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What the World Needs Now

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my personal take on the situation in iraq

What the world needs now is love, sweet love
It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of
What the world needs now is love, sweet love
No not just for some but for everyone

In 1965, as a 9-year-old in California who had just received his first guitar, the words to this song by Jackie DeShannon were very familiar to me. I loved the tune and I loved to play and sing it, but at age 9, I didn’t fully understand what it meant.

The Bible tells us that the world will know we are Christians by our LOVE for one another: “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). I now know what that means, and I try to exemplify it in my life. I fall short of being loving at all times, but it’s always a goal.

So what about the current situation in Iraq? What does this idea of love have to do with anything? Well, I’ve just returned from Kurdistan and Iraq where I was ministering and doing my best to show God’s love to a people who have known war and terror for so many years. I was also there several years ago when ISIS reigned and terrorized the people by killing and destroying entire cities.

Central has taken teams to Iraq for the past 10 years to share the love of God in the midst of destruction and hatred. We have loved the refugees in the camps by sharing with them and by breaking bread in their homes—usually a tent or simple “caravan” (mobile home).

We have brought aid, food, medical supplies and Bibles. We have helped our missionary, Jamal, open a training center to teach refugees skills such as sewing, computer, electrical, hair cutting and styling, music, and many other skills. The students, young and old, leave with the tools they need to utilize their newly learned skills.

We have visited the military and encouraged them as they fought on the front lines against Daesh (ISIS) and other militant groups. We took them food, blankets, and other aid. And always the Word of God, which they received willingly and happily. They thanked us over and over for coming to see them and caring enough to share time and aid with them. They have said over and over how they feel the love of the Americans who come and share with them.

We met with widows who shared story after story of how their sons and husbands died at the hands of ISIS, often by being bombed or shot in their own homes. One lady shared about how ISIS had tortured her son and then sent her photos that would torture her for the rest of her life. It’s hard to know what to say to a mother who has suffered like this. So, we love. What the world needs now is love, and Jesus is love! Our ultimate goal is to bring Jesus to a hurting country and to hurting lives. I don’t care who took the first shot, dropped the first bomb…innocent men, women, and children are paying the price. We are called to love them in many ways: emotionally, spiritually, and tangibly.

I don’t know if the people of Iraq and Iran will ever live in peace, but I do know that many more now know the Prince of Peace because of the faithfulness of our missionaries and the team members who have gone to share His love. I pray that God continues to move in their lives and that one day, they will live in a more peaceful world. In the meantime, we obey and go where God calls us to go!

Thank you Central for your love, your care, and support of our Mission team who do their best to be good stewards of the gifts with which we have been entrusted. We are always looking for ways to bring God’s love to a hurting world.

What the world needs now is Jesus! What we need to do is show the world His love—in St. Louis, in Iraq, and around the world!

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.”

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. John 13:34

And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5:2

If you would like to learn more about Central’s Mission work in Iraq and around the world, contact Pastor Randy Mayfield ( or 314-727-2777), or click on the button below.

Missions at Central

Posted by Randy Mayfield

New Year. New Vision. Same Jesus.

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Insanity, they say, is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results.

And here we are on the cusp of 2020, ushering in a new year and a new decade, and another round of resolutions that can start to feel a bit like “insanity.”

Don’t get me wrong. I like a good resolution. I like this time of year and the idea of a fresh start, a chance to grow and improve.

But the gusto of our new year’s resolutions, in spite of our good intentions, tend to fade and fall flat by the time February gets here…if not sooner. As a pastor, I am intrigued by the human dynamics that unfold within us as we seek to improve ourselves through these annual resolutions. While I’m sure that there are one or two of you (maybe?) out there who can point back to your resolutions of 2019 and see tremendous growth and change, most of us cannot. Most of us find ourselves right back where we started, wondering where we can find the power to grow and change.

