Pastor Receives New Car . . . that Seats 12?
There are few things more irritating or inconvenient than a car that keeps breaking down . . . except for, perhaps, when it’s a car that keeps breaking down during the dead of winter and you happen to live in North Dakota where the temperature dips to 20- and 30-below zero!
Unfortunately, Pastor Paul Agamiri had one of those “irritating” cars. “It broke down many, many times and I took it to repair many times,” Agamiri says with a sigh at the memory.
His church, All Nations Assembly of God in West Fargo, took note of their pastor’s struggle. So, without his knowledge, they got together and on Father’s Day, after crowning layworker Maurice Binot "Father of the Year," presented Agamiri, his wife, and their six children (ages 4 to 18) with a new pre-owned SUV.
“I had no idea — it was totally a surprise,” Agamiri says, the appreciation echoing in his voice. “I’m so thankful for our church and the good leaders we have.”
It is not too difficult to tell that the accent in Agamiri’s deep, rich voice is not that of a native North Dakotan. In fact, he explains, he’s actually from Sudan, Africa. After fleeing the brutal civil war in Sudan, the U.S. government relocated him from a refuge camp in Kenya in the mid-1990s to North Dakota.
To the outside observer, the decision to relocate a Sudanese refugee from what might be more described as a tropic desert, where temperatures regularly soar beyond 110 degrees, to a state that borders Canada, could be considered curious. But Agamiri has no objections.
“When I landed at the airport in North Dakota, it was obviously totally new — I had never seen anything like it,” he says. “Someone told me that I had come to the wrong place [due to the weather], but cold is better than war. America is a blessing — it’s not a tough place; war is a tough one.”
Committed to following God’s calling to become a pastor, when Agamiri arrived in North Dakota he began taking Berean courses to become an AG minister. In 2005, he launched his church in West Fargo, North Dakota.
“Paul has a wonderful vision beyond even his own ethnicity,” says Scott Temple, director of Assemblies of God Office of Ethnic Relations. “When I first went to visit his church, it was called First Sudanese Assembly of God; but when I arrived, he had placed a new church sign in front, renaming the church ‘All Nations Assembly of God.’ I asked Paul why he renamed the church, and he told me that the Holy Spirit had convicted him as they were called to reach all nations, not just Sudanese people.”
Starting from humble beginnings, the church, whose services can be described as celebratory events that lift up the name of Jesus, now sees about 300 attending every week. Agamiri says they are starting the process of looking for a new facility or building a new church as they have outgrown the current structure.
“They do a tremendous amount for their community,” Temple says. “They help with food and clothing for those in need and any given Sunday there are 15 or more nationalities represented — they are truly committed to be the house of prayer for all nations.”
Temple believes the gift of the new vehicle to Agamiri, who has come from being a refugee to becoming a successful minister, is an appropriate honor. “It’s a beautiful expression of love for this great servant of God,” he says.
When asked, a clearly grateful Agamiri says the new SUV the church bought for him seats up to seven, although they do have eight in their family. “That’s not to worry,” Agamiri deadpans. “It can fit eight, African style . . . well, actually, African style it can fit more like 12!”
. . . and Agamiri may still be laughing.