Tag Archives: prayer

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

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

Giving Life, Giving All: North Carolina Pastor’s Legacy Pays it Forward

Gary Young (far left) honored on October 6, 2019, by (left to right) Mike Claypool, Ben Shular, and Cornelius Atkinson.

By Carl Stagner

Alvin Young was a Baptist, but she was a part of the Church of God. Fueled by close proximity as neighbors in the North Carolina countryside near the town of Hickory, Alvin’s interest in her meant he would soon be attending the Church of God, too. The shift wasn’t hard for Alvin, though, for besides his love interest eclipsing denominational differences, he found the teachings of the Church of God to be more consistent with Scripture. Marriage soon secured their relationship with each other and the Church of God, but could do very little to secure their finances. While making a measly $1.15 an hour and doing his best to support a growing family, Alvin Young received a call to ministry. Continue reading

Movement to Pray for the Persecuted Church this November

By Carl Stagner

Christians in Western culture may not fully appreciate the cost of Christianity, but those who put their lives on the line in other parts of the world, just to share their faith or simply gather together, understand. Depending on the source, the numbers of believers imprisoned, tortured, and/or killed may vary, but one thing is clear—the need for our prayerful support of the persecuted church is tremendous. After Church of God leaders in Texas proposed a motion during General Assembly 2019 in Orlando to ask all local Church of God congregations to set aside a Sunday each November to pray specifically for the persecuted church around the world, overwhelming approval followed. Continue reading

CHOG Leaders Represent at 400th Anniversary of Enslaved African Arrival

Leaders from all major Christian traditions will gather in Montgomery, Alabama, October 2–4, 2019, to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the arrival of enslaved African peoples to Jamestown, Virginia. Jim Lyon, general director of Church of God Ministries, is honored to be one of two leaders elected to represent our branch of the Christian family tree, as well as the Church of God movement. Six leaders in total are expected to represent the Church of God movement at the commemoration, which is part of the Annual Convocation of Christian Churches Together (CCT) in the USA, an ecumenical table that brings together communions (denominations) and Christian organizations representing all the major traditions. Continue reading

Churches Bless Schools, Families as Fall Semester Dawns

Back-to-school haircut at Bedford First Church of God.

By Carl Stagner

Teachers making final preparations for their classes, students dreading the end of summer, parents adjusting to new routines, and school buses on the streets again (drivers, be careful!)—it can only mean one thing: it’s that time of year again! School is back in session or will begin again soon across much of the country, signaling a community-wide shift from one season to the next. Sometimes that shift can be anything but smooth for families, just as it can be for teachers, administrators, and staff. We celebrate the Church of God congregations across the country that recognize the need and do what they can to meet the need. School supply drives, special prayer gatherings, and “back-to-school bashes” are just a few of the ways numerous congregations are coming alongside schools and families as the fall semester dawns. Continue reading

Mississippi Church Makes Jesus the Subject, Rallies with Churches Statewide

By Carl Stagner

Two-and-a-half years had built up to this single moment. Veterans Memorial Stadium in Jackson, Mississippi, would be the location of a church unity event bigger than any in recent history, and representing the widest spectrum of church and cultural backgrounds. Trey Hammond, who pastors Crossroads of Life Church of God in Byram, Mississippi, has held a special place in his heart for unity in the body of Christ. With this in mind, it was a no-brainer for he and his church to support and participate in the April 27 event, and the preparation leading up to the big day, which made Jesus the subject every step of the way. Continue reading

South Dakota Church: Farmers, You’re Not Alone

Very few fields looks this good (at least this one’s been planted!).

