Dance Unto the Lord

One Reason Dance Studio is in the Minneapolis arts district. Housed in a strip mall between a tobacco store and a Mexican restaurant, instructors teach salsa to up to100 people weekly.

But on Sunday mornings, the mirrors lining the walls are covered and chairs are set up on the dance floor in preparation for services at One Reason Church, an Assemblies of God congregation.

“We know that dancing and church are usually separate in the AG world,” says co-pastor Jenna Dean Perez, 32. “It’s been the most effective tool for outreach that we’ve ever used.”

Jenna and her co-pastor husband, Jose R. Perez, 45, prayed for a unique way to reach northeast Minneapolis. The answer came through an unusual medium, but has produced impressive results.

The dance studio opened in January 2017, and the church opened nine months later. Since last October, 47 people have made salvation decisions at One Reason Church — all of them because of their initial involvement at the dance studio.

Jenna met Jose Perez during her 3½ years as an AG world missionary in Venezuela. The two moved to the U.S. and wed in 2013. Jenna says God laid it on their hearts to plant a church.

Jose, a native Venezuelan, owned six Latin dance studios in Venezuela while pastoring. In the U.S., combining dancing and ministry typically isn’t a customary means of evangelism. But in a community of artists, it’s practical.

“God is a God of creativity,” says Jenna. “We put Him in a box because of our religious upbringing. The reality is He can work outside of our box to reach people. God knew a traditional church was not going to reach artists.”

Stephanie Benegas works with Jose as one of the dance instructors. She says she grew up in church and loved to dance, but didn’t feel she could do both.

“It became really legalistic for me,” she says. “We had these unspoken rules. But I’ve always had a passion for dance.”

One Reason has been an answered prayer.

“This is God confirming to me that it can be done,” Benegas says. “You can use dancing for God.”

Benegas has seen a number of people that she’s taught in the dance studio start attending One Reason Church regularly and their lives transform as a result.
Church services are bilingual, primarily with Jose teaching in Spanish while Jenna translates to English.

As the dance students have grown from 15 a week to nearly 100, so have the numbers of church attendees. Today, the Sunday morning service averages 60 people, most of them attending as a result of the studio. Salsa is an interactive dance, which allows the instructors to get to know students on a personal level and to build relationships.

“Dance has always been categorized as sinful,” Jenna says. “But God can use dancing for a purpose.”

Source: AG News

Tough Love Works

Herlindo Salinas Jr. had been addicted to heroin for 18 years. His marriage disintegrated because he spent virtually the entire seven years incarcerated. Finally, his parents told the 35-year-old Salinas he no longer could live in the family home in Bakersfield, California.

Salinas spent the next three months homeless. Finally, in 1990, he agreed to enroll in Adult & Teen Challenge, the Assemblies of God faith-based program for those struggling with life-controlling issues. His possessions consisted of the ragged clothes he wore, a dirty syringe in his back pocket, and a blood-stained bandana to assist him shooting up.

“I had a desire to change, I wanted to clean up,” says Salinas, now 63. “I knew on the drive to Teen Challenge it would be the last time I put my parents through anything like that.”

Salinas enrolled in Teen Challenge and never left. After graduating from the residential program, he has been a Teen Challenge staff member for a quarter century. Since 2007, he has served as director of the San Diego County facility. Adult & Teen Challenge is a division of U.S. Missions.

Certainly opioid addiction hasn’t relented since Salinas endured his difficulties. In fact, the crisis has reached epidemic proportions.

Salinas oversees a 54-bed induction center where residents stay for four months. Around one in five clients is Hispanic. Various factors keep many Latinos from seeking treatment, including fear of law enforcement (and, if undocumented, deportation) authorities; an inability to comprehend English; and machismo.

For years, Salinas, one of seven children, refused to seek help because of pride. The Latino emphasis on family cohesiveness also keeps even middle-aged addicts from being kicked out of the nest onto the streets. Herlindo’s father, Herlindo Salinas Sr., didn’t mind if his son partied all night — as long as he showed up for work in the farm fields the next day, albeit hung over.

