Tag Archives: children

A Pastor’s Amazing, Agonizing Adventure of Adopting Special Needs Children

Ralph loves Ana and each of his adopted children.

By Carl Stagner

If you’ve been to many camp meetings across the country, chances are you’ve sat under the bold preaching or inspirational worship leading of pastor and evangelist Ralph Watts. The pastor emeritus of Columbus West Church of God in Columbus, Ohio, is used to sharing Bible stories and passages that point to Jesus Christ. But his own story points to Christ, too, one that is nothing short of remarkable. He and his wife Karen have fostered a total of thirty-five special needs children over the years, and have adopted fourteen. Continue reading

Church Steps Out in Faith for the Children, Teens of Atwater, California

Some of the youth group of First Church of God.

By Carl Stagner

Take a look at 2100 Fruitland Ave, Atwater, California, on Google Maps. What you’ll find is that First Church of God is literally a stone’s throw away from Atwater High School. The front-row seat the California congregation has to roughly 1,800 students and their families is certainly incredible, but the church hasn’t sat down to enjoy the scenery. They’ve seized a number of opportunities God has presented them to minister to these teens and their families. What’s more, through their preschool established in 1964, they minister to children who one day accept their diplomas right across the street. Recently the church stepped out in faith to expand the preschool facility, as teachers reap the benefits of a Fruitland Christian School early education, and as parents on a waiting list eagerly knock on the door. Continue reading

Oklahoma Church Constructs Park for the Community

By Noel Marquis

When First Church of God in Sapulpa, Oklahoma, decided to invest in new playground equipment, they received much more than they asked for. William Wimmer, who has served as pastor of the church since 2013, was surprised when a longtime member of the congregation approached the board of trustees with plans for a park, complete with sidewalks, trees, a horseshoe pit, basketball court, soft turf, and sheltered pavilions. Continue reading

Calgary Church Fosters Culture of Adoption

Pastor Mark Kowalko’s family today.

By Carl Stagner

Poverty, trafficking, homelessness, illiteracy, hunger, and lack of access to clean water are just some of the issues that plague our world. Often heard in response to such a list is the familiar refrain: someone should do something! Of course, that someone is usually someone else. But not in the case of Pastor Mark Kowalko and Glamorgan Church of God in Calgary, Canada. They’ve seen and heard about too many children who have fallen through the cracks of society, and simply won’t stand for it anymore. For more than two decades, they’ve fostered a culture of adoption that has resulted in homes for more than a hundred kids. Continue reading

Scrubbing Away Mom’s Stress: Churches Reach Out with MOPS

Photo: MOPS ministry at Madison Park Church of God.

By Karen Roberts

An older woman approached the MOPS display table in the foyer of a local Church of God. “So, are you selling cleaning products?” she asked. Her question is common. The answer is surprising. No, it’s not a floor product company. Yes, it’s a group for moms with small children that meets in local host churches to teach and encourage women—literally all around the world. Many Church of God congregations are discovering the power of the ministry to reach new families in their community. Continue reading

First Church of God, Marion, SD: Small Town, Big Impact

Photo: First Church of God, Marion, South Dakota

By Emily Ploetz

On a map of South Dakota, the town of Marion may not catch your eye. The whole community consists of about 800 people total. However, First Church of God in Marion, and its impact on God’s kingdom, should capture your attention. Out of the 800 residents of Marion, 125 of them attend the church! A church with an influence over the majority of a town isn’t something you see every day. The town and the church have a unique background and, because of some key decisions they’ve made, First Church of God continues to be a shining light. Continue reading

Indiana Church Offers Ministry for Children of Divorced Parents

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Photo: Madison Park Church of God

By Karen Roberts

It started about a week after Noah’s dad left. Fear like nothing he’d ever experienced before. Unable to sleep. Unable to concentrate at school. It felt as if he were dying, and his dad was no longer there to help. Where was his dad?

Noah’s mom didn’t understand what was happening to her seven-year-old son. She was devastated by her own immediate circumstances. She needed a full-time job. The aging van was on its last legs. What would happen to the family home if she couldn’t keep up with the mortgage payments? She knew she needed an attorney, but she had no money to hire one.

And then a caring friend told her about DivorceCare for Kids (DC4K). Continue reading

A Bold Move in the United Kingdom

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Photo: Zach and Audrey Lanford with the Egan Road youth.

By Zach and Audrey Langford

As most of you know, we work in a very difficult, post-Christendom context where very few choose to go to church or even know about Jesus. Our neighborhood in Birkenhead has just over 15,000 people and only four evangelical churches—each with about twenty people and no youth. The exception is our church, Egan Road, where we have very few adults, but a consistent and growing fellowship of children, youth, and young adults. Continue reading

Church’s Vision for Children Yields Life-Giving Public School Partnerships

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Collage: Plantation High School outreach.

