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The Flame

THE MAGAZINE OF CHRIST CHURCH


SUMMER | 2016

CONTENTS
5 THE NEXT FIFTEEN YEARS

18 LIVING IN PARADISE

6 BUT GOD, HE HAD OTHER...

19 OUT OF THE DARKNESS...

7 GOD, MY RESTORER

20 NEW CREATION, NEW LIFE

8 BRICOLAGE

21 JOURNEY BACK TO GOD

9 SCANDALOUS GRACE

22 WHO AM I?

10 REFLECTING ON...

23 PATH TO NOW

11 THE SAINTS OF OUR LIVES

24 EVER PRESENT GOD

by Rev. Shane Bishop

by Kevin Siddle

by Jo Lewis

by Lydia Bishop

by Zack Funk

by Dr. Steve Heitkamp

by Jeffrey M. Bishop

12 NEVER ENDING GRACE


by Darah Dodt

13 JOURNEY OF FAITH
by Theresa Cavalier

14 THEN... WHAT HAPPENED...


by Becky Olroyd

15 A PASSION FOR GIVING


by Kathy ODell

16 TRUE CONNECTION
by Amy Bouvet

17 GOD, CATS IN THE CRADLE...


by Jim Shoffstall

by Laura Abel

by Craig LeQuatte

by Jeffrey Rolph

by Melissa Owens

by Shelley Loring

by James Oppedal

by Kathy Seibel

SENIOR PASTOR
Rev. Shane Bishop
ASSOCIATE PASTOR
Rev. Michael Wooton
For a complete listing of the
Christ Church Staff visit:
www.MyChristChurch.com/staff.

WORSHIP TIMES
Fairview Heights Campus
Sunday - 9am, 11am, & 6pm
Saturday - 5pm
Wednesday - 6:30pm

Collinsville/Maryville Campus
Sunday - 10am

Millstadt Campus
Sunday - 10am

The Flame Magazine is a quarterly magazine published by Christ Church.


2016 Christ Church. Learn more about Christ Church at MyChristChurch.com.
EDITOR: Carrie Gaxiola DESIGN: Justin Aymer COVER: Mike Creagh

Scott Campus
Sunday - 10am

FROM THE EDITOR


Oh, the grace that was greater than all my
sin... thats our story. I could stop right
there and not say another word! What
a beautiful testament of the gift we have
been given through Jesus Christ. That He
would allow us a story to tell is beyond
amazing to me! But He gives us a story
and our stories all point back to Him.
Scripture says, In Him we live and move
and have our being. (Acts 17:28) We
honestly cant take a breath without God
breathing into us day after day, and we
cant tell our story without recognizing
His hand weaving every fiber of the tapestry of our lives. He opens our eyes to
His salvation, He renews our hearts, He
heals, He forgives, He gives us hope for a
future and an expected end through Jesus
Christ!
The Summer Flame 2016 is dedicated to
telling the goodness of God. In the spirit of Project 200, the pages of this Flame
portray over and again what God will do
in a persons life. He takes some from the
ash heap and breathes into them new life
and hope. He takes some from being a
faithful church member and shows them
a vibrant relationship as opposed to just
religious practice. Read these pages and
as you do, remember your story. What
good things has God done in your life?
What is He doing in your life? Tell your

Mission Of The Flame

Be inspirational through biblical articles


and devotions. Be informative in the
announcement of future events that
connect people in ministry.

story because your story is His story and


people need the hope our testimonies offer.
This issue has been a challenge to publish on many fronts. I was praying and
asking God to help, asking Him why it
was so difficult. He reminded me that we
have an adversary that is opposed to the
redemption of Jesus Christ. Satan hates
Gods story and will do everything he can
to stop it from being told. But I know my
God and His work will be accomplished!
Be a part of His work tell of His goodness, tell of His overcoming power and
presence in your life. You never know the
impression you will make on another life.
Read this and leave it! Im praying for every hand that picks up the issue to be impacted in a profound way.
And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength,
and the kingdom of our God, and the
power of his Christ: for the accuser of
our brethren is cast down, which accused
them before our God day and night. And
they overcame him by the blood of the
Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the
death. (Revelation 12:10-11)
Living His Story,
--- CARRIE GAXIOLA ---

The Flame Online:

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Visit MyChristChurch.com/theflame.

Questions about the Flame?

Contact the Editor, Carrie Gaxiola, at:


CarrieGaxiola@MyChristChurch.com

THE FLAME // SUMMER 2016

MY STORY

If I told you my story


You would hear hope that wouldnt let go
If I told you my story
You would hear love that never gave up
If I told you my story
You would hear life but it wasnt mine
If I should speak then let it be
Of the grace that is greater than all my sin
Of when justice was served and where mercy wins
Of the kindness of Jesus that draws me in
To tell you my story is to tell of Him
If I told you my story
You would hear victory over the enemy
If told you my story
You would hear freedom that was won for me
If I told you my story
You would hear life overcome the grave
If I should speak then let it be
This is my story this is my song
praising my Savior all the day long

CCLI Song # 7036037


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So Essential Tunes (Admin. by Essential Music Publishing LLC). Weave Country (Admin. by Word Music Group, Inc.). Jason Ingram/Mike Weaver
CCLI License # 1430484
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SUMMER 2016 // THE FLAME

THE NEXT
FIFTEEN YEARS
BY REV. SHANE BISHOP
I have been amazed of late at how many
people have asked me, What are your
plans for the next fifteen years? Perhaps
they see the new building going up, the
campuses in place and the Student and
Childrens Ministries booming and wonder, What is the next big thing for Christ
Church? Or perhaps they do the math
and see that I have about fifteen years before mandatory retirement and are curious about what is in my head concerning
it. So I have been thinking much about
my plans for the next fifteen years.
Here are my plans:

Keep connecting people to Jesus


I plan to keep Christ Church focused
upon our mission. Keeping the main
thing the main thing and avoiding institutional distraction is my most important
job as a Senior Pastor.
Stay relentless in my lifes work
I plan to keep working hard every single
day. The age-old formula: Success = Excellence over Time is absolutely true. I
discovered long ago that the only two
things I can control are effort and attitude. I plan to be unrelenting concerning
both!
Improve my preaching
I LOVE to preach and teach (though I am
increasingly unsure of the difference). I
dont want to be a pulpit preacher in the
next fifteen years who coasts off of what
he has accomplished in the previous
twenty-five. I want to get better, push
the boundaries, trust the Holy Spirit for
new insights and serve up every message
I present homemade, tasty, hot and fresh!
Keep Christ Church healthy, growing, functional and vital
I love Christ Church. In many ways, this
congregation has been my lifes work. I
plan to effectively lead us so the church
will continue to thrive in her mission and
effectiveness long beyond when I have retired and people have forgotten my name.

Become a mentor to young pastors


Shifting from a player to a player-coach
has been significantly easier than I anticipated. Pouring into promising young
Christian leaders and watching them impact the world for Jesus is something I
hope to continue well beyond my formal
ministry years. Mentoring and coaching
will be my professional legacy.
Be a good Christian
The past handful of years have brought
unexpected challenges into my life that
have necessitated personal growth in
Christ. Had I written the script for my
life, I would have edited out all the pain.
But that pain has produced a more reflective, compassionate, humane and empathetic man as Christ has walked with me
through it. I plan to know Jesus even better in the next fifteen years!
Give Melissa her best years
People outside of pastoral ministry can
little imagine the stresses, sacrifices and
challenges that are common to those who
have obeyed Gods call. Melissa has been
as much a part of the history here as I
have been and I am grateful. Leading a
congregation through change is hard and
at times, Melissa has been placed on the
back burner. I have some making up to
do. I plan to be a better husband to her
in the next fifteen than I have been in the
previous thirty-three.
Be a great father and grandfather
I used to try to juggle my busy schedule.
I stopped that a few years back. Now I
attempt to be 100% present wherever I
am. If I am at work, I am 100% engaged
at work. If I am at home, I am 100% engaged there. I have four young grandchildren. I plan to be a major shaping
force in their lives. 100%.
Enjoy every day of my life
Happiness is not something others give
you, it is something you must choose for
yourself. I choose to be happy these days
in ways I didnt know how when I was

younger. I plan to enjoy sunsets, climb


mountain trails, take pilgrimages to Israel, read great books, spend time with my
family and schedule in plenty of adventures along the way!

Finish well
This is actually my number one plan.
How tragic it would be to run the race
well only to stumble at the finish line! I
plan to make the next fifteen years the
most successful years of my personal,
professional and spiritual life!
The first four of these items would have
been on my Top Ten list had I made it in
2001 but the next six represent a transformation of sorts. Now settled into
my fifties, I am as passionate about my
call as I have ever been. I have lost no
drive from the early years, I am a whole
lot smarter and have lost surprisingly little energy. But I am frankly more
concerned about relationship, gratitude,
life and legacy than I used to be. How
do you truly thank a wife who has stuck
with you through thick and thin? How
do you make quality time for the people
you love most and best? How do you ensure that you will forever be the Great
and Mighty Papa to your grandchildren?
How do you truly leave a leadership legacy beyond the point the Methodists tell
you that you are too old to be a full-time
pastor? How do you truly live each day
to the fullest?
As I get older (and hopefully wiser), I am
reminded that our legacies will not be defined by what we have accomplished (or
even failed to accomplish), but by the investment we have made in the Kingdom
of God and in the lives of others.

Rev. Shane Bishop, Senior Pastor


facebook.com/revshane
@RevShaneBishop
THE FLAME // SUMMER 2016

BUT GOD,
HE HAD OTHER PLANS
BY KEVIN SIDDLE

Have you ever had a major God moment? One of those times when you were
prompted by God to do something that
you knew would permanently change
your life? For me, that moment was five
years ago. At 1:33 a.m. July 16th, 2011, I
told my wife that I was addicted to pornography. I hadnt planned on telling her
that early morning. But God, He had other plans.
I had tried quitting by myself hundreds
of times. I was saved and baptized while
in college, and had even led my college
churchs mens ministry. I always thought
that when I was married, I would be rid
of my addiction. I was wrong. I thought
that when my wife and I had our first
child I would be rid of my addiction. I
was wrong. No one wants to become an
addict. No one tries to become an addict.
But God, He had other plans.

thinking that theres absolutely no way


Im doing that. But God, He had other
plans.
Instead of walking out of church that day,
I met Craig LeQuatte. I told him that I
felt called to lead a purity group for men.
I wanted to help other men overcome
lust. He didnt blink or hesitate. He just
asked me how he could help. Im now
blessed to be a part of mens lives in a way
I never would have thought possible. It
was through this group that I started to
feel like I should write a book to teach
men to overcome lust. I thought this was
a terrible idea. Really, who does that? But
God, He had other plans.