But Elisa Salinas, Herlindo’s 60-year-old mother, had seen enough and decided to put tough love into practice. Her son’s 16-year odyssey into heroin addiction actually began six years earlier with marijuana and alcohol at the age of 12.

“My mom finally told me at 35 I could no longer stay at home anymore,” Salinas recalls. “It took a lot of courage to do that.”

Classes at the Teen Challenge center in San Diego are in English, although students have access to a Spanish-language workbook. Bilingual staff members, including Salinas, act as interpreters for clients who don’t grasp English-language lessons. Newcomers often are still addicted. Salinas can empathize.

He overdosed the first two times he tried heroin, as a strung-out addict injected him. The dependency grew to the point where he burglarized homes in an effort to obtain funds for drugs. Police arrested him repeatedly.

Upon release, even before heading home, Salinas would connect with a dealer who fixed him up with a new batch of heroin.

Elisa repeatedly told her son she prayed for him, and that his situation would change someday. Soon after he began the Teen Challenge program, Salinas surrendered his life to Jesus as Savior.

Stan Steward, a San Diego police officer who befriended Salinas, invited him to give his testimony at a Bible study after graduation. As Salinas eyed a woman named Joyce Schoolcraft in the crowd, he immediately sensed the Lord telling him she would become his spouse. Unknown to him, Joyce simultaneously heard the same message.

“I was content being single and not interested in being married,” Joyce recalls. “But even though I had never met Herlindo, I felt the Lord spoke to me that I would marry him.”

Six months later they wed, with Steward, who would go on to join an Assemblies of God outreach team in Eurasia, serving as best man. Herlindo and Joyce have been married since 1995.

Ironically, Joyce worked in the San Diego Police Department narcotics unit at the time of their wedding. Various co-workers, friends, and family members didn’t understand why she would marry an ex-felon. But Joyce knew the disciplines Herlindo learned at Teen Challenge would strengthen his faith. And his past helps current students relate to him in one-on-one counseling.

“His passion is to help people with a troubled past, giving third, fourth, and fifth chances,” says Joyce, 56. “Herlindo wouldn’t have the same impact without the background he has.”

Herlindo is now an ordained minister and has served on the board of City View Church in San Diego.

In 2016, Herlindo contracted liver cancer after battling Hepatitis C. After a six-month wait on a transplant list, Herlindo received a new liver. His two younger brothers, who also had been heroin addicts, both died of liver cancer.
Source: AG News

Overcoming Childhood Insecurities

When 17-year-old Tabitha Carmen Acang of Memphis, Tennessee, stands behind a microphone and begins strumming her guitar and singing, a tangible sense of God’s presence fills the room, even bringing people to tears.

But a few years ago, the girl who now is so alive with God’s Spirit, self-harmed and considered suicide because of insecurities. Tabitha battled alopecia, an autoimmune disease that causes partial or complete hair loss.

Diagnosed at 3 years old, Tabitha struggled throughout her childhood to fit in. Her parents, Greg and Sharon Acang, hoping to ease her emotional pain, bought her a wig. But the wig fell off when Tabitha participated in certain activities, isolating her further.

The low point came in 5th grade when a boy on her school bus asked, “Do you have a boyfriend?”

Not thinking anything of it, Tabitha replied, “No.”

“Go figure,” said the boy. “You’re the ugliest girl in the world.”

Crushed, Tabitha went home in tears. Concerned about the constant bullying and teasing Tabitha endured at school, her parents began educating her at home.

Still, Tabitha had begun a downward spiral. She cut her wrists and the inside of her thighs.

“I would check on her all the time because I was afraid of suicide,” says Tabitha’s mom, Sharon, now 54. “All we could really do was get down on our knees and pray.”

