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Independent Assemblies

Jan/Feb 2014

uniting ministries worldwide

storm update phili p pines

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calendar January

Interstate Fellowship Meeting January 13, 2014 Faith Fellowship Church Collinsville, OK Rev. Kelvin Limbocker North Texas Fellowship Meeting January 24, 2014 Souls Refuge Church Forney, TX Rev. Randy Franklin


Interstate Fellowship Meeting February 10, 2014 Living Faith Church Moore, OK Rev. Jimmy Milligan

Current Members

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Interstate Fellowship Meeting March 10, 2014 Liberty Church Weatherford, OK Rev. Scott Page North Texas Fellowship Meeting March 24, 2014 Living Word Church Kemp, TX Rev. Daniel Sue

connection JAN | FEB 2014

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Independent Assemblies PO Box 1546 Ada, OK 74821 (580) 310-0222

5 Outside the Walls 6 A Strong Presence 8 Storm Update: Philippines

11 Board Members

Independent Assemblies PO Box 1546 Ada, OK 74821 (580) 310-0222 Produced by Layers Media, Inc. connection • 3

Richmond Michael and Ronda Brien’s country church are in the heart of small town life in Seiling, Oklahoma. The Brien’s ministry has grown over the years, spilling beyond a community so small you’d probably miss it if you blinked while passing through. Through outreach efforts, the Brien’s have been able to reach people as far away as Italy and as close as the withering addicts down the street or the disparate criminals cooped up in county jail. It all started for Michael Brien when he became a youth pastor at age 18 in an Assemblies of God church where he lived in Pawnee, Oklahoma over twenty years ago. Two years later, he transitioned to associate pastor and began filling in at local churches. He went on to minister across the U.S. to biker groups for a year and half. After he was introduced to IA through missionaries Bill and Twyla Guthrie, he and Ronda pioneered an IA church at Seiling in a 1920’s era small country church that had been vacant. As ministries and pastors have blown in and out of the dusty town, God has kept them there and blessed their evangelism efforts. A prison ministry, a CD ministry, and now a Native American ministry have all materialized. “These are all ministries that I didn’t push open,” said Brien, “they just came to me.” Each month they mail about 250 CDs free of charge to everyone from local people who are shut in and truck drivers on the road, to pastors and even someone in Italy. “People started coming to me and saying, ‘You know, I’ve got this friend who’s really hurting right now and they need some kind of ministry. Can you put them on the list?’ It’s just grown from there. I’ve even got local pastors on the list.”

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Country Church

by: Mindy Wood

The CD ministry is one part of their compassionate efforts to reach people who can’t come to church. “There’s a couple who moved here and opened up a hotel. They can’t just shut it down and leave. I felt drawn one day to go visit them and I wound up leading both of them to the Lord. We meet once a week for a Bible study.” Prisoners can’t come to church either so they go to the prison every week but he also visits even the worst sinners for one-on-one discipleship. “I went to see a sex offender. They have to keep him separate from the other prisoners because of that. I visited him and he just started bawling. He said, ‘You don’t understand, I begged God yesterday to send someone to me.’ I really believe in him because he looked at me and he said, ‘I am absolutely guilty.’” The Briens seem to find themselves among sinners more often than among religious people. You’ll find them where the darkest places shadow the most desperate souls. “If I was going to put a motto on our church, it would be ministering ‘to the least of these’. We go out and deal with the outcast and the downcast a lot, the addicts and the drug dealers.” They hope to see the local churches of America revived by evangelism and sustained by diligent discipleship. “I just think it’s time for the true church to rise up and get their hands dirty again. We need to take to the streets like the early church. Salvation is deliverance but I believe deliverance without discipleship is deception. The church does a good job getting people delivered but we’ve got to disciple people too.” For more information you can reach the Briens at or at 580-922-0362. •

outside the walls by: Mindy Wood

Open air preaching and one-on-one soul winning is as old as the ancient prophets and as relevant today as the Apostle Paul in the first century. At least, that’s how Jim and Mindy Bates see it at Victory Christian Center in Columbus, Nebraska. Jim was trained in street evangelism while earning his education degree at the University of Nebraska. Mentored by Gary Wright through Campus Crusade for Christ, he shared the Gospel with college students anywhere he could find them. In 1986 he married Mindy and with her degree in social work and his in education, they worked with troubled youth at Boy’s Town in Lincoln, NE. By 1991, Jim needed credentials to enter prison ministry in Columbus and was then licensed by IA. He was ordained in 1997 when they were given VCF by founding pastor, Terry Fletcher. With all those years beating the streets of Lincoln and Columbus, Bates’ vision and philosophy were fixed. “God is not a respecter of persons. I found out that everyone, whether they’re in a suit and tie walking down the street or holding a sign that says, ‘will work for food,’ they all have the same spiritual need for a Savior.” The vision for VCF is to “love, win, train and send” and there’s no place the Bates and his congregation won’t go to minister the Gospel. Using tracts, public prayer booths, free goods, and kind deeds, they enter the community. Cell groups and Bible studies are held every night of the week in homes, at the public library, or other venues but on the fifth Sunday each month, the entire church hits the streets. “We show up 30 minutes early [at the church] and do praise and worship. Then we go out in the community and some people pay for laundry at the laundry mat and have a spiritual conversation with them, or push their groceries to the car and hand them a tract, or help people pay for gas and invite