God saw me the way He created me to


be. Pure. Good. Set apart for His works,
not Satans. God guided my wife and I
through the storms, sheltered us, gave us
wisdom and He has healed many of our
wounds over the last five years. There are
still scars, and Im glad. Those scars remind us that were always being renewed.
We could have let those scars destroy our
marriage. But God, He had other plans.

So I wrote a book called Living the Transparent Life: Overcoming Lust. The sum
of the book is to teach practical, mental,
spiritual and emotional ways to overcome
lust. The book looks at how to remove
all the junk that addiction brings, and
instead fill ourselves up with God. God
used the book to start making miracles
happen. Never quite content, God asked
me to do something more. God asked
me to quit my job. I was a successful engineer in my familys business. There was
just no way that I could do it. I couldnt
leave my family and take that kind of
leap. But God, He had other plans.

It wasnt long after this that we decided to


get back into Gods house. Randomly, we
found Christ Church. When we got here,
the very, very few people that knew our
story didnt judge us, but welcomed us
instead. It wasnt long after this that there
was a call for mens leaders. I remember

God opened one door after another, placing spiritual leaders in my path to guide
me with wisdom and discernment. God
didnt just want me to quit my job, He
wanted me. I was being called to become
a Christian counselor. Over the last few
months, I took online courses to become

Kevin Siddle
Flame Volunteer Writer
facebook.com/kevin.siddle.12
6

SUMMER 2016 // THE FLAME

a certified Biblical counselor. Im not a


full-blown professional counselor. I havent been called to that (yet). I am blessed to say that I counsel and mentor men
who struggle with addiction. I always
laughed at the thought of me being in
ministry professionally. But God, He had
other plans.
I dont know what your struggle is or
what hurts are on your heart. What I do
know is that God loves you. God loves
you so much that He will change you. I
was once an addict, but now God is using
me to help men who struggle with addiction. God will mold and shape us into
what He wants us to be. The more we allow this to happen, the closer we become
to resembling Jesus Christ. There will be
storms and trials and tribulations, but
God, He has other plans for you.
For I know the plans I have for you,
says the Lord. They are plans for good
and not for disaster, to give you a future
and a hope. -- Jeremiah 29:11, New Living Translation

GOD,
MY RESTORER
BY JO LEWIS

And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten
~ Joel 2:25 ~

As childhoods go, mine was not idyllic.


My father, who was gripped by alcoholism and gambling, verbally abused me.
My relationship with my mom was also
strained. She had to work at least two
jobs while we were growing up and had
few resources to spare.
I became a Christian at age nineteen. I
stumbled upon Joel 2:25 in a devotional,
and that promise took root in my heart.
It was great reassurance for me because
I was so broken. At that time, I had also
just recently had my heart broken by the
one person I thought loved me, my first
boyfriend. Little did I know then the
journey of healing that God had in store
for me.
Two years later, God brought the man
of my dreams into my life. John accepted a short-term missions program in my
hometown and started attending my local
church. He served his term and returned
home. After a year and a half of long-distance courtship, in January of 1998,
we were married and I moved halfway
around the world from Malaysia to live in
America.
A month after we got married, John and
I received news that we were going to
become parents. Like every new mom,
I struggled to find my bearings and was
gripped with fear and inadequacy for the
title of Mother. Not long after Alyssa
was born, I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism, which explained the fatigue
and depression that I was experiencing.
In the next eleven years, wed add three
more blessings to our family. Every child
brought much joy, but also challenges. To
make matters worse, every time Id make
a mistake, Id hear my fathers words in
my mind and I felt like a failure. With
each new baby I brought home, I would
experience bouts of postpartum depres-

sion. As I got older and had more children to care for, the postpartum depression became more profound.

way, He is there to help us through that


situation, too. God totally restored our
family and I was given a second chance.

In 2009, we welcomed the sweetest baby


boy into our family of six. David had a
good appetite and would nurse around
the clock. As a result, I wasnt sleeping
well. When he was about ten months old,
I started experiencing weird symptoms.
I thought that it was just my thyroid that
needed help, but later on, we found out
that my body was at war with itself. I was
diagnosed with adrenal failure. A couple
months after that, I spiraled into postpartum psychosis. I lost touch with reality
and began having delusions. I would lay
awake all night hoping that I wouldnt
be alive by morning. I also had irrational
guilt about somehow having done something wrong, and I was convinced that
my family would be better off without
me. For four months, John prayed that I
would get better, while I became a recluse
and was unable to care for our family. Finally, with the advice of a trusted friend,
John made the decision to have me hospitalized.

I dont know why God spared my life except that He could use me to bring hope
to somebody else who is going through
similar situations. Please reach out for
help when you need it. You are not alone.
You are precious in His sight and fully
loved and accepted. If God can heal me,
and He did, He can do the same for you.
God has truly restored to me the years
the locusts have eaten.

With the help of medication and counselling, God healed my mind. But He didnt
stop there; with His presence and His
love, He also healed my heart. Through
this traumatic experience, I learned unconditional love and acceptance. God
never abandoned me at my lowest point.
I came to the realization that I was fully
accepted and loved, not only by God but
also by my faithful husband, who was by
my side the whole time. They love me not
because of what I can or cant do, but because of who they are. I also learned that
failure is an event, not a person. It also
cemented the fact that God is faithful. If
He didnt leave us to muddle through this
traumatic time by ourselves, we have assurance that no matter what comes our

Scripture quotation from The Holy Bible,


King James Version

Jo Lewis
Flame Volunteer Writer

THE FLAME // SUMMER 2016

BRICOLAGE
REBUILDING WITH WHAT YOU HAVE
BY LYDIA BISHOP

It was Christmas morning 2014, when


I realized that I had died. I woke up
alone, in a cold, dark apartment with
empty walls, a broken family and not a
friend in sight. The weight was so heavy,
I couldnt move. I laid there, eyes closed,
mournfully crying the most excruciating
expression of pain one could imagine.
Tears sliced through my face like pieces
of shrapnel from the life that had exploded around me, and I clinched my teeth so
hard from the anger that was overwhelming me that my face was throbbing. I was
drowning, and no one was there to save
me. Paralyzed, I had finally come to a realization that my life would never be the
same and would never be what I had always dreamed it would be. It was gone.
Everyone was gone. Everything was gone.
Memories of the Christmas before began
to flash in a foggy unconscious. Waking
up my 2- and my 4-year-old from their
warm little beds, an aromatic cup of coffee and a Christmas tree that twinkled
unlike any Christmas tree I had ever
seen. The day before I spent singing at
all the Christmas Eve services, surrounded by friends and by more love than one
could ever feel and now, blinding
flashes of a Christmas past were the only
things I could hold on to.
I got out of bed and opened my laptop
to scroll through pictures and videos, to
see if I could find anyone or anything to
heal the pain. My phone stayed silent for
hours. There were no more smiles, there
were no more friends. All I had was anger. And anger made for a very cold bed.
It was the anger and resentment that I let
consume me, that drove everyone away. I
was angry at people, angry at Church, angry at God, and I had a dire hate for my-

Lydia Bishop
Flame Volunteer Writer

SUMMER 2016 // THE FLAME

self. Where I once was a light, now I was


nothing but a 6 oclock shadow, trying to
feel past the numb.
I had died a long time ago, and it became
crystal clear to me that morning. No one
was in the front row crying at my funeral,
and no one was there to give the eulogy.
From perfect, to abandoned wreckage.
Overnight, I had lost everything I had
ever had. I had a perfect family, a home,
two ministries that I cherished being
a part of, friends and family that were
stronger than any force to be reckoned
with and a future that was in line to be
everything I had ever dreamed of. It was
all now dust in the wind.
Two choices laid before me on that
morning: I stay and drown, or I stand
up and face the hurricane. My life would
never be the same if I moved forward. I
didnt want to get out of the shadows because I couldnt face climbing that mountain, but drowning would only suffocate
what I had left. So I stood up that day,
with broken legs and a shattered Christmas present.
See, there is no rebirth in life; only in
death can we be reborn. Until you sit
down and face the reality that things
will never be the same, you cannot move
forward. I dont stand now because my
life is perfect and I do not hurt; I stand
before my death, because I once caused
someone elses. And unlike mine, Christs
blood dripped undeservedly. He told me
that morning to put my nails and hammer down when I laid upon that tree, trying to put them through my own hands
and feet. He took the knife away from
you as you tried to stab my side. He didnt
do this because I was perfect and didnt

deserve it. He did it because in His perfection, He was my exchange. He was


Who I found that Christmas morning,
scrolling through the pictures, trying to
find someone. Jesus was the only one I
needed to see.
That doesnt mean that since I stood,
things are perfect. Bricolage -- rebuilding with what you have isnt easy, and it
can be one of the hardest things you will
ever have to do. I dont have the pieces I
used to have. Rather, I have a whole new
puzzle: pieces from the rubble, and pieces
I still have yet to create. I stand, though,
because Ive chosen to rebuild with what
I have. Behind the smile, and behind
your perceptions, everyone has a story.
Bricolage is mine.

Student Connection

SCANDALOUS
GRACE
BY ZACK FUNK

But He said to me, My grace is sufficient


for you, for My power is made perfect in
weakness. Therefore I will boast all the
more gladly about my weaknesses, so that
Christs power may rest on me. (2 Corinthians 12:9) My story can be defined
in one word. GRACE! I have done a lot
of wrong in my life thus far. Too much
to list. I wish I could say that all of these
sins were done before I knew Jesus, but
thats not true either. I was raised in a
non-Christian household in a nice home
with parents that I love dearly, but we
were not a church family. Honestly, as
a kid, I had no idea that people actually went to church every week. I figured
church was something weird that everyone did on Christmas and Easter.
Going into junior high school I became
a little mischievous to say the least. This
was where the tailspin began. Looking
back on junior high, one of the memories that stands out the most is not a
good memory. I bullied another student,
although I didnt necessarily know that
I was bullying him until he brought
a knife to school. He had a hit list and I
was number three on that list. That was
a game changer for me. I realized for the
first time that my actions could really
hurt someone. I didnt realize then exactly what I needed, but I later learned that
it was grace.
The next year was the turning point for
my life whether I knew it or not. My 8th
grade choir teacher, who I didnt see eye
to eye with, invited me to be a part of her
Christian Choir Group called Encounter.
She did not necessarily want to invite me,
but she felt a strong pull from God to do
so. I wish I could tell you that I joined for
the right reasons, but that would be a lie.

