The Dream

Screen Shot 2024-01-14 at 12.54.20 PMToday America celebrates a man who challenged the nation to live up to its stated value that all men are created equal. We can acknowledge today how far we have come or how far we have yet to go, but regardless of which perspective you choose, today is a day we recognize the efforts of a man and his followers who caused dramatic change in America.

I was 18 years old when Dr. King was assassinated. I was about as racially sensitive or aware as any typical white teenager, so the events around his murder puzzled me, but I was absorbed in other things, like graduating from high school. Then six years later, I had my conversion experience and was almost immediately thrust into a world where I was working and worshiping with folks who were both black and white. I was still clueless, but I concluded in those early days that if there was any hope for people to get along, any possibility of racial healing and understanding, the gospel of Christ was the only answer. More on that later.

In 1989, I moved to Alabama, the heart of Dixie, to work with an African American pastor as his assistant. To say that was unusual would be the understatement of the year, for most people expected it to be the other way around, as evidenced by places of business that would always ask me first if they could help me, even if my black pastor entered the business ahead of me.The white population in Alabama was mostly lukewarm to our relationship, but I thought the black churches would be more intrigued and interested. They were not.

White churches were white and black churches were black and "never the twain shall meet" was the rule of the day, and often still is. It was sometime during my 11 years in Alabama that I read Dr. King's Letter from a Birmingham Jail. I was captivated by the excellence of the writing but also, more importantly, by the rightness of the message. That letter caused me to ask myself two questions: If I had been older and more "in touch" in 1968, would I have walked, marched or stood with Dr. King? The answer I came to was probably not.

The second question was a more important one: What could I do now that I was aware? I determined that, by God's grace, I would be an agent of healing and reconciliation wherever I lived or worked. Since that time, that value has guided my decisions of where I lived, worshiped, worked, and traveled in ministry. Only God can answer if I have been successful. As Mother Teresa said, God did not call us to be successful, just obedient. Time will tell if I responded to that second question properly or followed through with my conclusion.

Today, I'm not particularly interested in diversity. I have little time for tolerance. Instead, I want to see people of all races and cultures come together and not be concerned about who is right or who was wronged, but intent on finding how to be reconciled in Christ. Toward that end, I continue to do what I can to bring about reconciliation. I have concluded if it is almost impossible for those in the church to be reconciled, and we have the power of the Spirit and the word of God as allies, then there's no hope for any other entity to accomplish that goal - not government, legislation, meetings, training, or wishful thinking.

Reconciliation will require people to be transformed and then to walk out the terms and behaviors of reconciliation, even when it isn't in their best interests economically, socially, or culturally to do so. The Christian faith has the only answer to the problem that causes racism and oppression, which is sin caused by the Fall of man, and therefore the Church is the only one that can offer the remedy. So far we, and I include churches of all ethnicities, have not done a very good job.

On this important occasion, I pay tribute to Dr. King, but really, my tribute contributes very little to his legacy that achieved so much and is still producing results. However, I don't want to remember on this day only to go about my business the rest of the year. Today, I recommit myself to be that source of reconciliation, peace, and healing wherever God assigns me. I commit myself to help correct the historic wrongs that continue to plague our interracial relationships, thus preventing the ultimate and ideal that Dr. King described: "That the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood."

Through my commitment, I will be making a small, personal contribution to a very big problem, and perhaps God will multiply my efforts to touch people who need healed from the pain of the past and the hopelessness and uncertainly of the future. Today is a day to remember and celebrate what Dr. King taught and gave his life for; tomorrow is a day to get back to work to make it happen.

Summer Ministry Letter

Below is a copy of the letter I sent to my donors a few weeks ago. Please read and respond as the Lord leads.


