THANKFUL FOR THE HARVEST

“But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come” (Mark 4:29).

The autumn of the year, though different in scenic beauty from land to land, always reminds us of harvest time. There was a time to plant and sow, and another time for sun and rain and growth. Now the grain is garnered and the fruit is plucked and stored. The harvest prepares the gatherer for the time of the unknown, when only the fruits of the harvest ensure the sustaining of the future. It was with this in mind that Jesus compared the winning of the lost souls of men and women to a time of harvest. He said, “Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest” (John 4:35).

Throughout the earth today, the souls of men and women, boys and girls, make up the worldwide harvest of the Church, the Body of Christ. God’s Kingdom grows daily as the Gospel is preached and people accept Christ as Savior and Lord. For this harvest, we should be very thankful as we count our blessings at Thanksgiving.

First, we are thankful God has prepared the places, or ground, of harvest. The people of our age and time are coming to the realization that unless there is peace of the soul, there can be no happiness of life. Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you” (John 14:27). Our world is a rich, fertile ground of harvest.

Second, we are thankful for the means of harvest. Our time has seen the rapid escalation of technology, which has allowed the spread of the Gospel throughout the entire earth. Jesus foresaw this time and said, “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then the end shall come” (Matthew 24:14).

Finally, we should be thankful for the substance of the harvest. The harvest of these last days looks like a microcosm of Heaven itself. People from every kindred, tongue, and nation are finding Christ as Savior. People of the deserts, mountains, rainforests, plains, and forested hills are finding Jesus. From every ethnicity, they sing praises of His redeeming power and grace. John, in his Revelation vision saw and heard the voices of this harvest in the eternal presence of God. “And they sung a new song, saying, ‘Thou are worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by the blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation’” (Revelation 5:9).

This Thanksgiving, we give thanks to God for the harvest!

—Dr. David M. Griffis
International Director of World Missions

THE BLESSING OF THE HARVEST

Thanksgiving began as a day of giving thanks to God for the blessing of the harvest during the preceding year. Since my arrival in World Missions, I have been able to see the global harvest first hand; and because of that, a sense of urgency has been ignited in my spirit. As I see the passion and love of Church of God missionaries in 181 countries of this world, it is encouraging to know that our work never ceases. The sun never sets on the gospel being shared internationally! We’ve all heard this – but now I’ve witnessed it and it is more than exciting!

From an orphanage in the Philippines, to a classroom in Germany, to a feeding center in Zambia, to the installation of a water filtration system in Columbia, to an eye examination in Mexico, our missionaries are actively sharing the love of Christ. Our global team does so many great things: they meet urgent physical and emotional needs; they share the Gospel of Jesus Christ; and they disciple new Christians into soul winners in order to reach their own.

This is the harvest for which LaQuita and I are thankful for this season. The harvest of the lost. “The harvest truly is great . . . “, Luke 10:2.

If you are one of the many sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ, LaQuita and I lift you up in prayer today and as Galations 6:9 encourages us “to not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap [the harvest] . . .

May God bless and keep you this Thanksgiving season.

—Dr. M. Thomas Propes
Assistant Director, Church of God World Missions

MARGARET GAINES: Missionary to the Arabs

On Sunday evening, November 19, 2017, Margaret Gaines went to sleep in her home in Pell City, Alabama, and awoke in her heavenly home. The veteran missionary had a deep devotion to Christ, a love for the Arabs, and a passionate desire to serve God and to please Him regardless of the cost.

Margaret was born in 1931 to former missionaries to Japan. She was an eleventh generation missionary on her mother’s side. Margaret’s parents had returned home for lack of financial support, and her father pastored a small congregation. They bathed their home in prayer and mission discussions. When Margaret was nine, her mother died. This created a struggle and questioning spirit in her.

At age 14, Margaret made a full surrender of her life to Christ at the Sixteenth Street Church of God in Anniston, Alabama. The next night, she was baptized in the Holy Spirit. The infilling of the Spirit created in Margaret a hunger to study the Word of God and an intense desire to pray and follow the leading of the Spirit. She enrolled in the Church of God Bible Training School in Sevierville, Tennessee, and graduated from Lee Academy in 1941 and Lee Junior College in 1951 in Cleveland.Margaret Gaines

Josephine Planter, a veteran missionary to Tunisia, spoke during the 1946 Missions Week at Lee. She emphasized that she was 79 years old and had no one to assist her and replace her in the mission work to Arabs. Planter appealed for volunteers. Margaret could not escape the message. Responding to a call to prayer on Sunday evening, she begged God to call missionaries. The Holy Spirit spoke to Margaret: “You have no right to ask that others be sent unless you give Me the chance to turn you down.”

