a candid interview, General Superintendent Thomas Trask responds
to questions about the nation’s spiritual state and the
future of the Assemblies of God
Thomas E. Trask
was elected general superintendent of the U.S. Assemblies of God
in 1993. During his decade in office, he has watched both the
Fellowship and the nation undergo significant change. He spoke
with Associate Editor Kirk Noonan about the pressing spiritual
need in America and the vital role to which the church is called
in our nation.
PE: What are some
of the trends in the Assemblies of God that excite you?
I see a strong emphasis on prayer. We pattern the Assemblies of
God after the Early Church, which was a praying church. God responds
to people and to congregations that pray. I see that today. God
is working. People are being saved; people are being healed; people
are being filled with the Holy Spirit; people are being called
This commitment to
prayer is re-flected in the number of people who are offering
themselves for missionary service. The largest missionary candidate
classes in the history of this church are taking place right now.
We don’t recruit; we don’t hire. The Spirit of God
has to move on the hearts of men and women. The Scripture says
to pray that the Lord of the harvest will send forth laborers.
So as the church prays there is a ripple effect.
I see a spiritual vitality
today within the church. Pastors are giving of themselves and
giving opportunities for the congregation to become involved in
ministry. That, again, is so New Testament. Look at the Book of
Acts. New Testament believers were selling their goods and bringing
them and distributing them so that everyone’s needs were
PE: What are some
things that concern you?
Within the local church, opportunity must be given for the Holy
Spirit to accomplish His work. The centerpiece of the Old Testament
tabernacle was the altar. In the local church there must be a
time, a setting, where in response to the preaching of the Word
God has opportunity to impress upon people the needs they personally
have and the needs of the kingdom of God. We are a church of the
Spirit. We believe in being Spirit-led, Spirit-directed, Spirit-filled,
Spirit-motivated, Spirit-used — that can only happen when
people are introduced to and placed in an atmosphere where the
People need to experience
the joy of being used of the Lord. It isn’t just the preacher
being used or the ministry staff. I heard one pastor whose church
has grown from 2,500 to 4,500 in attendance say, “When I
brought to my people the need for them to touch a person, then
things began to grow.” People touching people, people bringing
people — that really is what the gospel is all about. It’s
more than filling a church auditorium on Sunday morning. It’s
what happens after the Sunday and midweek services. The church
has to have an outlet. God can bless, but you can only stand so
much blessing. Churches are channels through which God’s
take that same track and apply it to youth. What are some of the
things that you are excited about and some things you’re
It’s powerful what God is doing with the Seven Project.
I just received a testimony of how many school auditoriums they
have given presentations at in recent weeks, and the hundreds
of young people saved.
Young people are looking
for answers. Our society is chaotic because homes are in crisis.
So many young people come out of single-parent homes today. They
are looking for something that has meaning; they’re looking
for something that will show love so that they, in turn, can love.
And wherever that’s happening, the youth of the church are
being challenged and God is using them powerfully. They’re
passionate; they’re committed; they’re visionary;
they’re willing to sacrifice. They’re saying, “Send
us to the hard places.” John Bueno, the executive director
of World Missions, will tell you that we have missionaries in
places today serving by themselves in incredibly difficult circumstances.
that if the church does not provide for the filling of a spiritual
vacuum, young people will look to the world to fill it and the
world can’t fill it. Only Jesus Christ can satisfy that
God/faith vacuum. We must provide resources, the music and the
programs that young people relate to. But it all must direct them
to Jesus Christ, into a relationship with Him. Otherwise, it’s
simply entertainment. The church is never meant to be an entertainment
center. We are an agency given by God to confront people with
the person of Jesus Christ. Out of that relationship will come
the fullness of life, whether it be young, middle-aged adults,
older — whatever the age.