Blossoming of a Student on the Mission Field

What makes a student blossom?

This question makes me pause to think, because it is the dry season here in Kenya. In spite of the dryness, there are flowers blossoming, including some that have never bloomed in my garden before, like the ones pictured here. Surely, the sun causes them to burst forth in splendor.

God’s Call

What about students? What makes them blossom? I’m thinking about Aaron’s rod, which not only budded, but also blossomed and produced almonds. In Numbers 17, it was God’s choice, His anointing that caused Aaron’s rod to undergo such remarkable changes. Certainly God’s call is important in causing a student to flourish and the warmth of God’s love is a key factor for growth.

Trust In God

But, the dryness itself seems to be a factor. There are students who blossom even though they experience difficulties, though the soil seems not to be conducive for flourishing. I remember Marvin, a student at the Asian Seminary of Christian Ministries in Manila, Philippines. He never was sure if he would have tuition from one term to the next, yet he graduated. He commented he had noticed that students who had their way completely paid didn’t finish, but he had. He said, “I had to trust God all the way.” And God had not failed him.

The Soil Matters.

I’ve seen students struggle to survive, because they had sent themselves. There was no supporting community to say, “Yes, we see God’s hand upon this life.” God made sure the whole community saw that Aaron’s rod had blossomed: those alive at that time, and also those who would follow afterwards had seen the rod in the Ark of the Covenant that declared that Aaron was a chosen instrument of the Lord.

Watering the Plant

Certainly watering is an important factor. When the rains stop, plants still need water. After a period of dryness, grass will revive once water is applied, but other plants will die. I think students are like that. They cannot be ignored. They must be watered well with the Word. An institution must have qualified, God-centered faculty to make sure that happens. Not only are classes important, but also chapel, worship, and prayer times are vital to water the plant. For example, at Discipleship College, one of the people who makes a large difference in the growth of our students is the campus pastor or Dean of Students. He represents students in the administration and takes a personal interest in each student. He looks for their gifting and talents and nurtures them in chapel. We at Discipleship College recognize that mentoring is a key factor in enabling a student to blossom.

Community

The growing environment is very important. If plants are squeezed together and weeds are allowed to encroach, plants will not produce beautiful blossoms. At Discipleship College, students meet together to discuss important issues in Community of Faith, enjoy sports competitions, and have opportunities to minister at neighboring churches. We believe these contacts with other students and neighboring churches enrich their lives and ministries.

Lack of Peace

In Africa, one of the destabilizing factors is lack of peace. How can a student flourish when at home friends and family are being killed? Yet, these same countries desperately need to have quality ministers being prepared to communicate the gospel to a war-torn people. They definitely need scholarship help and your prayers to make it possible for them to bloom.

Lack of Resource

One of the weeds that can choke a student’s ability to blossom is lack of finances. While total reliance on a sponsor is often not healthy, many need a helping hand if they are to reach the goal in terms of education. You can help lighten that load with your giving.

Thank you for helping educate young Christian leaders!

Dr. Marcia Anderson spends her time passionately sharing the Living Water that is a fountain in her heart! She serves as a missionary and currently teaches at Discipleship College in Eldoret, Kenya.

 

To partner with Dr. Anderson click here: Project 060-0054

AFRICA DAY OF PRAYER

Peter Thomas, field director for the Church of God in Africa, recently joined Christopher Sabale, prayer coordinator for Africa, along with other leaders in the nation of Botswana for the first-ever All Africa Day of Prayer.

The call to prayer rose from a decision made by the African Council and national leaders at a Continental Congress last year. Thomas noted, “In light of the challenge before us, the battle for the continent of Africa, the massive need for evangelism and church-planting, we must pray—and we must pray as never before!”

Last year, in Zambia and Togo, national overseers and prayer leaders gathered for prayer mobilization and training. Fifty nations across Africa were involved in the All Africa Day of Prayer effort. Churches, prayer leaders, and intercessors in the United States and around the world are encouraged to continue praying for Africa.

