19. Chi Alpha
makes Kingdom connections
Andrew Taylor admits
he had his doubts about associating with the local Chi Alpha chapter
at Sam Houston State University in Texas. Chi Alpha, the Assemblies
of God Home Missions outreach to secular campuses, had reached out
to Taylor through friendship evangelism. “I openly denied
any desire to practice Christianity,” Taylor says, “but
I couldn’t resist their invitations to hang out.”
Taylor’s life was
once filled with loneliness, paganism and a pluralistic worldview.
Today, he attributes his life-changing relationship with God to
the efforts made by Chi Alpha director Eli Gautreaux.
For Gautreaux, on a campus
of 13,000 students, young people like Taylor are not uncommon. They
present a new challenge, he says, in dealing with relativist, post-modern
thinking in which Jesus is OK, but so is everything else. This challenge
is something Gautreaux is focused on overcoming with discipleship
groups and relationship building in order to connect with students.
“Our small discipleship
groups are taking off,” says Gautreaux. “These are the
backbone of our ministry, and after years of investing in these
groups we are reaping the results.”
The results are a blossoming
ministry that is witnessing 400 students a week attending services
and 40 small groups. Since August 2002 this chapter has seen more
than 100 students embrace relationships with God, while others have
been called into full-time ministry.
Chi Alpha’s efforts
to reach out to students on secular campuses are creating life-changing
events for students such as Taylor.
“I am 100 percent
dedicated to the kingdom of God,” he says, “and pray
with every fiber in my body that my testimony can be a living one
to those who seek this love I know.”
training is passion for missionaries
Training pastors for
a growing number of churches in a formerly communist nation is a
primary concern for Kevin and Wendy Beery, U.S. Assemblies of God
missionaries to Bulgaria since 1994.
The Pentecostal Assemblies
of Bulgaria has grown from 35 to 600 churches since communism fell
in 1989, making it the largest Protestant church in the nation.
“We have about
100 pastors for the 600 churches.” Kevin Beery says. “Deacons
or interested laypeople are pastoring the remainder of the churches,
and most of them have had little or no biblical training.”
Beery, who is president
of the Sofia Pentecostal Bible College, opened in 1991, also is
coordinator of the Bulgaria Fire Bible project, sponsored by the
U.S. Assemblies of God Bible Alliance. According to Beery, the Fire
Bible (formerly known as the Full Life Study Bible) will be the
first complete study Bible published in Bulgarian. It will be a
tremendous help to pastors and believers in the areas of sermon
preparation and Bible study.
Serving as the only resident
missionaries in a nation of nearly 8 million people for the past
seven years, the Beerys have many additional responsibilities, including
ministry to local churches and hosting various ministry teams.
Wendy Beery, who authors
a column on marriage for a Bulgarian Christian newspaper, has started
an outreach to street children. “Beggar children often approach
cars at stoplights,” Wendy says. “When they come to
our car, we always have ready a croissant and a tract to hand to
21. Sunday school
is heart of this church
The leadership and congregation
of First Assembly in Fort Myers, Fla., believe God’s Word
transforms lives and causes churches to flourish. That’s why
Sunday school is at the heart of First Assembly’s ministry.
“Paul told Timothy
to ‘preach the Word,’ not preach about the Word, but
preach (teach) the Word,” says Pastor Dan Betzer, noting that
Sunday school thrives only if the pastor believes in it. “The
pastor must put Sunday school front and center with teacher training,
adequate facilities and sound Assemblies of God Pentecostal curriculum.
All of these contribute to a solid, growing Sunday school.”
According to Betzer,
Sunday school teachers should be prepared, enthusiastic, anointed
and creative in their approach. Doing so, he says, lets listeners
know the Bible is exciting and contains the instructions for abundant
living and eternal life.
has to change with the times,” says Doug Williams, Christian
education pastor at the church. “But it must not move away
from the Word.”
Each week more than 1
million people attend Sunday school in the Assemblies of God.
22. College value
evident in alumni
Kermit Bridges, president
of Southwestern Assemblies of God University in Waxahachie, Texas,
believes A/G colleges are having more of a positive impact today
than ever before.
“The evidence is
in our alumni,” says Bridges, 44, who was recently elected
to a second three-year term by a unanimous vote. “You can
see A/G alumni filling important roles in diverse fields around
the world. The challenge is to be relevant in a changing society,
yet remain planted in the Word of God.”
Bridges says Assemblies
of God colleges are doing more in order to be more effective in
training people for leadership in the ministry.
“Many A/G colleges,
such as SAGU, are accredited and go through the same rigors of academic
self-study and outside evaluation by accrediting bodies to prove
and maintain the quality of their academic programs,” he says.
“Secondly, we continue to adjust our academic offerings in
order to serve our constituency and provide a place of training
for those pursuing diverse callings and vocations.”
