Joining the HOPE Youth Corps in India during the Christmas of 2013 changed my life. It made me see that being a Christian isn’t just a lonely walk. It is a decision to grow together with Christians from around the globe who have the same mindset and destination to bring glory to God’s name. The HYC placed me with Christians from different countries around the world for more than 10 days. It impacted me to hear what they shared about their life, their walk with God, and the excitement they have for doing things for God.
Give your mom a special "thank-you" this year! In the spirit of Mother's Day, Disciples Today is running a contest for stories showing appreciation for moms around the world.
Next week, the editors of Women Today will announce the winners of this contest. Winners will have their stories published and the moms will receive gratitude gifts including one $100 gift card, one $50 gift card, and five free books from the DToday Media Store.
Please submit your story by Friday, May 9, 2014 to give your mom a very special Mother's Day!
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name. Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit. Psalm 147:3-5
The Trichy church started about ten years ago when HOPE worldwide opened an orphanage in this town of South India. Since then the church has been led mostly by secular leaders and this continues to be the case today. The membership has grown to almost 100.
The church has a real sense of family with a healthy mix of youth, families, and older people. Everyone contributes their skills and talents and helps to lead, volunteer at the orphanage, and generally support one another. A few months ago the women of the church organised a women's day event. They held it outdoors. They had set high goals of attendance and they met those goals. Over 300 women came to the event.
They had also prayed to see 12 women baptised that month. For such a small congregation that took a lot of faith. God answered their prayers and 12 women were baptised!
One of the most encouraging things is seeing the teens raised in the orphanage become disciples. Another teen baptised is Sarah, the daughter of the couple who are behind the start of this congregation.
God is blessing the hearts of the Christians who understand the full meaning of the Gospel, sharing our faith coupled with helping the underprivileged.
In this year’s women’s day, the theme was “…they call her blessed…”. It is mainly derived from the book of Proverbs 31: 28 which reads, ‘Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband too and he praises her.' We were mainly focusing on parenting with a realization that how our marriages are doing affects how we parent our children.
The event was on the 11th of November but I cannot fail to say briefly how the preparations were and especially the previous day, the 10th. In this last quarter of the year, the theme for the entire church has been ‘Costly stones of Fellowship’ and honestly it was evident in the preparations. There was a clear evidence of the spirit of unity and fellowship as everyone was hands-on, helping out with the preparations. Earlier on in the months the choir and the dancers had been practicing diligently for their presentations on the women's day. The most outstanding was this sister who had a six months old baby and was so willing to be in the dance. She would come for dance practice, put her baby somewhere to sleep as she danced along with the others. Talk about a heart of wanting to be used by God no matter the situation.
On Saturday the 10th, the venue was a beehive of activities, disciples everywhere doing something to help make the day colourful and successful. This year round, we decided to do our own cooking instead of having outside catering services. Of course it was not going to be easy. It required faith and willingness to serve. Our very own sisters at church who are caterers offered their services for free. However, they were not on their own. There were many sisters who came in large numbers to help chopping, sorting, cleaning and whatever else there was to be done. A sister commented how for the past 11 years of her discipleship life she has never served or been involved in the women's day but this was the first because there was an opportunity to do so.
I cannot forget to talk about a special group of about 15 brothers in the campus ministry who spent the night in the church building, which was the venue, also chopping, sorting, cleaning and on the eventful day helping out in lifting the heavy cooking pots and being willing to be sent here and there. May God bless their awesome young hearts. Also present were brothers in the choir who set up a band at the entrance to entertain and welcome the sisters and our visitors. May God bless their hearts as well.
Sunday the 11th was awesome. The ladies were looking good and ready to be taught. The choir did so great and the dance did not disappoint. Truly we were well equipped on parenting. Several sisters shared their lives. A sister, Caroline spoke well about how to find balance. She is a married, a mother of three children - a four year old boy, a two and a half year old girl and an 11 month old boy. She is also a full time employee and a deaconess in the church. How she balances all that was very encouraging and she did great to encourage the newly weds who are having children and mothers at large.