June 3, 2023

Dear Friend,

In April, I had a colleague invite me to meet a pastor from Ukraine. Pastor Alex was in the U.S. speaking at churches to raise support with his wife who now lives in western Canada where she took refuge with their two children when war broke out. Meanwhile, Alex Screen Shot 2023-05-01 at 3.46.41 PMreturned to Ukraine on May 13 to continue to lead his church’s ministry to 50,000 displaced people in their area near Odesa. At the breakfast, I immediately connected with Alex and Anastasia (my heritage is Ukrainian) and they shared terrifying stories of the war along with exciting testimonies of God’s faithfulness to His people in the midst of it.

During the breakfast, they asked if I knew anyone who could help them publish a book about their experiences, one that would raise people’s awareness of the trauma the war has brought along with the stories of God’s intervention. I said I did know someone and that someone was me. Then they asked how much I would charge to produce the book.

How could I charge people who are ministering, at the risk of their own lives, to people who have lost everything, including homes and loved ones? They were touched by and grateful for my offer to be their publisher, and afterwards Pastor Alex and I met and talked for six hours before he went home to get the material I would need to finish the book. Now I am employing a summer intern whose sole responsibility will be to help me produce this project in its final form by July 31.

Immediately after my time with Alex, I was invited to speak over a weekend at the Somerset Correctional Institution about 60 miles from my home. I had an anointed weekend with the inmates, some of whom I am already corresponding with regularly. I promised to send a complete set of my books along with other Urban Press titles to the prison for their chapel library, and I have already received other inquiries to do the same for other facilities. How could I say no?

When I mentioned recently on a Facebook Live broadcast that I felt God was transitioning more of my publishing to be a ministry rather than a business, I had several people donate $1,500 toward that end, and I didn’t even ask. Now I am asking. Would you consider helping me do what I do as I assist others in telling their stories so their readers will be built up and blessed? Can you help me as you have with my work in Kenya to do what it is that God has put before me to do? And speaking of Kenya, here’s a quick update on the latest there.


IMG_9168The good news is that we have all our title deeds and paperwork for our new property. I was there in February with a team from the U.S. and we went to visit the land. I am still amazed at how God worked it out for us to purchase the land, during the pandemic no less. The land is already quite valuable and located in a growth area of Nairobi. God certainly knows what He’s doing!

While we were waiting for the new property to finalize, the property next to the existing Academy became available to lease so we are building a temporary expansion of our current site to be able to handle the influx of students and orphans who are being taught and cared for by our wonderful Stanko Academy staff. If you follow me on Facebook, you have seen the pictures of the expansion. Praise God that the construction is about $2,000 above estimates. Why do I praise God for that? I do so because the costs of materials and inflation have skyrocketed in Kenya but God has watched out for us and showed us sources for what we needed that were below market value. If you can contribute toward that overage, I would be most grateful.

Finally, the kitchen renovation that I mentioned last year for the Bomet orphanage is about to begin. The days of their smoke-filled cooking quarters are about to end! Last year, you also gave about $2,000 toward a new tractor for them, and we have been shopping around for a used one that is more within our budget. It will probably be around $8,000. That is also a need if you feel led to help.

If your heart is moved by any of what you have just read, you can give online or mail your check payable to PurposeQuest International, P.O. Box 8882, Pittsburgh, PA, 15221-0882. PQI is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization and your contribution is tax-deductible. You can also give through my mobile app, the Cash App ($stankojohn), PayPal, Venmo (John-Stanko-10), or Zelle. As I close, I think of the psalmist’s words in Psalm 112:

Surely the righteous will never be shaken; they will be remembered forever. They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord. Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear; in the end they will look in triumph on their foes. They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor, their righteousness endures forever; their horn will be lifted high in honor (Psalm 112:7-9).

Your gifts will touch people in Ukraine and Kenya and your help will empower those in our prisons and jails to receive the kind of teaching they need but can seldom access. Go back and read the promises in Psalm 112 for those who remember the poor and then give as the Lord leads you to do.