“Oh, God,” Margaret cried, “if I’m fit material for the mission field, do please send me.” God assured Margaret He had chosen her as His representative to the Arabs.

When Margaret met with the World Missions Board for an appointment to Tunisia, they declined to send her, because she was young and single. She was deeply disappointed and returned home to Anniston. While seeking God, Margaret felt compelled to go to Tunisia on her own. On March 25, 1952, she secured an airline ticket to Tunisia, North Africa, and left home with $100 in her pocket.

For one year, Margaret worked with Planter. During the next nine years, she planted the Church of God in Tunisia, evangelized the people, and taught the new disciples. Because of Margaret’s diligence, the World Missions Board gave her a missionary appointment in 1956. After 10 years in Tunisia, political turmoil and health issues forced Margaret to leave for France.

Margaret briefly located to Troyes, France, for recuperation and assisted missionaries Walter and Bobbie Lauster in church planting. In 1964, she responded to a need and was appointed as a missionary to Jerusalem. Margaret taught students at the Church of God on the Mount of Olives and in the summer of 1965 was involved with the establishment of the Middle East Theological Institute. She served in various capacities: house mother, teacher, accountant, and cafeteria manager.

Later that year, Margaret visited Aboud, a small village of olive and almond trees, 33 miles northwest of Jerusalem. She started a weekly Bible study for the children. Because of the interest, Margaret moved to Aboud where she taught three days a week. For four days each week, Margaret taught in Amman, Jordan.

In 1969, Margaret planted a church in Aboud in rented facilities and became the pastor. She also started a school. Margaret drew plans for school desks, benches, and chalkboards. The school was officially opened in August 1970 as the Aboud Elementary School. Three years later, Arlene Miller, an educator from Ohio, joined Margaret as a teacher, and a new school building was constructed.

In 1983, Margaret resigned from the school to spend full time in church work, and Arlene became the principal. Arlene served until 1993 when the school was staffed completely with nationals. The school continues to grow and provides training for elementary, middle, and high school students. Additional land was purchased in 2014.

Margaret continued her education on furlough and earned her bachelor’s degree from Lee University in Biblical Studies and a master’s degree from the Pentecostal Theological Seminary.

In 1995, Margaret started a day care center on the Mount of Olives property in Jerusalem. Because of health reasons, she moved to Alabama in 1996, having served on the mission field for 44 years.

For the next 14 years, Margaret continued her ministry with the people of Aboud through building projects, fundraising, and advisory leadership. After serving in missions for 58 years, she became pastor of the Church of God in Wattsville, Alabama (2010-14).

Margaret has authored three books: Of Like a Passions, Small Enough to Stop the Violence, and Meditations on the Advent Wreath.

Margaret has received numerous awards in recognition of her dedicated ministry: the Spirit of Azusa Award in 2011, the first Circle of Global Impact Award in 2014, and the Lee University School of Religion Distinguished Alumnus in 2015.

Thousands have been blessed by Margaret’s preaching, teaching, and example. She was a unique church leader: teacher, pastor, administrator, architect, builder, writer, and missionary. Margaret was totally committed to following Christ and her faithfulness inspired others to follow Him. For her, a life of service to the world begins and ends with sensitivity to the voice of the Holy Spirit. Margaret’s missionary zeal will continue to affect lives around the world and particularly among her beloved Palestinians.

–Douglas LeRoy
Former World Missions Director

Arrangements for Margaret are as follows:

Sunday, November 26
Harvest Center Church of God in Pell City, AL
Visitation – 4:00-6:00 p.m.
Funeral – 6:00 p.m.