them to church. Some people stand on a corner and preach through a speaker; some people just go pick up trash. They’ll have a sign, ‘we’re cleaning up the highway because God loves you.’ In Acts 17:31 God commands all men everywhere to repent. So we go into our community in a very public way,” said Bates. And he does mean everywhere, as far away as the foreign mission field and as close as a bar where Bates said he was thanked with a black eye one Saturday night. “Usually I feel pretty safe everywhere I go but it’s a hardened society we’re living in today.” Bates said he’s taught his congregation the Christian life means persecution sometimes. A team of men were caught smuggling Bibles in Morocco and were arrested before being deported a couple of years ago. VCF has been supporting missions in Muslim countries and now are even reaching out to immigrant Muslims as well. Every year he takes a team of men to Mardis Gras and the Indianapolis 500 race to pass out tracts and do one-on-one witnessing. While Bates admitted the numbers aren’t great for professions, there are people who listen and convert; and it seems to have a profound effect on the team too. Holding signs that say, ‘Forsake your sins, turn to God,’ will humble just about anyone. The Bates train their church both by hands on experience in the public and through classes on evangelism using the International School of Ministry (ISOM) curriculum offered at the church on Saturdays. Through the ISOM they have also helped Latino pastors obtain education and training as well. One of their two daughters, Allison Smith and her husband are preparing to spend two years in the Philippines as the church continues to support missionaries in a dozen countries. For more information, visit •

A Strong Presence by: George Snyder

2013 World Missions Conference


pproximately 200 members of the Independent Assemblies and others attended the IA World Mission Conference, October 14-16 at the Blackwell Tabernacle (and home of Clarion World Ministries) in Blackwell, Oklahoma. Rev. Robert Johnson, Director of World Missions for the Independent Assemblies and Pastor Emeritus for the Blackwell Tabernacle, along with his son, Cliff Johnson, Senior Pastor for the Blackwell Tabernacle, hosted the IA event. “The IA World Missions Conference is an important event for our fellowship as it offers a ‘refreshing’ opportunity for our pastors and our missionaries to meet and share mutual experiences and to grow spiritually,” Rev. Johnson said. The origin of the IA World Conference began more 20 years ago there in Blackwell Tabernacle, according to Rev. Johnson. “After I became a member of the Independent Assemblies, there was a natural transition into what is now the IA World Mission Conference,” he said. The keynote speaker for the 2013 event was Rev. Kemp Holden, Jr., Pastor Emeritus of Harvest Time Church, Fort Smith Arkansas. Rev. Holden addressed the attendees on both Tuesday and Wednesday night, speaking on the respective topics of “beautiful feet” (on Monday evening) and “blessed feet” (on Tuesday evening), sharing a powerful message in both word and spirit. “One of the last things that Jesus did was to wash the feet of his disciples,” Rev. Holden said. “Feet are important. Feet have to do with your character. It’s not the talk; it’s the walk and that’s done with your feet. It’s about carrying out the ‘Great Commission,’” Rev. Holden said. On Tuesday afternoon Pastor Mickey Keith, IA President and Senior Pastor of Life

Community Church made a presentation on “The Life of Joseph.” In speaking about the trails and tests of Joseph, Pastor Keith said, “There is something about going through tests that helps us grow. God was with Joseph throughout his trials and he’s with us as we face our own difficulties. He’s with us because, just like Joseph, he has a purpose for us.” The conference participants were also treated to a special performance of “Big Black Heart,” written and sung by Rev. Ken Anderson, IA Treasurer and Pastor of Liberty Gospel Tabernacle in Lexington, OK. In the words of his song, Rev. Anderson said, “A big black heart can be as heavy as a stone.” “As always, one of the highlights of ‘World Mission Conference’ was the ordination ceremony, which took place on Tuesday night,” Rev. Johnson said. This ceremony is the culmination of the three-part process from Exhorter to Minister to Ordination. “Ordination is the highest recognition we can offer to a minister,” Rev. Johnson said. One new feature at the 2013 Conference was what Rev. Johnson has described as the “spiritual confirmation” of a number of young people who, while not yet missionaries, have felt the call to serve. “These are people who want to be missionaries and they are looking for an open door,” Rev. Johnson said. “During the Tuesday evening service we called them forth to lay hands on them and to confirm their desire. We hoped that by laying hands on them God would give them the strength and open doors for them. Also in bringing them forth, we hoped that missionaries who were in attendance (who might need help) would know these people are there to serve.” In summing up that event and the IA World Mission Conference for 2013, Rev. Johnson said, “There was a very strong presence of God there.” Anyone who attended would surely agree. •