Yours in His Service,

Dr. John W. Stanko


A Resurrection Myth

There's a detail in the account of Jesus' resurrection that has captured the attention of scholars and Bible GraveClothesPicstudents over the years. The passage is John 20:6-7 and it tells us what Peter saw when he came to the tomb: "Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen."

Some have found  meaning in the fact that Peter found Jesus' face cloth separate from the linen that had wrapped His dead body before He was hastily laid in Joseph of Arimathea's tomb. The myth surrounding the face "napkin" (as the King James referred to the face cloth) is that it was folded as a master would fold his dinner napkin to let the servant know he wasn't finished eating but was coming back to the table after a brief absence. People have assumed that Jesus was sending a message to His followers that He wasn't "done" but was "coming back"' in due time.

While this a touching thought and interpretation, it's not true. First-century Jews didn't use a dinner napkin (that was a European custom) and there doesn't seem to be any biblical evidence that the face cloth was folded a certain way. It was simply not with the body linens, but rather in a separate place.


Does the face cloth detail have any meaning? It must, otherwise John wouldn't have found it significant to include well after the other three gospels had been written that had omitted the face cloth placement. So what's the significance?

First, the fact that the face cloth was present and not thrown aside indicates that "body snatchers" hadn't stolen the body as was later reported. If someone is breaking into a tomb with armed guards asleep at the entrance, they wouldn't take the time to fold or place a face cloth in its appointed place. Speed would have been essential, so the body would have been grabbed as is, and unwrapped later.

Second, when Lazarus was raised from the dead as reported John 11, he had to be freed from his grave clothes. Granted, Jesus had been hastily entombed because the Sabbath was nigh, so He probably wouldn't have been fully wrapped. Still, it seems He needed no human help extricating Himself from His wrappings, either performing the task Himself or having angelic help in doing so.

Finally, Jesus' resurrection was just another "day at the office" for Him. The scene in the tomb didn't depict a violent struggle or an escape that had to be completed quickly and silently before the guards discovered what was happening. Jesus had surrendered His life to the Father because He trusted the Father's promise in His word:

Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay. You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand (Psalm 16:9-11).


There are several lessons for us in this simple detail. Here are some thoughts as we close:

  1. God will do what He promised He would do. He promised His servant would not see decay and He didn't.
  2. You don't need to frantically work to fulfill your God-given assignments. God is with you and will empower you as He did Jesus.
  3. No one can wrap you in grave clothes so tightly or completely that God can't free you.
  4. You may have a role in removing your own grave clothesthose things that restrict your faith movements in God.

And one final thought: If Jesus is alive as He promised He would be and as reported in the gospels, and that's no myth, then His resurrection is real and He shares His resurrection power with us right here, right now. I urge you to put aside the fear and doubt that try to wrap and entomb you, and do so as nonchalantly and calmly as Jesus put aside His grave clothes. As you do, I know you will have a blessed Resurrection celebration!

A Daily Easter

People who don't darken the door of a church throughout the year will come to church on Easter Sunday Screen Shot 2023-04-07 at 7.49.12 AMalong with some who have returned to the area to visit family, which will make for a packed house. They all sit with the regular attenders, family and friends, and pay homage to the fact that Jesus was raised from the dead.

We will assemble on Easter and say by our presence, "Yes, we believe Jesus was dead. Furthermore, we believe that He was in the tomb for three days. Yes, we believe that God raised Jesus, who was both fully God and fully man, back to life. And yes, we further attest to the fact that Jesus ascended into heaven, and that our flesh, Mary's boy, intercedes for us at the right hand of the Father."  I hope you agree that those affirmations summarize the truths of Easter. But is that all the truth of Easter?

It always intrigues me that many will come and attest to these truths yet all too often those truths have no meaning in or implication for their daily lives. Stop for a minute and ask, "So what if Jesus was raised from the dead? What difference does that make in my life?" Those are good questions; let's try to come up with some answers so you can enjoy Easter every day of your life.


