Called to Lee’s Summit

Since launching in the fall of 2013, Summit Park Church in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, has grown to more than 1,300 attendees in four weekend services. Pastor Scott Obremski says the church plant came about through incremental steps of obedience.

Prior to starting Summit Park, Obremski served on staff for 12 years as a worship pastor at James River Church in Ozark, Missouri. Obremski says he heard God calling him to start a congregation while visiting a church plant in Florida during a family vacation. As the family drove home from Kansas City International Airport at the conclusion of the trip, Obremski asked his wife, Jen, what she thought about planting a church in the Kansas City, Missouri, area.

Kansas City kept coming up in conversation and prayer, seemingly at odd times.

“We began to see how God was really putting this whole thing together,” Obremski remembers.

John Lindell, James River Church lead pastor, suggested the Obremskis consider the southeast K.C. suburb of Lee’s Summit. JRC gave a significant investment to help support Summit Park’s takeoff. In addition, over 40 people who worshipped at JRC made commitments to relocate 135 miles to be a part of Summit Park Church. The church initially met in a community center before finding a permanent facility.

The same approach of one-step-at-a-time obedience that led the Obremskis to Lee’s Summit is evident in their leadership of Summit Park. The church is intentional about discipling new people. In 2016, more than 500 people accepted Christ as Savior at the church.

Jena Lawrence, who has attended since the beginning, hosts guests as part of the church’s hospitality team. In addition to interacting with newcomers, Lawrence says ministry involvement has helped her discover and embrace her gifts.

“Since we’ve been involved at Summit Park, I’m more confident in my purpose and who I’m created to be,” Lawrence says.

Josh and Jennifer Main, who have attended the church since moving to Lee’s Summit in 2013, wasted no time before becoming a part of the church’s production and kids’ ministry teams. “We felt comfortable responding to the invitation to get involved,” Josh says.

The Obremskis received an award for overall achievement from the Church Multiplication Network during General Council in August in Anaheim, California. At the same time, CMN Senior Director Chris Railey announced a goal to plant 10,000 AG churches in the U.S. in the next decade.

Summit Park is now exploring the possibility of opening multisite campuses in the surrounding suburbs.

Source: AG News

This Week in AG History — October 7, 1962<br />

The Azusa Street Revival (1906-1909) in Los Angeles and the African-American pastor of the Azusa Street Mission, William Seymour, have become iconic symbols of the Pentecostal movement. However, historians and participants in the revival point to a lesser-known Baptist pastor and graduate of Spurgeon’s College, Joseph Smale, who helped prepare Los Angeles for the revival.

The immediate catalyst for the Azusa Street Revival came in the summer of 1905 when Smale, pastor of First Baptist Church of Los Angeles, returned from a visit to Wales. He had attended meetings during the great Welsh Revival, during which entire towns experienced an outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Smale witnessed countless people repent of sin and turn toward God, and he prayed for God to do a similar work in Los Angeles.

Smale opened up his church for daily intercessory prayer meetings. Spiritually hungry people came from across Los Angeles and cried out to God for revival – praying specifically for a new “Pentecost.”

The prayer meetings attracted large numbers of people. However, some Baptist leaders opposed the spontaneous character of the prayer. They forced Smale to resign as pastor. He formed a new congregation, The New Testament Church of Los Angeles, which became a hub for people who committed themselves to pray for revival.

In the fall of 1905, Smale preached a series of sermons titled “The Pentecostal Blessing.” He encouraged believers to seek a restoration of the spiritual blessings described in the New Testament. Under Smale’s ministry, countless people developed a great hunger for God and engaged in deep prayer and Bible study.

When William Seymour came to Los Angeles in the spring of 1906 and began encouraging believers to seek biblical spiritual gifts, he found fertile ground for his message. People from varied backgrounds and from numerous churches – including Smale’s church – crowded into the Azusa Street Mission to experience the modern-day Pentecost for which they had been praying.

Historians have long known that Smale’s sermon series, “The Pentecostal Blessing,” played a pivotal role leading up to the Azusa Street Revival. The sermons were a manifesto on the importance of recovering the spiritual life of the early church. They convicted and persuaded many to seek for a greater outpouring of the Holy Spirit. However, it appeared that Smale’s sermons had been lost to history. No copies apparently survived.

Then the unexpected happened. Several years ago, someone bought a copy of Smale’s sermons at a garage sale in Oklahoma. He was not aware of their significance and showed them to Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center director Darrin Rodgers, who immediately discerned their importance. The sermons were deposited at the Heritage Center, where they are safely preserved for posterity.

Importantly, Gospel Publishing House has just republished The Pentecostal Blessing, which was officially released as part of its “Spirit-Empowered Classics” series on Oct. 3, 2017. The book includes a series foreword by noted Azusa Street Revival historian Cecil M. Robeck Jr. and a biographical sketch of Smale by his biographer, British Baptist educator Tim Welch.

The sermons that prepared Los Angeles for the Azusa Street Revival – long thought to be lost – are now available to 21st century readers.

The Oct. 7, 1962, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel includes an article by Stanley Horton about the Azusa Street Revival, which begins by describing Smale’s role in the revival.

Read Stanley Horton’s article, “Pentecostal Explosion: Once the Spirit Fell at Azusa Street the Waves of Pentecostal Power Quickly Spread throughout the Religious World,” on pages 8-9 of the Oct. 7, 1962, issue of the Pentecostal Evangel.

Also featured in this issue:

* “Ecumenicity: False and True,” by Frank M. Boyd

* “Tribes, Tongues, and Triumphs,” by Marion E. Craig

And many more!

Click here to read this issue now.

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

Source: AG News

UPDATE: AG Responds to Global Disasters

A recent streak of natural disasters and tragedies has left millions of people injured, homeless or displaced, and without daily living necessities. As well, thousands of lives have been lost.

