Category Archives: Reviews

Review: Called of God, But…I Lost My Compass

00126_Kruger

Kruger, Joan with Dr. Burdette Leikvoll. Called of God, But…I Lost My Compass. Overland Park, KS: iCross Publishing, 2014.

Veteran author and Assemblies of God minister Joan Kruger has written a new book, Called of God, But…I Lost My Compass, that challenges and encourages pastors to be true to their calling. Assemblies of God General Secretary Dr. James Bradford, in his endorsement of the book, wrote the following:

“Spiritual leaders face a bewildering array of forces, pressures, expectations, and personal issues–making them vulnerable to exploitation by the enemy.  As a result, too many have lost their internal compass and been knocked off course.  Joan Kruger addresses the supreme challenge of maintaining pure devotion to the person of Christ while being involved in the demanding task of doing the work of Christ.  She writes with honesty and yet compassion.  The Spirit’s cry for Christ’s under-shepherds comes through her writing with clarity and conviction.  May this book help you and the pastors you love stay authentically true to their ordination covenants.”

Paperback, 176 pages. $14.95 retail. Order from:
Treasures in Parchment
Joan Kruger
702 Valley View Rd #2
Council Bluffs, IA 51503
wjkruger@q.com
417-459-2631

Leave a comment

Filed under Reviews, Spirituality

Review : Frank Bursey Biography

MorganCover

Morgan, Calvin E. The Skipper: Remembering Pastor Frank “FG” Bursey. Belleville, Ontario, Canada: Essence Publishing, 2013.

“Few figures in the history of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Newfoundland and Labrador loom larger than F. G. Bursey.  He was a man of unwavering commitment to the cause of evangelism and church planting.  For the first time, his life and ministry are now being told for future generations.  Cal Morgan has made a lasting contribution to the history of Pentecostalism in his home province and is to be commended for his careful and patient research into the life of a man whose legacy lives on.”
–Rev. Ewen Butler, Pastor, Church on the Hill, Cobourg, Ontario

Paperback, 260 pages. $20.99 retail. Order from: Essence Publishing.

Leave a comment

Filed under Church, Missions, Reviews

Review: U.S. Missions 75th Anniversary

722109L

U.S. Missions: Celebrating 75 Years of Ministry. Springfield, MO: Gospel Publishing House, 2012.

The Assemblies of God USA has always been dedicated to the mission of God, domestic and abroad, since its founding in 1914. While Assemblies of God World Missions (AGWM) was created in 1919, it was not until 1937 that Assemblies of God U.S. Missions (AGUSM) was created to bring greater organization to home mission efforts. This full-color, lavishly-illustrated coffee table book celebrates the 75th anniversary of AGUSM. This volume provides an overview of the history of U.S. Missions, as well as its seven departments, and is a wonderful tribute and memoir to Assemblies of God U.S. missionaries and their efforts to reach America with the gospel, that none perish.

Chapter 1, “Highlights of 75 Years of U.S. Missions,” is an adapted and edited from A History of Home Missions of the Assemblies of God (1992) by Ruth Lyon.

2web

In Chapter 2, Kirk Noonan provides an overview of Chaplaincy Ministries, which includes industrial/occupational chaplains, prison chaplains, and military/VA chaplains. The Chaplaincy Ministries Department was started in 1973. Noonan reports, “Chaplains minister to service personnel, prisoners, the sick, dying people in crisis and trauma, athletes, truckers, bikers, cowboys, law enforcement personnel, fire fighters, factory workers, retirees, people involved in human trafficking, politicians, etc. To put it simply, where there is someone in need, there is a chaplain” (p. 21).

3web

Sarah Malcolm traces the history of Chi Alpha in chapter 3. Chi Alpha is the national ministry of the Assemblies of God USA to reach students, including over 700,000 international students, who are attending colleges and universities in the U.S. Founded in 1953, Chi Alpha is currently the fourth largest evangelical campus ministry in the U.S. Malcolm states, “Chi Alpha is not just a program, it is a culture of disciple making. The transformed students and committed missionaries of Chi Alpha are laying the ground work for the next generation of the Assemblies of God and its leaders” (p. 50).

