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BETTER Oak Grove Baptist

Pastor Jeremy Tuck

Tailgating Tips Recipe From a Master Grill Cook

Breast Cancer Awareness Survivor Stories How to Get Involved

Rhys Stenner

The Church, The Man, The Mission

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A Comfort Like No Other All of us need comfort, healing, new beginnings and lifechanging experiences. Well there is good news. These are all available to every believer. God has made a way and opened the door. I mean “WOW!” What a wonderful peace we have knowing that through all the seasons of life we face, God has a plan for us that is more than we can imagine. Over the past 18 months I have encountered the most significant seasons of my life thus far. After facing brokenness and desperation I eventually found healing. After crying out to God I finally found something precious that transformed my life. Healing and changing lives is what Jesus Christ is all about. Take a look around you. Miracles and healings happen every day. Many healings often take a substantial amount of time to manifest. Jesus said, “Don’t be afraid though, take courage, for I am here.” What a miraculous comfort. That is the greatest encouragement we can receive. Jesus is always with us. The power of Jesus can bring us through anything. Sickness, addiction, death, financial hardships, whatever it may be we’re going through; “know that God is enough. The definition of healing is: the process of being cured or of becoming well. You see? We can rebuild our lives. Our bodies can be healed of sickness and our lives can be restored. We can persevere, and we can receive the goodness of our God. The Bible says, “From the fullness of His grace you have all received one blessing after another” (John 1:16). Believe that truth. That same truth goes for a pastor, a cancer patient or a high school student. In this edition of Better Times, you will read the stories of people who have faced many trials and tribulations. Each one has been wounded and hurt, only to be restored and healed by God. Recently, while playing golf with Pastor Rhys Stenner of New Hope Baptist, he told me, “Our wounds don’t always have to be there, Brian, because by His stripes we are healed.” You can read Pastor Stenner’s story in this edition of Better Times. It is my prayer for you to be encouraged by the articles and testimonies throughout these pages. As Editor of Better Times, I am honored to share these stories of changed lives. What a difference the Lord has made in my life. When I turned my life over to Him that is the day my life started turning around for the good. Blessings, Brian Anderson Matt 6:33

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INFO From A Better Way Ministries, Inc. Publisher & Editor A Better Way Ministries

The Church, The Man, The Mission: New Hope Baptist Church Pg. 32

Breast Cancer Awareness Month Survivor Stories and Events Pg. 22

FCA Fellowship of Christian Athletes

Sales & Marketing Brian Anderson Advertising Design & Artwork Josh White, Josh Carpenter Contributing Writers Lynn Horton, Family Features, Jen Pollock Michel, Keith Brown, David Parfitt, Kate Larson

Pg. 8

Oak Grove Baptist Church Jeremy Tuck Pg. 58

The Rescue Pg. 12

Restore Your Heart Pg. 48

Tailgate Tips Pg. 20

For Advertising Information 678-818-1194 The Better Times Mission At Better Times Magazine, we are striving to serve our community by providing a quality publication that is Christ-centered and safe for the whole family. We help our neighboring businesses to increase their presence in the community by providing them with top of the line advertisements. This helps our local businesses thrive, along with sup porting our main cause. All proceeds benefit A Better Way Ministries, a non-profit discipleship program for men. Let us co-labor with Christ to change the world, one life at a time.

God’s Will Pg. 42

Find us on the Web:

Max Lucado’s War Against Despair Pg. 16

To Contribute a Story or Cause Email us: We appreciate our Advertisers! As a reader, please show your appreciation for the businesses that choose to advertise in our Better Times Magazine. Their advertising dollars go to help benefit the men in the A Better Way Ministries discipleship program. Better Times Magazine Location 320 Dividend Drive, Peachtree City, GA Better Times Magazine is a quarterly publication. Our magazine is mailed directly to 18,000 Fayette and Coweta homeowners. 7000 copies are distributed throughout the area to local businesses.

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The Fellowship of Christian Athletes

is touching millions of lives around the world … one coach, one athlete, one student, one teacher, one parent - one heart - at a time. FCA is the largest Christian sports organization in the world. Since 1954, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes has been challenging coaches and athletes around the world to use the powerful medium of athletics to impact the world for Jesus Christ. As I pen this article, I am currently the Assistant Area Director for Fayette County FCA. I write with the hope that at the end of this article you will have not only a better understanding of the FCA ministry but possibly even a desire to get involved. So just how is FCA impacting Fayette County and the surrounding areas? Before I answer that question, please take a moment and ponder this question: “When you look at people groups within any college, any high school, any middle school, and even as far down as elementary school, what people group seems to always carry the most influence and have the most impact?” ... pondering ... pondering ... The answer is undoubtably the athletes. It doesn’t even matter if they are any good. Many times all they have to do is make the team and wear the jersey. So it only makes sense that if you wish to reach the whole group (school), you start with those who have the most influence. FCA’s vision is to see the world (Fayette County) impacted for Jesus Christ through the influence of coaches and athletes. The official FCA Mission statement is worded in this way: “To present to coaches and athletes, and all whom they influence, the challenge and adventure of receiving Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, serving Him in their relationships and in the fellowship of the church.” So that’s the FCA big picture. Let’s now take a look at FCA locally. But before I begin, let me preface the rest of the article with the following statements: I am a local Fayette County FCA missionary - My primary mission field is Fayette County - The things that I will share are all taking place