I most definitely was not in the group to


find a relationship with Christ; I was in
the group to find a girlfriend. Heres the
deal, God can use any situation to flip
your life around, even if you are in that
situation for the wrong reason. Sometimes we forget that our God is almighty,
and all powerful, and His plan is infinitely greater than our wildest dreams. Christ
used an 8th grade teacher that I didnt
like to draw me closer to Him. Christ
used me to show that 8th grade teacher
that God can use anyone He wants. I was
in the group for the wrong reasons, but
God won, and I came to know Christ as
my personal Lord and Savior my junior
year in Encounter. One night as we were
singing praises to our King all the lyrics started to make sense, and Ive never
looked back.

walk closer, and closer, and closer with


Christ, and you wont want to ever turn
back to the sin that you were in. When
you get serious with God, He gets serious
with you. Run to Him. His grace is sufficient for you. It was, and is, for a sinner
like me.

When I became a Christian, I still made a


barrage of mistakes. So much so that I realized that I really needed grace. The bigger the mistake, the more grace I needed.
Unfortunately, I had to make quite a few
mistakes to realize that I needed quite a
bit of grace. Then I started to feel unworthy of that grace until the day that someone set me straight. She said, When you
get serious with God, He gets serious
with you. His Grace is sufficient. Even
for YOU.
Ive made it my mission as a student director to show students the grace of Jesus.
Our culture is full of things that make
our kids stumble and fall, Christians or
not. My goal is to show every student
that no matter what, God is standing here
with arms wide open. Repent and run
away from your sin. Run to the cross. You
wont be perfect, and youll make more
mistakes, but learn from this. Learn to

Zack Funk
Director of Student Ministries
ZackFunk@mychristchurch.com
THE FLAME // SUMMER 2016

REFLECTING
ON FOUNDATIONS
BY DR. STEVE HEITKAMP

You have been


taught the Holy Scriptures from childhood,
and they have given
you the wisdom to
receive the salvation
that comes by trusting
in Christ Jesus.
~ II Timothy 3:15 (NLT) ~
I was raised in the church. In fact, many
of my earliest memories came from being
inside the church building. The building
where I worshiped brought me comfort
and peace; a sanctuary - a holy space. It
was set apart for Him, and taught me the
importance of things and people being
set apart for Godly purposes. The community of faith shaped me, and many of
these faithful Christians built the foundation for my future salvation.
Looking back, I realize that being raised
in the church does not always mean being raised in a Christian family. In fact,
the outward appearances may imply
something much different than reality.
The picture is sometimes unclear until years later. As a child, I experienced
many difficult things, which I will not go
into here, but these events caused me to
turn inward, and shy away from people
and the world around me. My experienc-

Dr. Steve Heitkamp


drsteve@horizonhope.org
www.horizonhope.org
10 SUMMER 2016 // THE FLAME

es as a child caused me to look at things


differently than others. I look for what is
not evident. Those experiences, although
painful, formed in me a heart of compassion to be with people during their own
difficult circumstances. The following
verses have forged and shaped me towards this mandate.

II Corinthians 1: 4-6a (NLT) He


comforts us in all our troubles so
that we can comfort others. When
they are troubled, we will be able
to give them the same comfort God
has given us. For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will
shower us with his comfort through
Christ. Even though we are weighted down with troubles, it is for your
comfort and salvation.
I came to a personal faith in Christ at
family church camp, and the faith of the
centuries became personal at the age of
12. I was one who heard our Savior call
and knelt at a bench during a closing
song, and Jesus became My Savior. In the
years to come, He not only became my
Savior, but the Lord of my life. It takes
a moment to accept him as Savior, but
years to grow in discipleship, as He becomes Lord. Even now, I am still learning
daily.

Ephesians 2:8-9 (NASB)


For by
grace you have been saved through
faith; and that not of yourselves, it
is the gift of God not as a result of
works, that no one should boast.
Three things shaped my growing and
emerging faith.

Work
At a young age, I started mowing yards
for church widows and former school
teachers. After mowing, I listened, and

people found interest in our conversations. Quickly, I began to understand that


God was growing me to do something
more. This experience of life, through relationships outside my home, expanded
my world. Numerous years of education
toward counseling and ministry, along
with mentoring by others, would follow
me to walk alongside others during their
own significant times.

Mindy
We started dating in high school. We
were teenagers when our relationship
began, and we grew up together. With
Mindy, I found ways to be articulate
and explain my faith to help her journey
to come to faith in Christ which has
shaped who I have become. I would not
have been able to express myself as much,
had I not had this formation of assisting
in her faith journey. Mindy was the first
person to discern the call of God to ministry before I did, and God has used her
to reveal His will to me and us over the
years.
Asbury College
This Christian institution became a
Christian parent to me at just the right
time, as I was emerging into adulthood
and my faith in Christ. Here, I witnessed
the depth and wisdom of many devoted Christians. During this time, I listened and grew under some of the greatest teachers and preachers I have ever
known. I cannot say how grateful I am
for the experience of a Christian community that propelled me to yearn to be like
Christ.
I came to know Christ when I was young,
but my greatest growth happened emerging into adulthood from the influence
of mature Christians. Look around and
consider the influence you may have on
a young adult maturing into His likeness.

THE SAINTS OF OUR LIVES:


A THANK YOU LETTER
BY JEFFREY M. BISHOP

Some sow, some tend and some harvest.


This is Your Life was a TV show in
the golden age of television. Each week,
friends and loved ones of that weeks
guest of honor would share stories of
meaningful or poignant intersections of
their lives. These separate anecdotes drew
a constellation a sort of connect-thedots picture of the person being honored.
For every Christ follower, there is a similar constellation contributing to our faith
story. The stars of our personal map of
Heaven are simple saints otherwise
normal people who, at some necessary
juncture, provided wisdom to help mold
the sticky, wet clay that we are to more
closely resemble that perfect form of Jesus. While God gets all the glory, His
agents certainly warrant eternal gratitude, as saints of our lives. Here are a few
of mine:
My parents were free thinkers who valued independence and critical thought
over any other ideal. They didnt aim to
raise a brood of atheists, but thats more
or less what they got from the six children they raised. And yet, in this environment, I found God, certainly by His
plan.
To my understanding, my parents virtue
of independence looks a lot like Gods
gift of free will. And critical thinking
and open inquiry certainly resemble
Gods instruction to test everything and
hold fast to what is good. Even questioning authority is critical to grasping the
Gospel; countless times God tolerated
what would seem to a lay reader to be
insubordination. Abrahams appeals for
mercy for Sodom? Jacob grappling with
God Himself? Wrestling with God for

truth and understanding. These tools


God-given and inherited alike were
essential to finding God with my head as
well as with my heart.
We loved it when Grandpa Hannawald
came to visit; he was warm and humor-loving and his visits often accompanied our favorite celebrations, including
Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. The
richness, variety and quantity of food
made these meals special and unique, but
so, too, did the prayers that he led before
each meal. That deep, clear, sonorous
voice echoes in my ears even today. Even
to an unchurched boy, I knew they were
professional-grade, steeped over decades
of lay leadership at the United Methodist
Church in Pratt, Kansas. For years, this
was the entirety of my sustenance of sermon, worship, praise and supplication all
in one; the entire Gospel delivered in our
pre-supper grace.
Reflecting, these prayers didnt express
my familys faith; we had none. Rather,
they were mere tradition. But two things
are true: despite the motive, God was
there with us; and even now, when we
gather, my family prays. And God is still
there.
I met my wife of 20 years, Tina, at the
pinnacle of my atheism. We started dating at college. Raised more or less a
Christmas-Easter Christian, she had
only recently come into her own mature
understanding of her Christian faith, to
truly be born again. To her credit, she
had all of the conviction of a new believer, but none of the evangelical zealotry
that would certainly have turned the
then-me off. Instead, she patiently endured my pseudo-intellectual rants about
the impossibility of religion, while matter of factly telling me her intention to

attend church and inviting me to join


her. Somehow, her witness, church-Gospel osmosis, and a growing healthy skepticism about my own atheistic skepticism
led me to ask the right kinds of questions
and to find the right kinds of answers
such that within a couple years, when
it came time to stamp my Air Force dog
tags, I wanted them to read Christian.
Clearly there are many others Louis Kennedys youth pastor who led me
to recite the sinners prayer of salvation
long before I would know or value what
it meant; Sharmaine Chappell and her
large cross made up of iron nails that led
me to ask about the connection between
the nails and the cross (so little did I
know); Dean Padgett, whom I regard as
the Johnny Appleseed of Christian good
cheer, for modeling how we should act;
my in-laws Jack and Barbara Shannon,
who maintained reverent joy despite
Job-like life challenges that would have
crushed lesser people and so many others of you who remain unnamed, but not
unappreciated.
To all the saints of our lives, thank you
for being the Church and speaking or
behaving truth into our lives. For those
fully arrived at faith, we should in turn
serve the Kingdom, as a wayfinder star,
one of many in a constellation there to
point others toward Christ.

Jeffrey Bishop
Flame Volunteer Writer

THE FLAME // SUMMER 2016 11

NEVER ENDING
GRACE
BY DARAH DODT

I grew up in a church that ministered to


four generations of my family. I went to
church nearly every Sunday and learned
that God loved me very much. I learned
all the popular Bible stories and songs.
But for my family, God stayed at church
and we didnt talk much about Him in
our day-to-day lives. Prayers were saved
for when you were all alone at night in
your bed before you fell asleep, thanking
Him for the day and asking for the impossible. I remember asking God to heal
a family friend every night before I went
to bed. This man had terminal cancer
and I truly believed that if I prayed every
night for him, God would cure him. Sadly, he passed away, and I in turn lost my
faith at about 12 years old.
I continued to wrestle with my faith
over and over throughout my life. At
times I wasnt sure that God even existed. Because I never developed a strong
foundation, I didnt have the necessary
spiritual tools to navigate through my
adolescence. I spent most of my teen
years and young adulthood searching for
something to fill an unidentifiable gap in
my soul. Nothing and no one could seem
to satisfy the void. I faced lots of heartbreak as many do. My parents divorced
after I finished high school, and as I started college I had no idea what I was going
to do with my life. During those times,
my grandmother was a source of unconditional love. She was becoming more
dependent on others and I really enjoyed
helping her. I began going with her to
church every Sunday to the church where
I grew up. At this time, I was just a pew
filler and a chauffeur to my grandma. I

Darah Dodt
Flame Volunteer Writer

12 SUMMER 2016 // THE FLAME

cant exactly tell you when or how, but


things started to click. I wanted to really know God and learn more about His
word. I wanted to spend more time in
prayer with Him.
Not long after, I fell in love with my now
husband, and in turn I started to value
my life. I really believe that God put him
in my life at just the perfect time, and I
have no doubt that we saved each others
lives. After a couple years of marriage, I
experienced true unconditional love with
the birth of my two children. There was
no way I could deny Gods existence. Just
as it says in Galatians 5:22, But the Holy
Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our
lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness,
goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and
self-control. Just as my Father felt about
me, I now felt this way about my children. It became easier to understand the
complex relationship between God and
His children which is full of unrestricted
love and complete forgiveness.
God has always been patient with me,
just like it says in Timothy 1:16, But for
that reason I was shown mercy so that
in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus
might display His immense patience as
an example for those who would believe
in Him and receive eternal life. While
some have experienced profound turning
points in their lives, my walk has been
quite the opposite. My adult relationship
with God has happened so gradually. At
times it is one step forward, two steps
back. God leads me forward and then I
get scared and begin to back pedal. I will
say that it does gets easier. When I hear

Gods calling, I can recognize it, when


there is joy in my life I praise God for His
blessings, and when there is tragedy I go
to Him in prayer. It is my sole purpose
in life to make sure that my children have
a strong relationship with their Creator
and Redeemer. I am still learning how to
be a Christian and how to teach my children about God. My hope is to continually grow in the knowledge and grace of
Jesus Christ and pass the joy of relationship with Him to the next generation in
my family.

