GREENVILLE — Today there are 13,023 Assemblies of God (AG) churches in the United States, with more than three million members and followers, according to ag.org.
In addition, there are more than 67 million AG members, worldwide, making the AG the world’s largest Pentecostal denomination, according to ag.org. So how is that internationally-acclaimed, sixth season finalist of “American Idol” and Christian recording artist Phil Stacey found First Assembly of God, in Greenville, Ohio?
“I was booked in Michigan, on Sunday, and I love Ohio – I grew up in Hamilton,” Stacey said. “Because I was going to be close to Ohio, I asked someone to call different Assemblies of God, here in the state, because that is the denomination in which I am affiliated (he is a worship pastor at an AG church in Lenexa, Kansas). She was in touch with someone here, and they said, ‘Sure, we will have him. So I am here, and am super excited to be here. I am very grateful that the pastor opened the doors for me.”
Pastor Dale Boeger of First Assembly of God, in Greenville, said he received a call asking if Stacey could perform.
“I said, “Absolutely!’,” Boeger said. “The first thing you think about is what kind of expense will this be, because it isn’t too often you get an artist like him that comes for a love offering. All they required was a small amount for traveling expenses and a love offering. I found him to be very scripturally sound and loves the Lord and I think we are just going to have a wonderful evening. I always make sure God is saying, ‘This is someone you can have at your church’. I have turned people down, because I didn’t feel that the Lord had said this is the right time and the right people. When we got the call from Phil, the Holy Spirit in me said, ‘This is something that may be a little different for our particular type of singing’; I grew up on southern gospel. This is something God said we need to do in our community, and it is an opening for our young people, and even for some of us that are older. It’s a chance for us to experience some of his music, and to be able to relate to our younger generations. The truth of it is, if God’s in it, we want it.”
Pastor Boeger described Stacey as being deep in the word. When Stacey speaks, he incorporates scripture naturally. He has had some practice.
“My dad was a pastor,” he said. “I grew up in a home where we had daily devotions and prayer together. I had an understanding that God had a plan for my life, as he does for everyone. I just try my best to seek His will for my life. The Bible says, ‘The steps of a righteous man are ordered by the Lord’. I wanted to walk where He wanted me to walk and it just led me to this place. I tour around for a couple different reasons. I have become very passionate about missions. A couple years after “American Idol”, I was invited by a missionary to the Philippines. He said if I came, it would bring so many young people, because “American Idol” was huge in the Philippines. When I went there, thousands of young people showed up and I just realized, man, God gave me this platform because it’s worldwide. Where I go, people know of “American Idol” or of American Television. It gave me a platform to go and show the love of Jesus to communities, and to introduce missionaries to their communities. Then I started traveling to different churches and partnering with pastors, doing community – wide concerts. I also advocate for missions when I am in different venues. That has become a really important part of who I am.”
The mission he is endorsing is “Reach Beyond” that says more than two billion people have never heard the name of Jesus.
“Singing and sharing the gospel are the two things that bring me the greatest joy in the world, “Stacey said. “In fact, there is no feeling in the world like knowing that God used you to help bring someone to faith in Christ. I am super excited about tonight, and I know that God has brought me here for a reason. I will sing some songs about Jesus, and share some testimony with you. Hopefully, you will know some songs so you can sing along with me, and we can lift His name up together. If you don’t know the songs, just make up random syllables and sing along with me. I did that for a whole season on American Idol and nobody seemed to care.”
For more information about the mission, visit https://reachbeyond.org/phil
For more information about the First Assembly of God, in Greenville, visit https://www.facebook.com/pages/First-Assembly-of-God
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