Pastor Bryan Ballestero
In the heart of the growing city of Raleigh, North Carolina, there is a powerful Apostolic church that is growing as well. Rev. Bryan Ballestero is the pastor of the Temple of Pentecost (T.O.P.) in Raleigh, North Carolina, and the Lord is blessing their church greatly with revival. Pastor Ballestero has a wife, Christy, and 5 children, Huntley, Christyana, Christian, Caison, and Gentson. He became Youth Pastor under the leadership of Rev. Wayne Huntley in 1993, became Assistant Pastor in 1997, was elected Pastor in 2003, and then when Bro. Huntley became Bishop, Pastor Ballestero stepped into the role of Senior Pastor at T.O.P. Along with being Pastor, he also serves as a Presbyter for the North Carolina District UPCI.
Surrounded by Preachers
Pastor Ballestero’s ministry has been shaped by his upbringing. Growing up the son of Martyn Ballestero, a church planter and pastor for 30 years, and grandson to two Apostolic pioneers, Carl Ballestero and William R. Starr, he was surrounded by ministry. He recalls that when guest ministers would come by, “Our entertainment was sitting around the living room and hearing the stories of building churches and other life stories of the early Pentecostals.”
At the age of 7 years old he began to feel called to ministry. He says that as he got older he wrestled with that call of God on his life. As he says, “I thought, we have over 100 people in our family that are Apostolic preachers and pastors, surely God wants me to be something else.” He expresses that he felt like he could not compare to the ministry of his grandfathers and father, but he held onto the fact that God made everyone individually and uses the individual for His purpose.
He says that his grandfathers, Carl Ballestero and William R. Starr, father Martyn Ballestero, and father-in-law Wayne Huntley have been the most influential men in his life. They have shaped who he is and how he ministers.
He recalls a quite humorous memory of the first time he ever preached. “I was 15 years old, and I preached at a youth service. I went through everything I had in probably two or three minutes. My brother played the drums, and he went out for a minute, but when he came back in, we were already shaking hands.” He finishes facetiously, “I was one of the favorite preachers for awhile.” After high school he went to Jackson College of Ministries and then evangelized for a year before becoming Youth Pastor.
The Temple of Pentecost had quite an interesting beginning. Pastor Ballestero says that in 1978, Rev. Wayne Huntley was doing very well in the evangelistic field, but he always had a burden for North Carolina. Some of Rev. Huntley’s friends told him, “If you go there, you will never be heard of again.” Nevertheless, he was voted as pastor of a church in Raleigh with 5 people, not counting his wife and daughter. This church had tried everything to have revival, but it was to no avail. Pastor Ballestero says that they asked Bro. Huntley what he could do to bring them revival, and Bro. Huntley said, “Until every door in Raleigh has been knocked on, I will not quit.”
After one year, the church’s highest record attendance was 113 people. After 2 years, the record attendance was over 300. Pastor Ballestero says, “God led him through home bible studies…This church basically was built on home bible studies.” Due to one particular home bible study that Bro. Huntley taught, there were 30 people that came into the church.
Building the Temple
Shortly after Bro. Huntley started the church in 1978, they began running around 300 people. Pastor Ballestero says that it was so packed in there that the walls would start to sweat, so Bro. Huntley began to pray and ask God to open up an opportunity to buy another property. He attempted to buy the acre of land next to their property, and the owners said they would sell it for $50,000. Bro. Huntley knew that was a ridiculous asking price, and began to feel very discouraged because he could not find property anywhere else. Pastor Ballestero says, “That was pretty discouraging for Bro. Huntley, and that was the only time he really felt like leaving Raleigh.” But he describes how the Lord spoke to Bro. Huntley and said, “You can leave if you want, but I am going to have revival here with you or without you.”
Bro. Wayne McClain was Bro. Huntley’s pastor, and he prophesied that they would get 5 acres of land for $50,000. Shortly after that, the Lord gave this church 5 acres just one mile from downtown Raleigh for $50,000. Now, they bought 3 more acres around it, and they have a beautiful building. It was built to seat 500 people, but with the walls knocked out, it could seat up to 950. Along with that, they have a gym that also houses the student ministry and used to house the Spanish ministry.
