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God Doesn't See the Ashes

God opened doors and hearts to see healing take place in the life of a minister and the life of a church.
Dane Hall’s life and ministry seemed to have disintegrated into a pile of ashes. He had just gone through a heartbreaking divorce. He also believed it was for the good of the Arkansas district youth for him to resign as district youth director — a position he had held for 18 years.

But what now? He knew he had been called by God into the ministry, but there wouldn’t seem to be much of a demand for divorced and deeply wounded ministers.

Hall, however, wasn’t the only one standing knee-deep in ashes. Searcy Faith Assembly is located about 50 miles northeast of Little Rock and just outside of Searcy, Arkansas, a rural town of about 24,000.

In August 2020, the church was literally in ashes as it had suffered a major fire and lost its large central building. A year later, with the congregation shrinking, rebuilding plans slowed to a crawl, and in debt, the church was now searching for its fourth pastor in the last five years.

“It was a church not only teetering on decline, it was almost to the point of freefall,” Arkansas District Council Superintendent Ronnie Morris recalls. “What I noticed when I first started working with the church, the life had seemingly been sucked out of the place.”


Unwilling to turn his back on the call to ministry, Hall decided to become a traveling evangelist. “It’s a tribute to the people of our district and across the nation, they opened the pulpit and doors to me,” Hall says, gratitude obvious in his voice. But as he ministered over the next four years, in his heart the call to pastor began to flicker, then burn.

Meanwhile, the Faith Assembly board reached out to Morris for help in finding a minister to lead their struggling congregation.

“I don’t remember why I thought of Dane, but he was the district youth director when I was the assistant superintendent, so we had a good relationship,” Morris says. “To me it was pretty clear that he was the man — even though this would be his first pastorate.”

The church board agreed to invite Hall to come and speak and be considered for the position of lead pastor. Hall received a call from Morris, encouraging him to seriously consider the opportunity.

“At the time I received the call, I was standing in my dad’s storage shed,” Hall recalls. “I was cleaning it and the house out — my dad had just passed away from a highly aggressive form of dementia.”

Yet, as Hall pondered the opportunity to candidate at the church, he admits God placed a burden for the church on his heart that wouldn’t let go.

“I decided to pursue it, and if I hit a dead end, I would continue serving as an evangelist,” he says. “But the Lord just kept opening the doors and the day I preached, 84 were in attendance.”

Hall was voted in as pastor of the Faith Assembly in October 2021. Almost immediately signs of renewed life flickered and then began to grow — in Hall and the church!


“As I have mentioned publicly to the church, the church needed me and I needed the church because we were helping each other heal,” Hall reflects. “It’s just been an amazing thing how God has used tragedy on both sides and we’ve both experienced tremendous healing from one another.”

Tim Herekamp, who was on the board at the time of Hall’s candidacy, strongly believes Hall is God’s man for the church.

“He came in and he just has a pastor’s heart of caring for people,” says Herekamp who has called Faith Assembly home since 1984 — the same year he and his wife, Donnette, were married. “He spends time with people, I mean personally, one-on-one time. He has just connected with people, which to me is one of the most important things of being a pastor. He came in and he became one of us.”

Shane Sickels agrees. Sickels and his wife, Lynsay, “happened” to visit the church on Hall’s first official Sunday as lead pastor, but he knows God’s fingerprints were all over the timing.

Sickels explains that his family was originally from California, and they had not had much experience attending Pentecostal churches prior to checking out Faith Assembly.

“We were taken aback by how open and loving the people were and you could feel the presence of the Spirit,” Sickels says. “Of course, after the service, we immediately had questions, so I asked to talk to pastor Dane. We went out to lunch and he had all the answers right there, opening his Bible to Acts and showing us what the Bible had to say.”

Hall also impressed Sickels in other ways.

“He’s one of the coolest guys I know, just on a man level — he’s 100% genuine,” Sickels shares. “And as far as being a man of God and knowing the Word, he’s at the top of the list . . . and my kids (16-year-old son, Little Shane, and 20-year-old daughter, Marley) love him.” Sickels adds that his son and daughter were both filled with the Spirit while attending church camp, while he and his wife were filled with the Spirit during services at Faith.


“I believe Dane has proven to be everything that I had envisioned and the church had envisioned for a new pastor,” Morris says. “He has brought unity to the church, but more importantly, the spiritual atmosphere has taken on a whole new dimension — a spiritual saturation.”

Morris also observes that the people of the church helped bring healing to Hall as Hall led the church into spiritual renewal.

“There are a lot of great people in that church, just very encouraging people,” Morris says. “And now the church is not only totally rebuilt physically, but is debt-free and the congregation is growing.”

Herekamp says the church has been blessed.

“Everyone is excited about the direction the church is going — an excitement I haven’t felt in several years,” he says. “The church is in a good place, debt-free, and blessed in so many different ways — financially, with a great pastor, and a unity amongst the people.”

Hall observes that the church’s finances began to turn around once missions became a priority. He believes that due to the church’s openness to the moving of the Spirit and its increasing commitment in giving to missions, God has increasingly blessed the church. The church has also doubled in size — last week seeing 168 in attendance — since Hall began serving as pastor.

“I believe what happens on Sunday is a direct result of doing life with our people and the community during the week,” Hall says. “I think being relational and not just loving people, but genuinely showing them God’s love from both myself and our church has been a key factor . . . just being there for people when they hurt, when they grieve, and when they celebrate.”

“Faith Assembly is my Bethel, my spiritual home, the place where my family and I found God,” Sickels says. “Pastor Dane, the church, us — we were made for each other. It was like we were all puzzle pieces scattered out and God put us together, all in the right spot.”

Dan Van Veen

Dan Van Veen is news editor of AG News. Prior to transitioning to AG News in 2001, Van Veen served as managing editor of AG U.S. Missions American Horizon magazine for five years. He attends Central Assembly of God in Springfield, Missouri, where he and his wife, Lori, teach preschool Sunday School and 4- and 5-year-old Rainbows boys and girls on Wednesdays.