Category: Ministry

Articles and updates to encourage and equip ministers as they seek to see God’s Kingdom advance through their Ministry.

Baptizing the Immobile

by Drew Brattrud

When the coroner left, I felt a deep sense of sadness.

“J” lived in a neighborhood of section 8, government sponsored housing. Riddled with drugs and gangs, the San Bernadino projects seemed to be the end of the line for all who lived there.

A heavy sense of despair hung over the place. There was no hope, no motivation, and no reason to work. It seemed no one there tried to better themselves. Kids, neglected by single mothers, scurried constantly up and down cement stairwells. Out front, older folks sat smoking on porches and steps, staring into the distance, doing nothing. They were waiting, in the middle of the day, as though a parade were about to come down the street.

But nothing was coming. There was no parade. There was no hope in this area frequented by the death team of police and coroners.

Despite all that, however, as I stood in “J’s” small, studio apartment, I found hope. A source of comfort—a piece of paper hanging on an otherwise bare wall.

I had visited “J’s” place numerous times. Each time would end with a prayer to cast out the voices he heard, telling him to “end his life.”

It wasn’t just the voices, however. He knew his liver could not handle the alcohol he kept hidden around his home. But why was he hiding it? He lived alone, alienated from his family by his dysfunctions. I wonder if he was hiding the alcohol from himself, hoping he wouldn’t find it. His drinking had taken almost all his health.

I was blessed, really blessed that he came to our little congregation a dozen years ago when we were starting out as a new church, meeting at J.W. North High School. He had hope in me as a minister—but much more than that, he put his trust in Jesus to save his soul.

I remember when his trembling hand went up to ask Jesus to be his Lord. The following week he wanted to be baptized, but his frail body would not do well being dunked. He had great difficulty walking, often opting for a wheelchair—and he was not light enough for us to carry into the water.

The solution was clear. The following week, I brought in five 5-gallon buckets. After the service we sat him on a bench just outside the door where we met and—to the roar of the congregation—on the count of “in the name of the Father, his Son, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit,” five of us each dumped out a bucket and dowsed him until he was thoroughly drenched.

If they can’t get into the water, bring the water to them. Even today, thinking of his smile brings tears to my eyes.

One room, two chairs, a tiny table for TV dinners, a mini fridge with a microwave on top and one simple decoration—his baptism certificate hanging on the wall.

For me, it was more than a decoration. It was a declaration of hope.

Andrew Brattrud is pastor at
Riverside Christian Assembly
in Riverside, California.

Back to the Altar: Returning to the Place of Divine Encounters

Maybe you’ve noticed a trend in Pentecostal churches—a shift away from altar calls and congregations yearning for an encounter with God. Samuel Rodriguez has.

Rodriguez is the founding and lead pastor of New Season Christian Worship Center (AG) in Sacramento, California. He also serves as the president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, the world’s largest Hispanic Christian organization.

He writes about the need for the altar on the Open Bible website. It’s well worth the read! Click HERE.

 

2018 FCA International Convergence

If you missed the 2018 Convergence — or if you attended and want to revisit some of the highlights — check out the links below.

VIDEOS — Presented at the convention

PICTURES — A gallery of photos from the week in Winnipeg. Have Winnipeg photos of your own to share? You can add them.

RECAP — Roger Armbruster gives a moment-by-moment overview of the people, the events, the speakers, and the atmosphere of the gathering in Winnipeg.

TEACHING — Notes provided by several of the convention speakers:

AUDIO — Listen to workshops and main sessions. (Available soon.)

Miracle Invasion

So many of the stories we hear about God’s miracles occur in distant lands or happened years in the past. That’s all well and good, but what is God doing today? Miracle Invasion: Amazing true stories of the Holy Spirit’s gifts at work today (Broadstreet Pub Group LLC, 2018) answers that question in dramatic fashion.

If you’ve ever wondered, like Gideon did, “If the Lord is with us…where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about?” (Judges 6:13), Dean Merrill’s latest book may be exactly what you need. 

This is not an over-the-top account of a single supernatural event that occurred in one person’s life. Rather, this is a collection of “everyday” miracles (can we call them that?)—God at work in the lives of ordinary people: healings, words of knowledge, deliverance, abundant provision, and more. Each story underscores a simple truth: the gifts of the Holy Spirit are still at work. Today.

The stories come from many places, but Merrill drew on experiences within the Fellowship of Christian Assemblies for a couple of them. This excerpt is from Miracle Invasion by Dean Merrill and is used by permission.


Lest anyone think that spiritual gifts flow only through pastors, evangelists, and super-saints, consider the cases of two different youth groups—one in western Canada, the other in central United States—that illustrate what the Spirit can do through “just teenagers.”

