that make the Fellowship great
Assemblies of God people are involved in faithful, innovative and
effective ministries around the world. Men, women and young people
are accepting Jesus Christ as Savior, seeing their lives transformed,
being delivered from drug and alcohol addictions, receiving tangible
care, and seeing their families restored.
This special edition
of Today’s Pentecostal
Evangel provides a thumbnail sketch of the many things
the church is doing right by sampling 25 of the Fellowship’s
ministries. These are not the “top” 25 ministries, and
the Assemblies of God is not the only church being used by God to
build His kingdom. These are merely examples of the countless innovative
ways believers are reaching people with the gospel. Some are well-known
ministries; others are everyday people working in relative obscurity.
But they are all effective.
1. Dentist donates
Dr. Robert Puleo just
returned from a HealthCare Ministries missions trip to India —
his 15th such venture around the globe in four years.
Although the dentist
in solo practice loses his income during the two-week trips, he
never has run into financial difficulties because of it.
“In the natural
it makes no sense, and a lot of my dentist friends don’t understand
why I go,” says Puleo, a member of The Church of The Hills
in Bedminster, N.J. “But God has blessed my business. I live
in the land of more than enough.”
Usually Puleo is the
only dentist on the trips and he sees an average of 115 patients,
whether it involves extractions, restorations or fillings. He also
has been to Lithuania, Vietnam, Egypt, Ghana, South Africa, the
Philippines, Mongolia and the Solomon Islands, paying his own way
While providing free
medical care to the needy, Puleo finds the trips to be fulfilling
God’s plan for his life. In addition, he says the relief from
everyday distractions allows him to hear clearly from God.
it so easy,” says Puleo, 45. “I just have to show up
and see patients.” Puleo and his wife, Sally, a nurse, have
Among his most rewarding
experiences on the trips, Puleo remembers a witch doctor in South
Africa who accepted Jesus as his Savior at a clinic outreach. Although
wealthy and influential in his small village, the shaman had come
to the outreach under extreme oppression, Puleo says. But he burned
his amulets on the spot and left with a wide smile.
2. Teen Challenge
transforms lives one at a time
Some have said if you
can make it in New York City, you can make it anywhere. The same
might be said of Teen Challenge, an Assemblies of God ministry that
has made an impact on countless lives.
Established in Brooklyn
in 1958 by David Wilkerson, the program emphasizes the “Jesus
Factor” as the key for substance-abuse rehabilitation.
is a powerful example of how the church can address social ills
in our society without compromising the gospel message,” says
Dave Batty, executive director of Teen Challenge in Brooklyn.
Batty, 54, believes the
best years are to come for TC. “The miracles that started
45 years ago are still happening — except now on a larger
Today, there are 184
centers nationwide, with many in major cities, and 372 additional
centers in 77 countries. A great number of those seeking help are
in their 20s. Yet there are 23 centers in the country that work
exclusively with teens.
Since Teen Challenge
began, more than 50,000 men and women have completed the program
domestically. Three major independent studies report that 70 to
86 percent of TC graduates continue to live a drug-free life after
leaving the program.
“I was so broken
and destroyed,” Elizabeth Smith, 41, says of her arrival at
Brooklyn’s TC center, noting she spent 24 years addicted to
heroin. “I had lost custody of my three sons. My fifth husband
was in prison.”
But she found hope at
“I was introduced
to Christ,” she says. “I knew if I was going to change
I needed to know Him better. I prayed, ‘God, make me a real
After graduating from
TC, Smith returned to Oklahoma City and attended seminary. Since
then she has been reunited with her family and now works in Christian
retailing. Of her new life she says, “I live with joy today.”
3. Windy City
outreach powered by Holy Spirit
For many U.S. soldiers,
Vietnam was a place of despair and death. For Spencer Jones, pastor
of Southside Tabernacle Church in Chicago, it was something entirely
It was a July day in
Vietnam in 1967 that Jones, now 57, was baptized in the Holy Spirit,
marking the spiritual high point during his tour of duty. “That
experience was a defining moment that radically changed my life,”
After returning from
Vietnam, Jones enrolled at Central Bible College in Springfield,
Mo. While there, he went on a summer missions trip to Chicago, a
city he feared, to help plant a church. Soon after his arrival,
the city and its people captivated his heart and mind. No longer
afraid, he returned twice for extended stays to minister at the
burgeoning church before accepting the pastorate in 1972.
Since then, the church,
located in a predominantly African-American working-class neighborhood,
has grown to more than 550 worshipers. Jones and his congregation
have had a positive impact on the community through evangelism,
prayer and discipleship.
“We reach into
the community,” says Jones, noting that he daily visits inner-city
schools to support and encourage teachers and students. Prayer warriors
gather at the church every Friday for prayer. Members of his congregation
also have joined forces with the Chicago Police Department to fight
crime. “We’re known in the community because we go to
the people and help,” Jones says. “Our passion is evangelism
and we thrive on building relationships.”
