General Conference 2014

Guest Profiles

Ken Shigematsu

Ken Shigematsu Profile PictureKen Shigematsu is the senior pastor of Tenth Church in Vancouver, BC, one of the largest and most diverse city-centre churches in Canada. He is a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Medal awarded to Canadians in recognition of their outstanding contribution to the country. Before entering pastoral ministry, he worked for the Sony Corporation in Tokyo and draws on both eastern and western perspectives in his writing and speaking. Ken is the author of the bestselling God in My Everything (Zondervan 2013). Ken lives in Vancouver with his wife, Sakiko, and their son, Joey. They enjoy exploring nature together through hiking and sailing and spending time with Sasha, their golden retriever.

At General Conference 2014, Ken will be speaking about how an ancient, life-giving rhythm can help us experience the presence of Christ not only in our formal prayers, but in our home life, work, and recreation—in our everything.

Click here to watch a short video to learn more.




Pastor Wilfredo De Jesús
Wilfredo De Jesús Profile Picture

Rev. Wilfredo De Jesús is the senior pastor of New Life Covenant Ministries. Under his visionary leadership, New Life has

  become the largest Assemblies of God church in the United States. Through this ministry, Pastor De Jesús currently impacts thousands of individuals in the Chicago area and around the world each week.

Wilfredo was born and raised in Chicago in the Humboldt Park area. He grew up in a political and cultural climate that had the odds stacked against him. However, at the young age of 14, God ordained for him to be placed in a maintenance position at a small local church for a summer youth employment program. In the summer of 1979, he encountered Jesus as his Lord and Saviour for the first time.

Pastor De Jesús dedicated his life to the Lord and committed himself to this local church, called Templo Palestina (Palestine Christian Temple). In 1992, he first came on staff as an administrative assistant. From 1998 to 2000, Wilfredo held two positions, one as assistant pastor and the other as the executive assistant to the CEO of the Chicago Public Schools.

Twenty years after he first set foot in Templo Palestina, he was appointed the senior pastor for that same small congregation. Giving it a new name and a fresh vision, God began to expand the ministry from a weekly attendance of 120 to over 5,000 locally and more than 12,000 under the ministry umbrella in both Spanish and English. New Life has planted churches across the city (Pilsen and Oakwood) and around the world (Camden, New Jersey and Chimbote, Peru). There are also several churches that have come under the ministry's leadership in the past few years, creating a global network to advance the gospel and reach the lost.

In addition, Rev. De Jesús has extended the church beyond the four walls and into the community. Outside of the church’s thriving youth group and children’s ministry – New Life operates an affordable private school (Salem Christian School), a free residential program for at- risk youth (Axis Teen Center) and an intensive discipleship program for college age students (Chicago Master’s Commission). Under De Jesús’ direction, New Life has launched several non- profit entities that help those who are hurting in a practical, tangible way. Among these are the Chicago Dream Center, New Life Family Services, Camden Dream Center, New Life Foundation, and over 110 ministries under the New Life umbrella. These organizations operate multi-faceted programs: food and clothing pantries, transitional shelters, residential recovery and job training programs, mobile soup kitchens for the homeless and shut-ins, gang and at risk youth intervention, human trafficking advocacy, world missions and humanitarian relief, after school tutoring and sports programming, mentoring, prison outreach, immigration advocacy, and much more.

While serving in ministry, Wilfredo De Jesús received a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications from Trinity University and a Master’s degree in Christian Ministries from North Park Theological Seminary. Rev. De Jesús is the vice-president of social justice for the nation’s largest Hispanic Christian organization, The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference which serves 18,000 churches and close to 15 million born-again Christians. From 2004-2010, Rev. De Jesús served as a commissioner on the Chicago Zoning Board of Appeals. He is sought after as a motivational speaker at various church and community events, conferences and school assemblies. De Jesús possesses a passion to save the lost and is committed  in  providing necessary services to the community. He currently resides in Chicago with his wife Elizabeth and their three children, Alexandria, Yesenia and Wilfredo, Jr.

Under the pastoral leadership of Rev. De Jesús, God has shaped New Life Covenant into a vibrant and caring church, one that truly lives out its mission to become a “church for the hurting.” As he often makes others understand, his accomplishments are based on a life dedicated to God and His purposes. In other words, whatever the accomplishment, to God be the Glory!

Wilfredo resides in the Humboldt Park community of Chicago, with his wife Elizabeth and their three children, Alexandria, Yesenia and Wilfredo, Jr.

Alton Garrison

Alton Garrison Profile PictureAlton Garrison serves as the assistant general superintendent of the Assemblies of God. In addition, he serves as the executive leader of the Division of Church Ministries and Discipleship.

