Who We Are
AG Relief provides funds for the most urgent relief needs in the 217 countries and territories in which Assemblies of God World Missions works. More than 2,700 U.S. missionaries minister within a network of more than 330,000 local congregations throughout the world.
What We Do
A major reason the founders of the Assemblies of God organized in 1914 was to do together what we can't do apart. One of the purposes of our World Missions outreach remains today as when the Holy Spirit raised up this Fellowship 95 years ago — to provide the long reach that spans the distance between responsive hearts and desperate deeds.
We can be most effective at serving people with compassion because we have first planted the church. Ours is a comprehensive mission. The church doesn't just meet physical needs but spiritual needs as well. The most efficient means we have of administering relief is our worldwide Assemblies of God church family, a network of more than 250,000 local churches in 200 countries and territories. Before disaster strikes, the local church is there ready to serve. And after the headlines fade and other relief agencies head home, the local church remains, to become a spiritual family for those reached during the crisis.
Disasters can be opportunities for American Christians to hold up the hands of our fellow-believers overseas, enabling them to serve needy people. American churches serve by giving. Our Assemblies of God missionary family provided the reach by connecting the givers, with the need. When calamities strike around the world, the Assemblies of God is there—with the compassion of Christ—to offer help to suffering men, women and children.
Our missionaries and national churches are already in place in troubled regions throughout the world. So, in times of crisis, our missionary family and fraternal fellowships are the most efficient means of distributing relief and providing medical care. In addition, we have the opportunity—and the obligation—to help those in our spiritual family who are suffering. Our missionaries' and churches' response demonstrates how, under the Holy Spirit's guidance, through united action we can reach and serve the needy in our world.
What We Don't Do
Our mission is to enter into our Lord's work of "bringing many sons to glory." The truth of God's Word and the Spirit's compelling work in our hearts determine that we do missionary work. They also determined how we do it. The issue really comes down to what we believe.
We believe the words of Jesus, "for what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?" Feeding the poor and caring for the suffering are both kind and Christian. But if we must chose between ministering to physical needs alone or doing so while presenting the gospel and providing a spiritual family where people can grow in Christ, the choice is very clear. Unless the needs of man's eternal soul are addressed, any effort to meet his physical and social needs is both incomplete and temporary.
Historically, many missions organizations have diluted their missionary purpose and ultimately degenerated into agencies of mere social reform at the exclusion of proclaiming the gospel.
In Assemblies of God World Missions, compassion ministry is always integrated with sharing the gospel and establishing the church. Whether giving medical care to the suffering or feeding the hungry, our missionaries always attempt in some way to share the good news about Jesus and connect people with a church.
In some countries, especially in recent years, compassion ministry has even been the means through which doors have opened to the gospel. Compassionate response to disasters and even civil wars have resulted in believers being born into Christ's eternal kingdom and churches being established.
It is important for people to understand what we do. It is equally important to understand what we do not do. The fourth part of our mission statement says, "We are serving poor and suffering people with the compassion of Jesus Christ and inviting them to become His followers." Assemblies of God compassion ministries do not merely serve people's physical needs. They also reach people with the good news about Jesus.
Why is it right that we offer relief to the poor and suffering, especially in times of crisis and disaster?
God's Word commands us, "Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in the power of your hand to do so." As in the Parable of the Good Samaritan, the Spirit of Christ within us does not permit us to "pass by on the other side" when someone is in need. If we do, it reveals something tragic about the character of our hearts.
In the Good Samaritan account, the man who fell among thieves was half dead and unable to help himself. Today when disaster and calamity strike, people are often put in a similarly precarious position. We, as followers of Christ, have the opportunity to come alongside and do as the Good Samaritan did. There is no indication in Scripture that the Samaritan assumed financial responsibility for the man for the rest of his life, but he gave the help that was needed until the man recovered.