Around the world and at home, AG World Missions, national church leaders and members, AG U.S. Missions, and Convoy of Hope are on the forefront not only as first responders, but also as partners who will stand alongside victims throughout the recovery and rebuilding process. Their collective call to the church is to stay in prayer and stay involved.

The Caribbean, Cuba, and Puerto Rico

Within the first few days of September, hurricanes Irma and Maria laid waste to many Caribbean island nations, as well as Cuba and Puerto Rico.

Ninety-five percent of all buildings in the vulnerable nation of Barbuda were destroyed by Irma, with the notable exception of a Christian education wing recently built on to Barbuda Pentecostal Assembly of God that doubled as a community storm shelter. The intact building has allowed the church to better serve its devastated community in days since.

Irma battered Cuba for a full 24 hours, leaving 3.1 million people without running water and 26,000 homeless. Over 4,000 homes and 100 Cuban AG properties (including small houses that serve double duty as both parsonages and churches) were destroyed.

Hurricane Maria virtually leveled Puerto Rico on Sept. 20, becoming the most powerful storm to strike the nation in 80 years. The Puerto Rico AG suffered significant loss of property and equipment, including the headquarters building and Bible school. The entire island was without power immediately following the storm, and officials believe many Puerto Ricans will remain without power for months.

Such power outages create ongoing problems as residents run out of food and water. Additional challenges include law enforcement, as looters and thieves take advantage of the chaos, and public health, as the large-scale destruction brings increased risk of injury and disease.

In a video post by Hal Donaldson, Convoy of Hope’s president and co-founder, he states: “I have seen disasters across the United States and around the world. This is one of the worst I’ve ever seen. … we saw car after car, a mile long, waiting for gas, people waiting for food . . . the need here is so significant.”

However, Convoy of Hope has a team in Puerto Rico and they have named three locations as distribution hubs. Donaldson says that Convoy of Hope has committed to Puerto Rico District Superintendent Iván De la Torre that the organization will “walk alongside him for the long haul to make sure that his people receive the help that they need.”

Twenty tons of rice was purchased and is being packaged in Puerto Rico for distribution, with more loads to come.

“We stand firm and want to help the affected people and those who have lost everything,” De la Torre states. “In the midst of this, we want to give hope to our island, showing the love of God through actions and compassion.”

An unexpected blessing also came when the governor of Illinois, Bruce Rauner, donated a plane filled with drinking water to the district to be distributed to areas in greatest need.

De la Torre says that in addition to aiding the people of Puerto Rico, the district will maintain an auxiliary center for Convoy of Hope from which to serve the entire Caribbean.

Convoy of Hope has posted that a cargo ship containing three million meals arrived in the British Virgin Islands, which lie directly east of Puerto Rico. So far, the Convoy team has been able to send nearly 1.2 million meals and distribute hundreds of hygiene kits, tarps, and solar lanterns.

In the case of such widespread need, it is important to identify and address the most effective ways to respond. “My passionate appeal is to let our national church partners most impacted by the disaster be the ones to define for us what their actual needs are,” says Dale Coad, AGWM Caribbean area director. “As missionaries, we can’t assume we know specifically what the needs are. Rather, we join with our national church partners to assess the needs and then formulate long-term strategies to meet those needs. Our approach to disaster relief and response must keep a long-term view.”

“Our Latin America Caribbean leadership are interacting with our missionaries and national church leadership throughout the Caribbean to ascertain the greatest needs and how we can most effectively help the suffering,” affirms AGWM Executive Director Greg Mundis.

Mexico

On Sept. 19, a magnitude 7.1 earthquake struck Mexico near the town of Raboso in the state of Puebla, about 76 miles southeast of Mexico City. More than 366 people lost their lives.

While most of the rubble of collapsed schools, offices, and apartments has been cleared away, the Mexican government reports 60,000 homes were either destroyed or designated for demolition, and the total population considered homeless is 250,000. Drinking water is scarce, and mosquito-borne illnesses are expected to escalate.

Just two weeks before, a magnitude 8.1 tremor in southern Mexico caused buildings in Mexico City to rock for more than 60 seconds and killed 90 people. Experts have stated that much of Mexico City is built on a former lakebed, which can amplify earthquakes even hundreds of miles away.

The city of Juchitán in the southeast Mexican state of Oaxaca, and Jojutla in the state of Morelos, also sustained severe damage, but present much greater logistical challenges for relief workers. AGWM missionaries (all of whom were reported safe after the quakes) and Mexican church leaders report many individuals are living in the streets, suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and suicidal tendencies. Mexican churches are marshaling counselors and intercessors to minister, but the needy far outnumber caregivers.

Paul and Sandy Kazim, AGWM area directors of Mexico, are based in Mexico City. “The bottom line is that neither the federal government nor any of the relief agencies combined will be able to completely meet the need in this zone,” they state. “The people desperately need God to hold back the violence, sickness and despair. Prayer is urgently needed.”

AG World Missions was able to rapidly distribute desperately needed relief funds to Mexico to accelerate recovery efforts.

The Mexico AG’s National Missions Department is coordinating relief efforts in southern Mexico’s earthquake zone. Director Cesar Casillas has invited all U.S. personnel to work directly with them, and many Mexican Christians are spearheading recovery efforts in remote areas, doing their best to provide food and shelter to quake victims. Relief boxes for young mothers (diapers, wipes, formula, feminine products and chocolate), young students (backpacks, notebooks, pencils and crayons) and senior citizens (rice, beans, oil, pasta, tuna and coffee) are being distributed.

Vanuatu

Resting in the South Pacific’s geographical Ring of Fire is the island nation of Vanuatu. In September, Manaro Voui volcano – the country’s largest – showed increased activity, threatening residents of Ambae (a northern island of Vanuatu) with burning ash, toxic gas and acid rain.