Alton served as executive director of U.S. Missions from 2005-2007, overseeing 1,073 U.S. missionaries and more than 450 chaplains across the United States and in military installations around the world. Alton also served as superintendent of the Arkansas District from 2001-2005. During his four years as superintendent, he launched a district mentoring ministry for pastors with the District Coaching Group and local church leadership through the Arkansas Cohort Group. Prior to this, Alton pastored First Assembly of God in North Little Rock, Arkansas, for 15 years. Throughout his pastorate, First Assembly saw significant growth, both numerically and financially. In 1996, First Assembly gave $1.4 million to world and U.S. missions. Alton served as an evangelist from 1968-1985.

Alton and his wife, Johanna, have one daughter, Lizette, and one grandson. He has authored the books Hope in America’s Crisis, Building a Winning Team, Acts 2 Church, and The 360° Disciple. Johanna Garrison authored the book Tangled Destinies, an account of her family’s hardships through the Nazi holocaust and an Indonesian revolution, and their subsequent immigration to the United States.


Gary & Marilyn Skinner

Gary and Marilyn Skinner have been serving as PAOC global workers since 1979.Gary and Marilyn Skinner Profile Picture

Gary Skinner is the visionary and passionate team leader of Watoto Ministries including the dynamic Watoto Church, which he founded together with his vibrant and energetic wife, Marilyn Skinner, in 1983 in the heart of Uganda’s war torn capital, Kampala.

Together they give leadership to the cell-based, community church with over 20,000 people gathering each week to celebrate the life and hope they’ve found in Jesus Christ. Gary passionately believes it is the responsibility of the local church to solve community problems. Watoto Church cares for community holistically through 2,900 cell groups that meet in homes each week.

In 1994, Gary and Marilyn founded Watoto Child Care Ministries, an international organization as a compassionate response to the cry of Africa’s millions of children orphaned as a result of HIV/AIDS. Currently they are caring for almost 3,000 Ugandan children in Watoto villages where every child is raised in a family setting rather than an institution. Their vision is that these children will be raised to become future leaders of Uganda and Africa.

The Watoto Children’s Choir, which Marilyn founded, tours the world annually as advocates for the 14 million African children currently orphaned by AIDS. “Concerts of Hope” are held in churches, community halls and schools. The choir has performed before presidents and royalty in the White House, Buckingham Palace and many other national parliaments. Audiences are inspired as the children sing, dance and celebrate their story of hope.

In addition to championing the cause of the orphaned child, Watoto is committed to restoring dignity to HIV+ women, left to bear the brunt of AIDS, war and social injustice. Marilyn believes Africa’s greatest resource is her women waiting to be empowered.

More than 2,600 women have experienced an improved quality of life through Watoto’s Living Hope, which Marilyn founded in 2008. Their children, more than 10,000, have a better chance of fulfilling their potential. Many of the women have been victims of human trafficking, abducted from their homes as little girls and distributed amongst rebel soldiers as sex slaves. Through Living Hope, they are equipped with necessary life skills through vocational training and empowered through income generating projects, enabling them to become productive members of the community. The comprehensive psychosocial support these women receive has given them purpose, dignity, and a future.

Gary is committed to replicating the Watoto holistic model throughout Africa, He travels internationally as an advocate for the local church, inspiring people all around the world to stop ‘doing’ church and start ‘being’ the church.

Drawing from her deep and tested faith, Marilyn is a passionate speaker, encouraging women all around the world to stand up against inhumane practices such as human trafficking, child soldiers, HIV/AIDS stigmatization and all forms of injustice.

Marilyn has shared her story at women's gatherings across the globe including Hillsong's Colour Conference in Australia and UK; Shine Women's Conference in USA; Cherish Conference in UK, Relate Church in Canada and many others. Through her inspiration, women from all walks of life and faith are mobilized to work together to make this world a better place.

Return To Dignity, a recent and first release from Marilyn, is a collection of stories of faith, courage, hope and transformation from the women at Living Hope. Marilyn describes the journeys of eight women who overcame adversity and emerged triumphant despite the many difficulties they encountered.

Gary was born in Zimbabwe to missionary parents and is a fourth generation preacher. Gary has pastored in Canada, in Zambia, and in Uganda. Canadian born, Marilyn has lived in Kampala, Uganda for over 29 years with Gary, the love of her life. They are the parents of three children and grandparents of four.

Evan Drisner

Evan Drisner Profile PictureA pastor’s son, Evan Drisner has been involved with worship and music ministries for his entire life. Sharing the same kingdom focus and passion for music as his wife, Danielle, they have dedicated their lives to see people connect with their Creator through corporate worship.

