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Sonlight Church and Community Center
The new Sonlight Church and Community Center (AG) was dedicated on November 9, 2014.

Skepticism. Disbelief. Strong opposition. Those were the kind of attitudes that greeted Pastor Chris Boggs and his wife Glenda when they talked about their small church of 40 people building a new church in 2009.

When the economy fell in 2010 and the new church was just underway, the negativity — especially from the religious community — poured in.

And a few months later, when Pastor Boggs felt convicted that the church should be built debt-free . . . .

For the past 15 years, the Boggses have been ministering at Sonlight AG, in Weston, Ohio, a small town with a population of about 1,500. When they first took over the church, it was nearly dead.

"If it wasn't for our home church, Kettering Assembly of God in Dayton (Ohio) supporting us like missionaries for the first few years, we never would have made it," Pastor Boggs says, explaining he also drove a school bus to help make ends meet. The church building itself was far from ideal — small, 14 steps up to the entrance, no alcove area, and no place to grow.

But finally, after extensive preparation and planning, the church decided to build. The challenge was, they did not have much money, no property to build on, and at that time, even home loans were tough to come by.

Struggling to find property to build on, Boggs and the church board requested the help of a former board member. They anointed him with oil, prayed over him, and sent him out to find the property God wanted the church to be built on.

Boggs says God gave them favor with a landowner who had refused all others in their attempts to purchase a prime 5-acre piece of property that sat on the highway intersection. Not only we're they able to purchase the land, but the man they had anointed felt led to buy the property for the church and give the church a substantial gift to begin its building program.

The church itself was also raising funds for the building program and on September 19, 2010, broke ground on the building.

"Our plan was to get a shell up and then as money came in, we would work on it," Boggs says. "Then, whatever was left to do, we would get a loan to finish it up."

Although donations were still coming in from unexpected sources as well as through pledges, it was barely enough to keep the building moving forward. "It doesn't take long to burn through money when building," Boggs admits.

But then the game changed. After attending a Financial Peace University event in January of 2011, Boggs was convicted that the church should be built without debt, meaning no loans. From that point on, the Boggses became cheerleaders, emphasizing the progress, while facing skepticism in the community.

Sonlight Church dedication ceremony
Pastor Chris Boggs (with plaque) and his wife, Glenda, at the dedication celebration.

For the next three years, the church would slowly progress, with God providing key gifts of money and encouragement along the way -- including other AG churches helping out and a friend handing the keys of a Jaguar automobile to the Boggses.

"I drove the car of my dreams for three months," Boggs says, "but then I felt the Holy Spirit convicting me. So, I sold the car, paid off some debts and gave the rest to the church building fund." The donation helped the church raise $25,000 in one offering.

But as progress slowed and frustrations mounted, the Holy Spirit gave Boggs a simple solution. "In a small town, rumors get started and people were saying that the church had gone bankrupt, which wasn't true," he says, "so I painted on our sign, 'Please be patient; we're building debt free.'"

That sign started changing some attitudes. People in the community liked the idea of a church building debt free and more people began to support the effort.

Finally, after nearly four years of fund-raising, encouraging and Boggs' overcoming his own personal frustrations with the never-ending help of his wife, the new church, Sonlight Church and Community Center, was dedicated on November 9 with a healthy, growing congregation of 80.

Boggs says the church has been transformed through the completion of the building.

"I believe our people had the poverty mentality, 'we can't, we're poor' — that is totally gone and has been replaced with 'We can do anything through Christ!'" Boggs says. "There's a difference in their attitude in who they are in Christ and what they can accomplish in Christ. This has really grown their faith!"

As far as where the credit lies for an estimated $1.5 million church being built debt free, Boggs is quick to respond. "There's no way this could have happened without the Lord smiling down and giving us favor. And because of this, I know He has big plans for this church."

The first phase of the new church is actually a gymnasium with classrooms and offices located above it. Boggs says it allows for seating of up to 300 and makes the church available for all kinds of church and community activities. In fact, the church is planning on starting an Upwards basketball league for kids in their community in January.

"I am looking forward to the day when we can put a sanctuary up in front of the gymnasium," Boggs admits, but then adds with a laugh, "but right now, I'm exhausted, so a little break might be good!"


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Then and now; veterans reunited after 30 years

Fri, 09 Jul 1999 - 12:00 AM CST

1967. Ft. Hood. Killeen, Texas. Cecil Adams, 20, and Darcy Haisley, 18, are going through boot camp together. It's near the end of the month. Haisley is broke and hanging around the barracks with nothing to do.

"Cecil would witness to me and I had a lot of stupid arguments about God," Haisley remembers now. "He invited me to this little storefront hole-in-the-wall kind of church. People called him 'Brother Adams.' All this 'Brother' and 'Sister' stuff. During the service, a lady to my right was holding up her hands saying, 'Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.' At the altar call, Cecil kept saying, 'You can go now.' I didn't know what he meant. I just wanted to get out of there."

1968. Vietnam. An outpost near Da Nang. Adams and Haisley are serving together. Adams is a conscientious objector serving as a medic.

