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Dr. Mike Rakes is Evangel University’s Fifth President

Dr. Mike Rakes

Dr. Mike Rakes is now serving as Evangel University’s fifth president. Rakes transitioned to EU from Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where he and his wife, Darla, served as lead pastors of Winston-Salem First (WSF), a thriving Assemblies of God church, since 2006.

“I am so impressed with the academic organizations and programs at Evangel that demonstrate innovation and thought leadership,” said Rakes. “I look forward to connecting with the Evangel family and working with outstanding students, faculty, staff, alumni, and donors to create a purposeful and strong future for Evangel.”

About Dr. Mike Rakes

Dr. Mike and Darla Rakes

Rakes, an ordained Assemblies of God minister, has led the diverse congregation of Winston Salem First as its visionary and relationally focused leader for the past 15 years. The church has cemented itself as a community partner through its “Do Good” initiative, focused on providing compassionate care and resources to those in need through a variety of outreach and service-focused opportunities.

In addition to his pastoral experience, Rakes is a proven leader in higher education. He served as the vice president for student development at Southeastern University, an Assemblies of God institution, in Lakeland, FL from 2000-2006 and as chair of its Practical Ministry Department from 1993-1999.

He has also been a church planter, pastor, consultant, and curriculum writer in Florida, Oklahoma, and Missouri.

“Mike has a breadth and scope of experience and vision that make him a tremendous choice as the next president of Evangel University,” said Dr. Wood. “He is a strategic leader with unparalleled integrity and wisdom. Mike makes things happen and will bring a positive “can do” attitude to the presidency. I look forward to watching Evangel’s future unfold under his leadership.”

Rakes is a graduate of Central Bible College and the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Pastoral Ministries and a master’s degree in Biblical Literature. He also holds a Master of Divinity and a Doctor of Ministry degree from Biola University with additional doctoral studies in management.

Rakes has previously served as chair of the board of trustees at Oral Roberts University, and is a member of the global ministry resource organization Empowered21, where he serves as liaison to Spirit-empowered scholars.

He is also a writer and published author. His latest book, “Surrendered and Unafraid: The Flourishing of Faith During Seasons of Suffering” is set to release this fall through the FEDD Agency. Charisma House published his first book titled “Slings and Stones” in 2015.

“Dr. Rakes’ life and ministry are a testament to his commitment to helping others fulfill their God-given callings. His investment in the lives of students at Evangel University will help build a brighter future,” said Rev. Doug Clay, Evangel University trustee and general superintendent of the Assemblies of God.

Rakes and his wife, Darla, have a daughter, Whitney, who served as worship pastor at WSF until her passing in 2019 at the age of 27 after a courageous battle with cancer. They also have a son, Brayden, who is married to Heather, with one grandchild, Blake, and another grandchild, Beau, on the way.

“Evangel is a lead institution for our movement,” said Rakes. “The distinction and impact EU graduates have around the world is far-reaching. My wife and I are very enthusiastic and honored to now have the opportunity to serve at the place of our educational roots.”

To learn more about Dr. Mike Rakes, visit evangel.edu/president.

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About Evangel University

Evangel University, with the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary (AGTS), is a comprehensive Christian university committed to excellence in educating and equipping students to serve the Church and society globally. Evangel and AGTS serve more than 2,200 students from all 50 states and numerous foreign countries, offering 70 undergraduate majors and 19 master and doctoral degrees.

Evangel University selects new president

After conducting a nationwide search for its next president, the Evangel University Board of Trustees has announced the unanimous selection of Dr. Mike Rakes as the institution’s fifth president.

Does Faith Fit Into The World We Created?

Reprinted with permission from Convene Corporation.

By Helen Mitchell

Imagine with me for a minute. What if we lived in a world where all commerce stopped? There would be no electricity, no gas stations, no mass transportation, no cell service, no grocery stores or food distribution, no hospitals, schools, movie theaters or amusement parks. There would be no food on the shelves, gas pumps would go dry, streets would not be patrolled and fires would burn themselves out. Civilized life as we know it quickly melts away.

And what if all Christians left their jobs in the marketplace to work for the local church? What if their values, skills, ideas and influence were no longer in the marketplace? Very likely, corporate misconduct, oppression and injustice would increase. Courts and laws would become increasingly more unjust. Ethical dilemmas would not have a Christian’s perspective.

You may be thinking this sounds apocalyptic, unrealistic or far-fetched – is it? If we are honest, isn’t this the natural conclusion of a world we designed from our own reasoning? A world created by a belief system which says that only what happens in, through and for the local church is sacred, and what happens in the marketplace is secular.

Can ministry and kingdom work only be associated with the work and programs of the local church, a non-profit or in jobs that are in a helping profession, like nursing or teaching?

Most pastors and individuals I have met don’t see how work and vocation connect to the Christian life. At best, work in the marketplace is to be done honestly and with moral behavior, while searching for an opportunity to share the gospel message. Unfortunately, not only is this a distorted view of work and its purpose, it also leads to an incomplete Christian life.

Work was designed to provide intrinsic value for human flourishing and a better society. Work is also part of one’s calling and part of one’s service to Christ. Work, when done in the hands of a believer, can be ministry.

In Genesis 1:27-28, before the entrance of sin into the world, God gave Adam and Eve work to do in the Garden. Their work was to be fruitful. They were to oversee, develop and manage all of creation. Mankind has enhanced creation in numerous ways so that the quality of life for many people has improved. Medical advances, technology, housing, clean water and space exploration are but a few ways that our creative abilities have improved life for an entire society.

Psalm 24:1 tells us, “The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it;” (NIV).

God is the owner of the world and we are his managers.

Ephesians 2:10 tells us, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (NIV)

We often think of that scripture, and rightly so, of the works and ministries of the local church, such as teaching Sunday school, directing traffic or greeting people. We also might think of doing good works in the community such as helping at a food bank, volunteering in a nursing home or tutoring underprivileged children. And we would be correct.

What if our understanding of good works was incomplete? The word “works” here in Ephesians 2:10 in the Greek is “ergon,” which can mean business, employment and anything done by hand.

Let’s look at that scripture again, inserting the Greek definition of “works”.

“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus ‘to (run a good business), to (develop beautiful art), to (draft safe and innovative architectural plans),’ which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Before the foundation of the world, God determined who he would gift with the skills, talents, and abilities to manage their part of planet earth. I like to think that God gifted certain individuals to be plumbers because he gave the design to another to create indoor plumbing.

We have just looked at how work has intrinsic value and is part of one’s calling and service to Christ, but you may be wondering, how is it ministry?

Somehow, we got the word “ministry” mixed up. It is not an industry, a job title or an occupation. For a follower of Jesus Christ, it is a way of living. We all enter full-time ministry, or full-time service to Jesus at the moment of our salvation. The Greek word for ministry is “diakonia,” which simply means active service. The mailman, the hairdresser, the mechanic and the entrepreneur, each contributes positively to society and in service to one another.

One of the first demonstrations of ministry or service was in Acts 6:2, regarding the daily distribution of food for the widows. The apostles said it wasn’t their job or their calling to serve tables. We may be tempted to misread this passage that the work of preaching the gospel is superior to the work of waiting on tables. The word “serve” in this scripture comes from the Greek word, “diakonia,” which means to minister to or be in service. Both are equally important. Both are equally ministry.

Work when done with a willing heart, to serve others and for the glory of God, is part of our service to Christ. Your work matters to God and to others. Will you fully embrace your call to work? The world is waiting.