Bridges says more than
ever the world needs strong Christian leadership in every vocational
field. “Many A/G colleges are also tailoring their ministry
programs to meet the needs of the church in the 21st century,”
SAGU recently added a
church planting and revitalization degree, designed to prepare ministers
to help breathe new life into dying churches and be pioneers of
new churches around the world.
is a minister no matter your chosen vocation,” Bridges says.
“Our goal is to provide a well-rounded education focusing
not just on academics and professional development, but also on
the student’s spiritual, social and physical development.”
In the 2002-03 academic
year, more than 420 graduates received degrees from SAGU.
23. Regular outreaches
Mark and Marge Green
became followers of Jesus Christ after their son, Brandon, made
a salvation commitment while attending kindergarten at Life Center
Christian School and Academy, a ministry of First Assembly of God
Life Center in Tacoma, Wash.
us to this church is the outreach and the caring for the lost,”
says Marge, a secretary. “It’s the love they showed
us and others in the community.”
The Greens are involved
in a street ministry, which includes a Bible study led by Mark,
a carpenter. The church’s thrift store assists the street
ministry and workers in the school kitchen bake 450 cookies each
week for the homeless.
Brandon Green, now 22
and a U.S. Marine, is among Life Center’s Master’s Commission
The church, which averages
3,750 worshipers on Sundays, celebrates its 85th anniversary this
year. Fulton Buntain has been pastoring there for 38 years.
Buses bring hundreds
from the inner city and elsewhere to a Saturday children’s
Super Club program. Two gymnasiums accommodate youth ministry. Five
hundred junior high youth gather each Friday for “Impact”
meetings that include skateboard ramps, games and a gospel message.
Life Christian School
and Academy has 1,100 students in kindergarten through 12th grade.
More than 200 residents enjoy independent and assisted living at
the church’s retirement community.
Life Center has mothered
several churches, including a Slavic church of 830 members and a
500-member Spanish church that meets on the grounds on Sunday afternoons.
A vital part of the ministry,
Buntain says, is their television program, Introduction to Life,
which airs the Sunday morning worship service weekly.
Every outreach is built
on more than numbers. The foundation of Life Center ministries is
a 1,600-member prayer team.
24. Sun City
church reaching senior adults
Sun City, Ariz., is one
of the largest retirement communities in the nation, with about
40,000 residents. In a community where the average age is about
70, Pastors Mel and Pat Holmquist and the 300-member congregation
of Evangel Church Assembly of God have accepted the challenge of
sharing Jesus Christ with as many senior adults as possible.
the chances of someone coming to Christ begin to diminish after
a certain age, but we’ve seen many seniors receive salvation,”
says Mel Holmquist. “The age of a person doesn’t matter
to God; it only matters that the person comes to know Him through
His Son Jesus Christ. We see a number of deathbed conversions each
One couple came to a
Sunday morning service at Evangel because they wanted to make a
public confession of their newfound faith in Christ. Afterward,
Holmquist asked if they preferred to postpone water baptism for
a few months until the new church facility and baptismal were completed.
The man decided against delaying his baptism because he wasn’t
sure he’d be alive when the new facility opened. He was baptized,
then passed away one week before the opening.
Since the church’s
inception in 1972, personal care, prayer and missions have been
key components of Evangel’s outreach.
Each week members of
the congregation conduct 10 church services in nursing homes. In
addition, the pastoral staff and church members visit shut-ins and
those who’ve been hospitalized. Sending get-well cards and
visiting people in their homes are also priorities.
At weekly prayer meetings,
members intercede for residents of Sun City and for missions endeavors
around the world.
“We must be missions
minded,” says Holmquist, “or we are not doing what God
has called us to do.”
The congregation has
reached beyond the borders of their own city, sponsoring missionaries
in the United States and around the world. Evangel has also planted
a church in Surprise, Ariz. (see page 26 for details) and helped
plant another church in North Glendale.
provide stability in volatile nation
As believers in the United
States embraced the Pentecostal message in the early 20th century,
God called some to fulfill the Great Commission thousands of miles
from their home. These early pioneers not only planted the seed
of God’s Word in the hearts of new believers, they implanted
a passion for the lost in their children. Wayne and Sylvia Turner
have served God in the Democratic Republic of Congo for more than
three decades as Assemblies of God missionaries. But their ministries
began many years before as they ministered alongside their parents
— Wayne in Africa, Sylvia in the Philippines.
The Turners have weathered
civil unrest, war, evacuations, coups, monetary devaluations, rampant
disease and disappointments. But they never have wavered from God’s
call to serve in Central Africa. Whatever the need in the national
church, they have put their hand to the task and pressed toward
its completion. Wayne has been involved in all aspects of the work
at Kinshasa Bible Institute. He has taught classes, served as principal
and administrator, constructed buildings and mentored hundreds of
Congolese pastors. Sylvia has organized women’s Bible study
groups, taught and directed music at the Bible school, led worship
seminars and assisted the national church in television and radio
productions. Both missionaries have played an important role in
developing relationships with the national church.
Although other locations
in Africa are safer, the Turners will continue to minister in the
DRC by influencing believers, training pastors and assisting the
growing national church.