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Photos taken by William Azucar of Cebu

storm update November 8, 2013 Typhoon Haiyan touched the hearts of IA members as fellow believers and missionaries found themselves devastated by the ruthless storm. More than a billion dollars in property damage and more than 6,000 people lost their lives but Bobby Pino, Independent Assemblies-Philippines president, said IA efforts are making a difference. Three days after the storm hit, members at the Minister’s Fellowship meeting in Cyril, Oklahoma immediately donated $13,000 in relief funds, but as of December IA has donated approximately $19,000. Pino is responsible for securing and disseminating food, medical supplies, and other basic human services through the IA Philippines headquarters, located on the island of Negros Oriental. According to a report by CNN, the damage was particularly severe in the Leyte province city of Tacloban, which suffered a direct hit from the storm and enormous devastation. “Our fellowship has a long-term relationship with the people of this area of the world and the members of the Independent Assemblies have quickly reached out to provide support during this horrific time,” said IA President Mickey Keith, who also travels regularly to the Philippines. In April 2013, Keith and Rev. Robert Johnson, IA-U.S. World Missions Director participated in a series of programs at the IA-Philippines Bible School. Rev. Johnson of Clarion World Ministries helped organize IA-Philippines 25 years ago. Pino said victims can’t count on their government. “With the government, they don’t extend any help for the churches or homes of individuals. Even the help that the International Communities are trying to extend to the typhoon victims, people in the government try to hoard it even though people are starving and in traumatic shock and confused. Last week, when we were distributing the relief goods and feeding them, some said they are very happy as it is the first time they had eaten chickens since the typhoon hit their place.”

by: Mindy Wood


Keith is confident that Pino is able to ensure direct relief access to victims. “One of the primary benefits of such grass roots support efforts by the IA-US and other IA affiliated churches, is in knowing that our contributions go directly to those individuals with whom we have trusted, long-term relationships. There is a direct link between our contributions and the people in need.” Those needs are steep. “We don’t have any church in the areas where the Asian Christian School of Ministry is located, but three graduates from our school who work in those places had their church building devastated by the typhoon. Only the section of the wall from the ground and concrete floor are visible. It may cost more than $10,000 each for these churches as they need to build a new building to replace what was there,” said Pino. Pino reported that sharing the Gospel is preeminent and they are seeing people convert. “In most places we ministered, we had seen people are soft hearted and responsive to the Gospel of the Lord because we always share the word of God to them before doing the distribution but there are places that some people are somewhat hardened. They just want to get the help but not interested of the Gospel nor grateful to what we are trying to share. We still help them; they are human beings that need help.” They do plan to continue their efforts as funds allow for the abundance of need. “We hope we can bring more help to many remote places where they most need help as they don’t have the money to buy and the access of buying the foods they need.” Pino thanked everyone for the contributions. “God bless everyone in the IA and leadership, thank you so much and we are so grateful in helping us help our Filipino typhoon victims.” For more information visit or on Facebook under “IA Fellowship.” •

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let’s connect.



Mickey Keith

President PO Box 1546 Ada, OK 74821 (580) 310-0222

Dr. Ted Estes

Vice President PO Box 2248 Claremore, OK 74018 (918) 341-8344

Ken Anderson

Secretary/Treasurer PO Box 1120 Lexington, OK 73051 (405) 527-6030

Robert Johnson

Director of World Missions PO Box 978 Blackwell, OK 74631 (580) 363-2734

Jerry Edmon

Board Member PO Box 862 Elgin, TX 78621 (512) 281-5316

Southeast Oklahoma District Rev. Billy Hunter Antlers, OK (580) 298-2740 Southwest Oklahoma District Rev. Donnie Miller Cyril, OK (580) 464-2224 (580) 512-3657 Northeast Oklahoma District Rev. Mac Blackwell Locust Grove, OK (918) 479-6057 North Texas District Rev. Marc Jones Denton, TX 75751 (903) 675-6011 Southeast Texas District Rev. Herb Hawthorne Baytown, TX (281) 723-2278 South Central Texas District Rev. Jerry Edmon Elgin, TX (512) 281-5316 Midwest Regional District Rev. Mark Maynard Granite City, IL (618) 931-4106 Arkansas District Rev. Charles Kendrick Alexander, AR (501) 303-0831

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Independent Assemblies P.O. Box 1546 Ada, OK 74821

IA Jan/Feb 2014  

Connection Magazine Jan/Feb 2014

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