Tag Archives: children

Reclaiming Hope: Arizona Church Turns Old Jail into Children’s Ministry Wing

Down to the studs at Community of Hope!

By Carl Stagner

Rusty Akers couldn’t have known what the journey would entail, but no doubt he knew it would be the journey of a lifetime. Planting a church in the heart of one of the fastest-growing cities in the country had its strong points, but it wasn’t going to be easy. The hard work of holding services in an elementary school, the years of community involvement, and the faithful communication of the gospel has more than paid off in eternal rewards—souls won to Christ, believers baptized, lives transformed, and a community better for it. But more than one purchase of property since 2005 and a community far more transient than expected, resulting in frequent turnover of residents and congregational makeup, has proved grueling. Nonetheless, the opportunity seized recently by Community of Hope, a life-giving Church of God congregation in Maricopa, Arizona, is one with implications for both now and the future. By the end of the summer, they will have completely renovated a former jail, transforming it into the church’s new children’s ministry wing. Continue reading

Child Sponsorship: The Best Story That Never Happened

Kirk Bookout with Children of Promise kids.

By Kirk Bookout

What is the best story for Children of Promise? There are stories about children that cause me to laugh with joy, stand in awe, and that bring tears (a big admission for me). Press me to tell you the very best story we have at Children of Promise, and my answer depends on the day. New stories are a constant joy. But it could be said that the best story we have is the story we can never tell. We cannot tell those stories because they never happened. Continue reading

Japan Congregation Embraces Opportunities to Give Life

Children enjoying a meal provided by the church.

By Bernie and Akiko Barton

April is a time of new beginnings in Japan, with a new school year and the start of a new fiscal year. At Futsukaichi Eiko Christ Church, a new community outreach ministry began this April—Flowers of the Field Meal Service. With more families needing dual incomes these days, kids often don’t have family meal times. Throughout Japan there is a push for meal services to help provide kids with stable, nutritional meals. Our church has started the only meal service in our immediate community. We provide a low-cost, nutritious meal, two Friday evenings a month. The response has been surprising, with almost twenty coming each time so far. Please pray for our pastor’s wife, Kazuko Numa, as she leads this ministry and for church volunteer staff as we relate to our neighbors who join us for supper. Continue reading

Georgia Church Gives Food, Health, and Life to Community

Children, families are important to Community Church of God.

By Carl Stagner

When Jason McClendon was a child, there were grown-ups in his life who spent quality time with him. One gave him his first Bible, and said, “Jason, God will do something special in your life.” That moment may have seemed insignificant to the one who said it, but to Jason, it meant the world. Over the years, he’s not forgotten that blessing, he’s learned to love authentically, and he’s developed an especially soft heart toward children. The pastor of Community Church of God in Macon, Georgia, says, “Now, I have the privilege to look into a child’s eyes and say, “God has the ability to take you to places you’ve never been!” It should come as no surprise then, that when the need became clear for a summer feeding program for local children, Community Church of God rose to the occasion. Continue reading

Columbus Convention Host Pastor a Husband, Father First

Lady “C” and Bishop Clarke.

By Carl Stagner

Timothy Clarke wears a lot of hats, and not the kind that cover his head. For example, he’s the founder and chief prelate of Berean Fellowship, an international assembly and partnership with pastors of small to mid-sized churches and young pastors, and those new to pastoral ministry. He’s served as president of the National Inspirational Youth Convention. He’s the author of numerous books, including Bind Up Your Broken Heart, available from Warner Press. His title of bishop (also translated in Scripture as overseer or elder) is no misnomer; his spiritual oversight and influence is widespread across the Church of God. Among his numerous other roles, he’s served as senior pastor of First Church of God in Columbus, Ohio—host church for the next Regional Convention (June 19–20)—for the past thirty-six years. But of all the hats Timothy Clarke wears, his favorite are husband, father, and grandfather. Continue reading

Spotlight on Schools: Oklahoma Churches Band Together for Students, Teachers

By Carl Stagner

For the past few months, the eyes of the country—and much of the world—have been on schools. Tragic shootings, student walkouts, student walkups, and teacher strikes are among the issues that have sparked more than a few arguments in the breakroom, the dining room, and on social media. But while the media, politicians, and pundits have debated the issues, believers have been busy being the body of Christ. As the national spotlight shines on schools, churches in Nowata, Oklahoma, have been shining the light of Christ in schools. Continue reading

Jesus, Stewardship, and KFC: Minnesota Church Seizes Local, Global Opportunities

Children’s ministry at New Life Church of God.

By Carl Stagner

In a town of fewer than 500 people, 100 to 110 children and youth can be found hanging out at one local hot spot in Bertha, Minnesota: New Life Church of God. A hub of community activity and a beacon of hope, the church is uniquely positioned to reach the next generation for Christ. Seizing the opportunity God’s given them, they’ve placed special emphasis on their youth ministry and their children’s ministry, which is called Kids For Christ (KFC). While New Life Church of God nears their final mortgage payment this year, they’re definitely not waiting to walk through every open door for the kingdom locally, nationally, and globally. Continue reading

Partnership with Children of Promise Extends Trafficklight 2.0 Reach

By Paul Maxfield

Children of Promise is partnering with Church of God Ministries in Trafficklight 2.0 to prevent child trafficking for our Church of God children across the globe. We are praying that every congregation will engage in this effort through sponsoring children—which is the most effective way to protect our children and prevent their involvement in child trafficking. I want to share more helpful information as to why Children of Promise is engaging in Trafficklight. 2.0. It is urgent. Continue reading

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

madison_park_exterior_2016_forweb

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