Current news and stories from our Alliance field workers.
Alliance family members are reported to be safe as recent wildfires have erupted in the Los Angeles area. As we pray for those who are affected by these blazes, please remember our Alliance people who lost their homes to the Santa Rosa fire in October.
Ray Van Gilst, Central Pacific District superintendent, writes the following:
This month I have been reflecting back on how we respond in the midst of chaos.
On Sunday, October 22, we were at The Bridge Church in Santa Rosa where the message to a standing-room-only crowd was “Hope Out of Chaos.” I have rarely heard a more poignant and timely message. The focus was on the fact that even though 2 of their pastors and 40 of their families lost their homes—and they lost one of their venues with a bunch of equipment—God is still on the throne!
They embraced the fact that they are in this together with their community, and in the midst of the pain, God really is in control. He really is their strength. And not only does He redeem us—He redeems our circumstances! There is no question in their minds that God is bringing hope out of the chaos of this tragedy. There is no doubt in their hearts that God is bringing redemption to the city of Santa Rosa out of their shared suffering. It was incredibly humbling to worship with people who were in the midst of such trial yet focused not on their own needs but only on the needs of their community. They started by housing and serving evacuees and continued by looking for ways to unite the churches through a service with Francis Chan at the fairgrounds this past Sunday night. They are doing everything in their power (God’s power) to meet the needs of those around them.
In the newsletter of the Alliance Redwoods, who also served well by housing firefighters and evacuees, was this verse from Isaiah 25:4 (ESV):
“For you have been a stronghold for the poor, a stronghold for the needy person in his distress, a refuge from the rain, a shade from the heat.”
May we all be [a stronghold] as we minister to a broken world, pointing them to the One who has the answers, because He IS the answer!
by an Alliance international worker couple serving in Senegal, West Africa
Senegalese are by nature tenacious. If a few understand and believe the gospel, the entire country of Senegal—and all of West Africa—will be impacted. We are seeing this in Diohine, a small village three hours outside of Dakar, the capital city.
In 1994, Evangelical Brethren Church missionaries handed over leadership of the church in Dakar to Senegalese believers, who began studying the Book of Acts. Upon reading Jesus’ Commission to be His witnesses in “Jerusalem . . . and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8), church leaders began interceding and determined that their Jerusalem was Diohine, as many were from that area.
In 1995, they sent the first evangelists to the area. During the 2015 Thanksgiving weekend, Dakar Academy students and Alliance staff were invited to hold an outreach in Diohine, where an estimated 6,000 people heard the good news.
The Body of Christ in Diohine has now grown to five congregations that have caught the Great Commission vision—they share the gospel with the surrounding 48 villages, and the Lord adds to their number weekly.
Please pray for the provision of partner churches to supply evangelistic tools for this growing church.
Watch a video about the Dakar Academy outreach in Diohine and surrounding villages, which was created for the 2016 Great Commission Day Offering. (4:14)
“Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn” (Romans 12:15).
Recently, one of our students had an aunt who died after a long battle with cancer. Throughout our English lesson that day, he shared about his love for her and how his family is dealing with her passing. “She was like a mother to me,” he explained. “She helped raise me and supported me.”
He felt open to sharing with us, because we are not just his English teachers—we have become friends.
With the news of her passing, we went to the church to be there for him so that we could mourn with him. At the church I spent a long time interceding for the people here and reflecting on the conversations I have had with this student about God and my relationship with Jesus.
Please pray with us for this student and his family and also for the many other locals we interact with—that they may know Jesus and the hope that He brings even in times of grieving.
by an Alliance international worker in a creative-access country, who serves on a team ministering to the disabled
Vadim, 46, had lived in a state-run institution since he was 3 years of age. I met him seven years ago when I joined a ministry team from an Alliance partner church that visits the residents. We took gifts to help brighten their lives.
From the moment we met Vadim, it was clearly a divine appointment. And I was honored to share his sacred story in “A Beautiful Brother,” published in the December 1, 2013, Alliance Life.
In the article, Vadim shared three prayer requests, and I reminded him of the words of Ephesians 3:20: “[God] is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.”
This past year, all of Vadim’s prayers were answered!
A New Home
Vadim’s first request related to his future. A Christian man, Pavel, who has known Vadim for years, had begun the process of assuming guardianship of him. (Pavel and his wife are close friends with the family that leads the ministry to the disabled.) This had given Vadim hope.
He asked for prayer that he could finally live in a home with a family that loved him. This year, Vadim moved out of the state home where he lived for decades and now lives with Pavel and his wife who have been granted guardianship.
Remaining a Loyal Friend
Vadim’s second prayer request concerned a couple of girls at the orphanage who were his friends; they care for each other like family. If he left, it would be very hard on them.
Since moving in with his new family, Vadim’s friends at the state home have experienced his love for them through his frequent calls and visits. He also advocates for the items they need—as well as for the things they want. They now know he won’t abandon them.
Also, in the article I shared that Vadim told me that he wanted to be baptized but couldn’t get permission to leave the state-home grounds. But after moving this past year, nothing stood in his way.
Vadim met with the pastor of his church, who was assured of his faith. This summer one of Vadim’s dearest dreams came true when he was baptized.
A Bonus Answer
Another of Vadim’s great desires has been that his best friend and roommate of many years at the state home, Zhenya, could become his roommate again. There were several impediments to this dream: the state would have to grant Zhenya permission to leave; Zhenya would have to want to do so as well.
Zhenya had been feeling betrayed by Vadim’s departure this past year and would hardly speak to his friend when he visited. Our Alliance team prayed about this complication.
Zhenya now has had a change of heart, and officials have granted him permission to leave the state home. Vadim’s guardians have extended the invitation to Zhenya to join their family.
There is now much rejoicing and thanksgiving in Vadim’s new home!
De Smet (South Dakota) Alliance Church celebrated 50 years of fruitful ministry to its community on September 10, 2017. In 1967 the church bought the historic building first constructed by Pa Ingalls in 1882 and expanded considerably in 1909. Stained glass windows remain from that era, though the building has been renovated in recent years. Pastor Marty Reynhout, in his 17th year, leads a healthy congregation today, according to the North Central District Office.
The first religious service in the settlement of De Smet was held in the home of Charles P. Ingalls on February 29, 1880. Later, the group met for a while in an unfinished railroad depot. The church was officially organized on June 20, 1880. One year later a congregational meeting proposed financing for a church building. Money was raised through contributions and pledges. Construction on the church began in 1882. Pa Ingalls assisted in the construction.
The original structure was a typical small church of its time: 28×48 feet in size, with the entrance at the north end and two small vestry rooms. Atop the steep roof was a sturdy belfry.
The first meeting to be held in the First Congregational Church building was August 30, 1882. The Rev. Edward Brown was its minister. Among the eight charter members were Charles, Caroline, and Mary Ingalls.
The bell was purchased in 1884 from Henry McShane & Company at a cost of $100.38. It was the first church bell to ring in Kingsbury County; it is still in use at the United Church of Christ building.
In 1909 the church was remodeled considerably. A basement was built. The east wing and a new entrance were added. Stained glass windows were purchased for $260. The large window on the north end was a gift of the Drakola Congregational Church.
In 1967 the congregation built a new church west on Highway 14. The old building was then sold to The Christian and Missionary Alliance for the beginning of a new congregation.
This historic church, first conceived in the minds of Pa Ingalls and his contemporaries, has survived the winds of change. It has met the tests of droughts and depressions for more than 100 years, to leave its own mark on the lives of the faithful in De Smet.
Article was first published at desmetalliancechurch.com. Historical facts and photos provided by the Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society and The De Smet News.