Tag Archives: personal

Former Harlem Globetrotter a Slam Dunk for Convention Lineup

Derick “Dizzy” Grant as a Globetrotter.

By Carl Stagner

At the age of seven, his parents took him and his brother to see the Harlem Globetrotters. Little did they know the impact that experience, coupled with a brand-new mini-basketball, would have on Derick Grant’s life. The New Jersey boy’s passion for the game had been ignited, and several years later the “All-American” athlete would secure his college’s number-two spot for all-time-high scoring. Expectations were dashed more than a few times, however, and he ended up on a team that regularly played against, and lost to, the Harlem Globetrotters. Things turned around when, after a year, the Globetrotters recruited Derick, launching an incredible eight-year journey and building a platform that God would later use in ways Derick could have never imagined. His testimony and knack for delivery on and off the court position him perfectly to address the Church of God at all three Regional Conventions this year. Continue reading

“A God Thing” Leads Oklahoma Soldier, Father to College Success

Matthew Holata

By Whitney Knight

Many can attest to the old saying that “God moves in mysterious ways.” As Matthew Holata learned, sometimes that can even mean through the radio waves. A native of Morris, Oklahoma, in the eastern half of the state, Holata grew up as a competitive kid with a love of sports and teamwork. He planned to pursue the path of a student-athlete after graduating high school, but came up just short—literally. Continue reading

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

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

Philadelphia Pastor Publishes Legendary Account of Pain, Redemption, and Triumph

Milton Grannum telling his story at Church of God Convention 2009.

By Carl Stagner

Because of his commitment to Jesus Christ, Milton Grannum’s family kicked him out of their house when he was only fourteen years old. Adding insult to injury, they tossed his school books out the door and told him he should go live at the church. The words of the psalmist brought comfort to young Milton: “For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the LORD will take me in” (Psalm 27:10 ESV). Stuffing all his belongings in a pillow case, Milton left, unsure of what he might face. Still, Milton Grannum found resolve in the words of a song: “Whether I live or die, whether I wake or sleep, I am the Lord’s, I know.” Continue reading

Kevin Earley: Aspiring Psychiatrist, Banker Becomes Pastor Instead

Pastor Kevin (far right) with his family.

By Carl Stagner

Much of the Movement knows Kevin Earley. He’s served as senior pastor for the past nine years at the church in Detroit founded by Dr. James Earl Massey. For the past three years, he’s served as the president of the National Inspirational Youth Convention (NIYC). He serves on the board of directors for Anderson University, and he authored the book Every-Member Ministry: Spiritual Gifts and God’s Design for Service, a valuable church resource published by Warner Press in 2013. But many may not know the story behind Kevin’s call to ministry and the journey that brought him to such positions of widespread influence in the Movement today. Continue reading