4web

Chapter 4, written by William Molenaar, explores the history of Intercultural Ministries. While intercultural ministries and evangelism have been a part of the Assemblies of God since its founding, the Home Missions Department was tasked with overseeing intercultural ministries in 1937. Later in 1945, the Intercultural Ministries Department was created within AGUSM. America’s multicultural past, present, and future creates both a great evangelistic challenge and a great evangelistic opportunity for the Assemblies of God USA. Molenaar focuses on five of the earliest and historic ministries: Jewish ministries, Native American ministry, ministry to the Blind, ministry to the Deaf, Alaskan ministry, and the various ethnic-language branches, districts and fellowships of the Assemblies of God USA.

5web

Joshua R. Ziefle wrote Chapter 5, which covers the history of Missionary Church Planters and Developers (MCPD). Originally founded in 1947, MCPD is tasked with identifying, supporting and resourcing church planting and development missionaries appointed by U.S. Missions. Ziefle notes, “For almost a century, the Assemblies of God has been a leader in church planting. Early Pentecostals were visionaries and entrepreneurs, buoyed by a vision to save the world and anchored by a deep commitment to Christ and God’s Word” (p. 71).

6web

Chapter 6 features a history of Teen Challenge International, U.S.A., written by David Batty, Ethan Campbell, and Patty Baker. The authors trace the inspiring story of David Wilkerson’s ministry in New York City to the global growth of the Teen Challenge. It is widely held that Teen Challenge is “one of the world’s largest and most successful drug recovery programs” (p. 89). Teen Challenge has been running over 50 years now with more than 1000 centers in 93 countries around the world.

7web

William Molenaar wrote chapter 7 regarding the U.S. Mission America Placement Service (MAPS) Department. U.S. MAPS “is the ministry within Assemblies of God U.S. Missions that assists churches, schools and ministries by coordinating volunteers with construction and evangelism projects” (p. 99). MAPS originated in 1967 as an inter-departmental effort of the Assemblies of God National Office to mobilize laity to participate in the mission of God both home and abroad, and today has a thriving RV volunteer ministry.

8web

Finally, Chapter 8, written by Kevin Dawson, traces the development of the Youth Alive Department. Dawson explains, “Youth Alive is a missionary movement dedicated to equipping and releasing students to reach the middle school and high school campuses of the United States” (p. 118). Youth Alive not only develops campus clubs, but it mobilizes young people to be missionaries to their schools. Today, Youth Alive is in 15 percent of the middle schools and high schools in the U.S.

Readers will enjoy reading the substantive histories of U.S. Missions, as well as browsing the historical photographs throughout the book. Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center staff provided images and significant editorial assistance in the production of the book: William Molenaar authored two chapters, Glenn Gohr checked facts and citations, and Gohr and Darrin Rodgers provided extensive editorial work. Few books are both attractive and add to the body of scholarly literature. This book achieves both. U.S. Missions: Celebrating 75 Years of Ministry will be warmly received by both scholars and those who lived the history.  This commemorative volume should be added to your personal library and is also ideal for your coffee table, waiting room, or as a gift.

Hardcover, 128 pages. $25.00 retail. Order from: Gospel Publishing House.

1 Comment

Filed under Church, Missions, Reviews

Review: Margaret Register and STAR Ministries

Register, Margaret. A Place for People, Puppets, and Cockroach Soup: Pioneering Delightfully Over-the-Top and Seriously Under-Budgeted Christian TV Productions. [S.n.] : CreateSpace, 2012.

Once again, Margaret (Maggie) Register delights us with an outstanding memoir. This time she chronicles, with humor and pathos, the formation of STAR Ministries, an Assemblies of God World Missions television and radio production studio. Margaret Register speaks in a conversational tone, drawing the reader first into her experience in Guatemala where 18,000 children came to a basketball stadium to see the “stars” of Lugar Secreto, the children’s show she and her husband, Joe, produced. She is authentic in describing, sometimes with great humor, the struggles, setbacks, and joys of learning television production—first as “talent,” then as floor director, and finally as producer—and the unexpected traumas of life as a “foreign” missionary based in the States and working with dozens of volunteers.