Concerned, Brent A. Parker, 34, Tabitha’s youth pastor from Living Oaks in Memphis, the church plant she attended, reached out. He urged Tabitha to attend Tennessee Youth Camp in Nashville that summer. Parker assured Tabitha that camp would be a safe place and it could change her life.
At Parker’s recommendation, and with her parents’ approval, Tabitha decided to give it a try. She attended camp at 11 years old, going with an expectant heart of what God would do in her life.

But things didn’t go as planned.

One afternoon at camp, Tabitha slid down a makeshift waterslide, a massive tarp going down a hill into a pit of water. As she went down the slide, her wig flew off, exposing her alopecia. Mortified, she picked up her wig and ran into the girl’s restroom to cry.

“Why did you choose me, God?” Tabitha asked. “I came expecting a greater level of intimacy with You, and I just got made fun of.”

When her youth pastor found Tabitha, he assured her of God’s love and tried to comfort her. Tabitha would have none of it. She shut down, vowing never to return to camp.

But when the next year rolled around, Parker, undaunted, asked Tabitha, then 12, to give camp another try.

“I know I promised you last year that camp was going to be a safe place, and it wasn’t,” Parker told Tabitha. “Please give it one more chance.”

After consulting with her parents, Tabitha agreed.

Little did she realize her life was about to change forever.

As Tabitha pressed into God during service one night, she had an encounter that would change the trajectory of her life. During worship, she received God’s call to become a worship leader. She had only begun playing guitar that year, yet she sensed God leading her into ministry.

A few months after attending camp for the second time, she joined the worship team at her church, growing in her gifting and confidence. Invitations to lead worship in other churches and at women’s retreats poured in.

That didn’t surprise Jeremy Austill, youth director of the Tennessee Ministry Network.

“When Tabitha leads worship, there is a sincere move of the Holy Spirit,” Austill says. “It’s effortless. No cajoling, no working up, just a sweetness and tenderness in the room.”

The following year, Tabitha, still hampered at times by low self-worth, returned to camp again.

“I went ready to let it all go,” said Tabitha. “I knew it didn’t make sense to step into God’s calling and hold onto these things.”

During worship, she completely surrendered. Instantly, Tabitha felt set free from suicidal thoughts and any desire to harm herself. It felt so liberating she stopped wearing her wig.

Not long afterwards, however, the church plant Tabitha loved closed and the worship team disbanded. Her path to National Fine Arts appeared blocked.

In 2014, her first year at the festival, Tabitha placed first at district in worship leading solo (all ages) and first in female junior vocal at the age of 12 (ages 12-15). Fine arts had boosted her confidence and matured her gifting. She hated to give it up.

Parker, Tabitha’s former youth pastor, suggested she attend First Assembly of God Milan, which would allow her to continue participating in Fine Arts.

In 2017, Tabitha received an Award of Merit for Worship Leading Solo at the National Fine Arts Festival. She also accepted an invitation to lead a short worship set at the Tennessee General Council. As Tabitha stepped to the microphone and began worshipping, the atmosphere in the room shifted. Pastors from across the state started weeping at the sweetness of God’s presence.

“There is a tangible anointing on her life that makes her different,” Austill says.

Parker points out another essential call on Tabitha’s life.

“With her testimony and the insecurities she’s been able to overcome, she is able to speak to so many people, especially young girls,” he says.

Tabitha is embracing the journey and looking with expectancy to the future.

Source: AG News

SEU Starts Post-Secondary Transition Program

In August, not only will Southeastern University (SEU) in Lakeland, Florida, welcome new and returning college students, it will also welcome students to a new program — one of the only faith-based post-secondary transition programs in the United States. The program, SEU Link, is designed to assist students with mild intellectual disabilities in making the transition from high school to adulthood.

“Our associate provost, Dr. Amy Bratten, presented this idea of starting a post-secondary transition program for college-aged students with disabilities,” said Dr. David Grant, associate professor of education at Southeastern University. Grant jumped at the chance to be a part of the new program.

