Tag Archives: South Dakota

Trusting the Healer: A South Dakota Woman’s Testimony

By Michael Smith

Editor’s note—The belief in divine healing has been a long-emphasized doctrine in our movement, from before the days of the “crutches on the wall” in E. E. Byrum’s Gospel Trumpet prayer room, to modern-day testimonies of healing around the world shared in person, in books, through videos, and in CHOGnews articles. Though perhaps not understood the same way it always has been, healing certainly continues to come from a merciful, all-powerful God. The following is a story of healing from Rustic Hills Community Church of God in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Our prayer is that it will encourage you and serve as a reminder that God still works miracles today. Continue reading

Making Waves in South Dakota: Radio Reaches Across Reservation

Tim Wardell on KJCD radio.

By Noel Marquis

In the midst of despair caused by grief, illness, joblessness and substance abuse, God is making waves in Allen, South Dakota—radio waves, to be exact.

Since CHOGnews last spoke to missionaries Tim and Kim Wardell in February 2017, the pastors have witnessed the incredible love of God at work on the Pine Ridge Reservation in the Oglala Lakota Nation. Before the end of 2017, the pastors prayed for direction regarding how Pass Creek Mission could serve God in the coming year. In response, Tim received a vision for a radio ministry that would reach listeners on the reservation and beyond. However, without necessary equipment, the Wardells were left to question how such an extraordinary idea could become a reality. Soon after receiving the vision, Tim was inexplicably inspired to attend a meeting in Pine Ridge; once there, he would realize why. Continue reading

Native American Ministries: Two Generations of Bentleys Leave Lasting Impact

A touching moment for Paul and Kathy Bentley (August 19).

By Carl Stagner

True heart for ministry is unmistakable. Combine that with a love for the Lakota people in Allen, South Dakota, and you have a recipe for a lasting impact. Such is the case with the combined thirty-two years of Native American ministry by two generations of Bentleys. Paul and Kathy Bentley, followed by Barry and Shelly Bentley, dedicated themselves to making a difference in a hope-deprived land among an impoverished people. As they pass the torch of leadership on to home missionaries Tim and Kim Wardell, we pause to bless the Bentleys and remember their steadfast service. Continue reading

Steadfast in Scottsbluff: An Unwavering Love for the Lord and the Lakota

Louise Deines

By Carl Stagner

Louise Deines is ninety-eight years old. That hasn’t stopped her from continuing to love the Lord and the Lakota people. Her ministry through the Church of God in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, has stretched fifty years across both seasons of challenge and blessing. Though she was never ordained as a minister, her ministry of presence, teaching, and encouragement has proved vital to home missions in the region. While her qualifications could have taken her anywhere, her heart is with Native American ministry in Scottsbluff. Accolades aren’t what matter to Louise, though she was recently honored for fifty years of home missionary service. What really matters to Louise is love. Continue reading

Honoring 32 Years of Home Missions Dedication

Paul and Kathy Bentley; Barry and Shelly Bentley

By Carl Stagner

Thirty-two years of ministry dedication is no small feat, especially under challenging conditions. While it’s true that the kind of kingdom laborer deserving of recognition is also the kind that acknowledges no need of earthly honor, honor is nevertheless warranted. For more than three decades, the Bentley family has served among the Lakota people in Allen, South Dakota, without a lot of recognition. Despite the ebb and flow of resources, a society plagued by addiction, and the inescapable loneliness of the remote Upper Great Plains, their resolve could not be shaken. Paul and Kathy Bentley, and Barry and Shelly Bentley, who followed in their footsteps, would endure for the cause of Christ. They were committed. Now the Church of God is committed to honoring these heroes of the faith in a ceremonial celebration on August 19. Continue reading

When Teachers Become Learners: Barefoot and Humbled in Bangladesh

Photo: Cross-cultural footwashing in Bangladesh.

By Carl Stagner

If you’ve ever been on a mission trip, you know it’s a mistake to think you’re going to another country only to teach and bless someone else. More often than not, you end up learning more than you could offer. Instead of leaving feeling impressed by all the good you did, you feel humbled by the good people you met. When a group from Church at the Crossing in Indianapolis, Indiana; First Church of God in Marion, South Dakota; and Church of God Ministries in Anderson, Indiana, came together for a missions trip to Bangladesh this year, the teachers once again became the learners. Continue reading

First Church of God, Marion, SD: Small Town, Big Impact

Photo: First Church of God, Marion, South Dakota

By Emily Ploetz

On a map of South Dakota, the town of Marion may not catch your eye. The whole community consists of about 800 people total. However, First Church of God in Marion, and its impact on God’s kingdom, should capture your attention. Out of the 800 residents of Marion, 125 of them attend the church! A church with an influence over the majority of a town isn’t something you see every day. The town and the church have a unique background and, because of some key decisions they’ve made, First Church of God continues to be a shining light. 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

Jesus is the Subject on the Reservation, Too!

