MOTHER TO MOTHER

Unless it is brought to our attention, we do not always grasp the magnitude of what it means to oversee an orphanage. Charity Graff and her husband, Evan, have operated Gentle Hands in the Philippines since 2002, and she carries a heavy burden for the children with whom she is involved.

A rather different aspect of the acquiring of orphanage children is related in her recent newsletter:

“She came in. Angry and hard. As expected. I asked questions; gently, but firmly … letting her know this was serious. She answered. Without much adieu, with tears in her eyes, she held the pen awkwardly, poised.

I held my breath for a moment, but she signed … in faith that my promise of caring for and loving her child was true—the document terminating her rights as mother over her child that she had not seen in over 10 years!”

You may question the circumstances. Charity had arrived at the overflowing jail where the stench of unbathed human bodies permeated the corridors. She was ushered into the warden’s office, where she waited for the mother she was to interview … the one who was to sign rights to her child over to Gentle Hands.

As Charity left the confines of the prison, the burden of reality weighed heavily upon her shoulders. The woman’s son was now in Charity’s care, and would be a candidate for adoption.

Charity prayed for strength to love this boy, as a mother should, tenderly and to prepare him so that one day, when his adoptive mother would come to pick him up, Charity can, too, surrender him to her … and wanting her to understand the sacrifice made so that he could be her son.

Click here to partner with Gentle Hands orphanage in the Philippines: Project #065-0225

 

 

FLOODING IN BANGLADESH LEAVES NEEDS

Bangladesh, has recently experienced severe flooding, leaving people homeless, starving, and in alarming conditions. Church of God World Missions Asia/Pacific Field Director Andrew Binda received this message from its leadership:

“We hope you can pray for us and the villages enduring these horrible conditions and hard times. We ask if you can give us some support to help the families that have been affected by the flooding. The families have no food, water, or shelter.” The message further stated what some may not consider: “Many of the animals needed to support families living in steady and healthy places are dying due to the flooding, as well. The people of Bangladesh are suffering deplorable conditions and they need your help! The last time Bangladesh flooded like this was in the 1980’s. Please keep us and Bangladesh in your prayers.”

Bishop Binda immediately sent a small allotment from the limited funds on hand to help. International World Missions Dr. Director David Griffis and Assistant Director Dr. M. Thomas Propes have also responded, opening the door for many donors to join in and from their own means make a substantial difference. Their petition is: “Please help us respond immediately when disaster looms over people like the darkest night.”

We are admonished in Isaiah 58:10: “Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon.

Bangladesh is not a highly-industrialized nation with reserves for such situations. It is up to you and me to be God’s helping hands for those who have lost all but what they can carry in their arms.

Give now, give liberally, give in love!

Click here to make a difference in Bangladesh: Project 765-0053-012

Bangladesh Flood Relief from Church of God World Missions on Vimeo.

MARK CHEN: FORMER REPRESENTATIVE TO TAIWAN PASSES

Bishop Chen Yung-Chia (Mark Chen), who served as Church of God representative to Taiwan from 1984 to 2008, passed away Wednesday, September 6, 2017, at the age of 88. He was the founder of the Church of God in Taiwan, having continued to build 11 church buildings in mainland China (his homeland) from the church base in Taichung.

“Pastor Mark Chen Day” was a proclamation from General Overseer Tim Hill given to Mark and Ruth Chen. Regional superintendent Tommy Smith and longtime missionary to Taiwan, Crystal Walker, are presenting the award.

Pastor Chen also had a vibrant ministry among the underground Chinese house churches, which grew to over 3,000 weekly. He and many of his church members helped smuggle Bibles into China to thousands who had never owned a Bible in their lives. His local church gave liberally to World Missions so the Gospel could be propagated regularly in a country with millions of souls.

Regional superintendent of Southern Pacific, Tommy Smith, tells us: “As a missionary, the Lord allowed me to meet many ‘generals’ of the faith that serve on the frontlines of God’s harvest field. Pastor Mark Chen was certainly one of those. He will be missed!”