Through this post-secondary transition program, students can receive a certificate of accomplishment and an industry credential in one of three fields — hospitality, healthcare, or technology — over a four-year period on Southeastern’s campus. The program is based upon giving students the tools necessary for them to take college classes, obtain gainful employment, and to live independently.

During their first year, the program of study for the students includes Link-specific courses in employability and independent living. Students will also be able to audit existing SEU courses, such as personal financial stewardship, history, English, social work, education, and many more. During their junior and senior years, they will be able to put their classes into practice through working in jobs on and off campus.

Students enrolled in the program will live in dorms at the university with a trained student mentor who will assist in guiding them through the daily aspects of independent living. Not only will students have the opportunity to experience living on a college campus, but they will also build relationships and gain skills with non-disabled peers both inside and outside of the classroom setting.

“The post-secondary transition program could be the first time students spend time outside of their families and with peers who have disabilities,” said Grant. “Students will be exposed to a completely different dynamic and receive the full collegiate experience. It will be a positive experience for everyone involved.”

The program has garnered interest from people around the nation and even other countries, with some looking to enroll within the next few years. While the program is still in the developmental stages, Grant is excited for the opportunities the program will offer to families.

“I am excited about how the program will fulfill a need that many families have. When you think about it, for a parent of a child with a disability, the child has been in school most of their life, and now all of a sudden school is completed and the parents do not have other options. This program will be providing for this need, giving families and students opportunities to make the successful transition into adulthood,” said Grant.

Tuition costs $16,700 a year. Students planning to live on campus will pay for housing and a meal plan in addition to tuition costs.

For more information, please contact Dr. David Grant at dggrant@seu.edu.

Source: AG News

Better Together

Several church buildings in the North Carolina Assemblies of God district are being rescued from the brink of elimination and becoming homes for healthy congregations, in large part due to the rapidly growing Hispanic population in the state. As the diversity of first-generation, foreign-born residents grows in North Carolina, so do the churches.

Unlike many AG geographical districts and networks, Hispanic congregations in the Tar Heel State aren’t necessarily separated under a Hispanic district umbrella. North Carolina Assembly of God Superintendent Rick Ross believes Hispanic churches that are a part of the district make for a stronger faith community, with a greater ability to impact the state for Christ.

Of the 282 churches in the district, 50 are Hispanic. This number is increasing as North Carolina continues to see growth in the Hispanic population — the fourth largest percentage of first-generation Latinos in the nation. Hispanics have been a revitalizing force for the AG in North Carolina. In the past four years, 10 dying or closed churches in have reopened as Hispanic-led congregations.

Trinity Assembly in Mocksville closed in 2012, but the district later allowed Pastor Jesus M. Perez to use the facility in the hopes of re-establishing a healthy AG presence in the community. Perez began by preaching to his wife and three grandchildren. The rural community church now has an average of 160 attendees on Sundays.

“Our call is to make disciples of all nations,” Perez says. The church, now dubbed House of Restoration and Casa de Restauración, is a diverse body, with Latinos comprising 60 percent of attendees. Services are bilingual. Perez attributes much of the church growth to the tangible ways people see God moving — from healings from cancer to women who previously couldn’t conceive becoming pregnant.

Casa de Adoración in Dudley had dwindled to 60 attendees in a building that can seat 500 when Pastor Jose Maldonado became lead pastor in 2014. The church now hosts two services and averages over 160 in weekly attendance. In a discipleship program, new followers of Christ are matched to individuals who have similar life experiences.

“I’m excited to see some of our second-generation Hispanics taking the mantle and going out to serve, and not just in Hispanic churches,” Maldonado says. “We are putting tools into the American Fellowship. It is a sharing process. Together we are stronger.”

