The Assemblies of God turns 100 this year. For its centennial, officials have welcomed world travelers to Springfield for a multicultural celebration of its legacy and diverse future. KSMU’s Alissa Zhu has details.
President John Dramani Mahama of Ghana said faith gives him comfort and confidence to lead his nation.
“It’s a very stressful job but knowing that God guides your steps and you have a family like the Assemblies of God behind you really is a comfort in the job that I have to do,” Mahama said.
Mahama was an honored guest and featured speaker at the Assemblies of God centennial celebration’s opening event on Thursday at Missouri State’s JQH Arena. His visit to Springfield followed the first U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington D.C., which he called “a historic event.” Assemblies of God is one of the largest Christian congregations in Ghana. Mahama told reporters the church plays an important humanitarian role in his country.
“We have the section of the church that deals with humanitarian relief, poverty interventions, social protection programs in health care, in education and I think that that affects the material aspect of people’s lives as well as the spiritual aspect,” said Mahama.
The centennial is truly an international affair, as people representing 118 different countries are said to have arrived in Springfield. Thursday’s opening ceremony was also live streamed to millions of viewers in Africa and Latin America.
Ralph Nana, originally from the Philippines, came from Jacksonville Florida to be at the centennial celebration.
“I really felt moved by the representation of these countries and nationals and cultures that have come here to Springfield, Missouri and this is really a wonderful celebration of diversity, of multicultural fellowship. People, regardless of their race and color of skin, we’re united in worshipping the lord and serving God,” said Nana.
Burkina Faso native Nongnaba Caroline said she has been a member of Assemblies of God since she was a little girl. When she saw the announcement of the centennial celebration online, Nongnaba just knew she had to attend.
“I expect I will take something from this centennial and I expect I will have something to share with my friends and family in my country,” said Nongnaba.
A pastor from the Middle East also addressed the crowd. His name has since been removed for security concerns. The pastor, who says he was captured and imprisoned by Saddam Hussein’s secret police 11 years ago, stressed the importance of finding God’s gifts in the darkness. He reminded the audience that there is much hard work to be done outside of beautiful churches or conferences. He urged people to go to war-torn countries like Afghanistan, Somalia and his home country Iraq.
“Many Christians equated the best life with the safe life. So they run to live in a nice, safe place. But friends, God hasn’t told us to run away from darkness. But God has told us to penetrate that darkness and make a difference in our generation,” the pastor said.
The Assemblies of God is headquartered in Springfield and has over 67 million adherents worldwide. It has experienced 24 consecutive years of growth.
The Assemblies of God centennial celebrations continue through Sunday. Evening sessions are free and open to the public Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights at the JQH Arena starting at 7:00pm. For more details, visit 100.ag.org.