Former missionary to Taiwan (1982-1992), Crystal Walker remembers Pastor Chen as an amazing man of many talents and gifts. She says: “Bless you, Pastor Chen, and may you now live in the presence of Jesus, who once brought you back from the dead only to give you life eternal later.”

Each year, Pastor Chen prepared a beautiful church calendar featuring his lovely Chinese calligraphy artwork (which ranks among the finest in the world) for Chinese Christians worldwide.

Mark Chen is survived by his wife, Ruth, three adult children (one of whom, David and his wife Cynthia, serves as the pastoral team and current Church of God representative), and six grandchildren.

You may send condolences to the Chen family via David’s email, chenliu@hotmail.com

 

THE SALVATION STORY OF PREMADASA GINIGALGODA

Premadasa Ginigalgoda is the overseer of Sri Lanka, an island country located southeast of India, and is home to many cultures, languages and races. The 2016 population estimation is 21.20 million, and Buddhists comprise 70 percent of that number. Buddhism has a 3,000-year history in India. The Church of God entered Sri Lanka in 1997.

After World War 2, Sri Lanka experienced great poverty, which has continued its hold on the nation since. As a young child, Premadasa had a pet calf, but because they had no money, and his sister was seriously ill, his calf was sold to save her life. His mother encouraged him to go to the Buddhist temple at age 12 where he could earn money, be educated, and have status. Yet, Premadasa knew the Buddhist life was not the answer to eternal life. Frustrated, he began reading the Bible at age 21, although he did not understand it. However, his heart was captured by Jesus Christ. Premadasa realized he was not to worship idols. This caused quite a stir among the other monks. When asked by the priest why he was disobeying, he stated he would respect only the precepts and the good things, and live according to his conscience.

Destiny would have it that Premadasa found a Christian pamphlet, and in his sleep one night, revelation came. He heard the voice of Jesus say … “Son, I love you and gave My life for you!” An overwhelming peace came over him. The Lord led him to a pastor who provided him a home and instruction; later Premadasa attended Bible school and went into the ministry.

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ANDREW BINDA REPORTS ON SL2C: MANILA, PHILIPPINES

Manila, Philippines is a city of contrasts. Like all world class cities, it is all there in Manila: tall skyscrapers, malls, condominiums, casinos, 5-star hotels, restaurants, a booming business district and people; almost two million. In Manila, you will find the young and old, the rich and the poor, and yes, light and darkness. Yet in the midst of the darkness, there is a ray of light- Church of God Marriott Manila, led by Pastor AJ Velasco.

Field Director Andrew Binda; Manila Metro Overseer Navaro; COG Mariott Manila Pastor A. J. Velasco

Two years before COG World Missions dreamed of the Send the Light to the Cities initiative, pastor AJ had the vision to reach his city for the Lord.  In his own words, we must, “Go to the city and make our presence felt because that is where the people are,” it is where they study, work, live and are entertained. Upon choosing Manila as one of the Lighthouse Cities, we decided instead of “reinventing the wheel”, we would partner with this existing, but relatively new ministry to accomplish the vision of Church of God World Missions Director, Dr. David M. Griffis. To quote Dr. Griffis, “A church that loves the world with a John 3:16 passion cannot take its evangelism mandate seriously without looking to the cities.”

Presently, Church of God Marriott Manila has over 200 congregants on a weekly basis.  Converts are trained to become “disciples making disciples.”  A facility has been secured in a strategic location, which will function as an operational hub for the ministry. This facility will be used as a Discipleship Training and Church Planting Center. The cost to secure the facility is $250 000 USD and we have set this amount as our goal for this particular project. We are hoping to raise these funds prior to the upcoming 2018 General Assembly. Several states have pledged their support, however we are still in need of other donors. Please prayerfully consider giving to the Lighthouse City of Manila -Church of God Marriot Manila.  Donations should be sent to Church of God World Missions, PO Box 8016, Cleveland, TN 37320: Project #102-9435-006.

