Across Pacific & Asia
One Church CAN Help Another


   Last August, New Beginning Assembly of God, Pastor Tom Fortini and
   his congregation of about 65 or so, were working hard in the inner
   city of Youngstown, Ohio. Located between a pornography shop and a
   gentlemen's club on the city's entertainment strip, it didn't
   appear to be an ideal spot for a church feeling led to minister
   to inner-city families. But apparently, God had them there for
   a reason.

   Today, just eight months later, New Beginning A/G has an
   incredible new home in the inner-city neighborhood. Valued at
   nearly $450,000, the church is also now fully furnished, complete
   with a computer, copiers, pews, church van, choir robes, hymnals,
   Bibles, furniture, sound system, three pianos, an organ, a
   library--even an established daycare tenant that pays $1,500 a
   month rent.

   And New Beginning A/G got it all--church, property, furnishings,
   supplies, everything--for free!

   It all began three years ago, when Pastor Tom Fortini left his
   comfortable position in a suburban church and took over a failed
   inner-city ministry. According to Fortini, inner-city Youngstown
   is a tough area and one of the most poverty-striken neighborhoods
   in the state. Drugs are plentiful and prostitution is not

   "We started with a core group of about 25 people from our mother
   church [Highway Tabernacle, Youngstown, Jay Alford, senior
   pastor]," said Fortini. They didn't have much money, but according
   to Fortini, the congregation had one great asset: extraordinary

   The building the congregation was meeting in was an old machine
   shop. "The roof had been recently repaired but not before a lot of
   water damage had been done to the interior--it was in terrible
   condition," Fortini said. "We did a building fund pledge in order
   to refurbish the sanctuary--$15,000 was pledged, and every dime of
   it came in on time. I've been told by other pastors that 100
   percent pledge fulfillment is rare."

   Over the next three years the church did a lot of renovations to
   the property. They were unsure whether God wanted the church to
   continue in its location or to move into the neighborhood. They
   began to pray. "We petitioned the Lord persistently," said
   Fortini. However, since they were unsure if God wanted them to
   move, they prayed, "Father, if you want us to move, we ask you to
   give us a building, just give it to us Lord, for if someone gives
   us a building, then we will know that it is You."

   Four blocks away, a Disciples of Christ (D/C) church was making
   its final preparations to disband its congregation. Several
   churches had been in contact with the D/C board for quite some
   time, expressing interest in the property. Last August, Fortini
   and his congregation were notified about the "outside chance" of
   getting the property--that was if the church hadn't already made
   its final decision.

   "We walked into this Board of Trustees meeting--we didn't know
   them--and you have to understand, they had been in dialogue with
   other churches for some time," Fortini explained. "About 15
   minutes into the meeting, it appeared as though they were talking
   like the building was already ours. They gave us a tour of the
   grounds. We were there for hours. The board voted unanimously to
   give us the church and all its assets--and the congregation

   Although Fortini believes the ministries New Beginning A/G are
   involved in--food pantry, clothing, busing ministry, working with
   the homeless, and others--met the desire the D/C wanted to see the
   church used for, he has a better explanation of why they received
   the incredible gift. "The Lord just gave us favor--you could feel
   the presence of the Holy Spirit in that room."

   Miraculous? Yes. But the story doesn't end there--it gets better.
   A couple weeks after the transfer was finalized, a member of the
   D/C Board of Trustees walked into Fortini's office and handed him
   an envelope. Inside was a check for $50,000. The next week, the
   trustee dropped off another envelope with a check for $40,000!

   "She [the trustee] told us that the church had a savings account
   we were entitled to as part of the assets--we thought it was three
   or four thousand dollars," said Fortini, still in disbelief.
   Apparently, the D/C church had a significant amount of money
   invested in CDs that they cashed in and presented to New
   Beginning A/G.

   "I was hesitant to share this story, because I didn't want to
   sound like I was bragging or putting a spotlight on our ministry,"
   said Fortini. "But if this story can be used to encourage
   ministers out there who are experiencing tough times, I want it
   to be told over and over. God is so great! He can do anything!"

   --Dan Van Veen

A across Pacific Magazine
C Chr'n Ministries  &  Churches
R Referrals  &  Reconciliation
O Outreach Opportunities
S Service Opportunities
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