Reaching Chicagoans for
Christ dominates his thinking these days. “One church is not
going to reach every citizen in Chicago for Christ,” he admits.
“It’s going to take a number of progressive churches
to accomplish that.”
Today, Jones can’t
imagine living or ministering anywhere but the Windy City. “I
love this city and its people,” he says. “God couldn’t
have put me in a better place.”
4. It has the
feel of Korea.
When you enter Full Gospel
New York Church (Assemblies of God) in Flushing, New York, you enter
a world where 99 percent of the 4,000 attendees are Korean immigrants.
The church has focused on this once-neglected segment of the population
for some 26 years.
But this is not a culturally
closed, self-absorbed body. Far from it. FGNYC is in the forefront
of churches involved in local outreach and distant missions —
and the community has taken notice.
church is an outgrowth of the vision of Nam Soo Kim, pastor since
1977. The energetic Kim, himself an immigrant, takes special pains
to maintain an active church presence among New York’s burgeoning
Korean population through numerous ministries. Many FGNYC members
received their introduction to the church through its television
program. The program is not hard-sell gospel. Instead, it deals
with practical matters and trumpets the message “We’re
here to serve you.” The church focuses on being a friend of
the community — and that is how it is seen.
Members help underprivileged
families and Korean-speaking immigrants who are having difficulty
in their new English-speaking country. They supply rides for those
without transportation, serve as interpreters for people seeking
government assistance and help them fill out forms … many
things that English-speaking
people take for granted. A pastoral staff member oversees this ministry
and recently a social worker was added to the staff for this purpose.
One lady’s case
is typical. She lived alone and became extremely ill and unable
to care for herself. Full Gospel provided a volunteer who took her
to the doctor, prepared meals for her in her home and assisted her
in a number of other ways.
Sunday is a full day
of community outreach. Doctors, nurses and other experienced health
professionals staff a free medical clinic in special church offices.
The church’s lower level feeds an average of 1,000 people
and has gained the reputation of “New York’s largest
The week hums with ministry
as well. Full Gospel offers classes on health, nutrition, family
— even computers. This year a free summer school is being
For years the growing
church relied heavily on a large pastoral staff for the bulk of
the church’s ministry. That has changed. Lay ministry is now
the emphasis. No pastors were let go when Pastor Kim felt God moving
him in this direction. Instead, as pastors left the church for other
ministries (sometimes to plant new works supported by FGNYC) a hiring
freeze was put in place and ministries were gradually turned over
to the laity. A lay missions school continually develops lay leaders.
Two-thirds of the church meet in 115 cell groups.
Ministry does not stop
with reaching Koreans. Inspired by the history of American missionaries
ministering to children in his homeland, Pastor Kim has championed
two great overlapping causes — children and international
Through a partnership
with Mission of Mercy, FGNYC sponsors 2,000 children in Bangladesh,
India, Cambodia and elsewhere. Each church cell group supports children
overseas. The church recently completed the building of a school
in Honduras that opened in May and soon should have 1,000 students.
Pastor Kim calls Honduras
a “training camp” for missions. Some 500 people in the
church have gone there. Kim sees the Honduran school as an “experiment”
— a laboratory if you will — to inspire Christians and
show them they can have a tremendous influence on children at a
time in their lives when they are most likely to commit to Christ
and stay true to Him.
Kim believes in building
bases for ministry. (The church has another base in Ecuador.) A
base means long-term ministry and a ready place to go for people
to participate in missions.
“We need to build
schools,” says Kim, “and go to other countries that
have needs today like Korea faced.”
Among the places where
Full Gospel has built schools are Kenya (serving 500 children),
Bolivia (serving 600) and Ecuador (serving 2,000). Where children
are ministered to, Full Gospel also builds churches for the families
who come to Christ.
Kim tells his people
that seeing missions firsthand is far more valuable than just hearing
about missions. “Just for three days, go with me,” he
tells them. “You will change.”
The church has proven
this principle. Several years ago a group of laypeople returned
from a dynamic short-term missions trip to Brazil. Their enthusiasm
for missions was contagious and the missions vision of the church
quickly expanded. Now every layperson is encouraged to take at least
one missions trip. Missions giving to support children has exploded
from $50,000 to $500,000 annually. Recently, a group of seniors,
70-90 years old, was so moved they took a spontaneous offering of
more than $12,000 — enough to build six churches.
Full Gospel’s hands-on
missions program extends to many other countries, such as North
Korea. Five times members have returned to their homeland, sometimes
accompanied by A/G leaders such as General Superintendent Thomas
Trask. They bring medicine, food and necessities to orphanages,
hospitals and churches.
It is not surprising
that FGNYC itself is in a multi-million-dollar building project
that will enable them to more effectively meet the needs of their
community and other ministries. The first building, a gymnasium,
was just completed, while a main sanctuary seating 2,400 is due
for completion in November 2004.
Whether it is reaching
immigrants, touching their own community, or actively participating
in missions, Full Gospel New York Church is doing something right.
It is truly Korea in the United States reaching the world.