With the help of the Lord and through your faithful giving, we will transform this city from a City of Darkness to a City of Light.  Jesus Christ is the Light of the World (John 8:12) and according to John 12:46 that Light has come into the world.  I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness. NKJV.

– Andrew Binda is the Field Director for COGWM Asia/Pacific

Click here to support the SL2C work in Manila: Project 102-9435-006

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SEMINAR IN MIDDLE EAST

A seminar themed “Youth Leadership to Spread the Gospel” was recently held in Joseph Colony Lahore where earlier this year Muslims burned 125 Christian homes. Through the seminar, the 75 participants were restored by the Word of God, and are focusing on spreading Jesus’ Gospel.

The workshops featured evangelism and soul winning, plus the attendees learned new ideas and practical strategies for effective leadership in the Great Commission.

Those present expressed their desire for more seminars of instruction, and felt the timing perfect for the beginning and conclusion of the seminar. Another idea was to improve the location where the seminar is held. Everyone enjoyed the excellent food provided.

To God be the glory for the growth of His kingdom in this area of the Middle East, and for those who were restored and encouraged in the work of the Lord! Another seminar is planned soon entitled, “Obedience to the Great Commission.”

Click Here to support and partner with Project #731-1136-233

 

AGRICULTURAL TRAINING OPENS DOORS TO THE GOSPEL

Parachurch Missionaries Jeff and Emily Weimert serve in the Philippines.

Jeff recently had the opportunity to travel to Boracay with two of his mentors where they taught natural farming methods to over 35 local farmers. One of the mentors is a Christian businessman.

The team also taught the farmers how to establish a market for the natural produce they will grow. Boracay is a major tourist area, and features a world-famous beach. Obviously, the resorts and restaurants lacked access to fresh local produce, and the produce they do have access to is expensive and is transported from great distances.

The farmers were introduced to the resorts and restaurants, and were able to establish a connection to meet both needs … the farmers needed a way to sell what they produce and the resorts needed fresh local produce. God always makes a way.

The agricultural training is used to reach into communities that may be closed to the Gospel. In teaching this farming method, a local pastor has gone into several communist and Muslim communities. They gladly open their villages to him, and he uses the Bible as a means to teach. In some locations, the pastor has begun Bible training and theology classes.

The Weimerts want to continue to reach these communities and to see them transformed.

Click here to support the Weimarts: Project #065-0951

 

ONE OF THE MOST MIRACULOUS THINGS …

Benjamin Salmon, a short-term missionary-at-large, reveals one of the most miraculous things he has seen God do on the missions field:

“A couple of years ago, we met a young man named “Dek.” Dek is Filipino and he lives in one of the poorest and most violent slums of Manila. From a young age, he was part of a gang. His hunched shoulders caused him to stand a little lower than his 5 ft. 9 in. height. His tough, bracing stare easily made him seem like the kind of guy you wouldn’t want to cross paths with alone on the street. It wasn’t uncommon for him to be involved in gang fights; friends dying from knife wounds and drug overdose was typical among his circle. Dek was headed down the exact same path as so many before him … stuck in violence, in poverty, in a life of pain. For generations, his family had lived in the slums, had been part of gangs, and died young.

“But then Dek met Jesus, and Jesus completely rewrote his future! When you meet Dek now, you would never guess his past. His warm smile, welcoming eyes, and confidence invite strangers to sit by him for hours telling him their stories. He’s become a leader among his neighborhood and many others, mentoring little boys and keeping them out of gangs. He is the example of manhood to fathers in the slums … the example of what you can become, the example of hope in his community. This year, Dek is graduating from college. His dream is to be a pastor. He’s made missions trips to another country to help raise leaders from within the slums of Myanmar to share the Gospel. Not only has Dek’s life been completely rewritten, but so has his little brother’s, his father’s, his friends, and many generations to come.

“It’s an incredible miracle every time someone meets Jesus!

