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Pentecostals eye Berlin for outreach

Tue, 26 Nov 2002 - 12:58 PM CST

Every three years, Pentecostal leaders in Europe gather in a designated city to learn how to become better pastors. In the past, the triennial conference has been geared to encourage Pentecostal church personnel on the continent.

But Pentecostal Europe Fellowship leader Ingolf Ellssel, who is also president of the German Pentecostal Movement, believes it is time to look outward.

Ellssel notes that past European differences of customs, border crossings and even currency have been resolved. Likewise, he said, theological walls of discord, disassociation and denominational passport controls are in decline. Thus, the Europe Arise Conference, scheduled for June 5-9, 2003, in Berlin will be the first evangelistic conference of its kind designed to impact a city.

"Although the U.S. Assemblies of God has not been involved in the conference in the past, Ingolf Ellssel made an intentional gesture to include us," said U.S. Assemblies of God Europe Regional Director Greg Mundis. "We have accepted the invitation wholeheartedly." Ellssel addressed the U.S. A/G missionaries in Europe last year at a retreat in Spain. The missionaries have contributed $15,000 to help defray the costs of the conference.

Morning sessions will focus on equipping workers for evangelism. Neighborhood evangelistic outreaches will take place in the afternoon. The evening sessions will feature evangelistic services followed by youth concerts. German evangelist Reinhard Bonnke, whose international ministry Christ for All Nations is based in Frankfurt, will be guest speaker in the evening services.

"Our goal is that a great number of people will hear the gospel, receive Christ as their Savior and be integrated into local churches to be discipled," said Steve Walent, Central Europe area director for the U.S. Assemblies of God.

Berlin, a city of 4 million, has only half a dozen German Pentecostal churches. The U.S. Assemblies of God, which works in cooperation with the German Pentecostal Movement, has targeted three sections of the city for outreaches to be led by three new missionaries who are already learning the language and culture. John Butrin is planning to start an English-speaking international church; Chuck Kackley will start a German-speaking church in East Berlin; and Kirk Priest will begin a German-speaking Students for Christ outreach in East Berlin.

"We are already planning and scheduling many different MAPS, AIM and other student teams to come and minister, not just during the conference but throughout the summer to make sure these new ministries have a good foundation in this planting phase," Walent said.

"You can't plant a church in a weekend," Mundis said. In the past two years, the U.S. Fellowship has appointed 16 missionaries to Germany, including church planters, youth workers and children's outreach personnel. There are four dozen A/G missionaries in the nation of 83 million. "We believe God has something special in store for this spiritually neglected and needy part of the world," Walent said.

"Europe Arise is a wonderful opportunity to deepen cooperation among Pentecostals in Europe as well as make a difference in a city," said Mundis.


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Every three years, Pentecostal leaders in Europe gather in a designated city to learn how to become better pastors. In the past, the triennial conference has been geared to encourage Pentecostal church personnel on the continent.

But Pentecostal Europe Fellowship leader Ingolf Ellssel, who is also president of the German Pentecostal Movement, believes it is time to look outward.

Ellssel notes that past European differences of customs, border crossings and even currency have been resolved. Likewise, he said, theological walls of discord, disassociation and denominational passport controls are in decline. Thus, the Europe Arise Conference, scheduled for June 5-9, 2003, in Berlin will be the first evangelistic conference of its kind designed to impact a city.

"Although the U.S. Assemblies of God has not been involved in the conference in the past, Ingolf Ellssel made an intentional gesture to include us," said U.S. Assemblies of God Europe Regional Director Greg Mundis. "We have accepted the invitation wholeheartedly." Ellssel addressed the U.S. A/G missionaries in Europe last year at a retreat in Spain. The missionaries have contributed $15,000 to help defray the costs of the conference.

Morning sessions will focus on equipping workers for evangelism. Neighborhood evangelistic outreaches will take place in the afternoon. The evening sessions will feature evangelistic services followed by youth concerts. German evangelist Reinhard Bonnke, whose international ministry Christ for All Nations is based in Frankfurt, will be guest speaker in the evening services.

"Our goal is that a great number of people will hear the gospel, receive Christ as their Savior and be integrated into local churches to be discipled," said Steve Walent, Central Europe area director for the U.S. Assemblies of God.

Berlin, a city of 4 million, has only half a dozen German Pentecostal churches. The U.S. Assemblies of God, which works in cooperation with the German Pentecostal Movement, has targeted three sections of the city for outreaches to be led by three new missionaries who are already learning the language and culture. John Butrin is planning to start an English-speaking international church; Chuck Kackley will start a German-speaking church in East Berlin; and Kirk Priest will begin a German-speaking Students for Christ outreach in East Berlin.

