When Terry Tuinder gave his life to Christ at age 21, he had no idea the adventure that lay ahead. Having not been raised in the church, he didn’t know what to expect. Which is why his call into pastoral ministry only six months after receiving Christ was a complete surprise.
“I actually thought I was going crazy, because the thought of going into the ministry was so strong in my mind,” says the now 52-year-old pastor of New Life (Grand Forks Foursquare Church) in Grand Forks, N.D. “I thought I was making it up.”
But one day, when the young Terry was cleaning the church, three Bible references suddenly came to his mind. Again, he thought he was making them up. So he looked them up—and all three were related to the ministry. The message was crystal clear.
“That was 30 years ago,” he says, “and I have never looked back since.”
In 1985, Terry and his wife, Suzette, who is also a credentialed minister, planted New Life in Grand Forks, a city with a population of approximately 56,000. Their main motivation for the ministry, Terry says, is to help people know the truth of God’s Word and walk in it. It’s something they’ve been doing now for more than 25 years, having celebrated the congregation’s 25th anniversary in 2010.
“The overarching call of our congregation is to be a place of worship, healing and teaching,” Terry explains. “It is as we worship Him who saved us and walk in the light of His truth that we are healed. My greatest joy in ministry takes place when people rise up to their full potential in Christ. I want people to understand who they are in Christ, what He has called them to do, and see them grow and mature into all that Christ has for them.”
Through the years, Terry says, the church has ministered to hundreds of people who have entered the sanctuary doors broken and hurting, and have left in wholeness and strength. The congregation, however, doesn’t just wait for people to walk into the church facility on Sunday. They are active in reaching out to the surrounding community on a consistent basis.
Community outreaches include ministry in a nursing home, led by a 75-year-old church member who organized a team to spend time with residents; free water and snack giveaways at University of North Dakota Gay Pride events, to talk with people and help them see that the church does note hate them; and Cleansing Stream Ministries, which New Life has offered to the region since 1998.
They hold two Cleansing Stream retreats a year, and the ministry has expanded to retreats being offered in Sioux Falls, S.D., Omaha, Neb. and Bovey, Minn. Terry notes that Cleansing Stream is a very important part of New Life’s healing ministry.
Other outreaches conducted in the past include prayer walking, where church members walked the streets within a four-block radius of the facility, praying over the residents; door-to-door evangelism, where they systematically visited every home within the prayer-walking zone; and a series of revival services that began in 1997 and lasted more than two years, with special meetings being held every evening, Tuesday through Sunday.
Personally, Terry says his ministry emphasis is threefold: teaching, deliverance and leadership. Teaching, explains the father of one adult son and grandfather of four, shapes everything he does. That’s one reason why he pursued—and just this last year achieved—his doctorate in ministry from The King’s College and Seminary (now called The King’s University) in Van Nuys, Calif. He is involved in training leaders at both undergraduate and graduate levels. Through the years, in fact, he has been a part of many pastors conferences in India, Mozambique, Malawi and Zambia.
But Terry doesn’t do it all alone. His wife, Suzette, is a vital part of ministry at New Life, having worked with every age level, including children and youth, in the past 25 years. Ministering to women is also a key aspect of her calling.
“Suzette is an excellent communicator with a gift of mercy and encouragement,” Terry affirms. “She is a blessing and an encouragement to the congregation. Her role in preaching and teaching is expanding, and she is definitely becoming more comfortable and confident in her place of serving the Lord.”
Ministry, of course, is not without its challenges. But when you work through them, you can find new levels of freedom and effectiveness. One of Terry’s biggest obstacles, he says, was one that many pastors can relate to—being content with who God has made you to be and the ministry to which He has called you.
“For many years, my identity was connected to the limited size of our church and ministry,” Terry recalls. “I felt like I was substandard, because no matter what I did or how hard I worked, the church never would grow beyond a certain point.”
He finally came to a point of internal crisis. But dealing with it honestly set the stage for a personal liberation.
“I finally came to the conclusion,” explains Terry, “that it is the Lord who builds His church, and if this is all He was giving me, I would be content with that. This brought great release and personal freedom to be who I was in the Lord.”
It’s a lesson learned not in the classroom, but in the trenches of daily life and service.
“I am learning more than ever that none of the things I have can accomplish His purpose,” Terry asserts. “All the gifts I have must be surrendered to the Lord. I long for God to move in a deeper way through my life. I want to abide in Him and see His life flow through me. It is a good place to be.”
By: Bill Shepson, a Foursquare credentialed minister and freelance writer in Los Angeles