It was a beautiful Friday morning in Ecuador when Charles and Mavis Thornton and their ministry team visited the public school. They had a fun party and presented the gospel, as they always do. But this time something unusual happened. This time every person present – 126 children and six adults – accepted Christ as their savior.
Charles and Mavis serve as missionary evangelists with Church of God World Missions. They travel outside the U.S. several times a year to provide encouragement, support, and evangelism to pastors, churches, and the community wherever they visit.
The Thorntons are a testimony of what can happen when a person surrenders to God’s plan for his or her life. Charles was called to ministry at an early age, but he didn’t think he was good enough. They spent years away from church.
However, when they returned to church, they did so with passion. Charles began to take Bible classes and ended up with a degree in pastoral ministry, and soon became credentialed with the Church of God.
Charles says that he has always loved missions. When his pastor at Boyette Springs Church of God in Riverview, Florida asked him to become the Local Missions Representative, it gave him an outlet to become involved.
He soon led a team from the church to Costa Rica. Not only was it his first trip to lead – it was his first missions trip ever!
He was hooked. Charles and Mavis return to Costa Rica every year. Their ministry has taken them literally around the world: from Central America, to South America, to Africa, and to Southeast Asia.
Although they conduct many types of ministry on their trips, including pastoral conferences and church services, their favorite thing to do is to work with children.
“The Holy Spirit laid on my heart years ago that the enemy likes to target children,” Charles said. “We need to counter that by also targeting them.”
The Thorntons partner with local churches in the area and conduct huge parties. Kids in these places are impoverished, so the chance to go to a party with candy and games and lots of friends is a rare treat. After everyone has had some fun, people from the local church present the message of Jesus.
Trip after trip, place after place, the Thorntons have seen children respond enthusiastically to the gospel. Through the parties, kids are connected with the local church and can be discipled.
On the Ecuador trip where everyone received Jesus at the school, Charles and Mavis had several parties in different places and saw hundreds come to Christ. This is not unusual for their ministry.
The Thorntons are retired from their secular jobs and spend their time now completely focused on missions. They have been on staff at a local church in Florida, but now are preparing to travel the state to raise support for their ministry. They see the spiritual hunger in people all over the world, and they long to go and make disciples everywhere they can.
Charles encourages everyone to be involved in missions in some way.
“It will change your life,” he said.
Many people feel unqualified for ministry. Charles and Mavis surrendered this feeling to the Lord, and thousands of people have come to God as a result. By saying yes to the call, an impact has been made around the world that only eternity will tell.
To partner with Charles and Mavis, please visit cogwm.org and refer to project number 065-0879.
(Source: Church of God World Missions)