Casa de Adoración and House of Restoration-Casa de Restauración have been joined in the revitalization efforts by other churches in the district, including Principe de Paz in Granite Falls, Iglesia Luz a las Naciones in Kannapolis, Iglesia Cristiana Jireh in Kinston, Iglesia Nueva Vida in Reidsville, and Iglesia Nueva Jerusalen in Wilson.

North Carolina district leaders are empowering ministers to reach their potential, equipping churches to impact their communities, and engaging generations to inspire each other.

“We have a shared vision,” Ross says. “We rejoice when people are saved and churches become healthy and grow. We are better together.”

Perez is grateful for the wholehearted support from district officials.

“There are no culture or race barriers,” Perez says. “They are always willing to hear and support me. They pray with me, and we share ideas.”

IMAGE: Rick and Susan Ross (center) are glad to serve with Hispanics in the district, including (from left) newly elected Hispanic Fellowship president Jose Maldonado, Francisco Soltren, Lucrecia Soltren, and Niva Maldonado.

Source: AG News

Expanding Beyond the Base

As pastor of Comunidad Christiana Maranata in Overland, Missouri, Edwin A. Marroquin has made outreach to the St. Louis community a pivotal part of his life and his church.

Born in El Salvador, Marroquin grew up in a Pentecostal family and attended a church pastored by John Bueno, who later became executive director of Assemblies of God World Missions based in Springfield, Missouri. Marroquin moved to the U.S. in 1983 and learned English while working as a hospital janitor in Washington, D.C. A conversation with his pastor led him to enroll in Central Bible College in Springfield in 1989.

While at CBC, Marroquin met and married his wife, Shatonya, who goes by Toni. After graduating in 1994, the couple moved to St. Louis and Edwin began planting churches. He has been pastoring his fourth effort, Comunidad Christian Maranata, since 2008. The church now has 230 regular attendees, most of whom are Hispanic.

From the outset of his work with Maranata, Marroquin has prioritized reaching out to the Hispanic community around the Gateway to the West. Marroquin is actively trying to break the language barrier by hosting a bilingual service, primarily for English-speaking Hispanics.

One of the first families to attend Marroquin’s church led the way in organizing outreach to Hispanics in a rougher neighborhood in North St. Louis.

“They were showing a movie outside an apartment complex when a shooting started and everyone had to run for their lives,” Marroquin says.

The outreach team returned to the same neighborhood last summer, but this time they found many Syrian immigrants had replaced the Hispanic population. Marroquin saw a unique opportunity.

“We understand the struggle of being immigrants here, the language, the culture,” Marroquin says. The church started doing outreach events, such as a soccer game, for Syrians, even though initially they had to gain trust of the residents, most of whom had been refugees.
Source: AG News

This Week in AG History — July 27, 1918

Christian H. Schoonmaker (1881-1919) was the founding chairman of the Assemblies of God of India in 1918. While he served as a missionary in northern India for only nine years, Schoonmaker and his family significantly influenced Indian Pentecostal missions.

After finishing school in the late 1890s, Schoonmaker moved from his home in Albany, New York, to New York City to look for work. There he became involved with the Christian Missionary Alliance. During this time, he had a vision of a great multitude of Hindu men and women. He felt he had found his purpose in life — to reach the Hindu people of India for Christ. He soon enrolled in the Alliance Bible School in Nyack, New York.

During his time at the Bible school (1905-1907), the Pentecostal revival began to sweep across the United States. Many of the students at the Alliance school experienced the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Schoonmaker’s teachers encouraged him to continue seeking God but warned him against people who taught that speaking in tongues was a sign of the Spirit’s baptism. However, he soon noticed that those who showed the most joy and fervent devotion to God were those who had experienced the fullness of the Spirit accompanied by speaking in tongues. He began to seek all that God had for him, even if it included speaking in tongues.

Meanwhile, beginning in 1905, a Pentecostal revival had also impacted his desired destination, India. When Schoonmaker arrived in India in the fall of 1907, he urged others to partake of the blessing of the Spirit. It was on Christmas Eve, 1907, that Christian Schoonmaker’s life and ministry were changed immeasurably — he also received the baptism in the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues.

