Tag Archives: drug abuse

Restored and Resolute: Pastor’s Painful Past Redeemed for Purpose, Promise

Pastor Ray Hodges preaching the gospel at Resolute Church.

By Carl Stagner

Ray Hodges had personal experience with church; he’d never had personal experience with the risen Christ. Growing up Catholic, he’d acknowledged the existence of God but would confess there was no relationship with Jesus. Even when he began attending the Iglesia de Dios (Church of God) with his girlfriend, it was the kindness of the people, the lively music, and the relatable preaching that he came to know and love. Without the foundation of Christ in his life, the allure of drugs and parties soon became too much to bear. Thankfully, the patience and persistent prayers of his wife and pastor over Ray’s fifteen-year addiction paid off when Jesus Christ gloriously redeemed his painful past for a future of purpose and promise. Continue reading

Called to Connect the Inner-City to Christ in Connecticut

Special moment of prayer at New Antioch Church of God.

By Carl Stagner

New Haven, Connecticut, is home to Esau Greene. He grew up in a family well-known to the community, achieving success in school, excelling especially in sports. After college, his story took a turn for the worse. But before it was too late, Jesus Christ not only rescued him from a life of drugs but also called him into ministry. Knowing what it’s like to live on the streets yet highly educated with a degree in human services, and coming from a family of influence yet familiar with the allure of drugs, Esau Greene is God’s man for the job—urban pastor in a college city. Though the church he leads is only three-and-a-half years old, it’s already grown from 5 to some 130 people. Continue reading

Holistic Help and Healing for Women Beyond and Before Trafficking

Residents of the ministry’s Nashville, Tennessee, home.

By Carl Stagner

In 2014, the Church of God reengaged in a more than one hundred-year battle against sex trafficking through the launch of Trafficklight. In the years since, individuals and congregations have rallied for the cause, raising awareness and funds to advance freedom. Stories have illuminated the hand of God on this initiative across North America and around the world, and partnerships have been developed and promoted with ministries doing the grunt work on the ground. The work of a parachurch ministry known as Mercy Multiplied has captured the attention of many in the fight for freedom. It’s not only helping young women break free of destructive situations—like trafficking and abuse—but also from a wide variety of destructive behaviors. Continue reading

Drunkenness: A Sobering Reality in Church and Society

By Carl Stagner

A November 16, 2018, article published in USA Today spells out the latest statistics on the rise of alcohol-triggered deaths in the United States, especially over the last decade. While the media has shone the spotlight on the horrific and very real epidemic of opioid abuse, the article suggests the alarming truth that alcohol kills far more people each year through liver cirrhosis, cancer, pancreatitis, and suicide—not to mention traffic accidents. Meanwhile, the conversation about alcohol has started again in the Church of God, as the general director of Church of God Ministries issued a column on the subject in the October issue of Move! in the wake of the hotly debated Kavanaugh Supreme Court hearings. David Sebastian, dean emeritus of Anderson University School of Theology and Christian Ministry, has talked about the subject for years in the classroom, at conferences, and at camp meetings. As he’s observed, drunkenness is a sobering reality in church and society. That’s also the title of his new book, which challenges Christians to re-examine the issue of alcohol use and abuse. Continue reading

Prayer Movement Overtakes New Mexico, Gains National Traction

Prayer for New Mexico’s Lieutenant Governor John Sanchez.

By Carl Stagner

All 33 counties in New Mexico are covered. Ninety churches are participating, representing 26 cities. With Jesus as the subject, numerous denominations are represented. They’ve come together in a movement devoted to prayer, a movement which has overtaken the state. From the halls of government, to the classroom, to the streets, this prayer movement has already been proven powerful and effective. For 24 hours a day, every day, 365 days a year, they’ve set out to cover the state in prayer until Jesus comes back. One of the co-founders of what’s been dubbed “New Mexico Prays” is Richard Mansfield, senior pastor of New Beginnings Church of God in Albuquerque. Continue reading

Texas Church Targets Drug Abuse, Domestic Violence, Education Issues

Pastor Darius Miller at food giveaway.

By Carl Stagner

One church’s ministry to their community might not be the best for your community. You can’t address the needs of your neighbors until you know your neighbors. Motivated by a genuine love for people—not just a goal to see more bodies fill the pews—Shadydale Church of God in Houston, Texas, conducted a survey of their area. The survey, designed to determine how they could best take care of their neighbors, revealed that drug abuse, domestic violence, and educational issues were of greatest concern. In 2006, to maximize the long-term impact on the community on what mattered most, the church established what’s known as the Shadydale Community Development Corporation. More than a decade later, Pastor Darius Miller is at the helm, leading the church and community to take back what hell has stolen. Continue reading

AU Student Group Fights Trafficking, Experiences Church on the Street

COTSAtl_Bound_ArtInThePark_FORWEB

Photo: Bound members at Art in the Park, Atlanta.

By Carl Stagner

Some students gather to play chess, raise support for sports programs, or promote social activities and events. Bound is different. The Anderson University student-run, extra-curricular group has sought to put a dent in the epidemic of trafficking since the 2011-2012 school year. Started by now-Global Strategy missionary to Germany, Audrey Weiger, the group was actively championing the cause for freedom before CHOG TraffickLight came on the scene. From raising awareness to raising dollars, Bound is offering more and more hands-on assistance for Stripped Love in central Indiana. Not content to simply read or hear about what God is accomplishing in the work beyond Indiana, the group recently took a trip to Atlanta, Georgia, to experience Church on the Street firsthand. It was an experience they’ll never forget. Continue reading