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.

 

 

NEVER TOO LATE FOR AN EASTER MIRACLE

The following is related by Career Missionary to Guatemala, Frankie Tyson:

“I had just arrived at the remote village of San Lorenzo and settled into the rustic room with my team from the USA. They had arrived to help rebuild a pastor’s home that had been destroyed in the 2012 earthquake.

“As we were nearly ready to go to the worksite, the owner of our lodging appeared very distraught. He said they were told his 86-year-old mother had been diagnosed with cancer and was not expected to live much longer. Although she was a Catholic, the owner was not sure she would go to heaven when she passed; he asked would I share the gospel with her.

“When he brought her to me the next day, I decided to make it as simple as possible by using an ‘Evangecube,’ a tool favoring a Rubik’s cube that clearly and simply unfolds the Gospel of Jesus Christ through pictures. First, I showed man in sin without God; then Christ on the cross dying for our sins; and finally, the tomb where Jesus arose from the dead. I explained that because He was resurrected from the grave, when we repent of our sins by asking Jesus to forgive us and come into our lives, we are resurrected to a new life in Jesus.

“I also shared that when we repent and believe in Him, we receive the free gift of eternal life. That day, this 86-year-old lady asked Jesus to forgive her and come into her life. She was wonderfully saved, and I had the privilege of baptizing her during Easter! She passed away a short time later.

“I am so glad it is never too late for an Easter miracle!”

To partner with Frankie and Joyce Tyson in their missionary work for Guatemalan pastors, click this link: Project Number 060-0001

I Struggle At Easter

Easter. I am always mindful and very aware of this time of year.

Easter in my childhood was different than the Easter I have come to know as an adult missionary in Asia. Holy week is the most significant holiday for many here. But, what there is that is holy always leaves me stunned with so many questions.

I remember the chocolate bunny from my grandmother that was childhood Easter.

And the turkey dinner with family that had come from afar.

And the Easter Sunday morning joyous celebrations of Jesus is Risen!

Aside from feeling sad that Jesus had been crucified, there was nothing that felt dark. Easter was safe and warm.

Now, all grown up, with 140 children in my care, I struggle at Easter. There are no chocolate eggs to hide, nor are there roast turkey dinners with families. This is a place where there is no innocence. The darkness of Maudy Thursday and Black Friday is known to even the children—there is darkness and fear.

Men are already preparing. During Easter week, they will walk for hours in the hot streets, beating themselves in a tranquilizing rhythm. Vivid re-enactments of the crucifixion will touch almost every community. They have missed seeing the saving power of the Cross and they hang themselves on makeshift crosses … begging for mercy because of murder, drugs, violence, and hatred. Others beat themselves beyond recognition, begging God to bless them and to please, please, please … forgive them.

The darkness is not only seen. It is felt.

Recently, a little boy stood awkwardly before me, clutching a dirty blue bag of smelly “hand-me-down” clothes. His paperwork said … Foundling. Unwanted. Name unknown. Age unknown. His speech was garbled. His body full of scars. But, it was the terror in his fleeting eyes that struck me. I knelt down. Who did this to you, I asked? I could not help but touch the startling scar, the disfigured leg, and his little cheek. His eyes locked in on mine. I didn’t move.

My heart is heavy. Do we have room, Lord? Can I love another one, Lord? Our home is so full. And some of us are weary … Weary of the fight. Weary of doing good.

Is there any hope?

Suddenly, I see Him. He is there, in the room, His arms outstretched.

Just as His arms were stretched out on that horrible Cross of Calvary.

I hear His voice. I am hope for you. You.

My tears fall like rain.

I AM your Easter, my child.

—Charity and Evan Graff are directors of Gentle Hands in Manila, Philippines, a child and youth welfare agency meant to be on the frontlines of rescue and rehabilitation of the medical, social, and educational needs of at-risk children and youth, working towards improving human community life through the love of Jesus and family-centered care. Gentle Hands is licensed and registered with the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

 

To give online to missionaries Charity and Evan Graff , click here. Project Number 065-0225

To give online to Gentle Hands Ministries, click here. Project Number 740-0166

Relationship. Connectedness. Community.

