Tag Archives: poverty

When Ministry Gets Messy: A Washington Church’s Incarnational Approach

RCC team at work on a Service Project Sunday.

By Carl Stagner

“In the beginning was the Word, as the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1 NIV). Community was whole and pristine, at the beginning, in the Garden of Eden. But the thief, who comes to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10), did exactly that. Community was ruptured between humanity and God, and between one another. Since the Fall, God has been working to restore that community, to bring people back to himself. Did you know he’s chosen to use you and me to accomplish the task? But we’ve lost our sense of community, downplayed the power of presence, and ignored the methods of Jesus. Our neighbors are crying out for hope all around us, we hear their voices, but we’d prefer to write a check to the nearest charity. We don’t want to get our hands dirty. In contrast, Roosevelt Community Church, a modest-size Church of God congregation in Bellingham, Washington, is taking back what hell has stolen and destroyed in their neighborhood. They’re boldly giving life where the enemy of our souls has snatched it away, simply by being in, for, and with their community. Continue reading

Georgia Church Gives Food, Health, and Life to Community

Children, families are important to Community Church of God.

By Carl Stagner

When Jason McClendon was a child, there were grown-ups in his life who spent quality time with him. One gave him his first Bible, and said, “Jason, God will do something special in your life.” That moment may have seemed insignificant to the one who said it, but to Jason, it meant the world. Over the years, he’s not forgotten that blessing, he’s learned to love authentically, and he’s developed an especially soft heart toward children. The pastor of Community Church of God in Macon, Georgia, says, “Now, I have the privilege to look into a child’s eyes and say, “God has the ability to take you to places you’ve never been!” It should come as no surprise then, that when the need became clear for a summer feeding program for local children, Community Church of God rose to the occasion. Continue reading

Victory in Jesus: Fort Wayne Ministry Gives Life to Women in Need

Victory House leadership celebrates a success story!

By Noel Marquis

Since its creation in 2010, Victory House has offered hope and extended the message of Christ’s love to over 150 women in need. Victory House, which is hosted by Destiny Life Center, a Church of God congregation in Fort Wayne, Indiana, serves women in transition by offering them temporary housing and advancement opportunities. In addition, Victory House provides the chance to grow closer and delve deeper into God’s Word. 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

Local Churches Set Aside Differences, Establish and Sustain Community Ministry

Volunteers from local churches help sustain the ministry.

By Carl Stagner

Another title of this article could have appropriately been, “Local Churches Set Aside Differences, Discover They Can Do More Together.” That’s because this is exactly what happened when Operation Love Ministries was formed in Anderson, Indiana. The collaboration and unity among churches representing multiple denominations and cultures make this yet another Jesus-is-the-subject story, and a potential model for other communities. Today, twenty-seven area churches prayerfully and financially support the parachurch organization, also giving governance to the work. As a result, these local churches have access to a tried-and-tested resource to more effectively help neighbors in need. Continue reading

The Gift Goes On: California Church Captures the Essence of Christmas

Pastor Eric knows by name many who attend Jackets for Jesus.

By Carl Stagner

Sometimes we’re compelled to offer the spare change from the car console, though our default response might be to look the other way. Homeless people are a part of our towns and cities, yet even the Christian community too often turns a blind eye. Everybody’s encountered a homeless person at some point in life, but few choose to respond. Fear isn’t always the cause; it’s often simple lack of know-how. How do God’s people effectively minister to those who don’t have a place to lay their heads at night? Pastor Eric Denton and Central Community Christian Fellowship, a Church of God congregation in Riverside, California, wholeheartedly embraces Jesus’ command to love “the least of these.” Perhaps that’s why they’re willing to hang out on the streets of downtown Los Angeles every Sunday night. Continue reading

WV Church Reclaims Hope Amid Opioid Crisis, Prostitution, and Poverty

Clothing giveaway at Madison Avenue Church of God.

By Carl Stagner

In small towns, big cities, and everything in between, drug abuse is out of control. Especially dangerous is the increasingly popular opioid. Not limited to its common appearance as heroin, addiction to pain killers is also growing concern, as are the deadly additives fentanyl and carfentanyl. Far more complex than a cause-and-effect scenario, a vicious cycle connects the opioid crisis, prostitution, and poverty. Madison Avenue Church of God in Huntington, West Virginia, has declared war on these three products of hell. In the heat of the battle, they’re seeing bonds broken, hope restored, a once-declining church grow again, and a city slowly being reclaimed for Christ. They’re taking back what hell has stolen. Continue reading

Allen, South Dakota: Learning from the Culture You’re Called to Teach

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Photo: Tim and Kim Wardell with local child.

