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2002 PE Report stories

Congregations demonstrate weekly prayer yields results (December 30, 2001)

L.A. Dream Center, Angelus Temple make history, reach more with merge (December 16, 2001)

Rain, gang doesn't halt impact of newly formed congregation (December 9, 2001)

Women urged to minister hope at global gathering (November 25, 2001)

Volunteers meet needs at Pentagon cleanup (November 18, 2001)

Fear, uncertainty open window of opportunity for evangelism (November 11, 2001)

'Jump for Jesus' raises $40,000 for STL (October 21, 2001)

Widows, single mothers gain practical blessings (October 14, 2001)

Five new executive presbyters elected (September 30, 2001)

Credit card 'freedoms' tempt college students (September 16, 2001)

Fellowship, nation show ethnic makeup changes (August 26, 2001)

Congregations extend a hand, spread gospel after tropical storm (August 19, 2001)

Single-parent families find hope at camp (August 12, 2001) caught in middle of culture war (July 22, 2001)

Pentecostal World Conference looks toward future cooperation (July 13, 2001)

Crossover Community Church ministers to hip-hop culture (July 8, 2001)

Prison chaplain hooked on ministry (June 24, 2001)

National Singles team convenes, plans regional conferences (June 17, 2001)

Children's ministries take center stage (June 10, 2001)

U.S. Christians trek to Israel despite news reports of danger (May 27, 2001)

A/G ministries combat eating disorders (May 20, 2001)

Mobilizing laity leads to church growth (May 13, 2001)

Fellowship convenes conference for women (April 29, 2001)

14,547 'honored guests' attend Convoy of Hope outreach in Dallas (April 22, 2001)

Hollywood sends wrong signals on teen smoking (April 15, 2001)

Iowa community faces unique challenges (April 8, 2001)

Churches support ministries to lead youth out of lifestyle (March 25, 2001)

English lessons reach Chinese with gospel (March 18, 2001)

A/G church, police, schools partner for strong community (March 11, 2001)

Church uses 'human hunt' as evangelism tool for teens (February 25, 2001)

Ministering in the fast lane (February 18, 2001)

Abstinence education saves lives, futures (February 11, 2001)

Donated food helps Convoy of Hope extend hand around the world (January 21, 2001)

American Indian College students impact boarding school (January 14, 2001)

2000 News Digest stories

Fear, uncertainty open window of opportunity for evangelism

(November 11, 2001)

Many Assemblies of God pastors across the country have been preaching with a new fervency since the September 11 terrorist attacks upon New York City and Washington, D.C.

The tragedy has impacted the United States in myriad ways, including how people view religion and morality. Church attendance spiked beyond Easter levels. Military personnel rushed to marry before shipping out. News Web sites displaced pornography as the most frequent reason to use the Internet. Bible sales shot up. President Bush, star athletes and movie stars invoked the name of God on television. Divorce case dismissals soared. The prohibition against prayers in schools and government offices suddenly seemed unimportant.

Millions of workers attended church services on their lunch hours that first week. Congregations opened their doors to allow people to cry out to the Lord. Spontaneous community prayer gatherings demonstrated unity among Christian groups. While many pastors say such a departure from the norm is likely to be short-lived, the shock of the terrorist strikes and the subsequent uncertainty of a prolonged war have created an unprecedented openness for evangelism.

Paul C. Kirk, pastor of Timbercreek Assembly in Springfield, Mo., has implored his congregation to boldly evangelize non-Christian friends and relatives while the window of opportunity exists.

"Some of these changes are temporary," Kirk says. "For example, our nation’s open attitude toward prayer in public and our quest for help from our God exist but for a small time."

"I’ve told my people this is the greatest platform they’ll ever have in their lifetime to share the gospel," says Bill Wilson, pastor of Portland (Ore.) Christian Center. Wilson says he makes sure that he provides an opportunity for salvation at every service as the number of non-Christian visitors has swelled.

Feelings of uncertainty and insecurity ran high, especially in Washington, D.C. "A lot of people realized that the plane that went down in Pennsylvania could have hit here," says Pastor Mark A. Batterson, whose National Community Church is four blocks from the U.S. Capitol. In the midst of fear, Batterson has been preaching that refuge may be found in a relationship with Jesus Christ.

National Community Church had a record attendance of 430 the Sunday after the calamity. "People who wouldn’t typically attend church were looking for a place to find hope and solace," Batterson says. Church members offered spontaneous prayers at a candlelight vigil near the Capitol on the night of the tragedy.

Todd Hudnall, pastor of First Assembly of God in Lufkin, Texas, says almost 2,100 people came to the church the Sunday after the attack, 500 more than usual. The service included an extended prayer time at the altar. "With the ongoing war on terrorism, there is a greater sense of our need for God," Hudnall says. "I’ve sensed a greater unity in our church than I’ve felt in a long time. A lot of petty stuff doesn’t matter anymore."

Dennis Lacy, pastor of Calvary Assembly of God in Atlanta, helped to organize an interfaith community prayer service the week after the terrorist strikes. The church also is producing 30-second television commercials that deal with apprehension. "They dramatize God’s answers to our fears," Lacy says.

Fifteen national Christian leaders, including Assemblies of God General Superintendent Thomas E. Trask, Focus on the Family founder James C. Dobson and Campus Crusade for Christ founder Bill Bright issued a "Biblical Response to America’s National Emergency." The appeal urges Christians to "repent of our past path of sin."

The appeal calls the catastrophe a defining moment for the church. "Seldom, in the history of our country, have people been as open to the gospel," the statement says. The leaders urge Christians to pray and fast in order to turn the tragedy into revival.

For a revival to happen, people will need to rely on the Lord daily, not just in times of crisis, Wilson says. "The initial response of churches filling up was out of fear," he says. "I hope that serves as a catalyst for spiritual renewal rather than people going back to their old ways."

"The planes penetrated more than steel and concrete; they penetrated hardened hearts," Kirk says. "May we with compassion and boldness deliver the help that the world needs most, the Lord Jesus Christ."

– John W. Kennedy

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