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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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Dozens from Evangel serve during spring break

Wed, 14 Mar 2012 - 3:37 PM CST

Evangel

Dozens of Evangel University students, faculty, staff and alumni participated in international service trips during spring break, March 3-11, 2012. Seven groups traveled to seven countries on four continents to minister to others.

COSTA RICA
Dr. Jeff Fulks, professor and director of Evangel's graduate and professional studies, and Daniel Noah, junior management major, led a group of six students to San Jose, Costa Rica. The team partnered with Latin America Childcare to serve local schools in and around the San Jose area.

CROATIA
A team of seven, led by Michelle Grubaugh, senior elementary education major, traveled to Croatia. The team performed a children's play called "The Puzzle" throughout several Croatian cities. This group partnered with the organization Save Europe's Children.

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
Jeff Burnett, Evangel's director of admissions, and Christy Rowden, Evangel's student activities director, led a team of four students to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. The group provided a message, special music, dramas, testimonies and service to the church and community. The team worked with AG missionaries Berly and Jamie Bello, who founded Ministerio de Adolescentes. "This trip was an amazing opportunity for us to see what God is doing through missionaries and local churches in the Dominican Republic," says Rowden. "We were blessed by every person that we met and were extremely proud to partner with them in their work for Christ."

ENGLAND
A team of nine students and two sponsors traveled to Birmingham, England, to work with Sheldon Community Church. The team spent seven days holding assemblies for elementary children from five schools. Jeremy Harris, assistant professor of computer science, Jesse Tucker, junior English education major, and Christa Smith, senior biology major, led the trip.

ETHIOPIA
A team of 10 traveled to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to work with the Ethiopian Assemblies of God Missions Department and the Addis Ababa Bible College. The team cleaned and painted dorm rooms at the Bible college, ministered at schools, orphanages and chapel services and also participated in door-to-door evangelism. Josiah Pennington, senior art education major, Elisabeth Kilsdonk, senior government major, and Evangel '89 alumnus Kirk Spain led the trip. Spain is the administrator of Africa's Hope, an organization that facilitates training for churches in Africa. "The fellowship and ministry was greatly appreciated by the church in Ethiopia and the Evangel students were blessed in return as well," says Spain.

GREECE
Dr. Steve Smallwood, assistant professor of biblical studies, led a team of four students to Thessaloniki, Greece. They worked with missionaries Tony and Jamie Sebastian at their coffee shop, iHeart, which is located near Aristotle University. The team also worked with children at gypsy camps and served with a human trafficking awareness project. Alicia Doran, senior biblical languages and biblical studies double major, is the student leader of the trip.

JAMAICA
Heidi Bartels, a 2011 Evangel alumna, and Rebecca Clark, junior music major, led a team of five students to Kingston, Jamaica, to work at an orphanage in Content Gap. The team presented a vacation Bible school and a sports camp to local homeless children. They also presented devotionals in local schools, led music and worked on repair projects for the orphanage. The team worked with missionaries Steve and Kim Puffpaff.

For additional information regarding service trips, contact Allison Fontaine at 417-865-2815 ext. 8526.

For more information about Evangel, click here.

Authors: AG News

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