After ten years as missionaries in Chile and Paraguay, South America, Joe and Margaret Register wanted to produce a television talk show in Spanish. But, how does one begin a first-time-ever ministry of Spanish Television and Radio? Joe and Margaret did not even consider doing a show for children. Not at first.

A Place for People, Puppets, and Cockroach Soup recounts amazing, funny, heart-warming, sometimes near-tragic stories of how God took His plan and wrapped it around the far-reaching dreams and hard work of a dedicated family—Joe, Margaret, daughter Crysti, and son Timmy—and a host of God-sent volunteers. They did not know how to build sets, run cable, operate cameras, develop “characters” or write scripts. They learned by trial and error, with a budget always stretched to the limit. But God gave creative ideas and sent gifted volunteers and delightful puppets. The result was El Lugar Secreto (The Secret Place), a series of award-winning shows for Spanish-speaking children.

These true stories display fascinating, unique events as God’s grace and wisdom astound Joe and Margaret as they developed a very successful television ministry that would eventually reach all of Latin America and be broadcast on fourteen satellites into 200 countries.

From language study in Mexico to the country of Chile and then to Paraguay, Margaret, in her first book, No Place for Plastic Saints, recounts vividly an earthquake, a dead body on a table, and chicken feet in soup. Joe and Margaret lived in Temuco and in Viña, Chile, and later in Paraguay, where they began a very successful television ministry that would eventually reach all of Latin America (the story she tells in this, her second book).

Margaret Register has done a great service to the body of Christ in writing A Place for People, Puppets, and Cockroach Soup. She excels in painting delightful and vivid word pictures so that you, the reader, feel you are there with her as she walks through each dramatic story. This is truly an authentic account of the good, the bad, and the miraculous in the life of a dedicated missionary family. This book is a must read!

Reviewed by Juanita Cunningham Blackburn, Assemblies of God missionary

Paperback, 273 pages. $17.99 retail. Also available in Kindle. Order from: Amazon.

Leave a comment

Filed under Missions, Reviews

Autobiography of Canadian Missionary Evangelist John Abraham

Abraham, John. Living in the Supernatural Dimension: Right Choice Now—Best Life Forever. [Laurence M. Van Kleek, Editor]. Bloomington, IN: WestBow Press, 2012.

A new autobiography of missionary evangelist John Abraham, Living in the Supernatural Dimension, shares the story of his worldwide ministry that has extended over six decades. The ministry of Abraham, who is ordained by the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada, can be divided into two segments: during his first 35 years his focus was in the Western world; during the past 26 years Abraham and his wife, Shirley, have focused on global missions.

Born in Northern Ireland to Plymouth Brethren parents, Abraham was converted to Christ as a child and filled with the Holy Spirit as a teenager. He was personally tutored by renowned Brethren biblical scholar Dr. F. F. Bruce. Since childhood Abraham had a passion to win people to Christ. He was a child preacher and later became loved as a pastor’s pastor around the world.

In one of his many providential “forks in the road” Abraham left Ireland to study in a Pentecostal Bible college in Canada. Upon graduation he became an associate evangelist in the United Kingdom for six years with John Wesley White, who later served as an associate evangelist of Billy Graham. Abraham has a deep passion for the gospel, which he internalized. God has worked throughout Abraham’s ministry through the gifts of the Holy Spirit. From the time that he ministered on the streets of Northern Ireland as a teenager God used John in all of the gifts of the Spirit recorded in 1st Corinthians 12—especially the gifts of healings and the working of miracles.

In one humorous anecdote, Abraham recalled that, after a revival meeting in Southeast Asia, the organizers had to pay a surcharge to a clean-up company, because of the large quantity of crutches, braces and wheelchairs that had been left on the rented field. Abraham noted that all he could do was stand by in amazement and watch the miracles occur.

David R. Wells, General Superintendent of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada, wrote the preface. Laurence M. Van Kleek served as editor and also wrote the foreword. Living in the Supernatural Dimension is inspiring and challenging Christian reading and will be particularly well-received by charismatics and Pentecostals.

