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Connect Conference Recap

The 2024 Connect Conference began in a familiar way, with 500+ ministers and spouses enjoying a banquet and fellowship together on Monday night. After the introduction and welcome of new ministers, Pastor Sam and Brenda Rijfkogel, lead pastors at Grand Rapids First in Grand Rapids, Michigan, shared the story of their daughter, Sarah, who was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer and passed away at age 27. Sam stated, “Grief does not destroy you…surprise will.” Upon learning about the diagnosis, Sarah, who was called to worship ministry, continued to serve. She said, “Worship as if your life depends on it.”

On Tuesday, John Easter, AGWM Executive Director, shared an overview of the AGWM state of the mission, the Buddhist-Hindu Priority, and the power of the local church. AGWM has a presence in 153 nations in the world; there are 2,647 missionaries in these nations. Every 54 seconds, someone comes to Christ. There are 55.7 million AG believers. Every 81 minutes, a church is planted, and over 367,398 AG churches are planted worldwide. But there is still an unfinished task. Among all unreached in the world, 49% reside in the Buddhist and Hindu world – that’s 2.2 billion people.

Following John Easter’s presentation, MN missionary Mark Durene challenged all that prayer is the most powerful tool we possess to impact the world for Jesus. He introduced the 2024 Minnesota District prayer goal of 2,500 prayer partners. If every Minnesota church identifies ten intercessors, that goal will be accomplished. For more information on how to sign up, visit

During the rest of the sessions, Sam Rijfkogel shared incredible messages. Altar times were marked by a powerful sense of God’s presence. Tuesday evening, Sam preached on Elijah’s victory and depression. The evening concluded with multiple “Pie Receptions” for all attendees.

The Connect Conference served its purpose well as ministers connected with God and ministry peers. Don’t serve alone! To listen to audio recordings from Connect, visit