By Rich Brown
JOPLIN, Mo. —
Peace on earth: Many people have prayed for it, but a Joplin man has taken it one step further. Twenty years ago this month, Victor Knowles and with his wife, Evelyn, established Peace on Earth Ministries.
The idea was to bring peace to individuals through the love of Christ, while also unifying members of all Christian churches and Churches of Christ.
Members of those two churches have been involved for many years in the restoration movement, which aims to unify them under the classification of Christians only.
Knowles, a native of Seymour, Ind., who was raised in Iowa, paints a clear picture of his ministry’s goal through his message on the website www. poeministries.worldsecure systems.com.
Knowles writes via his president’s message: “There will never be peace on earth until the peace of Christ reigns in our hearts, our homes and our churches.”
Clarifying the importance of unity, he refers to John 17:20, 21 by pointing out that “Jesus prayed that believers would be one in him so that the world would believe.”
A banquet to mark the 20th anniversary of POEM as well as a show of appreciation to friends and supporters will be held at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 1, in the dining hall banquet room at Ozark Christian College. Marvin Phillips, of Marvin Phillips Ministry in Tulsa, Okla., will be the featured speaker. The theme is “Until the Whole World Knows.”
Phillips is a regular contributor to the POEM quarterly magazine “One Body,” which Knowles edits, along with the ministry’s monthly newsletter, “The Knowlesletter.”
Knowles has taught church history at OCC, where he has also been a guest lecturer. He produces a daily Bible study, labeled “Honey from the Rock,” on the POEM website.
Knowles served as pastor of Fairview Christian Church in Carthage from 1987 to 1992. It was during that pastorship that he made his first overseas trip in 1988. However, after taking over as president of POEM four years later, his overseas evangelism picked up dramatically with the Joplin man going on to preach in 14 countries.
He says his overseas ministry has focused more on helping churches and individual believers in countries that God has laid on his heart.
An emotional visit
One of the more emotional visits came in 2004 when he went to Beslan in Russia following a three-day siege and massacre of 350 children by rebel forces. He and a fellow missionary from Canada distributed money, Christian literature and other gifts.
“It was a terrible massacre ... their 9/11,” said Knowles, 66, author of 22 books. “This was a very emotional trip for me. I visited the children’s graves, as well as in the homes of parents and grandparents, who lost children in the massacre.”
In addition to working for what Jesus prayed for 12 hours before he went to the cross -- that all believers would be one so the world may believe -- POEM also does a lot of benevolent work, said Knowles, a graduate of Midwestern School of Evangelism in Ottumwa, Iowa.
The Rev. Leroy Garrett, editor of “Restoration Review,” made a comment once that what Knowles said is the nicest thing ever said about his ministry. Garrett said that he appreciated Knowles and his ministry for their compassion for suffering humanity, as well as for Christian unity.
Ministry’s name has double meaning
Although POEM is an acronym, there is a Greek word in the Bible, Ephesians 2:10, that holds much significance for Knowles and his ministry. The Scripture describes humans as God’s workmanship and the Greek word for workmanship is “poema,” from which comes the English word poem.
“It is talking about the kind of harmony and peace and euphony that God designs and that we are actually a poem ourselves,” Knowles said. “So I said yes, we are, and we will be a beautiful poem for God and a ministry that reflects that.”
Address correspondence to Rich Brown, c/o The Joplin Globe, P.O. Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.