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in Fayette County - However, all the FCA areas surrounding Fayette County have incredible FCA staff and incredible ministries. If you live outside Fayette County or your kids attend a school elsewhere, I encourage you to find your local FCA rep and get involved. Back to the original question; how is FCA impacting Fayette County and the surrounding areas? Let’s start with FCA’s 4 C’s of ministry: Coaches Ministry, Campus Ministry, Camp Ministry, and Community Ministry. Here is an overview of what it looks like in Fayette County. The Coaches Ministry vision is to build relationships that lead to transformed coaches. If the athletes carry the influence in the school and in the community, then who is influencing the athletes? There is no question that coaches have a powerful and lasting influence in an athlete’s life. The words “Coach said, ...” frequently flow from the mouths of athletes. Billy Graham is quoted as saying, “One coach will impact more lives in a single year than most people do in a life time.” Coaches carry a tremendous amount of influence. Because of their influence, a coach who has been transformed by the gospel is destined to make a huge impact on the Kingdom. FCA recognizes the coach’s influence and strives to help them be the coach that God would have them be. Fayette FCA ministers to coaches through Coaches Huddles, prayer support, discipleship, mentoring, resources, events, family retreats and marriage retreats. Coaches Huddles are basically Bible Studies that meet in our schools. Every week, teachers, administrators, school staff, and coaches gather together at their school for the FCA Coaches Huddle to study God’s word. To encourage personal growth, FCA gives away enormous amounts of Christian literature and Bibles to our coaches every year. Every year we also invite all our Fayette coaches to compete against each other in a golf tournament. It is not only an incredible time of fellowship, but typically one of the coaches will share the gospel with his/her peers before they proceed to beat each other up on the golf course. It’s awesome! FCA Camps also play an important

part in the transformation of our coaches but I will talk more about that in a minute. The FCA Campus Ministry is initiated and led by student-athletes and coaches on our middle school and high school campuses. Campus ministry in Fayette County has four primary areas of focus; school FCA Huddles, team outreach, Chaplains, and P.R.O. teams (Parents Reaching Out). FCA Huddles on the school campuses are the core of our campus ministry. In most schools, the FCA Huddle is the only Christian club that meets at their school. Therefore, athletes and non-athletes will gather and worship together. Guest speakers including youth pastors from different denominations all over Fayette County will take turns leading devotions and Bible Studies at the FCA Huddles every week. Fayette FCA has developed a level of trust among the coaches in Fayette County to where the coaches are constantly inviting our staff to come and share with their team. We also strive to place Chaplains on as many teams as possible. Most coaches have now come to realize how important the Chaplain’s role is on a team. The coaches understand that they can train their athlete physically and mentally to play the game. But if things are not right in the athlete’s heart and mind, the coach will never get 100% from that athlete. (If our Fayette FCA ministry has a weakness, it would be in the area of female Chaplains. As a staff, we go and speak to our female teams, but they need more. They need a female Chaplain they can build a relationship with and talk to oneon-one. If you are reading this and God is speaking to you right now, please don’t hesitate to call me) The P.R.O. teams have our parents getting involved on the school campuses and setting an example for everyone through serving. We are blessed to have some incredible parents in Fayette County. Many would say that our FCA Camps are the backbone of the ministry. Every year, God seems to find another way to amaze me by what He does at our camps. I could probably fill this magazine with testimonies from camp. This year, 2013, has been an incredible year for our camp ministry. We raised $72,575 locally this year so we could scholarship our athletes, coaches, and their families for camp. We sent 153 athletes to leadership camps, 19 couples from Fayette County attended the coach’s marriage retreat at Billy Graham’s “The Cove” in North Carolina, and 14 families (husband, wife, and all the kids!) attended the week

long Coach’s Camp at St. Simons Island. Those athletes and coaches are now back in their schools leading the way for others. The Community aspect of FCA ministry revolves around partnerships with local churches, businesses, organizations, parents, and volunteers who desire to serve and pour back into our great community. For many years, I served as a youth pastor here in Fayette County. During that time I met with and ministered alongside youth ministers from many different church denominations through an organization called F.A.Y.M.A.(Fayette Area Youth Ministers Association). It was through F.A.Y.M.A. that I discovered our Fayette County FCA. The partnership was, and still is, very strong. Our Fayette youth ministers are passionate about serving through FCA. Among other things, they rotate speaking at all our FCA Huddles and they volunteer their time to serve as Chaplains for our middle and high school teams. I know there are other areas where churches and non-denominational ministries such as FCA struggle serving together. Praise God it is not that way in Fayette County. We are blessed to not only serve alongside some incredible church ministries, but many of those churches even go as far as supporting the FCA ministry financially. I personally believe we are witnessing the early stages of a great movement of God. I could literally write for days about what I see God doing in Fayette County through FCA. I have been serving on staff in Fayette County for almost two years now and God continues to amaze me every day with what He is doing in our little county called Fayette. I believe that what I do as a missionary through FCA is not really any different from what you are called to do daily in your workplace and at home. So let me close with some words of encouragement. This famous quote transformed my ministry years ago: “People do not care what you know - until they know that you care.” We are to serve and pour into the lives of others just as Jesus commanded us to. We are to build relationships and love people in a crazy way that doesn’t make sense to the world. It is through that crazy love that people will see and hear the gospel. Then they will come to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Love You & May God Bless You, Keith Brown

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fter a few of the usual Sunday evening hymns, the church’s pastor once again slowly stood up, walked over to the pulpit, and gave a very brief introduction of his childhood friend. With that, an elderly man stepped up to the pulpit to speak, “A father, his son, and a friend of his son were sailing off the Pacific Coast,” he began, “when a fast-approaching storm blocked any attempt to get back to shore. The waves were so high, that even though the father was an experienced sailor, he could not keep the boat upright, and the three were swept into the ocean.” The old man hesitated for a moment, making eye contact with two teenagers who were, for the first time since the service began, looking somewhat interested in his story. He continued, “Grabbing a rescue line, the father had to make the most excruciating decision of his which boy he would throw the other end of the line. He only had seconds to make the decision. The father knew that his son was a Christian, and he also knew that his son’s friend was not. “The agony of his decision could not be matched by the torrent of waves. As the father yelled out, ‘I love you, son!’ he threw the line to his son’s friend. By the time he pulled the friend back to the capsized boat, his son had disappeared beyond the raging swells into the black of night. His body was never recovered.” By this time, the two teenagers were sitting straighter in the pew, waiting for the next words to come out of the old man’s mouth. “The father,” he continued, “knew his son would step into eternity with Jesus, and he could not bear the thought of his son’s friend stepping into an eternity without Jesus. Therefore, he sacrificed his son. How great is the love of God that He should do the same for us.” With that, the old man turned and sat back down in his chair as silence filled the room. Within minutes after the service ended, the two teen-

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agers were at the old man’s side. “That was a nice story,” politely started one of the boys, “but I don’t think it was very realistic for a father to give up his son’s life in hopes that the other boy would become a Christian.” “Well, you’ve got a point there,” the old man replied, glancing down at his worn Bible. A big smile broadened his narrow face, and he once again looked up at the boys and said, “It sure isn’t very realistic, is it?” “But I’m standing here today to tell you that THAT story gives me a glimpse of what it must have been like for God to give up His Son for me. You see ... I was the son’s friend.”

