Projects and Missionaires in Europe/Middle East
Recent Stories from Europe/Middle East

FINISH CHALLENGE: ISRAEL UPDATE

FINISH CHALLENGE: ISRAEL, formerly known as Israel Initiative, is in full swing and ministry in the Homeland is producing much fruit! The needs in Israel are still great; however, our Church of God team is making significant strides. Holly and I are honored to serve alongside such dedicated and talented souls who are giving everything to serve all the people in the land of Israel.

Shawn & Holly Baker

Israel’s first Christian Arabic-speaking station

Our current Missions overseer for the state of Israel, Gary Hull, is now operating as station manager of Israel’s first Christian Arabic-speaking station on AM1287 called: “Voice of Hope for the Middle East.” We praise God for this amazing endeavor already impacting Syria, Lebanon, Cyprus, and Jordan. In addition, the station is reaching into Turkey and Egypt during the night hours.

Congregation in Lod

Our Arab congregation in Lod, Israel, is expanding and needing financial support to accommodate this growing faith community. Pastor Abdallah Khuri stepped out on faith to support the growing spiritual needs for the body of Christ in Lod, and is currently dedicated to full-time ministry. You can support his efforts by your donation to COGWM, referencing project #499-9034-005.

Journey Home Tour

June 14-24, the Israel Initiative is leading a Journey Home Tour, where we will be visiting a plethora of biblical sites and several of our projects on the ground. Travelers making the pilgrimage are coming from as far away as Hawaii, Ohio, Kentucky, and Illinois.

Mount of Olives Ministry Center

In addition, our Church of God Ministry Center is now ready to host missions teams who may be seeking to impact the people of Israel with the love of Yeshua. If you have a team of 8-12 individuals and would like to serve in the land of Israel, consider utilizing our beautiful Mount of Olives complex for your housing needs. The center is equipped with a beautiful chapel, kitchen, and wonderful living spaces for your team … not to mention, it overlooks the Temple Mount!

Aboud Christian Academy

Lastly, we would like to invite you to support a life-giving miracle birthed by Missionary Margaret Gaines and is currently being led by Head of School, Suhaila El Khoury. The Aboud Christian Academy is a vehicle of hope for the Middle East. Christ-centered education is the only way to ensure long-term and lasting peace. Through the Christ-centered education offered at Aboud Christian Academy, hearts and minds are being captured by the love of Christ. Please consider becoming a partner, and may you be blessed by this quick two-minute video on the COG Aboud Christian Academy.

(Click here to view a short Video)

Bishop Shawn Baker

Senior Representative

Church of God’s Israel Initiative

THE NIGHTMARE CONTINUES

A mere three years ago, world headlines were dominated by the military conflict in Eastern Ukraine—first, the annexation of the Crimean Peninsula by Russia, and the takeover of major areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts in the east (known as the Donbas region). During the first months of the conflict, there was an enormous amount of insecurity, as the borders of the conflict were changing daily.

But, the world’s attention to Ukraine was short-lived as other major world events unfolded throughout the year: the disappearance of a Malaysian Airlines flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, the Ebola epidemic in Africa, the rise of Isis in Syria and Iraq, and domestically the Ferguson, Missouri, riots. To this day, fighting continues in the Donbas region in Eastern Ukraine, claiming almost 10,000 fatalities and trapping over six million people in the contested area.

The war destroys not only thousands of houses, but millions of destinies. Innocent children play in streets and on playgrounds without suspecting the impending danger of a mortar shelling. Even if they survive the explosion, they have been robbed their childhood. The elderly are especially impacted, since they often do not have the financial means to travel or relocate to a safer location.

The Church of God had nine congregations located inside the area controlled by the pro-Russian separatists. (Two of the congregations have since been closed.) However, the nearby churches that are outside the warzone have risen to the occasion to provide for the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of those strongly affected by the military conflict. Also, the Church of God has introduced its own chaplains into the Ukrainian army, giving pastoral care to the soldiers in their units.

Church of God World Missions, along with local ministers and humanitarian aid teams, have been actively evacuating refugees from the war and supplying food, water, blankets, clothing, and medical supplies to those living along the demarcation line. To date, we have 27 feeding stations that also serve as centers for counseling and worship services. Hundreds of people have accepted Christ as a result of the humanitarian aid efforts throughout the region. Some of the feeding stations have even developed into fully-organized congregations.

Unfortunately, there is no end in sight to the fighting in Eastern Ukraine, despite the Minsk Agreement. Daily, there are attacks along the demarcation line between the Ukrainian army and the pro-Russian separatists’ forces. Food and water, clothing, and blankets will continue to be in short supply as long as the war continues.