They, along with their band, Addison (www.addisonworship.com), have had the privilege of leading thousands of people in worship and feel blessed to be able to use their gifts to usher people into the presence of God. With a diverse heritage, Evan and Danielle have a unique ability to lead people in worship no matter the group. His worship comes from the heart. He isn’t flashy but he’s passionate about connecting with God.

He and his wife have two young boys, and when Evan's not working, or at his church, he’s relaxing with them.




Blaine Eagle
Blaine Eagle Profile Picture

Blaine Eagle and his wife, Anne, have been married since 1979 and have four adult children and four grandchildren. Over the past 34 years, Blaine has served in ministry in Calgary, AB, Hamilton, ON, and Kelowna, B.C. In 1996, he accepted his present ministry position as worship pastor at Elim Church in Saskatoon, SK. Recently, Blaine has also been serving as senior associate pastor at Elim.

Blaine has served as the director of worship ministry for the Saskatchewan District over the last 10 years and often leads worship at camps, retreats, and conferences.



Sonia Reid Noble

Sonia Reid Noble Profile PictureSonia Reid Noble was born in Toronto, ON, and grew up in Hamilton, ON. She was drawn to music at an early age, and started singing and playing the piano at eight years old. Subsequently her passion led her to studies with the Royal Conservatory of Music and to Redeemer University College where she received a Bachelor of Arts in music.

Throughout her singing career, Sonia has been influenced by a wide-range of artists, including the classical sounds of Jessye Norman and the soulful gospel of Babbie Mason and pop artist Whitney Houston. These influences are evident in her musical versatility–classical, jazz, Broadway, and gospel. The combination of Sonia's unique style of communicating and her passion for music enables her to reach audiences in a dynamic way.

Her professional career has taken her across Canada, the United States and the West Indies. A gifted songwriter, her debut CD entitled "In You" was released in 2009.

One of the many ways she shares her love for music is through teaching. For the past 12 years, Sonia has taught vocal lessons to students of all ages, inspiring them to become musically confident individuals. It is her belief that music must first resonate within the artist in order to have a powerful impact. An outspoken woman of faith, Sonia is a worship leader at Lawson Heights Pentecostal Assembly in Saskatoon, SK, where she serves along with her husband, Wainewright Noble.

Unhindered
Unhindered Profile Picture

Whether packing out an arena of 20,000 screaming fans or encouraging students at a small church camp, the end result is the same—the audience is transformed into a congregation and the stage into an altar of worship. And that's just the way Georgia-based worship band, Unhindered, likes it.

“We want our music to bring people into an encounter with God,” declares keyboardist and co-frontman Ben Smith. “One of the biggest obstacles to worship is believers who are self-conscious. We want to kick down that wall, so we get the whole crowd on their feet, jumping around. It is amazing to watch people when they really feel free to worship.”

From the fist-pumping, crowd pleaser, “We Will,” to the frenetic punk inflected, “Light This World,” to the piano-driven worship ballad, “Father Will You Come,” Unhindered shatters any preconceived notions of what next generation worship is supposed to look like. But, while the songs range far and wide, one thing remains constant; both musically and lyrically, Unhindered exists to encourage honest, unhindered worship to a holy God.

Leeland

Leeland Profile PictureSince its stunning 2006 breakthrough debut album Sound of Melodies, progressive worship band Leeland has become one of the most important voices in a new generation of worship music. Known for its passion-filled live experience, the band’s fourth album The Great Awakening stirs a fresh desire for personal and worldwide worship revival. Nominated for three Grammy Awards—one for each of its previously released albums—this time around, lead singer Leeland Mooring and brother Jack Mooring are joined by 18-year-old new member (and younger sister) Shelly, along with drummer Mike Smith, to bring 11 new modern songs inspired by historical “fathers of the faith”—men like theologian Jonathan Edwards and Salvation Army founder William Booth, whose depth of belief and passion for God started an uprising of faith wherever they went.

The Mooring siblings grew up learning about such spiritual giants from their parents while riding around the country in an old Lincoln Town Car; mom and dad led worship for traveling evangelists. Younger sister Shelly was there in the back seat, too, duly influenced by the Mooring family’s focus and energy. “We grew up in a real Spirit-filled background and have had more hands laid on us than a football has, you know?” says Leeland. “Most of all, our parents put us in situations where we experienced God. Any time we crossed paths with anyone who had an amazing anointing on their life, mom would put all three of us on the altar and say, ‘Pray for my kids.’” Those prayers are working.