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Max Lucado’s War Against Despair How the story of Joseph helps us fight feelings of hopelessness.

ver Institute for Faith & Work, spoke with Lucado on living through tragedy, a theology of suffering, and the hopefulness that flows from trusting in God’s sovereignty. Why did you choose Joseph’s story in Genesis as a basis for your book? Well, I’ve been pastoring for a long time—over 30 years—and I’ve found myself wanting to give people a real hope-filled message that they can consider during tough times of their lives. And Joseph’s story has always attracted me. Here’s a guy who was sold into slavery, abandoned by his family, unlawfully imprisoned—yet he never gave up, he never gave in. Bitterness never took over. The way he survived made him the perfect illustration of my point in the book.

Max Lucado is known as “America’s pastor.” In his

20 years of writing, he’s sold 82 million books in 41 languages. He’s appeared on USA Today, Larry King Live, and NBC Nightly News, and has spoken at the National Prayer Breakfast. Hallmark even has a line of greeting cards based on his writings (they’ve sold over 1 million cards so far). Yet despite his national renown, he’s a pastor at heart. Gentle, gracious, and filled with concern for his congregation, for over 25 years he’s counseled his flock at Oak Hills Church in San Antonio through countless painful experiences—the marriage that’s fallen apart, the 5-year-old who died in a car accident, the war vet burned from head to toe in Afghanistan. These experiences led to his latest book, You’ll Get Through This: Hope and Help For Your Turbulent Times, an extended reflection on suffering, pain, and hope based on Joseph’s story in Genesis. Jeff Haanen, executive director of Den16 {Better Times Magazine}

How does this book flow out of your decades of pastoral ministry? Through the years, I’ve realized that one in every five people I see on a regular basis—on a Sunday—is passing through some kind of struggle. “My mother died last week,” or “I just got laid off.” So what do you say to somebody? Through the years, I developed this little mantra: “You’re gonna get through this. It’s not gonna be quick or painless, but you gotta believe God can use this mess for something good. So don’t do anything foolish, but don’t despair either.” It’s just something I’ve turned to over and over, like a favorite baseball glove, or a handy tool. And so I picked that theme for the book. So what do you tell people when they don’t get through it—when your wife dies, you lose your home, or an addiction hangs on? What do you say then? I say don’t give up. From a Christian perspective, we do get

through it, even if the “getting through” is not until heaven. We do get through things. Sometimes we have setbacks; sometimes we have push downs. But what I’m waging a war against in this book is despair. Despair—that feeling of hopelessness— is the enemy. It is when we despair that we make decisions that only make matters worse. We create addictions that only cause more trouble. The challenge is to give people enough hope so that they don’t give up. Does God promise to “get us through this” only when it’s innocent suffering? How about when suffering comes as a result of your own sin? Those are the two sources of suffering: things that we’ve brought on ourselves, and things done to us. God’s message through Scripture is that he gets us through both types. Joseph is not a great example of things we do to ourselves because, quite honestly, the guy didn’t make very many bad decisions. But there are plenty of others in the Bible who did. David, when he commits adultery; Peter, when he denies Jesus; Thomas, when he doubts Jesus. God gets them through those things even though they brought it on themselves. That’s just his character. He could no more leave a life un-encouraged than he could leave a child’s tear untouched. Now, learning to trust him during those tough times—that’s the challenge. But he doesn’t differentiate between those who suffer at their own hands and those who suffer at the hands of others. Do you think suffering and pain are necessary for God to grow us in our spiritual lives? What about when there’s no crisis? Suffering sure seems to be his choice of a spiritual boot camp. Is it necessary? Could there be another way? I don’t know, in a fallen world, what the other choice would have been. In heaven I don’t think he’ll use struggles to change us. But he chooses to do so now. The truth of the matter is, through the struggles we grow. Remove the struggle and we don’t grow. Joseph was a better man because of his struggles. So, it’s through struggles that God develops his people. And it’s in part through the struggles of his people that God also accomplishes his larger plans. How do you think Joseph’s story departs from the volumes of Christian self-help books that see God as the great fixer of my personal problems? There are two levels. Number one, the reason Joseph survived was because God was with him. In the second chapter of the Joseph story, after he’s sold into slavery, five times in that narrative we read, “God was with him. God was with him. God was with him.” The narrator wants to make the point that Joseph is