Continually aware of disasters around the world, Church of God World Missions is on the scene immediately, offering funds, support, and prayer. To meet the needs of disasters when they happen, World Missions is emphasizing Disaster Relief during the month of June. Your participation is not only essential, but deeply appreciated.

Project #765-0036

THE PAUL McLAUGHLAN MEMORIAL PROJECT

In memory of Paul McLaughlan Sr. and in honor of his ministry of 40 years with the Church of God and in support of the Initiative of Church Planting by the Church of God International Offices, Church of God World Missions and the Church of God Scotland National Church have created a special Paul McLaughlan Memorial Project to help plant and establish churches in Scotland—Project #132-9213.

Paul McLaughlan, Sr. was a man who had confidence in God’s call on his life. Like Abraham he was called out from the comfort of his home and place where he had an established ministry to a place he did not know.

While living in Lancaster, England, God called, assured, and convinced Paul through three seemingly impossible events that he was to plant a church in Inverness, Scotland. Events, Paul told his family, three events that must take place if they were to make this move.

First, the move must cost them nothing (someone would have to move their belongings and all 16 members of the family to Inverness). Second, their house must sell to the very first person who came to look at the house. And third, the entire family must agree to the move, including the young wives of his two sons. Miraculously, all three events occurred in just a few days, confirming that God was calling him to take his family, move to Inverness, and plant a church.

On Wednesday, May 18, 2017, almost 40 years to the date of his arrival at Inverness, Scotland, Paul McLaughlan, Sr. breathed his last and peacefully passed from this world into the arms of Jesus.

Please join us in celebrating the life and ministry of Paul McLaughlan, truly a pioneer Pentecostal church planter, by giving a financial gift in his memory to support the planting and establishing of churches in Scotland.

CHURCH OF GOD MINISTRIES IN MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

MISSIONARIES TO THE MIDDLE EAST

The second Church of God missionary reached the Middle East on November 10, 1910. Lillian Trasher caught her first glance of Alexandria, Egypt, and took from there the train to Asyut at the Nile River, and eventually become known to everyone as the Mother of the Nile. In the beginning, no Pentecostal missions organization was willing to support her extensively, in spite of the fact that the Church of God Evangel constantly appealed to its readers for support. Since funds did not come in as expected, her fellow missionary R.M.

Paul and Gabi Schmidgall
Regional Superintendent MENA

Evans had to return home from the field, and Lillian ultimately had to turn to other sponsors for her orphanage and the Egyptian mission.

CHURCH OF GOD MINISTRY TO THE MIDDLE EAST

After World War II, Revs. Hatfield, Margaret Gaines, Arlene Miller, Salomon Douhne, Gary Hull (Holy Land), Drs. Robert O’Bannon, Samir Yousef (Egypt), K.O. Mathew (UAE), Sushil Mathew (Kuwait), and many others continued with the ministry of the Church of God in the Middle East. Today, in more than 10 countries, there are 300 churches (one of them just outside of Mecca, Saudi Arabia) and over 10,000 members, with a training institution of higher learning in the United Arab Emirates (Gilgal Theological Seminary), as well as television and radio stations in Egypt and the Holy Land that broadcast the gospel to all the regions of MENA. Thousands have responded by mail to these programs, hundreds are coming to the Lord, and are also enrolled in online discipleship programs.

TRAINING MINISTERS OF THE MIDDLE EAST

In Germany, at the European Theological Seminary (in cooperation with Lee University) young men and women from MENA are training to minister among their own. Over the last two years, thousands of refugees have been baptized and new churches have been established. Through the ministry of the students of ETS, hundreds were baptized and Iranian, Afghan, Kurdish, and Arabic churches have been established. We are so grateful to the Lord to be involved in this ministry, because in the past, it has been very difficult for me as superintendent of the Middle East to travel to these restrictive countries of MENA, like Iran, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia. Now, the Lord has brought many refugees of these countries to us and we can preach the gospel to them without limitations. Many of them were saved and now study at ETS to become leaders in their churches in Europe or return to their homelands to share the good news of Jesus Christ in their countries that are not easily accessible by foreign missionaries!

                                                                                                —Paul Schmidgall

                                                                                                   Superintendent, Middle East

                                                                                                     President, ETS

[1] Church of God Evangel, Jan. 3, 1914, 3; Aug. 15, 1914, 7. Aug. 1, 1917, 2.

[2] Wanda Thompson LeRoy, Lucy Leatherman: “I Trust God”. Missionary Hero Series (Cleveland, TN: Pathway Press, 2012, 16-19.

[3] LeRoy, Lucy Leatherman, 21.

[4] Stanley M. Burgess and Gary B. McGee, Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movement (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1988), 201.

