Dr. Dan Sheaffer, the former pastor of Crossroads Cathedral (AG) in Oklahoma City and current pastor of Harvest Assembly of God, also in Oklahoma City, slipped into the presence of God Thursday, September 2, 2010, after an extended illness. Sheaffer was 80.
Ordained by the AG Oklahoma District in 1958, Sheaffer was an evangelist. After pastoring First AG in Miami, Oklahoma for 8 years (1961-1969), Sheaffer and his wife Bonnie built the small Oklahoma City First Assembly of God (renamed Crossroads Cathedral in 1979) into one of the first and largest mega-churches in the Assemblies of God, with a congregation of approximately 6,000. During the Decade of Harvest (1990s), the church exceeded its goal of planting 1,000 churches in Malawi and went on to fund the $3 million Malawi Assemblies of God School of Theology that students from across Africa attend.
"When Dan went to Malawi in 1982, there were less than 200 AG churches in Malawi and only a few had a building," says Mike Sheaffer, Dan and Bonnie's son and assistant pastor at Harvest AG. According to AG World Missions official statistics, now there are nearly 4,000 churches and preaching points (a large percentage funded through the Sheaffers' efforts) and more than 800,000 adherents. The Sheaffers also founded and built churches in Liberia, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Paraguay, Colombia, Jamaica, Chile and Burundi.
Sheaffer set the tone of his ministry early at what was to become Crossroads Cathedral (now Crossroads Church). After less than half of the congregation came to his first Wednesday night service, the following Sunday he is quoted as saying, "Folks, I don't know where you were Wednesday night, but we are here to build a church. If you are not going to be here on Wednesday night, then I don't want you here on Sunday mornings. I will need your seat pretty soon for a person who wants to serve God and build here what God has asked us to build. You either have to get in, get committed and pray through, or you will have to find somewhere else to go." Not one listener left the church.
As Crossroads Church is a testament to, not all of the Sheaffers' work was done abroad. In addition to being a minister at Crossroads, he was a sought-after speaker and evangelist. "Thousands upon thousands have come to know the Lord through Dan's ministry," Mike says. "For 64 years, every Sunday he was behind the pulpit somewhere preaching the gospel."
The Sheaffers also played a key part in the funding of the Sheaffer Full Life Center at Southwestern Assemblies of God University in Waxahachie, Texas. The 111,000-square-foot building houses everything from a dining commons, classrooms and offices to an athletic center, two gymnasiums and a chapel. They also assisted in the construction of Bridges and Teeter Hall on the SAGU campus.
According to AG Theological Seminary President Byron Klaus, the Sheaffers were instrumental in the financial undergirding of the Doctor of Ministry Program, established in 1997, at AGTS in Springfield, Missouri, and provided initial funding for the first academic chair at the seminary: The Daniel T. Sheaffer Chair of Practical Ministry. In addition, the Assemblies of God Center for Holy Land Studies was made possible by a grant from Harvest AG under the Sheaffers' leadership.
"These [ministry efforts listed above] are but a few examples of their commitment to evangelism and discipleship," AG General Superintendent George O. Wood says.
In 2007, after stepping down from the pulpit at Crossroads Cathedral, Sheaffer soon tired of retirement and with his wife, Bonnie, founded Harvest Assembly of God.
"Dan Sheaffer had a heart for Oklahoma City and the world," states Wood. "His personal generosity is legendary, and he led the churches he pastored to give multiplied millions of dollars for world missions and Assemblies of God higher education. Dan Sheaffer will be greatly missed."
Sheaffer was preceded in death by his parents, Rev. Gerald and Jeanette Sheaffer; brother, Eugene, and sister, Mary Ellen Felton. He is survived by his wife of 60 years, Bonnie (Benson); daughter, Terri and husband, Gary King; son, Mike and wife, Starla; sister, Carolyn and husband, Harold Brooks; brother, Charles and wife, Phyllis; five grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.
Funeral arrangements are being handled by Vondel Smith & Son Mortuary at South Lakes, 4000 S.W. 119th Street, in Oklahoma City. Viewing at the funeral home will be from 4 to 8 p.m. on Monday and Tuesday, September 6 and 7. The funeral service will be held at Harvest AG, 4019 S. Pennsylvania, at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, with Oklahoma District Superintendent Frank Cargill and Mike Sheaffer officiating. In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorials made to either of the two organizations Sheaffer founded to fund his overseas missionary vision into perpetuity: Harvest Ministries, or Discipling the Nations, c/o Harvest A/G, PO Box 892345, OKC, OK 73189.