15. In Southern
Asia, it’s ministry by example
In a remote village of Southern
Asia’s Himalayan Mountains, Doug Jacobs shares with the small group
that has gathered. For the next week, he will teach and encourage believers
in the area. He and his family will eat and live as the locals do, with primitive
surroundings and no modern conveniences. They wouldn’t want to be anywhere
Since 1996, Jacobs, his wife, Ramona,
and their two children, Meredith and Luke, have called this area home. They
talk passionately about their love for the people and the specific call God
gave them to work here. “When we read about this area in an unreached
peoples guide, the Holy Spirit gave us an extremely intense burden of intercession,”
Doug recalls. In 1995, he came for a visit. “As soon as I got off the
plane, I felt at home.”
At first the family settled in
the capital city. But a church leader challenged them to look to the villages
where the majority of the people lived. “We realized then that our message
is not only in what we say, but also in what we do.” Soon the family
began trekking to remote villages to build relationships. “On one trip,
the locals assured me that my family would only have to cross one mountain
river. What they didn’t tell us was that we would have to cross the
same river nine times,” Doug says with a laugh. But the journey was
worth the effort. The handful of believers in the village has grown into a
The family’s willingness
to join hands and hearts with a remote, largely forgotten people has won them
the respect of many across this rugged land. They are not willing to simply
share the gospel by their words; they share it by their lives.
ministry feeds physical, spiritual needs
One Saturday in 1994, a few friends
handed out 25 bags of groceries from the back of a pickup truck.
Since then, Convoy of Hope has
spread its message of compassion around the world. More than 3 million bags
of groceries have been distributed in the United States and some 50 countries.
In the United States alone, more
than 800,000 people have received free food at 300 major citywide outreaches.
An average of 75 churches participate in the one-day events, which often bring
together white, black, Hispanic and Asian congregations that usually aren’t
involved in joint projects.
Convoy events rally local church
members to make a difference in the lives of the poor, from shaking hands
to cooking hot dogs.
“Convoy of Hope provides
a framework to release compassion to people in need,” says Mike Ennis,
executive vice president. “Volunteers can make an incredible difference.”
The focus of each Saturday event
is the “honored guest,” who is valued in the eyes of God regardless
of economic status.
The groceries — two bags
with 14 nonperishable items — are a lifeline to working poor families.
Many have costly medical bills and little to eat. However, the ministry is
about more than just physical food. Every participant has the opportunity
to hear the gospel. Local pastors take turns sharing a short message with
guests. So far, an estimated 160,000 guests have responded to altar calls
for salvation. Combined with overseas outreaches, about 500,000 have indicated
a desire to follow Christ.
Guests may partake in everything
from a free haircut to a children’s carnival. Dozens of health professionals
— including physicians, dentists and pharmacists — donate their
time and services.
The evening of the event, those
who signed salvation response cards receive a call inviting them to a participating
church closest to their home the next day. “We really want to connect
hurting people to local churches that can provide ongoing care and nurturing,”
Ennis says. “These churches can become a spiritual family to them.”
plants win souls
To Doug McAllister
and Paul Drost, planting new churches is vital to the future of
the Assemblies of God.
“New churches win more converts
than most older established works,” says McAllister, a church planter
who pastors The Harvest, a 2,000-strong congregation in Slidell, La. “New
churches carry a sense of passion and purpose. Because they do not have established
ways of doing ministry, it is easier for them to adopt new and effective methods
to reach their community.
“Church planting impacts
the Fellowship by challenging all ministers to grow and develop our ministries.”
“Church planting impacts
the A/G because church plants often introduce new ideas and ways of doing
ministry,” says Drost, director of the Fellowship’s Church Planting
Department since 1999. “Fuller Seminary did a study that found that
church plants are the most effective form of evangelism.”
Drost, 51, says one of the greatest
needs of church planters is for other congregations and pastors to support
and encourage them.
“There is a rising tide of
interest in the United States,” says Drost. “Around the world,
it is considered normal and desirable for churches to plant churches and for
young men and woman to plant churches. As the A/G embraces and desires to
start new churches, God’s blessings will flow on us because His blessings
always flow where His heart is. Church planting is the future and hope of
the A/G. As we become a church planting movement we will grow in effectiveness
and move from addition to spiritual multiplication.”
18. Small groups
promote church togetherness
Small groups have been a part of
Christ’s Place in Lincoln, Neb., since the Assemblies of God congregation
began 27 years ago. Today, more than 500 of the church’s 1,200 attendees
are part of a group.
“The small groups are a balance
between the large group celebration on a Sunday and the need for accountable
relationships in a more intimate context,” says David Baltes, 40, small
groups and ministry development pastor.
At Christ’s Place, where
David W. Argue is senior pastor, attendees have the opportunity to join at
different levels. The beginning stage is for those merely seeking friendships,
where relationships form based on common interests such as volleyball, ministry
tasks or a monthly fellowship meal. Participants progress and move into discipleship
gatherings, intense Bible study groups and ultimately to leadership development.
By the time people reach the top level, they are ready to use their ministry
gifts in the church and community.
Groups range from half a dozen
to 15 members and meet for about two hours in homes, on the church complex
and at other sites. Groups meet weekly or biweekly in lieu of a Wednesday
Christ’s Place has more than
50 different home groups. Some are designed to meet for a specific short-term
purpose such as divorce recovery or financial management. Others meet for
years, including home schooling moms and men’s accountability groups.
Over time, group members become
close, providing practical ministry support to each other in times of crisis,
just as a family would do.
great value in community,” Baltes says. “People are
really looking to be a part of a community even before making
a commitment to become a Christian.”