But for that reason


I was shown mercy
so that in me, the
worst of sinners,
Christ Jesus might
display His immense
patience as an
example for those
who would believe
in Him and receive
eternal life.
~ Timothy 1:16 ~

JOURNEY
OF FAITH
BY THERESA CAVALIER

My faith journey is made up of not one


but several stories that culminate in
where I am today. The Christian rock
group Big Daddy Weave sings a song
that says to tell you my story is to tell of
Him. My story must include how God
has worked in my life.
The starting point of my faith was when
I was a young girl attending Park Avenue Baptist Church in Mt. Vernon, Illinois. One Sunday I clearly heard God
calling my name and that is when I gave
my life to Christ. As a young Christian,
I could recite the books of the Bible, in
order, and attended church several times
a week, but I didnt have a relationship
with God. My parents were Christians,
but my dad suffered from depression
and had unresolved issues from his past
which kept him from being a loving father. My mom, on the other hand, was a
loving, strong woman and did everything
she could to keep the lives of her children
on an even keel.
I couldnt wait to get out on my own
and got married at the age of 20. A few
months after we got married, tragedy
struck my husbands family and several
difficult years followed. We attended a
Catholic church but didnt have a church
family like we have at Christ Church. I
felt like I was on my own as my husband
dealt with things in his own way. But
God was there all the time. After the dust
settled, my in-laws were a closer family
than ever before. My father-in-law became the dad he had never been. God
brought good from this tragedy.

Fast forward 20 years my mom fell at


home the night before Thanksgiving in
2005, broke her hip, and passed away a
month later on December 23, 2005. My
dad depended on my mom and couldnt
live without her, and he passed away 11
months later on November 27, 2006. In
the months after her death, my dad became bitter and angry and the last couple
of months of his life he barely spoke to
his children. He called me on Thanksgiving Day in 2006 and told me that God
came to him and told him that he needed to get right with his kids, and asked
for my help in contacting my brother
and sister so he could talk to all of us.
We were able to visit with him and make
peace and he passed away four days later. We all felt better knowing that things
were good with Dad before he died. I
have no doubt that God spoke to my dad
and gave him the strength and courage to
contact us. God was truly at work in this
situation!
These are just a couple of examples of
how God has played a part in my story.
When I look back now, I see all the life
events that God has brought me through,
many times without me even turning
to him for strength. God has put many
people in my life through the years, just
when I needed them. As my faith has
matured, I can now recognize his handiwork in my life as events unfold.
People often wonder where God is when
things are going wrong, but I know He is
with us. Sometimes things just have to
play out in order for us to grow stronger
in our faith and learn to trust God even

more. Christians are not exempt from


tough times. But when storms come, I
know I will be fine because I am a Christian and God is my strength and salvation. Psalms 34:18 tells us The Lord is
close to the brokenhearted, and saves
those who are crushed in spirit. How
comforting to know that He is always
there.
A few months ago, I asked God to give
me a revelation. I even made a post-it
note for my desk at work to remind me to
pray about it! I didnt think He had done
that yet, but as I wrote this article, I realized He has. He has revealed to me that
He has been, and always will be, with me.
Isaiah 41:10 says Fear not, for I am with
you; be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you, I
will uphold you with my righteous right
hand. I couldnt ask for anything more.

...for I am your God;


I will strengthen you,
I will help you, I will
uphold you with my
righteous right hand.
~ Isaiah 41:10 ~

Theresa Cavalier
Flame Volunteer Writer

THE FLAME // SUMMER 2016 13

THEN...
WHAT HAPPENED... NOW
BY BECKY OLROYD

My story in 700 words or less Wow!


700 divided by 70, even by todays math,
is a mere ten words a year. How is that
going to work? As with everyone, my life
story is comprised of many individual
stories some joyful, some sad, some triumphant, many not. The one I will share
is triumphant for sure.
Then: I was born and raised in a devout
Methodist family. I married a wonderful, devout Catholic man but abandoned
a church life unable to reconcile differing
religious viewpoints.
What happened: My husband of 46 years
died and, although I was blessed with a
loving supportive family, a multitude of
dear friends, and countless wonderful
memories, I found myself emotionally
and spiritually drowning in a sea of grief.
I had watched the big church with its
towering spire spring from the ground
not far from my home. My next door
neighbors sported a church sign in their
yard, and I had attended the funeral of a
close friend at the church and heard the
ministers passionate eulogy. So, grasping
for anything to lift me from my sorrow,
one sunny Sunday morning I forced myself to walk through the doors and timidly take a seat in a back pew of Christ
United Methodist Church. From His
wondrous mercy and goodness, the Lord
placed me next to someone I knew, who
threw her arms around me in a warm,
welcoming hug. It was a huge first step to
recovery, one for which I will be eternally
grateful.
The following week I reluctantly returned
to that same pew wanting so desper-

Becky Olroyd
Flame Volunteer Writer

14 SUMMER 2016 // THE FLAME

ately to feel the joy and enthusiasm that


seemed to emanate from that strange
contemporary music and the witty expressions and mannerisms of the pastor.
Week after week I was drawn back to
Christ Church and, to my amazement,
every week Reverend Shanes sermons
paralleled the chapters and verses I was
reading daily in the Bible that I had been
given to encourage my return to a Christian life. Every week it was as though
God, through the pastor, was speaking
directly, and only, to me; with words of
the grace and hope that could be mine
by opening my heart and my soul to the
Holy Spirit and allowing my pain to be
laid at His feet.
I found myself looking forward to Sunday mornings and feeling peaceful and
calm there surrounded by those who felt
His presence and heard His word. Within a few months I took the step of faith to
become a member of Christ Church, and
soon thereafter I found myself getting
involved, of all things! The enthusiasm
was contagious! I became a greeter and
an usher and a communion steward. I
could feel the hands of the Lord pushing
me forward not letting me hold myself
back.
But God wouldnt let up! A church
friend asked if I would join her in starting a ministry for the single members of
our church. What did I know of ministry work? Absolutely nothing! But we
forged ahead hoping to establish a mechanism for singles wanting to connect
more closely with Christ. And most recently, I have stepped far from my comfort zone by listening to the ping on my
heart (as Reverend Shane would say) to

co-lead a group during the Lenten Bible


Study.
Now: My story is still a work in progress.
I still sit in the back pew of Christ Church
every Sunday. I cant quote Bible chapters
and verses, but Im working on that little
by little. Sunday morning is my favorite
time of the week, and that strange music
has grown on me. I still get sad from time
to time. Worries still wake me in the middle of the night. But I have been so blessed and renewed by my Christ Church
family. God has performed a miracle, as
only He can do; bringing me out of the
depths of despair by working through His
people and helping me to know that joy
always comes in the morning when we
are connected to Christ.

Weeping may
last through the
night, but joy comes
with the morning.
~ Psalm 30:5 ~

Ministry Spotlight

A PASSION FOR GIVING


WOMEN4GIVEN
BY KATHY ODELL

For 16 years I was a fundraiser for Southwestern Illinois College Foundation.


It was the most rewarding job I ever had
Why? Because I saw first hand the joy
people receive from funding a students
scholarship, or helping to make the
Schmidt Art Center a reality, or other rewarding projects.
Always interested in new paths to follow,
I first heard about Giving Circles at a national conference.
At that time, most of the giving circles
were made up of women pooling their
gifts for special causes. The final decision
on who would benefit was usually determined after research was completed and
reports were shared with members. The
members voted on the distribution of
dollars.
But what I thought was a new idea was
really an idea outlined in Acts 2:44-45:

And all the believers met together


in one place and shared everything
they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the
money with those in need.
That too sounded like a giving circle to
me.
Later I read Stephen B. McSwains The
Giving Myths: Giving Then Getting the
Life Youve Always Wanted. What McSwain wrote jolted my heart about giving:

Ive written this book to remind


you that, for all the insights you will
find on self-help shelves in bookstores, you will find purpose, peace
and contentment when you start
doing one thing giving yourself
away, first to God and then to others. Let the giving of your money

be the place you start. Everything


else in your life will start falling into
proper place.
Six months later, I saw Bill Moyers Journal as he interviewed Leymah Gbowee,
a woman from Liberia who inspired and
led other women to unite against a dictator and warlords to restore the rule of law
to their country.
In the first 15 years of Liberias civil war
more than 200,000 people had been
killed, one out of three were homeless,
and two-thirds of the females were victims of sexual assault.
Gbowee had a dream.

And it was like a crazy dream, that


someone was actually telling me
to get the women of the church together to pray for peace.

Stearns wrote -

We might imagine that Gods vision for our world is like a great jigsaw puzzle. You and I are the pieces
in His hands, and He places them
in just the spots where our particular shapes, sizes and patterns best
fit with the other pieces. No other
person has our same abilities, motivation, network of friends and relationships, perspectives, ideas or experiences. When we, like misplaced
puzzle pieces, fail to show up, the
overall picture is diminished.
By the time I finished Stearns book I
knew it was time to see if we could put
together a giving circle and women I
knew from Christ Church and other
churches said yes, lets do this.

Gbowee over her strong objections


was named the leader of the women.

Today Women4given is in its 6th year of


awarding grants. Its an affordable giving
circle with a membership of $1 a day or
$365 annually.

In a Bible Class on Esther, I read of Mordecais reminder to Esther

To date, the circle will have awarded over


$100,000.

