just physical healing but where it begins, deep in your spirit, soul, and mind. There are a lot of hurting people out there.”

To reach those outside the church, Sluzas is starting a second podcast called Unchurched. Like his first podcast, titled Your Place of Grace, Unchurched is available on Apple and Spotify.

“It’s simple, direct teaching, and I’m also interviewing people who shunned church and then came back,” Sluzas says. “We want to turn people back to the Lord and back to the Church.”

At the end of each podcast, Sluzas highlights a church and invites people to check it out.

“We’re reaching people who are like I was, helping them find hope and freedom,” he says.

Source: AG News

Fighting the Human Trafficking Scourge

Human trafficking is reported in the news, seen in television dramas, and detailed in documentaries. While estimates vary, between 20 million and 40 million people around the world are now victims of modern-day slavery. Women are victims more often, with a staggering one in 10 children working in forced labor.

January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention month. Churches can play a vital role in stopping this epidemic.

Human trafficking tends to take one of two forms. About 68 percent are victims of labor trafficking. This often involves a job offer that is full of false promises and results in forced labor or debt bondage where the victim hopes to erase the debt. Victims may say, “I can’t leave my job because I owe my boss money.” Labor trafficking victims are often controlled through debt, blackmail, threats of violence, or threats of losing housing, even if it is substandard. The recruiters frequently are trusted members of an immigrant community or even a relative.

Sex trafficking is accounts for nearly 22 percent of human trafficking. Victims are regularly already at risk because of unstable housing or homelessness, substance abuse, or being a runaway youth. They are time and again lured by fake promises of romantic interest or opportunities for careers in modeling or television. Younger victims are often leaving difficult situations where family violence existed and may already have been identified as needing child welfare assistance. Sadly, some sex trafficking is by members of the victim’s family, especially when a relative has a substance abuse disorder. In the United States, 72 percent of sex trafficking victims are U.S. citizens.

During National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, the focus is on prevention. Most churches are not equipped to chase the bad guys or rescue victims. But we can find ways to serve the most vulnerable. James 1:27 tells us serving the widow and orphan is the test of true religion. Here are some things you can do:

1. Equip your children and youth for online safety to avoid internet predators. I recommend using NetSmartz. It is a trusted resource produced by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The games, videos, and activities are organized by age, and teachers can even use the materials in the classroom.

2. Volunteer at afterschool programs. Youth run away and become low hanging fruit for recruiters because they have no support in their own community. Studies show that just one trusted adult can keep a youth safe.

3. Learn the signs of substance abuse disorder and have referral information available to provide support. Addiction is curable! If there are children in the home, be alert for their well-being.

4. Find out what mental health resources are available in your community. Often, victims are more vulnerable because they suffer from depression and lack hope. Telling them about hope is a good place to start, but it must be followed up and cultivated.

5. Get involved in your local homeless support ministry. Helping people find safe housing reduces risk. A home is the best answer to many risk factors. Studies show that a shelter must be very temporary. Rapid rehousing is prevention.

6. Welcome the foreigner. Reach out to the immigrant community. Many of us have budgets for serving the foreigner overseas, but sometimes we don’t see those who are next door. Invite them to your activities. When you learn more about their lives, you may find someone trapped in debt bondage.

Along with prevention, know how to report and get help for a human trafficking victim. If it’s an emergency, call 911. Otherwise, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline: 888-3737-888. There may be people in your church who work in public services that engage directly with possible victims. Host a training at your church to engage health care providers, social services, teachers, and community leaders to know what to look for and what to do when they see it.

Learn more about the work of the Vanguard University’s Global Center for Women and Justice and the March Ensure Justice conference at www.gcwj.org. Learn more about prevention on the Ending Human Trafficking podcast

Source: AG News

Full Circle Journey

Pastor Wendell R. Vinson baptized 10-year-old Steve S. Kramer at Highland Assembly of God when the Bakersfield, California, church had 50 attendees.

Today, 36 years later, the church, now renamed Canyon Hills Assembly, has six campuses and 4,000 adherents. And Kramer has reunited with Vinson, as director of the Vulnerable Initiative of CityServe International, a collaborative network co-founded by Vinson that resources local congregations by offering solutions in matters of brokenness.

Such a scenario seemed unlikely when Kramer entered the world 11 weeks premature, weighing barely 3 pounds. As a baby, doctors diagnosed Kramer with cerebral palsy, which affected his ability to adequately control body movement and muscle coordination.

