Connections: Gary Gunsolus
A New Role for U.S. Maps
Gary Gunsolus became the new church team and missionary associate representative for Assemblies of God U.S. Mission America Placement Service (MAPS) last year. Gunsolus, 57, recently visited with Pentecostal Evangel News Editor John W. Kennedy.
evangel: What is your role with MAPS?
GUNSOLUS: We are recruiting individual volunteers from the local church to assist with our main thrust of construction and evangelism. We have nonconstruction opportunities through the summer, and missionary associate programs.
We try to recruit college students or individuals who would go to a church or district-approved project and assist with construction. The project length ranges from a few days to a few weeks. Some students participate during their spring break.
evangel: How is this more effective than before?
GUNSOLUS: We process the paperwork, both for the project and the teams. We ask them to register through our office, whether it’s construction or nonconstruction. That way we can give them missions giving credit for their expenses. We ask teams to take an offering to assist with purchasing materials for the project. We’re recruiting and maintaining the project, staying in touch with the project leader about what the needs are.
evangel: Tell me more about the database your office is establishing.
GUNSOLUS: We’re offering to the local church for the first time an opportunity to become members of our church team network. We will process all paperwork in advance of going to a project, much like AG World Missions does. Once cleared, we issue a membership card that is good for two years. Through email, we contact members about the status of projects and when new projects come online, as well as what types of skills are needed. There are more than 1,300 active RV volunteers who form the flagship ministry of U.S. MAPS.
evangel: How did God call you into ministry?
GUNSOLUS: When I was 20, I was building an annex for Northwest Assembly of God [now Crystalrock Cathedral] in Ardmore, Okla. I was not a Christian. My goal in life was to be wealthy and retire young. The pastor befriended me, and I got saved in the process.
Two years later I went on my first missions trip and helped build three churches in nine days in Guatemala. Starting in 1977, I began doing MAPS projects, like constructing new buildings on college campuses and Native American reservations.
I entered full-time ministry in 1988 when I became pastor at Lone Grove [Okla.] Assembly of God. My wife, Linda, and I started full-time with U.S. MAPS in 1999, serving as southwest and south central regional missionaries.
evangel: You sensed that you would be doing this long ago.
GUNSOLUS: I was called to missions sitting under a lime tree in Guatemala in 1977. The Lord spoke to me about recruiting volunteers and assisting the local church in America in much the same way we assist and promote churches internationally. I wrote down 10 points. In 1999, [then U.S. MAPS Director] Pat Donadio handed me a job description for U.S. MAPS that was almost word for word what I had written down 22 years earlier.
evangel: Why do you find this rewarding?
GUNSOLUS: I simply believe there is an army of volunteers sitting in our local churches who, when presented with a need, will rise up to meet that need. It’s life changing to watch teams buy into what God is doing through short-term missions assignments across America.
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