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Messengers into all the world

By Janet Walker

They hear the call. They go. They learn the language and the culture. They faithfully plant the seed of the gospel while building relationships and trust. Their sacrifice and service lend credibility to the message of salvation and the work of the church.

Here are the stories of a few of God’s messengers, our missionaries.

Kevin & Wendy Beery

For nearly a decade Kevin and Wendy Beery were the only resident Assemblies of God missionaries in the former communist country of Bulgaria in Eastern Europe. Since 1994 they have served in this land of 7.5 million people, working primarily with Sofia Pentecostal Bible College in the nation’s capital.

They met while attending North Central University in Minneapolis, Minnesota. As both participated in several short-term overseas outreaches sponsored by the college, the call to missions took shape in their lives. They married soon after graduation in 1989 and served as associate pastors. After hearing about the urgent need for workers in Eastern Europe, the Beerys sensed God directing them to Bulgaria.

When they arrived, the Bulgarian church was experiencing tremendous growth. Communism had ended, and people were free to acknowledge and practice their faith. Hearts were open to the gospel. The Pentecostal Fellowship has grown from 35 churches in 1989 to 600 today. But trained pastors are not available to lead them all.

Kevin serves as president of Sofia Pentecostal Bible College. He believes training local leaders for ministry is one of the most important services a missionary can offer. Since the school graduated its first class in 1995, more workers have become active in ministry. The school received government recognition and accreditation in 1999. Currently, about 30 resident students are enrolled. Another 120 men and women study by extension, coming for one week of training four times a year.

In addition to their work with the Bible school, the Beerys preach in local churches, help conduct conferences for pastors and women, and host construction and youth ministry teams. Kevin is also managing editor of the Bulgarian translation of the Fire Bible (Life in the Spirit Study Bible), projected for completion in 2007. Wendy writes a marriage and family column for Bulgaria’s nationwide evangelical newspaper.

The Beerys are especially excited about Friends, a new church in Sofia. This church, planted and pastored by a team of former Bible college students, is attracting a younger crowd of Bulgarians with its nontraditional format.

Diane Campbell

A physical therapist, Diane Campbell serves as a missionary on special assignment to Cambodia and Asia Pacific.

She and her three siblings grew up in a strong Christian family on a farm in Wisconsin, faithfully attending an Assemblies of God church. Her first exposure to missions was during her high school years, when she participated in three Ambassadors in Mission summer trips to Mexico. While attending Evangel University in Springfield, Missouri, Diane felt impressed by the Lord that He would use her in medical missions as she committed her life, education and future to Him.

Following college and medical school, Diane gained valuable clinical experience with Assemblies of God HealthCare Ministries in short-term medical trips overseas.

For the past decade Diane has ministered in Cambodia, where many still suffer the effects of the country’s 20-year civil war with the Khmer Rouge. She regularly uses her medical skills to help land mine victims, children in orphanages, and polio and palsy patients.

Diane assisted HealthCare Ministries in initiating and implementing a Community Health Evangelism program in Cambodia as a church planting strategy. In addition, she travels to other countries in Asia Pacific to lead medical missions teams and train medical personnel.

Dr. George M. & Ester Flattery

Dr. George M. and Esther Flattery, missionaries since 1966, serve with Global University in Springfield, Missouri, where George was recently named president.

The son of Assemblies of God missionaries, George grew up in Burkina Faso, and much of his early education was completed by correspondence. This exposure to the urgent need for Christian education overseas helped fuel his call to that ministry.

He and Esther met at Central Bible College in Springfield and later moved to Texas. They pioneered a church while George completed a doctorate in education. In 1966, with George’s vision and burden for overseas missions education increasing, the Flatterys returned to Springfield. George worked in Assemblies of God World Missions, assisting in a worldwide Bible school survey. Early the next year, he presented a plan to World Missions leaders for a program of study a church in any nation could use to train believers and ministers in God’s Word.

In 1967 the Flatterys founded International Correspondence Institute (ICI), which became ICI University in 1993. For nearly 40 years, this school has been a global force in taking the gospel to remote areas of the world and accelerating the evangelism, discipleship and training of laypeople and pastors for Pentecostal ministry.

Recognizing the growing potential of the Internet to enhance the proclamation of the gospel, the Flatterys founded another visionary outreach — Network211 — in 1998. The Web ministry allows churches and individuals worldwide to access missions information and content for local churches. In this way, people everywhere can be involved in evangelism and discipleship over the Internet.

In 1999, ICI University and Berean University merged to become Global University. George served as chancellor until October 2006, when he was named president. Global University operates through a network of 232 offices worldwide and works closely with churches, schools and other institutions. It ministers at home and abroad with Great Commission-driven purpose by offering a School of Evangelism and Discipleship, Berean School of the Bible, School of Theology and Graduate School. Global University has distributed more than 50 million evangelism courses. Nearly 2 million people have contacted the ministry to report they have accepted Christ as their Savior as a result of ICI/Global materials.

