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Gene M. Roncone carries a burden for the lost. As superintendent of the Assemblies of God Rocky Mountain Ministry Network (RMMN) since 2019, he sees Colorado and Utah as fields ripe for harvest. But, as Jesus observed nearly two millennia ago, the laborers are few.

The solution, Roncone believes, is to follow Jesus’ solution: pray for more workers. So he organized the Called Initiativea prayer movement focused on those who feel God’s call to ministry.

The idea started last year, when Roncone created a paperback from podcasts he had recorded years before. Title Discover the call, the book helps participants discern God’s will for ministry. He became the centerpiece of the Called Initiative.

In June 2021, deep despondency fell on Roncone, brought on by the country’s ungodliness and the closure of four Rocky Mountain network churches as a result of COVID-19.

However, God led Roncone, 55, to Matthew 9:37-38, where Jesus comments on the harvest challenge.

“Jesus did not say, We really need a cultural study here. We have to get a budget. We need facilities, we need training, we need a blogRoncone says. “Heaven’s inescapable resource with the enormity of the harvest is to pray for the divinely called.”

Roncone emailed the roughly 600 RMMN ministers and asked them to join him in prayer, seeking to identify those interested in continuing the ministry. The pastors submitted nearly 230 names and Roncone prayed for them daily.

When Roncone met with the network’s consistory in July 2021, he presented his plan and list of names. With tears flowing, those gathered prayed over each name and witnessed an outpouring of the Holy Spirit in their midst.

After more than 30 minutes of intense prayer, the priests reflected for 90 minutes, and the Called Initiative was born. Plans included the Roncone team visiting all 13 network chapters, pastors preaching sermons or sharing their testimonies on the call to ministry, and follow-up mentorship with Discover the call.

To date, 247 people from the RMMN have responded to consider the ministry as a vocation.

This includes Canaan J. Lamberth, who assists Church of Praise in Pueblo, Colorado.

“Ministry was not something that crossed my mind, and yet God was working through these people to speak to me,” Lamberth says.

After Lamberth, 22, crossed Discover the call with his pastor, Steve G. Chavez, he enrolled in Path pursue full-time ministry.

Suzette M. Mackert, 45, browses through Roncone’s book and plans to work in youth ministry at New Life Christian Center in Hurricane, Utah. The program has crystallized her long-time passion for caring for children and adolescents.

“I didn’t figure out what it was until we got the book,” Mackert says. “That’s what God calls me to do.”

Roncone explains that Discover the call don’t push people into the ministry. In fact, it clarifies whether an inner emotion is just a passion for ministry or a true call to serve. For example, a man who read the book discovered that he had no incentive for full-time ministry. But he dedicated himself to being the best deacon he could be in his church.

“It’s a victory for the Kingdom,” Roncone said.

Roncone plans to continue the called initiative and pray for more workers. The key to reaping lost souls is always the burden of one’s heart.

PHOTO: Gene Roncone (right) meets one of those who answered the call,Jim Winterswolf of Bethel Church in Grand Junction, Colorado.

Amanda J. Marsh