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Photo: Volunteer and child at Wounded Knee.

By Carl Stagner

They may not agree on everything, but they agree on the mission. You have to understand: on the Pine Ridge Reservation, hope is as sparse as the vegetation. All of the mission teams that come to Wounded Knee Church of God in Wounded Knee, South Dakota, know that what the Lakota people need so desperately is Jesus. They don’t first need a lesson on a distinguishing doctrine of the Church of God. They don’t need bickering. They don’t need a divided church. They need Jesus. Continue reading

Legacy of Love: Rev. Janice Turner’s Ministry of Presence to Native Americans

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By Carl Stagner

Her adventure of a lifetime began with simple obedience to God. Considering the proximity of other Native American communities, this Georgia woman could have easily found ministry opportunities closer than Allen, South Dakota. But God’s call didn’t have to make sense; she was told to go. Rev. Janice Turner knew she was called to do more than apply Band-Aids to societal maladies. Thus, one summer mission experience led to numerous 1,300-mile trips across the country since 2008. God called Janice to invest for the long-term, to build relationships, and to effect substantial and sustainable change in a culture that resembles that of a third-world country. Not limited to the gifts she brought to the local children each December, Janice Turner’s ministry was truly a ministry of presence. Continue reading

Church of God Ministries Relaunches Home Missions

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By Carl Stagner

We end up like islands. The enemy of our souls says, “Don’t talk to each other; die where you are—alone and without hope.” Through years of transition and financial difficulties, Native American Ministries unintentionally slipped through cracks. We helped to create the isolation. A lack of resources and support have drained the life out of vital mission efforts here at home—on our own soil. Critical cultural deterioration among Native American tribes has only compounded the challenges faced by our home missionaries, each crying out for you and me to bridge the vast waters that otherwise separate and destroy. This year we confessed where we’ve fallen short and renewed our commitment to Native American Ministries. Church of God Ministries is humbled to announce a relaunch of Home Missions that has already begun to reclaim what hell had stolen. Continue reading

Jim and Hazel Figy: A Lifetime of Volunteering Together

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By Barbara Lloyd Nelson

Jim Figy was a high school senior with a big decision to make: attend Ohio State and become an agriculture teacher, or continue helping his parents raise ten thousand turkeys on their farm. Jim knew if he deserted his parents, their poultry farm would go under. The choice was clear. He worked there for fifty-two years.

Jim and Hazel May were high school sweethearts, marrying when they were twenty-one. They raised a family, and in their late forties, in response to calls from their church’s national office, began volunteering as a couple. It was the beginning of a life centered on volunteering, often with their children in tow. Continue reading

On the Reservation: From Desolate Spaces to Heavenly Places

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Photo: Dry desert landscape typifies much of the Navajo Reservation, on which the Church of God has an outreach at Klagetoh, Arizona.

By Carl Stagner

Time, drought, and poverty have caked layers of dust and grime between a toddler’s bruised and blistered toes. The boy’s father, unemployed for five years, is draped across a tear-stained sofa, too hung over to care. Across the mother’s wrinkled face, a blank stare speaks volumes. This is desolation on the reservation in America. Widespread addiction, abuse, and apathy have afflicted much of the Native American society. In Jesus Christ, hurt is met with hope and healing. Through the Church of God, renewed efforts are underway to take the hope of Jesus Christ to the often forgotten far reaches of our land. Great strides toward strengthening existing ministry and inspiring new outreach were made in January when leaders of the American Indian Council and devoted friends of Native American Ministries met together in Rapid City, South Dakota. Continue reading

Native American Ministries Advances with New Advisory Board

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Photo: Ryan Chapman prays for the Place of Promise at a groundbreaking ceremony in September 2013.

By Carl Stagner

Alcoholism, domestic abuse, and high unemployment are just a few of the issues that plague Native American culture in the United States. As if historical devastation and upheaval weren’t enough, today the communities that surround Church of God ministries on and near reservations deal with social ills that demand our attention. In recent years, the Church of God has taken steps to strengthen Native American Ministries. Next week, a team of Native American ministry leaders, advocates, and Church of God Ministries staff will convene in Rapid City, South Dakota, to plan strategically for the advancement of the kingdom on the home front. Continue reading

CHOG Brings Addiction Recovery Ministry to Reservation

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Photo: Church of God Ministries leaders join Native American Ministries leaders to start a Celebrate Recovery ministry.

By Handel Smith and Ryan Chapman

As we drove through the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation community of Wounded Knee, South Dakota, the unimaginable reality of a community plagued by alcoholism, domestic abuse, and unemployment was alarming and difficult to process. In the midst of chaos, sadness, and confusion, we reached out to Christ. New hope and encouragement are being restored, due in part to a partnership formed by Church of God Ministries (CGM) with those serving our Native American brothers and sisters. Continue reading