Allen and Joelene Wieling felt a need to change their family life in 2015, after heading down a not-so Christian road. Their children were attending youth nights at River of Life Church in Sauk Centre and came home excited to have their parents check it out. Once they walked through the doors of River of Life, they knew they had found their new church home. 

“We found Jesus again and started building a relationship with Him,” said Allen, now the Rev. Allen Wieling.  

Today, those life lessons come in handy. Allen became the lead pastor at Harvest Church in Freeport Dec. 1, 2020, with Joelene by his side.

Allen was raised in a Catholic family. 

“But I never really had a relationship with God and never really opened a Bible until I was around age 36,” he said. 

His parents, who dairy farmed near Melrose, provided him and his siblings with a Christian foundation, which included attending church services. But it didn’t go much further. He had several jobs, working in the trucking and excavation industry. 

Joelene, who moved with her family several times in her youth before settling in Little Falls, attended church “once in a while.” 

“I always have had a love for growing a relationship with Jesus,” Joelene said. “I was water baptized when I was about 15 or 16 but was not always listening to him.” 

Twenty-three years ago, she moved to the Melrose area, and she and Allen married in 2000. They had three children Trevin, 19, Desirae, 17, and Hayden, 15, and Allen became a step-father to the oldest son, Cole, 22. 

Allen and Joelene, who work together at her Lady Legacy Cleaning business, are thankful for the path they are now on. They credit God with their 20 years of marriage and a life of wanting to lead people to grow closer to God. 

“God has blessed us with a successful business so that Allen could work with me and have time to go through schooling to become a pastor,” Joelene said.

That was a process. As Allen’s relationship with God grew, he felt a call to ministry. He started school at Minnesota School of Ministry, an Assembly of God school, obtaining ministry credentials in 2020 and interning at River of Life. 

“It was an amazing learning experience to get to work with the pastors there,” Allen said. 

He learned three things about ministering to people. First, every person you meet is in a different stage of life and at a different faith level. Second, all we can do is plant a seed of faith and let God take it from there; and third, as a Christian, a person needs to live a life that people will notice they live differently.

“If we have a true relationship with God, he will give you a heart for people and to help others find God,” Allen said. 

In February of 2020, during a random conversation with a pastor, it was mentioned the current lead pastor at Harvest Church was resigning. 

“I really felt at that moment that God was calling me here to Harvest,” he said. “God guided the process and basically put us together.”

As lead pastor, his duties are to lead this church in a godly way and oversee all aspects of the church, from paying bills to lawn mowing to cleaning the bathrooms.

Joelene, who will continue to work at her business, is passionate about being part of this journey God leads them on. 

“I want to be alongside Allen as we help people grow closer to God,” she said. 

They each have a heart for helping people. Around Thanksgiving time, they organized a Blessing Basket Ministry drive, providing 26 local families with Thanksgiving meals and were able to bless 32 families for Christmas. 

“We could not have done it without the generous donations, volunteers and businesses in Melrose for putting them together for us,” Joelene said.  

Allen has enjoyed getting to know the Rev. Ricky Backhaus, associate/youth pastor at Harvest Church, his family and the people at Harvest Church. They hold a service at 9 a.m. Sundays and a United Youth program Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m.  

“My goal here is to make this a church where people can feel loved and welcomed, no matter what their background or life situation,” Allen said.

The Wielings are happy they turned their lives around – and over to God. 

“God wants a relationship with you where you are at now,” he said. “You do not need to be any better than you are right now.”