doing well, not because Joseph is good, but because God is. So there’s the first departure from self-help books. Self-help books say, “Look inside yourself; you have the resources to get through it.” But Joseph says, “Look up. God will help you.” Secondly, and I think equally important, is the theology of suffering Joseph had. His theology of suffering is revealed in Genesis 50:20 when he said to his brothers, “You intended it for evil, but God intended it for good.” It’s a concise, powerful statement that says, “Yes, there’s evil in the world. But there’s still a God, even though there’s evil, and God can take that evil and turn it into something good.” Joseph had a personal theology of suffering to help him understand how he had gotten through the evil episodes in his life. But many people just don’t have that. They don’t have a clue that there’s even a possibility that God is sovereign and he can use the suffering for good. You’ll Get Through This releases just before the anniversary of 9/11. What do you think Joseph can teach a country that annually mourns this national tragedy? What Joseph can teach us is: Don’t waste the sorrow. Don’t waste the tragedy. There’s something in here that’s good. There’s something in here that’s redemptive. What can we learn? Don’t think for a second that there’s not something in here worth redeeming. The Bible never says that those acts in and of themselves are good. There’s nothing good about 9/11 and the attack. But in God’s providence, he can use them for something good collectively. You’re known as “America’s pastor.” Through your writings you’ve touched literally millions of lives. What would be the single most important thing you’d say to those who are suffering? I keep coming back to the same thing: Don’t despair. There’s a purpose in this suffering somewhere. Here’s the problem. When we suffer, our sufferings become worse when we think there is no end to them, and no purpose for them. As long as we have this mindset, those tough times are going to defeat us. But once you believe that God is sovereign, and that God doesn’t create evil—but that he can use evil for your good and for his larger purposes—that transforms your view of suffering. Credit: Christianity Today Interview by Jeff Haanen

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Fire Up Your Tailgate with Tips from a Pro Grilled food is good anywhere for any occasion. Whether you’re tailgating in the stadium parking lot or watching the game in your own backyard with family and friends, get ready to take your grill skills to the gridiron. While you might not be in the running for MVP this season, everyone has a shot at being Tailgater of the Year.

experience the sights, sounds and smells of the stadium right in your own backyard with Lilly’s Barbecue Chicken Pizza with Alabama White Sauce. Need to step up your game with new tailgating recipes? Check out for tips, tricks and recipes to take your game day grilling to the next level.

Try these tips from world champion pitmaster Chris Lilly to tailgate like a pro this season:

Barbecue Chicken Pizza with Alabama White Sauce

* Score an Early First Down: Marinate meat before guests arrive. Try KC Masterpiece marinades, such as Santa Fe Picante, which gives a real kick to meat, seafood and vegetables. It can add flavor to meat in as little as 30 minutes. Also, to be confident your grill will be ready to cook in about 10 minutes, try Kingsford Match Light charcoal. * Avoid Turnovers: Frequent flipping of items on the grill can dry out the food. Instead, let food brown before turning to develop a flavorful crust, which is the signature of great grilling. When it’s time to flip, use tongs or a spatula in place of forks, which pierce food and release juices. * Don’t call in the second string: One of the best parts about tailgating at home is that you own the “concession stand.” You wouldn’t call the deliveryman from the stadium, so make sure you follow the same rule when watching the game at home. Fire up your grill to

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Makes: 1 16-inch pizza Prep time: 15 minutes Cook time: 21 minutes Alabama White Sauce 2 tablespoons onion, diced 1/2 teaspoon garlic, minced 1/2 tablespoon butter

3 4 2 1/2 1/2 1/2 1/2 1/2 1/4 1/4 1/8

tablespoons distilled white vinegar teaspoons sugar tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated cup mayonnaise teaspoon coarse black pepper, ground teaspoon fresh basil, chopped teaspoon fresh oregano, chopped teaspoon fresh Italian parsley, chopped teaspoon lemon juice teaspoon salt teaspoon cayenne pepper

Barbecue Chicken Pizza 16 ounces pizza dough 1/2 cup grilled chicken, diced 1/2 cup hot and spicy sausage, cut in 1/4 inch slices 1 1/4 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded Preheat grill to 500 degrees Fahrenheit using Kingsford charcoal. Saute onions and garlic in butter over medium heat for approximately 1 minute, or until onions turn slightly translucent. Remove from heat and add vinegar and sugar. Stir mixture until sugar dissolves and pour it into small mixing bowl. Add Parmesan cheese and mix well. Add remaining white sauce ingredients and blend together. Roll pizza dough to 16-inch diameter circle on lightly greased pizza stone and spread pizza sauce over dough evenly. Top pizza with diced grilled chicken and slices of sausage. Spread mozzarella cheese evenly over pizza. Place pizza stone on grill and close lid. Cook for 10-12 minutes, or until crust is brown and crisp. Remove pizza from grill, cut and serve. Source: Family Features

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Breast Cancer Awareness Month As just about everybody knows, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an annual international health campaign organized by major breast cancer charities to increase awareness and to raise funds for research. It also reminds women to be “breast cancer aware” for early detection. But what is the history of this international event, which is so major that even pro football players wear pink on four or five Sundays each year? National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM) was founded in 1985 as a partnership between the American Cancer Society and the pharmaceutical division of Imperial Chemical Industries, maker of several anti-breast cancer drugs. The aim of NBCAM at the start was to promote mammography as the most effective weapon against breast cancer. What about the pink ribbon? Where did that, what is now a ubiquitous symbol of NBCAM and breast cancer awareness in general, come from? In the fall of 1991, the Susan G. Komen Foundation handed out pink ribbons to participants in its New York City race for breast cancer survivors. The ribbon was derived from the popular red ribbon of AIDS awareness. Then, in 1993, Alexandra Penney, editor-in-chief of the women’s health magazine Self, and Evelyn Lauder, breast cancer survivor and Senior Corporate Vice President of the Estée Lauder Companies, founded the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and established the pink ribbon as its symbol. The ribbon was distributed it in stores throughout New York City, on the strength of the Estée Lauder brand, and its status as the symbol of support for breast cancer awareness was cemented.

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Though NBCAM is closely associated with Race for the Cure, the first Race for the Cure was held back in 1983. It was in Dallas, Texas and all of 800 people participated. By 2002 the event was held in over 100 cities and the number of participants reached 1.3 million. By 2010 the event had expanded to over fifty countries outside the U.S. In addition to NFL players, buildings and landmarks across the world clothe themselves in pink light as a “shout out” to NBCAM. Past pink landmarks include the Eiffel Tower, the Empire State Building, Niagara Falls, the Harbour Bridge in Sidney, Constantine’s Arch in Rome, and nearly all of downtown Atlanta. All over the world people come up with creative ways to celebrate NBCAM. Workplaces often hold “pink days” in which employees wear pink clothing or accessories to work. One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. • Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women. • Breast cancer is the second leading cause of death among women. • Each year it is estimated that over 220,000 women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer and more than 40,000 will die. • Although breast cancer in men is rare, an estimated 2,150 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer and approximately 410 will die each year.