Who knows if perhaps you were


made queen for such a time as
this?

What started as a circle of 15 women in


2010, is now a 501c3 nonprofit organization with nearly 50 members from as far
away as Florida.

Esther was willing to die for her people.


And the nudges I felt to do something
just kept on coming.
It hit me again as I read Richard Stearns
book, The Hole in Our Gospel. This is the
compelling, true story of Stearns acceptance of Gods call to set aside worldly
success as CEO of Lenox China to accept
the post as CEO of World Visionto
walk with the poorest of the poor in our
world.

There is always room for the circle to


grow. If you are interested in learning
more, Women4given is hosting a coffee
chat Saturday, July 23rd at 9:30 a.m. at
The Coffeehouse Company in OFallon,
Illinois. You can also visit our website at
www.women4given.com or email any
questions to women4given@gmail.com
Kathy ODell
Flame Volunteer Writer

THE FLAME // SUMMER 2016 15

TRUE
CONNECTION
BY AMY BOUVET

I was raised in a protestant church family.


My dad was a hard-working farmer and
my mother an educated farm wife. Some
Sunday mornings I would ask my dad if
we had to go to church and he always
answered, No, you GET to go to church.
He did not send his family to church,
he ALWAYS took us. We prayed before
meals and we prayed at bedtime.
At the age of ten, my world crashed
around me when my mother was killed
in a freak accident in front of our home
at the farm. Instantly insecurity was my
new identity; my heart had a huge hole.
What kind of God were we worshipping?
One who would take our mother? I was
the oldest and had two sisters ages seven
and three. I continued to attend church
but felt no faith, only fear.
Fast forward ten yearsI was graduating
college and had met the perfect guy. He
seemed perfect anyway, because he was
the first guy that I had dated that my dad
approved. We married, had a daughter
and divorced seven years later. Tom was
my security or so I thought. Actually
he loved me no matter what I did. Yet the
hole in my heart, the insecurity and fear
surfaced with a vengeance as soon as we
were married. I didnt know how to be a
faith-filled wife. Even though we attended church and maintained successful career paths, we did not have a lifestyle centered on Christ. I might add that Tom is a
wonderful man, a great father and one of
my best friends today.

Amy Bouvet
Flame Volunteer Writer

16 SUMMER 2016 // THE FLAME

Three years after the divorce I met my


soulmate, Terry. We married and I
thanked God for bringing me more happiness than I could imagine. I was grateful for my blessings and continued to attend church. I felt that I had been blessed
and life was going to be happily ever after.
My only connection with Christ was I
went to church, yet I thought the hole in
my heart had been filled.
A few years into my fairytale life, I got
breast cancer. WHAT??? I was beyond
furious with God. How could He wreck
what He had given me? I didnt have time
for this! This led to a mastectomy, chemotherapy and all the horror that accompanies cancer. Unfortunately I still had
not connected with Jesus Christ.
As if the cancer wasnt enough to get my
attention, six years into my happy marriage, Terry died suddenly of an arterial
venal malformation. I remained unable
to grieve for months, just frozen in anger
and hurt. I turned to recreational drugs
to dull the pain. I wasnt out in the streets;
I was a white-collar druggy, always justifying my actions. The evil that came into
my heart and soul was unbearable. I still
attended church yet I sat as far away from
everyone as possible so the evil wouldnt
leak out of me and spread to someone
else. For years I made one bad choice after another until I was forced to sell my
business and my home.
By this time, I begged God to take me

from my misery. I was so ashamed of


myself that I feared praying and no one
in my family would even speak to me. Finally my dad convinced me to go to inpatient rehab. I couldnt stand the life I was
living and God refused to let me die. Not
only did God take me where I needed to
go, He TOTALLY REMOVED the desire
to do drugs from my very soul. Seven
years later, I have not once even had the
thought of doing drugs again.
I was introduced to Christ Church shortly after I completed rehab by my friends,
Todd and Sharon Favre. I am blessed
beyond what I deserve. Through Christ
Church I have experienced what it feels
like to connect with Christ. All glory goes
to God as I now realize He was blessing
me from the beginning.
God gave me a super hero dad that was
capable of being both a mom and dad.
He brought fantastic, loving relationships
(friends and family) to comfort me, He
cured my cancer, He gave me a compassionate and loving daughter and now
grandchildren. He protected me even
when I tried to destroy my own life with
worldly choices. I can now pray your
will be done without fear! Praise God.

GOD, CATS IN THE CRADLE


AND A RENEWED MARRIAGE
BY JIM SHOFFSTALL

I met Cheryl shortly after beginning a


new career with an air medical provider based in St. Louis. I did not know it
at the time, however later learned that
she was soon attracted to the 80s style
mullet of curly hair which I sported. It
wasnt long before we started dating and
became the topic of conversation among
our co-workers. Though none of them
had really gotten a chance to know much
about me, based on what they thought
they knew about my future bride we were
given little chance of experiencing a long
term relationship. Regardless, we continued to build our relationship and were
married in April of 1998, a year to the
day of our first official date.
While I am not sure she would confess
this, I suspect that those days during our
engagement and subsequent marriage
were tough on my bride. Underneath the
curls which caught her eye was the soul
of a man which struggled with insecurity, jealousy, and forgiveness. These are all
characteristics which are poison to any
relationship. I recall times when I would
let days go by without saying a word to
her because I was angry over something.
My silence was causing harm to her. I
refused to acknowledge that because I
chose to remain in my own pool of selfpity.
It was in August of 2000 when God set
the stage to bring about a change in our
marriage. Cheryl had decided to look for
a church to attend. At the time I had no
interest in such activity so every Sunday

morning from then on she would leave


to worship the Lord while I remained behind to worship the world. This continued until one winter day in February of
2001 when she called me at work to inform me that the church was home to a
mens softball team, and she was curious
if I would be interested in being a part of
the team. (We had held previous discussions of my desire to play softball, I just
never pursued it).
My interest was sparked and I decided
to begin attending church with her. That
was when God took hold of my rebellious
heart and began to do what God does destroy the old and create something
new. I began to learn things about Jesus
that I had never wanted to learn before. I
was excited about a restored relationship
with Almighty God and began to read
the Bible. The problem was I had not yet
been broken. I was nothing more than a
fool now armed with the Word of God
and sought ways to use those words of
wisdom to lord it over my bride. I recall that my favorite scripture during that
time of spiritual immaturity was found in
Ephesians; For wives, this means submit
to your husbands as to the Lord (Ephesians 5:22 NLT). While I often pulled this
scripture out of my pocket during times
which, in my mind I was just joking, my
bride was suffering still more harm to her
spirit.

the evening worship service a brother in


Christ took the stage and started playing
Cats in the Cradle by Harry Chapin. As
this song was repeated men began dropping to their knees in tears. It wasnt long
before I joined them. Many were lamenting failed relationships with their sons
and or daughters. I was convicted of the
sinful ways in which I was treating Gods
daughter, my bride. Jesus made it very
clear to me that I was slowly destroying
my relationship with Cheryl. I dropped
more tears on that ground in Pass Christian, Mississippi than I had shed in a very
long time. The man Cheryl had married
in 1998 died that night in a tent just off
the same Gulf of Mexico where we had
exchanged wedding vows. Jesus destroyed the unfaithful man and began to
fashion something new. I ended that trip
with a new scripture:
For husbands, this means love your
wives, just as Christ loved the church.
(Ephesians 5:25 NLT)
And thanks to the power of Jesus Christ,
my bride was presented with a new husband!
This is my story, the story of how Gods
Grace through Jesus Christ changed the
heart of a man and brought new life to a
marriage!

I reached my breaking point in February


of 2002 during a trip with the men of No
Greater Love Ministry. One night during

Jim Shoffstall
Flame Volunteer Writer

THE FLAME // SUMMER 2016 17

LIVING IN
PARADISE
BY LAURA ABEL

I thought I lived in paradise! That is,


until the age of 9, when my mother left
our family. My identical-twin, autistic
brothers were 3 and our dad was a functioning alcoholic. From that day on, we
went from being kids who had a stay-athome mom, to being essentially on our
own.
When I was 11, my father remarried a
woman who was not kind to us. At the
age of 16, I begged my dad, an attorney,
to emancipate me in court so that I could
live on my own, and that was completed
by the time I was 17. The next few years
brought many jobs, underage drinking
and promiscuity; looking for love in all
the wrong places (and ways).
Eventually I went through cosmetology
and barbering school. Then, at the age
of 20, I got pregnant with my oldest son,
Nick. Many people of my mothers extended family tried their best to convince
me that I couldnt raise and support a
child on my own. However, during this
time, I realized something or someone
was speaking into me and encouraging
me. Looking back, I realize this was God
trying to get my attention.
When Nick was very little, I was married in Chicago. Shortly thereafter, my
husband received a promotion and we
had to relocate to Anaheim Hills, California. I became pregnant before we
left, and shortly after our arrival, he became distant, began drinking and was
going to Las Vegas on the weekends to
bet on horses. In time, he became angry
and abusive. After a couple frightening
episodes, I loaded up my two-year-old
son, my pregnant belly and everything

Laura Abel
Flame Volunteer Writer

18 SUMMER 2016 // THE FLAME

we could fit in the car and drove back


home to Chicago.
When Rob, my youngest, was about 18
months old, he craftily removed himself
from his car seat, opened the door of our
moving vehicle, fell out and was run over
by the back wheel of the car. David, the
man in our lives, told me upon arriving
at the hospital, dont put any limitations
on your beliefs, as the hospital chaplain
began praying with us. As it turned out,
Rob was completely uninjured, except for
some road rash on his face and we left
with Neosporin! Another God moment
gone almost unnoticed by me -- but not
completely!
Fast forward to 9/11. I remember standing in my kitchen hearing the news and
feeling completely catatonic, scared to
death -- I couldnt fix this on my own. I
couldnt protect my sons from the evil of
the world. I heard about a service going
on at a St. Louis church the next evening
for those who felt like they needed help
understanding what was going on. I loaded my sons, then 13 and 10, into the car,
and we went. There were two seats available in one pew and one in front of them
where I sat. The pastor asked us to bow
our heads and to raise our hands if we
wanted to know Jesus and I did. Then he
asked for those who wanted to give their
lives to him to come forward. I was hesitant, but my son Rob touched me on the
back and encouraged me to go forward.
So I did. At the altar, I opened my heart
and mind completely to God and have
never looked back.
The thing I learned that day is that I no
longer had to carry the world on my

shoulders. I had a heavenly Father who


would take my worry and fear, and give
me peace, comfort and a home in Him
forever without fail. I truly now live in
an eternal paradise! Who wouldnt want
that? People may not even realize something is missing in their lives, so what do
they have to lose with the possibility of a
God that may fulfill every need?
In 2006, my sons and I lost David to cancer but have the reassurance that he began a relationship with Jesus before his
death. In June 2015, I married Jeff, an
amazing, Godly man who I will spend
the rest of my life with. I have been incredibly blessed! I get great comfort from
Psalm 51; It not only reminds me to be
humble and surrender totally to God, but
to ask Him to renew and sustain me all
the days of my life. God is a God of abundant life and second chances for us all.
And I am eternally thankful.