When I am with a group of human beings committed to hanging in there through both the agony and the joy of community, I have a dim sense that I am participating in a phenomenon for which there is only one word … “glory.” —M. Scott Peck

Wrestling Alone

Failures and fears can drive us into seclusion. When we have problems, we are tempted to wrestle with them alone—where no one else can see the frailty of our humanity. We become fearful that someone will identify our flaws and name our weaknesses, and we hide.

The Power of Community

Today, I was reminded once again of the power of community. It is through community that Christ dispenses courage and hope. It is through community that we voice our fears and failings, yet still know we are a member of the fellowship of believers. It is in community that we develop character. It is in community we find acceptance and identity. It is in community that doubt dissipates.

Truth is relational. People are more apt to hear and receive truth from someone with whom they are in relationship than from a complete stranger. This is the power of community. In community, we experience truth—truth that holds us accountable to one another.

God With Us

One of my favorite names for Jesus is Emmanuel—God with us. It is the “with us” part that I love. Jesus models for us by His very name what it is to be in community. It is to be with one another—in relationship with one another. When it is messy or painful or glorious or even when it is just plain average everyday living—no great high and no deep low—we are called to be with one another.

A Community of Transformation

I currently live and serve in Cambodia. What I love about what I do is that I work within a community to improve people’s lives, speak truth, and live out Christ’s commands in community. My work is about people and transforming lives, but through it my life is also changed. When we are in community, lives are not transformed in isolation, but our transformation touches other lives and can bring change to others. It creates a reverse domino effect. Instead of knocking each other down in succession, we lift each other up!

Relationships. Connectedness. Community

It is the power of community that creates life sustainability on the field. Life can be ridiculously tough on the field. It is sometimes chaotic and filled with many challenges that can suck the life out of you. The only solution to combatting the life drain is a solid relationship with Christ, and being a part of a solid Christian community/family. Clarity and right perspective comes when we live the call of Christ together in community. It is what keeps the world right side up and spinning on its axis.

Relationships. Connectedness. Community. We need all three. As Ecclesiastes 4:9 reminds us: “Two are better than one.”

To enter into a missionary relationship of support and community with Julie, click here. Project Number 065-0223.

Julie Martinez is a Church of God Missionary Coordinator who has been serving in Cambodia since 2007.

Oh, the Beauty of the Cross …

Clarifying Cross

As we took the last ride of this journey, I couldn’t figure out where I was. I knew we were not traveling far from Erlanger Baroness Hospital and as some things were recognizable, I still could not get my bearings together. Then all of a sudden, we turned the corner and I saw a very familiar site. It was the three crosses from one of our churches that are visible to all who travel that stretch of I-75. That familiar feeling was very comforting to me as we pulled into the care facility. The next morning, I went home briefly and as I returned, I snapped a photo.

Summer Joy—her name itself would seem that all was perfect. Our son, Matthew, was one of the ministers at Summer’s home-going service and he reminded us, “A life of joy, however, does not preclude nor prohibit suffering in this life on this side of eternity, and while her life was most certainly one of joy, it would be a denial of reality to suggest that her life was not also a life of suffering. She was certainly not alone in suffering—indeed, no believer is immune to difficulty, calamity, or despair.”

Conquering Cross

As Easter approaches, I am reminded of how our Lord suffered and what the Cross and the Resurrection mean to us. Our general overseer said, “It always seems like death wins, but then Jesus and death stepped into the arena.” I love the quote, “Darkness fell, His friends scattered, hope seemed lost, but Heaven just started counting to three.”

Oh, the beauty of the crosses … I know there are many stories of what a blessing these are to our city and to those who pass them daily at The Crossing Church, but now I have my own story. On Easter weekend, the lights on the crosses will change to red. I will see them again.

Comforting Cross

The crosses also remind us where God demonstrated the ultimate act of love foretold in John 3:16. That love won the ultimate victory over death, hell, and the grave, and it has given us the hope on which we have rested these past several weeks.