SURVIVOR STORIES nodes, the tumor is larger than 2 centimeters but no larger than 5 centimeters; cancer has spread to 1 to 3 axillary lymph nodes or to lymph nodes near the breastbone (found during a sentinel node biopsy), or the tumor is larger than 5 centimeters but has not spread to the axillary lymph nodes. This change in diagnosis meant a mastectomy and subsequent reconstruction, as well as another c-word that made Linda almost as scared as the word cancer itself: chemotherapy.

For Linda, that was the first time she truly felt afraid.

Chemotherapy, which is the broad term for several different types of cancer treatment, typically means nausea, hair loss, brittle nails, and a much-weakened immune system for cancer patients. As fearful as this made her, Linda says this Linda Lane

led to one of her lighter moments during treatment. Sitting in the oncologist’s office with her husband and her mother, Linda recalls the nurse coming in to discuss the plans for

Linda Lane is a six year survivor of breast cancer,

chemo, but the nurse began to address Linda’s mother. This

but that doesn’t mean it’s been six years since she went in to

continued for a few minutes before Linda’s mother real-

remission. “The doctors call you a survivor as soon as you’re

ized the mistake and said, “I’m not the patient.” The nurse

diagnosed,” she recalls of her diagnosis in 2007 at regular

looked at Linda’s husband who quickly said that he wasn’t

mammogram, though she admits that at times during her

either. When the nurse looked at her, Linda says she smiled

treatment, she didn’t feel like much of a survivor.

a little and said, “I just wanted to pretend that I wasn’t the

patient for a little bit.”

At first, Linda was diagnosed with stage zero breast

cancer, also known as non-invasive breast cancer, which

Fear or no fear, Linda underwent surgery and began

means that while the cancerous cells existed, they were

her chemotherapy. Despite her preconceived image of the

limited to one area and had not spread to any other organs

treatment, Linda says that the nurses and the community at

or systems. This meant suggested treatment was a simple

the Piedmont cancer centers made the entire process a much

lumpectomy, removing the offending group of cells only, fol-

different experience. The community around her grew as

lowed by radiation treatments. But once the procedure was

she moved into a new phase of treatment, and that commu-

completed, a very different situation appeared.

nity became vital to Linda finding positivity in her situation.

“I think I was sort of in denial in the beginning,”

“We are in this world, but not of it,” Linda says, referencing

Linda says. She was convinced that she would go through

the verse in the Gospel of John, “They are not of the world,

the lumpectomy and treatment and everything would be

even as I am not of it” (17:16). Despite her fear, despite her

fine, that it was a very small blip on the radar, but when the

struggles, Linda was determined to see the good in a world

results came back after the surgery, things changed. Linda

of bad.

was not stage zero after all, but stage two B which is defined

by as one of three situations: the tumor is

ing back and helping others who faced similar situations.

larger than 2 centimeters but no larger than 5 centimeters;

Though she had participated in Relay for Life prior to her

small groups of breast cancer cells—larger than 0.2 millime-

diagnosis, she found herself more connected as a sutsrvivor.

ter but not larger than 2 millimeters—are found in the lymph

“That first year, to walk to survivor lap was almost surreal.”

When her treatment ended, Linda focused on giv-

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She trekked through the 3-day walk, and connected

with the Breast Cancer Survivors’ Network. The Network, which serves survivors specifically in the state of Georgia, hosts fundraisers, support groups, and more for breast cancer patients and their families. They also provide “Hope Closets” across the state, providing wigs, scarves, and other supplies for low income patients or those without insurance.

Linda, who is a speech pathologist with Children’s

Healthcare of Atlanta, recalls a story when during her treatment one of her patients, who had overheard his grandmother call Linda a survivor, looked at her, wide-eyed, and asked “So you eat worms?” Laughing, Linda said yes, she did eat worms, like the “Survivors” on the hit T.V. show. Most people would gladly eat those slimy worms rather than face what Linda conquered, but it was her challenge that made her a true survivor. By Kate Larson

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Linda with three-day crew members

SURVIVOR STORIES tive to receiving blessings in her life. In reaching that optimistic mindset, she credits her favorite scripture in Philippians 4:8: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things”(NIV). By surrounding herself with all the wonderful things she was blessed with, Tami was able to find a sense of peace and contentment in her life. Tami also attributes so much of her outlook during treatment to the amazing staff at the Cancer Wellness center at Piedmont Fayette Hospital. The center, which also has lo-

Tammy and Katie at Relay For Life

cations at Piedmont’s hospitals in Henry County, Newnan, as well as at the main Piedmont hospital in Atlanta, is a privately funded group which specializes in helping those affected by cancer through avenues such as yoga, massage, nutrition and psychological counseling. The Wellness center also provides support groups for patients where those facing the same situations can get together and discuss the common thread in their lives. For Tami, this was invaluable and she explains that she saw the importance of such support in the lives of others, particularly a younger patient who was facing the loss of her hair. While initially anxious about having her hair cut, when other women in the group began to model various ways to wear head scarves, an impromptu fashion show as it were, the young woman was more at ease. Now almost a year after her challenge, Tami is undertaking a new adventure: the Breast Cancer 3-day walk. At 60 miles, the Breast Cancer 3-Day is the largest fundraising walk in the country, with individual events all across the city from Boston to Dallas to San Diego. Participants are a mix of survivors, family, and friends, all of whom raise as much as $3000 to take part in this massive event. Tami, who is a flight attendant with Delta, has been using her career as an opportunity, passing out information and asking passengers on her flights for support in her quest to raise funds. The primary purpose for the walk is to raise funds for research, but for Tami, there is another driving factor. After everything she faced in 2012, this “Tuff Chick” wants to help and support others in the way she was supported. “I can’t go in and do surgery,” she says, “I can’t do chemo, but I can do this. I can walk for someone else.”