GARY HULL— MANAGER OF STATE APPROVED CHRISTIAN RADIO STATION

The State of Israel, in an unprecedented decision, has allocated a radio broadcast frequency to an American Christian evangelical radio network that will broadcast messages of hope and peace to the people in Syria, Lebanon, Cyprus, and Jordan and expanded night-time coverage into Turkey and Egypt. This is the first time a Christian broadcast frequency has been granted in Israel and the first domestic radio station with international purpose (from a news release by Strategic Communications Group).

The new Christian Radio station “Voice of Hope for the Middle East” (AM 1287) was dedicated at the end of March in a live on-air broadcast featuring president and founders John and Heather Tayloe and General Manager Gary Hull, Church of God overseer—Israel/Palestinian Authority Area. Broadcasts are in Arabic and some English to the Arab population.

Israel’s Minister of Communication, Tzachi Hanegbi stated: “This radio station exemplifies the deep connection and unique bond that Israel has with the American people and between Jews and Christians. We are certain that the message of hope that will be brought by the station will be an uplifting tool and a benefit to our neighbors. The State of Israel supports any message of peace to the people in neighboring countries and this is why we decided to support the reestablishment of the Voice of Hope.”

The Voice of Hope is a gift of love from Christians in the United States and Canada.

PRAGUE: FILLED WITH INDIFFERENCE AND SKEPTICISM

When I first moved to Prague, Czech Republic, many stateside supporters had heard little about it; however, that did not last long. After hitting multiple top-10 lists for best places to visit in Europe or most beautiful cities in the world, Prague has become a major tourist destination. In less than three decades after the fall of the Iron Curtain, it has developed into an extremely modern, cosmopolitan, and increasingly affluent city.

This could deceptively lead one to assume that there are few challenges to life and ministry here. Even though its skyline is formed by cathedral spires and its streets filled with religious art and sculptures, Prague is regarded as the most atheistic city in Europe and one of the least-believing in the world.[1]

Czechs are among the most educated and well-read in Europe[2]. The average one you meet is likely to have some historical knowledge of Christianity, but unlikely to have had any significant encounter with a believing Christian.

While there is no longer state-sponsored persecution of religion, there persists a large degree of indifference or skepticism towards it.

Unfortunately, in centuries prior to communism, the soil of Prague was bloodied in religious feuds and holy wars. One student worded her view this way, “Organized religion is a man-made invention that has always been used to control others.” This heartbreaking view of the church is one I have heard echoed time and again here.

So, how does one effectively minister in this context? How do we operate as a lighthouse in such a spiritually dark environment? While it is a question we continually ask ourselves, and remain open to learning more, our team has experienced some ways that are more effective in allowing God’s love and light to shine through us here.

One very important way is partnering with the local church. The Church of God has existed in Czech Republic for nearly seven years. Our local congregation is pastored by national bishop, Jerry Lillard, and recently adopted the name “Life Church[3]” due to its mission to bring God’s life into the community. The mission statement is to “Love God, love people, and live a life that truly matters.” It operates a “Life Center,” or community center, directed by Ulli Lillard, which reaches out in culturally relevant ways, including summer English camps and weekly after-school clubs.

Our missions team consists of three full-time missionaries, all of whom have a Master’s degree in counseling, including one Licensed Professional Counselor, Kelly Myers, and one trained Art Therapist, Michelle Saint-Loth. We each counsel individuals weekly, from within and outside the church, but also have partnered with the Life Center to respond to felt needs in the community. These include offering workshops for teachers and children in local schools on topics like bullying, healthy emotions, self-esteem, and suicide prevention. We also hosted art therapy groups for mothers in a local shelter, helped lead “Celebrate Recovery[4]” groups, parenting seminars, and are working towards cancer support groups. These are opportunities to build bridges between the church and community and will, prayerfully, help redefine the church in the eyes of society as a redemptive force for good.

We seek to offer services that are truly life-giving and can only do so through operating in, and bearing witness to, the true Source of Life. The goal is that the light of God’s love for the people here will be evident and proclaimed in both word and deed. Please pray for us and for the city of Prague to be a lighthouse in this region!

Sabrina “Sunny” Evans is a long-time missionary to the city of Prague, one of the Lighthouse Cities. She will play an intregal part in training ministers and helping plant churches there.

[1] The Washington Post. “Map: These Are the World’s Least Religious Countries,” by Rick Noack. April 14, 2015.

[2] “Which Country Reads the Most?” by Jason English. Source: World Culture Score Index @Amazing Maps, 2014

[3] www.lifechurch.cz

[4] Celebrate Recovery is a Christ-Centered 12-Step recovery program, www.celebraterecovery.com

To give online, click here: cogwm.org/prague