Peter Thomas Presented ‘Order of the Towel’

Rev. Peter Thomas, field director for the Church of God in Africa, was inducted into the ‘Order of the Towel’ during the World Missions banquet held July 30, 2018 at the recent International General Assembly in Orlando, Fla.

The recognition was presented by Doug Small, director of Church of God Prayer Ministries. The honor is bestowed “in recognition of servant leadership and the creation of an ethos of character in leadership.”

In the decade in which Peter Thomas has served as the Church of God field director for much of Africa, 43 nations have felt the temperate passion of a man who has given himself to a continent. For more than two decades, he served as the education director, forging relationships, pressing the character of the church deeper, creating a continent-wide network committed to the complete evangelization of African peoples, and establishing a self-sustaining movement.

In Africa’s leadership conferences, Peter Thomas can often be seen sitting quietly on the sidelines. He leads by serving. He directs by sharing authority and influence. He guides with affirmation and, when necessary, clear, dispassionate principled engagement.

Doug Small, second from right, presents the Order of the Towel to Peter Thomas, while General Overseer Tim Hill, right, and Direcotr of Church of God World Missions, David Griffis, look on (click photo to enlarge)

“In 2008, 1,798 churches with 424,227 members were reported” stated Small. “The figures proved to be inflated, and were adjusted, by as much as 25 percent, for accuracy. Still, after a decade, with more credibility in statistics, the number of churches reported total 6,524, with 817,150 members. Conservatively, the net gain is 4,726 new churches and 393,923 new members.”

Where Islam has been pushing south, with an agenda of making all of Africa Muslim, the Firewall Project has been established, not as a defensive mechanism, but as a good-news evangelism and church-planting initiative. In four short years, 3,837 churches planted have been in the 10/40 window/Sahel zone. These are Muslim-dominated territories where there was only one struggling church or there were diaspora churches that spoke a foreign tongue and were not culturally, effectively evangelizing the indigenous locals. In Niger, there was one church. Now there are 27 new churches planted through the Firewall initiative—all indigenous, evangelizing congregations. In Chad, 197 churches have been planted, one a week, through the Firewall initiative. All are indigenous. Togo—struggling with 13 churches, and a national bent toward animism, ancestor worship, and voodoo—has seen 127 new churches planted.

“There are few people among us who rightly deserve the appellation of ‘apostolic,’” Small stated. Peter Thomas is such a man. “Too often our ideas are clouded by images of strong and dominant personalities. The apostle Paul, on the other hand, often spoke of being weak and gentle among the churches. He forged forward meeting rejection and acceptance.”

“Along his journey, Peter Thomas has been taken hostage and virtually left for dead,” Small concluded. “He has been turned out of countries, injured and wounded, falsely accused and arrested, and in peril that threatened his life. Nevertheless, he has quietly persisted in a mission to see an entire continent set ablaze in the glory of God. Youthful Africa, with an average age of 19, is the rising continent. It is the harvest that could change the world.”

Some of the previous recipients of the Order of the Towel Award have been Dr. Robert Fisher; Dr. Horace Ward; Missionary Margaret Gaines; Former Attorney General, John Ashcroft; and Times Square pastor, Carter Conlon.

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