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Church in a Pizzeria

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Last month, Dan Stolebarger from AR News (KoinoniaInstitute) had an opportunity to visit Phil’s Heavenly Pizza inPompano Beach, Florida. Best known in the area as “thechurch in a pizzeria,” it is both a pizzeria and a ministry. Theowner, Phil Kassees, will be the first to tell you that he’s not apastor, but a ‘’pizza maker.” However, there is no doubt thathe’slike a modern-day John the Baptist, preaching that trueconversion should be evidenced by repentance.For those unfamiliar with Phil’s Heavenly Pizza, this pizzeriahas been delivering the message of repentance andmouthwatering food since 1994. Located on AtlanticBoulevard near the Intracoastal, the team in this welcoming“church in a pizzeria” has a truly unique vocation. Kasseesexplains, “not that the building is a church, it’s not, but we’rethe body of Christ in a pizzeria." He also asserts that, “peoplelove the food but we’re here first and foremost to spread theGospel and have been doing so since 1994.” At first glance, you know immediately that this place is soldout to the Lord. Almost every surface including the walls andthe pizza boxes, are covered with the Word of God!The pizzeria is closed on Sundays, but the ministry remainsopen for a 4:00 p.m. expository study in the New Testament.What makes the group most desirable is the fellowship…theKOINONIA! (Koinonia is the Greek word for fellowship.) WhileDan from AR News was at the Sunday study, he talked for afew minutes about the Koinonia Institute and the group wasvery receptive. However, what was most impressive was notonly the preaching, but the love among the peopleexpressed afterwards. In fact, Dan was so impressed withthem, he declared later that this is Koinonia in action!But this question came to mind, what is the story behind thisman and this ministry? This didn’t just happen overnight. Afew days later, I, Stephen Sparks met with Phil to get thestory.It all started in 1994 when Phil was in his twenties. He waspraying to the Lord for a pizza place; he also prayed that if hereceived it he would use it to glorify the Lord.He was so believing that the Lord would grant him thisrequest that he went ahead and wrote up a preliminarymenu. Months later, putting feet to his faith, he searched theclassifieds for a pizza place for sale. During that time Phil wasstanding on two verses, Matthew 21:22 "and all thingswhatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive"and James 2:26, "for as the body without the spirit is dead, sofaith without works is dead also." The firstclassified he sawhe decided to call, but knew he had no financial funds.Coincidentally, the pizza place he called just happened to bea small pizza shop down the street called Phil’s Pizza & Subs.He made an appointment to meet with the owner. When the twomet, Phil told the owner he was interested in buying the pizzaplace but had no money to purchase it. The owner told Phil tocall him back if he was able to come up with the funds topurchase the pizza place.That night, Phil prayed to the Lord, “if it is your will for me to havethis pizza shop, then let it be known, first by having the owner ofthis pizza place call me, and second by having him offer me thepizza shop for no money down.” This would be the confirmation. The very next morning the owner called Phil and told him he canhave the pizza shop with no money down. That was it. Wow!What a confirmation! The next day they drew up and signed thecontract. The following day Phil went into business opening up asPhil's Heavenly Pizza.By: Stephen Sparks, Area Representative Koinonia Institute 2010Continue story with the arrow below

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Two weeks later, a man came into the pizza shop, whoapparently had also wanted to buy it. He asked Phil howmuch he had paid for the pizza shop because the ownerhad previously turned down his offer of 35K dollars incash! Wow again! Phil stated, “that’s why everything inhere glorifies God from the pizza boxes, to the menus,etc..” Seven years later, in 2001, Phil sold the pizza shop onFederal Highway; and reopened soon after in a newlarger location on Atlantic Boulevard under the namePhil's Calzone Factory. Shortly after, he went back to theoriginal name Phil’s Heavenly Pizza.Today, in their new location, the ministry continues togrow. Phil says, “the word of God cuts like a double-edged sword. The Holy Spirit brings joy and bringsconviction. Many people misrepresent God and that iswhy it is important to uphold His word as truth.”The preaching and teaching by Phil began when a friendasked if she could meet with him at the pizzeria for aweekly study. Soon there was an expository study in theNew Testament on Sundays at 4:00 p.m., and a study inthe Old Testament on Thursdays at 8:00 a.m. Moreover,there is a round table Bible study each Monday throughSaturday mornings at 10:00 a.m.Phil states, "if repentance, holiness, and the fear of theLord is not preached at the pulpits today then theChurch will lose its salt." He then adds, “everyone comesto a crossroad in life, and we have to trust in His word.That’s what faith is. We either yield to the Holy Spirit forthe renewing of the mind or we reject God’s word astruth.” In an unpretentious and yet charismatic mannerPhil explained, “if the word is not threaded, woven,stitched, and intertwined with love, then it meansnothing. Love is the glue and God is love.” Phil has made it his life’s mission to spread the goodnews about Jesus. He states, “this place is here to standas a rock of hope in a diminishing world offering the oneand only answer —Jesus Christ. It’s about what He didfor us at the cross. If we truly believe that, then we willobey Him because we love Him. For it was not the nailsthat held Christ to the cross, but His love for you and me.Therefore it's a joy to obey Him and walk in holiness. Ifyou're a Christian, that goes back to living in sin, youforfeit your salvation by breaking your seal, therebyfalling from grace and shipwrecking your faith. We mustabide in Him always to the end. Once we come to Him bygrace through faith, evidenced by repentance...then wemust continue with Him in faith, evidenced through alifestyle of obedience." The pizza maker is undeniably genuine in his beliefs. Helooks forward to sharing the message of the Gospel toanyone willing to open their hearts to God’s message. Hesays, “God loves us so much. His love transcendsanything that man can conceive in his mind."Phil's Heavenly Pizza Front Patio and Entrance.Phil's Heavenly Pizza on Atlantic Boulevard. Phil's Heavenly Pizza Dining Area. For more information go to:www.philsheavenlypizza.com