The answer to the greatest need in people's lives is found in God's Word. The gospel of Christ sets spiritual captives free from the penalty of sin and death and offers forgiveness and everlasting life. It is the solution for man's crisis for eternity and directs our life in this world. Throughout history, the greatest solutions to human suffering have come when the truth of God's Word and Christ's message is proclaimed and taught.
How can relief efforts make a difference? Here are five ways:
Impact. Relief efforts enable our missionaries and national churches to make a visible impact in a way that serves as a great testimony, particularly in countries and places where traditional overt evangelism is restricted or prohibited.
Inclusion. Relief efforts include missionaries who may not be part of a social or medical profession. Missionaries serving primarily as church planters or Bible school teachers can hand out bags of rice or fill bottles with purified water to meet temporary desperate needs without being diverted from their primary callings.
Integration. Relief administered by AG World Missions is integrated with sharing the gospel and establishing the church. Whether giving medical care to the suffering or feeding the hungry, our missionaries always attempt to share the good news about Jesus and connect people with a church.
Efficiency. We can't possibly meet all the overwhelming physical needs in this world, but we can help in significant ways in the most desperate temporary circumstances. With a network of more than 283,000 local congregations in more than 212 nations and territories, the Assemblies of God is strategically situated to reach out when catastrophes occur. In times of crisis, missionaries and national believers are the most efficient means of distributing food and water and providing medical care. They are already in place to serve poor and suffering people with Christ's compassion and share the gospel in word and deed.
Opportunity. In Chinese, the word for "crisis" is a combination of two words — danger and opportunity. Fear focuses on the danger. Faith sees the opportunity. In the crisis spots of our world, God opens doors of opportunity for us to demonstrate His love and proclaim the message of Jesus. Sometimes national crises, whether they be civil wars or natural disasters, afford us an opportunity to minister in places where sharing the gospel is limited. For example, an earthquake struck in a country where American missionaries cannot preach publicly or establish churches or Bible schools. The need for immediate medical help opened a door of opportunity for American health care professionals to go and minister to the suffering. AGWM sent a HealthCare Ministries team to offer medical care. While there, the team members could neither pray with people nor give them a tract or verbal witness of Christ. Nevertheless, people associated their presence with Christian believers in that country. The HealthCare team provided a platform for local believers to witness to their friends and neighbors. This opportunity was made possible by the compassionate ministry and relief efforts of the HealthCare team.
Some people point out that relief efforts provide only a temporary solution. However, if it is in the power of our hand to do something, we must obey God's Word and not withhold the good that can be done in the love of Christ when crises occur. Missionaries have testified about the impact that relief efforts have made following major disasters. Relief accelerates the ability to advance the message and testimony of the Church in a short period of time.
A previous major disaster opened the door for ministry in a vast area where our missionaries have never been able to penetrate with any sort of Christian witness. Not only were initial physical needs of food and clothing met, but destroyed buildings were rebuilt. To local residents, these buildings represent lasting testimonies to the compassion of Christians. As a result, the Church is being established in this area.
Unfortunately, the occurrence of major disasters is steadily increasing. Every day more people are starving, suffering and dying. As with the Good Samaritan, we must not pass by when someone is in need.
Those who give to AG Relief are a "relief response team" that makes it possible for suffering people to receive the help they need. Overseas disasters are opportunities for Christians in the United States to hold up the hands of fellow believers in crisis and reach the lost with the gospel. AG Relief enables the Fellowship to accomplish together what cannot be done separately — providing the long reach that spans the distance between responsive hearts and desperate needs.
Out of the rubble of crises, God is raising up His church. Facing hopeless circumstances, people are drawn to the peace and hope they find in Christ. Churches in disaster-stricken areas are growing rapidly as missionaries and local believers reach out to the suffering with the compassion of Christ. In times of need, relief is the right thing to do.
Scripture references:Hebrews 2:10, NASB
2 Mark 8:36, NASB
3 Proverbs 3:27, NKJV
4 Luke 10:32, NKJV