Since then, crops have been threatened by acid rain, and many of the island’s sources of drinking water have been corrupted, leaving thousands without safe water. Explosions every 10 to 12 seconds hurled lava bombs up to 100 yards, and two small lava flows ran across the island. The rapid rise of heat from the volcano is visible to satellites.

Reuters described the ensuing government-ordered evacuation of Ambae’s 11,500 residents as “Dunkirk-style” (referencing the famous World War II evacuation by an armada of private small boats of more than 300,000 primarily British Allied troops from the coast of France).

Ambae residents were relocated to Santo, Malekula, Maewo, and Pentecost islands. On Santo island, AGWM missionary to Vanuatu Bryan Webb began leading relief efforts for evacuees.

AG World Missions immediately transferred relief funds to Vanuatu and Webb has modified the Sanma Bible Training Center (SBTC) campus to accommodate roughly 250 people, including putting in four septic tanks, 10 toilets, and 10 showers. Enough food has been purchased to feed the 450 evacuees staying on the campus and in nearby AG churches. Hygiene packs of toilet paper, laundry soap, hand soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, diapers, and other supplies have been purchased for the same number.

“The Red Cross and the Vanuatu National Disaster Management Office assessed our facilities,” Bryan says. “Both told me that our evacuation center is the best on Santo island.”

As funding becomes available, supplies are in place to immediately upgrade cooking facilities, put up a tabernacle, arrange housing for 50 more evacuees, and provide food and water for more than 1,000 evacuees being held in a football stadium while waiting for placement.

“For missionaries, ministry doesn’t stop when we respond to a crisis,” Bryan says. “Church planting teams are still going out every weekend. Primary school and Bible school classes are still being taught. Wells are still being dug in response to an ongoing, multiyear drought. Site work and preparations for building the next phase of SBTC are going forward, as is construction of a clinic on Pentecost island. Pray for grace and resilience for the missionary team as we add the responsibility of 11,000 evacuees to our existing work.”

Southern Asia

Massive floods have swept India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Pakistan following record monsoon rains this summer. OCHA (the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) estimates 41 million people in Bangladesh, India and Nepal are affected and endangered by current floods.

Approximately 1,200 deaths have been reported, with that number expected to rise as food insecurity and waterborne diseases come increasingly into play. Landslides continually threaten and compound existing problems. At least 1 million homes have been destroyed, with poor areas being the hardest hit. Enormous areas of farmland and crops have also been ruined.

“Pray for miracles of provision, restoration, healing, and peace for the people of India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan,” urges AGWM Eurasia regional director Omar Beiler.
“Pray for the protection of rescue workers and medical personnel. Pray that
AG churches and ministry teams in the region will have increased opportunity to share the gospel as they undertake local relief projects.”

The United States

Across the United States, countless lives have been affected in recent weeks by Hurricane Irma’s destruction in Florida, the devastation of Hurricane Harvey and subsequent floods in Texas, and wildfires sweeping the Northwest.

“Our prayers are with the persons impacted by the hurricanes, flooding, wildfires, and the recent mass shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada,” says U.S. Missions Executive Director-elect Malcolm Burleigh. “May God draw near with His comfort, as our Fellowship reaches out with an arm of compassion.”

AG World Missions, Convoy of Hope, and AG U.S. Missions are bringing practical, compassionate aid to hundreds of thousands of hurricane, flood and fire victims. Since responses began in the U.S. just over a month ago, Convoy of Hope has distributed more than 7 million pounds of supplies to hurricane survivors in Texas and Florida.

“We are grateful for the incredible churches and partners that come alongside Convoy of Hope during times of disaster,” says Hal Donaldson, president of Convoy of Hope. “Because of these partnerships, we are able to give help and hope to survivors in need.”

AGUSM missionaries David and Tammy Houck pastor Salt Life Church in Silver Springs, Fla., and run the Help Agency, Inc., a ministry that serves impoverished residents deep in the Ocala National Forest. The Houcks have been on the forefront of hurricane preparation and relief in their community.

“After more than a week without power or water, our families are digging out of the mess.” David says. “We cut an untold number of trees, delivered chicken dinners to as many families as possible, and facilitated the deliveries of ice and water. We also went down to Key Largo to help the church there feed their town. Pray that because the Church, people will continue to see the hand of Christ throughout the storm.”

Even beyond material assistance, ministry personnel within each crisis zone agree that prayer must remain the primary tool for recovery. Prayer support will continue to be vital as homes, churches and ministry centers are rebuilt. Communities will need faithful prayer as infrastructure and life necessities are restored. People who have suffered recent trauma need prayer for the restoration of hope and peace. Most critically, these crises bring powerful reminders of life’s transience and every person’s spiritual need.

Click here to contribute to ongoing relief and recovery initiatives in the Caribbean, Mexico and Vanuatu. To contribute to relief efforts in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico, visit here. Ongoing updates are available by visiting Assemblies of God World Missions, Assemblies of God USA, and Convoy of Hope on Facebook and Twitter.

Source: AG News

Missions Control

Malcolm P. Burleigh says God has a habit of pushing him into new ministry positions, including his forthcoming role as executive director of Assemblies of God U.S. Missions, even when he is perfectly content with his old role.

While some might consider Burleigh obstinate and irascible, he says he just wants to make sure it’s God, not just people, calling him.

Assemblies of God general presbyters nominated Burleigh and five other candidates to succeed the retiring Zollie L. Smith Jr. as the new leader over seven departments. Since 2009, Burleigh has been senior director of one of those departments, Intercultural Ministries. Burleigh earlier succeeded Smith as president of the AG’s National Black Fellowship. The two men have known each other for more than 20 years.

“Malcolm is a dedicated and proven team player,” Smith says. “He has a positive attitude, a great personality, and enjoys working with people. Malcolm has a great sense of humor, and uses it to accomplish his assignments.”