Submitted by Laurence M. Van Kleek, MDIV, MA, MLS
Van Kleek serves as Librarian/Administrator of Summit Pacific College (Abbotsford, BC Canada)

Paperback, 297 pages. $22.95 retail. Also available in hardcover and Kindle. Order from: Amazon.com

1 Comment

Filed under Missions, Reviews

Review: Proceedings of the Inaugural Faith and Science Conference

Bundrick, David and Steve Badger, eds. Proceedings of the Inaugural Faith & Science Conference. Springfield, MO : Gospel Publishing House, 2011.

“The students we teach and the congregations we pastor in the future will not be contented for us to put our heads in the sand or resort to simplistic preaching against science.” — Jim Bradford, General Secretary of the Assemblies of God USA

The uneasy relationship between faith and science existed long before church leaders censured Galileo for his defense of heliocentrism in 1633. The tensions that potentially exist between biblical faith and scientific advance can be perplexing and faith challenging. As today’s world grows more reliant upon scientific advancement, the Church is increasingly filled with scientifically literate believers who expect and deserve a prayerful, well-reasoned approach to the myriad ways in which science intersects with their faith. In recognition of these trends, the General Secretary’s office of the Assemblies of God recently sponsored a first-of-its-kind conference for the Fellowship. The Inaugural Faith & Science Conference took place on Evangel University’s campus in Springfield, Missouri, in the summer of 2011.

Drawing together a diversity of believers–including scientists, theologians, pastors, and teachers–the conference met with the threefold purpose to:

  • Delve into the connections between faith and science
  •  Explore the ethical and theological issues behind that discussion
  • Equip teachers and spiritual leaders to better evangelize and disciple followers of Christ who are increasingly scientifically savvy.

Collecting the plenary sessions and a majority of the presented papers, this volume of conference proceedings is divided into five categories:

I. Integrational Approaches

1. The Relationship between Christian faith and Natural Science
Steve Badger and Mike Tenneson

2. Five Patterns of Relating Science & Christian Theology
David R. Bundrick

3. Science and Faith—Enemies or Allies
Jeffrey Alan Zweerink

II. Exegetical Issues

4. Genesis 1 and Science: A Case for Agreement
Hugh N. Ross

5. Review and Discussion of the Lost World of Genesis One by John Walton
Bob Stallman

6. Creation in the Cosmos: Evidence for Creation and a Young Universe
Nathanael Loper

7. Genesis and Cosmology
Danny R. Faulkner

8. Clarifying the Exegetical Options for the Creation Days in Genesis 1 and 2 in Relation to Science
Roger Cotton

9. An Examination of the Analogical Days View and Concordism of John Collins
Brad Ausbury

10. Biblical Content Informed by Ancient Contexts: An Example from Genesis 2:4-3:24
James R. Blankenship

11. Digging for Dinosaurs: Epistemology and Theological Interpretation of Natural Phenomenon
Walter A. Rogero II

III. Pentecostal Perspectives

12. Pentecostalism and Science: Challenges and Opportunities
Amos Yong

13. Perspectives on Origins: How Diverse Are Pentecostals?
Mike Tenneson and Steve Badger

14. Survey and Analysis of Pentecostal Biblical Creation Worldviews
Larry S. Kisner

15. A Historical Overview of Pentecostal Responses to Biological Evolution
Steve Badger and Mike Tenneson

16. Medicine Is a Good Thing: Assemblies of God Doctrine as Support and Limit of Medicine
Jeremiah Gibbs

17. Measuring the Spirit’s Move: The Boon and the Bane of Empirical Methods in the Study of Evangelism, Conversion, and Spirituality
Brian Kelly

IV. Philosophical Analyses

18. The Mind of God: On the Death of Philosophy and the Limits of Science
Chris Emerick

19. Revolutionary Discoveries in Physics and Cosmology
Stephen Frank Krstulovich

20. Affordance-Based Reverse Engineering of Biological Systems as a Framework for the Cumulative Case for a Christian Worldview
Dominic Halsmer and Taylor Tryon

21. Blind Spots: Examining the Presuppositions of Western Culture That Led to the Divorce of Faith and Science
Paul Scheperle