When it came time for Steve to enter school, he and his parents, Randy and Linda, had a new battle to fight: prejudice. His parents vociferously, and ultimately successfully, argued for Steve’s inclusion in a public school program after his teacher, counselor, and superintendent all advocated placing place him in a school for the disabled.

Because of the cerebral palsy, Steve’s movements appeared uncoordinated, prompting classmates to tease him cruelly and to even throw rocks at him. Kramer lived most of his childhood in a wheelchair, on crutches, or using a walker.

He underwent a dozen surgeries on his legs, knees, and hips in attempts to loosen stiff spastic muscles. Sometimes he spent months at a time hospitalized, encased in a body cast up to his chest. Randy and Linda sensed the operations growing more experimental than helpful; at 13, they concurred with Steve’s decision to stop the operations.

Randy asked Canyon Hills churchgoers to pray for a healing in lieu of yet another recommended corrective surgery. Six weeks later, X-rays revealed that Steve’s displaced right femur had returned to its socket. Doctors couldn’t account for the reason.

Soon after, at a family day at the beach, a giant wave came ashore. The receding water washed Kramer’s crutches out to the ocean, never to be seen again. Steve saw it as divine intervention.

Around the same time, he sensed a specific call by God to become a missionary to the Netherlands. Kramer, a graduate of Assemblies of God Theological Seminary in Springfield, Missouri, spent a decade in Holland pioneering Chi Alpha Campus Ministries chapters and helping to plant churches as an Assemblies of God world missionary. Damascus Road International Church in Maastricht, Netherlands, is celebrating its 10-year anniversary.

The handsome, articulate, good-natured, and extroverted Kramer joined CityServe last fall, following five years as U.S. missionary director of Chi Alpha at the University of Oregon. Kramer chartered the group at the Eugene campus of his alma mater and also helped plant Praise Community Church nearby.

But Kramer, as a person with a disability, couldn’t pass up the ministry opportunity to help the vulnerable in his new CityServe role. He remains a U.S. missionary, now with Intercultural Ministries.

“Steve is passionate about using his own testimony to inspire and encourage others to live courageously, in spite of challenging circumstances,” Vinson says.

The AG’s SoCal Network initiative for compassion ministries called CityServe resulted in part from a Canyon Hills-owned 165,000-square-foot structure that functions as CityServe’s primary distribution center. Canyon Hills has long been involved in innovative compassion ministry methods, even “dog food evangelism.”

Overall, CityServe has developed initiatives dedicated to 10 people groups, including orphans, widows, prisoners, the addicted, and the hungry. Kramer is focusing on the vulnerable: the disabled, mentally ill, at-risk kids, and the unborn.

Kramer credits his parents and three younger siblings with helping to shape his ministry philosophy.

“My family never treated me like I was disabled,” Kramer says. “My parents knew that the limitations others set on me weren’t what God planned. God knew before I was born what purposes He had for me. God doesn’t look at the doctor’s chart before He calls you.”

Kramer, however, knows his limitations. He uses a cane and he walks with a limp. Stairs are difficult to negotiate because of trying to keep his balance. Rather than walk long distances, he opts for a wheelchair.

“I am disabled,” says Kramer. “But while many people see limitations, I see possibilities. God can be glorified through weaknesses.”

Julie, Kramer’s wife of 15 years, is assisting in the ministry. She spent 1½ years working in a Mexico orphanage for the handicapped before the marriage and for the past two years working with severely disabled students in Oregon public schools. The Kramers have two children, Kees, 10, and Sela, 6.

Although he helped plant a church in a red-light district in the Netherlands and pioneered a Chi Alpha group in largely secular Oregon, Kramer sees his CityServe role as his most challenging ministry endeavor.

“People feel ill-equipped and fearful about ministry to the disabled,” Kramer says.
Much of his portfolio will involve raising awareness in other churches about the need for special needs ministry.

“So many churches want to reach hipsters, and there’s nothing wrong with that,” Kramer says. “But we also need to reach the broken.”

Rather than limit his ministry, Kramer believes his disability has actually opened doors. But that’s not how others view him, necessarily.

“If I am sitting in a wheelchair, people may talk to Julie rather than me, like I won’t understand,” he says.

Such experiences convinced Vinson that Kramer is a perfect fit for his new assignment.

“At times, Steve has felt firsthand what it’s like to be marginalized and left out,” says Vinson, 60. “Many times our churches aren’t prepared to respond to families with special needs. Steve is more predisposed to a greater sensitivity to the needy.”