Power to grow and change, to be transformed, comes from Jesus. Many of you are familiar with Jesus’ mustard seed exhortation in Matthew 17, “For truly I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.” Taken out of context, this is a maddening verse, especially at this time of year. It might seem that Jesus is telling us to just try harder, just have a little more faith, and the proverbial mountains of our lives will be moved. But the verses preceding this exhortation are essential. This exhortation comes on the heels of a father’s plea on behalf of his son, whom Jesus’ disciples were unable to heal. Jesus heals the son, leaving the disciples perplexed as to why they were unable to do the same. In brief, it comes down to this: Jesus has the power to transform, and we don’t. We cannot experience transformation without the renewing power of Jesus. To try is, well, insanity.

A desire for genuine transformation is at the heart of the new vision statement that we presented at our Town Hall meeting last October:

“Central Presbyterian Church seeks the transformation of our lives, our communities, and the world through the renewing work of Jesus Christ, for the glory of God.”

By design, this statement is an aspirational reminder of the only source that has the power to transform: the Lord. It paints a picture of what we desire to increasingly experience.

As your pastor, I have a deep desire to see transformation in our lives, our church and the world. I think at some level, we all want those things. Our vision statement is an exhortation to all of us that we can only experience those things through the renewing power of Jesus. It is so tempting to think that we are smart enough to plan transformation on our own. If we just work hard enough, and smart enough, maybe make the right resolutions this year, then we will see transformation occur, right? FALSE!  The real challenge in transformation is remembering that Jesus and Jesus alone has the power to transform. Our best plans from our brightest people will fail every time without Jesus as the power source. This is the foundation of our vision statement and the only hope of a fruitful future for our church.

In the coming weeks, I will be writing more to you about this new vision and our future direction as a church. It’s an exciting time, and I’m so thankful that each of you are a part of it. 

Happy New Year, dear friends. I pray that in 2020 we will continue to see Jesus doing a powerful work of transformation in us, and through us, all to his glory.

Posted by Clay Smith with 2 Comments

A Word About Curriculum

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For most of us, summer is the perfect time to rest and recover from a busy season. It’s also a when we make important preparations for the upcoming ministry year.  For the Family Ministries Team, summer preparations usually involve choosing and laying the groundwork for new resources and curricula.
 
So how do we evaluate and implement new curricula? 
 
Family Ministries’ staff and volunteers have often heard my motto: Let the curriculum serve us, not the other way around. This means we should never hesitate to eliminate parts of a program that isn’t effective. It also implies that no curriculum should ever be implemented without care and discernment.
 
We were reminded of this warning in this recent article by Faithfully Magazine which claims that “ROAR”, our recently purchased curriculum for Kids Night Out (our version of VBS) contains dialogue and activities which are racially insensitive. I believe the people who published this curriculum have wonderful, godly intentions. But they definitely missed some things here the first time around. And in my opinion, the concerns listed in the article are insightful, important, and raise awareness for all of us.
 
It’s helpful for us to remember that no one is perfect and we all have our blind spots, and I’m pleased that the publishers of ROAR apologized and revised the curriculum at no cost.
 
In light of this, how can we make the best choices and good use of even flawed resources- especially since only samples are available before purchase? We know from experience that published curricula can save valuable time with their versatile themes, craft kits, recorded music, scope, and/or sequence of lessons. But we, the parents and leaders, must remain the primary resources when it comes to the spiritual development of our kids. In other words, published resources can still serve us well, if don’t ask them to do our job. 
 
As always, we’ll work hard to make sure Bible stories and God’s character are presented truthfully. And this summer, we’ll take extra care to avoid insensitivity to other cultures and races as we ROAR through Kids Night Out.
 
My goal isn’t for you to believe I always recognize careless language or cultural insensitivities. Or even to reassure you that we can always choose the best curriculum. I don’t and we can’t.
 
Our goal is to partner with parents in raising our kids to love God and others better than we do. And this work never takes a summer break.  
 
We have no hope of reaching this goal without much help. I’m grateful for the parent who cares enough about the discipleship of our kids to send me that article about ROAR. Now that’s good partnership! 
 
Partners, join me in praying for families and our KNO community this summer. May God’s wild kingdom grow for his glory. 
 
In Christ,
Karen Brown
- with the Family Ministry Team

Posted by Karen Brown

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