Living Witness Ministries is a non-denominational Christian ministry that was manifested a few short years ago. The initial meetings were held in the homes of the 3 founding couples and began as a Bible study. It quickly became evident that God had a purpose and plan in store for this ministry that exceeded the original scope of the home Bible study parameters.
As fate would have it, about a year prior to this Bible study inception, God succeeded in calling one of the initial founders, Alfonso Kirk Jr., who emerged as the Bible study leader, into deeper depths of ministry. Alfonso was licensed (i.e. recognized) to preach the Gospel, but had not been officially ordained (i.e. tested, indoctrinated, and having the laying on of hands performed by a council of pastors). All three (3) men who were initially involved in the Bible study had been involved in home / group Bible studies before, but it was evident from the beginning that this was something quite different.
This core group met for several months as they rotated weekly from house to house. During this time they prayed and studied the Word of God (mainly the book of Acts) seeking direction for this Bible study fellowship. Also during this time all tithes and offerings were stored up for God’s purposes which were to be revealed later. Soon, it became clear that the ministry was being prompted by the Holy Ghost to move forward (i.e. beyond Jerusalem, into Judea, Samaria, and to the uttermost parts of the earth).
Faithfully on January 9, 2000 conference rooms were secured in a Tampa Bay area hotel and the first Living Witness Ministries church service was held at 9:00 AM. This event was well-attended, which provided much-needed encouragement, although the founders realized soon enough that it was not appropriate to look for encouragement from attendance numbers. Regular weekly services continued in this hotel for over a year.
By the time of the initial church service, Living Witness Ministries consisted of only 2 couples, as one of the initial couples had a change of heart during the house to house prayer and Bible study. While this defection obviously had a noticeable impact on the ministry, it caused everyone to make even a deeper and more sincere evaluation of their commitment to this ministry. As is often the case in adversity, the ministry ultimately was strengthened as the remaining founders realized “It’s All About Jesus”, which is when this slogan was born. Alfonso was ordained to preach the Gospel on May 8 th, 1999 further preparing for the work that God had begun.
After meeting in the hotel for over a year, God presented an opportunity for LWM to occupy a church building being vacated by a fellow pastor and ministry moving to a another space. The Lord definitely had a hand in this move as evidenced one Sunday when driving home from the hotel after taking down and transporting all of the equipment and supplies, Pastor Alfonso told his wife Melanie “I believe God is telling me it’s time to leave the hotel.” The following Tuesday, i.e. 2 days later, Alfonso received a call from his fellow pastor asking him if he wanted to assume the lease on the building that he was vacating.
LWM continues to occupy this same building today, since 2001, but has also added additional capacity for additional ministry work. But LWM is not about people building buildings. LWM is about people building people.
This ministry is non-denominational. Some people think this means that we don’t believe in any specific doctrine, but we correct them and inform them that “We believe in the Bible”. We’ve been asked, well what about Baptist doctrine, Methodist doctrine, Catholic doctrine. We again inform them that “We believe the Bible and the doctrine taught within it.” This is important to us, because we have disciples in our church who “grew up” Baptist, Catholic, Presbyterian, Episcopal, Lutheran, Methodist, and probably others, but we stand adamantly on the Word of God and cannot lean on anything else.
As Pastor Alfonso simply puts it, “When God called me into ministry, He called me as a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The denomination under which I preached would have been my CHOICE. And as far as I can tell from His Word, when God saves anyone, He saves them into His family sealed by the blood of His dear Son Jesus Christ. The denomination, under which they are discipled, is their own CHOICE.”
As we continually dedicate ourselves to the teaching and doing of the Word, fellowship among believers, meeting of needs, and prayer, (all through sincere love for Him and for one another) our ministry continues to grow stronger as we continue to have impacts in our families, in our communities, and far beyond and work to accomplish our mission as outlined in our mission statement.