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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...



AGTV Video
Connections: Malcolm Burleigh

God's Great Grace

Malcolm Burleigh is director of Intercultural Ministries for Assemblies of God U.S. Missions. He spoke recently with Evangel Editor Ken Horn.

evangel: No nation is more diverse than the United States, so your ministry is a wide-open field.
BURLEIGH:
Yes, it is. We have more than 250 missionaries ministering to a spectrum of groups in Puerto Rico, the continental United States, Alaska and Hawaii. They touch lives among Native Americans, Muslims, the disabled and many nationalities.

evangel: Could you tell us how your life journey led you to this ministry?
BURLEIGH:
Growing up, my siblings and I were all placed in foster homes. I lived in three homes. With difficult circumstances in the third home, I decided to leave and move back in with my mom when I was 17. But I left her home soon afterward, moved to Chicago and lived a criminal life. I was involved in strong-armed robbery and drug sales and was incarcerated at Cook County Jail in Chicago. I share that to say how great the grace of God is — not just to save one soul, but also to bring about plans and purpose to let that person change others.

I came to Christ because of my wife, Maria. She was saved in 1975. At first, I rebelled against it. I prohibited her from going to church, I refused to have a Bible in my house, and I immersed myself in a party lifestyle. But I was very focused on giving our kids a good education and enrolled them in a Lutheran school. To get a tuition discount, I had to let the family go to the Lutheran church. What I didn’t know was that Maria switched and started attending an Assemblies of God church.

I loved to watch Robert Schuller on TV. I loved how he communicated, even though I wanted nothing to do with Christianity. So one day Maria invited me to church and claimed I could meet someone who communicated as well as Robert Schuller. I went, and Pastor George Cope’s message on faith simply broke me. I went home wondering why I had wept. I went back, and at that second service I gave my life to the Lord.

I started in ministry teaching a Sunday School class for 3- and 4-year-olds with Maria. Then we ministered to the youth. I served on the deacon board. In 1984, my new job was eliminated. God used that circumstance to bring me into full-time ministry. Our church at that very time was looking for an associate pastor. I was offered that position, and we were there for seven years.

We came to this current position after pastoring one church in Florida for 18 years.

evangel: What is your vision for Intercultural Ministries?
BURLEIGH:
God has used the Assemblies of God to affect lives around the world. But our missions vision can never exclude the United States. Missions is global. When you read Acts, you see that the Great Commission targeted the home regions first. And now the United States has become a “foreign field,” with other nations sending their missionaries to reach the many immigrants living here. So I want to see an equal focus in the Assemblies of God on reaching this nation. This nation is our base, and as goes the base, so goes everything built upon it. This is where God has sent me.

 

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