Second Chances Month!
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Articles linked in this section are sorted by topic for convenience. They are previewed by the Research & Resource office and presented as relevant to one or more areas of compassionate ministry. While care is taken not to include offensive material, some materials may not necessarily reflect the Assemblies of God position on that topic. These articles are suggested because they contribute information valuable to the understanding of a topic or may motivate further research. Parental discretion is always advised when students are using the Internet for research.
"Pastors in Recovery" - this Leadership Journal article explores the issues encountered by pastors dealing with addiction and living in recovery, including the impact on their ministry when they are transparent about their journey.
"Astounding Amounts: Opioid Epidemic Filling Up Morgues" - Sobering numbers about the increase in opioid overdoses, including among senior citizens. Article includes suggestions for talking with your doctor about possible alternatives for relief of chronic pain.
A consequence of addiction that isn't discussed much - the future social ramifications of a felony drug charge. "What It's Like to Be A Mom When Google Knows You're A Felon."
From Covenant Eyes - "Paul Vs. Porn: How the Old Apostle Delivers A Death Blow to A Modern Addiction"
In "Leading in an Addicted World," the Denison Forum on Truth and Culture discusses the complicated spiritual and societal problems contributing to America's high rates of substance abuse, and what Christians can do to help point our culture toward truth.
"PE Conversations: The Porn Plague" - Executive Presbyter Beth Grant, former General Superintendent Thomas Trask, and Indiana Wesleyan University professor Todd Bowman discuss the issue of sexual and pornography addiction, particularly its effect on the lives of Christians who may struggle with it.
"Let's Be the People Who Show Up on Saturday" - Beautifully honest blog post about how the adoption journey reflects the painful Saturday of Holy Week.
"Our Broken and Beautiful Adoption" - A mom shares the ups and downs of her family's decision to adopt-from-foster.
"Why You Should Not Adopt" - From the HuffPost Parents page, a thoughtful discussion of why overseas adoption vs. local/foster adoption should not be an either/or battle, but your personal response to the fact that every needy child, regardless of location, is important to God.
Also from HuffPost Parents, an educator shares her perspective on the special needs and challenges of every child, and the battles and victories she sees in each child every day. "Dear Parent: About THAT Kid" will give you new understanding into that kid--maybe a foster kid, maybe one with a medical issue or other challenge--and the teachers who are committed to doing their best with every kid, every day.
Study materials obtained through the Assemblies of God Center for the Blind help a woman establish a successful jail ministry: Read "No Ministry Fears" in PE News.
Blog post from the Denison Forum: "How to Help Kids Get Through Hard Times" - While many children exposed to trauma in their early years turn to crime or substance abuse in an effort to cope, many others do not. This post cites research indicating that the presence of a caring person, such as a relative, teacher, Sunday School teacher, social worker, etc., in the child's life, can make the difference.
From PE News: "Transparent with Tragedies" - A missionary couple share the story of their daughter's post-partum depression tragedy, in hopes of helping others get the help they need.
A retired Air Force captain shares how he is able to live a full, enjoyable life in spite of a challenging health diagnosis in "You Get to Choose How You Will Handle M.S." - from the VA website.
"Chronic Pain and the Fullness of Joy" - is it possible to experience the joy of the Lord when living every day with pain? Read this testimony.
"My Pastor Told Me It Was A Sin Not to Feel Joy" - candid thoughts on what happens when churches ignore mental illness, and how simply acknowledging that it exists can make a powerful difference for sufferers and their families.
"Living the Miracle" - An Assemblies of God chaplain identifies personally with some of the patients he visits, as he continues to beat the odds of Stage 4 cancer.
From the health newsletter at mercola.com, at look at possible reasons suicides are on the rise, and signs to watch for in your loved ones: "Suicides Are Surging"
"I Almost Lost My Teen Daughters to Anorexia and Depression" - Candid story from a sometimes-overlooked perspective: the mother of the sufferer.
From the Denison Forum: "Why Robin Williams Died, and Why It Matters" - Many Americans are dealing with illnesses that some of us don't know exist, and we should be compassionate, not condemning.
When is it normal pressure facing college students, and when might it be a serious illness? "The Top Mental Health Challenges Facing Students" gives some insight.
From PE News: "Set Free" - An Assemblies of God District Superintendent's daughter shares how God used a friend's personal testimony to inspire her to pray for her own complete healing from depression, and how her testimony is now reaching out to others.
What happens when the uninsured need end-of-life care? Read one sobering story: "The Devastating Process of Dying in America without Insurance".
When an AG pastor lost his wife and his left leg to someone else's decision to drink and drive, it was hard to imagine anything good coming from the situation. From PE News: "Good Things--Expected and Unexpected"
New York Times, April 2016: "U.S. Suicide Rate Surges to a 30-Year High," reporting on an alarming trend and linking to related articles about possible contributing factors.