No one realized when the initial date was set that it fell on Easter Sunday 2017. Thomas reflected: “For us, it was a good day—we prayed for a kind of spiritual resurrection across Africa, that the forgotten continent will be visited by God with a mighty spiritual awakening!”

AREA-SENSITIVE REPORT

An Asian closed country recently reported providing food and commodities for orphans.

The program known as Feed the Hunger delivered 650 kg of rice (which translates into 1400 lbs.), 200 kg of instant noodles (440 lbs.), 200 kg. of meat (440 lbs.), and 100 kg of sugar (220 lbs.). Along with the food items, other products were distributed.

An additional three children were brought to the orphanage, making the total of children needing provisions to 78.

The director and the orphanage are deeply grateful for the prayers and food for the orphans. They are anticipating building new housing for the children, as well.

Your labor in the Lord for them is not in vain.

Project number 731-1136-119

The names and location of these activities and workers are withheld due to certain security risks. Please pray and provide as the Lord directs.

ZYGAREWICZ: Plant Churches and Train Leaders

For the Zygarewiczes, beginning missions service in Bolivia and then changing to Russia is quite a cultural stretch. Extreme weather conditions were also a drastic change, as temperatures in Russia are frequently below zero … like -30! The Zygarewiczes currently serve as associate missionaries.

Ministry in Bolivia

Adam Zygarewicz was born in Paraguay of Slavic heritage. He graduated from Bible school in 1962, and he and his wife, Abisag, organized several new churches. For 15 years, the Zygarewiczes served as overseer of Bolivia. Their plate was full: planted new churches, developed a curriculum for the Bible school, pastored a couple of churches, and were heavily involved in leadership training, humanitarian work, orphanages, and social work.

Russia and USA Ministry

Planting a church in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 1994, Adam’s influence through humanitarian efforts at a local crisis center produced converts for the Kingdom of God, as the leaders of the center joined the Church of God. Returning to the States in 1981, they planted a church in the San Francisco Bay area. Adam was director of the Regional Bible School for the Hispanic Churches of God in San Francisco, where he developed new course work and revised the curriculum implementing missionary work in the United States and Mexico. Additionally, he frequently served as an evangelist and translator for crusades in the U.S., Latin America, Ukraine, and Russia for many years.

Returning to Minister

While Abisag has suffered health issues in previous years, she is recovering well from a recent surgery. Adam and his son, Marc, are soon making a trip to Bolivia … the place Adam’s ministry began over 50 years ago. Future plans are to visit Russia later in the year—Russian pastors and churches continue to face daily restrictions and persecutions, much like it was during the Soviet era.

Adam states: “For over 30 years I prayed for the Soviet Union, the land of my parents, and asked God to open the doors to the Gospel. I am glad God gave me the opportunity to go and preach the Word in the needful country of Russia. Our vision was to plant as many churches as possible, and train Russian leaders!”

Click here to give online to the ministry of Adam and Abisag Zygarewicz: Project 065-0032

 

TRAINING MINISTERS TO LEAD

May I repeat this challenging, nine-month program? It has been difficult, as a busy pastor, father, and husband, to find time, but my ministry has been so blessed. I need to repeat it.”

I was totally taken aback. The program is exhaustive and rigorous. But this question from one of my students exemplifies the hunger among our European ministers for training to reach the harvest.

As superintendent of the 11 countries of Western Europe, I am helping today to train dozens of such dedicated church planters. It clearly shows that Europe is far from being a lost cause! During the last 37 years, I have been training ministers here … the light has been shining ever more brightly into the darkness. Churches are growing after being planted. Just as in the case of this pastor when he successfully took the Ministerial Internship Program for a second year. His church became six times the size it was before. This story has been repeated at the national level in many of our countries where the MIP continues to be taught.

The Church of God is here to answer the call of Jesus to “Go and make disciples of all nations.” Even now, there is a campaign to “Send the Light” to four of the major cities of Europe: Amsterdam, Paris, Prague, and Moscow, as part of an 11 cities worldwide outreach into the darkness. Souls are not only to be won, they are to be discipled as Jesus commanded through training in the Word. We are excited to do our part.

