Tag Archives: social justice

Calgary Church Fosters Culture of Adoption

Pastor Mark Kowalko’s family today.

By Carl Stagner

Poverty, trafficking, homelessness, illiteracy, hunger, and lack of access to clean water are just some of the issues that plague our world. Often heard in response to such a list is the familiar refrain: someone should do something! Of course, that someone is usually someone else. But not in the case of Pastor Mark Kowalko and Glamorgan Church of God in Calgary, Canada. They’ve seen and heard about too many children who have fallen through the cracks of society, and simply won’t stand for it anymore. For more than two decades, they’ve fostered a culture of adoption that has resulted in homes for more than a hundred kids. Continue reading

Statement from the General Director: Charlottesville

By Jim Lyon

Paul Goodloe McIntire was an investment genius, whose savvy management of stock portfolios in both Chicago and New York empowered him to be one of his hometown’s preeminent philanthropists. Inspired by the City Beautiful movement dramatically brought to life at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893, he dedicated himself to funding monumental public spaces, city parks and squares, most often featuring heroic sculpture. He was born in 1860 and polished his fortune in New York City before retiring in 1918; he then returned to the beloved city of his birth: Charlottesville, Virginia. Continue reading

Freedom Sunday. Freedom Summit. Freedom Fight!

By Carl Stagner

We’re engaged in a battle of historic proportions. The Church of God has once again gone to the front lines of a war against sexual exploitation and human trafficking initially waged more than a hundred years ago. With the launch of Trafficklight in 2014 came a renewed fervor for seeing what Jesus sees, living out Jesus’ example in our neighborhoods, and allowing our hearts to be broken for what breaks his. Together we’ve raised awareness, funded life-changing projects, and touched the lives of trafficking victims through several ministries already in the trenches. Freedom Sunday 2017 offered a preview of what’s to come as we turn our attention to the supply side of human trafficking. Continue reading

Initial Reports Offer Glimpse of Freedom Sunday 2017 Impact

Photo: Creative Freedom Sunday approach in Indianapolis.

By Carl Stagner

The Church of God first took a stand against human trafficking in India more than a century ago. With the inception of CHOG Trafficklight in recent years, the issue has returned to the forefront of ministry made possible only when Church of God congregations rally together. Once again, the Church of God is fighting side by side not only to raise awareness of trafficking, but also to attack the issue at its root. On March 5, 2017, Church of God congregations across North America and beyond showed the same video announcing the launch of Trafficklight 2.0. Many also gave financially to support the Church of God initiative as they renewed their commitment to engage the battle—even in front of screens both large and handheld. The Holy Spirit’s presence was palpable, and several churches have already shared stories of God’s hand at work. Continue reading

Georgia Church a Historic Leader in the Gospel, Social Justice

jason_mcclendon_by_michaelwpannell_forweb

Photo: Pastor Jason McClendon at Community Church of God (Photo courtesy Michael W. Pannell).

By Michael W. Pannell

For years, the Community Church of God has been at the forefront of both social justice and Gospel proclamation. In fact, it has been for 120 years. “We just celebrated 120 years,” said the Rev. Jason McClendon, who has led the congregation for four years and been in ministry for 18 years.

“Our church was started by four women—four freed slaves—who were not allowed to take communion at a Methodist church or be ministers,” he said. “They felt a call and believed in holiness as did John Wesley and finally associated with the Church of God, headquarters in Anderson, Indiana. They started this church at our former 283 Grant Ave. location.”

Continue reading the article, originally published by The Telegraph on November 10, 2016, at http://www.macon.com/living/article113938758.html.

Change Begins with Me: Reflections from the CWC Immersion Trip to Berlin

cwc_berlin_immersion_prayer_2016_forweb

Photo: CWC team in Berlin prays together.

By Kirsten Harmon

Imagine being trapped in a foreign country, unable to speak the language, forced to do a job that is unclean and dangerous. Perhaps you want to change your life, but your every moment, choice, and penny is controlled by a person that could easily beat you—even take your life. Say you somehow did escape, and made your way to a new neighborhood or town. You now have no home, no money, no life or job skills, no friends or family. There is a constant fear of being found. The only way you can think of to make a living would take you right back to the very life you’ve just fled. You feel powerless, helpless, worthless. Continue reading

Youth Group Decides Their Annual Fundraiser Shouldn’t Be for Themselves

dinner_stock_FORWEb

By Carl Stagner

The youth group at New Horizons Community Church of God in Jackson, Michigan, just flexed its generosity muscle. Every February they hold a fundraiser to support youth activities throughout the year. With the help of their parents and other church volunteers, the youth prepare a banquet, guests from the church and community dine on fine food, and donations are encouraged. But this year, the issue of human trafficking has been on the hearts and minds of the students. Why should they revel in their revenue when girls are being trafficked in their own communities? This year, the teens boldly decided that their annual fundraiser shouldn’t be for themselves. Continue reading

CHOG in Germany, North America Partner in Response to German Refugee Crisis

SyrianCrisis_graphic2016_FORWEB

With nearly a million refugees slated to seek asylum, Germany is struggling to deal with the largest refugee crisis since the end of World War II. The country has received more requests for asylum than any other country, and the strain on the country’s social services has been tremendous. Fortunately, the German Church of God (Freikirchlicher Bund der Gemeinde Gottes) has congregations that are mobilizing to assist those in need. However, the scale of this crisis is so great that the Church of God in Germany and the Church of God, through the Disaster Relief Committee at Church of God Ministries, have decided to tackle the crisis together. Continue reading

Pink Door: Joining God’s Mission of Reconciliation

Pink_door_room1_FORWEB

Photo: Room inside the Pink Door safe house.