By Carl Stagner

“I was in one of our Sunday morning worship services in the summer of 2015. The Lord prompted me to look at Judges 2:10, which describes a generation that knew not the Lord nor his works. Then I looked out over our congregation and saw youth and children dispersed among the crowd. Most were engaged in the worship service, but there were a few that were completely disconnected and apparently disinterested. My heart was burdened for them. I was convicted in that moment to reevaluate how we do church, our focus, etc. Are we having church around and above the heads of our children? It was frightening to me to come to the realization that many of our children are ‘church kids,’ but not born-again Christians.” This realization changed Pastor D. H. Dawkins’ approach to ministry planning and practice. Less than half a year into what has been dubbed the Year of Children and Youth, no one at Praise Tabernacle International regrets this fundamental shift. Continue reading

Urban Tutoring Ministry Changes Students’ Lives

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Photo: Pastor Kevin Earley & Wilhelmina Hall at the CHAMPS dedication.

By Carl Stagner

When Jaden was just four years old, he was diagnosed with a mild form of autism spectrum disorder. Entering first grade, his teacher noticed the difficulty Jaden had understanding and following instructions. Though he has access to a resource teacher at school who sees him a few times a week, Jaden hasn’t always received the additional attention he needed. That was, however, until a tutoring ministry of Metropolitan Church of God in Detroit, Michigan, stepped in. CHAMPS, a new initiative made possible by funds from the Church of God Change the World grant, has given Jaden and other young students the educational and spiritual boost they need to succeed. Continue reading

Church of God Families Offer Hope to Children, Parents in Crisis

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By Carl Stagner

The church used to do it. Government stepped in, however, where the church left off. In the past fifty years—at least—churches became more and more inward-focused, sheltering themselves from a “contaminated” world. But it didn’t used to be that way. Orphanages were established by believers. God’s people were once the loudest champions for the poor and afflicted. Too often in recent years the church has run away from problems it once ran toward. Several Church of God families and their congregations have discovered one avenue consistently taking things in a different direction. They’ve partnered with Safe Families for Children to care for children from homes caught in the midst of crisis. A redemptive solution to the need for foster care, Safe Families is now being offered as an effective resource for the Church of God movement through Be Bold Academy. Continue reading

Homeowner’s Garage Becomes Sanctuary for Neighborhood Kids

By Carl Stagner

After a full day at work, she comes home and opens her garage door. That’s when they come. Often in droves. The approach Angela Conti now takes to spreading the gospel may be unconventional, but it’s exactly what God has called her to do. After serving as a missionary to South Africa, God asked her what she was doing to reach the lost back at home. “What was I doing for the children I drove past every day in my subdivision?” she pondered. Continue reading

Intersection on the Streets of Flint: Where Church Meets Community

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Photo: Intersection volunteer reads with local children.

By Carl Stagner

Much of society simply writes them off. Politicians may see them as just another statistic. Often the family that should care simply doesn’t. But Gail Bigler cares. West Court Street Church of God in Flint, Michigan, cares. They recognize that, without an intersection between faith and community, the future for many children is bleak. But at Intersection, an after-school ministry of West Court Street Church of God, caring volunteers take a step in the right direction toward addressing a prevalent need. Continue reading

Holy Cow! WV Children Tackle Hunger with Livestock

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Photo: Tyler Weiford, ready to support sustainable hunger relief.

By Carl Stagner

Imagine a world where a McDonalds or a Taco Bell couldn’t be found on every corner. Recent news coverage cited a report that showed, for the first time in history, Americans spend more money on eating out than on groceries. In stark contrast, the convenience of a fast food restaurant—let alone, a supermarket—just doesn’t exist for some three billion people around the world. Even where fresh food is available, extreme poverty only prohibits adequate nutrition. The children of Teays Valley Church of God in Scott Depot, West Virginia, have decided to do something about the problem. They’ve raised money to purchase a cow. Continue reading

Prevention in Paraguay: Rescuing Children Before They’re Hurt

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Photo: Cristiane Kurrle and family.

By Carl Stagner

Benjamin Franklin is known for coining the phrase, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Many are unaware that this bit of wisdom was imparted in the context of firefighting. Families that suffered house fires in Franklin’s Philadelphia found it very difficult to put their lives back together.* South of the equator, there’s another kind of fire that needs to be extinguished—and prevented. Cristiane Kurrle is trying to raise awareness among families, schools, businesses, and churches of warning signs that indicate children may be at risk for sexual abuse. Her efforts in Paraguay are rescuing children from abuse and trafficking before it happens. Continue reading