Evangelism, Edification, Education
The Temple of Pentecost has many departments and ministries within the church. Pastor Ballestero says for each service they have a specific goal. On Sunday mornings they focus on Evangelism, and he describes that their focus is on, “new people and evangelizing the lost. We have children’s ministry at the same time going on upstairs.” On Sunday nights, they focus on Edification, and Bro. Ballestero says this is “Saving the saved.” Lastly, on Wednesdays, they focus on Education, and they have separate classes for Hyphen, youth, and children apart from the adult class.
He continues and says, “One of the ministries that has been very productive lately is what we call the G.A.P. ministry (Going to Another Place), and it is a substance abuse program that we started two years ago. Bro. Wiggins, a man in our church, got a burden for those involved in substance abuse, and got in a program where the state will send us people that are hooked on substances…we will teach them classes on Sunday morning…and then they will come in the sanctuary.” Pastor Ballestero says that in the last two years there have been 250 baptized in Jesus’ name and around 230 filled with the Holy Ghost just out of that one ministry.
Another ministry that Pastor Ballestero highlighted was their “Vessels of Honor” Conference they have every year. This is a three day conference where they teach the church on inward and outward holiness. They will then sign church membership out of this conference, and members can be involved in the ministries of the church.
Along with those, T.O.P. puts emphasis on children’s ministry. A number of years ago they started a program called “Heroes in Training”, and once every quarter they will let the kids from five to eleven years old lead all aspects of the Wednesday night service. They will sing, speak, and play music. He notes that every one of their students in bible college right now have grown up in Heroes in Training. Pastor Ballestero really believes it has helped to develop them to be ministers. He quotes Genesis 14:14 and says, “The most unified, powerful, and prevailing church is the one where the leadership has been spiritually born, trained, and employed in the home church. As Bro. Huntley has preached, there is no substitute for sons.”
They have many other programs such as an annual Missions Conference where they raise a sacrificial offering, a vacation bible school called “Kids College of Bible Knowledge”, Choir, a prayer chain, family prayer every saturday, and others. The Lord has truly blessed this church in their efforts.
Pastor Ballestero says that Raleigh is a diverse area and people from all over the world are coming there, so they are constantly having visitors come. He says that they probably have somewhere in the range of two to five conversions every week on average. In the months of September and October 2020 they had over 50 baptisms in Jesus’ name. Pastor Ballestero believes that they probably have had somewhere around 200 baptisms and about the same amount of people who have received the Holy Ghost. At this point in time, they are also running at near capacity. They are looking to expand, and Pastor Ballestero says, “We are just believing if it is God’s will, it is God’s bill.”
Investing in Ministers
Time is an issue with which everyone has to deal. Obviously a pastor is going to have a limited amount of time and energy. Pastor Ballestero says that he prioritizes investing in the ministers and leaders of his church. He emphasizes being able to trust your leaders, so that they can do more. They hold monthly meetings with their leadership to encourage them and get them united with the vision of the pastor. He says, “I work on them so that they can work on those people in their groups. We reproduce ourselves into the leaders, and the leaders reproduce that into the rest of the church.
Pastor Ballestero takes a moment to stress that there can only be one vision in the church, being the pastor. He says, “If there is more than one vision, there is division.” In these monthly meetings, he restates what their purpose is so that they can minister according to the vision of God through the pastor.
Foundations of Growth
“Revival + Evangelism + Maturity = Growth,” says Pastor Ballestero. He continues and says, “We know that God is the One who gives the increase. According to 1 Corinthians 9:22, we are to be ‘all things to all men, that [we] may by all means save some.’ So we do not change the doctrine, but we do what we can, and then God will do His part…God will do what we cannot do.”
Pastor Ballestero continues to mention that they put special emphasis on certain aspects of the church to make sure it is healthy. He says that their church does not simply want to see people converted, but they want to see them grow personally. He believes it is important to make sure the church is unified, as well as making sure the congregation feels encouraged in their abilities. To fulfill that, they like to involve the people whenever they can.
He continues and says, “We have a number of talented people in our church, many of them are in Bible school. We have done our best to invest in them since they were small children, and we have encouraged them to be a part of the Kingdom of God.” He then notes that they want to make sure that their congregation is using their abilities for the Lord, and not for the world.
One specific thing Pastor Ballestero mentions that will destroy revival is envy. He says, “We have come down hard against envy and jealousy. That has no place in the Kingdom of God.” The Temple of Pentecost truly believes that the church must be unified and full of love to multiply according to the will of God, and so they have grown together with the Lord by their side.