Dean & Peggy Galyen

As Dean Galyen prepared to go to college, he had a vision of an African man who told him to go into the ministry for his sake. Responding to that vision, Dean declined a full scholarship to a state university and went to North Central University in Minneapolis.

Dean and Peggy Galyen ministered in U.S. churches for 25 years before applying for missions service. In every church where they served, they sought to increase the congregation’s missions awareness. Dean led a number of teams from his last pastorate in St. Louis, Missouri, on overseas missions outreaches. On a trip to Africa, Dean finally met the man he had seen in his vision. Meeting Jean Waye confirmed to him that God had called him to reach many more people in Africa.

When the Galyens went to Malawi in 1993, their greatest desire was to see churches established in areas where none existed. They held evangelistic meetings throughout Malawi and in the countries of Madagascar, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Mauritius. In addition, Dean taught short-term courses in Bible schools and on-site ministerial training seminars. Partnering with Tabernacle Evangelism, he helped build permanent church structures.

Nearly five years ago, the Galyens transferred to Zimbabwe. Only a few congregations there had buildings in which to meet. Assisted by construction teams from U.S. churches, Dean began building tabernacles for churches across the country.

“Constructing a tabernacle in a community has a tremendous impact,” Dean says. “It draws people like a magnet to a place where they can hear the gospel. Not only does a building bring credibility to a congregation, but we also see that a missionary living among the people, learning the language and the culture, brings credibility to the work and the message.”

Because of the Galyens’ obedience to the call, thousands of Africans like Jean Waye are hearing the gospel, growing in their faith and finding a place of worship.

David & Lois Stewart

“I want you to go to India.”

Thirteen-year-old Lois Perry inwardly heard a voice say those words to her during prayer time at her home church in North Carolina. Four years later she saw a vision of a crowd of young people in India. Lois responded by telling God she would go to India, but she asked Him to please give her a husband to go with her.

While attending Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida, she participated in a student group that prayed for India. David Stewart was part of the group. As their friendship grew, Lois told David about her call to India and asked if he ever felt God had something special for him to do. David told her God recently had called him to minister in India. Convinced that God had brought them together, David and Lois were married. 

The Stewarts arrived in India more than 40 years ago. They directed the Assemblies of God Industrial School in Shencottah, established an orphanage, built several day schools, established the youth department of the Tamil District, initiated camp and retreat programs for youth, and started a college ministry. They also launched radio programs in the Tamil language and helped plant more than 100 churches.

While in the United States for itineration after serving more than a decade overseas, David Stewart wrote in a memo that he could hardly wait to get back to India: “Some of the dear older people who are missionaries planted the seed and stuck it out when times were tough, even though they did not see much happening. Now, suddenly, things are beginning to move!”

After 40 years of ministry, the Stewarts also have “stuck it out when times were tough.” As a result, scores of Indian church leaders look to David as a spiritual father, including David Mohan, general superintendent of the All-India Assemblies of God and pastor of New Life Assembly in Chennai — the largest church on the Indian subcontinent, with more than 30,000 members.

Steve & Rhonda Wilson

Missionaries to Chile since 1993, Steve and Rhonda Wilson reach people for Christ and plant churches near the southernmost tip of South America. For the past seven years, they have lived in the coastal town of Puerto Aysen. They are responsible for ministry in the Patagonia region that includes an archipelago of hundreds of islands off Chile’s southwest coast and a tiny sliver of mainland — an area that stretches about 1,000 miles.

Few churches exist in Patagonia’s coastal communities and islands. Often people tell the Wilsons, “No one comes here. We’re too isolated, and they have forgotten us.”

Steve and Rhonda are working to change that. With the help of their Speed the Light boat, they travel to the islands, visit the people and help meet their needs. The Wilsons have even used their boat to rescue people whose lives are endangered on the rugged sea.

Steve was exposed to boat travel at an early age. Living in Florida, he sometimes helped his father, who operated a “school boat” that transported island children to the mainland school.

The Wilsons repeatedly visit even the most remote islands and communities in Patagonia as they work to build relationships. Steve says that’s the key to sharing the gospel in this region: “You must build a relationship with the people to the point that they trust you. Then they trust the message that you bring. We want to show them they aren’t abandoned, that God remembers them and cares about them, and that there is hope.”

Both Steve and Rhonda grew up in ministers’ homes and helped with various local church outreaches. Steve was called to ministry as a teenager. While he and Rhonda served as children’s pastors in Louisiana, God spoke to their hearts about missions and they participated in short-term children’s ministry in Latin America.

In unique ways, God continues to call more men and women each year to take the message of Jesus to those who have never heard. These missionaries build relationships with people and create opportunities for more communities to hear about Jesus. At the same time, these messengers find strength in the relationships of those at home — their families, friends, churches and districts who faithfully pray for and support them.

Janet Walker is assistant editor of the World Missions Edition of Today’s Pentecostal Evangel.

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