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Who would have ever thought that two individuals, from two separate religious and ethnic backgrounds, would one day be united with a divine purpose and call?
On July 18, 1971, two families from Pennsylvania were vacationing at the New Jersey shore. He was fourteen from a Jewish background and had just received his Bar Mitzvah and was continuing his Jewish education to be a confirmed Jew. She was thirteen, a gentile with parents from two different denominational backgrounds. Some said it would not work, there's just too many obstacles, especially in our world and the problems that exist already. Others said you are too young, which in most cases is true. Somehow these two individuals at such a young age and unsettled time in their lives knew that this person would someday, be the one they would walk down the aisle with and become man and wife.
Three years later, they were still together and surprisingly enough found themselves sitting in a Bible believing church, and watching a movie concerning the end time prophecies. The Holy Spirit began speaking to their hearts and on April 14, 1974, an Easter Sunday, they both accepted the invitation to receive Jesus. One Jew, One Gentile, One Lord, One Call. His Jewish upbringing was not destroyed, but fulfilled, her religious upbringing was now understood. Four years later they both walked down that same aisle, this time to become man and wife.
Mike and Cheryl both felt a call from the Lord in their lives, and were waiting on Him to show them where He would have them go. Mike studied at a secular college and got a degree in Business. After one year of secular employment they both knew God was calling them to some kind of full-time ministry. They began ministering through the Word and music from church to church, and got involved with an Assemblies of God congregation. During this time God was still moving and Mike started attending Valley Forge Christian College. In 1983 he received his credentials to preach and after serving in many capacities he became an ordained minister. Mike first was a full-time Assistant Pastor, where he and Cheryl saw much fruit come forth in people's lives.
Two years later God opened another door. It was hard for Mike, Cheryl, Rachel and Sarah (their two daughters) to leave their church family of eleven years, but they believed all things work together for good.
June 1, 1989 we began a home missions Assembly of God church. We were on the second floor of a carpet warehouse in Southampton. God was with us, not because of the "prime" location, but because of the "peace" of God. After a few years, when zoning expired, we were informed that it would not be renewed. Within a matter of weeks we had to be out. During our prayer time, a visiting pastor heard of our need for a facility. He told us about a building that we could possibly rent, not far from the Southampton area. About five miles away in Willow Grove the Free Methodist Church allowed us to meet early on Sunday mornings. We would have our service, then be out in time for their service to begin. As we started to grow here as a congregation, we were able to meet all the requirements to become a sovereign Assembly of God church.
After a year and a half, we were notified by the Free Methodist Church that we had thirty days to find another place. We needed a place that was zoned and where there was parking. We were too small to afford a big facility and too big to meet in a home. It was a Catch 22. We prayed about what direction to take. The Lord opened up Phil-Mont Christian Academy, where Cheryl had graduated from. We were very thankful and yet there was much work. Setting up and tearing down after every service for years.
Think about it : First we met in a warehouse, then in a church building, then a gym. Regardless of where we met or what the appearance was, God's Spirit was always present. In the beginning of 1998, the Lord gave me a scripture that I spoke by faith for all to hear. II Samuel 7:10, "God said I will provide a place for my people, and plant them, so they will have a home of their own."
In the fall of 1998, I felt the Lord impress me to call the church to pray specifically for a building, and that God was going to do a quick work. Also, to add a scriptural time of fasting, asking God to reveal His direction. The NEXT day, I received a call from Cheryl's brother Rick, who is a realtor. He began to tell me that the Free Methodist Church that we had rented years ago was now for sale. That night Cheryl and I met with the board here on the property and prayed. Within 24 hours we submitted an agreement of sale.
Our settlement date was December 18, 1998, the same year that God's prophetic Word was spoken in faith. One week later, the LAST Sunday of the month, of the same year, we had out first service!! Truly God has proven Himself faithful!!
Our vision has always been a multi-cultural congregation, breaking down walls that divide, and providing a place where God is worshipped in Spirit and in Truth, "Where the Peace of God Reigns." Shalom Assembly offers Holy Spirit anointed worship services, Bible studies relevant for today, Men's and Women's meetings, Youth Group and other Children's Ministries.