Other candidates in the running for the U.S. Missions post were Wilfredo “Choco” de Jesús, pastor of New Life Covenant Church in Chicago; Rick Ross, superintendent of the AG North Carolina District; Bradley T. Trask , pastor of Brighton (Michigan) Assembly of God; Eric A. Treuil, director of Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship at the University of Louisiana; and Randy L. Valimont, pastor of Griffin (Georgia) First Assembly.

Burleigh, who turns 67 on Oct. 24, considered himself the least qualified and least known of the field. Instead of promoting himself, Burleigh merely handed a business card to people supporting his candidacy that read, “If God wants to use us, Maria and I are available, but we won’t help Him,” and said nothing. Maria is Burleigh’s wife of 46 years.  

Accepting the Intercultural Ministries post 8 years ago took some convincing as well. Burleigh initially turned down Smith’s request. A year and a half later, General Superintendent George O. Wood asked Burleigh to be interviewed by the Executive Presbytery. Burleigh had no interest in leaving Living Faith Assembly of God in Tampa, Florida, where he had been senior pastor for 18 years. In an attempt to deter being pressured, Burleigh instructed Maria to only answer questions in Spanish. Burleigh didn’t count on EP Saturnino Gonzalez interpreting. The body hired Burleigh.

“God made it clear He was sending me on an assignment,” Burleigh says. “This U.S. Missions election is a continuation of the assignment.”

Burleigh has a similar story for when he left Belmont Assembly of God in Chicago for Living Faith in Tampa. Fellow Chicago AG pastor Spencer Jones repeatedly told a disinterested Burleigh about the pastoral opening in Florida.

“The third time he asked, What is God telling you about the move? I told him — and I later apologized for my rudeness — God is telling me to tell you to leave me alone,” Burleigh recounts. Burleigh then told the Lord if He wanted him to interview for the opening to have the church call him. The phone rang almost immediately, an elder on the line. Despite Burleigh’s subsequent bids to erect roadblocks, the church voted him in as pastor.

“I don’t ever want to look back and say I missed God,” says the dulcet-voiced

Burleigh. He and Maria pray and fast about the ministry offers, with Maria typically receiving the identical answer first. She keeps quiet, waiting for the Lord to confirm the answer to her husband.

When Burleigh pastored in Tampa, Peninsular Florida District Superintendent Terry Rayburn tabbed him as district presbyter at large, and asked him to organize a black fellowship for the district.

“Terry saw something in me I didn’t see in myself,” Burleigh says. “He’s invested in me, and has always been supportive of me.”

ROUGH YEARS

That Burleigh is involved in ministry leadership is remarkable, considering his youth and early adulthood. Originally from Gary, Indiana, Burleigh lived in three foster homes beginning at age 8. He never felt as though he belonged, as foster parents always introduced him as a foster child and their biological offspring as their own. The foster families all went to church regularly, yet disciplined Burleigh brutally.

Repeated punishment with an extension cord left him with welts and a bloody neck, back, and arms. At 17, he fled for Chicago as a viable alternative to murdering his foster father.

“I had so much anger in me,” Burleigh recalls. In Chicago, Burleigh got involved in gang life, selling heroin. During an armed robbery, he got stabbed, and in a separate burglary sustained a gunshot wound.

Leaving the violent life behind, Burleigh went to work at an educational manufacturer plant. There he met Maria, who immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico at age 23 to look for work.

“I fell in love with this woman,” Burleigh says. “She was a total contrast from the women on the street.” They married in 1971. The couple now have three grown children and five grandchildren.

In 1975, Maria accepted Jesus as her Savior after watching The 700 Club. But Burleigh wanted nothing to do with God; he equated Christianity with physical beatings. He forbade Maria from attending church. She went anyway.

“I made her life miserable,” Burleigh says. Nevertheless, Malcolm agreed to send their children to a Christian school. In order to keep from paying higher tuition, Burleigh allowed Maria to attend church. She went to Belmont AG, then pastored by George Cope.

Burleigh made a salvation decision in 1981, at the second service he attended. Within months he started teaching 3- and 4-year-olds, learning the Bible as he went. Eventually, after teaching every other age group, he spent 7 years as senior associate pastor at the church.

The Burleighs are a multiethnic couple; he is African-American, she is Hispanic. Neither knew much of the other’s language at first. But early on in their relationship, Burleigh immersed himself in Maria’s culture, language, food, and customs, learning Spanish from radio and television programs.

While some might consider Burleigh gruff, Maria calls him a man of integrity and deep faith.

“He’s a good leader and an influencer,” Maria says. “People follow him. He’s a relational person and compassionate. He always defends the weak and has a good heart.”

Burleigh has experienced racism, but says it would be reduced — in part — if people learned other cultures.

“If we were all the same skin color, it would be the blue eyes versus the brown eyes, because sin makes us look for the difference where we can elevate ourselves over the other,” Burleigh says.

Although he has worked for U.S. Missions since 2009, Burleigh says adjusting to the executive director slot will be gradual.

“When you go into a place to establish your vision without understanding the culture, there is a collision,” Burleigh says. “It’s ignorant for an individual to go into a new position and start making changes immediately. Learn the process first, then progress will come.”

In his new role, Burleigh will nominate his replacement as Intercultural Ministries senior director, with Executive Presbytery approval. He is in no hurry, again waiting on God rather than fellow ministers to direct. There are 330 Intercultural Ministries missionaries ministering in a wide range of ethnic groups and compassion ministries.

Source: AG News

A Lifetime Devoted to God and the AG

For any Executive Presbyter, district official, or minister in the Assemblies of God who connects with the national executive offices even on a semi-regular basis, there is one non-clergy member whose name — or voice — will likely bring a smile to their face — Jewell Woodward

Woodward, who is 71, has served as General Superintendent George O. Wood’s executive secretary since he was first elected General Secretary in 1993. Prior to that she was the executive secretary to General Secretaries Joseph Flower and Bartlett Peterson — 45 years in total serving on the executive row.