A young single missionary named Violet Dunham (1879-1965) had been in India since 1902. She was warned by several sources to have nothing to do with the kinds of meetings that were happening in the Pentecostal circles. She saw so many other missionaries becoming involved that she prayed earnestly to be kept from their fanaticism. The Lord comforted her with Proverbs 1:33, “Whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely and shall be quiet from fear of evil.” With this promise, she felt free to attend one of the meetings where Schoonmaker and the other Pentecostals were ministering. On the second day of the meetings, the Spirit began to fall upon the missionaries and the national workers just as in the book of Acts.

Violet became Mrs. Christian Schoonmaker in August of 1909 and soon three children blessed their home. However, their ministry was cut short in 1914 by the outbreak of World War I. They returned to North America where they led a church in Toronto.

During the war years, God blessed them with two more children. They transferred their ordination in 1917 to the newly formed Assemblies of God. They desired to return to India and received missionary appointment with the Assemblies of God. The July 27, 1918, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel included a report from C. H. Schoonmaker reporting that they had landed in India. Due to government restrictions, however, they were not permitted to return to the area where they had previously worked. He earnestly requested “prayer that God will plant us in the right place and use us to reach the unevangelized with the message of salvation.”

They settled in Lonavia, where Violet gave birth to their sixth child. During this time, Schoonmaker felt the need for a unified body of Pentecostal ministers in northern India. There was a need for a closer bond and mutual counsel. In November of 1918, a conference was held and the “Indian Assemblies of God” was formed, electing Christian Schoonmaker as its first chairman.

Just three months later, Schoonmaker returned home from ministry feverish and too tired to eat. The next morning a rash appeared on his chest. Violet knew the signs of smallpox and sent for a nurse. Christian was immediately quarantined from the children. As Violet was nursing their youngest infant, she also was kept from him. He died in their home in India on Feb. 2, 1919, at the age of 37.

Violet’s life was permanently altered in a matter of days. She was now a widow with six children under the age of nine, in a country where widows were often viewed unfavorably. She wrote to the Assemblies of God leadership in the United States, asking if she and her children would be able to continue their missionary appointment. She served in India before she was married and wished to continue that service. She was relieved by the answer — if her calling continued, then her support would also.

Violet Schoonmaker remained in India for another 32 years, retiring in 1951. She continued to speak and write missionary articles until her death at age 86. Christian and Violet’s ministry in India did not stop when either of them died. Five of their six children returned as Assemblies of God missionaries and the sixth, born just before his father died, also served the Indian people as a medical missionary doctor.

Read more about Schoonmaker’s report on landing in India on page 8 of the July 27, 1918, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

• “Pentecost in Central Africa” by James Salter

• “Physical Manifestations of the Spirit,” by Alice E. Luce

• “Questions and Answers,” by E.N. Bell

And many more!

Click to read this issue now.

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

Ministering Despite Removal

After the stock market crash in 1929, the U.S. government over the next decade ordered the deportation of hundreds of thousands of Mexican immigrants and their descendants. As unemployment soared during the Great Depression, the bureaucratic course of action dictated that the dwindling number of jobs should be reserved for longstanding U.S. citizens rather than “stolen” by foreigners. The forced Mexican repatriation of the 1930s is rarely mentioned in American history books.

Assemblies of God minister Teresa Ruelas, who turned 90 in June, is a survivor of the Mexican repatriation, one of the cruelest movements in U.S. history. Her entire family, including her parents Severo and Guadalupe Guerra plus her three siblings — all born in the U.S. — all moved to Mexico under the forced repatriation. Teresa was just 4 years old at the time.

The Guerra family arrived in El Carmen, Mexico, to face another harsh reality: fallout from the agrarian movement. Teresa’s father received a large plot to farm in recognition for having served under Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa.

