Fifty years ago, this June at our ACOP Conference in Calgary I was ordained a Minister of the Gospel. I had graduated from FGBI (Eston College) and served for a couple of years as youth Pastor at the Zion Apostolic Church in Winnipeg.
Six weeks after my ordination I married Donna Elmwood. That fall we began our ministry together in Saskatchewan, pastoring the Melfort Apostolic Church.
In 1974 we were invited to pastor The Peoples Chapel in Pharr, Texas. The Lower Rio Grande Valley on the border with Mexico was a new and interesting challenge. We served in that Church until the summer of 1978 when we felt lead to return to Canada and apply as missionaries to Central America. After traveling in Canada for six months we returned to Texas and spent a year studying Spanish at the Kingsway Missionary institute.
January 1980 Donna and I with our three young children moved to Guatemala. We joined with Bill and Irene Lindberg as we began our ministry in Central America.
Here are a couple of excerpts telling of that time taken from the book of memories that I have written for my family…
Those were dangerous days of anarchy and death squads roaming the city.
These squads would kill on orders from high-up government officials. The guerillas would respond with car bombs going off in the newest part of the city where there were several high-rise business offices.
You couldn’t find a place to park, in that area, as they had barrels full of sand blocking off-street parking. This was to prevent cars filled with explosives from being parked close to the high-rises.
One night I was working late concentrating on a project cutting out some cardboard on the floor by our back door. A Claymore mine was fired on the major highway about two blocks from us.
Our back door shook violently, and I about had a heart attack, but the rest of the family kept on sleeping!
In those days, there wasn’t a curfew but, after eight-thirty, or nine o’clock the streets were empty.
The situation was worsening as the days and months went by, but the Church began to pray!
Our church held all-night prayer meetings every few weeks. They started at about eight in the evening and went until 5:30 or 6:00 in the morning. You wouldn’t want to be out on the streets and the buses stopped running around 9:00 PM.
We just prayed all night, and at the end of the meeting, those with cars would give rides to those without.
A Growing Church
The little building that our church had been meeting in—was packed!
People were standing outside listening through the windows. Naturally, it was time to tear out a wall and widen the building—almost doubling the area. While this construction was going on, we moved our all-night prayer meetings to the Sunday School area in the back.
At one of these prayer meetings Gamaliel, the Guatemalan pastor that we were working with asked, “How many here have never been filled with the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues?” About 12 or 15 raised their hands. He then announced that Bill and Doug will take you into the other auditorium and pray over you and you will receive.
It was late on a dark, chilly night and because of the construction, there were only one or two light bulbs lighting the space. One wall was missing and the tin on the roof clanged as the breeze blew.
If we were looking for an ideal place to pray over people, this was not it!
After sharing the scriptures with them they stood in a row, and we began to lay hands and pray over each one. One after another they began to speak in tongues and worship the Lord.
As we neared the end of the row Bill said to me in English, “You know, it isn’t supposed to happen like this!” I just laughed out loud and kept enjoying the moving of the Holy Spirit. The truth is, all we needed was hungry souls, not the ideal ambiance!
In those days water baptisms were a regular occurrence and we would baptize dozens of new believers every month. I have always baptized as the disciples did in the New Testament “in the name of The Lord Jesus Christ.”
I was baptizing a dear older lady (who had recently left the Catholic church). As I began to dip her, I announced, “I baptize you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ!” Not realizing that she felt she needed to add, “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” I plunged her under the water before she finished. She came up coughing and sputtering—having received a good mouth full of water, fortunately, I didn’t drown her.
After sixteen years of church planting in Central America, we returned to Canada in 1996.
Following a year of adjustment, we were privileged to serve as lead pastors at North Edmonton Christian Fellowship for the following ten years. In 2007 we moved to Moose Jaw where our daughter Daycee was on staff at the Hillcrest Apostolic Church.
I continue to be involved in missions as well as joining the staff at Hillcrest. In the ensuing years, we have been so blessed to have Dustin and Denna and their families also move to Moose Jaw and become part of the Hillcrest family.
The Lord has been so faithful! This verse has spoken to me since my Bible School days…
“Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.”—1 Thessalonians 5:24
Story written & provided by Rev. Doug Siggelkow