"We are already planning and scheduling many different MAPS, AIM and other student teams to come and minister, not just during the conference but throughout the summer to make sure these new ministries have a good foundation in this planting phase," Walent said.

"You can't plant a church in a weekend," Mundis said. In the past two years, the U.S. Fellowship has appointed 16 missionaries to Germany, including church planters, youth workers and children's outreach personnel. There are four dozen A/G missionaries in the nation of 83 million. "We believe God has something special in store for this spiritually neglected and needy part of the world," Walent said.

"Europe Arise is a wonderful opportunity to deepen cooperation among Pentecostals in Europe as well as make a difference in a city," said Mundis.


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Church Dedicates Alzheimer's Facility

Thu, 20 Nov 2014 - 9:53 AM CST

Memory Lane
Van Buren First Assembly of God's Memory Lane Alzheimer's Special Care Unit is considered the finest Alzheimer's facility in Arkansas and one of the best in the nation.

Many Assemblies of God churches care for the needy through food pantries, clothing banks, holiday meals and similar compassion ministries. But Van Buren (Arkansas) First Assembly of God may be the very first AG church to not only offer a retirement center for seniors, but now a fully-staffed care unit for individuals who have Alzheimer's or dementia.

The new $5 million, 34,000 square-foot Memory Lane Alzheimer's Special Care Unit, dedicated on November 13, was recently completed through the donation of a gift of $5 million given anonymously last November. The care unit is an addition to the already existing 60,000-square-foot Legacy Heights Retirement Center.

Senior Pastor Bobby Johnson, who has been ministering at the 1,100-member church for the past 34 years, says that in 2007 the church opened the Legacy Heights Retirement Center, offering 55 units for retirees.

Having converted a wing of the center into an Alzheimer's care unit in 2009, Johnson says at first the church struggled as the economy crash at that time took its toll. "But three years ago, a foundation offered us a $1 million grant, if we could match it," Johnson says. "We matched almost all of it and that helped us recover."

Memory Lane pictures
Much of the decor in Memory Lanes is designed to help those with Alzheimer's use their memories.

Apparently liking what Johnson and Van Buren First Assembly were doing, the same foundation came back to them this past November and offered the grant money to build a state-of-the-art Alzheimer's care facility.

AG General Treasurer Doug Clay spoke at the dedication of the new unit. "Thank you for being a wonderful and biblical example of excellence in ministry to our seniors," Clay said. "There is nothing quite like this . . . praise the Lord!"

When the new facility, which is expected to open by mid-December, is at capacity (40 patients), it will have a staff of 50 to 60 people, including nurses and other professional staff who will provide 24-hour care in private rooms. The facility is also licensed by the state.

"Memory Lane is divided into two mirroring pods of 16,000-square-feet each," Johnson says. "They each have 20 rooms and include a dining room, activities room, a beauty salon, whirlpool, an outdoor walking track within the confines of each pod, and between the pods is a safe room for residents of Legacy Heights and Memory Lane."

Clay observed that one out of eight Americans are now age 65 or older, with more than 5,500 Americans turning 65 every day. "As the percentage of older people in the population increases, problems, attitudes, responsibilities, and care related to the aging become matters of increasing concern," Clay said.

Pastor Bobby Johnson
Pastor Bobby Johnson

Johnson agrees with Clay's assessment. "Statistics say 1 out of 2 people who are 85 will contract this disease — a disease where there are no survivors."

According to what state officials have already communicated to Johnson, the new Alzheimer's facility is the best in the state and is one of the best in the nation.

"The difference is, this facility was built strictly for Alzheimer's patients — it's not an older building converted to house Alzheimer's patients," Johnson explains. "For example, our large outdoor walking track is secure, pictures and decorations are from the 1930s, 40s and 50s, which will help with memory, and each patient's door will have pictures of their family members on it."

What's more, Johnson says, those residents living at Legacy Heights and the patients soon to be a part of Memory Lane will continue to have the opportunities to hear the gospel message, through visitation of retired AG ministers and live-streaming of all church services.

And perhaps Clay summed the church's efforts up best when he said during the dedication, "Thank you for addressing this concern with care, quality and excellence."

For more information about Legacy Heights or Memory Lane, contact Van Buren First AG at info@vbfirst.com.

 

 

Keywords: AG churches
Authors: Dan Van Veen

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