By: Rev. Sharon Frank | EMW Network Coordinator
We just came through the season of people proclaiming “Joy to the World”. And rightly so, for we celebrated God coming so we could experience His presence and hope.
This issue proclaims “Joy to You!”. We get to serve a great and powerful God. As Oswald Chambers wrote; “Joy means the perfect fulfillment of that for which I was created and regenerated, not the successful doing of a thing. The joy our Lord had lay in doing what the Father sent Him to do. We all have to find our niche in life and spiritually we find it when we receive our ministry from the Lord. In order to so this we must have companied with Jesus; we must know Him as more than a personal Savior. Have I received a ministry from the Lord? If so, I have to be loyal to it, to count my life precious only for the fulfilling of that ministry.”
We find joy because we are secure. We have daily assurance and reassurance. God, You dwell with us, are close to us, understand us, speak to us. You are the one and only, so we don’t have to guess who or what is right. We are comfortable and secure within the boundaries. What boundaries? Grace and truth. Grace? Yes, the grace we count on that You will accept us, forgive us and then go on to bless, guide, provide and use us.
To cultivate joy in ministry, cultivate an attitude of gratitude. Each day write down specific things you are thankful for– a single opportunity or blessing of ministry. It will not only focus you on the way God is moving but also focus you toward thankfulness that God is using you to accomplish it. Even if the situation is not totally positive, it still points to the fact that God is present and moving.
As you read the following articles, may your joy of ministry be renewed and challenged to grow.
By: Maydee Cooper | Niagara Falls AG
My husband and I are currently pastoring Niagara Falls Assembly of God.
Prior to that we were the founding pastors of Destiny Christian Center in Syracuse, NY. During our 14 years of ministry there, we fell in love with all the people, who allowed us to become part of their family and they became part of ours. We truly believed that we would be there forever but the Lord had different plans and called us to Niagara Falls. The moment we accepted the pastorate at Niagara Falls we gained a whole new family, who is just as loving and kind as the family we had in Syracuse.
Like all families, it is made up of all kinds of people. Some are pure gems. Others are challenging. Some are hard to love and yes there are those who seem to like to give you a hard time. But family is family and your congregation is the family that God has entrusted to your care.
The Bible tells us that there is great value in being part of a church family. Acts 2:42 says “All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals, and to prayer (NLT).”
It is in this family that:
We study God’s Word together — A church family provides consistent Bible teaching. This often comes through small groups, Bible studies, teaching from the pastor, Sunday school lessons, and so on. The church family is called to grow spiritually together, spurring one another on. 2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is inspirited by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right (NLT).”
We find accountability — The church provides a practical framework for accountability. Once relationships grow and friendships form, there is someone to encourage you, rebuke you when necessary, and rejoice with you. Proverbs 27:17 says, “Iron sharpens iron; so, man sharpens his friend’s countenance.” Accountability is crucially important in the battle to overcome sin, and the church family is a great place to find someone to pray with, talk to, and confide in.
We find support during our trials — When trials come, a support system is crucial. When in need, you will want your brothers and sisters in Christ to uphold you in prayer and assist with practical needs like meals, cleaning, and childcare. Galatians 6:2 encourages us to “carry each other’s burdens.”
That brings me to this point. Let your congregation minister and pray for you. They need to see that you are a real person, with real needs. This speaks so much to your congregation in that they can relate to you and see that you are not a superhuman!
We gain opportunities for service — Encourage people to serve one another. This is not only within the church, but also within your community as well as ministries outside of the church. Working together on a service project can bring unity while serving God. Ephesians 6:7 says, “Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people.”
My parents moved to Niagara Falls with us and both have become ill at the same time. My focus is their needs and I am a very busy woman running around with them to doctor appointments or errands/grocery shopping, etc. The few times my husband and I have gone on vacation, the church offers to take care of my parents’ needs. This has blessed my husband and me because we can go, knowing that if something happens, the church is there to take care of them in our absence.
We make disciples —The church family also gives us the opportunity to serve and disciple others. “Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching”(Hebrews 10:25).
If you are finding it challenging to love your congregation, ask God to give a new heart and to revive your love for them. Every one, even those who are challenging, those who are hard to love, and those who seem to like to give us a hard time have the potential to become a mighty man / woman of God, who can do something great for God. May God help us to look beyond the outside and see the diamond that is inside them.
This is your family, concentrate on the “wins” of ministry and keep your eyes focused on what God has called you to do and why He has called you to do it, for His Glory!
By: Rev. AnnaLee Conti | Retired Minister
Looking back over forty years of ministry ...
in New York in three churches, I can see the hand of God leading us every step of the way. I grew up in a missionary family. My grandparents were the first AG missionaries to Alaska (1917-1982). My parents followed in their footsteps. I participated actively in their ministry. From childhood, I felt called to ministry.
My husband, Bob, was a career Army officer. In Vietnam, he came to understand the universal nature of sin. While we were stationed in Rhode Island, the only AG church in Providence (a city of over a million) was one tiny congregation that met in a large house.
During our 2 years there, Bob was baptized in the Holy Spirit and elected to the board. We helped that congregation purchase a church building and grow to 200. When we were transferred, Bob knew God was calling him to resign his commission and plant churches in the Northeast.
After 4 ½ years at CBC and AGTS, we went to Gloversville, NY, in 1977, to plant a church. With no people, building, or parsonage but with the certainty that God had called us there, we put an announcement in the local newspaper.
We held services on the second floor of the YMCA but were not allowed to have the outside door unlocked during services. Our 6-year-old son stood at the door to let people in. When Bob went out of his way to minister to a sick YMCA resident, the director changed that restriction.