To quote the song, “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness; I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name. On Christ, the Solid Rock I stand; all other ground is sinking sand, all other ground is sinking sand.”

God’s love led Jesus to the Cross, and that provided us the hope and the promise that to be absent in the body is to be present with the Lord.  We have always known that Summer’s goodbye is only temporary. We know that we will miss her for the rest of our lives, but we will only miss her for this life, because we know that we will see her again.

God bless you during this Easter celebration!

Summer Joy Propes was the beloved daughter of World Missions Assistant Director Dr. M. Thomas and LaQuita Propes. She made her transition to her heavenly home on March 14, 2017. A memorial fund has been established in her honor: 775-0039

GREECE: United in the Spirit of the Lord

With the Church of God established in 183 nations of the world, it is easy sometimes to overlook some of the countries where God is doing a great work. One such location is Greece, which also comprises 150 inhabited islands.

Legacy

Herodotus Kourpas founded the Church of God in Greece in 1964. The pastor of a group of born-again and Spirit-filled believers, Kourpas became acquainted with Vessie Hargrave, then World Missions director, and the small congregation joined ranks with the Church of God. He later was appointed to serve as overseer. Kourpas passed away in 1998, but during his lifetime of service, the Gospel of Jesus Christ was spread to many places in Greece.

Despite troubles and opposition of the official Greek Orthodox Church (the state religion of Greece), thousands of people were evangelized and hundreds gave their hearts to the Lord. God used ministers of the Church of God to establish missions, Bible studies, and three churches … one in Athens, one in Thiva, and one in Kokkinos Mylos. The pastor at Kokkinos Mylos, Alkis Gatzelias, graduated from the European Theological Seminary in Germany.

Leadership

The present overseer of Greece is Anastassios (Tassos) Aronis, who received his call to the ministry while kneeling in prayer and meditating on the Word of God, specifically Joshua 1:1-9. The Holy Spirit revealed to him he would preach repentance to God’s people and that he would bring God’s people back to the land of his forefathers! Aronis was ordained in the Church of God in 1994. Later, God mightily used him during the European Conference of the Church of God in Kircheim, Germany, in 2001. Shortly thereafter in 2002, he was granted the leadership of the Athens Church of God. The World Missions Board appointed Aronis as overseer to Greece since 2000 until the present time.

Labor

Eighty (80) kilometers from Athens is the church in Thiva, one of the centuries-ancient Greek cities. A population of 35,000, the people are farmers, industry workers, traders, and shop owners. Refugees comprise Pakistanis, Indians, Albanians, and Romanians.

Despite propaganda against them and the persecution of the Greek Orthodox Church, the Thiva church proceeds before each Sunday morning service to teach the Word of God to 12 children—refugees from former Albania (Muslims)—who are accepting the truths of the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The outreach extends to Gypsy camps, as well.

In 2005, the first “Romanian Church of God” was established in Tsesmes, Crete. Since then, several other Romanian churches have been birthed. The first convention of the Churches of God in Greece, held in Athens in 2006, consisted of Church of God Greeks, Romanians, Filipinos, and Africans, as well. Experienced was a new and active vision among leaders to work together in spite of the ethnic and cultural differences, and to be united in the Spirit of the Lord and the denomination. At the beginning of 2008, two Filipino churches were added to the Church of God constituency.

The Church of God in Greece is extremely grateful for the leadership of the Church of God in the United States, Europe, and the World Missions Department for their love and support in accomplishing His mission. They hold in their hearts great anticipation for all God is going to perform through them in the near future.

 

 

 

Cultural Immersion of Missionaries

Parachurch Missionaries in the Philippines, Jeffrey and Emily Weimert, experienced “cultural immersion” upon arriving for their assignment in the Philippines. Earlier last year, the Weimerts completed their training in Thailand and moved the family to Iloilo City, Philippines.