As I wait at my little table in the bustling Starbucks, I wonder how I’m going to recognize the woman I’m interviewing; I have no idea what she might look like, I don’t even know her name. Then a petite woman with salt and pepper hair comes through the side door, a brilliant smile across her face and somehow, I know this is her. When Tami Kemberling, clad in a bright pink camouflage shirt which reads “Tuff Chicks,” sits down across from me, I’m infected with her smile. I know very little about her, but I can already tell that she is a woman full of joy. Diagnosed with breast cancer in February 2012 during a regular mammogram, Tami’s story with cancer actually began thirty years earlier when she lost her mom to the disease. That loss played a role in Tami’s pre-diagnosis involvement of over ten years with Relay for Life, which raises funds for cancer research through the American Cancer Society. During her treatment, Tami chronicled her day in her journal, the good days and the not so good days, and the little things that helped her stay positive. “I never had any fear,” she says of her diagnosis and treatment, citing her support from her family, friends, and medical team as the major factor in her confidence when she was sick. Even when unexpected issues would arise, such as her need for physical therapy after her surgery, “There was always a solution to the problem.” Alongside her fearlessness, Tami explains that one of the biggest keys to her recovery was following the idea of surrounding yourself with the By Kate Larson good things that can happen, with having an attitude recep-

{Better Times Magazine} 25


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Breast Cancer Events: Young Survivor Coalition Tour de Pink- September 28th, 2013 As Atlanta’s only bike ride for breast cancer, Tour de Pink will allow participants to ride from 1 to 100 miles, from short family rides and a survivor loop to professionally designed routes for the expert cyclist. Depending on the route chosen, riders will wind through the scenic streets and neighborhoods of North Fulton, moving northward toward Lake Lanier. For those who would like to participate but do not bike, there will be a 5K course for runners and walkers. Each rider or runner raises donations to support their endeavor as well as receiving prizes based on the amount raised. Teams of any size are invited to participate in both the walk and the ride, but donations can only be given to a single person. Not a walker, runner, or biker? Volunteers are always needed to help the event succeed! For more information, visit the YSC website at, click on Rides, then Atlanta or call (404) 733-5010. Atlanta Pampered Ladies Expo: Honoring Breast Cancer Survivors and Patients The Atlanta Pampered Ladies host several events each year showcasing female business owners and giving women the opportunity to take time out of busy schedules and hectic lives and pamper themselves with spa treatments, exercise classes, and delicious food. For their event in October, the APLE is going pink to honor and celebrate survivors and patients with extra special pampering and a special gift as well. All ladies are invited to a delightful evening of fun, food and friends, on Friday, Oct. 4th, from 6:00 p.m. - 9:30 p.m. at Brawner Hall 3180 Atlanta Road, Smyrna, GA 30080. Contact Tiffany at 678-516-5441 or Felicia 678-852-3981 or email at for more information. Brides Against Breast Cancer Charity Wedding Gown Sale & Bridal Show The Brides Against Breast Cancer organization hosts their bridal shows all across the county as fundraisers for multiple cancer related charities. Featuring both new and used gowns, the Charity gown sale boasts options from $99 all the way to designer gowns at $3,900, the proceeds of which go to ap-

pointed charities. Any bride is invited attend and view the gowns, both at a VIP “Unveiling of the Dresses” event featuring food and entertainment and at the open sale. Volunteers are also needed to help set up and put on this event. For more information visit: The “It’s the Journey” 2-Day Breast Cancer Walk After the Avon 3-Day Breast Cancer walked stopped hosting an Atlanta event, breast cancer survivor and multiyear walker Randi Passoff decided to found an organization where all the funds raised would stay in the area to help Atlanta breast cancer patients. Called the “the kinder and gentler breast cancer walk,” the 2-day walk covers 30 miles in two days and participants are housed overnight in a hotel as opposed to a tent on the course, or participants have the option to walk just one of the two days if they are unable to complete the full event. Another difference in the 2-day walk is that teams can fundraise as a group as opposed to individually. This year’s 2-Day will be held in Atlanta October 5-6, concluding with a half mile victory lap at Atlantic Station for survivors, whether they walked the rest of the event or not. For more information or to register for the 2-Day walk visit or call 404-531-4111. Susan G. Komen 3-Day The Susan G. Komen 3-day walk is the largest and most noted breast cancer event in the country, with events in major cities from Boston to San Diego. Participants walk 15-22 miles per day, camping each night in a nearby area with tents for bathing, dining, and entertainment. Fundraising is completed by each individual, but most participants walk in teams during the event. Each walker is required to raise $2300 to participate, with those funds going to the largest provider of funding for breast cancer research, The Susan G. Komen Foundation. The Atlanta 3-day event will be held October 18 - 20, 2013 beginning at Stone Mountain Park and winding the sixty miles through the city, ending at Turner Field on that Sunday. To register, volunteer or find more information about the event or Susan G. Komen, visit http://www. {Better Times Magazine} 27

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New Hope Baptist Church Moves Into a New Era 32 {Better Times Magazine}