"Women Feel the Stress" - PE News reports on the drop in life expectancy for women due to increases in opioid addictions and suicide.
"Stopping Traffic for Grief" - a pastor reflects on the importance of showing kindness to the grieving by slowing down to allow a funeral procession to stay connected as they pass.
7 Billion Ones: Springfield, Missouri photojournalist team Randy and Shannon Bacon created their website to share and put faces with the incredible stories of pain, poverty, devastating life circumstances, illness, and disability and the remarkable people who live those stories.
From the CRC network - Parents share their daughter's journey to recover from a horrific car accident in this article, "Yearning, Treasuring, Hoping"
From the CRC network: In a moment's time an active, athletic dad becomes a paraplegic - "When Disability Suddenly Strikes"
"Differently Abled" - using King David's interactions with Saul's grandson Mephibosheth as a guide, this blog post examines what churches are doing to make the gospel and Christian fellowship accessible to everyone, and what might be done differently.
"The Champions Club" - Rockford First Assembly treats special needs children and youth like champions, with their own specially-designed ministry facilities.
"Confined to Nursing Homes, but Longing (and Ready) for Home" - a look at several individual cases and the intersection of programs and services that would allow them to be treated just as efficiently and at less cost in their own homes, or even to return to productive employment.
"From Fragile Soul to Faithful Advocate" - From PE News - After fleeing an abusive husband, a young woman turns her experiences into a passion to help others.
From the HuffPost blog - "Can Family Courts Protect Children Exposed to Domestic Violence?" - Analysis of the effects on children of having witnessed domestic violence or being placed in a shared custody situation when one parent has been abusive, calling for better education in the court system about the dynamics of abuse.
"Women Vets and Violence" - A new Intimate Partner Violence Assistance Program is helping veterans who are victims of domestic abuse get the help they need.
"To Attract Young People to Your Church, You've Got to Be Warm. Not Cool." - From the Washington Post, this article establishes statistically and anecdotally that young people are looking for connection.
A Hawaiian AG congregation is having a huge impact on their local public schools. Read about it in "Pastor Makes Students A Priority, Sees Dozens Come to Christ" from PE News.
"Sending and Receiving in Campus Ministry" - Tips for students leaving your home congregation for college, and for welcoming students who move to your area for school.
"Data Are Critical for High-Mobility Students" - Discussion of the need to measure progress of homeless and foster children, as well as military and others who move frequently, as part of the Every Student Succeeds Act.
"Read in a Quiet Place for a Better Life" - Book readers live an average of two years longer than non-readers? Just one of the many physical and emotional benefits of cultivating the habit of reading, according to this article.
In addition to the obvious costs of damage to communities, do protests and unrests have a hidden cost in lowered student success in the area schools? Using data from Ferguson, Missouri, Brookings Institute ponders this question in "Students Flounder Amidst Civic Unrest".
"It All Starts With One" - a husband and wife photography/journalism team tackle tough problems in their hometown and give a voice to those who wouldn't otherwise be heard.
"Losing A Patient" - This beautifully written piece, from the physician's point of view, brings together the complex issues of homelessness, immigration, and chronic illness with a poignant question about what we can do better.
"AG Women Wage War Against Sex Industry" - Interviews with women leaders in the Assemblies of God who minister to women trapped in the sex and porn industry (PE News).
What can parents to do keep their kids safe online? Vital Magazine offers some helpful suggestions in "Guarding Our Kids Online: How to Make Technology Safer."
A parent shares his personal shock at learning of the prevalence of child sex trafficking in America in "Youth Sex Trafficking: America's Hidden Slavery." This article is a good primer of the issue and an introduction to precautions parents can take to protect their children.
From PE News: "Ripe for Harvest" - God is doing great things among Florida's Arabic refugees.
Blog post at "Smart Girls" by actress Sarah Wayne Callies on "5 Simple Things You Can Do to Help Refugees"
Newer Americans, especially those sponsoring additional family members, may not know how to access critical services when they need them. Read "The Devastating Process of Dying in America without Insurance."
"The Nations Come to Phoenix" - U.S. Missionaries Wayne and Drue Huffman blend vital helpful services for immigrants and refugees with an opportunity to tell them about Jesus.
"Resettled Gratitude" - A Springfield, Missouri, church bridging the gap to a new culture for Russian and other Slavic immigrants.
830 children sharing a single age-appropriate book sounds like something from a third-world country, right? Wrong--how about a poor neighborhood in Washington, D.C.? "NYU Study Identifies 'Book Deserts' Across the Country" reports on the shocking research and its implications for poor children in terms of school readiness and future success.