While in Thailand, the Weimerts’ family of eight became friends with Pao, Khem, and their two daughters Pon and Mang Pua. They were self-proclaiming Buddhists, but were open to the Christian faith. Jeff, Josiah, and Byron stayed in their home for 10 days to experience “cultural immersion.” Emily, T’Aunie, Selah, Trin, and Avi stayed with another family. The Thai family had already received sown seeds of the Gospel into their lives from some Brazilian missionaries.

Each evening, Pao allowed the reading of the Bible together. Pao desired to know more and it was a blessing that Josiah led some of the discussions and studies. All the children became great friends, and they gladly accepted the invitation to attend church. After attending church on Sunday morning, the two families would spend the rest of the day sightseeing and preparing dinner together. Khem told one of the missionaries she felt something inside her “come alive” when in church, and the preaching always spoke to her.

A few days before the Weimerts left, Khem confessed she was a Christian! Although not sure she understood, the Weimerts could see the Holy Spirit working in her heart and knew He would lead her the way. After leaving Thailand, the Weimerts received a photo of Khem being baptized! PTL! Her husband, Pao, however, as yet feels the weight of his Buddhist ancestry.

Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).

Project Number 065-0951

SERVING ORPHANS WORLDWIDE (SOW)

No doubt, orphaned children are among the most vulnerable populations on earth. With nearly 160,000,000 children who do not have a family to call their own, it is difficult for anyone to ignore this crisis.

If all these children were to come together, they would make up the 10th largest nation in the world. While the scope of this crisis is overwhelming, there is only one organization in existence today with the current global network, number of people, resources, and mission to do something about this tragedy. That organization is the Church!

As Christians, we have a biblical mandate to care for widows and orphans, and serve “the least of these.” Few things should grieve our hearts more than knowing there are literally 160 million children without a forever home, a family, and in many cases, basic needs, clothing, an education, and adult mentors who can share the love of Christ.

The best scenario for each of these children is adoption into a family. It was once said that if each church had just one family who could adopt an orphan, the orphan crisis could end in our lifetime. For the first time in history, we live in a generation with global communication and networking capabilities to reach others hurting on every continent.

Although statistics look grim for the vast majority of these children, Saving Orphans Worldwide will never give up! SOW exists to rescue, train, and sustain struggling homes and connect the children with Christian families when possible. For the 99 percent of orphans who will not be adopted this year, SOW wants to do everything it can to meet their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs by the time they reach adulthood.

World Missions shares a partnership with SOW, and this article was first published in their newsletter. To contact SOW, call 866.580.5700, or email info@soworldwide.org/donate

THE GREAT COMMISSION AND DISASTER RELIEF – PART THREE

Part Three

On April 25, 2015, I departed Kathmandu, Nepal, at 8:00 am following a week of ministry in that important nation. By the time my plane landed in Delhi two hours later, the “Gorkha Earthquake” had struck the Valley, as well as the Himalayas killing 9,000 and injuring another 22,000 people. Immediately, World Missions leadership was in communication with the global church and began mobilizing relief assistance. North America, Latin America, and Europe joined forces to bring hope to hurting and homeless victims.

In spite of the death and destruction produced by natural disasters, many doors of ministry are opened because of Christian relief efforts around the world. Closed governments and people groups are open to the Gospel when the Church walks out her love and faith through acts of mercy and compassion in times of desperation. Today, Nepal represents the world’s leading nation for the growth of Christianity as a result of agape love … a tangible, unconditional expression of God’s presence and care experienced by real people in their moment of crisis. Four hundred (400) communities in West Nepal that have no witness of the Gospel have been targeted for church planting over the next 10 years.

There is a direct and important impact between disaster relief and fulfillment of the Great Commission!

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We know disaster will happen. We just don’t know when.

This is part three of a three part article.

Project Number 765 – 0036 Disaster Relief

Kenneth Anderson serves as World Missions Coordinator of Unreached People Groups. He and his wife, Karen, have served as missionary aviators, overseers, superintendent, and missions representative, as well as, field director of Asia. He also is the Vice-President of Operations of Serving Orphans Worldwide, a partner of Church of God World Missions.