Rhys Stenner

is the Senior Pastor of New Hope Baptist Church. Minister to over 6,500 members of one of Fayette County’s oldest and most vibrant evangelical churches. Preacher heard by 10,000 radio listeners. A foreigner from across the pond with an accent that, while it pleases the ear, makes one lean in, listen carefully, pay close attention. Who is this man from the United Kingdom? Who is this man who smiles first with his eyes, who has a face as fresh as a teenager? Who speaks reverently of his wife Louise as a “great warrior?” Whose voice softens, cracks even, when he tells of his daughter Megan’s recent wedding, or of another daughter Eleanor’s joy in her college career and love of photography, and who just shakes his head in wonder as he tells of yet another daughter, Sarah, who played an entire season of volleyball with a broken ankle. Who is this man who will not shy away from pronouncing Candy Crush a waste of time, an addiction; however, an addiction not as serious as Xbox, which he states with quiet but resolute boldness is stealing the childhood and adolescence of so many. A man who says point blank, “Don’t go to a church where you don’t even have to bring your Bible!” Who is this preacher from the UK who has captivated the hearts of a community and is tirelessly and enthusiastically working to help bring about what he believes will be a great revival of the people not only of this church, this community, but of this nation. Pastor Rhys Stenner is a man who says he feels a tremor beneath the surface of God’s church, a vibration of energy that may well grow into the greatest Christian movement in our history. He and the people at the church he leads, New Hope Baptist, have been praying and continue to pray for a Great Outpouring! A Great Revival that will first sweep this country like the quiet rumble of an approaching earthquake, and will end with a vibrant, refreshed Church whose actions will be solely those of the Lord’s desire. Not a church designed to entertain and appeal to our fleshly appetites, but a Church of the first century, following the Great Commandment, loving one another, and striving to perform The Great Commission, tak-

ing the good news of salvation to the entire world. A simple plan? Yes. Jesus declared it so. Easily understood? Sure. But a plan too often scorned and sneered at by unbelievers, the lost; by those bent on changing and rewriting the early designs for a God-loving, obedient United States of America. “Can I hear you say ‘Simple’?” Amen! “ Easy Peasy?” Amen! “Say it again and let it be true!” “God is on His throne! Jesus is our Saviour!” Amen! “We fall down and lay our crowns at the feet of Jesus.” An ardent encourager, his sermons insist the congregation participate in worship. “Open your Bibles to Proverbs 5:2. Look at me when you have it.” And, “Stand up and hug your neighbor; shake his hand; look him in the eye.” Or, “Raise your hand if you helped a turtle cross the road this week! Good. Good, look there—at least two hundred compassionate souls. We are a compassionate church. Why, we must live in Turtleland!” Always with one clear goal, to connect the listener to the message, Pastor Rhys has a style of delivery that is candid, straightforward, and appropriate to this community of church-goers. He is always kind and caring in his tone, but never fearful of stepping on the toes of the “despicable We’s,” for he never fails to include himself in the band of sinners, calling himself “despicable Me.” In an era where “sin” is seldom spoken from this nation’s pulpits, Rhys Stenner does not shy away from reminding those that would have a life in Christ that one condition is the recognition of one’s sins. Never dour or stern, however, his body language suggests that he is bursting with the great joy and gladness that is the gift for all those that do ask and receive His amazing grace! Before he even speaks, one knows that this man is excited about Jesus; that he wants nothing more than to share the gospel of salvation with his church, his community, his world. Pastor Rhys sits poised in his chair, muscles tensed, his head leaning towards you, ready to engage. Smiling. Eager to talk and listen. Obviously very fit, he is a walker, three to seven miles a day, passionate golfer, and given the chance, will play a game of rugby with gusto until he pulls a ham-

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string or something! He is deeply tanned; loves being outdoors with friends and family, but also loves being alone. To walk, to think, to be silent with his God. Obviously well-read, his conversations are peppered with quotes and references from great thinkers, theologians, British and American scholars. Billy Graham is a favorite, so is C.S.Lewis, and Charles Spurgeon. He does try to remain current on local news and world events and at least some sports. Well, certainly the big 7 UK rugby teams. Having played serious rugby in the UK at the same time he was playing serious guitar with a Christian rock group, Rhys’ interests are all over the place and you may get a trifle dizzy trying to keep up. You may enjoy a few chuckles at his expense as well. He still doesn’t quite “get” American idioms, slang or metaphors and often stops midsentence to ask, “I just said something really dumb, didn’t I?” Rhys and his family have been a delightful part of the New Hope congregation for eight years now. The Stenner family shares a love of sports and much of their time together is spent supporting a family member, cheering on their favorite teams, or telling one another tales of past sports exploits. They follow daughter Sarah and high school volleyball, enjoy a Braves or Falcons game together, love watching their favorite rugby team,Wales, on the telly, and golf is a passion that Rhys, who humbly acknowledges a zero handicap, loves to talk about almost as much as he loves to play the game. This family of four women and a lone male knows sports! And everywhere they visit, every field or court or course they play, they see an opportunity for ministry. Family fun while fulfilling God’s commission is an integral part of their lives together. Louise Stenner’s gift, according to her husband, is planting and watering ministries. She excels in putting groups together, finding, equipping and discipling leaders, helping to provide a future plan of action and then moving along to the next challenge. Louise and Rhys met while students at London Bible College and their common interests in the Lord,

His plans for their lives, and Christian rock and roll music were too strong to be denied. They have been a couple ever since, happily joined in their passions for God, family, church, country—they claim the U.S. and the UK—music and sports. For we do not want to boast about work already done in someone else’s territory. 17 But, “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” 18 For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends (2 Corinthians 10) Rhys Stenner will tell you that New Hope does not have a super star leading the church. He believes the congregation desires to be “just a local church.” He is not a Joel Olsteen, Charles Stanley, or Rick Warren, but Rhys does feel as though he “was born to do this; to be a shepherd of this church, to see revival come in this land and across the sea.” Throughout his career, Rhys explains that he has always followed a legend. He runs down an impressive list of successful pastors whose shoes he has been called to fill. But he is not a timid man; he is not afraid. Admittedly not always politically correct, he tries always to be biblically correct. “One must always strive to offer both truth and grace; and many have tried, but only through a miracle can that be achieved. Jesus Christ, alone, is the embodiment of truth and grace. I’m naive enough that I generally don’t fear whether I may offend. Our church is very gracious; New Hope loves the Word. If you give it strong, then they say, ‘Well done, Preacher!’ The people encourage me to be bold. I know that I am a herald. We don’t preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus.” Pastor Rhys believes that the hard work is not done in the pulpit, but in just loving people, people from different backgrounds, different cultures. “When a societal issue goes crazy, we want to work to protect the peace. To be intentional in efforts to unify the church, with the next step being to unify the entire community.” He quickly adds, “With the help of

From 1889 to the present day, New Hope has been blessed with phenomonial growth.