She has a well-established reputation in the national office as well as within her church for her gift of helping (1 Corinthians 12:28). Her time on executive row, which far exceeds the tenure of any other executive or assistant serving in the executive area, is a direct result of that gift. Whether it is a request from Dr. Wood or a caller looking to speak to someone about missions, Woodward is renown for her work ethic and connecting answers to questions.

Yet she didn’t just start out as an executive secretary. Woodward graduated from Central High School in Springfield, Missouri, on a Thursday in early June 1965. The following Tuesday, she reported to the Assemblies of God national office in Springfield, Missouri, to work as a teletypesetter.

Woodward admits that she knew, even as a young person, that she wanted to work at the Assemblies of God national office because she knew it would be working for God. “Frankly, if they had come and ask me to stuff envelopes, I would have taken the job,” she says.

Thankfully, Woodward wasn’t a teletypesetter for long as “out of the blue,” she was asked to work in the Secretariat Office in 1966, where her real giftings began to show through. She would serve in every position up to assistant supervisor over the next several years. She explains that was a blessing as when several people unexpectedly left, she was able to step in and train all the new employees.

In 1972, the secretary to General Secretary Bartlett Peterson became seriously ill. Peterson asked Woodward to temporarily fill the position, while his secretary battled cancer.

“I was glad to do that,” Woodward says, “Sadly, Lorraine [Aronis] passed away. Brother Peterson then asked me to remain as secretary, and I accepted.”

It was a decision that came with a “baptism by fire” for Woodward. She had no formal training in being an executive secretary, and then she had to prepare for and attend the 1973 General Council, which required her to take minutes.

“That was the worst General Council for me,” she admits with a laugh. “I had never taken minutes before, and at this General Council they had all sorts of serious votes and policies to discuss — we even had sessions at night after the evening services because there was so much business to cover.”

In 1975, Joseph Flower became general secretary and he chose to retain Woodward as his secretary. “Brother Flower was calm, steady — never ruffled,” she recalls. “I never minded working hard for him because he would be working hard before you — he set an example for his employees.”

Eighteen years later, in 1993, George Wood was elected general secretary. He, too, chose to keep Woodward on.

“I had worked with Dr. Wood prior to this as he was the Resolutions Committee chairman,” says Woodward, who is as personable as she is productive. “Since the resolutions were prepared by the General Secretary’s office, I had worked with him for three Councils prior to this.”

Woodward has attended 22 consecutive General Councils — 17 of which she wrote the minutes. “I also updated the constitution and bylaws . . . that would be 17 books I wrote, but none of them sold very well,” she says with a laugh.

With her long history at the national office, Woodward even recalls when the first computer came to the national office — a monstrosity that took up an entire room.  

For the last 24 years Woodward has been serving as Wood’s executive secretary. She has witnessed his abilities first hand too many times to count. “He is extremely intelligent and a master at writing articles,” she says. “He also has a ‘legal’ mind [he passed the California Bar Exam to become a licensed attorney] and his biblical knowledge is like no other, I would say.”

Woodward views her decades of service as service unto the Lord. However, she adds that there were some great perks. “I’ve met a lot of people I would have never dreamed of meeting,” she says. “I’ve met Billy Graham, Barry Mcguiar, Mother Flower, Aunty Anne [Anne Beiler], and so many great missionaries, like Mark and Huldah Buntain, David Plymire, Charles Greenaway, and Chaplain Cecil Richardson — and then there was Sister [Ellen] Blackwell, a 100-year-old pastor.”

Her list of famous ministers and missionaries – and even the not-so-famous – goes on and on, as she expresses her appreciation to meet and serve them.  Woodward also is thankful for the travel she was afforded through the job, traveling all over the country for General Councils — something she could have never have done otherwise.

Sitting back and reflecting, she laughs and says, “You know, I rarely go any place any more that I don’t see someone I know.”

Nationally, Woodward may be well known for her connection to key AG leaders and her personable service, but locally, Woodward is truly loved and appreciated for her upbeat personality and giftings, having helped and served countless numbers of people at the national office and through her church.

“I served as a [Girls Ministries] Prims leader for 25 years at Central Assembly,” she says, then adds with a laugh, “And I’ve catered more meals for special events at the church than I could ever count.”

“Jewell was our go-to caterer for our mother-daughter and father-daughter events,” says Lori Van Veen, Girls Ministries coordinator at Central Assembly. “Her experience made it easy for our team to rely on her to provide great food that our guests always raved about. I’ll never forget the year we had a luau theme. She used cored pineapples to build two palm trees as decoration on the fruit table. It was stunning!”

Woodward also served six years on the church’s deacon board — being one of the first two women to serve on Central’s deacon board. She also says that over the years, she and her husband, Jim, have taken a lot of kids into their home.

Add in her hobby of cake decorating — with many individuals at the national office and Central Assembly connecting with her for their wedding cake — in addition to raising three sons (Jeffery, Jonathan, and Joel), and spoiling 10 grandchildren (and a great-grandchild on the way), it’s easy to see that helping isn’t a “work responsibility” for Woodward; it’s simply who she is. 

“I’m now doing second generation wedding cakes,” Woodward says with a smile. “Cakes for the children of the couples that I made cakes for decades ago.”

“Jewell can spin more plates in the air than anyone I know,” says Wood. “She is so conscientious. From her years of working at the General Council she knows where everything is and who everyone is. I could not have had a better co-worker and I am grateful for the years we have served together!”

But even with all her activities, family comes first. “I love my kids more than anything in the whole world,” she says.

In 2015, however, the scale of Woodward’s gift of helping became plainly evident when she was awarded the General Superintendent’s Medal of Honor during the 56th General Council in Orlando, Florida.

