Tag Archives: life change

IYC2018 Puts Students On Track for Life

Zealand leading students in worship at IYC2018.

By Carl Stagner

For the first time since 1980, Indianapolis, Indiana, was home to the International Youth Convention of the Church of God. Reflecting the local racing culture, the 51st pinnacle of youth ministry experiences capitalized on its proximity to the iconic motor speedway, with four days designed to put students on track for the race of a lifetime. Inspiring worship, top-notch speakers, dozens of breakout sessions, a 5K to support the fight against trafficking, and a day devoted to community service combined to create moments of lasting life change. Those moments may have passed, but eternity—brighter than ever before—lies ahead. The life change continues as four thousand students and youth leaders, who embraced life at IYC2018, return home to give life to their families, schools, churches, and across their communities. Continue reading

IYC2018 On Track to Change Countless Lives for Christ

Zealand leading worship at IYC2018 (courtesy Justin McKinley).

By Carl Stagner

It was the moment everyone was waiting for. The car washes, rummage sales, bake sales, and numerous other fundraisers led up to this single point in time. Students were giddy with excitement as adult leaders breathed a sigh of relief: “We’ve made it—finally!” As the doors were opened into the main hall at the Convention Center in Indianapolis, Indiana, students from across the country and around the world took their seats only briefly before rising to their feet in enthusiastic participation. High-octane worship, engaging emcees, captivating exchanges, and an in-your-face speaker put IYC2018 on track to change countless lives for Christ. And so, it quickly became clear that this wasn’t the culmination of two years of preparation—this was only the beginning of what God has in store. Continue reading

Building Up to IYC2018: Indiana Church Breathes Life into Students, Community

Renovation at the new NSpire Church location.

By Carl Stagner

The Latin word spīrāre inspired the name of the Church of God in Westfield, Indiana, now known as NSpire Church. In the Hebrew and Greek, its meaning is understood as having to do with breath, life, wind, and the Spirit. Building up to IYC2018 (July 2–5), the church is preparing to work with IYC students by hosting an Indianapolis-area Impact Day project. As the church transitions out of a season of building and expanding, their partnership with the International Youth Convention is but an extension of who they already are. Leading into a new season of outreach, NSpire Church is breathing life into their community and will soon breathe life into the lives of teenagers attending IYC. Continue reading

From 30 Times Behind Bars to 30 Years in the Pulpit

By Carl Stagner

He was barely a teen when he was arrested the first time. Between the ages of thirteen and twenty-five, Paul McCulley was put behind bars a total of thirty times. Charges ranged from truancy to assault, and he was also court martialed three times. His shackles—both seen and unseen—would soon fall off after Jesus Christ changed his life, however. Not only did Paul McCulley become a Christian, but he also entered full-time ministry. Until he retired in 2014, he served the Lord as a senior pastor for thirty years. But he never really retired. Paul McCulley’s gripping testimony is too good to put on the shelf, there are too many people that still need to hear it. Today Paul continues a dynamic ministry program to the incarcerated and their families, turning what the devil meant for bad into something very, very good. Continue reading

How TraffickLight Changed the Life of One of its Own

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Collage: Top, Merissa (right) with Abby Knowles and Kimberly Majeski. Bottom, Merissa speaks to students at East Side Church of God.

By Carl Stagner

Meet Merissa Milnickel. A senior now at Anderson University, she found the Church of God institution through a Google search, and the rest is history. Rich history. Three years so far of discovering her weaknesses and strengths, discerning her passions from among the mundane, and exploring her faith. She’s long felt a burden for the fight against human trafficking, but after deep involvement in the cause through Anderson University and Church of God Ministries, she experienced personally the heart of God for the enslaved, the hopeless, and the lost. While she was busy leading the AU student group Bound and supporting the advocacy efforts of TraffickLight, God was revealing his heart for her, too. God was changing Merissa one tweet at a time. Continue reading

From Prison to the Pulpit of a Growing Multicultural Church

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Photo: Aurora First Church of God

By Carl Stagner

For a number of years, it appeared hell had laid claim to Manny Rivera’s life. But this man, created in the image of God, was reclaimed by Jesus Christ in 2006. Since then, God has increased the spiritual responsibility of this ex-con and former alcoholic. In addition to broken addictions and miraculous healings, the church he now pastors in Aurora, Illinois, has seen more than thirty people saved since Manny stepped up to the pulpit about a year-and-a-half ago. God is using this Church of God pastor in some incredible ways—ways that would have never come to pass had the bullet meant for his life actually taken it. Continue reading

Let Me See Jesus Only: A Blind Pastor’s Journey of Joy

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Photo: Pastor John Clegg

By Carl Stagner

John Clegg’s life was unraveling all around him. Years of drug addiction, promiscuity, and worsening eyesight was taking its toll. One fateful day he found himself sitting in his recliner, gun under his chin, ready to end it all right then and there. But that was the old John. That was before Jesus Christ changed his life. Though he cannot see his hand in front of his face today, he looks back and sees God’s fingerprints everywhere. For eighteen years, John has served as pastor of Southside Church of God in Muncie, Indiana. In spite of his blindness, this pastor says he sees farther now than he could ever see before. Continue reading

IYC2014 “InTune” Strikes Chord, Still Resonates

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Photo: Youth group at IYC2014 huddles for prayer following worship.

By Carl Stagner

IYC2014 may be history, but the sound of splashing is left in its wake. As nearly five thousand students returned to reality after the early July gathering in Nashville, Tennessee, youth groups from California to Canada and beyond celebrated new commitments to Christ. Baptisteries were filled to the brim as students publicly demonstrated their new life. Since IYC2014, students have been following Jesus in baptism, joining discipleship groups, spending more time with God, and sharing faith with boldness. Continue reading