ELLENDALE, North Dakota — Throughout the Assemblies of God, Mark A. Hausfeld is known as a pioneer when it comes to sharing the gospel in the Muslim world and empowering others to do the same. His résumé resonates with accomplishments. That includes planting a church in inner-city Chicago, founding Teen Challenge Pakistan, serving as Assemblies of God World Missions area director for Central Eurasia, leading Assemblies of God Theological Seminary as president, and launching PAK7, an initiative to equip the Pakistani Church with media services.
In April, Hausfeld sensed the Lord leading him into a more refined pursuit of his calling: equipping and mobilizing the Church — both locally and globally — to reach Muslims and people of other non-Christian religions. Subsequently, Hausfeld’s longtime friend, Paul R. Alexander, approached him about an opportunity at Trinity Bible College & Graduate School, the Assemblies of God institution in Ellendale, North Dakota, known for training and equipping rural ministers.
As president of the school, Alexander wanted to create a Master of Arts in World Religions and establish a Center for the Study of World Religions. Hausfeld resonated with Trinity’s mission to partner with pastors and missionaries to develop their spiritual lives and empower them to reach every ethnic group in their community. The Trinity board welcomed Hausfeld as vice president of institutional innovation.
In his first semester, Hausfeld already is working to broaden students’ knowledge about world religions and the specific ways rural ministers must be prepared to reach ethnic minority populations.
“It is imperative for the local focus on rural ministry to include global, because in our society, the global is increasingly coming to the rural,” Hausfeld says.
During Trinity’s annual Herman G. Johnson lecture this term, Hausfeld spoke to a standing-room-only sanctuary about the diaspora of Muslim people groups in small town America. While immigrant visibility and numbers have increased in recent years, Muslims traditionally have been attracted to the conservative family values, slower pace of life, and workforce demands found in rural America, Hausfeld said. Instead of over-politicizing the issue, he encouraged attendees to prepare for “ripe-for-harvest” evangelism opportunities.
“We should not be thrilled only for the missionary sent to Cairo,” Hausfeld said. “We should be equally, if not more, excited about the family that moved next door to us from Cairo. God is bringing people here so we can engage them with the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
In 2018, Trinity opened the Center for Missionary Mobilization and Retention in conjunction with AGWM under the direction of missionary in residence David P. Jacob, chair of the school’s Intercultural Studies Department.
As president of the college, Alexander says Hausfeld is a tremendous value add that will help usher the school into a new level of equipping ministers.
“Mark’s presence has elevated our ability to combine real-life experience and a theological dexterity that is teaching students how to minister during a dramatic demographic and cultural shift,” Alexander says. “Mark Hausfeld models one of the best examples of bringing Christ to diverse people groups with dignity, kindness, grace, and acceptance.”
More than 100 students are enrolled in TBC master’s programs this year — a significant increase from previous years — and the Trinity team expects to see these numbers continually rise with added graduate programs launching in fall 2022. More than the data, though, Hausfeld and Alexander are eager to play their role in ushering the spiritual harvest they believe is ahead.
“Could the rural church in America be the catalyst to reach and love Muslims, to see Muslim lives changed and transformed by the power of Jesus Christ?” Hausfeld asks. “I believe the answer is a resounding yes. We’re preparing students and ministers to lead the charge in accomplishing this facet of the Great Commission.”