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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

Easter Outreach...Kid Style!

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We often hear stories of generosity and compassion around Christmas. Wonderful, encouraging tales of people reaching out and loving others through generous deeds and gifts. Though they surely happen, similar stories at Easter seem far less frequent. The focus of these holidays should certainly not be on the gifts that may be associated with them, but especially for a child, it can be hard to think about tearing into gift wrap at Christmas, or enjoying some chocolate or jelly beans at Easter.

Inspired by his concern to help others, James Karslake, a 10 year-old member of our Central church family, wanted to share the love of Jesus this Easter season. He came up with the idea that a great way to do this would be to make sure kids living in difficult circumstances would receive an Easter basket this year, just like he knew he would. James even had a very specific idea of what needed to be in these Easter baskets...some goodies, a chocolate bunny and a toy, plus some Good News, a Bible verse.

James' enthusiasm was catching, and soon our church body was mobilized! God was so evident in the way our church family came together. Central's missions committee contributed some financial resources, and additional funds were collected from the adult Sunday school communities, Wednesday night classes, some of our small groups, and many others. In only three weeks enough money was raised to purchase supplies...a lot of supplies!

KidCentral was on-board in a big way too. During EquipCentral on April 5, our elementary kids assembled 290 Easter baskets! The Fellowship Hall was turned into a production studio, with baskets, artificial grass, sidewalk chalk, bubbles, and of course not a few chocolate bunnies. The final piece added to each basket was a printout of John 3:16: "God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son. God gave His Son so that whoever believed in Him may not be lost but will have eternal life."

These baskets were delivered to Sunshine Ministries later that week and distributed to the children and families for Easter. Thank you, James, for your love for others and this wonderful idea.

KidCentral hard at work!

KidCentral hard at work! 

James delivering the baskets to Sunshine Missions

 James delivering the baskets to Sunshine Mission!

 

Bob's Blog: Sermon on Homosexuality

This coming Sunday, August 30th, I have the privilege of preaching on Acts 15 – and the subject of homosexuality and the church. I especially want parents of young children to know that this will be addressed, along with circumcision. This will be a “PG” (parental guidance) message but undoubtedly your young children will ask, “What is homosexuality and circumcision?” Therefore, each parents(s) needs to prayerfully discern if this sermon is appropriate for their child(ren). How on earth (not to mention the pulpit) you may say, do you see homosexuality spoken of in Acts 15? Great question, thanks for asking.

Acts 15 addresses a volatile controversy that could have easily split the early church. Certain Jewish believers wanted to impose the requirement of circumcision upon Gentile believers. After much deliberation and debate, the so-called “Jerusalem Council” of church leaders resolved the issue and sent a letter to the Gentile believers regarding their decision.

Acts 15 continues to be a powerfully relevant account for the 21st century church for at least three reasons. First, it is a stunning refutation of legalism and a thunderous affirmation of salvation by grace alone, in Christ alone, through faith alone. Second, it speaks volumes about the connectional nature of the church and supports presbyterianism as the biblical form of church government. Third, it presents a Solomonically-wise model for how churches (and denominations) should address controversial issues that threaten its peace, purity, and unity.

What contemporary issue has already been divisive among evangelical Christians and will continue to threaten the peace, purity, and unity of today’s church? Long before the recent SCOTUS decision, Christians have debated this volatile topic among themselves. Is homosexuality a sin that disqualifies someone as a Christian? Should the church welcome or ban homosexuals from its worship, fellowship, membership, ministry, etc.?

Of course like any other pastor, I have both my personal opinions and theological convictions on this matter. Earlier this month, at our session “study meeting” (we conduct no business or pass no motions at these meetings, but explore one topic we believe relevant to the health and future of Central), we had a healthy discussion on this matter and will continue to seek the mind of Christ on it.

What can you do? Thanks for asking! I can think of at least three obvious things.

First, pray for the elders (session) of Central that we would seek the mind of Christ in this matter. We desire to be rooted in the Scripture and led by the Spirit in all things.

Second, pray that the Lord would speak to your own heart and mind and at the same time remove from all of us any prejudicial, circumstantial, emotional, or cultural filters that distort our ability and willingness to see and do the Lord’s will in this matter.

Third, pray that the Lord would advance in us and through us our church vision and mission to know, be known, and make known the gospel of Jesus as we seek to be His transformed people who passionately love His truth (know), transparently pursue the fellowship of His people (be known), and lovingly communicate the grace of His gospel (make known) – all for His glory and the building of His kingdom. May it be so.

Blessings to you all,

Bob

Posted by Bob Hopper

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