People in Gloversville had never heard of the AG. They thought we were a cult. The newspaper wouldn’t include us on the church page because we didn’t have a building. When a prominent local businessman, husband of a shut-in we’d been ministering to, noticed that, he paid a visit to the editor. “If you don’t put Rev. Conti’s church on the church page, I’ll withdraw my financial support and pay for his ad.” The next week, Glove Cities AG was on the church page.
After 2 years, the congregation grew to 60. We bought a parsonage, and the historic Kingsboro Church became available to us. We continued to pray and struggle for several more years.
The Sunday morning a grandma, Sara, joined the church, attendance was the lowest we’d had since the beginning, but she was trembling with joy. The Holy Spirit moved on Bob, and he prophesied that the church would grow. The next Sunday, 50 people showed up, many we’d never seen there before. The next week, 70 came, the next week, 90. Before long, the congregation had grown to 200. People were being saved, baptized, and discipled. We bought the building for $25,000 cash.
Starting that church was hard. When we first arrived, there was a thriving Charismatic church. Soon, though, it disintegrated as terrible abuses came to light. What the city needed was a stable full-gospel church to pick up the pieces.
It takes time to build trust and stability. When you construct a building, the foundation is the most important part. For a long time, it looks like nothing is happening until suddenly the structure begins to take shape. Oh, the joy that comes as God builds His Church, and we see lives changed! Our greatest joy is knowing that we played a part.
Our most joyful memories are of the people God gave us: Dominick, the red-headed Italian, half Bob’s size, called himself “small but mighty.” He became our first deacon, even though it meant giving up drinking wine. His wife, Barbara, loved teaching the primary class. His sister, Emily, got saved after the tragic disappearance of her 21-year-old daughter. With her gift of evangelism and her testimony, she brought many people to the Lord.
Marion mothered us all and exuberantly played her autoharp and sang, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine…” and “He poured in the oil and the wine….” Her husband, Arch, told Bob he’d never go to church again, yet the next Sunday he came and eventually became a deacon. When the church council wrestled with a nasty problem, he offered his earthy wisdom, “It’s like garbage—the more you stir it, the more it stinks!”
Dick became our worship leader and acted the part of Jesus so convincingly in our production of Dallas Holmes’s “His Last Days” that several got saved. Shy Sara became another grandma to our son as she babysat him so we could attend fellowship meetings.
My grandfather used to say, “You can’t have a testimony without a test.” Just as Psalm 30:5 promises, “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning,” some of our greatest joys followed times of severe testing.
Ministry is worth it. I wouldn’t trade it for anything!
By: Rev. Eileen Howarth | Associate Pastor | Calvary Assembly of God, Staten Island
When reading the Scriptures about how Jesus went about healing all who came to Him with infirmities, have you ever wished you could be right there, an eye witness, to these signs and wonders? Everywhere that Jesus went He healed the sick; gave sight to the blind; healed those that were deaf; set free those who were bound by demons and raised the dead! Marvelous signs and wonders were happening all around those that followed Him.
Jesus said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.” John 14:12. Jesus told His disciples that He would send another to be with them. His Holy Spirit would fill us and use us for His honor and glory!
When we surrender our hearts and ask Him to be our Lord and Savior, He comes in ALL His Glory and fills us with His Holy Spirit. The same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead is now alive and working in us and through us! When we realize the awesome work of the Holy Spirit operating through us, we will see signs and wonders. We will see the evidence that He is alive and still doing miracles today! He is the same yesterday, today and forever.
When you are blessed and given the privilege of being an eye witness to the moving of His Spirit, you too, will see blind eyes opened; demon possessed set free; all manner of sickness gone in Jesus Name, so that He alone will be glorified. No man can do what Jesus can do and we must surrender to His Spirit and allow Him to move in us. We will know, with assurance, that we had nothing to do with the outcome, for we can do nothing on our own, but in Him and through Him ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE!
It is a humbling experience to witness the touch of the Master’s hand upon someone. When we fast and pray asking that His Spirit lead and guide our steps, we find that He will order our steps and He will lead us to the hurt and broken in our path. There are countless opportunities each day that He is looking to use those hearts that are truly surrendered and will get out of His way so that He can touch those around us. Pray and ask Him for Divine appointments!
We are awestruck knowing that we had nothing to do with the outcome, but that He would allow us to be an eye witness to the awesome power of His Spirit. It is very humbling and yet it fills you with praise and adoration of our great and mighty God! When we have a front row seat and can visibly see the manifestation of His healing touch, it is overwhelming. I have experienced those who have been touched by the Master and healed of cancer; some who have come to our services, totally addicted to drugs, have been touched, delivered and set free at the altar and then praise God we know that He alone had touched them. Oh, this is the mighty hand of God at work!
I personally have experienced His miraculous touch of healing! Over twenty-three years ago, my doctors had diagnosed me with a malignant brain tumor. They tried radiation and chemotherapy, but then sent me home to prepare to die. I knew that was a death sentence, and my Lord and Savior only speaks life! I would not allow that word to enter my spirit but I trusted God and allowed Him to speak to my heart. This happened to be the best time during that whole trial. Trusting only in Him, I found true intimacy with Him. My heart was filled with a passion and zeal to just love and serve Him! I realized that I was in a win-win situation. Either He would touch me with His healing hand or He would call me home to be with Him forever……either way was victory! One Sunday morning He touched me and His healing touch covered me completely and that tumor was gone instantly and miraculously! Yes, one touch of the Master’s hand and there was no tumor! As I praised Him for His glorious touch, I vowed to Him that I would strive for the rest of my life to serve Him, to go and do whatever He called me to do.
There are times that we all face trials and obstacles, but knowing that the battle belongs to the Lord, we can rest knowing that He is our Victor! He alone deserves all the Glory and Honor. There is no other Name that is worthy, but the Name of Jesus!