Create in me a pure
heart, O God, and
renew a steadfast spirit
within me. Do not cast
me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit
from me. Restore to me
the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing
spirit, to sustain me.
~ Psalm 51:10-12 ~

OUT OF THE DARKNESS,


INTO HIS LIGHT
BY CRAIG LEQUATTE

We all have a storythis is mine. As a


boy, I loved to read, play outside, and
ride my bike. I felt I had a soft heart for
God as I grew up in church which taught
more social gospel than repentance. Between ages 8 - 12, I was moving forward
in my faith. At some point in those years,
I professed Christ and was baptized. I
also spent time in prayer with the youth
pastor. I had a changed heart because of
Jesus, but there were things in my life that
did not seem to change.
My brother was 1 years older, rough
and muscular. I guess he was trying to
make me more like him since we constantly fought (mostly I ran). I did once
crack his skull with a railroad spikebut
I digress. He was talented at sports and
effortlessly excelled. My one aspiration
was to be better than him. Although that
was never realized, it is what drove me to
be very competitive all my life.
During high school there were many
changes in my life. I began to get high,
shoplift, lie, and cheat. All increased in
direct correlation to my social anxiety.
On the other end of the spectrum, my
parents went to a Bible study and encountered the Jesus movement of the 70s
which changed their lives. As the study
grew and eventually became a church,
we children started attending. My parents started a teen Bible study where kids
from all over Southern Illinois encountered Christ in our home. One night immediately after the study ended, a friend
I invited wanted a ride home. After I
dropped him off, I returned home and
entered our basement where the speaker was then praying with those interested in Christ and the power of the Holy

Spirit. When asked why I was interrupting the session, I bluntly replied, I LIVE
here buddy! Unfazed, he simply asked
if I was ready to pray. My response was
Why not! My life was spiraling downward with guilt and shame for what Id
been doing, and since Id been hearing
the true gospel preached for the past couple years, I realized my need for Christ
and the power to live for Him.
That was a rainy Thursday night in November 1978. I was a senior in high
school and co-captain of the football
and basketball team. Everything should
have been cool, but I was miserable and
knew I needed God. Everything changed
that night in my familys basement. God
saved me, filled me with His Spirit, and
gave me new life. For the first time I
truly knew I was going to heaven. My
school friends wondered what happened
to me as I shifted from partying to praying.
A year before I received Christ, I heard
Fred Bishop speak at our Bible study. I
was intrigued and convicted. I wanted to
be around him. His influence changed
me and made me who I am. He taught
the principle of surrendering to God; we
decided to burn any leftover influence
from the world in a big bon-fire like
my Buddha incense burner and Black
Sabbath records. We willingly gave our
lives wholeheartedly to Christ in prayer,
fellowship, abandoned worship, and witness. We craved God more than life itself.
What is life without God anyway?

Love Ministries. Over the next 2-3 years


as I lived my life for Him, I was set free
from the once timid, introverted, legalistic young man I used to be, and I began
to share my faith with others. God blessed me with a wonderful family; my wife,
Jill and daughter, Josie. I retired from the
Air Force and currently work at the VA in
St Louis.
Bottom linemy life was a mess. I had
fallen into a pit, and I could not get out
no matter how hard I tried. I came to understand that I broke Gods law (think 10
Commandments) and had condemned
myself to eternal separation from God.
I encountered the love of Christ where
He endured the cross and pardoned my
sin. (Hebrews 12:2) Accepting Him, I
was brought near to God with an eternal
destiny in His presence! Christ claimed
me, clothed me with righteousness, and
filled me with His power to be His witness just as it was in Acts 1:8. This is truly
the Good News! I publically profess my
allegiance to Christ and testify to His
greatness!

My life would continue to change when I


started going on evangelistic witnessing
trips with Fred Bishop and No Greater

Craig LeQuatte
Flame Volunteer Writer

THE FLAME // SUMMER 2016 19

NEW CREATION,
NEW LIFE
BY JEFFREY ROLPH

Hello, my name is Jeffrey, and I am an alcoholic, and this is MY STORY.


I started drinking at the early age of 11.
Both my parents drank, and alcohol was
an everyday part of life in our household.
I started with a sip, then a drink, then
sneaking bottles and eventually having
other people buy alcohol for me. The
older I got, the more I consumed and the
more I wanted.
When I was 19, I left for Basic Training
and my first duty station was my Hardship Tour in South Korea. I was legal age
to drink there, and I dove face first into
the bottle. Within 2 weeks of being in the
country of Korea, I received a call that
my dad had passed away. With that one
terrible event, I lost all control and did
not care what repercussions I would face.
From 2001, when I returned to the states
to late 2011, I continued to drink like a
fish. My relationship with my wife and
three children was nearly extinct. I was
losing my family; my high school sweetheart and my 3 babies didnt want to be
around me any longer. My whole world,
as I knew it, was lost and something had
to change.
Sometime in November or December of
2011, I came home from work and got
in a huge fight with my wife. Unable to
take more of the life I had created for
us, she left. There I was, in my house
all alone, and it was all my fault. I knew
what needed to be done, but I also knew I
couldnt do it by myself. I fell to the floor
in tears and prayed the hardest and longest prayer I had ever prayed. I told God

Jeffrey Rolph
Flame Volunteer Writer

20 SUMMER 2016 // THE FLAME

everything (as if He didnt know), and


asked for His help. With His work, came
a lot of hard work and patience from me.
After crying out to God as I did, my life
did a 180 degree turn over the next few
weeks. It was for the better, of course. I
started to go back to the church where
my wife and I were married which
is Christ United Methodist Church
(Christ Church). Even though much had
changed and things were turning around,
I was still living on the fence. I drank a lot
less but still liked to party. I still needed
something to fill the time that I had.
One day, as I was flipping through my
Bible and digging into the Word, I came
across a verse that stuck with me. To this
day it is my favorite verse. I feel protected
every time I have something hard come
my way. When I am facing a difficult
time or struggling with a problem I turn
to this one verse:

Put on all of Gods armor so that


you will be able to stand firm
against all strategies of the devil.
EPH. 6:11 NLT
As weeks passed, my relationship with
my wife and my kids grew stronger, but I
still felt empty and not being used in the
right way for the glory of God. I felt that,
with my past, how could or why would
He use me? My mom showed me a verse
in the Bible that talks about your past
life before Christ, and it opened my eyes
even wider to God and His grace:

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new
person. The old life is gone; a new
life has begun! 2 Cor. 5:17 NLT.
Did you hear that? The old life is
GONE!!!! How awesome is that to hear?
I am a new creation in Jesus Christ. Now
I know that God has given me a servants
heart, and I could not be more pleased
with what He has called me to do! I have
gone on 6 mission trips to serve in any
way possible and to show Gods love and
mercy. After being nearly on the brink of
disaster, my marriage is now strong, and
my wife and I are working with the youth
and are the Assistant Campus Leaders at
the Scott Christ Church Campus. God
has given me sobriety and freedom from
alcohol for 4 years, 3 months and still
counting! Being a servant to the one true
GOD is far beyond any thoughts I had 4
years ago.
GOD IS MOST DEFINITELY GOOD,
ALL THE TIME!!!!!!

JOURNEY
BACK TO GOD
BY MELISSA OWENS

My earliest memory of church was when


I was five years old. My four siblings and
I were being raised by a single mom, and
I remember the church van coming every
Sunday morning to take us to church. I
never understood why my mom didnt
attend church until I became a mother. I
realized that Sunday morning was time
for herself.
When I was eight years old my life
changed completely when I went to live
with my father and stepmother in a different state. My home life was full of violence, pain and confusion about what
love was. For the next seven years church
became my sanctuary, the only place I
felt safe and loved. Just before my 13th
birthday my mother committed suicide,
and I felt life was hopeless. When I was
15, my father left us and we continued
to be raised by my stepmother, who was
overwhelmed. We moved to a new town
which caused resentment and pain for
me. My self-esteem was low, and I began
making teenage mistakes and fell away
from the church. I wondered how such
a loving God could allow innocent children to suffer the way my siblings and I
suffered.
When I was 16 I met the man to whom
I am now married. His family taught me
to value myself and want more from my
life and, with their help, I finished high
school and went on to college. It would
be 18 years before I attended church
again, and during those years I made big
mistakes and allowed my past to control
me. I became bitter, cold-hearted, resentful and depressed. My relationship with

my husband and children was falling


apart; I was miserable and lost.
My husband and I faced a medical life
or death situation for him that caused us
to think about God and how we needed
Him in our lives. A series of events led
us to the church we would call home for
eight years. I immediately jumped in feet
first and volunteered for many things and
also signed up for a ladies Bible study.
When I ordered the study book, I saw
that a free book would be coming. The
name of the free book was Give It All To
Him by Max Lucado. I learned from this
book that God did not create us to live
with bitterness, anger, and resentment.
We were not created to carry our lifes
garbage around with us, holding us back
from all the loving things He has planned
for us.

from my shoulders. I was finally free!


I didnt tell my family members about my
experience and saw the confused looks
on their faces when I no longer reacted
with anger and bitterness. When I finally
asked them what they thought of the new
me, I was shocked by some of their responses. It was hard to believe there were
people in my life who actually preferred
the bitter, angry me. My husband slept
with one eye open for several weeks waiting for me to snap yet here I am 10
years later and I am still FREE! It is not
always easy and I sometimes find myself
trying to pick up the garbage. I remember that God wants it, so I pray that God
will keep my heart soft and His love will
show through my actions.

I started a painful journey of learning


how to forgive those in my past who
had hurt me. I learned to forgive myself
because some of my pain was caused by
my choices, and I asked God to forgive
me for my sins. This was not an easy
task, and there were a few times I wanted to give up, but I had a great group of
ladies praying with me and helping me
work through things. I spent a lot of time
reading scripture, and every Sunday I was
on my knees at the altar praying for God
to free me from all this suffering.
I remember the day it happened. I was
tired and worn down, and I prayed to
God to free me from the life garbage I
was carrying. When I walked back to my
seat, I felt like a weight had been lifted

Melissa Owens
Flame Volunteer Writer

THE FLAME // SUMMER 2016 21

WHO
AM I?
BY SHELLEY LORING

I am a wife, a mother, a grandmother. I


work full time and have for most of my
adult life, that is until last November
when I lost my job.

her faith and testimony of the love of Jesus Christ. That identity was something
that no one and no set of circumstances
could ever take away from her.