By Carl Stagner

Near the corner of BIA (Bureau of Indian Affairs) Road 22 and Allen Road on the Pine Ridge Reservation of South Dakota, you’ll find a spiritual intersection where cross-cultural connections take place. Tour the region and you’ll be amazed by the vast open spaces and breathtaking vistas, but your jaw will drop at the evidence of destitution that dots the landscape. It’s into the midst of such poverty and a variety of related social ills—alcohol and drug abuse, joblessness, lack of education, general despondency—that Tim and Kim Wardell were called. Not a situation that just anybody would be vying to jump into, it was a golden opportunity for high-impact ministry and teaching. But since the Wardells arrived in September, they’ve discovered that they’re not the only ones with something to teach. Continue reading

Michigan Ministry Blankets Cold World with Love

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Photo: School children blessed by the quilting ministry.

By Carl Stagner

The world can be a cruel and cold place. Especially for children and families living in poverty. Especially for the homeless. Especially for inhabitants of third-world countries. Congregations and ministries of the Church of God are known across the country and around the world for bringing the light and warmth of God’s love to “the least of these.” One such ministry creates and distributes quilts and blankets to those in need both here and abroad. Mary Scott joins approximately fifteen other ladies and three gentlemen who meet on Mondays at Beaverton Church of God in Beaverton, Michigan. More than a social club, this quilting ministry she leads warms both the body and the soul. Continue reading

AU Student Group Fights Trafficking, Experiences Church on the Street

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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

Never Leave nor Forsake: Indiana Church Committed to its Neighborhood

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By Emily Ploetz

Ministry starts as soon as you take that first step outside your door. This is a statement that the South Meridian Church of God does not take lightly. South Meridian, located in Anderson, Indiana, is what many churches would call “outward-focused,” but not in the way you might think. South Meridian is a church known for specifically reaching out to their immediate environment: their neighborhood. As much as the church does care about the city of Anderson, they realize that God has called their church to be a light in the small neighborhood in which the church building stands. The congregation of South Meridian is very aware that their neighborhood has plenty of needs, since the vast majority of those who live there are low-income families. The church decided many years ago that, as the church, as the hands and feet of Christ, they should fill as many of those needs as possible. Continue reading

Urban Missions: Ohio Church Buys Two Inner-City Homes, Commissions Residents

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By Serena Ellens

What does it mean to be a missionary on the home front—on our very own American soil? The church often hears about missionaries that travel to exotic locations and third-world countries to spread the gospel. While their work is absolutely vital, sometimes we as Christians in the United States forget the importance of mission work in our own nation. As present trials continue to ravage the country and draw people farther and farther away from the church, the emphasis on home missions is becoming increasingly imperative in our efforts to spread the hope of Christ. Continue reading

Bob Marvel: Running an Ultra-Marathon for an Equally Challenging Cause

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By Jeanne Halsey

In 1998, my husband Kenneth Halsey and our son Alex ran the Seattle Marathon together. Having only an observer’s understanding of the rigorous preparation—both physical and mental—that is required to train your body to run more than twenty-six consecutive miles (forty-two), I rightly came to honor and respect my men for their achievement; I fondly and proudly called them “demi-gods.”

In October 2001, we met Bob Marvel, a young pastor from Cornwall Church in Bellingham, Washington, who had developed his own fondness for running marathons; at the time, he had completed two or three marathon races and was hoping to qualify for the prestigious Boston Marathon. From his own wisdom and experience, Kenneth offered to purchase a particular pair of running shoes for Bob, and also supplied the airfare so he could travel further afield as he aimed for his goals. Simultaneously, I felt prompted to write an article, “The Running Pastor,” which was picked up by various online news agencies and subsequently received wide publication. In that essay, I likened Pastor Bob’s race-running experiences with his soul-winning strategies—both at which he was quite successful. The photos which accompanied that article were taken when he completed his first Boston Marathon (and yes, he and his wife Dorene were also running the 2013 Boston Marathon, when the tragic bombings took place; they were able to minister to and pray with many in the immediate aftermath). Continue reading

Boldly Loving the Least of These: Church on the Street’s Practical Theology

By Andy Odle

Bold is…radically loving our most vulnerable neighbors.

What if what Jesus says is true? What if in Christ we really are all one? What if Jesus really tore down the dividing walls that separate people? What if the most despised, outcast, and least in the world really are the most honored in the church? What if all of life—companionship, family, work, government—is precipitated by God’s living commandment to love him and our neighbor? In other words, what if we risked believing in reconciliation? Continue reading