If you believe Jesus was raised from the dead, then you can believe God for anything! If God raises the dead, which He does, then He can cure cancer. He can provide for your business or ministry. He can transform you into the person He intended you to be, that person you want to be. If God can take a dead body and give it life, then nothing is beyond His miracle-working power. What's more, you have the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead living in you! It's not a replica or a portion of that Spirit. You have the Spirit that raises the dead living in you. Here's what Paul had to say about the implications of this Spirit-resident:

You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you (Romans 8:9-11).

I trust you plan on being at your local church fellowship this weekend. Don't go as someone merely giving mental assent to the historical fact of the resurrection, go celebrating the truth that God is alive in you  Then find how to release that resurrection power into your life, relationships, work and purpose. If you can believe that God raises the deadand you shouldthen you can believe God for anything.  Have a great resurrection-power-filled weekend filled with a daily Easter! Happy Resurrection Day!

Easter Power

Easter isn't what it used to be. Today, it is mostly about Easter bunnies, colored eggs, candy, and mall salesif it's acknowledged or celebrated at all. EasterPic2I was in England a few years ago over Easter and I can remember thinking that if it wasn't for the hotels advertising Easter Sunday dinner, I would never have known that Easter was approaching. When I was a child, businesses closed down between noon and 3 p.m. on Good Friday and no business ever opened on Easter Sunday. There was never any school on Good Friday or Easter Monday.

This Memo is about the good old days, but not those days 65 years ago when I was young. The good old days I want to remember are the days 2,000 years ago when Jesus came back to life, after having been dead for three days. 


Easter is still one of the best-attended church days of the year when many attend worship services, some for the only time of the year, to commemorate Jesus' resurrection. Think of it: All those people come back to commemorate that the Spirit brought a dead man back to life. They believe it actually happened and bear witness to it by their presence. If you're among them and believe that Jesus was raised from the dead, then you should be able to believe God for anything.

If God raises the dead, which He does, then He can cure cancer. He can provide for your business or ministry. He can transform you into the person He intended you to be, that person you want to be. If God can take a dead body and give it life, then nothing is beyond His miracle-working power. What's more, you have the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead living in you if you have put your faith in Christ. It's not a replica of that Spirit, it's not a portion of that Spirit. You have the Spirit that raises the dead living in you. Here's what Paul had to say about the implications of your Spirit-resident:

You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you (Romans 8:9-11).


The Spirit lives in you, and He didn't run out of power when He brought Jesus back to life. He isn't "out there" somewhere doing good work with the same power that raises dead people. He's in you. He's present to give you the mind of Christ so you can think the very thoughts of God. He's in you so you can transmit His presence to others who have no such Spirit resident; when they have an encounter with you, they're actually having one with Him. You're His hands, His feet, His ambassador, His emissary. Jesus put it this way:

On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified (John 7:37-39).

People often talk about coming into God's presence, but God's presence is always with you, whether you feel it or are aware of it. What difference should that make when you pray, work, and serve? It should make a big difference. Is it? Is Easter power present in your life and purpose work all year long? Are the rivers of living water from the Spirit's presence flowing from you? If not, then think about Romans 8:9-11 and John 7:37-39 and ask God to show you how you can allow this life-giving Spirit more room in your life to work and flow in the coming days and weeks. As you're doing that, I hope you find the time to have a blessed Resurrection Day.

Reviving Revelation

I have been asked many times during the pandemic (and before) if this is "the end," if the return of the Lord is imminent as proved by the signs of the times. Some have referred to the book of Revelation, which Screen Shot 2020-06-19 at 7.49.59 PMcertainly seems to describe cataclysmic global events like we have recently witnessed. My answer is always the same, "I don't know if this is the end, but I am closer to my end than I have ever been." The truth is I don't know and no one else does either. All we can do is be faithful to this day and trust the Lord for tomorrow.