Training ministers to lead is at the heart of what Jesus did for three years during His earthly walk. The training was to follow—imitate Him and then pass on His teachings. The disciples were instructed to lead others likewise. As Paul said, “Imitate me as I imitate Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1).”

Training is also at the heart of what the Church of God has undertaken in 183 countries around the world—to FINISH our commitment to the Great Commission through the MIP, CIMS, and our Bible schools: Focus, Invade, Navigate, Intercede, Send, and Heal. All these aspects done intentionally and together will raise up a new generation of prophets among the youth as our General Overseer has called for in the Jeremiah Project.

This is what Kathy and I are doing in Western Europe. Helping equip a mighty army of new ministers, lay and credentialed. Many are in ministry as couples. Some are women being mobilized and empowered by the Holy Spirit in various women’s gatherings organized by my wife, Dr. Kathy Watson-Swift. I will never forget the words of one lady co-pastor, “Our ministry has been through such fiery trials that we were asking God if it was time to resign. But after this women’s conference, God has given us new vision and determination to stay the course!

Training leaders is an essential task! Let us continue to train to lead.

Chris Swift
Superintendent, Church of God in Western Europe

Make PRAGUE A Lighthouse City

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5).

“ … Contemporary Europe is the closest thing to a godless civilization the world has ever known,” declared the Wall Street Journal in a 2006 article. At the heart of this dark continent is the city of Prague, Czech Republic, the city with the highest percentage of atheists. Yet, beyond what the news media and statistics declare, a spiritual awakening has begun to flow from the heart of Europe. In 2002, before my family and I moved to Prague to plant the first Church of God in that country, God gave us this word: “This is a latter-day Antioch, and from this place will flow ministry that will impact this entire part of the world.” Today, there is a thriving local church in Prague, and the Church of God has nine churches throughout the country.

Participation in the Lighthouse project in Prague is the fulfillment of a word of prophecy.

Prague was the Imperial City of Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV and is home to the largest castle in the world, covering 18 acres. As Europe’s 14th largest city, Prague has 1.3 million residents with a total of 2 million within its urban sprawl. One of the few cities in Europe that was not bombed during World War II, the center of Prague is protected by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), is called the “Golden City with a Thousand Spires,” and welcomes more than 6 million tourist visitors each year—only four cities in Europe receive more tourists annually. In 2016, Trip Advisor rated Prague sixth among the top destinations in the world. Charles University, located in the center of Prague, is Central Europe’s oldest university with 51,000 students, almost 7,000 of whom are international.

Behind this beautiful physical façade, lies a dark city in desperate need of the light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Faithful, spirit-empowered Church of God believers are daily sharing the Good News. With the securing of the Lighthouse building, the Church of God now has its first church building in the country—where a thriving local church, a community outreach center, and ministerial training classrooms will be housed.

The Czech word “Prague” means “threshold.” This Lighthouse city is a spiritual threshold for what God is doing this part of the world!

Click here to give online to make Prague a Lighthouse city!

Jonathan Augustine is regional superintendent for Central Europe East/The Balkans.

Church of God in Scotland is Thriving

Through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God” (2 Corinthians 9:11).

The Church of God in Scotland, led by Overseer and Career Missionaries Dennis and Vanna Tanner, is thriving. Their ministry encompasses evangelizing the lost, discipling new believers, training spiritual leaders, and planting churches.

Training and Licensure of Ministers

Recently, three new ministers were licensed in the Church of God. Varghese Thomas from Kerala, India, and the senior pastor of the Lanarkshire Christian Fellowship received his ordination. Laura Shreenan and her husband, Colin, received the Ordained Ministers License on behalf of her parents, Derek and Astrid Gobbett, who were unable to attend due to illness.

New Church Planted

Through the generosity of donors, the Hosanna Romanian Church of God was established in Edinburgh. Pastor Daniel Karacsony and his assistant pastor, Cosmin Radesclu, report continued growth and are now looking for another facility in which to worship.

Community Ministry

Lighthouse Christian Ministry Center, which houses the national offices and various other venues, also serves as a drop-in center for the community.

