Tag Archives: international

Johnsons Announced as Regional Coordinators for Africa

John and Gwen Johnson

By Stephen Lewis

Regional coordinators are thoroughly integrated into the structure of Global Strategy and the way that we work with national leaders and missionaries around the globe. These people are critical to the mission of Global Strategy. So, it is always with trepidation and a sense of uncertainty that we approach a transition in regional coordinators. It was with grief that we saw Mike and Heather Webb step out of the role of regional coordinators for Africa at the end of July 2019, yet we were excited to see them assume new roles as executive directors of Children of Promise in August 2019. Continue reading

Pakistan: Educators Celebrate Pastors, Invest in Leadership Development

Dr. MaryAnn Hawkins teaches in Pakistan.

By Carl Stagner

Earlier this year, we brought you the story of “Facebook Seminary”—an innovative, online approach to providing quality education to pastors-in-training in Pakistan. Every Saturday evening during their semester, they gather around a screen to learn under the teaching of Anderson University adjunct professor, Dr. Sarah Blake LaRose. The George Theological College in Karachi, Pakistan, originally hoped that a theological professor from the United States could actually come and teach for at least a year, but the costs were prohibitive. Thus, the Facebook idea was born. Sarah has now taught the Pakistani students for three semesters using the free video option of Facebook Messenger. Continue reading

Steadfast Stateside: A Sister’s Perspective on Missions

Kay and Sherman Critser

By Cheral Critser

Editor’s note—Sometimes the story that doesn’t get told is the one about family and friends who are left behind when missionaries leave for the field. Honoring the retirement of career missionaries Sherman and Kay Critser, Cheral Critser—Sherman’s sister—offers a tribute to the couple and, at the same time, a unique perspective on missionary service.

Kay Critser was pregnant with Ryan and went to the doctor to see if she was having twins (Kay was a twin and there are twins in our family). They called on the phone, asking me to come over. I was excited and asked if they were having twins. Sherman laughed and hung up on me! As I went down the hill from the dorm, I was thanking and praising God for the twins. I crossed the street and was at the light post on the corner of the college library. I heard a voice loud and clear, “They are not having twins.” I jumped, looked around and there was no one around. The voice told me God was sending Sherman and Kay to Africa. Continue reading

Art Exhibit Enhances Church’s Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church

Portrait of a martyr at Maiden Lane Church of God. Credit: Julia Armstrong.

By Carl Stagner

Before this year’s General Assembly resolution about prayer for the persecuted church ever passed, the next International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church was already on Pastor Mark Martin’s radar. Maiden Lane Church of God in Springfield, Ohio, had already made the November observance an annual occurrence, but this year’s event took on a life of its own, raising the bar for years to come. Leading up to the first weekend in November, Maiden Lane Church of God transformed their activities center into a prayerfully interactive art exhibit, wholly dedicated to the persecuted church across the globe. Continue reading

Reunited in Orlando: Convention 2019 Speaker, Attendee Connect 19 Years Later

Anne Nelson (far left) and Samir Salibi (second from left) in Orlando.

By Carl Stagner

All she wanted to do was feel closer to her Lebanese family. Anne’s great grandfather was Lebanese and used to write letters to her as a child. The more Anne learned, and the older she got, the more she desired to uncover her Middle-Eastern roots. What if she could communicate with her Lebanese relatives in their language? she wondered, especially after her grandfather passed away. Learning the Arabic language wasn’t in high demand among the public schools in her area, though, presenting a short-lived challenge. Since France had colonized Lebanon in the early to mid-1900s, Anne knew French would be an alternative option. It was Anne’s love for the language that led her to leave her hometown behind in 2000 for a journey that would ultimately bring together the stories of Convention 2019, Samir Salibi, and the financial controller for Servant Solutions: Anne Nelson. Continue reading

From the Archives: The Great Commission at Home

By Luz Gonzales

Christ spoke to his disciples and said, “Go into all the world and make disciples” (Matt 28:19). The King James Version says, “to preach the gospel.” Either way you want to read it, this is a command to evangelize the world. You and I—men and women, boys and girls, preachers and laypeople—are privileged to be called of God for this world-evangelization task. However, it seems to me that we commonly misinterpret this text to justify “sending missionaries to a foreign field,” and this is a mistake. Continue reading

Healthy Steps Toward Becoming a Missionary

Nate and Stacy Tatman

By Nate Tatman

I have worked in the local church for the majority of my adult life. For the last eight to nine years, I have overseen global missions and local outreach. Through my experience as a missions pastor, I can honestly say I have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to Christians who feel called into missions. Continue reading

Convention 2019 & General Assembly: Pivotal

By Carl Stagner

“It feels a bit like Christmas. You plan for it, you wait expectantly for it, and then it’s over. But, is it really over?” Jim Lyon’s words resonated not only through the grand World Center Marriott ballroom, but also in the hearts of hearers full of the spiritual feast consumed for four days straight. Prayers and plans had certainly preceded such Christmas-like celebration, as members of the Church of God family from coast to coast and across the globe descended upon Orlando, Florida, for the first international reunion since 2013. It was more than a reunion, though, more than a spiritual feast, and not just a passing highlight on the calendar. As featured speaker Lori Salierno-Maldonado put it, “When we embrace our unique place in history, in his larger transcendent story, we can make our contribution to God’s kingdom for such a time as this!” What happened at Church of God Convention 2019 and General Assembly in Florida will neither stay in Florida nor in the past. This really isn’t over. Continue reading

Convention 2019: An International Affair

Convention guests from Mexico and Ghana together in 2013.