Cultivating more than 50 acres required assistance from other workers. Severo’s position as foreman generated envy among the hired help and led to his tragic murder, which in turn caused deprivation among the remaining family members almost immediately. Guadalupe devised a plan for a new livelihood by making delicious candy that Teresa and her two brothers and sister sold door-to-door. However, that still didn’t generate enough funds to sustain all in the household, which included the addition of three more children by the time of Severo’s death.

At 18, Teresa and her 17-year-old brother, Rafael, decided to cross the border back into the United States. Their journey happened through the assistance of their uncle Antonio Muela, an Assemblies of God minister who went to Mexico and escorted the siblings back to the U.S.

Despite enduring the crucible of suffering, Teresa figured returning to the U.S. meant the only path to economic survival. Teresa felt like a foreigner because of the challenges many immigrants face. She didn’t remember anything from the American way of life, including the English language.

“I came to work in the fields, pick fruits, cut them, and pack them,” recalls Ruelas, who is retired and lives in Visalia, California. As a young female migrant worker, she faced discrimination, from both Caucasian supervisors and even some fellow Mexicans. Beyond earning wages in order to bring the rest of the family back to the U.S. — which she eventually did — Ruelas had another goal.

“Something in my heart started to burn,” Ruelas says. “I longed to know God. And even without knowing Him fully, I promised to serve him.”

In 1946, she accepted Christ in her heart. One year later, she received the baptism in the Holy Spirit. After five years of courtship, she married Ignacio “Johnny” Ruelas, and they ministered first in the San Francisco Bay Area and then for many years in Tulare County, California. Johnny went on to be Christian education minister and pastor at various churches throughout the Bay Area and San Joaquin Valley.

Teresa graduated from LABI College and became an Assemblies of minister. For decades, she served as a Hispanic AG women’s leader, Girls Ministries leader, and craft coordinator for Vacation Bible Schools. She and her husband established prison ministries and opened multiple Sunday Schools and nurseries in churches before his death.

“Mom is a very dedicated women of prayer, faith, and service,” says the oldest of her three children, Abraham, who teaches history at Patten Academy of Christian Education in Oakland. “Whether it was crafts for Vacation Bible School, leading Girls Ministries, or ministering to the Oaxaca Indians in local churches, Mom gives it her all. She always has a game plan and figures out the steps that need to be accomplished for the ministry goal to be accomplished.”

Source: AG News

Seven Simple Prayers that Have Changed My Life

EDITOR’S NOTE: Jamie Morgan, a member of the AG Prayer Committee, recently shared with AG News daily prayers that have impacted her life and ministry. Morgan serves as lead pastor of Life Church in Williamstown, New Jersey.

For the last 28 years, I have prayed everyday with a variety of prayers and requests; however, there are seven prayers that stand out among the rest. Although simple in nature, God has powerfully answered these prayers and has used them to produce spiritual growth and direction for my life.

Here are the seven simple prayers that have changed my life:

What is my purpose in life?
I began praying this as a new Christian and prayed it daily for years. God answered this prayer by encountering me with my call to the ministry 10 years after first uttering it. Because I persistently sought God’s will regarding my purpose, I am now living His dream for my life. As God revealed His call to Jeremiah, He also longs to reveal our unique call. Jeremiah 1:5 states, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations”

Anoint me for what I am called to do.
God’s empowerment on what we do for Him delivers supernatural results. I proactively prayed this long before my calling was revealed. I knew that whatever my purpose, I needed God’s power to do it. I am still desperate for God’s anointing, so I continue to pray this everyday. I want Luke 4:18 to be a reality in my life: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because He has anointed me . . .”