Part of Kramer’s efforts through CityServe involve helping other congregations develop plans to accommodate special-needs children, youth, and adults.

Canyon Hills has made that a priority. For instance, Champion’s Club is a specially designed state-of-the-art building on the main campus for children with special needs. The area contains specific sensory, exercise, and music rooms. Vinson says many families with kids who have special needs, especially autism, quit attending church services because they don’t feel welcome.

“We have picked up a lot of dechurched families at Canyon Hills,” Vinson says. “We think it’s important for parents, particularly single parents, to feel their special-needs child is being cared for in a church program.”


Photo: Steve Kramer (center) has reunited with his childhood pastor Wendell Vinson (right) in a ministry in which his wife, Julie, assists.

Source: AG News

High Impact, Low Cost

Latino ministers anticipate planting more than two dozen Assemblies of God churches this year in Texas and Louisiana.

During a church planting summit last September, ministers in the Texas-Louisiana Hispanic District (TLHD) committed to launching 27 churches in 2020. This is by far the most ambitious church planting effort in the district’s 10-year history. The strategy will include regional prayer meetings, a reproducible model that fits district needs, and steps to ensure that the new church plants are healthy.

The initiative is modeled on a plan that has worked well in Latin America. Raul Galviz, a pastor from Bogotá, Colombia, conducted the training under the ministry of CEPI — Comisión Estratégica de Plantación de Iglesias (Church Planting Strategic Commission).

“It’s God’s plan, so there is no plan B,” says David Segovia, pastor of El Salvador Assembly of God in San Antonio.

CEPI has trained more than 5,000 church planters who have launched hundreds of churches in 15 Latin American countries, Segovia notes. Additionally, more than 100,000 new converts are being discipled and the plan has spread to five countries in Europe.

“CEPI might be a strategy, but this is totally God’s plan,” says Segovia, 62. “We have great support from our TLHD leadership.”

TLHD District Superintendent J.R. Rodriguez believes churches will be planted where neither English nor Spanish congregations currently exist.

Those engaged in the district’s church planting process undergo a yearlong training. They are assigned a coach and encouraged to start a small group in their home. When at least two people receive Christ as Savior, the group becomes a new church plant, Rodriguez notes.

“Meetings and training with their coaches are scheduled throughout this process,” says Rodriguez, who pastors Templo Aposento Alto in Houston. “We want churches to see this as a joint effort and share their resources. Once they see the results of a healthy church, they will want to do it again.”

Segovia, a district executive presbyter who serves as TLHD’s church planter director, has been involved in eight church plants.

“A building is not a priority, but people are,” Segovia says. “It’s high impact, but low cost.”

There are 12 training modules for the planter, and a church initially might meet at a location such as a house or a coffeehouse.

“There is built-in accountability, mentorship, and measuring of effectiveness,” Segovia says. “Every plant has to have a mother church and a discipleship plan.”

Segovia sees the initiative as an Acts 13 biblical model.

“It’s the local church planting churches,” he says. “It’s reproducible because it’s low cost and flexible.”
Source: AG News

Ethnic Emphasis Broadens SoCal Reach

When Ronald A. King became senior pastor of New Hope Family Worship Center in Corona, California, he sensed the Lord indicating He would bring a variety of ethnic groups to the church. Today, on Sunday mornings, five different ethnic churches hold services on the campus, including Samoan, Arabic, black, and Spanish-speaking congregations. In the past, the church has hosted Korean and Romanian churches as well.

“God is bringing the nations to us and we have to be able to introduce them to Jesus,” says King, 58. “We can’t just stay in our English-speaking churches. If we don’t go ethnic, we’re going to miss out on a lot of people. They’re all around us.”

The SoCal Network of the Assemblies of God is placing strategic emphasis on partnering with ethnic churches. Ken R. Walters Jr., SoCal Network intercultural ministries director, liaises with dozens of ethnic minority congregations, including a wide range of Spanish-speaking churches, Asia-Pacific Islanders, Vietnamese, Korean, Samoan, Tongan, Indonesian, Filipino, Chinese, African-American, Iranian-Assyrian, and Iranian-Armenian. The network recently added five intercultural executive presbyters.

“We want to engage with the various cultural communities in Southern California, to get out of our silos and get our various ethnicities out of their silos, too,” Walters says. “We try to accommodate rather than assimilate, meaning we make changes to relate to their culture.”

On a recent Sunday, Walters visited a onetime primarily white church in Pasadena, which prepared to install a Chinese pastor. That afternoon he visited a new Arabic-speaking church plant. That night, he attended a black fellowship meeting.