By Carl Stagner

In 2015, the General Assembly passed a resolution directing the Church of God Convention to “encourage broad participation” by the Church of God around the world every fourth year. The first of these gatherings with an international emphasis is Convention 2019 in Orlando, Florida, June 27–30 (www.chogconvention.org). With Church of God speakers from outside the United States and Canada, approximately 170 international registrants to date, and a variety of missions conferences and events, Convention 2019 and General Assembly is gearing up to be one of the most international experiences of the Church of God in North America. Continue reading

Quadrilingual Argentinian-Brazilian Pastor Called to Lead California Congregation

Norberto Obermann (right) with wife Claudia, son Pedro.

By Carl Stagner

It all began with a prayer. A big and bold prayer—that God would lead Norberto Obermann to do something so challenging it could not be done alone. That, without God, it would simply be impossible. Born in Argentina, and having pastored there and in Brazil for the better part of three decades, Norberto would soon see what happens when such prayers are offered up in faithful surrender. Through a variety of unfolding events, he and his family would be called to pastor North Modesto Church of God in Modesto, California. The quadrilingual pastor—yes, he can speak four languages!—was a perfect fit for the rapidly evolving demographics of the north-central California city. It all made sense to the church and the Obermanns. But God didn’t answer their prayer in the way they were expecting. Instead, they embarked on an adventure that would last two years. Continue reading

Historical Account of Danish Missionary Captured in New Book

Morris C. Johnson

By Carl Stagner

Simon Jacobsen, a Christian historian and author from Denmark, has recently published a book capturing the history of one of the first two Church of God missionaries to Denmark, Morris C. Johnson. Two years after surrendering his life to Christ at the age of sixteen at a Church of God congregation in the United States, he accepted a call to missions. Since his grandfather had immigrated to the U.S. in 1872 from Denmark, Johnson vowed that he would return to the Scandinavian country of his ancestry. The influence of Johnson’s work, beginning in 1910, was thereafter extensive yet, until now, accounts of his impact for the Church of God—and the kingdom—have been scant, at best. Thanks to months of diligent research across national borders, through the Church of God Archives at Anderson University, and with Church of God Ministries, Simon Jacobsen has chronicled the unique story of Morris Johnson’s life—one of drama, adventure, conflict, and Spirit-fueled perseverance. Continue reading

Three Worlds Leadership Network 3.0 a Blessing to All

3WLN 3.0 participants

By Patrick Nachtigall

It’s hard to believe, but we have just completed our third Three Worlds Leadership Network (3WLN) conference! It has been amazing to watch how quickly this support network for church leaders between the ages of 18 and 45 has grown in just a couple of years. For this year’s event, we had 85 delegates from 16 countries, representing 29 different nationalities. It was wonderful to see all of these sharp, promising young leaders continuing to connect, dreaming up new dreams and visions, and supporting one another. Continue reading

Learning Curves in Botswana

Long lines form outside ATMs in Botswana.

By Tim and Joy Coppess

We have encountered several learning curves in adapting to our new home. Our role in this first year is to build relationships and begin learning the language (Setswana) and culture of Botswana. Since people are drawn to their mother tongue, this focus will help us more effectively carry out our assignment of facilitating discipleship and leadership development. Continue reading

Pastor Engages the Enemy in Adventure of a Lifetime

Chaplain Miller prays with a Marine Corps Special Operations Team prior to a mission in East Africa.

By Carl Stagner

Calculated risk. Often used in the financial sense, Baron Miller uttered the term in the context of fear. Every time you take a drive in the car or catch a flight on an airplane, is there a chance you might not make it back? Sure, there is. But that doesn’t cancel your travel plans. When firefighters have to rush inside a burning building, or law enforcement are called to a chaotic scene, they don’t hesitate. There’s risk involved, but these community heroes trust their training and their gear to help them stand strong in the heat of the battle. The parallel to the Christian experience is inescapable; the soldier of the cross must engage the battle, must reclaim what hell has stolen. Might it get scary? Possibly. Could it get dangerous? Certainly. But at the fingertips of every believer is an arsenal of spiritual weapons and an array of training options to fully engage in the fight. Engaging the enemy—that’s what Baron Miller’s life has been about—from the halls of the Church of God he founded in Bellingham, Washington, to the shores of Guantanamo Bay. Continue reading

CWC Today: Standing in the Gap for All Women (and Men, Too!)

CWC’s Arnetta Bailey and Global Strategy’s Colleen Stevenson.

By Carl Stagner

Women were among the earliest pioneers of the Church of God movement, and some of our most outstanding preachers have been, and continue to be, women. In spite of such a rich history dating back to the beginning, not to mention the wealth of biblical support, women—both pastors and laypeople—have not always been given the same opportunities as men. But since 1932, women of the Church of God have rallied together to stand in the gap, not only providing necessary care to countless missionaries, but also being a voice for Christian women everywhere. Though the name of the affiliated agency of the Church of God is different now than it was then, Christian Women Connection’s timeless mission has remained the same, returning to its roots even more in recent years. Still, many men and women are unaware of the incredible depth of vital ministry made possible by CWC today. A recent interview with CWC executive director Arnetta McNeese Bailey takes us behind the manger scenes and beyond the sewing circles to discover there’s far more to CWC than you may know. Continue reading