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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. ...

Open Doors to the Community

By Scott Harrup
July 3, 2011

Home to some 12,000 people, Excelsior Springs, Mo., has grown significantly in its 130-year history but remains small enough for name and face recognition just about anywhere you go.

Which makes it doubly hard on law enforcement and rescue personnel when tragedy strikes.

“Many of our firefighters and police officers are young people,” says Pastor Larry Block of First Assembly of God. “Often, when they go on scenes, they find their classmates are the victims.”

Block is at those scenes himself. As Excelsior Springs’ first chaplain to serve the fire and police departments, he has ministered under the most tragic circumstances since his appointment in 2002. Word of his service garners invitations to assist departments in neighboring towns as well.

The 67-year-old grandfather of 10 looks back on half a century of ministry.

“I thought I was in the community all my years as a pastor, and I spent 10 years as an evangelist on the road full time,” Block says. “But the open doors for ministry in the community for chaplaincy are a thousandfold.”

Chaplain (and deputy sheriff) Jose Rendon, 61, of Florida’s Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, concurs. Rendon, an Assemblies of God minister, has been with the sheriff’s department since 1985 following ministry and law enforcement experience in New York City. He accepted an appointment to the Community Relations Unit in 2005.

“Because I’m also a chaplain,” Rendon says, “it plays a great role, because in community relations I deal a lot with AG churches and other churches. I go to their meetings and address those problems that arise within different communities. And I’m only a couple of buttons away from pastors who can call and tell me if they’re having a problem.”

A long-time teacher of English as a second language, Rendon is adept at promoting communication between Florida’s newest foreign arrivals and the churches and other community organizations under his watch. The Puerto Rican-born chaplain maintains ministry connections across Latin America as well.

“I partner with AG missionaries on the field or with pastors here in the U.S. who are visiting a country and invite me along,” he says. “Sometimes a pastor in Florida will refer my name to a pastor in Central America, and that pastor invites me.”

Rendon has ministered in Guatemala, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico and Argentina and been invited to advise law enforcement in establishing chaplaincy programs in Nicaragua and Colombia.

While serving greater Excelsior Springs, Block pursues personal outreach as well. Early in his chaplaincy service, one such connection materialized out of tragedy.

A young man committed suicide, and the man’s brother found him.

“It traumatized the brother,” Block says. “He became an alcoholic and drug addict to the point where he couldn’t work or drive. I would go and see him every day for prayer, and this went on for several months.”

After about a year of Block’s personal intervention, the brother became alcohol and drug free.

“He just contacted me a few weeks ago,” Block says. “He’s getting married. God has completely delivered him from the mental stress of the suicide. In the process, his mother and three aunts all gave their lives to Jesus.”

Chaplain Rendon tells of the deputy who earnestly asked him to step outside one day at work to share a need.

“He’s Jewish,” Rendon recalls, “but he said to me, ‘I don’t care who you pray to. I have two kids, and I’m facing surgery for cancer. I need you to pray.’”

A few days later, the officer received a good report from the surgery.

“He praises the Lord,” Rendon says. “He hasn’t committed his life to Christ yet, but we’re in the same office now, and he sees me all the time.”

Beyond local fire and police departments, Assemblies of God chaplains minister in diverse areas such as hospitals, rodeos, truck stops, the military and prisons. Consider these statistics:

• U.S. prisons and jails hold 3 million people.

• 7,000 hospitals average 970,000 patients per day.

• 15,000 people live and work at racetracks.

• 2 million truckers cross the nation’s highways.

• More than 2 million men and women serve in the military.

• 30 million rodeo fans attend local and national events.

• Some 2,700 homeless shelters and rescue missions serve 650,000 people each day.

• More than 8 million bikers represent a steadily growing ministry field.

• 28 million people receive mental heath treatment or counseling.

“Chaplaincy Director Al Worthley is an encourager and is excellent in getting people started in this ministry,” Block says. “We believe in the chaplaincy ministry, and he was such a big help in getting me into it. He’s visited my city several times and encouraged me greatly.”

To learn more about Chaplaincy Ministries, visit To stay up to date on Chaplaincy news, follow @AGChaplaincy on Twitter or the Chaplaincy page on Facebook.

SCOTT HARRUP is managing editor of the Pentecostal Evangel.

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