“We want to funnel resources into these churches and communities, to help them plant more churches,” Walters says. “A lot of these were pastors in their own country and some have experienced severe persecution. We have to afford respect and treat each other as equals.”

One refugee from Iran started an Iranian-Armenian church at a picnic table at a park in Glendale. Attendance quickly grew, and today the body meets in a building and more than 400 people call the church home.

At New Hope Family Worship Center in Corona, most of the people who attend church on Sunday are not English speakers. The predominantly white congregation King pastors is around 100 people, while the Arabic church, which meets on Sunday nights, is already up to 70. The three congregations that meet simultaneously on Sunday mornings — Spanish-speaking, African American, and English-speaking — share the same children’s church. While space limitations force the congregations to be creative, none has to pay rent.

“We have to operate under a lot of grace to do it,” King says. “It’s challenging, but it’s building the kingdom of God.”

Last year, the English, Spanish, and Arabic congregations conducted an outreach together that connected 17,000 homes with the Jesus film, then held an open-air service in the church’s parking lot. The worship music and message took place in three languages. King is now working with the congregations to register them as parent-affiliated churches, with the goal of their becoming General Council churches in two years.

“I enjoy the fellowship with all of them,” King says. “It’s part of missions for us.”

Photo: SoCal Network leaders in the expansion of ethnic minority efforts include (from left) Emeel and Samia Shenoda, Dalanda and Ron King, and Pastor Adel and Manel.

Source: AG News

This Week in AG History — Jan. 18, 1936

Elva K. Stump (1885-1985) was a trained nurse and a pioneer Assemblies of God minister. Most of her ministry was in Ohio, but she also spent time in the 1930s ministering in rural West Virginia, where she helped pioneer both white and African-American congregations.

Stump had a very full life. A nurse by profession, she graduated from the Episcopal Hospital in Philadelphia. At age 29, she married a widower (Thomas), who had one child from his previous marriage. Thomas and Elva had four more children. In about 1926, she began serving as Sunday School superintendent of the Maple Avenue Mission (Church of the Brethren) in Canton, Ohio.

Elva Stump’s life changed dramatically in 1928, when she was 43 years old. She developed a spinal infection, which doctors told her would result in paralysis and death. Her suffering was intense, and the doctors gave her up to die.

However, Stump and her fellow Christians held a round-the-clock prayer vigil at her bedside. Stump came to believe that her illness was God’s way to teach her to submit to His will. The Lord reminded her of John 15:2, “Every branch that beareth fruit, He purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.” This realization changed her attitude and gave her peace. She changed the way she prayed, “I am not asking You to heal me for my friends, my family, or the mission, but only for Your glory and honor.” After she prayed in this way, she experienced a supernatural touch and was healed. She wrote about her healing in the June 21, 1930, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

She recalled, “I raised my head, took my left hand and ran it down my spine — no pain! I threw back the covers with my left hand and foot, and moved every toe on that foot — something I had not done for months. I got out of bed and walked to the bathroom, walking heavily to see if sensation was really in my feet again.” Her nurse, hearing the commotion, thought that Stump was having a convulsion and dying. But the nurse came into her room and found Stump “walking and shouting and praising the Lord.”

Through this experience, Stump learned to submit to God’s will, whether it be easy or difficult. When she felt God calling her to leave Ohio to go minister to the unchurched of rural West Virginia, she heeded the call.

Stump became a credentialed minister with the Assemblies of God in 1932, at age 47. The Jan. 18, 1936, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel reported on Stump’s evangelistic endeavors. She was a 50-year-old female Pentecostal pastor, before it was acceptable in the broader society to be a female pastor, much less a Pentecostal.

Stump arrived in the community of Mud Lick, West Virginia, where she began holding gospel services in a building worthy of the town’s name — “an old forsaken schoolhouse.” The article recounted her humble accommodations: “Here she lived in a cabin set up on stilts, slept on the floor, and sat very still when she read so the wasps would not sting.” It was uncomfortable, but Stump learned to submit to God’s will. The results? The article reported, “The Lord owned this meeting, and men and women and some children found Him.”

Stump next held six weeks of meetings in the community of Sand Fork, where she was given a parsonage and an abandoned church. She left the believers after she secured a “very spiritual pastor” to shepherd the flock. Next, she helped establish a church and a “faith home” at Bealls Mills and an African-American congregation in Butcher Fork. She then went to the coal fields and held tent meetings in Gilmer, Pittsburg-Franklin, and MacKay. The tireless evangelist proceeded to St. Mary’s, where she held meetings at a community church. The January 1936 article noted that Stump planned to return to St. Mary’s and also start a work in Glenville.