“That was an honor . . . it’s usually for lay people who are really special,” Woodward says softly, amazement still echoing in her voice. “That was very special.”

“Without a doubt, Jewell is one of the most extraordinary persons I have ever met,” Wood confirms. “For the past 24 years we have worked together, although she has served for a total of 52 years as an employee of the General Council. In all these years, I have never seen her get upset with anyone even though from time to time our office is on the brunt end of some not-too-pleasant phone calls and emails.”

It would seem though, as she’s now retiring, the gift of helping she’s been so ably known for could take a well-deserved rest.

But that’s not the case. In addition to spending more time with her family and doing some traveling, she’s also going back to work!

“I’m going to work part-time for Project Rescue with [missionary] David Grant,” she explains. “That is going to be a new page — a new adventure in life.”

The new position with Project Rescue is simply another sign of God’s hand upon Woodward’s life . . . what better place could He have placed a woman who He has given the gift of helping than a ministry that is focused on reaching out to women who are in desperate need of help?

Jewell Woodward truly has chosen to make her life a life of service devoted to God.

Source: AG News

Gridiron Calling

Although David A. Canales once spent five years as a bivocational worship leader, ultimately the 36-year-old Seattle Seahawks wide receivers’ coach sensed God calling him to football.

“I knew early on I wasn’t going to be in full-time ministry in the church,” says Canales, who joined Coach Pete Carroll’s staff in 2010. “I started to feel in junior high that I was being called outward.”

Still, as the grandson of Miguel Canales, the founding pastor of Mission Ebenezer Family Church in South Los Angeles, David also felt the pull of family expectations.    

Initially, he tried to mix high school coaching with church duties. Attempting to balance the two left Canales in inner turmoil — until he received a pair of prophetic messages.

The first came at a concert by the gospel group Shekinah Glory Ministries. The lead singer approached David’s row, motioned to him, and said, “The Holy Spirit is telling me: ‘It’s OK. You can go now. You’re ready to go.’”

Two weeks later, an associate pastor at Mission Ebenezer told him, “The Lord is getting ready to promote you. Prepare yourself for a rapid climb.”

That’s when the tug of war ended.

“It was freeing when I was prophesied over to go,” says David, who soon after advanced to coaching at the junior college level. “I am blown away by God’s love for me that He would speak through His people to give me the words that I needed to hear in His perfect time.”

The prophecy about his rapid climb came true three years after he went to El Camino College. After observing Canales volunteering at the University of Southern California’s summer football camps, Carroll offered him a position on USC’s staff.

However, just a year after Canales took his “dream job,” everything changed when Carroll accepted an offer to coach the Seahawks. With his wife, Lizzy, nine months pregnant, the question of whether Canales would be offered a job in Seattle — or be able to keep his old one — left them on edge.

David and Lizzy prayed about the situation at a park overlooking the Pacific Ocean. David concluded by telling the Lord they trusted Him. As soon as the couple said “amen” and opened their eyes, a massive hawk landed in a nearby tree and stared at them.

“We looked at each other with tears in our eyes and I said, ‘I guess we’re going to Seattle,’” David recalls. “Two weeks later I got the phone call to take this position.”

Initially hired as a quality control assistant, two years ago Canales became wide receivers coach. While David lives in Seattle year-round, he still is listed as a staff member on the Mission Ebenezer website. Executive Pastor Josh B. Canales is delighted with the spiritual maturity of his younger brother.

“The greatest example Dave sets for people in the church is to not despise small beginnings,” says Josh, 38. “In the last three years, I’ve watched him go to another level. He realizes at that level of coaching and sports, you have to be all in.”

David has come to appreciate that during the past two years, as he has solidified his direction. He says relationships are the most important part of his calling, including challenging players to ask themselves hard questions about their identity, future direction, and how they will get there.

Part of strengthening his sense of calling involved overcoming the reluctance that had developed because of the demands of the NFL and the time it takes him away from family.

Thankfully, some Christians in his profession helped David see the value of his vocation, sharing about players whose lives changed for the better after they decided to follow Christ.

“Just knowing that helped settle me in my spirit that this is where the Lord has me,” Canales says. “We don’t get to see the end of a lot of these relationships, but I know that they’re real.”

Source: AG News

Transition — God's Way<br />

Proverbs 21:1 states, “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes (NKJV)” I have seen this verse being vividly lived out over these past few weeks as I have witnessed the mutually amicable and supportive transition of executive leadership between General Superintendent George Wood and General Superintendent-elect Doug Clay. It has been an remarkable example of two godly leaders, responsive to God’s hand, acting with integrity and in the best interests of the Assemblies of God.

This is only the 12th time that the Assemblies of God has experienced a transition in top leadership. Dr. Wood has shown immense graciousness and humility in the way he has been handing off responsibility, and Doug Clay has exemplified a wise and generous spirit in the way he has been preparing to become the 13th general superintendent on Oct. 9, 2017.

From my position seated on the General Council stage when Doug Clay was elected as general superintendent, it was immediately evident that God was orchestrating the transitional events that would unfold. Dr. Wood laid the groundwork by removing his name from consideration in a way that did not divide the Fellowship or make it about himself. In turn, Doug Clay deflected the applause for his own election by stating his desire for the applause that day to be for Dr. Wood and his accomplishments.

Both men have continued to demonstrate great integrity in honoring one another and creating a smooth transitional experience. Behind the scenes I have watched them be nothing but gracious and deferring to each another. I have especially been touched to see them keep ego out of the process. They have had a sincere determination to do things in a way that honors God and preserves His church.

Psalm 32:8 says, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you (NIV).” Over the last two months, it has also been encouraging to see how God has prepared and continues to direct both men into the next seasons of their lives and ministries.