22. Understanding the Role of Assumptions in Science and Its Contribution to Differing Views on Origins
Jean K. Lightner

23. Re-visioning Theology and Science: Introducing the Pneumatological Imagination as an Alternative to Thomas Torrance’s Theo-Scientific Logic
Aaron Yom

24.Faith in Science or the Science of Faith: A Nonfoundationalist View of Natural Theology for the Church’s Essence in the Scientific Age
Andreá Snavely

25. Developing a New Model for Diagrammatic Reasoning
Leonard Salvig

26. Science, Religion, and Racial Justice: A Multicultural Critique of the Theory of Evolution
Jason Eden

V. Ministry Applications

27. Science and the Pulpit: Ministering to Scientifically Literate People
Christina M. H. Powell

28. Teaching the Genesis 1 Cosmogony to Your Congregations
Michael D. Sharp

29. Creation Crisis? Proclaim God’s Wonders!
Nicholas J. Tavani

30. Churches That Push Scientists Away: Restoring Engagement with Scientists (While Reassuring the Faithful)
Philip M. Wala

31. Reconciling the Faith: Christian Students Who Move from Fear to Engagement with the Sciences
Dan Guenther

32. The Journey of a Christian Layman with a Science and Technology Background: How Can We Bring Science-Educated People to Christ?
Lowell Nystrom

These provocative and insightful sessions and articles are invaluable tools for preparing readers to effectively minister to those who desire a Christian theology that can engage science meaningfully and constructively.

-Adapted from back cover.

Paperback, 348 pages. $19.99 retail. Order from: Gospel Publishing House.

Leave a comment

Filed under Education, Reviews, Theology

Review: German Pentecostal Church Planting

Clark, Paul.  German Pentecostal Church Planting, 1945-2005: Implications for Intentional Mission in the Twenty-First Century.  Benton Harbor, MI: Priority Publishing, 2011.

Pentecostalism is booming.  From Capetown to Singapore to Rio de Janeiro, the barely hundred-year-old movement is making its presence felt wherever it goes.  Its continuing expansion across the global South in recent years has, among other things, created a veritable cottage industry for those willing to research and discuss the work of the Holy Spirit in the myriad cultural worlds of the now.  The flurry of popular and academic attention to such contemporary developments has been intense.  In the process, however, many older and just as unique indigenizations have been ignored.

This volume by Paul Clark is a helpful corrective to this trend.  By focusing on German Pentecostal church growth over the past 60 years, Clark reveals the movement’s unique path in the heart of old Europe.  As a veteran missionary church planter in Germany, Clark’s approach to his subject matter is both informed and immediate.  The careful research work he has done here tells of a religious movement nearly as old as Azusa Street, but which developed under vastly different circumstances.

Clark’s purpose is to provide “insights to assist present and future church planters in Germany” (5) as they and others come to “understand contextual and theological issues unique to Germany” (10).  Following a literature review of the German language sources relevant to the topic at hand, a discussion of biblical models of church planting, and the context of the Freikirchen (Free Churches), Clark turns his attention to the deep history of Pentecostalism in Germany.  Outsiders from the beginning, German Pentecostals were not welcomed in the state-funded churches and came into existence as culturally suspect “Free Churches.”  Not long after the movement took root in 1906, German believers faced the additional pressure of being labeled as cultic and even Satanic by fellow evangelical Free Church Christians—not to mention German society at large.  For Clark, this 1909 Berlin Declaration helped create an image of Pentecostals that has been as damning as it has been lasting.

The five German church groups studied for this monograph are: the Bund Freikirchler Pfingstgemeinden (BFP), the Volksmission, the Ecclesia Fellowship of Churches, the Mulheim Association, and the Church of God.  Clark investigates all of the German-speaking church plants operating with the cooperation of these groups in the post-WWII era, provided the congregations are still in existence.  He then sorts the churches into eleven categories according to the circumstances of their founding.  Clark rejects two of these categories–churches founded by refugees from the East and by splits in existing churches–as poor models upon which to base further church planting.  Planting churches by use of evangelistic meetings, while showing some success in the past, is also downplayed as less than useful in modern Germany.