“Often, we think that miracles are only magical signs and wonders from heaven (the blind seeing, the crippled walking), but watching a life that was headed for pain, for destruction and evil being completely turned around into a life that brings Jesus to others, is a miracle in and of itself. Salvation is beautiful!”

Click here to support the Salmons as they minister to those who need a new future.

Note: A short-term missionary-at-large is a person who desires to serve less than four years, typically a few weeks or months at a time. They feel compelled to share the Good News in another culture, but do not desire to make it a lifetime commitment. Short-term missionaries are volunteers who wish to use their talents for the Lord, and the Church of God simply provides an opportunity and place for their involvement.

 

 

 

 

FINDING A FOREVER FAMILY

When is it my turn?”  “Will I be next?”

These are just some of the questions often asked by orphaned children when one of their friends in an orphanage finally gets to leave with an adoptive family. As heartbreaking as these questions are to hear asked, especially when grabbing your hand or sitting beside you with longing eyes, the more poignant moments come when a child distances him/herself from everyone as you break the news one of the other kids has been chosen by an adoptive family. The unspoken pain of wanting to belong in a family is in every child’s heart.

The term “Forever Family” is widely used in circles of adoption. It is a concept used to describe the sense of permanency, of having been chosen, of not being left behind. For adoptive parents, it gives assurance that the child they have adopted will not be taken away from them. For believers like us, it is a descriptive term that reminds us “family” is one of God’s institutions to demonstrate His eternal plan to adopt and make us His very own.

Like other licensed child-caring institutions, Samaritan’s Place exists to bridge the gap and help children who have known great loss; loss of parents, a sense of security, and of feeling protected. Our part, then, is to care for these orphaned children … for a time. With a goal to prepare them for adoption—legally, emotionally, spiritually, and relationally—we try to do it with the utmost excellence. They are worth it—to Him and to us!

When an orphaned child is admitted at Samaritan’s Place, we first conduct due diligence in searching for family members that might want to take them. We make sure all possible chances of reunification have been exhausted. If that is not possible, and no forever family is found for them in the Philippines, their journey then begins toward a foreign forever family.

Christ’s words in James 1:27, to care for orphans, reverberates true in our hearts as we do our part in living out pure religion and undefiled. As long as orphaned children in the Philippines need a place, we will be here for them. Our prayer at Samaritan’s Place, though, is that we would all lose our jobs, because that will mean every child has a home and a forever family.

Click here to support the ministry of Samaritan’s Place: Project Number 062-0001-019

Samaritan’s Place is an effective children’s home in the Philippines with a successful adoption program. Marilen and Marc Morris oversee this fruitful ministry for orphaned children.

NORTHERN INDIA REPORTS SALVATIONS AND WATER BAPTISMS

Benny John, overseer of the East Central Region/India, reports the work in his area of administration has spread into 13 states of North India where 22 different languages are spoken. (Northern India is where the largest concentration of Unreached People Groups are located) The majority of the ministries are among the tribes.

Salvations and Water Baptisms

In recent conventions and conferences, 400 people came to the saving knowledge of Christ, and 127 individuals were water-baptized.

Bible Schools

The two Church of God Bible schools functioning in Calcutta (West Bengal) and Renukot (Uttar Pradesh), provide Hindi and English teachers for the classes. Students who graduated from the Bible school earlier are now serving the Lord in different locations of the region. Tailoring schools have been established in various states to give instruction to poor women so they can provide a living for themselves. It is a door of opportunity to share Jesus Christ with those who have not heard His message.

Church Buildings

Very few congregations own church buildings, and meetings are conducted in rented facilities. Multiple issues face these congregations, as permission in conducting meetings at some locations is revoked and when they move to another facility, they are charged a higher amount of rent. A newer congregation has about 45 in attendance each Sunday. The crisis can be reduced to some extent if a village church can be erected at a cost of only $6,000.

Although the constituency in this area have struggles, they persist in their love for God and will not allow the enemy to hinder their devotion to Him.

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Click here to contribute online to COGWM’s Unreached People Groups Fund.