Years ago, I wrote a commentary on Revelation called The Revelation Project: A Fresh Look at the Last Book and then edited and re-released it as part of my Live the Word Commentary series. My perspective in both books flew in the face of most commonly held interpretations. I recently re-read the introduction to both books and thought it may be helpful if I shared it with you. My purpose is to continue my work to reclaim and revive the last book of the Bible from the zany and bizarre interpretations many hold that cause them to mistakenly examine current affairs under the light of Revelation's message. Here is what I had to say in my introduction.


I suppose it's natural for us to think about the end of time and speculate concerning what will happen leading up to the end and beyond. Due to the popularity of fiction books that focus on the end times, along with the commonly held and taught positions on the meaning of the rapture, the millenium, and the antichrist, people study Revelation, along with Daniel, Ezekiel, and some parts of the gospel accounts. Many are looking for the beast, the dragon, and the meaning of the number 666, among other things mentioned in Revelation.

LiveTheWordRevelationYet as you start this commentary, I'm asking you to do something completely counterintuitive: Suspend any and all preconceived notions you have accumulated about Revelation, just for as long as you read this book. I don’t want you to think as a pre- or post-millenialist. If you tend more to be a preterist, futurist, historicist, or even an idealist (and if you aren't familiar with those four labels, please don't spend much time researching them), I want you to approach this book like you know nothing at all. If you don’t do that, then you will approach my book or a reading of Revelation looking for the familiar, consequently not seeing what else may be there. If you go looking for the antichrist, that's all you'll see. If you can go looking for the Christ, you may notice things you have not seen before.

That brings me to my main objective for writing this commentary and that is I want you to read  Revelation, approaching it as a devotional book. My reason for this is because that is how you approach, at least in part, the other 65 books of the Bible. You usually read those books asking, “What can I learn from this that will help me in my daily walk? What can I learn about God’s will for my life? What can I learn about the Lord Jesus that will enhance my worship and walk with Him?” 

Once you suspend your preconceived notions of what Revelation is or how you have interpreted it, here are some other guidelines I have set up as you work through the material, just so you know how I'm approaching this work:

    1. Revelation isn't a book primarily about the future. It's a book about the past. This doesn't mean there are no future aspects to Revelation. There most certainly are. Yet the other 65 books of the Bible primarily explain how God has worked among His people, culminating in the work of Christ on the cross. The Old Testament basically tells us that Christ is coming. The New Testament explains the implications for His finished work and Ascension to heaven. Revelation has much to tell us about Christ’s work just like the other books do.
    2. Revelation is a book about the Christ, not the Antichrist. Yes, Revelation does depict the work of forces that align themselves against the Lord and His Anointed One, but their actions are shown to be futile in light of God’s superior power and authority and the finished work of Christ on the cross. Focusing on the enemies of God has tended to magnify their power and actions. We are never to magnify the enemy, only God.
    3. Revelation had to mean something to the churches that initially received it. The New Testament was written to the Church in all ages, and Revelation is no exception. The gospel of Matthew has meaning for us today, but it also meant something to those for whom it was first writtenthe Jews of the first century. If we can grasp and recapture some of what Revelation could have meant to the early church, then we will have a clearer understanding of what it says to us today. 
    4. Revelation is also called the Apocalypse because it's a book that utilizes apocalyptic language and images. The word apocalypse literally means unveiling. It was a genre of literature that was well-known to the early church, but almost a complete mystery to us today. There were specific rules of interpretation for apocalyptic literature then, just like there are for satire and science fiction today. You approach those latter types of literature with certain expectations and rules for interpretation. You must do the same as you read Revelation. Much of Revelation employs graphic and exaggerated symbols and metaphors, intended to give a general “bird’s eye view” of the work of Christ as He rules until all His enemies are His footstool. Those metaphors aren't to be interpreted as literally as some have done. When Revelation wants us to know what something represents, it tells us. When it doesn't, be careful not to assign specific meanings that may even make some sense, but aren't supported by biblical evidence.
    5. Revelation wasn't intended to generate fear, but trust and confidence in God. If the other 65 books of the Bible were intended to teach reverence for God and confidence in His ability to protect His people, then why would Revelation be any different? Yet the Bible and Revelation do tell the sinnerthose who are apart from God and in open rebellionto fear. He will not remain silent or inactive forever but will eventually judge His enemies, both in this Age and at the Final Judgment. If anyone should fear when reading Revelation, it's not God’s people but those who do not know Him. Of course, they are not reading it and our depictions of it do little to draw them to Christ.