"I knew he was a conscientious objector and wouldn't carry a weapon," Haisley says. "But I remember a time when a 17-year-old kid named Atwood was killed by a sniper and everybody was hugging the ground and Cecil was up and moving with his medic bag and working on this kid."

Haisley could see that Adams' talk about religion was not empty words.

"There was something about Cecil. I remember asking him what religion he was, and he said, 'I just believe the Bible.' I didn't know what to make of that. I just knew that he was different and had something that was genuine. Probably what made the biggest impact on my life was just watching his life. Just seeing the contrast between the way I and the rest of the guys were living and how he was living."

Haisley's life was a wreck. He was constantly smoking marijuana. Constantly trying to numb his awareness of his own mortality. And constantly confronted with Cecil.

"I remember one day the guys were giving Cecil a rough time and my friend George Vanderdeusen said to me, 'You know, Cecil's right.' We were laying on this bunk having a cigarette. And I looked at George kind of funny and said, 'What do you mean?' And he said, 'I used to be really involved in Youth For Christ. What Cecil believes is right.'

"George was killed later. I had been wounded and Med Evac'd out, when I heard he was hit. I went and visited him in the hospital. I knew nothing about the gospel or the Lord. It was an intensive care unit. I remember an incredibly hopeless feeling. I didn't know what to say, and he said to me, 'They want to take my legs.' I didn't know what to say. I was loaded on dope. I remember saying, 'You're going to be ok.'"

1969. Everett, Washington. Haisley has come back to his hometown after his tour of duty. His life continues to spiral downward.

"I came home and got into drugs real heavy," he says. "Actually got to the point where I thought I was an animal and was eating with my bare hands. One day there were these people preaching the gospel down on the street corner. And I went over and talked to them. The first thing I said to the guy on the corner was, 'I'm not afraid to take all of my clothes off, right here, right now.' That's where I was at.'"

The group invited Haisley to their church, Gospel Light Temple, an independent Pentecostal fellowship.

"The guy that preached had a real anointing," Haisley recalls. "I went down to the altar."

This time it was Haisley's turn to say, "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus."

"I started saying it to copy the other people at the altar and I started feeling horrible. So I started saying it louder. I got to the point where I was screaming 'Jesus!' at the top of my lungs. The whole church stopped. They must have thought, 'We've got this madman.'"

And then a man walked up behind Haisley. He laid his hands on his shoulder and quietly said, 'Son, you don't have to scream. Jesus hears you.'"

Three weeks later, Haisley received the baptism in the Holy Spirit.

"I used to tell the guys in our unit, 'If I ever got religion, I'd want the kind that Cecil's got,'" he says. Now he had it.

Haisley's transformation was immediate and dramatic. He had been living on the streets using drugs; he returned to share the gospel.

"Everybody knew me," he says. "I witnessed to thousands of people in the first couple of years. I've led hundreds of people to the Lord."

1999. Taos, New Mexico. Cecil Adams and Darcy Haisley are reunited at "The Gathering," an organized reunion of the 5/46th 198th Light Infantry Battalion.

"About the middle of May, my wife gets a phone call," remembers the Rev. Cecil Adams, now a veteran pastor with the Assemblies of God. "And this man says, 'Is this the religious Cecil Adams that was a medic in Vietnam?' And she said, 'Yes.' And he said, 'Well, for 30 years I've been looking for him. He witnessed to me over and over and I'm now an Assemblies of God pastor. And I'm shocked that not only is he an Assemblies of God minister, but he's pastoring in Killeen of all places. He's the one who took me to that little church that scared me."

Weeks later, the two friends saw one another for the first time in more than 20 years in Taos.

"It was powerful emotionally," Adams says. When we arrived at the reunion, they expected me to be religious. They knew about me. But they were shocked to find out here's Haisley and now he's like Adams!"

Just as Haisley had watched Adams' life, the others in the unit now saw his own complete change.

"There were a lot of people that came up to me and they just couldn't believe the transformation in my life. The way I had been living, they probably figured it was a miracle I was even alive."

The Revs. Haisley and Adams now share the joy of salvation as they pastor Assemblies of God churches in Killeen and Everett. They also continue to share painful memories of their months in Vietnam. But they use those memories constructively.

"When I have flashbacks," Adams says, "I pray for the men I knew there. Haisley is actually the second one who has come to Christ in the years since I've been home. And if there is one thing I really focus on from those years, it's the power of soul winning. Your witness is so powerful, that even though you don't know they came to Christ, God's at work in their lives. We think, 'Well, I witness and people turn me down.' Yes, these guys all turned me down. But look what's happened. This is two of them. How many more?"

"After I got saved," Haisley says, "I got to thinking about George Vanderdeusen. I had really cared about this guy. I really loved him. And it was one of those tough things when he was blown away. And all of a sudden, it dawned on me that he had been in that hospital 3 days before he died. And God gave me an assurance that Vanderdeusen had that time so he could get right with the Lord. He was going home. I always feel like when I get to heaven, he's going to be waiting and yelling out my name."


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