Gregorio Gutiérrez/ Jim Sánchez, Conexión San Ángelo

DEL RIO – “Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert,” (Isaiah 43:18).

After 50 years of ministry work as pastor of Faith Mission International, Allen Ehlers, who celebrated his 80th birthday last August 8, is more excited than ever about two things. First, the greater presence of God. And second, God calling His people into a closer, relationship with Him. 

“We have a greater degree of God’s presence here with us and it is His presence that makes the difference.”

In the Old Testament, God’s people gathered around His presence. “It is my desire to see His manifested presence,” said Ehlers.

Pastor Ehlers went on to say that in America we tend to gather around a personality, we gather around organizations, around big events, rather than around God’s presence; God says the gathering should be around His presence. And that is what intrigues him--FMI being open to new avenues of worship.

Along the way, the Church moved away from Him, becoming traditional with three songs played and preaching. “Not that we should neglect that, but our emphasis when we pray is for God’s presence being manifested in us and to the people.” 

Left-to-right: Charlene Ehlers, Allen and their 12-year-old daughter, Esther.

Before concluding the interview, Pastor Ehlers said every year he asks the Lord for a word from Him for the new year.

In Isaiah 43:1, 18 it says, “But now thus saith the Lord, that created thee. . .” ““Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old.” In the Message version it reads “Forget what has happened, don’t keep going over old history.”

A lot of people carry around ashes in their lives, called problems but Jesus said, “I will exchange the ashes for beauty.” “If we can get out of the ashes,” let go of the things in our past that we were attached to, we can come into the new, whatever that might be.”

Pastor Ehlers concluded by saying the Church needed to be sensitive and prepared because He is about to do something new in the hearts of His people. Unfortunately, people see the New Year as just another year, rather than a New Year (thing).

“I hear Him calling us up to a new relationship with Him.” Be alert, be sensitive and be willing to walk in the newness,” Pastor, Ehlers said.