Another sister, Judy really encouraged the single parents in her sharing. She talked about raising her son, who is 18 years old now, as a single parent. In the African culture, it is so easy for a single parent to feel like they need someone to help them raise their children. Her sharing helped the single parents believe that they can be their best in raising up their children singlehandedly of course with the help of God. A single parent commented how she is diligently looking for a job so that she can start living with her son who is currently with her parents. After the whole event, several ladies came to speak with her asking several questions on how to raise their children.
Then came Jennifer, a sister whose husband is not a Christian yet. She started by reminding us from the scriptures that inspires her to raise her children well in 2 Timothy 1:3-5. With this passage, she showed us that it is clear that Timothy was raised up by his grandmother and mother who was thought to be a single parent. She not only raised him up but brought him up in Christian faith. She encouraged and inspired us how to give all our children attention individually. She however doesn’t use her situation as an excuse to raising her children well. She gave us many practicals on how to spend time with our children and she said it starts with respecting our husbands. Among the practicals were, knowing their love languages, their likes and dislikes, having fun times, family devotional, attending their church and school events, discipling them, among many others. Because of her hard work in raising them this way, God blessed her this year and two of her teens were baptized in August and September respectively. Another sharing was from Mary and her daughter Esther who is 16 year old. They also shared about their relationship. Esther clearly confessed that her mum is her best friend. I would say, their sharing gave many hope that we can win the hearts of our children where they can feel free to share with us the good and the ugly. At the end of their sharing, they had surprise notes which they read to each other. It was very emotional.
We also had our very own two professional counselors teach us a few things on parenting. One of them, Ann, spoke about personality development of our children from childhood to being young adults. She enabled us to see that when we do not allow our children to transition well, they experience problems in their future lives. We really needed to hear how our children transition in these stages. All she talked about was very useful and I personally got so much information on what to expect and how to go about it as my child grows.
Lastly was another sister, also called Judy, talked about child abuse. Her talk was so awakening as she gave us the reality of this situation. In Africa, this happens a lot, and mostly, not many want to talk about this topic. In fact, it is sometimes considered as taboo to even talk about it, for the sake of saving someone’s image and sometimes so as not to bring shame to the family. She also made it very clear that a big percentage of abuse to children is done by close relatives or people they relate to and trust a lot. She also gave us some signs to look out for in the mannerisms of our children in case this happens. This was very scary and so it was very helpful for her to talk about it to the many women who had attended. She did well to prepare us on how we can avoid these situations from happening and God forbid if they happen, how to go about it. At the end of her short talk, I personally gathered so much information and knowledge and I purpose to put it into practice to protect my girl from experiencing this with the help of God and I believe the same with the other parents.
I cannot forget to talk about Josephine, who literally cracked our ribs with a comedy on the mistakes we make as parents. Also was a group of mothers with their girls who entertained us with a poem and included in the poem was also a mother- in-law with her daughter-in-law.
Honestly, it was a day well spent as we even wanted more. It ended well and people fellowshipped as they went home. The total attendance was about 600 disciples and 404 visitors.
“Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name be the glory because of your love and faithfulness (Psalm 115:1)”
Women's Day no.2: Single Women
In this year’s women’s day, the theme was “Who stole my heart?”
What a lovely theme that prompted the singles to want to answer this question. Everyone was looking forward to answering this question including the many visitors we invited. The event was on the 18th of November.
With this Women's Day, adequate preparations were done. The choir and the dance did their best to make the day great. On Saturday the 17th, there was also a beehive of activities as different sisters came to help serve in whichever way they could. The campus brothers were very available and willing to spend the night at the venue to help in preparations for the following day. They actually spent the night. I am personally still blown away by their hearts of service for the two consecutive weekends.
The day started with rain, and we kept praying that God would still make the day great despite the rains, and He did. The choir started us off with their lovely voices and I was so proud of them. The dance was awesome and it made all of us want to join them.