Monday, November 27
Harvest Church of God in Anniston, AL
Visitation – 12:00-2:00 p.m.
Funeral – 2:00 p.m.Margaret Gaines
Burial will follow at Anniston Memorial Gardens

THANKFUL

As a grandmother of six grandsons, one granddaughter, one great-granddaughter, and one great-grandson, my years have seen me through a great deal of blessings and problems. All of which I can now say definitely proved God’s faithfulness to me time and time again.

The words of a well-known minister put into perspective the attitude that “faith eventually turns to trust.” During times of frustration and anxiety, in due time, a feeling of calm hovers over, and one realizes all one can do IS trust … trust God’s character, trust His promises, trust His guidance, and trust His answers.

When there is a major disaster or calamity taking place on the world front, have you perhaps found yourself saying, “Thank you, God, I’m not having to go through that?” One can sometimes even feel guilty about such gratitude. Yet, we know, usually at some point, we, too, can face dire circumstances. Offering our prayers and help financially can bring about God’s protection and provision in our own lives and of those we love. God always is pleased with our gratitude, no matter the situation.

In times when the young children, or even the adult children, are fretful and complaining, I have often said, “But, you have not lost everything to a flood, or a fire, or an earthquake, or had anyone close to you die in those circumstances.” With a reality check, we suddenly are convinced of God’s presence and we become more thankful than we can ever express.

The very fact we have comfortable beds to sleep on, pantries full of food, clean water, waste disposal that works, electricity that powers our appliances, roofs over our heads, and loved ones who are close … YES, we feel extreme thankfulness … thankfulness to God for His loving and constant care. And, thankfulness for His control over our lives, for no matter where we are or what’s going on—God IS there with us!

—Janet Price
Media Team Leader

Margaret Gaines Has Finished Her Earthly Race

Dr. David Griffis, Church of God World Missions Director, has announced that Margaret Gaines, likely the most well-known of all Church of God missionaries, crossed the finish line of her earthly life on Sunday, November 19, 2017. Born in December of 1931, Margaret was the last of seven children born to parents who had served as missionaries to Japan.

Her devotion and dedication to Missions started December of 1946 during a Missions club service at the Bible Training School (BTS). A single woman, Margaret committed herself to serving the Lord relentlessly. In 1952, she arrived in Tunisia, an almost unheard of nation in Africa. She also briefly went to France and Jordan, respectively. But in 1968, her destiny was fulfilled when Margaret was appointed to Israel, and established her ministry in Aboud. The school she began is marching forward and continuing to influence hundreds in its shadow.

Further details of the arrangements are forthcoming.

MISSIONARY THANKS

With the flurry of holiday activities upon us, we sometimes become so busy we fail to pray and think about those individuals who’ve sacrificed home and family to serve on a mission field.

While we may not be thinking necessarily about them, they never forget us … we are their lifeline, a foundation of support both spiritually and financially. Often, missionaries are in situations and dangerous places that prohibit them from expressing the deep gratitude and thanks they have for those who continually give to their ministries. However, they do not take the support lightly, nor for granted.

Facing certain circumstances and difficulties … danger, if you will … missionaries realize in the back of their minds and in their hearts that there are those always standing with them, and they are able to face down whatever lies in their paths.

Emotional support is key to their survival.

‘Tis the season for us to spread the love and hope to those who’ve taken our place to serve on the mission field. As we extend tangible remembrances, they, in turn, have deep and sincere gratitude for all we do for them.

The missionaries do not forget!

“Wherefore we also, after hearing of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints (missionaries), we cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in our prayers” (paraphrased Ephesians 1:15-16).

Project #770-0014

CHANGING A CHILD’S LIFE

Want to make a really tangible change in a child’s life?

In the many Church of God of orphanages around the world, the multiple basic needs of abused and abandoned children are met on a daily basis. Sometimes, though, the medical aspect demands more and resources are stretched to the limit.

At Gentle Hands in Manila, Philippines, three children are in desperate need of surgery next month. As we anticipate the beauty and wonder of the Christmas season, these children are facing greater hardship than usual. One 5-year-old already needed emergency surgery for a bungled colostomy. She will have surgery in December, and one more after that, which will hopefully give her normal body function for the first time in her life.

Gentle Hands ChildrenA 5-month-old baby boy was rescued from the street, neglected by his 15-year-old mother who was an addict. He also will have surgery in December for a serious inguinal hernia.

Another little girl needs immediate surgery for a hole in her heart … one that is literal and not emotional.