Stump and her energetic ministry colleagues planted or rejuvenated these West Virginia churches, from Mudlick to Glenville, in the course of one year. Her colleague, Minnie Allensworth, remarked, “This is the result of one year’s absolute surrender to the Lord.”

Pentecostal pioneers such as Elva Stump often did so much with so little. What could happen in one year if Pentecostals learned to surrender all to the Lord, just as Stump did?

Read the entire article, “New Work in West Virginia,” by Minnie Allensworth, on page 12 of the Jan. 18, 1936, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Some Things a Pastor Cannot Do” by Ernest S. Williams

• “Our Daily Bread” by Lilian Yeomans

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

Elva Stump’s testimony of her healing, published on page 9 of the June 21, 1930, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel, is accessible by clicking here.

Pentecostal Evangel
archived editions courtesy of Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center.
Source: AG News

India AG Partners with ICOM to Nearly Triple Churches

In 2010, the 8,000-church India Assemblies of God set a lofty goal of planting 25,000 house churches and training 30,000 workers in 10 years. As 2019 drew to a close, more than 14,200 new house churches had been opened and approximately 34,000 students have enrolled in the India College of Ministry, a school of Global University.

At first glance, it may appear there is little chance of the church reaching its goal of 25,000 churches. However, the number of students enrolled in ICOM has already exceeded the goal, and as a graduation requirement each student is expected to open a house church — placing the goal of planting 25,000 house churches within reach. It is evident that a powerful move of God is taking place in a country where currently only 2% are Christians.

The AG World Missions area director for India (name withheld) was initially uncertain that roughly seven house churches a day were being opened in India — was this an exaggeration or approximation? Not at all. The leader of the India AG provided detailed records, documenting each house church plant.

One of the keys to the rapid growth through house church planting has been the availability of translated training materials through Global University to the India College of Ministry (ICOM). The materials are used to train lay workers to plant and lead house churches.

According to Global University, of the 34,000 students enrolled at ICOM, 4,000 have graduated in the past two years, 400 more will graduate early this year, and a “mega-graduation” of about 2,000 students is slated for this fall.

Global University offers a 16-course Certificate based on the Christian Life program and a 24-course Diploma based on the Christian Service and Berean programs for lay workers, with each course designed to be completed in one month — 3 1/2 years total.

However, the task of providing materials goes well beyond simply raising the money to purchase the materials — which Light for the Lost, districts, and individuals as well as national churches continue to do — it also includes overcoming language barriers.

“There are hundreds of different languages in India, including 15 national languages,” explains the area director. “Making the materials available to India in the different languages is a challenge, but there’s always great excitement anytime we’re able to get ICOM materials translated into another language.” Currently the Global courses are translated into nine major languages of India.

The area director explains that in India, few materials are available for the “small” language groups. “Small” is a relative term. For example, a language spoken by 70 million people in India is considered small as it represents roughly just 5% of the population. Yet, in comparison to the rest of the world, those 70 million people exceed the total populations of all but 20 countries, including Thailand, the United Kingdom, France, Spain, and Canada.

What’s particularly impressive is that these house churches are opening in a country that has repeatedly challenged Christianity in certain regions. Slightly more than 80% of the population are Hindu and just over 14% are Muslim.

“God is moving in India, but what people need to grasp is that the population in India is greater than the population of the continent of Africa, and there are more people groups in India than in the continent of Africa — we describe India as nations within a nation,” the area director explains. “We hear stories of great growth [in the church], but great growth of one section of India does not mean great growth in India . . . of the 2,718 people groups in India, 273 have been reached.”

Rick Allen, director of Light for the Lost, agrees and recognizes the challenge that awaits. However, he notes that the growth of the India Assemblies of God through its house church initiative has begun to break into regions of the country that are unfamiliar with the gospel, and as the gospel is being presented in native languages, the more acceptance it is given.

“In working with the leader of the India AG, we’ve learned that for just $100, a student can receive three years of training and plant a church,” Allen says. “With an economical use of resources like that, we in LFTL have found many people and churches willing to partner in planting churches and training pastors in India.”
Source: AG News

Continuing the Legacy

Although Pentecostal Hispanic patriarch Jesse Miranda Jr. died last July at age 82, his legacy continues to be felt throughout the Latino evangelical world.