The Tanners, the pastors, and church members thank God for all you have done to prosper the work in Scotland, and they are praying for everyone who is supporting the ministries.

Project Number 065-0213

A “Low Profile” Ministry

Career Missionaries serving in a closed country of the 10/40 Window face the fact on a daily basis they are illegal and that their ministry must be “low profile.” It is even more dangerous for those Muslims who convert to Christianity. The revised 10/40 Window now includes 65 of the least-reached countries of the world.

In spite of the circumstances they confront, the missionaries are planting churches and reaching Muslims. The effort primarily involves cultivating indigenous leadership. Education, scouting locations, and renovation of buildings are all part of church planting. Additionally, chairs, guitars, amplifiers, and microphones need to be purchased.

The missionary says: “Worship is the fuel and goal in missions, because in missions we simply aim to bring the nations into the white-hot enjoyment of God’s glory—the gladness of the people in the greatness of God!”

As with most missionary endeavors, finances are a continuing concern. They need the funds to fight the battles and establish churches in this hostile area of the world. Your prayers sustain and keep them safe.

Project Number 065-0058

ANOINTING HIS BODY

In Mark 16 it says: (1) “And when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had brought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint Him.”

The custom in biblical times was to anoint the dead body with oils and aromatic herbs. An act of love and kindness in the Jewish tradition, it also signified the preservation of a person’s honor through an appropriate burial. Its use also helped fight the effects of the rapid decomposition.

Another definition of “anoint” by Merriam-Webster is “to choose by; designate.” How can we accomplish a modern-day “anointing” of Christ? By choosing and designating Him to reign and rule in our lives!

The sweet aroma of the Holy Spirit living through us will reach and change the most troubled individual, as well as shed His light abroad to those who’ve never even heard His name, much less know of His resurrecting power.

May you and yours experience His anointing in your lives, and may you respond by anointing Him through choosing Him as Lord and Savior.

Dr. David M. Griffis was elected to a four-year term as the Director of Church of God World Missions in July 2016.  He has been an ordained minister  of the Church of God since 1977. Since that time he has pastored, served as State Evangelism and Home Missions Director in Oklahoma, State Youth and Christian Education Director in Oklahoma, South Georgia and South Carolina and as Administrative Bishop of West Virginia and Tennessee. He has also served on numerous state, regional, national and international boards and committees. Elected to serve as International Director and Assistant Director respectively of Youth and Christian Education. He has also been elected to serve four terms on the Council of Eighteen.  In 2008 he was elected as Third Assistant General Overseer followed by his election as First Assistant General Overseer in 2012.  He is married to the former Judy Cochran.

THE ROLLED-AWAY STONE

In the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre. And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it”

(Matthew 28:1-2).

In this passage of Scripture, one is reminded of the powerful and majestic resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ following His Crucifixion. As magnificent as the birth of our Savior is, His resurrection is of more significance than we can ever grasp or fully understand … being dead, yet arose to new life!

The rolled-away stone is the confirmation of resurrection. No single individual could have moved it; and, it was meant to secure the tomb.

How often in our lives are we faced with a “stone” that seems immovable and set to lay in concrete the outcome. But, praise the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, because this was one time the stone would not stop what the Father intended.

Jesus was granted victory over death, hell, and the grave. His power can move any stone that prevails in our lives. He will send His angels to bring relief in every circumstance; even if it takes an earthquake. What may seem like our darkest hour may well be our greatest triumph!

Rejoice in His victory, because it is OUR victory, as well.

Praying that you and your loved ones have a most blessed Easter. Remember that because He lives, we live also!

Dr. M. Thomas Propes is the Assistant Director of Church of God World Missions.  A native of Nicholls, Georgia, and a fourth generation Church of God member, Bishop Propes was converted in January 1962 and began his ministry in January 1974. Propes has served as pastor, state evangelism director, Administrative Bishop of the Great Lakes Region, Northern Ohio, and South Carolina. He also served as General Director of Publications at Pathway Press, on the International Executive Council and as an elected member of the Executive Committee. Dr. Propes has numerous published works and has served as a contributing writer to several books and publications. He is married to the former LaQuita Perkins.