Partners are needed to help these precious children. Without the generosity of financial support, it is simply a struggle to fund the medical costs. Consider it as blessing the Christ Child who was born to show love for all orphans and those needing a healing touch through the medical profession.

You can make this Christmas absolutely life-changing for them!

Project #740-0166

SEMILA GRADUATION

The Latin American Intercultural Seminary (SEMILA) celebrated its 7th graduation recently. Nestor and Donata Duque are Church of God associate missionaries. Nestor, as president of this excellent institution, is pleased to acknowledge 52 graduates of all degree levels (Bachelor’s and Certificate). The majority of the graduates are Quichua pastors and church leaders, all of whom will return to their communities in the Andes Mountains of Ecuador. They have a great passion to continue to build God’s Kingdom among the poor and most needy.

SEMILA graduation ceremony

One of the graduates is Fransisco Asitimbay, a well-known Quichua worship singer in Ecuador. While he was studying at SEMILA, he received a calling to pastor. Francisco finished his education and now is in the transition to pastor a church in the Quichua community of Quisapincha. His wife and son also graduated with him! Kelly Vargas, an Afro-Ecuadorian woman, completed her Bachelor in Pastoral Studies and she planted a new church near the border of Peru. She traveled at least seven hours to attend class. Her husband will continue his pursuit of a Bachelor’s degree at SEMILA.

SEMILA is committed to its mission to equip Christian leaders for Christ-centered and Spirit-filled ministries by providing biblical, theological, missiological, and practical education. In 2015, SEMILA was certified as a Church of God Level III Granting Institution.

Besides running the seminary, the Duques also direct a daycare for the poor in the community. Forty-five children, ages 1-3 are assisted daily at their facilities, and they receive three meals a day. The Duques pastor a multicultural church called Iglesia de Dios, “Voluntad de Dios.” On the weekends they direct a knitting project for Quichua women. The Duques go to their communities and provide Bible studies, knitting courses, and spiritual retreats. They experience true joy seeing women build their self-esteem and seeing them grow into strong women of faith.

As missionary educators, the Duques give God all the glory and honor, and are thankful to be part of this mission story among the Quichua people group and the low-income pastors.

Thank you to those who stand with them in this ministry of changing lives.

Donate to SEMILA: 102-9034
Donate to Nestor & Donata Duque: 065-0495

GEORGETOWN – SL2C UPDATE

We are sending the light to Georgetown, Guyana. This capital city is uniquely positioned in South America and full of Caribbean culture and vibrance. Check out the video for more information on our efforts, and find out how you can be involved in making Georgetown a Lighthouse City.

UNIQUELY CALLED AND UNIQUELY QUALIFIED

Natural disasters produce a variety of ministry opportunities, but the opportunities in Puerto Rico following the devastation of Hurricanes Irma and Maria are unparalleled.

Career Medical Missionaries Silvina Gonzalez Barrera and her husband, Guillermo, are in Puerto Rico to lend medical assistance to those desperately needing attention since the hurricanes nearly demolished the island recently.

PR Damage

International World Missions Director Dr. David M. Griffis states: “The Barreras areuniquely called and uniquely qualified for this endeavor. Their willingness to go to a severely affected area speaks of their dedication and devotion to do God’s work anywhere. God has ordained this opportunity for them to be a blessing in an overwhelming situation.”

The goal of the Barreras is to provide psychological assistance and counseling, especially to pastoral families and leaders, at a time when many are greatly discouraged. Medical assistance will also be administered to the leadership families, along with helping communities where Churches of God are located; specifically, San Juan, Mayaguez, Las Marias, and Ponce (13 districts of the island).

Facing the challenges of no water or power as yet, and roads and routes still complicated in reaching areas in need, the Barreras will also conduct workshops targeting post-traumatic stress. They feel no sacrifice is too great to lend their valuable help for the bleak future ahead for Puerto Rico.

International World Missions Assistant Director Dr. M. Thomas Propes says: “World Missions is grateful to be a part of the restoration process following Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Your faithful donations have made it possible for Church of God World Missions to send Drs. Guillermo and Silvina Barrera to Puerto Rico to provide much needed care. May God bless the efforts of this talented couple in Puerto Rico!”

Project #065-0502