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Michigan church bounces back from the brink of closing

In the mid-1980s Christian Celebration Center, then known as Midland A/G, in Midland, Mich., was near closing, says Pastor Joel Stocker. But through prayer, strong Bible-based teaching and an ongoing infusion of new believers the church has bounced back.

"What looked like a disaster, God has made a work of beauty that has become a great Pentecostal church," says Thomas E. Trask, general superintendent of the A/G.

Today, more than 800 attend, with people accepting the Lord almost every Sunday service.

When Stocker arrived in 1986, the church was in turmoil. It had recently gone through two pastoral changes and was completing a $1.2 million building project, which included a 1,200-seat auditorium, though only 325 attended the church.

"We really needed 500 to 600 people just to keep the doors open," says Stocker. "But we stuck to the basics and God kept things from us that we couldn’t handle and gave us things bit by bit that we could."

As the church focused on reaching the unsaved and developed a renewed urgency for missions, it became healthy and began to grow. Today, more than 800 attend Sunday services. Almost every Sunday, says Stocker, people accept the Lord at the church’s altars. Recently, the church celebrated by burning its mortgage; and for this past year, the church gave $435,000 to missions, which is up from $10,000 in 1986.

"We are here to reach the lost," says Stocker. "The congregation erupts in applause when people come forward for salvation because they know that is the end result of why we gather together."

— Kirk Noonan

 

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