Tag Archives: missionary

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

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

Phoenix, Oklahoma City Regional Conventions Commission All

Friendships, both old and new, are a Regional Convention highlight.

By Carl Stagner

Two of the five Church of God Regional Conventions 2018 are now history, but their impact is still being felt from Alaska to Alabama. Some may have flown to Arizona to escape winter’s clutch on spring, but they stayed to drink from an oasis in the desert. Others may have descended upon Oklahoma City for the fine barbecue, but they stayed because their cravings were satisfied in the life-giving teaching and fellowship. Still others attended, many as first-time guests of a Church of God convention, because this year’s variety of regional locations afforded them accessibility. Challenged to reclaim what hell has stolen, but inspired to fully embrace the Life, attendees of the first two Regional Conventions ultimately climbed in cars or boarded airplanes to return home, ready and resourced to change the world in Jesus’ name. Continue reading

Longtime Missionary Turns 100

bobmoss_ernestlafont2016_forweb

Photo: Bob Moss and Ernest LaFont

By Carl Stagner

1916. That was the year former missionary Ernest LaFont was born. Well-known across the movement throughout the 20th century, he and his wife Grace were regarded by both pastors and laypeople, at home and abroad, as exemplary pillars of the faith. Chances are pretty good that either you are someone who was blessed by the ministry of the LaFonts, or you know someone who was. From Panama to Egypt, to Lebanon and finally Washington State, the widespread reach of this Pacific Bible College (now Warner Pacific) graduate over the span of a lifetime has not ceased, but continues to this day. Family member and friend Bob Moss of Church of God Ministries knows firsthand the incredible impact of Ernest LaFont on the movement, and is honored to offer just a glimpse of the harrowing circumstances that shaped this man of God. Continue reading

Coppess, Stocksdale Families Announced as Missionaries to Botswana

botswanarecognition-december4-2011_forweb

Photo: Art Clawson, the Nipps (left) at the 2011 Recognition Ceremony.

If there’s one thing we know as Christians, it’s that God works in mysterious ways, often keeping the road ahead of us hidden from our sight. He often calls us to step out in faith, not knowing where that call will lead.

A little more than fifty-four years ago, Jim and Mary Nipp set sail from New York Harbor with a one-way ticket on a freighter ship bound for Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. A year later, God led them to Maun, Botswana, where they began a ministry as independent Church of God missionaries that has blossomed into a healthy, vibrant church, with five congregations across the country. In 2012, Jim wrote: “Our first service was under a tree in Maun. We cut logs for pews. A broken truck spring and a tire lever made a perfect bell. Twenty-one people attended that service.” Over the years, the Nipps have walked in fellowship with these congregations, nurturing them to spiritual maturity. Continue reading

Soldier-Turned-Pastor Washes Feet of World War II Enemies

Bible_and_FelipeMerioles_with_MitsuoFuchida_FORWEB

Photo: Felipe’s Bible (left); picture of Felipe & Mitsuo Fuchida (right).

By Carl Stagner

We cherish the stories of God’s grace and power at work among his people. They have become a part of who we are. We’re eternally grateful to God for preserving his Word through the ages, often in spite of opposition. We’re thankful for our church historians and writers who have told and retold the stories of our pioneer pastors and missionaries in the Church of God. From the biblical narrative, to our earliest days as a movement, to the kingdom activity of our local churches and missionaries today, such stories inspire us, remind us of God’s faithfulness, and bind us together. This year the gripping account of a World War II-ravaged Filipino pastor has come to light. It’s a story which few have heard, but no doubt one for the history books. Continue reading

Former CHOG Missionary, Sister Host Asian House Church

Louisiana_Chinese_Church_adults_adj_FORWEB

By Carl Stagner

You may be able to take the missionary out of the country she served for twenty-two years, but you can’t take the missionary out of her. Though God had called Zonia Mitchell off the field after faithfully investing more than two decades of her life in Japan, he had not called her out of missions. Zonia and her sister Keri now minister together to Asians in their West Monroe, Louisiana, home. Continue reading

Never Prepared Enough: Baptisms in Ecuador

By Jon and Karen Lambert

Whenever we are with our indigenous congregations, there are always surprises. Sunday, May 31, was no different. We were supposed to meet the Pisimbilla congregation for a baptism. We were to meet at a gas station in the town of Cayambe at 9:30 AM. We left Quito early to ensure we had enough time. We arrived early and waited…and waited…and waited. Everyone finally arrived at 11 AM. Thus my OCD was beginning to surface! We next drove to a part of Cayambe known for warm volcanic springs. Cayambe can be very cool, and warm water seemed a good idea to me since I was doing the baptizing. As we drove to the springs, Pastor Carlos informed us that he had not been to these springs in thirty-five years. Continue reading