"A New Church Planting Model?" - A Springfield, Missouri, partnership is revitalizing a neighborhood by turning an unused school building into a multi-use community social and spiritual center.
Do certain habits ingrained during a poverty-filled childhood stay with a person for his or her entire life, even affecting their health as an adult? Interesting research on "The Crippling Thing about Growing Up Poor That Stays with You Forever," in the Washington Post.
"The Trouble with Student Loans" - This research examines the students most likely to default on loans, and it's not necessarily the ones with the most debt. Instead, students who borrow to attend for-profit or other easy-access schools, even though their debt is lower, often face challenges in finishing their course of study and finding employment sufficient to pay their loans. Are low-income students trapped?
"Three Simple Rules Poor Teens Should Follow to Join the Middle Class" - It turns out the old-fashioned way, apparently, works. Brookings Institute presents research showing that teens who finish high school, get a job, and wait until age 21 to get married and start a family--in that order--have a much better chance of moving into the middle class.
"How to Help Those in Need (Without Treating Them Like Beggars)" - From Christianity Today, this article explores ways well-meaning Christians can move from short-term projects and trips to take "stuff", into transformative action that truly benefits the communities they feel called to help.
Bad choices and lack of personal responsibility? An insurmountable set of circumstances and overshelming lack of opportunity? This editorial-opinion piece by award-winning New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof explores the causes of poverty and why an extreme position one way or the other may not be a constructive idea. In another op-ed piece, Kristof reflects on the death of a friend who faced seemingly insurmountable obstacles, causing him to question whether the U.S. is a "land of opportunity" or a "land of limitations."
What's better than a gift of money or "stuff" to the poor and marginalized? A gift of hope, according to this thoughtful article by New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, "The Power of Hope is Real." Using the example of a gift of livestock, the article examines how families and communities began to see beyond their immediate circumstances and start to turn things around.
"War on Poverty Penalizes Parents Who Marry": Thought-provoking article about how welfare programs discourage marriage, in spite of research indicating that children in single-parent homes are at higher risk for several troubling factors.
Many churches or youth groups go on mission trips. But what about needs right in the local community? Read how an Arkansas church created a mission trip right in their own backyard: "Our Jerusalem".
Hidden victims of crime, the inmate's family, suffer too - "The Impact of Incarceration on Caregivers"
Series from St. Louis Public Radio: "Juveniles Need Support Outside to Maintain Changes Learned in Detention" and from National Public Radio, book review, "'Burning Down the House' Makes the Case Against Juvenile Incarceration"
From prison to church planter - "Total Transformation" shares a Springfield, Missouri, pastor's story as he graduates from seminary with a master's degree.
Discussion of prison reform has spurred interest in equipping prisoners for re-entry. Learn more about the importance of helping ex-offenders find housing and work and overcome stigma: Read "The Struggles of the Return," and "The 'IF' Project," from the Prison Fellowship blog, and "How to Help Former Inmates Thrive," from the NY Times opinion page.
A federal judge may have charted a new course for re-entry by issuing a "certificate of rehabilitation," enabling a former offender to move forward with establishing a new life and getting a job. Read "Forgiving without Forgetting."
Staying connected with supportive family and friends is a well-documented key to lower recidivism rates, but families face challenges when prisoners are housed in another state. Read about it in "Bridging the Ocean," from the Prison Fellowship newsletter.
In a key move to help prisoners stay in touch with their families, who are often struggling financially, the FCC has taken steps to limit the charges for phone calls. Read about it in this Washington Post editorial.
"No Ministry Fears" - Being legally blind hasn't kept this woman from following God's leading to establish a jail ministry.
Incarcerated moms fear losing their relationship with their children, but The Storybook Project in Texas is helping them keep in touch by recording mothers reading to their children.
"A Matter of Black Lives" - The compelling story of a mayor's quest to find out why so many young black men are killing, and being killed. Follow him on his visits to a nearby prison where he builds relationships in an effort to find out what went wrong and what these men think would help to fix it.
How strong is the power of forgiveness? This blog post from Prison Fellowship, "A Mother's Forgiveness," demonstrates the restorative power of Jesus Christ as a mother meets the murderer of her only son. Learn more about the healing group, From Death to Life, here.
Worth thinking about--Does a disproportionate "1.5 Million Missing Black Men" cause other problems in society, or is it a reflection of those problems?
Read about the first-ever Assemblies of God National Senior Adult Conference in "Not Finished Yet."
"How Social Isolation Is Killing Us" - the importance of remaining in community as we age or our circumstances change.
Using the metaphor of fruit trees, Jesus challenged his disciples to be "fruitful" in their ministry, stating that unfruitful branches are disposed of (Matthew 7). This Outreach magazine article outlines "Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations"--including bold, collaborative compassionate outreach.
"Blending Into One Body" - A Chicago-area church becomes