The Executive Presbytery commended Clay and Wood during its Sept. 12, 2017, session, stating, in part: “Appreciation was expressed to George O. Wood and Doug Clay for the godly and good way in which they are smoothly transitioning leadership. It is noted their transitioning process is a great example to our entire Fellowship.”

Source: AG News

A Directive from God

As North Texas District Superintendent Rick W. DuBose arrived at the Assemblies of God General Council in Anaheim, California, he vowed to walk through whatever ministry door the Lord opened.

At the August biennial gathering, delegates ultimately elected Doug E. Clay as the Fellowship’s new general superintendent, after incumbent George O. Wood withdrew his name from further consideration. DuBose finished as a runner-up behind Clay.

Delegates subsequently elected DuBose from a field of a dozen candidates to be the new South Central representative on the 21-member Executive Presbytery, to succeed the retiring J. Don George.

However, the General Presbytery later met to submit a list of four nominees to replace Clay as the new general treasurer the following day. That slate designated Jay Herndon, secretary-treasurer of the Northern California & Nevada District Rick Ross, North Carolina District superintendent; Randy Valimont, lead pastor of Griffin First Assembly in Georgia; and DuBose as candidates.

Early the next morning, DuBose went to the outdoor poolside of his hotel for his daily devotional. He enumerated the reasons for withdrawing his name from contention as general treasurer, which would necessitate a move to the AG national office in Springfield, Missouri, as one of the six members of the Executive Leadership Team:

  • He has lived in Texas all of his 60 years.
  • The North Texas District is growing, with various initiatives hitting their stride.
  • He and his wife, Rita, built a new home two years ago.
  • His three children — all involved in church ministry — plus eight grandsons, live nearby.

 “Our life was just about perfect,” DuBose says.

GODLY PERSUASION

DuBose decided to withdraw his name. Just then, Wayne H. Lee Sr., the founder of Church Life Resources, whose materials DuBose utilized to revitalize congregations in the district, walked up to him.

Lee asked DuBose what he planned to do. DuBose told the former Southeastern University vice president that he likely would drop out of the running.

“Didn’t you tell the Lord if He opened the door you would walk through it?” Lee bluntly asked DuBose — who hadn’t revealed such a statement to Lee. “The Lord woke me up and told me to remind you of your promise.”

“That was the turning point,” DuBose recalls. “I couldn’t say no.”

DuBose prayed for the Lord to speak his wife — even more reluctant to pull up stakes than him. When he reached the hotel room, God already had communicated to Rita.

“You’re going to leave your name in, aren’t you?” she asked.

“I think I have to,” he replied.

“You do, and you’re going to get elected,” Rita responded.

Rita’s prediction proved true. DuBose garnered more votes than Herndon or Ross (Valimont withdrew his name from contention.) DuBose considers all three his good friends, and says they would have been worthy successors to Clay.

DuBose begins his four-year term as general treasurer on Oct. 10.

Those Texas roots are deep, including the past decade leading what is now the district with the largest number of churches in the U.S. Assemblies of God. His father, Derwood DuBose, now 81, held the same post earlier.

Early in his tenure as district superintendent, Rick DuBose spent a great deal of time teaching about healthy pastor-church board relationships. The effort resulted in a well-received book, The Church That Works: Democracy vs. Theocracy, written with Mel Surface.

Lately, healthy churches have been a hallmark for the North Texas District, based in Waxahachie. The district has 610 churches now compared to 525 when DuBose came into office. But last year, the district showed a net change of 51 additional churches — compared to 126 overall for the entire U.S. Fellowship. DuBose earlier set a goal of the district reaching 1,000 churches by 2027.

“What God has started, He will finish,” DuBose says. “He doesn’t need me around to do it.”

He says growth has accelerated since the district became less paternalistic and got out of the fundraising business.

“We decided to quit giving money for church plants,” DuBose says. “We declared every church to be its own Jerusalem. We will help with systems and structure support, but we’re not going to pay for it. With that shift, God got to be God.”

DuBose has seen his plans come to fruition at the hands of others before. In 1987, he became pastor of an AG church in Sachse, Texas, which had but 17 attendees. When he left to become district assistant superintendent in 2005, the church mushroomed to 1,000. Now, with Bryan Jarrett at the helm, NorthPlace Church has more than 2,100 weekly attendees.

MINISTERING FAMILY

Rick and Rita Stratton Dubose, who attended Southwestern Assemblies of God University together, have been married 38 years. Rita is the 16th of 17 children.

Her mother, Frieda Stratton, had been diagnosed with lung cancer after giving birth to her 11th child. In an era with no hope for recovery from the disease, Stratton essentially waited to die in a hospital bed. Her mother, Louise Jones, brought her Assemblies of God pastor into the room to pray for her daughter.

The pastor said a simple prayer, asking God to heal Stratton. After he left, Stratton literally coughed up the tumor. She converted from Catholicism and took her children to the AG church the next Sunday. Today, four of Rita’s siblings also are credentialed AG ministers.

The Duboses’ daughter Renee Exley and her husband, Jason, are lead pastors of Life Church in Midlothian. Son Ryan and his wife, Lauren are executive pastors at the growing church, which now has 700 attendees. Younger daughter Rachel Jenkins and her husband, Eric, are executive and youth pastors at Open Arms Church in Lake Dallas.

While he anticipates helping the national office develop better financial systems and procedures, DuBose wants spirituality to have precedence over business practices in his new role.

“My real purpose here is for what God wants to do through the Movement spiritually,” DuBose says. “It’s more about revival than money.”

Nothing is more important than local churches having times around the altar, DuBose believes.

“My goal is to empower the grassroots,” DuBose says. “People seldom get saved at the district office or the national office. Salvations take place at the local church.”

Meanwhile, Rita isn’t dragging her feet.

“God didn’t say it would be easy,” she says. “But obedience is always the right thing to do.”