There you have my basic approach to the reading, study, and interpretation of Revelation. It is a book of victory, not of defeat, and I resent just a little those who have made it be something else. It matters what you believe about the end for that will direct how you live. I want to live as one who exalts daily in the truth that Jesus has taken on, and will continue to do so, all comers and is still winner and champion. Maranatha! Come quickly, Lord Jesus!

Something to Publish?

I am trying something new through my publishing company. I have an idea to publish poems, short stories, song lyrics, essays, Screen Shot 2021-03-20 at 5.25.35 PM or anything else that's publishable in my first annual collection. My thinking is that you or those you know may have pieces that are worthy of publishing but don't have enough to publish a book. This project will allow you to submit them to me and once they are accepted, they will be in a book in which your name and material will be included.

This is my first effort for something like this so here are the guidelines I have come up with so far:

Project: Solicit poems, song lyrics, essays of a non-offensive nature, and short stories from authors to publish in one anthology.

Deadline for author’s submission: May 1, 2021. All work is to be submitted as a Word document - no exceptions.

Procedure: Urban Press will screen, accept, edit, and publish submissions. Author’s will have final approval on any edits done before publishing.

Stipulation: Author gives Urban Press permission for one-time usage and unlimited print copies, but author maintains the copyright on their material (you will sign a contract). No royalties will be paid on any sales and all sales proceeds will benefit the Stanko Orphanage in Kenya. Authors will be given full disclosure on annual sales. Author’s bio and contact info will be included in the book. Authors will receive one free copy of the book with their work and an opportunity to buy additional copies at 60-70% off retail to be sold or given away at the author’s discretion.

Parameters: Poets may submit up to five poems; short stories are 2,500 words max

Publishing goal: October 31, 2021 (in time for Christmas)

There may be things I haven't thought of so feel free to write me at [email protected] and I will try to answer them as best I can. Also, you can submit your work at any time to that email as well. Since I have no idea how many submissions I will receive, I reserve the right to adjust the deadline if I deem I have enough for volume one. Then we will begin work on volume two. The title of the book will be The Blue Guitar, which will be explained in the book's introduction. Don't delay, send me your work today!

Online Purpose Classes



  1. Held on Saturday mornings from 10 to 11:30 and Wednesday nights from 7 to 8:30, Eastern New IMG_6102 York time. Classes start Saturday, July 25, and Wednesday, July 29, and will go for four weeks. (Picture to the right is from a classroom purpose session. Online classes will have similar content.) I have now added a Sunday class starting July 26 from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. New York time (add 5 hours for Nigeria, 6 hours for Zimbabwe, 7 hours for Kenya).
  2. You must be able to access each of the four classes via Zoom.
  3. You will have assigned readings from my book Unlocking the Power of Your Purpose along with videos to watch.
  4. The class will consist of discussing the material and giving you a chance to develop your purpose statement with my help and that of the class.
  5. The tuition is $125 for the course. Send me an email at [email protected] telling me you want to enroll and which session you would like (Saturday, Sunday, or Wednesday) and I will invoice you via PayPal. You can pay in installments if you wish. We can work out payment other than PayPal as you require.
  6. A limited number of scholarships are available. Email me with your request along with your background, where you live, and why you are enrolling at this time. Scholarships will be awarded no later than July 20 and depend on funds donated for this reason.
  7. Tuition also covers the two books we will use in class, which I will send you when you have registered.
  8. In the meantime, download the free PurposeQuest International mobile app and get started watching the class videos.