The remaining categories of historical church planting retain viability for Clark: resident clergy or layperson initiated, mother church plants, foreign missionary initiated, organic development from the Charismatic Movement, non-resident clergy/lay initiated, home cell group initiated, derivatives of youth oriented ministry, and as the result of proximity to a national or international ministry.  Of these models, Clark elevates the mother-daughter church paradigm as key.  Further, he strongly encourages the use of interpersonal missionary connections rather than institutional outreach.

Clark’s study has much to commend it.  Most notable is the care and diligence with which he assembles the data that comprises this study.  Scholars and church leaders will be glad of it for years to come.  For the English-speaking reader, his is a rare insight into German Pentecostalism that elucidates the unique context of Pentecostalism in a secular land that maintains its cultural allegiance to a state-funded Staatskirche.  The slow numerical growth witnessed by church planters in Germany is thus not surprising.  Clark’s additional observations about the use of the home cell group and suggestions for dialogue and cooperation between the major Pentecostal groups once again reminds readers that his knowledge of the movement is both as deep as it is practical.

Alas, there are some drawbacks to Clark’s work.  First, he often lacks the specificity needed to adequately make his point.  Throughout the book and in his title, for instance, he continually refers to the need for “intentional” ministry.  The term is both undefined and overused in the book, in the process rendering it essentially meaningless.  By not clearly spelling out what he means theologically, he weakens a major piece of his argument.  So too his occasional assertions of “emotional excesses” (49) on the part of some German Pentecostals remains opaque.  He neither historically nor philosophically explains what he means by this language, in the process clouding one of the criticisms made against the movement.

Second, Clark’s approach is rather unfocused.  He does well in establishing the facts on the ground and analyzing the data, but when he moves from analysis to practical recommendations, he seems to have missed a step or two.  His approach to his findings and suggestions mostly takes the form of lists.  While some of what he has to offer is vital, other conclusions—such as “pastors need to lead by example” (146)—seem neither particularly profound nor necessarily derived from his research.  A more focused thesis, the removal of excess and sometimes unnecessary commentary, and more deliberate argumentation would help organize his findings more helpfully.

In spite of these drawbacks, Clark’s work stands alone as one of the only—if not the only—full-length English work on indigenous German Pentecostalism.  Because German Pentecostal Church Planting, 1945-2005 exists at the crossroads of the historical, sociological, practical, and theological, it is hard to criticize it for occasionally unwanted editorializing.  Many of Clark’s comments are both insightful and apropos, and will bear much fruit for those willing to read both his monograph and peruse the associated twenty-two appendices of data and related material.  Missionaries, pastors, and other ministry workers in Western Europe will be wise to study it closely as they contemplate the work at hand.  English-speaking students of global Pentecostalism and sociologists of religion will alike both find much to provoke conversation and reflection on this small corner of the diverse and changing world religious landscape.

Reviewed by Dr. Joshua R. Ziefle, Northwest University

Published also in German: Clark, Paul. Die Gründung von Pfingstgemeinden in Deutschland, 1945-2005 : Implikationen für intentionale Mission im 21. Jahrhundert.  Benton Harbor, MI: Priority Publishing, 2011.

Paperback, 280 pages. €16.95 retail. Order from: Priority Publishing.

1 Comment

Filed under Church, Missions, Reviews

Review: And God Was There

And God Was There: A Biography of Charles and Coralie Lee, by Coralie Ann Lee. San Francisco: Blurb, Inc, 2011.

This compelling book gives the life story and ministry of Charles Lee, a noted Navajo artist and Assemblies of God pastor, along with his wife, Coralie. This work is a biography of their lives before and after they met and married, and it tells about their experiences at they labored on the reservation from 1953-1989 and beyond.

Raised in the traditional Navajo culture, as a youth, Charlie Lee searched in nature and other places until he finally was confronted with the reality of Christ and His atoning work on the cross. He attended church during his high school years, but he was not strongly committed.

During the summer after his graduation, an Apache school friend invited Charlie to visit the San Carlos Reservation in Arizona. There he was encountered  a more vibrant form of worship at the Pentecostal church. He came into contact with people who joyfully lived their Christian faith. He was impressed by the Pentecostal approach to Christianity, and this led him to commit his life to Christ on New Year’s Day, 1948.

