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Master's Commission becomes
integral part of "We Build People"

by Tarrah Teigland

"To Know God and To Make Him Known": this is the twofold purpose of Master's Commission discipleship ministry. Several months ago, representatives from the Master's Commission International Network (MCIN) met with General Superintendent Thomas Trask and other Headquarters leaders to explore how Master's Commission might best fit into the Assemblies of God General Council while maintaining their specified purpose. A recommendation was made at that time to include them within a newly formed Commission on Discipleship that would encompass all the discipleship ministries of the Assemblies of God. "We Build People" provides the thematic focus of this commission.

LeRoy Bartel, national director of the Division of Christian Education and chairman of the new commission, explains that one level of We Build People's ministry focuses on the "emphasis given to the ongoing spiritual development of disciples." The other side, the development of lay leaders in the church, is where Master's Commission will especially fit in. Here, they will actively seek how they might fulfill the Great Commission in more effective ministry ways.

The Commission on Discipleship, when fully in place, will consist of no more than 40 members who come from various departments within the Assemblies of God. Members of the commission will be responsible for providing guidance to the various departments and ministries in the commission and developing programs and resources to better facilitate discipleship ministries within A/G churches. When shown the proposal for the integration into the Commission on Discipleship, the Master's Commission International Network unanimously accepted. The Commission on Discipleship will have two representatives from Master's as members.

In 1984, Master's Commission began at Phoenix First Assembly (the Rev. Tommy Barnett, pastor) in Phoenix, Ariz., because of a vision in the heart of Pastor Larry Kerychuck. Kerychuck believed that if young Mormons could give 2 years of their life for their "mission," Christian young people could certainly consecrate 1 year to God. Master's Commission began under the direction of Carman Balsamo with daily prayer, Bible study and Scripture memorization as its foundation. Upon Balzamo's unfortunate death in 1987, Barnett asked the Rev. Lloyd Zeigler to direct the program. Under Zeigler, Master's Commission has become a multi-dimensional ministry branching into inner-city outreach, ministry training and church and campus evangelism.

Today, there are 50 Master's Commission programs affiliated with the MCIN from Alabama to Auckland, New Zealand. Although the majority of the churches with Master's programs are A/G affiliates, several Church of God and independent churches have caught the vision of discipleship for their church.

The Master's Commission International Network Affiliation began in 1995 at an annual directors' meeting. Eric Hunsberger and his wife Raquel head up this arm of the ministry. At the yearly Master's Commission Discipleship Conference last year, Hunsberger says, "we had about 4,000 people. Next year we expect 6,000-8,000. God has been doing a massive movement with that." While the International teams are not able to bring all their members, leaders from El Salvador, Honduras, Australia, and the Philippines come to take the Master's vision home to their members.

Young people deciding to join Master's Commission enter a life-changing program which is geared toward coming "face to face" with God. To be a part of Master's Commission, each candidate must be committed to the program for the year, must give Christ his/her all by agreeing not to date during the program, and most importantly, must love Jesus Christ wholeheartedly and without reservation.

Master's Commission is designed to be more of a lifestyle than an actual program. Says Loren Triplett , former Foreign Missions director, "Their powerful ministries and multiplied good works have brought blessing to many at home and abroad, and I recognize them as young people of trust and superb spiritual effectiveness."

Master's Commission "disciples" spend weeks of their year learning various ministries. They study how to reach out to youth, children, and seniors alike. Traveling to nursing homes and spending time in church nurseries are all a part of their efforts to live lives of total selflessness. Missions is also an essential part of Master's Commission, whether home or abroad. Teams travel to the Philippines, Canada, Slovakia and other countries to share the gospel of Christ. Zeigler speaks of an upcoming trip to Nicaragua where the Honduras Master's Commission group, El Salvador's group, and the Phoenix group will all work together. Still other teams participate in training youth groups to reach their peers with effective ministry tools.

Zeigler is excited about the opportunities now afforded to Master's Commission by the Assemblies of God. Concerning the "adoption," he says, "We have never been, as an organization, more excited about something because we are growing so rapidly that we really feel we need the structure of the Assemblies to help guide us." He feels that the transition is important because Master's Commission is already such a vital part of the actual church body. "We work with the youth department, the children's department, the adult department, the wheelchairs, the buses. We serve the church."

Bartel also stressed the educational opportunities for Master's Commission graduates. Although students work on Berean courses for the duration of the program, only a small percentage go on to attend Bible schools. The majority go straight into full-time ministry. Bartel hopes that the commission will "serve as a liaison, as a covering and as a bridge for those who desire to pursue their education and at that point hand them off to what's happening in Christian Higher Education."

"Discipleship is front and center to everything that the Master's Commission is about; it is our passion," Zeigler says. He sees people like Foreign Missions Director John Bueno going overseas "with a warrior team that would be easily mobilized to go with him." Being part of the "We Build People" team is "right on track with what we are all about."


Wednesday, August 11 News...


 

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