By Carl Stagner

This has not been a good year for farmers. Actually, agricultural conditions have taken an economic and emotional toll on farmers for the past year-and-a-half, though much of the country is only beginning to take notice. While American routine often involves that indispensable weekly trip to the supermarket, requiring little to no thought of the origins of their convenient purchases, farmers bear the brunt of the material and mental cost. A May 29 article published in FarmWorld reported that the USDA’s assessments showed corn planting across the country was at its “slowest pace” since 1980. It’s no wonder, considering much of the country—from the Rocky Mountains to the Midwest and through the South—has been locked in a seemingly never-ending cycle of rain. With uncertain days upon farmers, as well as everyone connected to the agricultural industry, First Church of God in Marion, South Dakota, addressed the need early this month in the best way they knew how—prayer. Continue reading

Midnight Meditations: Gethsemane Experience Draws Church to Watch and Pray

Maiden Lane congregants gather to “watch and pray.”

By Carl Stagner

Unless you work third-shift or suffer insomnia, chances are you were asleep at midnight on Good Friday this year. Not Pastor Mark Martin and a good crowd of people from Maiden Lane Church of God, in Springfield, Ohio, though! With the aid of the Holy Spirit—and perhaps an extra cup of coffee—they could be found gathered at church, embarking on a unique adventure like never before. Inspired and challenged by Jesus’ words in Matthew 26:36–46 to “watch and pray,” even for just an hour, they took a spiritual journey back to the Garden of Gethsemane to reflect on the gravity of that historical moment, and ultimately prepare the way for a victorious Easter celebration. Continue reading

Church of God Missionaries to Sri Lanka Heartbroken After Easter Attacks

By Carl Stagner

Celebration of the risen Christ ended early and abruptly on Sunday, April 21, in Sri Lanka, as the deadliest violence in a decade devastated the island country south of India. More than 300 people were killed and another 500 injured in a series of bombings that struck churches and hotels in the cities of Colombo, Negombo, and Batticaloa. As investigations continue, the Church of God fervently prays for the injured, families of victims, first-responders, and churches affected both directly and indirectly. Steven and Peggy Beverly, missionaries for Global Strategy to Sri Lanka, were just beginning their home assignment at the time of the incident. Their updates on the situation reveal their broken hearts. They would prefer to be with the suffering people they’ve come to love than safe in the U.S. right now. 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

Navy Chaplain: Don’t Just Thank Me for My Service

Chaplain Travis Coffey

By Carl Stagner

November is known for Thanksgiving. It’s also known for Veterans Day. This is the time of year that people count their blessings and name them one by one; certainly, we consider our men and women in uniform a tremendous blessing. But according to one Church of God chaplain to the U.S. Navy, being thankful isn’t enough. It’s great, but it stops short of what they need most. Travis Coffey gives us a glimpse of life as a Navy chaplain, how the Lord is working in the midst of his ministry, and how the Movement can best demonstrate true gratitude for those who serve God and country. 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

Site of Warner Auditorium Reclaimed with Prayer, Given Life Again

By Carl Stagner

In 2006, Warner Auditorium, which housed the Church of God Convention (“camp meeting”) since the early 1960s, came down. Asbestos had claimed the structure, deeming the “the dome” unsafe for occupancy. But before the dome, there was the “old tabernacle.” This iconic structure, too, met an untimely demise after a snowstorm claimed it. In recent years, the site has remained empty and relatively lifeless. But Anderson University has recently given new life to the plot of land, reclaiming and rededicating those holy grounds for prayer. Continue reading

Tuesday’s Scorching Sunshine Eclipsed by Light of Christ at FL Regional

Moments of blessed fellowship were plentiful on Tuesday.

By Carl Stagner

Less than a year out from the Church of God Convention 2019 and General Assembly in Orlando, many Church of God people got their first taste of Florida on Tuesday at the Regional Convention near Tampa. Sunshine, palm trees, and the Bay nearby were certainly sights to behold; more so was the prayerful response at the altar on Tuesday evening. During the day, convention-goers satisfied their cravings at the Melt Machine Food Truck but didn’t linger long, as the air-conditioned space within the walls of Bayside Community Church offered relief from the unseasonably hot and humid weather. Inside they found a diet of Living Water and the Bread of Life to be most refreshing, as anointed messages, inspirational times of worship, engaging conferences, and rich conversation marked the day. Continue reading