One of those carrying out Miranda’s vision is his older son, Jesse R. Miranda III, who is executive director at the institute that bears his father’s name, the Jesse Miranda Center for Hispanic Leadership in La Puente, California. The center’s mission is devoted to educating Hispanic students and training ministry leaders.

“The triad of church, campus, and community is critical toward building the Kingdom,” says Jesse Miranda III, who goes by Jack.

Jesse Miranda Jr. served as a bridge builder among various ethnic, generational, denominational, and political entities. With his irenic personality, he was widely regarded as the driving force behind uniting disparate U.S. Hispanic evangelicals on issues such as theological education, social ethics, and racial reconciliation.

Miranda served as an Assemblies of God executive presbyter for 22 years, ending in 2017. He became the first Hispanic nonresident to the body, which serves as the board of directors for the Fellowship. He also served as executive director of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC), the nation’s largest Christian Latino organization. Around 750 people attended an Office of Hispanic Relations reception honoring Miranda at the 2017 General Council.

After serving as an AG Hispanic district superintendent in California, Miranda felt prompted to switch gears into a different form of ministry. On a return flight to Los Angeles in 1992, Miranda saw the city aflame in the wake of the acquittal of police officers charged with using excessive force in beating Rodney King. Miranda sensed the Holy Spirit’s asking, What is the Church doing for the city?

“That question continues to be a motivation for us,” says Jack, 61. “We want to train up urban and ethnic minority leaders to minister to the city, to be a voice and a presence in the community.”

Initially, in response, Jesse Miranda accepted an invitation from Azusa Pacific University to form a Hispanic department. In 2000, Miranda moved to Vanguard University, to establish the Center for Urban Studies and Ethnic Leadership. The school later renamed the think tank as the Jesse Miranda Center for Hispanic Leadership. Miranda prophetically saw the need to increase educational opportunities for the growing Hispanic minority. Two decades ago, Vanguard’s Hispanic enrollment accounted for 9 percent of students; this school year, Hispanics comprise 44 percent of the first-year students at the school in Costa Mesa.

“We want to not just enroll our brown students, but to graduate them,” says Jack, a third-generation ordained AG minister. “The browning of the Church will continue, especially in the border states. We want ethnic minorities to be educated and theologically grounded.” Discipleship is an integral part of church life in order to pre-empt an increasing decline in faith in a generation increasing made up of “religious nones,” Miranda says.

Church leadership is more than theoretical for Miranda, who 20 years ago planted Living Faith in his hometown of La Mirada.

“If the local church is the beacon of hope, we need to impact the community where those people worship,” says Miranda, who stepped down as pastor two years ago.

Currently, after being located at Latin American Bible Institute the past four years, the Jesse Miranda Center is seeking a new home as an independent nonprofit with an expanded focus. The center is now involved in an initiative to help pastors integrate faith and work for their congregants.

“We’re training up pastors to recognize the 500-year-old message of Martin Luther: the priesthood of all believers,” Miranda says. “Pastors need to recognize the gold mine in their congregation and release all of God’s people for ministry, not just pastors and missionaries. If you have faith in Jesus Christ, you are in ministry. Typically, Christians spend 165 hours a week outside of church.”

The Jesse Miranda Center also has partnered with Made to Flourish, a pastoral network based in Overland Park, Kansas.

Starting in 2000, ordained AG minister Fernando C. Tamara spent 19 years at the Jesse Miranda Center, carrying out the founder’s vision as program director, researcher, and executive director. Tamara, 48, is now a city network leader with Made to Flourish. Tamara is confident that Jesse Miranda’s legacy for first-generation Hispanics will continue through his eponymous center.

“The center became a leader in mentoring Spanish-speaking students and immigrants who needed to acculturate sociologically from their localities to a macro experience in areas such as liturgy, stewardship, spiritual discipleship, and even financial education,” says Tamara, who also is pastor of Hispanic Ministries at Orange County First Assembly of God in Santa Ana. “The culture shock can be profound that first year, and they need to be shown pathways to interact and understand new ways of navigating the institution.”

Tamara, who also serves as translation coordinator for the Assemblies of God national office, says Miranda continued to concentrate on Christian reconciliation until the end of his life. Tamara says only two days before Miranda succumbed to an aggressive form of lymphoma, he discussed the need for them to build more bridges with Anglos.

“He was still talking about his main purpose in life: unity,” Tamara says.

Photo:  Jack Miranda speaks at his father’s funeral. 

Source: AG News