Several sisters shared their lives. To begin with, Lorna, shared her life as a teen. She made it very clear to the teens and all of us in the crowd that what stole her heart then was a longing to get to know what the world offers and also to get to be famous in the world. As a result of this, she got into so many things that she terms as her sad past, amongst them getting pregnant as a teen. She finished by being so grateful that God has stolen her heart now and she urged the teens to be godly and to allow God to be the one who steals their hearts. She is now a single parent of two, a boy and a girl and she is so grateful that God gave her another chance and the privilege to get to raise her children in the church.
Catherine was baptized as a college student and has been a disciple for the past 23 years and is still single. She shared that the reason why she has pulled through is having life to the full and real friends who constantly stand by her side. She also shared that it has not been easy but she has chosen not to put her life on hold waiting for a husband, children, a job, a degree and many others. Her sharing was very encouraging to all the sisters who have been single for a while in the kingdom. Many of them commented that they would like to have life to the full and not put their lives on hold.
Yet another sister, Sarah, shared. She was once a disciple, who fell away, got married, got a child and the marriage ended up in divorce. She realized that she was still missing something and she needed God desperately. As she shared, it was clear that in the beginning, even when she was in the church, she was not content and Satan used it to take her out of God’s church. She came back to God and got restored about one and a half years ago. She is now a happy single mum, raising up her child in the church and content being single until God desires otherwise. She pleaded with all the singles to hang in there no matter what, to know that there is nothing in the world to take them out, and to allow God to steal their hearts.
Lastly came Lucy who has a health challenge which she discovered shortly after being a disciple. Nevertheless, she has chosen that it is God who will steal her heart. She has been a disciple for 16 years now and still single. At the end of her sharing, which was very emotional, it was clear to all of us that it is God who has stolen her heart.
We then had our speaker, Betty who wrapped the whole event by showing us from the book of Ecclesiastes chapter 1 and 2 that what steals our hearts is meaningless, a chase after the wind. Neither the quest for wisdom (studying more), nor worldly pleasures (not denying our eyes anything), nor wealth should steal our hearts. By the end of her class it was clear to all the singles that God is the only one to steal our hearts. What a convicting, transforming message from God.
As the day ended it was so clear that God was with us. Even though it started by raining it ended so bright. Out of about 180 single disciples who were present, we had an attendance of more than 200 visitors. It was a women's day with a difference, full of transformation and giving purpose to this life. As a result of that many women have started studying the Bible.
“To the man who pleases Him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind. Ecclesiastes 2:26”
To God be the glory.
It was 15 years ago on March 19th that I proclaimed that Jesus was my Lord! It was a glorious day and it was made more special because my mom was there! I remember her telling me afterwards that I had already been baptized as a baby, so she didn’t understand why I was baptized again. In my young Christian zeal, I tried so hard to make my mom see the truth. At one point, she even said that I had changed so much, she thought I was in a cult!
I grew frustrated and I shared my grief with our church leader (Gregg Eargle). He gave me great words of wisdom - just be the best disciple and daughter I can be. I took from him that my focus was not on God. So, I focused on God and my mom started to see Him! Over the past 15 years, my mom has attended a number of church services. My husband and I always invited her to special events at church, too. She even went to a Florida Discipleship Conference (but didn’t go to any classes). She has enjoyed fellowship with my brothers and sisters at my wedding shower, wedding, and baby shower. When I had hardships in my life, she would see my brothers and sisters surrounding me with love. For a few years, she was part of a fantasy football league made up of disciples.
Through all of those encounters with Christians, my mom started to let God into her life. Tragedy struck our family in October 2012. My mom was living with her sister (my aunt) and mom (my grandmother). Her sister moved to Tennessee to be with her daughters and a week later, her mom passed away. My mom had some health problems, and was in the hospital when all of this happened. I believe that she had come to the end of her rope…she was depressed, lonely, and without hope.
My husband and I continued to reach out to my mom and invite her to church. To my joy, she came one Sunday…and the next Sunday….and started to go to our House Church meetings on Wednesdays! In February 2013, my husband and I purchased her home and moved in with her. Around the same time, my mom started studying the Bible with some amazing women at church (Janice Gregory and Ruth Bahr). I was at a birthday party with my family when Janice called me to tell me that my mom would be baptized! My mom gave my husband and I the honor of baptizing her! Despite the obstacle of using a walker to get around, my mom was determined to get baptized. So, she used the walker to get in the cold pool water with the help of my wonderful husband and Carlos LaCosta.