By Pink Door staff

The last four months may have been a blur, but Pink Door is up and running. We welcomed our first recovery program participant on January 20, so these first weeks have been filled with doctor appointments, visits to German governmental offices, psych evaluations, language evaluations, teaching her how to shop, cook, clean, and use public transportation. It’s amazing how many life skills are never developed when someone is reduced to less-than-human status, abused, abandoned, and forgotten. It’s a miracle how these women blossom when given a chance at a new life. So, we’re off and running with perseverance the race marked out for us, never alone, often exhausted, but always encouraged and reminded daily of your sacrifice that has made Pink Door a reality—never taking for granted the great privilege it is to join God in his mission of reconciliation. Continue reading

Freedom Sunday Fuels Reclamation of Hope in Fight Against Trafficking

FreedomSunday2016_KokomoIN_SouthCreek_FORWEB

Collage: South Creek Church of God (Kokomo, Indiana) Freedom Sunday observance.

By Carl Stagner

Though Valentine’s Day fell on a Sunday this year, chocolates and paper hearts were not the focus of thousands of congregations across North America. For the Church of God and several other faith groups, February 14, 2016, was about something bigger, something bolder. While the culture celebrated romantic love, God’s people celebrated God’s unconditional love for the least of these, including victims of human trafficking around the world. As ambassadors of God’s love, believers gathered to not only worship the Lord on Freedom Sunday, but also to raise awareness and funds for ministries entrenched in the fight for freedom. While Freedom Sunday stories continue to come in, initial reports reveal yet another groundswell of determination to reclaim what hell has stolen. Continue reading

Freedom Sunday 2016: Personal Reflections on Fighting Sex Trafficking

New_TraffickLight_ad_FORWEB

By Kristen Bracy

I first learned about human trafficking in college, at a conference with the college ministry I was a part of, which was under the leadership of my amazing mentor and friend, Lori Taylor. I still vividly remember sitting on the floor in that conference session and feeling this incredible sense of purpose and mission come over me. Up to that point, I wanted my future to look like something different every day! I was constantly struggling with finding my place, my passion, and my purpose in God’s kingdom. But as I walked out of that session, I knew that I had just encountered God. I knew in that moment that I had just learned about something to which I could not turn a blind eye. I could not hear about such an incredible injustice in our world and simply walk away from it. My path was set. Continue reading

Church of God Makes Final Prep for Freedom Sunday, Feb. 14

FreedomSunday2016_graphic2_FORWEB

By Ann Brandon and Carl Stagner

On Sunday, February 14—Valentine’s Day—believers across the denominational spectrum will stand as one against the epidemic of modern slavery. This is because February 14 isn’t just Valentine’s Day this year; it’s also Freedom Sunday! Human trafficking has met its match if and when God’s church comes together against such widespread evil. Church of God Ministries has put a plethora of free resources at your fingertips to help your congregation observe Freedom Sunday in a meaningful way, including opportunities to support CHOG TraffickLight and reach our movement-wide million-dollar goal. One church that has embraced God’s call to fight against the injustice of trafficking is Church at the Crossing in Indianapolis. Continue reading

CHOG TraffickLight: Oklahoma Adult Group Unites for the Cause

AM_FiftyFive_Plus_Seniors_TraffickLight_donors_FORWEB

By Carl Stagner

The millennials aren’t the only ones championing social causes these days. In Oklahoma, one senior adult ministries group came together around the cause for freedom. Of course, they’re not addressing the human trafficking epidemic to feel good about themselves; they’re genuinely concerned about the human condition and the well-being of those made in the image of God. Faith produces action, and the seniors of the Church of God in Oklahoma have followed up their prayers for CHOG TraffickLight with a generous donation. Continue reading

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

BobMarvel_Marathon_kids_FORWEB

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

Sex Trafficking: Global Crisis, Local Reality

TLWoman_FORWEB

By Penny Hood

In 2010 God placed me in the position of development manager for a nonprofit that addresses sex trafficking. I knew nothing of the issue but quickly became aware of the span of this dark industry. In the following years, I began offering my grant-writing services to other charities that are also in this battle to rescue and reclaim lives held in bondage. One of the organizations I began to work with is Not Abandoned, out of Kirkland, Washington. Jeff McKinley, the executive director of Not Abandoned, shared that he has traveled the world as a missions coordinator and determined that the most disturbing human conditions he saw were in the red light districts of southeast Asia. Continue reading