Agape Ministry Iglesia Bautista del Septimo Dia — Part 1

Agape Ministry Iglesia Bautista del Septimo Dia — Part 1

Dec 22, 2016

By: Pastors Joel and Judith Houts

The Agape Ministry Iglesia Bautista del Septimo Dia has asked for membership in the Conference. This is a hope to let you get to know them better.

I (Judith) first became aware of my call to serve God when I was about five years old. Joel’s call became real to him in the year 2000.

The Agape Ministry, per se, began in Battle Creek, MI, in 1987 while I was attending the local SDB church. It began as an outreach program with a 24/7 prayer line and the “Helping Hands” program (food and clothing for the needy). Later on, the Ministry opened a Spanish speaking bilingual church which still stands in the city today.

In 1997, Joel and I got married and moved to Ohio. We now did God’s ministry as a couple. After working with the Latino community for ten years and traveling as evangelists to several countries, we felt God wanted us to join the Pataskala SDB church. However, I had always felt the urge to return to Puerto Rico as a missionary. So Joel and I began praying about God’s will in this area of our lives.

In 2011, my mother, who lived in Puerto Rico, got ill and I decided to travel to the Island to help with her care. We talked to Pastor Robert Van Horn about this decision and the possibility of us moving permanently. Pastor Robert and the church saw fit to commission us as missionaries to Puerto Rico.

And thus the work of SDBs began on this island — but sadly, due to work responsibilities, Joel had to return to the USA. I remained to help with my mother’s care. On Sabbath mornings, I began teaching a Sabbath School class to a seven-year-old boy named Justin. Later, two more boys and their mother joined us. In 2012, Pastor Robert told us he and his wife Lana were coming to visit us in Puerto Rico. Joel and I organized a small crusade in the barrio and six persons came to the Lord. We began holding services in our living room because our gazebo location outside became too small.

Immediately, the persecution from some people began. Little did I know that some of these people, who had begun coming to our church, had visited for a while in the SDA church. They never joined and had not attended for months. But that did not stop the Pastor, the Elder, and other members from visiting them at their homes and telling them that we were what the Bible talked about — “false teachers.” The harassment also came from my own family. Our church was referred to as “The church of the devil.” Some of my family members wanted to attend but were discouraged to do so. They saw my intent to establish a different denominational church in the area as an act of defiance.

One of my sons, in an effort to prevent Joel and me from experiencing further grief, begged us to move the church some place different because he felt my family was going to think that we were trying to compete with them. I was mocked and laughed at by my own family! My name was no longer Judith nor Judy, but “Pastorcita” in an effort to belittle my role as a Pastor. My husband’s picture was removed from my sister’s home and replaced. Joel and I felt alone, and at times we felt we were abandoned.

After much prayer and meditation, we felt the best way to come against Satan’s attack was to bring workers from the USA to help us out. We knew of Ruth Russell, from Wisconsin, and were friends with Richard Payne when he was in Pataskala. They joined us and it was a great success!

Continued Next Month!

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