Lee had observed that his people, the Navajos, lived far below the standard of other Americans. They experienced poverty and sickness, as well as low moral standards. He began to feel a strong burden for his people, and he longed for a way to help them. Lee’s dream and vision was to build a church on the reservation where his people, the Navajo, could come and find Christ as their Savior. In his lifetime he was able to accomplish this and much more.

In his search for more of God, he received the baptism in the Holy Spirit. This gave him an enablement and power from God which would help him to accomplish his goal. He felt a calling into ministry and decided to attend Central Bible Institute (now Central Bible College) in Springfield, Missouri.

After graduating from Bible school in 1951, he traveled extensively in the West and Midwest as well as Canada to evangelize among Native American peoples. In 1953, he returned to New Mexico to launch out into his life’s calling. He was joined by his new bride, Coralie, and together they established Mesa View Assembly of God at Ship Rock, New Mexico.

They first traveled from Cortez, Colorado, which was 70 miles away. Later they used their station wagon for living quarters. Eventually they built a small two-room house. The Navajos, bound by superstition, alcohol, and other problems, were slow to respond. The missionary couple labored 18 months before claiming their first convert. As time went on, under his leadership the church became fully self-supporting and self-governing, and grew to more than 200 members.

In his 36 years of ministering at Ship Rock, he helped develop indigenous church leadership among the Navajos. His congregation became the first AG Native American church on a federally recognized reservation to become a General Council affiliated church. He also served as the first officially appointed national home missionary for the Assemblies of God. Today there are almost 200 Native American churches in the Assemblies of God.

In 1989 he retired as pastor, and turned the church over to his son, Eric Lee, who continues to pastor the church which today is called Four Corners Community Church. After his retirement, Charlie served as a board member at American Indian Bible College and as a chaplain at San Juan Regional Medical Center in Farmington.

Charlie Lee passed away in 2003 at the age of 79, having given over 50 years of service in ministry to Native Americans. Coralie, his widow, continues to live in Shiprock, New Mexico, and attends Four Corners Community Church, which she and her husband founded almost 60 years ago.

This inspiring and captivating biography of Charlie Lee will be of interest to anyone interested in learning more about Native Americans or evangelizing among them.

Reviewed by Glenn Gohr

150 pages, illustrated. $11.99 (paperback); $28.99 (hard cover dust jacket); $29.99 (hard cover image wrap). Plus shipping. Order from: blurb.com

1 Comment

Filed under Reviews

Review: Ministry to the Disabled

Compel Them to Come In: Reaching People with Disabilities through the Local Church, compiled and edited by Tom Leach. Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse, 2010.

Fifty-eight million Americans live with some form of disability. Yet many churches have seemingly ignored this large and diverse population. A new book, Compel Them to Come In, provides a guide to ministry to people with physical and mental disabilities. This book – an anthology of essays by Assemblies of God leaders in disability ministries – is the first of its kind to be written by Pentecostals. Its solid, ministry-tested approach means that it will be welcomed by the broader Christian community.

Compel Them to Come In seeks to introduce pastors and people in the pew to some of the issues and strategies regarding ministry to people with physical and mental disabilities. The book offers practical suggestions regarding the adaptation of specific ministries (e.g., evangelism, Sunday school, the worship service) to the needs of the disabled. It also addresses how to minister to people with specific disabilities (e.g., mild intellectual disabilities, physical disabilities, blind and visually impaired). The volume also discusses the importance of providing encouragement to caregivers, and points out that the disabled have a valuable role in ministry to the body.

The authors write from experience. Tom Leach, the editor, was born with mild cerebral palsy. His mother, instead of aborting Tom, gave birth and placed him for adoption. At age 25 while a student at Trinity Bible College (Ellendale, North Dakota), he survived a car wreck that left him paralyzed from the chest down as a C-6, 7 quadriplegic. He is now an Assemblies of God evangelist serving with Special Touch Ministry, a para-church organization that serves the needs of people with disabilities and which helped to develop this book.