Renewing the Connection: Global Missions Becomes Global Strategy

GS-CGM_Logo_color-square_FORWEB

By Ben Shular

As we are challenged to Be Bold at the convention of the Church of God in Oklahoma City this year, we are also challenged to look outside ourselves and reclaim what hell has stolen. Since the late 1880s, the Church of God movement has been reaching out beyond the borders of the United States and Canada, resulting in a church body outside those geographic borders that is more than three times as large as the Church of God in the United States and Canada. Continue reading

Standing Victorious: Missionary Chronicles Cancer Struggle, Healing

ColleenAndTimStevenson_FORWEB

Photo: Tim and Colleen Stevenson

By Carl Stagner

“You have cancer”—three words no one ever wants to hear from a doctor. In February 2014, a blank stare spread across Colleen Stevenson’s face as a doctor in Uganda uttered these same three words. Once the initial shock wears off, many new cancer patients like Colleen are left to wrestle with feelings of disbelief, dismay, and disillusionment. Along with her husband Tim, the Church of God missionary has certainly had to climb her fair share of mountains over the past thirty years of service in and around Uganda. Never before, however, has her journey been marked by a mountain so massive, so steep. But by God’s amazing grace, the view on the other side is nothing short of spectacular. Continue reading

Webbs Announced as Regional Coordinators for Africa

Mike_Heather_Webb_FORWEB

Photo: Mike and Heather Webb, daughter Madalyn.

By Ben Shular and staff

“If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

This African proverb has resonated with me since first reading it some time ago. I’ve tried to apply its wisdom in whatever ministry God had me. At Church of God Ministries, we are striving to assemble the most effective team possible to change the world and help people understand that Jesus is the subject. Continue reading

Ohio Church Holds First-Ever Faith Promise; Smashes Goal

SimonRoad_BoardmanOH_FaithPromise_Celebration_FORWEB

Photo: Pastor Eddy Howard rejoices (left) as Ron Baker announces the total Faith Promise commitment.

By Carl Stagner

New to the church, one member of a northeastern Ohio congregation wanted to know what would happen to offerings designated to missions. One Sunday, this congregant approached the treasurer, whose blank stare indicated unfamiliar territory—the church had no mission account. Discussion about the faith promise concept followed, and as a result, a faith promise week was scheduled for the fall. Continue reading

Honoring Elvira Firestone, CHOG Pioneer Missionary to Bolivia

ElviraFirestone

Photo: Elvira Firestone

Elvira Englund Firestone, pioneer missionary to Bolivia, passed from earth on September 20, 2014, in her home in Santa Cruz, Bolivia at the age of 95.

Born and raised in the U.S. state of Missouri, Elvira arrived in Bolivia in 1946 with her husband Homer Firestone, who had survived a nearly fatal attack of appendicitis during the voyage by sea. The Firestones went on to plant the Church of God Holiness in Bolivia, an indigenous “people movement” that would eventually outgrow its mother church in the United States. Continue reading

Donna Thomas: On Faith Stewart, Facing Fears, and Sharing Faith

Donna_Thomas_2012_FORWEB

Photo: Donna Thomas

By Carl Stagner

Can you imagine taking Bibles into mainland China? Or negotiating the planting of Christian churches there? Can you imagine being met with fixed bayonets and machine guns upon arrival in Guatemala? Can you picture speaking to the inmates at a Latvian penitentiary? Or the prime minister of Guyana asking for your help? Donna Thomas can answer each with a yes, having stepped foot in eighty countries. She has led a fascinating life, marked by both challenges and triumphs. It all began when she followed the Lord’s call to missions after a hearing a sermon delivered by E. Faith Stewart. Since then, Donna Thomas has followed the Lord wherever and whenever he has said, “Go.” Continue reading

Never Underestimate the Power of a Congregation Challenged

Books_for_Yap_Praying_kids_FORWEB

Photo: Pastors and children at Pekin First Church of God praying over the books for Yap.

By Johnny Creasong

When the Pekin First Church of God accepts a challenge, they accept it in a big way. While many congregations support missions, the central Illinois congregation has taken on the support of a missionary on every continent through the Living Link program. Now in its third year of raising funds, the Pekin First Church of God supports Dwayne and Kara Goldman in Australia, Jon and Karen Lambert in Ecuador, Ernie and Lori Nicholas in Kenya, John and Jodie Ackerman in Haiti, and Gary and Gwen Bistritan in Micronesia. Continue reading