The Rolling Prayer Meeting

Fort McMurray, Alberta, sits far up in the northern forests—another 435 kilometers (270 miles) northeast of Edmonton, the provincial capital. But it’s no sleepy outpost; it’s the throbbing center of the Athabasca oil sands, where some 2 million barrels of petroleum are extracted every day—much of it headed to the U.S.

Outside of town, however, it’s a long drive through the vast stretches of pine and spruce and birch trees to other population centers. That explains why McMurray Gospel Assembly’s youth group ended up chartering a coach bus a few years back to go to a winter weekend retreat at a sister church in Fort Saint John, British Columbia—eleven hours away. They would roll out well before sunrise on a Friday morning, arrive in time for the evening kickoff, have Saturday meetings, stay through the host church’s two Sunday morning services, and then begin the long trek back east again, not getting home until around midnight.

Paul Vallee, youth pastor at the time, had worked hard to sign up forty-some young people for the trip, plus half a dozen adults. He couldn’t quite convince one sixteen-year-old named Kelsey [pseudonym], however. “I really wish I could go,” she said wistfully, “but every time I take a long trip, it seems I get one of my migraine headaches. And once they start, they just kill me for three days or even four. I can’t risk it.”

The youth pastor thought about the fact that she had gone forward in the church more than once to be anointed with oil and prayed for. Still, her pounding pain and nausea kept coming back. Now he could only say to the girl, “Well, we’ll just have to trust God about that.”

Her girlfriends did some arm-twisting about the retreat, to the point that she finally caved in to their pleading. She happily boarded the bus that early morning with the rest.

However, about an hour and a half down Provincial Highway 63, sure enough … someone came up the aisle to where Paul and his wife, Patty, were sitting in the front row. “Kelsey’s having problems,” the person said. Paul went back to find the girl in excruciating pain. Her eyes had rolled back in their sockets as she gripped her head with both hands. She softly moaned. Concerned teens on all sides leaned up on their knees to see what was unfolding.

Now what? Pastor Paul knew they were still more than an hour from the nearest gas station where her parents could be called (in this pre-cellphone era) to come pick her up. Her suffering was intensifying by the minute. There had to be a better solution.

“Listen up, everybody,” he said suddenly. “She told me this might happen. But we’re going to pray. We’re going to believe God for a miracle.” He then began to lead out in prayer, with the teenagers joining in fervent pleas for divine intervention. From the front to the back, the chorus swelled: “Oh, God, help Kelsey! Please stop this terrible headache! We believe you can do this.” For the next twenty minutes, the bus became a rolling prayer meeting.

In time, the girl’s body seemed to relax slightly from its earlier tension. She slumped back into her seat as the voices subsided, although kids kept praying quietly around her. Paul returned to his seat up front.

It was not long afterward when there was a tap on his shoulder. He looked up, surprised, to see Kelsey herself with a calm demeanor. “This is a miracle, Pastor Paul,” she uttered. “This has never happened in my life!”

She went on to explain: “Once these migraines start, they run their course. But … but … I’m better!” The entire bus broke out in rejoicing and thanks.

Ripple Effect

The Fort McMurray group had much to celebrate when they arrived at the retreat site. Paul Vallee spoke that Friday night on the baptism in the Holy Spirit. God’s presence seemed especially strong in the meeting. “I was done speaking by eight-thirty or nine,” he remembers, “but kids were still at the altar at eleven-thirty, being filled with the Spirit, speaking in tongues, awash in the flow of God. Some said, ‘I don’t even know what’s happening to me’—though I thought I’d done a good job of explaining in my message! It was pretty dramatic.

“The Holy Spirit’s move was so strong throughout the weekend that when we got back onto the bus Sunday afternoon to start home, kids were still weeping as we drove. They came home and began starting their days on their knees before the Lord. Parents said to me, ‘What’s happened to my kid? I go by his room in the early morning and see a light under the door. If I knock and he says, ‘Come in,’ he’s there with his Bible open, and he’s praying!”

Some youth group members began voluntarily tossing out unhealthy media they’d collected, without any sermons on the subject. The Holy Spirit was doing his own deep, internal work in their hearts.

Soon the senior pastor asked if some of the teens might want to share their recent experience with a Sunday night audience of adults. Paul Vallee thought they might be intimidated—but when he put the question to the group, a total of thirty-two hands went up. It turned out to be one of the most memorable services the church had ever experienced.

Kelsey and her family ended up moving back east to Newfoundland but stayed in touch with their Fort McMurray friends. Several years later, her update came through: “Since that day on the bus, I’ve never had a single migraine.” God had done a permanent miracle in her body.


Dean Merrill, long-time member of the FCA, is a former magazine editor and writer best known for his award-winning collaborations with such Christian leaders as Jim Cymbala (Brooklyn Tabernacle), Wess Stafford (Compassion International), and Gracia Burnham (Philippine missionary hostage survivor).

Want to read more? You can order a copy of Miracle Invasion at Amazon.comBN.com, or CBD.com.