By Carl Stagner
Radically converted at age eighteen, introduced to the Church of God by a Catholic family friend, and sporting a Gold’s Gym muscle shirt to his first Anderson Camp Meeting twenty years ago, Terry Rolen has a unique story about how he came to be where he is today. Now senior pastor of Breiel Boulevard First Church of God, Rolen is looking forward to the opportunity to address the North American Convention on Wednesday morning, June 27 at 10:30 AM in Park Place Church of God.
Terry Rolen did not grow up in the church. After a dramatic salvation experience, Rolen began a spiritual journey that would forever feed off of the impetus of that October day when he surrendered his life to the Lord. And where does the Catholic friend’s influence fit in? A Catholic family friend recommended the Church of God, as Rolen recalls, “saying of the small Protestant congregation, ‘I don’t know anything about the Church of God, but we recommend you try it because they (the church members) are always smiling and seem friendly.’ Thus began the interweaving of my faith journey with the Church of God.”
Following just two years of walking with Christ, Rolen’s pastor, Tom Harrison, brought him to the North American Convention. Strolling across the campground in a Gold’s Gym muscle shirt, Rolen remembers that he nevertheless “soaked it all in—the teaching, the preaching, the fellowship.” He recalls “staring starry-eyed at the powerful preachers that proclaimed the word that year.” Rolen continues, “The theme that year was ‘Attention Please, God is Speaking’ and I was all ears! And at that place twenty years ago, God called me into ministry! I went back home after that week, stood up in front of my church family, and said, ‘I believe God is calling me into the preaching ministry.’ So [NAC] is an incredibly humbling, holy place for me.”
Today, Terry Rolen is excited about encouraging the church to reach the world for Christ. His personal mission statement is “to see more people become more like Jesus.” Through his message at NAC, he wants to inspire the church to refresh its relationship with the church. He believes the church’s great privilege is to be Christ’s representatives in the world. “The church is the beautiful and beloved bride of Christ who is irresistibly powerful when she is aligned with the heart of God,” Rolen explains. “Great things are done through the church when she shares God’s intent for this world, which is to redeem broken lives and make Jesus’ name renowned!”
Our relationship with the church must be refreshed and emphasized, and this is the message Rolen desires to present. “I hope to show that to thrive as a Christ-follower, one must be connected to the body of Christ. And why wouldn’t we want to be? Because the local church alive with the gospel of Christ is the hope of the world!”
What would Terry Rolen say to someone who is considering whether or not to attend NAC this year? “Don’t miss the opportunity to hear what the Spirit is saying to the church. This annual gathering is an important time to share your story and hear the stories of what God is doing through his people. It’s a time to refresh and renew our connection with ‘our tribe’ of God’s church.”
Rolen believes in the North American Convention of the Church of God and the power of God at work through this great gathering. “Thanks to my pastor twenty years ago and still a friend today, Tom Harrison, who invited me on his annual pilgrimage to Anderson. It changed my life.”
For more information and to register for NAC 2012, visit www.chog.org/NAC or call toll free 800-848-2464, ext 2130.