Almost 15 years after my baptism, my mom became my sister in Christ (March 16th)! Thank you to all of my brothers and sisters that helped water the seed and to God be the glory!
1 Corinthians 3:6-9
I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.
The South Florida Church women connected with friends, family, co-workers and "someone I just met" during regional women's events, April 12 and 13. Palm Beach, Miami-Dade and Broward designed unique programs, themes, and entertainment - all to reach the hearts of women and share the good news of the gospel.
Palm Beach focused on finding "the pearl of great price." Upon registering, each woman received a pearl to wear on her wrist, a reminder to pray that many souls would be found! 320 attended Friday night, a tribute "to the power of unity and that two (or more) are better than one," remarked Geri Laing.
By faith, Miami-Dade expected 400, so their faith was off the chain when 500 women attended and learned that true freedom is only found in a relationship with God! Planning, praying, organizing and orchestrating the women's day unified sisters throughout the county as ONE region.
Broward's theme "brought in some people who've never ever stepped foot in a church before," said ministry leader Amy Overstreet. The multi-generational crowd fellowshipped, competed for door prizes and posed in photo booths. From middle schoolers to grandmothers, women found inspiration in the personal testimonies and Barbara Porter's message.
When the goal of reaching out to 500 women was set for the women`s day this year, it seemed like a huge task, but the 80 sisters in the International Church of Christ Kampala, went out in faith and decided to live up to the theme ” Women Who Dream”.
The invitation cards were printed and the amazing race to 500 visitors started as the women knocked on doors, invited every woman in their reach, followed up, fasted and prayed for God's intervention.
On a beautiful Sunday afternoon, indeed all roads led to the Golf Course Hotel as over 460 visitors made it a point to attend. The theme of the day was brought into light as women shared their personal stories and touched hearts with their decision to follow Christ and the difference it has made to align their dreams with God.
The electrifying keynote sermon from our visiting sister from Nairobi Mrs.Josephine Omolo was reflecting, insightful, practical and challenging. She shared from her personal experience going through tough times while dreaming in adversity, protecting dreams from Satan who is a dream killer and
surrendering all to God, the only dream weaver. Women were challenged to have a different dream.
Many women signed up to study the Bible and wanted to know more about the church or to attend a Bible talk in their neighborhood. The real work of reaching out to these women begins as meetings have been set up, studies started and new relationships formed, all in a bid to help these women
who attended to allow Jesus to be the lord of their lives. Our God is a big God,with him there are no limitations.
This women`s day was a huge faith building block in the lives of many, not only in the women`s ministry but also the men`s ministry as they too invited women and together we all shared in the amazing victory....With God, we all can become those who dream.
On Saturday 27th April 2013 the London church hosted “It’s Your Life!” a women’s evening attended by nearly 1000 disciples and guests from all over England and from as far afield as Germany and France. With tickets completely sold out by the end of March and in hot demand, excitement had plenty of time to build and the event certainly did not disappoint.
Guest speaker Carol Mc Guirk from the Paris church delivered a powerful yet relatable message that will be remembered for years to come as we were reminded to “put the big rocks in first”; to keep our walk with God as our very top priority and to fit everything else around God.
The London Teen Choir’s outstanding performance had an impact on women of all ages. We were treated to a beautiful performance of The Flower Duet by our string quartet and enjoyed a dramatic presentation portraying an ordinary woman’s struggle to get to grips with the various faces she feels obliged to wear to get through life. Stunning artwork and costumes were produced especially for the day.Moving testimonies were shared by women who have been through incredibly challenging situations but whom God has rescued by his amazing grace.
We were supported by dozens of the most serving, best-dressed brothers in town who served as ushers for the event, for whom we are very grateful. Some guests who attended on Saturday have already started studying the Bible this week. Older disciples found the event refreshing and invigorating; seeds of kingdom dreams were planted in the hearts of younger women and we were all thrilled to see what God can and will do in the lives of women who believe. And to God be all the glory.