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Helping the Broken in a New Way

A retired psychiatric nurse finds his first career is beneficial to his new vocational calling as pastor.
David A. Lingsch believes his life experiences in a nursing career helped him prepare for a full-time switch to pastoring.

The 56-year-old Lingsch, associate pastor at New Stanton Assembly of God in Pennsylvania, didn’t always readily acknowledge God in his life. As a high school graduate in 1981, he just needed a job. He went to work for the Pennsylvania Department of Welfare and took advantage of tuition assistance to become a nurse, specializing in psychiatric nursing. He worked long hours in often understaffed state facilities, including the Department of Corrections, eventually accumulating enough overtime to retire early.

For part of his life, Lingsch worked while a high-functioning addict, married, and raising children. He starting drinking alcohol as a teen to cope with his parents’ divorce, and his substance abuse increased with the access to drugs his nursing career provided.

Eventually his wife, Kris, gave him an ultimatum regarding his addiction and he got clean. In 2000, an Easter drama at an area church helped David finally realize just how much Jesus had done for him. He turned his life over to God, began to study and grow spiritually, and sensed a calling to ministry. Through former pastors Don J. Immel and Mike Hampton at New Stanton AG, he connected with the PennDel Ministry Network to obtain ministerial credentials. He became associate pastor at New Stanton in 2017.

Immel, who now serves as PennDel network superintendent, initially wondered whether Lingsch might regret giving up a career with good salary and benefits, but concern soon turned to encouragement.

“His calling, and his commitment to following it, were evident,” says Immel, 59.

Much of Lingsch’s ministry at New Stanton focuses on a young adult group, A Ministry Preparing Extreme Disciples (AMPED). Drawing on his previous career experience, Lingsch says many young adults coming to faith are struggling with broken relationships, severe anxiety, and gender identity issues. State funding cuts have resulted in fewer facilities offering counseling.

“When people don’t get the help they need, they can end up homeless, in jail, or just coping the best they can,” says Lingsch. “Some turn to church in desperation, and we need to be ready to disciple them.”

Ron L. Ingelido, who served briefly at another ministry and recently returned to New Stanton Assembly as lead pastor, previously headed up AMPED. The group meets on Wednesday evenings for a meal, study, fellowship, and a safe place to raise questions.

“Young people are given so little absolute truth these days,” says Lingsch. “Here, we speak truth in love. They need to know God is not pleased with certain behaviors, but the Holy Spirit doesn’t condemn; He convicts.”

Often, conviction from God is a new experience; Lingsch recalls one member initially could not sit through the entire meeting, but is now one of the leaders. A suicide of a peer a couple of years ago also helped more young adults admit they needed support and fellowship.

According to Lingsch, many young adults, even those growing up in church, haven’t developed a personal devotional life, strongly emphasized at AMPED. When attendees begin to learn, they become eager to serve.

“Satan is poised to attack when young people leave the safety and security of the church meeting,” Lingsch says. “We want to help prepare them to respond with God’s Word. We’re seeing hope restored, and then hope shared.”

Kris, 55, helps her husband with the young adult ministry and the church’s tech ministry, as does son Nathan, 28. Son Tyler, 26, is overseas with the U.S. Air Force.

Cynthia J Thomas

Cynthia J. Thomas worked for Assemblies of God U.S. Missions for six years before becoming primary caregiver for her father, a World War II veteran. She has served as a counselor for victims of domestic violence and women facing crisis pregnancies. Cindy and her husband, Phil, a schoolteacher, volunteer in youth outreach and have three adult children and one granddaughter.