Crisis-Comfort: Former COP Director Touches Heartstrings with Hymns

 In All Church of God, CHOG, The Way

By Carl Stagner

There’s nothing quite like a classic hymn to lift the soul in times of fear and uncertainty. The former executive director of Children of Promise knows this firsthand; he grew up finding strength in songs of faith that have encouraged and enriched believers across the generations and the miles. After the COVID-19 outbreak forced the postponement of the hymn sing they’d planned, he posed a simple question on Facebook: What hymn would you like to hear during these difficult days? Paul Maxfield was swamped with requests, and an online video series of “hymns at the piano” was born.

It’s no secret to Paul’s longtime congregation—South Meridian Church of God, in Anderson, Indiana—that he’s got musical talent. While his name is most prominently associated with his sixteen years of leadership for the child sponsorship ministry of the Church of God (four co-led with his wife Brenda), many Church of God people far beyond South Meridian have been blessed by this family’s artistic gifts over the years. Still, many don’t realize his exceptional piano-playing abilities, and even fewer may realize his connection to the man who wrote the music for “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.”

Indeed, Charles C. Converse was Paul’s great-great-great uncle. “‘What a Friend We Have in Jesus’ has always been a favorite,” Paul reflects. “I think it was forever burned into my heart one day in Malawi when the Children of Promise kids sang it to me as I arrived one morning. They had no idea that a family member had written this hymn many years ago. To realize that they were learning truth of these lyrics put to music by my uncle was a very special moment for me.”

Click the image to watch one of Paul’s videos on Facebook!

Hymns like “It is Well with My Soul” and “Great is Thy Faithfulness” also rise to the top of Paul’s favorite’s list. How relevant these songs are today as they speak of the unchanging, comforting presence of the Lord in ever-changing and chaotic times. But it wasn’t just the church hymns Paul learned to play through the years of lessons that began when he was in kindergarten. In fact, it was opportunities to play for weddings and funerals that helped him pay for college. Playing the organ and directing church choirs added to his musical experience in a variety of churches and locations. Fast-forward to this present crisis, and friends from across the Church of God and beyond are tuning in to Paul’s music ministry for a sense of calm in the storm.

“I know from my own experience and of those around me that the messages in hymns are a great comfort,” Paul explains. “In times of crisis, we look back to those things that have strengthened us in the past, and for many people, the hymns of the faith do that for us. Many people have written me and said how much it means to them. There is a population of saints in the church who, for many years, worshiped with hymns, and they miss them. They long for the music they were nurtured through during their formative spiritual lives. I believe providing this for people recently has strummed their heartstrings and encouraged their faith in a God who knows, cares, and is unchanging in spite of the fear and chaos around us.”

Learn more about the response of Church of God Ministries to the coronavirus (COVID-19), including resources for you and your church, at Learn more about Children of Promise at

*Feature photo (top of page) by Darren Hester at, licensed use.

Start typing and press Enter to search