Additional contributors include: Charlie Chivers, a nationally appointed Assemblies of God missionary to people with disabilities and founder of Special Touch Ministry; Larry Campbell, also a nationally appointed Assemblies of God missionary to people with disabilities; Paul Weingartner, the executive director of the Assemblies of God Center for the Blind; and Sarah Sykes, who works with the Assemblies of God Center for the Blind.

I had the privilege of meeting Tom Leach in his Ellendale home this summer. Within the course of an hour, Tom changed my views about people with disabilities. He shared his testimony and showed me Compel Them to Come In and another book he had authored. This was the first conversation I can recall having with a quadriplegic. When I previously came into contact with people who had lost use of their limbs, I generally looked away, partly because I did not want to stare and partly because I felt embarrassed. Tom burst my stereotypes and demonstrated an incredible passion for life and for Christ. He was articulate and I clung onto his words. And I still cannot grasp how Tom was able to produce two books – even with a computer adapted to his disabilities and with the assistance of his wife, Gayle, and a handful of ministry colleagues.

Tom completed this book after having spent 26 years as a quadriplegic and 18 years in ministry to people with disabilities. Tom wrestled with the problem of suffering, human weakness, and feeling unlovely and unwanted. He wrote, “People with disabilities live in a raw, harsh reality. They are painfully aware that their conditions and circumstances are often ugly and distasteful to others, and that their lifestyle and behaviors are sometimes interpreted as being weird, abnormal, and bizarre.” Tom then reminded readers that Jesus embraced “the ugly, dirt-encrusted feet of his disciples in His holy hands and washed them” (p. xvii). The book’s title was inspired by a parable of Jesus where the master ordered his servant: “Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame…Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full” (Luke 14:21, 23). The message in Compel Them to Come In, and in scripture, is unmistakable – Christ gave a mandate to the church to minister to those with disabilities. This is a message that Pentecostals – and the broader church – need to hear.

Reviewed by Darrin Rodgers

Paperback, 237 pages, illustrated. $29.95 retail. Order from: amazon.com

Tom Leach also wrote Firestorm: State of the Union, a novel about extremists on both sides of the abortion issue who threatened to engulf the United States in a firestorm of violence. Tom has significant credibility when speaking on the value of life because of his life story. For more information or to purchase the book, go to: amazon.com

3 Comments

Filed under Reviews

Review: Mel and Corliss Erickson

Living the Call: Mel and Corliss Erickson, by Karen Koczwara. Beaverton, OR: Good Book Publishing, 2010.

For more than 40 years, Mel and Corliss Erickson have been synonymous with Assemblies of God ministry to Native Americans in North Dakota. Mel, a native of Kulm, North Dakota, and Corliss, from Hallock, Minnesota, met at North Central Bible College in Minneapolis and married in 1967.

The trajectory for their lives was set on one Sunday evening in August 1966, when Mel received a distinct call to minister to Native Americans. He recounted, “I suddenly felt God say to me, ‘I want you to go to minister to the American Indians.’ I was so shocked I nearly bolted out of my seat.” He had little exposure to Native Americans, and he asked God three times whether he had heard correctly. He reasoned that he should go to Africa, India, or South America, instead of remaining so close to home. God confirmed this call, and Mel remained true to it.

The Ericksons spent the first twenty years of their ministry as pastors of Tokio Assembly of God, located on the Spirit Lake Indian Reservation near Devils Lake, North Dakota. Mel became the coordinator of the North Dakota District’s outreach to Native Americans. After resigning from the Tokio church in 1987, Erickson oversaw the planting of All Tribes Assembly of God in Bismarck and the construction of new church buildings for Native American congregations in Belcourt and Fort Totten.

Living the Call tells the engaging, faith-inspiring story of the Ericksons and their six children, as they learned to live and minister in their cross-cultural calling. This book will be of interest to those who knew the Ericksons and to those who desire to know more about life and ministry in the rural Great Plains and among Native Americans.

Reviewed by Darrin J. Rodgers

Paperback, 230 pages, illustrated. $15 plus postage. Order from: Dakota Missionary Evangelism

1 Comment

Filed under Reviews