Rita says she admires her husband because he doesn’t put on airs and he simply tries to live out who God created him to be.

“Whether he is in the pulpit or at home, what you see is what you get,” she says. “He’s led our family and the district in being real, in a world that sometimes is full of fakeness.”

In a special election Sept. 7, Gaylan Claunch was elected as the new North Texas District superintendent to replace DuBose. Claunch had been assistant superintendent.

Source: AG News

Former Missionary Leads Compassionate Relief Effort in Florida

Within hours after Hurricane Irma made landfall in Florida and brought devastation in its wake, Southeastern University professor Dr. Robert Houlihan was busy making sure essential supplies were on their way to the areas hardest hit.

Crossroads Alliance and Ministries, founded by Houlihan and Steve Ewing in 2005, coordinated the first plane on the scene in the Florida Keys, which experienced Irma as a Category 4 hurricane. Crossroads partnered with Aero Bridge, a group of private pilots, who flew the plane to a private airstrip, where local church members met to unload and distribute the supplies.

From September 13 to 16, over 25 flights had been loaded with supplies and flown around the state.

“Compassion is love in action. The church should be involved in word and deed. We always go where there is a need,” said Houlihan.

Crossroads was founded just a year after four hurricanes devastated Florida in 2004. Houlihan, professor of world missions at Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida, founded the nonprofit with Ewing after they realized a need for relief initiatives to help in times of disaster.

Houlihan served as a missionary with the Assemblies of God for 21 years in Japan, 11 years as the field director of Asia Pacific, and has taught at Southeastern since 2006.

The mission of Crossroads is to connect people in need with life essentials such as food, water, medical supplies, and education. In order to work in areas of need, Crossroads partners with local churches in the areas that have been affected.  

Crossroads receives donations from individuals, corporations, churches, and non-governmental organizations. The donations are then stored in their 250,000-square-foot warehouse before being distributed to areas in need.

Houlihan shares that Crossroads works primarily with churches. “Local churches are the key in the whole thing,” said Houlihan

In the same year that it was founded, Crossroads served as first responders, sending over 60 truckloads of supplies to Louisiana and Mississippi, areas that had been affected by Hurricane Katrina.

Crossroads was also highly involved in relief efforts in Haiti’s 2010 earthquake providing over 150 truckloads of supplies. The Royal Carribbean offered their ships to the organization in order to transport supplies from Florida to Haiti.  

Now, seven years later, with the devastation left by Hurricane Irma in the Caribbean and parts of Florida, Crossroads was one of the first to respond through providing food and water, as well as medical and baby supplies, to those in need.

When the first airplanes landed in the Lakeland Linder Airport, Houlihan, along with a group of Southeastern staff and students, helped unload supplies from the planes. The supplies were then loaded in a trailer and driven to Bayside Community Church’s Hardee Campus in Wauchula.

Soon after Irma hit Florida, FEMA designated Crossroads as the recipient of all of their donated products. The supplies were staged at their warehouse before they were transported south. So far, in addition to flying supplies to the Keys, they have sent more than 50 truckloads of supplies all across the state of Florida, and they do not plan on slowing down anytime soon.

Source: AG News

Meeting Inner-City Needs

An inner-city Assemblies of God church is meeting the spiritual and physical needs of Cleveland residents in an area where gangs, poverty, crime, drugs, and prostitution rule the streets.

A U.S. Missions Missionary Church Planter & Developer, Bob Willard, his wife, Judy, and their four children moved to Cleveland in 2010. The Willards soon started a Bible study that packed 20 people in their living room, plus an after-school program to reach out to children in the neighborhood.

The ministry served as the genesis for The Meeting Place Church (TMPC), which is “about meeting God, meeting people, and meeting needs,” according to Willard, who pastors the congregation. Willard says the church focuses on physical assistance — giving away food, clothing, and school supplies — in order to introduce people to God. TMPC typically draws about 35 people for Sunday services.

Earlier this year, Danae Evans, 22, accepted Jesus as Savior at the church. Evans has been attending TMPC for five months.

“Life has been much healthier and better since attending this church,” says Evans. “God hears me.”

In 2013, the house next door to the Willards went through foreclosure. Because of the house’s dilapidated condition, and finding favor with the director of the bank that owned it, Willard purchased the property for a mere $500. TMPC has been holding services at the residence since November 2015.

“We have since renovated the house and have many great stories of God’s provision,” says Willard, 56. “We use it 100 percent for ministry: church, after-school program, missions teams, outreach, and summer interns.”

This summer, the bank donated to the church another nearby foreclosed building, which previously served as a tavern.

“It was a quit claim deed,” Willard says. “No cost, no strings attached, just a free building!”

The structure is being remodeled, and when completed will feature the church’s main sanctuary, a Christian coffeehouse, Christian counseling services, and a community food pantry, according to Willard.

“I’m trusting the Lord to spark the hearts of believers to provide the resources and missions teams to help us transform this old tavern into a house of worship,” Willard says.

TMPC’s ministry to bring hope and restoration to the fractured families and broken lives of Cleveland’s east side is a tough challenge.

“Prostitution and drug dealing is rampant up and down the street,” Willard says. “We need continual prayer in this spiritual battle.”

Dan J. Miller, superintendent of the AG International Ministry Network, commends TMPC’s ministry.

“Bob and Judy Willard have cutting-edge vision that has taken them to the neediest part of Cleveland to reach those that have been abandoned by others,” Miller says. “The converted tavern, better known as the Tavernacle, is another chapter in bringing about community change and the gospel to the heart of the city.”

Missionary Church Planters & Developers Senior Director Darlene Robison also is a vocal supporter.

“The Willard family have followed the incarnational model of Christ, living among the people with love, generosity, and consistency,” Robison says. “They have been good stewards of everything God has placed in their hands, and the gift of this wonderful building will expand their capacity to serve.”
Source: AG News