Karen's Report

Karen's Report

In Mike Barko's blog post, he highlights the impactful contributions of his dear friend and ministry partner, Karen Brooks. He describes how Karen became part of the ministry and her remarkable journey in leading people to Christ. Mike shares her experiences of effective evangelism, emphasizing the power of unity and the transformative effect of the gospel. Karen's steadfast dedication and impactful encounters exemplify the essence of spreading the message of Christ. The post also includes Karen's insights on finding peace in uncertain times and trusting God's timing for opportunities. Her witnessing stories underscore the importance of following the guidance of the Holy Spirit and remaining connected to God's purpose. The blog post encourages readers to rest in God's presence, share the gospel, and trust in His leading for fruitful ministry.


Mike Barko

4/25/20206 min read

Much has happened both personally and nationally since our last newsletter. More on that at a later time.

As you are probably aware, most of these newsletters are designed and written by me. In the past year or so, you have read reports and been introduced to my dear friend and ministry partner Rob Gilmer.

Today, I want to highlight and 'boast on' another dear friend and ministry partner, Karen Brooks. Let me start by sharing how she came to be a part of this ministry.

Many of you are familiar with Kerry Willis, long time friend and current District Superintendent for the Philadelphia District of the Church of the Nazarene. Pastor Kerry prefers to change the D.S. in District Superintendent to...District Servant.

Yes, and it was this servant's heart of humility that brought Karen to this ministry. Pastor Kerry (PK) was at that time in 2017, serving as vision pastor for the Harrisonburg First Church of the Nazarene, where he had faithfully served for 23 years.

PK's vision of unity for the local church extended beyond the four walls into the community and ultimately to the world. As part of this 'glocal' vision of unity, PK had spearheaded an effort to bring local 'para church' ministries together for support and cooperative outreach.

During one of these gatherings, on New Years Day of 2017, 20-30 local ministries set up in the lobby of the Harrisonburg First Church of the Nazarene to introduce the church body and public to our respective ministries.

Our ministry, Communities 4 Christ, was one of the ministries present. This particular set up required a shift in my mindset. Instead of leading souls to Christ, our focus this particular morning was simply to introduce people to our ministry.

Talking about what we do, versus actually doing it, was very humbling for me. However, it was here that Karen Brooks was initially introduced to this ministry and has subsequently become one of our most faithful and highly effective soul winners.

Thank you PK.

D. James Kennedy, founder of the international soul winning program, Evangelism Explosion, commented...

"...you will make a far greater impact for eternity by training soul winners than by just winning souls."

This certainly has proved true with respect to Karen. I remember a time a few years ago when the Spirit was really moving at J.M.U. Over 60 students responded to the gospel. Karen was responsible for at least half of these.

It wasn't long before the pupil surpassed the teacher. Some days I would go out to J.M.U. 'a little sheepish and scared'. On these days Karen was leading people to Christ while the ones I was talking to were walking off!

Rob Gilmer has described Karen as a 'tiger' when it comes to leading people to Jesus. Recently, in one of the life groups that he leads at church, someone made a comment regarding Karen that there was something different about her..."a strong presence of the Holy Spirit upon her".

Proverbs 27:2 reminds us, "Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth..."

Great job Karen! Keep up the good work tiger! Your rewards are eternal.

Without further ado, here is Karen's report...

Shalom brothers and sisters in Christ. Shalom is a word for today in these uncertain times. Shalom is a greeting or departing term used by the Jews. It means "peace".

Jesus in John 14:27 says:

"Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."

Yes, brothers and sisters, don't let your heart be troubled or afraid. We must trust the One who created all things: the One who is our peace.

"For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace." (Ephesians 2:14,15)

We have had a slowdown on our ministry due to the many circumstances. I believe God has given us a chance to rest. He is our rest. We rest in Him.

We get so busy with our lives and we do many things for the Lord, but we neglect Him. We neglect the very One for whom we are doing these things.

He is slowing us down. I believe He is saying, "Son and daughter, I want you. I want to spend time with you. Come spend time with me. I love you very much. I love you so much that I died for you."

I will leave you with one story. God gives us opportunity to share in His time. Let's trust His timing.

I encountered a lady named Linda on a ministry partner's (Johan) home street. We were sitting in the driveway practicing social distancing as people walked down the street with their pets. Mike was faithfully telling them that God loved them and saying a blessing over them as they continued to walk down the street.

Linda was walking her dogs and we were prompted to offer her a bracelet. I sat on the back of the ministry truck as she stayed more than six feet away as I shared the colors with her.

She was 100 percent sure she was going to Heaven because she was saved. That's a great answer, but God prompted me to ask, "What does saved mean?"

She gave me very ambiguous answers about things she was doing for people. I continued with the colors and asked how she could stay out of God's electric chair? She replied that she could ask for forgiveness or pray. If you were to stand before a judge as a murderer and ask forgiveness or pray, would he let you go? No.

As we finished up the colors she understood that God sat in her electric chair. He paid her spiritual death. He paid the penalty.

"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 6:23)


Karen shared this great report with me and only a few days later she had another great witnessing story. So, I asked her to share that one with us as well.

One more story from Karen...

During these times we wonder how God can use us. It seems like all the ministry is being done through Facebook and Youtube. These are great tools and sources, and even though I encourage you to stay connected, I also encourage you to stay connected to the Living Vine.

He will give you the true food that you need just like in communion where we take and eat in remembrance. He wants us to eat Him and drink Him. He is our food.

Karen does not know this, but what she just said, is what Jesus said in John 6:53-57...

Then Jesus said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me."

God will give you opportunities in His time and for His purposes. As we rest in Him, His Spirit will lead us.

Recently, I was preparing for my needs ahead. The Lord was leading me to go to Costco. That was the last place I wanted to go. There were only two things I wanted there, and they certainly could have waited for a couple of weeks. However, I was still drawn there.

After an argument with myself about the line being too long, I went and parked. When I got in line, I was in the store immediately.

I picked up the main thing I wanted and then the second thing. I went to the clothing section even though I didn't need anything. The lady who works there and I chitchatted about a few items on sale. I didn't need them so I left the area.

I found myself back there very quickly. I don't even know how it happened. The Lord was drawing me back.

The lady who works there was right there. I felt the need to stop and tell her something, and right then she poured her heart out about the topic I shared with her.

I asked if I could pray for her. She said yes. I then asked her before we prayed if she knew where she was going when she died.

She then said Heaven because she believed that Jesus died for her. I said great, and I just wanted to know that before I prayed for you. We exchanged numbers and more small talk and I left so she could get back to work.

Just trust God for His leading. He will lead you if you are feeding off His vine.

"I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing." (John 15:5)