Reviewing the band’s acclaimed catalog, allmusic sees “amazing songwriting maturity” (Sound of Melodies, 2006), “everything that is right in CCM” (Opposite Way, 2008), and “a truly transcendent experience” (Love Is on the Move, 2009). Leeland, with its wide-eyed musical approach that blends haunting Coldplay creativity and Hillsong heart, is a worship revival experience in itself. The Great Awakening is far and away Leeland’s most impressive artistic and spiritual expression yet, with the Mooring siblings bringing unmatched three-part harmonies set to ambient guitars and the rock-steady drums of Smith, all guided by the haunting production of producer Paul Moak (Third Day, Matt Maher). It’s a shining worship set that fuses the simple charms heard on Sound of Melodies with the enthusiasm and reverence of Leeland’s unforgettable and captivating live show. “A lot of those guys our parents talked about—Edwards, Booth, and later the British evangelist Smith Wigglesworth—reached out to God in ways we’re not seeing now in America. And that’s part of what spurred many of these songs,” explains Jack. “It’s the idea of asking God to wake us up; wake up our nation; wake up the church to receive the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.” The Mooring brothers read of that essence in what is widely regarded to be an anonymous poem (some attribute it to a man named Lawrence Tribble) dating back to the late 1700s revival era: One man wakes, awakens another / Second one wakes his next door brother / Three awake and rouse a town and turn the whole place upside down / Many awake will cause such a fuss / It finally awakes all of us / One man awakes with dawn in his eyes, truly then it multiplies. Those words would become the lyrics of The Great Awakening’s opening title track, a rollicking piano-led sing-along that outlines the joy, enthusiasm, and drive behind the entire project. “We’ve all been going through a personal revival in this band,” Leeland continues. “We’ve felt God taking us out of a plateau, shaking us up and saying, ‘Don’t cruise anymore.’ That’s where we are; feeling like God wants to bring a great awakening to our generation.” Indeed, from message to musicianship, the new album shakes off any dust of spiritual atrophy. Several of the particularly enthusiastic tracks were co-written by all four members during a stay at mentor Michael W. Smith’s house. Among them, “Chains Hit the Ground” declares freedom in Christ (for all of my years my banner will be clear). Epic rocker “Not Afraid Anymore” puts faith into vivid action (I feel Your lightning waking me up from the sleep of my timid soul).

When it was time to record The Great Awakening, a similar brand of togetherness reigned as Leeland cut every tune live to tape, a technique Shelly preferred as the studio rookie. Of course, her brothers weren’t at all worried about how she would do. “Shelly’s first concerts with us were on a tour with Casting Crowns, and she nailed it every night,” remembers Jack. “She’s like our dad and can play any instrument she picks up.” Longtime Leeland listeners will notice Shelly’s distinct vocal presence on the beautifully arranged “I Wonder,” a sweetly harmonized, almost country-meets-symphonic worship selection. The tune provided something of a religious experience for the Moorings’ mother, whose reaction upon first hearing the melodically rich piece wasn’t lost on her children.?“Mom ‘woos’ when she’s filled with the Spirit,” says Shelly with a smile. “It’s a total mom-meter thing,” agrees Jack. “If mom cries when she hears a new song, it goes on the record,” Leeland summarizes.

Another advantage to recording much of The Great Awakening live was the ability to capture what often happens during a passion-filled Leeland performance: the Holy Spirit shows up, people “have church,” and the band gets out of the way, so to speak. At nearly nine minutes long, the powerful “All Over the Earth” is a perfect example, a simple yet swooning song of praise that doubled in length as the members became swept up in the moment. “What you hear there is us playing the song like we never had before,” says drummer Mike Smith, who has gotten used to keeping the beat when divine intervention leads the band off script. “It was a great take, and we said, ‘Let’s not try to recreate that.’”

The Great Awakening is a fascinating studio record in its own right. Producer Paul Moak deals in vintage sounds and equipment, adding atmospheric warmth around many hook-laced tunes like the internationally influenced “I Can See Your Love.” An ingeniously makeshift choir—brought together by a last-minute tweet from Jack—graces several tracks, including the radio-ready “Pages” and compelling anthem “While We Sing” (another definitive call to revival). Still, the band looks ahead to what it will do with this remarkable album on the road, where ministry has always taken shape for the members of Leeland. “A big part of our heart is to invest in people in each city,” concludes Jack. “As the schedule allows, we want to have a church service before the concert and just worship, pray for people, lay hands on people, believe in God for healing and salvation; awakening, basically.” It’s a great awakening, Leeland’s impassioned journey straight to the heart of God.