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Summer 2006 Rapport: Leading Diverse Churches

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Maria Khaleel-Gilleland pastors New Life Assembly of God, Pembroke Pines, Florida. She graduated from AGTS in 2002 with a Master of Arts in Biblical Literature.

New Life started in 1992, and approximately 80% of our congregation was saved here. Ministry in south Florida is exciting because the world has come to us. Our community is about 40 percent Hispanic with large Caribbean and growing Asian populations. I believe that if a church is effectively fulfilling the Great Commission to preach the gospel to all people, it will reflect all ethnicities in its community.

We have over 30 nationalities represented in our church. Many are from Latin America and the Caribbean, but some come from Asia and Africa. Since the Hispanic and Caribbean cultures are expressive, our services are passionate. These cultures also have a strong belief in the supernatural, so as Christians they have a natural receptivity to the power of the Holy Spirit. As a result, we see many miracles and healings in our services.

My greatest challenge is a limited knowledge of Spanish and, although our services are translated into Spanish, I still desire to communicate effectively with individuals in Spanish.

Latin and Caribbean people are relational. Therefore, we approach ministry differently. Simply giving a class or having meetings on leadership cannot train or develop leaders. There must be a relational connection. Thus, I do a mentoring ministry in which new leaders come to my home and share a meal. Then teaching and interaction occur.

Also, in both Latin and Caribbean cultures, men tend to be “macho.” Many have stated that when they first saw a female pastor, their minds protested. However, experiencing the presence of God through the church ministry silenced their objections.

People, regardless of ethnic background, respond to genuine love, and this has become the atmosphere of the entire church. The diverse membership has helped to expand our life experience and increase our appreciation for other cultures. In fact, since the church began, we have had over 4,000 salvations. Truly, the anointing makes the difference.

Updated: Monday, July 24, 2006 10:59 AM



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