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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. ...



Connections: Robert Michels

Child and Maternity Care

Robert Michels serves as administrator of Assemblies of God Family Services Agency (AGFSA). Michels brings more than 20 years of experience to the Agency’s childcare ministries and is keenly aware of the challenges facing today’s children, youth and families. From 1991 to 1999, Michels and his wife, Mary, served as administrators to Highlands Child Placement Services and Maternity Home. Mary is a licensed AG minister and serves as AGFSA media/promotions coordinator. Michels was appointed director of the former national AG Benevolences office in 1999 and as AGFSA administrator in 2005. The Michels’ ministry has a distinct missions emphasis: compassion, care for children and orphans, evangelism, discipleship, and restoring broken lives and families. They have two married daughters and four grandchildren. Recently, Robert Michels spoke with Managing Editor Scott Harrup.


evangel: Briefly describe the partnering ministries that come under the umbrella of AGFSA.
MICHELS:
AGFSA includes three ministries. Hillcrest Children’s Home, begun in 1944, ministers to orphans and abused children. Highlands Child Placement Services and Maternity Home offers pregnancy care in a residential ministry. The Assemblies of God Family Services Adoption Agency coordinates adoptions related to Hillcrest and Highlands through AGFSA.


evangel: How would you describe the growing need for these ministries?
MICHELS:
The need for residential services for abused and orphaned children continues to grow. I believe Christians need to step in and take care of children who have been placed in foster care, and we need to move one step beyond and adopt those children. More and more children need adoption and foster care throughout the U.S., and we need to urge our churches to move toward adoption and orphan ministry.

The demand for residential maternity care is not growing, but certainly has not vanished. Cultural changes are sending the message that it’s OK to be pregnant and remain home and continue your regular life. Girls come to us, however, for safety and protection to get away from an abusive situation, whether it’s a dysfunctional family or an abusive boyfriend.

We continue to look for ways to help young people who are struggling to cope. We’ve opened up the Highland’s ministry for bulimics. We have recognized the need within our churches to care for mild eating disorders, and we have had wonderful success cases with bulimics.


evangel: You’re involved in a building program. How will that project increase your effectiveness?
MICHELS:
The building program is designed to help two different publics. The children who age out of the Hillcrest Ministry and desire to go to trade school, junior college or four-year university will have a place to come back to and stay. And we’ll be able to house young mothers after birth with their child when they don’t have a place to go. They’ll have an apartment to go to immediately for six to nine months while we transition them. The 18,000-foot building will offer 24 apartments.


evangel: Can you describe a family scenario in which your team has intervened?
MICHELS:
One mother was on crack, and the court placed her two daughters here. Those daughters have been here a couple of years now. The court has refused repeated attempts to get them back because the mother continues to test positive for drug use. However, the children are involved musically at school. In fact, the oldest child is a member of the Hot Springs Symphony Orchestra.


evangel: What role can we play in AGFSA’s mission?
MICHELS:
James 1:27 calls on us to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep ourselves from being polluted by the world. Scripture is clear that as followers of Christ — in regard to orphans, the fatherless, widows, abused children of the world — we have to take care of them. And that kind of care can come from adoption, from sponsoring an orphan, through residential care and foster care, and through short-term missions trips and other ministry projects. Visit our website for more information: agfamilyservices.org.

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