No matter the reason, losing a job is a


humbling and life changing experience
and difficult because when we spend so
much time and energy at our work, it
becomes a huge part of who we are. It
can become our identity. Think about
it, when we meet new people, one of the
first questions is often, What do you
do or Where do you work? Even if
you dont work outside the home, you
probably still define yourself by your association with others. Im Sams mom
or Im Joes wife. So when those things
that define us disappear, like when we
lose a job, our spouse dies, or our kids
grow and move away, we often feel like a
large part of who we think we are disappears.

When we proclaim that we are Christians


we set our lives on a path different from
the worlds. Following God when everyone around you is following the way of
the world can be difficult. Lest we think
that once we proclaim our faith, that will
be it, we have to remember that we are
human and by definition we will falter
and fail. Only by having a relationship
with God and surrounding ourselves
with a community of believers who encourage and pray for us, do we stand any
chance of success. Failing that, we run the
risk of forgetting that He created us and
He named us; that He loves us; that He
will give us rest; that He will comfort us;
that He will provide for us; that He has
forgiven us.

Once while shopping, I said, Hello, how


are you? to the saleswoman. With joy
on her face she responded, I am wonderful because I am a blessed, holy, forgiven child of the one true God; a living
testimony to the love and mercy of the
Lord Jesus Christ who died on the cross
to redeem my sins. And because I gave
my heart to Jesus I am assured in everlasting peace and grace in glory.

We run the risk of forgetting Him.

I was stunned. The sales woman introduced herself with the only identity that
she thought mattered. With that short
rendition, she provided a full witness to

Shelley Loring
Flame Volunteer Writer

22 SUMMER 2016 // THE FLAME

And that is when doubt, despair, loneliness and shame can take over and push
you even further away from Him.
When I lost my job, a huge part of my
identity was ripped away. It was then
that I realized I had let my identity as a
Christian fall away. I still loved Christ
but I had become an acquaintance who
touched base occasionally with Jesus
and my Christian friends even less. I had
gotten lazy and distracted. I let busyness
turn my head and, to some extent, my

heart away from Him. So when I thought


my professional life was gone, all those
feelings of doubt, despair and loneliness
started to fill the void and threatened to
drive me further away from Him. But
fortunately for me, He was not about to
let anything take away what was His. I
was greatly troubled; He gave me rest.
I felt desperate; He gave me hope. I felt
alone; He gave me community.
He wanted to get my attention, and He
did. When my work was stripped away,
He replaced it with people who reminded me that the only identity worth
having is one as His daughter. Once I
stopped neglecting my relationship with
Him and my Christian community, and
once I grounded myself in Him, my life
changed. I am happier, healthier, I have
greater peace, and I have a higher mission. When He decided I was ready, He
answered my prayer for a job with less
stress, fewer hours, and a closer commute
to my home.
Allow me to introduce myself. I am a
blessed, holy, forgiven child of the one
true God. A living testimony to the love
and mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ who
died on the cross to redeem my sins. Because I gave my heart to Jesus I am assured of everlasting peace and grace in
glory. I am redeemed!

PATH
TO NOW
BY JAMES OPPEDAL

While serving together on No Greater


Love mission trips, Fred Bishop taught
me that each of us should be able to give
our testimony. We should be able to give
a long version when we have ample time
for sharing, and we should have a version of only a few words when time is
precious. Each of us has a story of what
Christ has done in our lives. Those who
dont know Christ need to know that being a Christian is not a burden; it is not a
penalty, but rather it is a pleasure -- yes, it
is an enjoyable experience to live a Christian life. This is my story.
I met Christ at a fairly young age, being
raised as an American Lutheran. This
denomination is heavy on tradition. I
was an acolyte -- I lit the candles and
put them out and I sang in the choir. I
spent three years in catechism and was
confirmed in front of the congregation,
saying the appropriate number of I dos
and I wills. I fully intended to live a life
close to Christ, but I allowed the world to
get in the way. I pursued excitement and
good times as I started my career in the
Air Force and allowed alcohol to play too
big a role in my entertainment; allowed
career obligations to play too big a role in
my time management; and allowed patriotism to be too big of an excuse for absenteeism, allowing my wife to carry the
main burden of raising our two sons and
our daughter.
As the kids became old enough to understand what church was all about, we

decided we needed to be regular church


attenders and get involved, so that they
would know who Jesus is. This was the
beginning of my return to the Jesus I had
known in my youth. This journey eventually brought us to Christ United Methodist Church, through a process of events
that could only be God orchestrated.
We joined this church while it was still
on Highway 50, across from the Burger King. We participated in the vote that
relocated us to Frank Scott Parkway, and
we supported our growth in the size of
the building and the congregation. We
changed from a church with one traditional service with hymns and candles
on an altar lit at the beginning of the
service, along with a choir and ministers
who wore traditional robes, into a church
where we drink frozen lattes in the sanctuary, encourage the pastor with an
Amen while he preaches, and worship
to modern music.
My growth was tied primarily to Disciple Bible studies which I taught, and
to No Greater Love Ministries mission
trips to New Orleans, the Indy 500 and
the Kentucky Derby. One such trip led
us to a late-night prayer meeting -- held
well after midnight -- where a young
man who was a stranger to me prophesied over me saying, Your faith is about
to take a strong change from academic to
much more spiritual. You see, I studied
the Bible and publications about the Bible
to get a better understanding about God

in His three persons and what He would


want of me. I never expected Him to
touch me in a very special and personal
way. His Holy Spirit has nudged me, and
has at times taken hold of me in a tight
grip, convincing me not only of His reality and His immediate presence, but of
His desire for me to take specific and at
times immediate action. God has become
so very much more real than the God I
had read about.
My journey is not over, just as Christ
Churchs story is not over. Rev. Shane often reminds us that he is confident that
the best is yet to come. I currently serve
as the prayer leader for Scott Campus,
and continue to participate in missions
and discipleship classes. Sometimes in
our prayer meetings, we feel the Spirit in
a very special way. Sometimes we weep
and sometimes we laugh; sometimes we
leave still yearning for more intimate
time with the Lord. Sometimes I feel like
we had a mountaintop experience, and
often I realize that even when the Lord
shows up in a powerful way, life must
go on and we dont get to stay on top of
that mountain; we have to live the life for
which God put us here.
This is my story; it is not over. Perhaps
the best is yet to come. I cant wait.

James Oppedal
Flame Volunteer Writer

THE FLAME // SUMMER 2016 23

EVER
PRESENT GOD
BY KATHY SEIBEL

When I was asked to write my story, my


first reaction was Not me! I have no life
changing story. I dont particularly enjoy writing, and I took this semester off
school so I didnt have to write any papers. God reminded me, before I quickly
make a decision, that I need to stop and
let Him guide and help me. He reminds
me that I can do anything through Him.
I pray my words are God-inspired, and
that at least one person realizes how special they are to God.
I was not raised in a church-going family.
We didnt pray before a meal or speak of
Jesus as the Way, the Light, and the Hope.
My faith journey started in the late 70s
when I was asked by a neighbor to join
some of the neighborhood mothers for
coffee. I had three children under the age
of four and craved female companionship, so I said yes! Little did I know, this
event would change my life forever.
I dont remember too much about that
day, other than I felt welcome, and the
woman who was hosting the coffee
get-together asked me why I thought I
was going to heaven. I told her because
I was a good person and loved God! She
proceeded to tell me about Jesus and how
He died to set me free. I was extremely
intrigued and wanted to know more. She
read scripture to me and answered my
questions. She said it was as simple as
praying and asking Jesus into my heart
and life. So I prayed with her, not really
understanding how important and monumental it would be to my life.

Kathy Seibel
Flame Volunteer Writer

24 SUMMER 2016 // THE FLAME

I became part of the group - my faith was


growing and all was good. But as God
will have it, He changes your path and
sends you down a road that may be different than what you want. My husband
got a job in Arkansas and I had to leave
everything and everyone behind.
We moved to Arkansas, but I could not
find a church I could call home; my spiritual life became stagnate. After several
years in Arkansas I moved back to Illinois, divorced with five children. My life
was busy and I thought I was in control.
I now had seven children and my life was
full of successes and defeats, but something was missing. My mother, sister and
I started attending St. Matthews Methodist Church and I again became part of a
church, growing in spirit and faith. But
God is full of surprises; again a new opportunity was about to unfold.
My mother passed away and I could not
continue to worship at St. Matthews, the
hurt was too great. I didnt attend every
week and eventually stopped attending
altogether. At the same time, my daughter and son-in-law had started attending
Christ Church and continually invited
me to join them. I finally said yes. At
first I went with them sporadically, kind
of hiding out in the balcony, keeping
to myself. I am not sure when or how it
happened, but my faith and the Lord became the most important things in my
life. I started looking to God for everything, trusting not in myself but in Him,
letting Him guide my path. I get up every

morning and praise Him for the day and


say, May the words of my mouth and
the meditation of my heart and mind be
pleasing to you oh, LORD, Psalm 19:14.
My life has been full of want and abundance; I have not always walked the path
with Him but I always felt His presence
and love, felt the comfort of His arms encircling me. He patiently waited on me,
never giving up. I look back on my life
and can see the plan He had to bring me
to this point. Each day, no matter what it
brings, is a joyous day full of the comfort
and love of the Lord.
God has that same love for everyone; He
is waiting for you. Receive the gift of His
love, the opportunity for Him to show all
He has in store for you. Give Him control
of your life and believe and trust in Him.
I guarantee you will never be sorry.

In early August, nearly 1,000 kids and


their parents will line up at the Christian Activity Center (CAC) in East St.
Louis seeking backpacks, school supplies and school uniforms at the centers Back to School Days.
As it has for the past several years,
Christ Church is asking members to donate backpacks, supplies and uniforms
for these children, so they have a successful school year.

WE NEED YOUR HELP


Decide what you can donate (see list below). And bring the items to the church
any Sundays in July. Look for the designated collection area.

SUPPLIES

UNIFORMS

[ ] Pencils

[ ] Pale blue or white polo


shirts (short or long sleeve)

[ ] Backpacks

[ ] 3-ring binders (1-inch)


[ ] Loose leaf paper
[ ] Highlighters
[ ] Markers
[ ] Colored pencils
[ ] Pocket folders

[ ] Sizes 6 18

[ ] Navy, black or khaki


pants
(Uniforms may be purchased at
Wal-Mart and other stores.)