I need wisdom and discernment.
God’s perspective regarding every person and circumstance in my life proves invaluable. Daily, I ask God for uncommon wisdom and discernment. I pray this at the start of each day as well as throughout the day, as needed. I am grateful that wisdom is ours for the asking. As James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”

Root all selfishness and pride out of my life.
The opposition to the Kingdom of God is the “kingdom of me” and, oh boy, did I have a lot of me when I became born again! God answers this prayer by using the people and circumstances in my life to cause me to die to self and walk in Christ-like humility. This ongoing pruning process is painful but necessary to produce much fruit. James 4:6 reminds us that “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”

Increase my pain threshold. 
Pain is inevitable in our Christian walk. I never want to draw a line in the spiritual sand and say, “No more pain!” If I do, I stymie my growth. I want to submit to God when He stretches me, takes me out of my comfort zone, and gives me needed correction. I always want the pain of rejection, the ache of forgiving someone who has wronged me, and the sting of persecution to make me more like Christ. As Paul promises in 2 Corinthians 4:17, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”

Grant me one divine appointment per day.
Winning a vast harvest of souls has always been my foremost concern. This is accomplished one person at a time. God really does answer this prayer! Consistently, God leads me to at least one unsaved person in order to bring them closer to receiving Christ as Savior. I marvel how He arranges divine encounters in the least likely of places and circumstances. After all, Jesus proclaims in Mark 1:17, “Come follow me . . . and I will send you out to fish for people.”

Expose what needs to be exposed, reveal what needs to be revealed, and bring into the light that which is kept in darkness.
Asking God to expose the adversary’s plots and plans is crucial in spiritual warfare. When God uncovers the enemy’s strategies against my life, He makes the invisible visible and the subtle blatant. This prayer can make the difference between victory and defeat in spiritual battle. As Ephesians 6:11 reminds us, “Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” Prayer is a vital piece of the armor of God.

What life-changing prayers you have prayed? What prompted you to pray them? How has God answered them? What effect have they had on your spiritual growth?

Source: AG News

Southeastern Partners with Medical School

Starting in the fall, freshman and sophomore students at Southeastern University (SEU) in Lakeland, Florida, who are planning to pursue a health professions career will be given a chance to secure a seat at the nation’s largest medical school. The College of Natural and Health Sciences at Southeastern University (SEU) is partnering with Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM) to guarantee the acceptance of 15 SEU students yearly into their medical, pharmacy, and dental schools. Five students can be admitted to each of the three schools on a yearly basis.

A committee in the science department at SEU will identify high achievers who are freshmen or sophomores for consideration in the program. Students will then be interviewed by the committee before they are offered the chance to apply. The students will then go through the application process of LECOM. Those who are admitted will be guaranteed a spot at the school, even before taking the MCAT (Medical College Admissions Test).

“The main thing incoming students majoring in the sciences want to know is that Southeastern University offers a quality, competitive program that will prepare them for entrance to graduate and medical school,” said Megan Wagner, assistant professor of biology at SEU. “Participation in this program will allow us to recruit, retain, and advance high achievers in the sciences at SEU.”

Students are required to complete all four years at SEU prior to entering the program of their choice at LECOM. Failure to do so would forfeit their seat at the school. Students who are accepted into the program must maintain a GPA of 3.4 or higher.

To further prepare students for medical school, SEU will introduce Problem Based Learning (PBL) courses starting in the fall of 2018. These courses give students the opportunity to use critical thinking skills to solve real-world problems. The PBL model is the pedagogy used by medical schools to apply and advance learning.

“At Southeastern, we will offer PBL and hands-on innovate research opportunities to all of our high-achieving students. When LECOM became aware of the development of our PBL program, they recognized recruiting our students would increase long-term graduate success within their own programs,” said Wagner.

The college also has a new technological addition — an Anatomage Table, a digital cadaver table. The three-dimensional table provides students with life-size images of cadaver samples often seen in medical schools.

“The 3D, interactive images available in the Anatomage will allow students to view, engage, and interact with medical school-level cadavers. The table will be used in multiple courses mirroring graduate school dissections and diagnostic learning experiences,” said Wagner.

For more information on the partnership, click here or contact Megan Wagner at mmwagner@seu.edu.

Source: AG News