Last year, we collected 750 backpacks


along with supplies and uniforms for
the CAC. However, this year there is an
URGENT NEED FOR UNIFORMS for
these children. Please consider donating uniforms instead of or in addition to
backpacks and supplies.
If you want to help deliver backpacks,
supplies and uniforms to the CAC on
Tuesday, July 26, contact Sherry Gibson at sherryandmikeg@att.net or 618604-1605.
CAC operates as a school after school,
ministering to kids ages 5-18. The children get a hot meal, reading and math
classes, homework help, recreation,
medical care, fine arts, college access
mentoring, workforce training and spiritual training on a daily basis.
The CAC exists in a city where the deck
is stack against kids. There is 1 in 28
chance of falling victim to crime in East
St. Louis vs. the national average of 1 in
250. Some 58 percent of the children
in East St. Louis live below the federal
poverty line. The Department of Housing and Urban Development calls East
St. Louis the most distressed city in
America.
For these reasons, the folks at the CAC
not only find it necessary to keep kids
off the mean streets that surround
them, but they believe its their duty
to raise the children into responsible,
equipped adults who will someday
change the story of East St. Louis.

Questions?

Thank you in advance for your donated backpacks, school supplies and uniforms. They will help make a difference
in these childrens lives.

Sherry Gibson
618-604-1605
sherryandmikeg@att.net
THE FLAME // SUMMER 2016 25

GETTING TO KNOW YOU


Ed Givens
Job Title
Congregational Care Visitation Pastor
Job Description
To encourage, bring hope and prayers of healing to the people of Christ
Church under the authority of Rev. Shane Bishop. I really enjoy my job!

26 SUMMER 2016 // THE FLAME

So Ed, whats your story? At the age


of 17, I had never attended church. My
dad asked me to go to a Methodist revival in the 4th week of a 6-week revival. I got saved and have been loving and
working for Jesus ever since. At 19 years
old, God began to annoy me with the
call to ministry. I told God, You know
and I know Im uneducated and I will
embarrass both of us. For some reason,
that didnt affect God at all! Even in the
quiet moments, God was relentless to call
me to ministry. I wrestled with God for
a long time, but He pursued me even in
my rebelliousness. I finally surrendered
to His call to ministry. My first sermon
was in a little Methodist church that my
pastor sent me. He broke protocol by
sending me, as I wasnt seminary trained.
All I had was one phrase from John 6:68,
Lord, to whom shall we go? You have
the words of eternal life. I preached as
unto the Lord that day and have never
looked back.

cle. We know God enabled us to conceive


Kip. Aleida is an adoption miracle from
Honduras. It took one year to finalize her
adoption and take her home. There was
much trouble in the process, but God
said she was ours and we took Him at His
word. Knowing they are both gifts from
God and miracles from Him gives us
much delight.

How did you meet your wife? I met


Barbara at the little Pentecostal church
where I first preached. I went to Bible
college for one semester and we corresponded by mail. When I returned, I
took a little church to pastor in Hillsboro,
Illinois, and also worked at a hardware
store. I asked Barb to marry me, she said
yes, and within 3 weeks we were married!
That was 48 years ago and shes been the
greatest wife a guy could have.

What souls of our society do you


believe need the most help? Unbelievers. Without the help of the gospel,
they are eternally lost.

Tell us about your children: We have


two children, Kip and Aleida. Both are
miracle children. Kip is a medical mira-

What do you believe delights God


above all else? Obedience. He loves
the fact that we believe He wants to do all
good things for us.
What have you recently learned
from another Christian? I have four
authors that I am particularly drawn
to read: Bob Mumford, Jack Hayford,
Rick Renner and Joseph Prince. I have
learned so much about grace from these
authors. And the Christians of the Bible. I was hungry for the Bible when I
first got saved and it has never stopped.

What is the first thing you notice


about people? Their countenance. It
gives me an idea of how to approach
them. I love elevators because I can look
at people, discern by their countenance
how to direct a conversation and get
them to talk. Kind of a captive audience!

sin, we have an advocate with the Father. I want you to really understand how
much God loves you. Always. God does
hate sin, but He wants you to know Hes
got you covered by the blood of Jesus and
repentance. If youve really been saved,
you will not want to sin. You will want to
please God and obey Him.

What is your favorite food? Pasta


and ice cream!
What was the worst job you ever
had? KP in the Air Force. I mopped
floors from sunrise to sunset when I
wasnt serving food.
Have you ever met a famous person? Jack Hayford. In my opinion, one
of the best Bible teachers around.
What Bible character do you most
relate? Other than Jesus, David. He was
a man after Gods own heart.
We have to ask Cardinals or
Cubs? Cardinals FANATIC!
What words describe you best? Jolly, warm, outgoing, disarming and purely
honest.
What is your favorite movie? Its a
Big Country with Gregory Peck and Jean
Simmons. Its the greatest story of the
principles a man should have that you
will ever want to see.

What advice would you give to


young people? In 1 John it says if we

THE FLAME // SUMMER 2016 27

GOD AT WORK
NEW MEMBERS
APRIL CONFIRMATION STUDENTS

Brady Wayne Boisjoli


Kannon Carter Cates
Ryan M. Cox
Dylan Allen DeProw
Jacob Tyler DeWitt
Colton A. Freeze
Janae Isabelle Joan Gaxiola
Gabriel Lakota Howie
Miranda Lynn Jenkins
Michael Jones
Zachary Jones
Samuel Michael Lehde
Joshua Scott Loeffler
Emily Marie Messinger
Laney Elizabeth Miller
Olivia Marie Salvati
Carter William Stahl
Emma Christine Wysocki
Kara Ashley Wysocki

ATTENDANCE
2016
March Worship Avg = 2,719
March Connection Avg = 738
April Worship Avg = 2,248
April Connection Avg = 604
May Worship Avg = 2,046
May Connection Avg = 461

APRIL 2016

Timothy W. Allgire
Cynthia Barmann
Hannah Goff
David Head
Kelly Head
Audrey Hudson
Ross Klucker
Barbey Lear
George Calvin Lear
Teresa D. Moelk
Ellen Ramsey
Craig Seifferth
Linda Seifferth
MAY 2016

Jennifer Daugherty
Joe Daugherty
Ronald Enboden
Sharon K. Reese
Kathy Seibel

MEMBERS PASSING
Dorothy Jane Watson - April 22

WEDDINGS
Travis Wheatley & Nicole Creson April 16
Jason Grau & Jennifer Meridith April 23

28 SUMMER 2016 // THE FLAME

BAPTISMS
MARCH 2016

Martin James Bendick


Brooklynn Aleah Chaney
Graham Jasper Chaney
Ellington Barack Hinshelwood
Garner
Hattie Bay Harper
Tristun Charles Lavaughn Kent
Colton Philip Krieg
Ambriella Krug
Eben Joaquin Lagerwall
Samuel Finn McKelvie
Nora Beth Murphy
Braylon Ray Veath
Hazel Victoria Weber
Joseph Tyler Young, Jr.
Katelynn Ivie Young
APRIL 2016

Matthew Anderson
Lynda Andrews
Caitlyn Clark
Amanda Lou Crider
Baila Ryanne Finlay
Kailyn Goodrich
Gina Guinn
Gracie Guinn
Vickie Breeze Hankammer
Taylor Hansen
Leif Harper
Kaden Hearn
Kamden Hearn
Kolton Hearn
Ava Lynn Heddell
Kameron Johnston
Ethan Jones
Michael Jones

APRIL 2016 CONTINUED

Joshua Jones
Zachary Jones
Ross Klucker
Isabella Langborgh
Anna Lirette
Joshua Jacob Matthews
Grayden L. McClure
APRIL Baptisms Cont.
Zera Meyer
Ben Miller
Courtney Mitchem
Ashley Mitchem
Denver Murphy
Landon Q. Page
Lunden Pasnokot
Krista Porter
Zachary Rasp
Peyton Odessa Robinson
Ella Russell
Jake Ryder
Jeannine Ryder
Olivia Marie Salvati
Jack Schaaf
Carolyn Sheldon
Aiden Sorbie
Elle Sorbie
Kim Switzer
Tia Thomas
Sir Travis
Malerie Valerius
Awstin Weber
Caleb Benjamin Weber
MAY 2016

Jake Frank

THE FLAME // SUMMER 2016 29

ALLIANCE

The highest compliment


I can receive is the referral
of friends, family,
& business partners,

Its a pleasure serving


our community

~ Thank You ~

Carie Bradshaw
(618) 593-3258
carie@cariebradshaw.com

Steve White

Steve.White@strano.com
Providing Our Community
and Military/VA with Options

Carie Bradshaw

(618) 593-3258
carie@cariebradshaw.com

Mobile: (618) 407-9110


www.strano.com/stevewhite

CHRIST CHURCH BUSINESS OWNERS


You can help Christ Church produce the Flame magazine by
becoming a sponsor. Call us at 618-277-4659 for details.

TURN YOUR FINANCIAL GOALS INTO


FINANCIAL SUCCESS.
Ryan Blaha
Fairview Hts
(618) 589-7047 x7047
ryanblaha.nm.com
05-4000 2015 The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company, Milwaukee, WI (Northwestern Mutual).
30 SUMMER 2016 // THE FLAME

Whether its business or family,


your legacy is important.
Let us help you protect it.
Representing the people and businesses of southern Illinois
for over 30 years in the areas of:
Wills, Trusts and Estates
Real Estate Law
Business/Corporate Law
Estate and Business
Litigation

Kurt S. Schroeder
(618) 239-3635
kschroeder@greensfelder.com

Greensfelder, Hemker & Gale, P.C. www.greensfelder.com


Offices in Belleville, IL St. Louis, MO Chicago, IL
The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely upon advertisements.

THE FLAME // SUMMER 2016 31

TEXT2GIVE

Christ Church is making it super easy to give your tithes and


offerings! We are excited to announce our Text 2 Give program. Its simple, just text our keyword CC and your donation
amount to this number 28950.

GET STARTED TODAY!


1. Text CC and your
donation amount to
28950.
(Ex: CC 150 - this keyword equals a
$150 donation to Christ Church.)

2. Follow the registration


link to set up your
account.

(you will only have to do this the first


time you give)

3. Give Again by texting CC


and your donation amount
to 28950!
OUR KEYWORDS

CC - General Fund
CCBuild - Building Fund

CCNOC - Network of Caring


CCMission - Missionary Fund
CCSpecial - Special Events / Offerings

More information about our Text 2 Give program is on the back.


Contact Alan Prass at AlanPrass@mychristchurch.com with any questions.

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