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other churches, of course.” The hardest thing he believes the church faces is in “keeping our eyes on the vision—and to keep clarifying the vision.” Coming from a culture that was increasingly more secular, Rhys discovered upon arriving here eight years ago, that it was clear the whole world was changing in terms of becoming less Christian. “We must be creative in reaching people” in this technological, social-media obsessed world, but “we also want to continue doing things as we have in the past and continue to remind ourselves of our mission field. We must go into areas the church was not strong in before, not just plant churches where there already are churches, but where people don’t go to church.” Choosing sermon topics and deciding on a series for an ever-increasingly diversified congregation and large radio audience is an undertaking that requires wisdom, collaboration, and listening to the Holy Spirit. Rhys says that often a book in the Bible will just insist, “Read Me, Read Me!” The decision rests primarily with him, but he is greatly encouraged by others and credits Don Boykin with suggesting the recent and well-received series on marriage. Rhys explains that he immerses himself in about ten favorite commentaries, mentioning George Beasley-Murray and Matthew Henry as among his favorite theologians. While he does read Greek, (“I muddle it up sometimes”), he admits that his “Hebrew is rubbish.” There is not necessarily one strategy that Pastor Rhys follows; he believes in letting the character of the text determine the method of delivery. And there are challenges in today’s pulpit that were not faced in even the recent past. Speaking to a mixed congregation, to sensitive souls about sensitive issues is often a complicated duty. It is important, for example, to shield the youth in one way while preparing them for the world they will face. It is important not to avoid the tough topics, to speak the truth. Rhys says he and his staff don’t “mind having a bit of fun “ and often use humor in “packaging” a series , but certainly, he assures, an apocalyptic topic would not be presented with jokes and one-liners. In an effort to build relationships within the community, Stenner meets with 14 other senior pastors on a regular basis, a similar program he spearheaded in the UK. He

describes the project: “It is an effort to ‘just break the ice.’ We celebrate others’ success. When we meet with fellow pastors, the stories and stereotypes disappear. We stop believing rumors about someone when we meet them face to face. It is an exercise in learning to trust while sharing differences. It is our goal to build and maintain that trust; to be sure we are true to that trust. We know we are a divided nation, so this is a splendid opportunity and a wonderful way to be the Church on the Hill.” Pastor Rhys is waiting and watching and praying for unity to “break out” in this community. Among those praying for this Great Outpouring is Tim Woodruff, Associate Pastor of Discipleship for both campuses since 2006, when Rhys joined New Hope. Dr. Woodruff, who has been with New Hope for 18 years in other positions, and has with Stenner helped create a ministry team which is part staff and part family. Working collectively to accomplish the goals of their Constitution, to carry the Good News and fulfill the Great Commission, this body of leadership exudes a “real sense of community” as they help one another, “rev” each other up, and calm each other when necessary. According to Tim, Pastor Rhys is “the glue that holds us all together!” Tim Woodruff , one of 19 staff leaders with job-specific roles, is well equipped to do discipleship at New Hope Baptist Church. He has studied, trained, prayed and practiced. He is a man obedient to the Holy Spirit and, like most of the staff, is determined to make a transformational difference in this world. He has coached and been coached, is blessed and is a blessing to what he calls “The World’s Largest Small Church.” Tim, as well as Rhys, sincerely believes that “Sunday School” is where much of ministry really happens. A term that is still used at New Hope, the small group study and fellowship is not limited to Sunday mornings or even to the two campuses. Time and experience has shown that meeting on campus and with materials chosen for a specific interest area has proven to be the most successful and meaningful plan for discipling. It is an “equipping ministry for a culture of launch.” The hundred plus class rooms, meeting rooms, conference halls, sports “arenas,” and auditoriums are in constant use by the church members preparing for their part in this “launch” and by those in the community with a need that New Hope North {Better Times Magazine} 35

or South Campus can happily accommodate. Conferences, conventions, voting booths; many in the area find themselves served by New Hope in a secular fashion. There is always a warm welcome and expectations are high that the beautiful, newly enlarged sanctuary will continue to be utilized by the at-large community. Pastor Rhys is thrilled that the facility, the grounds and the staff of nearly 90 well-trained and dedicated men and women are able to serve between 6000 to 10,000 congregation and community members every week. The sanctuaries are full (chock-a-block) and making a joyful noise every Sunday. Preaching and teaching, and singing for all ages is happening every day of the week somewhere within their boundaries. Youth and children stream in and out of exciting age-appropriate activities; nearly 2000 families and players are part of Saturday’s Upward basketball program and hundreds practice throughout the week during “open gym” hours. Two Olympic-sized sand volleyball courts see their share of players, too. There are soccer teams on both campuses and, cafes and youth centers that are exciting places to be for teens and youth. The programs are far too numerous to catalogue here, and the very talented staff too large to name and credit with the amazing work they do for the whole community. Each has a long list of awards, recognitions, and accolades they bring to work each day. Vibrant, energetic men and women who, along with Senior Pastor Rhys Stenner, believe they have been given their gifts and talents to serve their Lord and to supernaturally impact the community, the nation and the world. To serve, to love, and to take the Gospel to every corner of the world. Like Haiti, where an orphanage adoption program has seen great gains; to Wales, where a yearly mission trip has over time seen a total of 400 excited members of New Hope taking a splendid choir and the message to a country ripe for revival, to Zimbabwe, Thailand, and more, and more. Rhys explains, “We are in a Mission Season. The Lord has given us a vision that millions will be impacted, will be touched!” Wow. A tall order. Rhys Stenner is a man whose quiet charm, deep sincerity, and strong faith in his God reveals a person with great charisma, a vision caster with a “gift of shepherding”; perhaps just the man to lead just the church to a Great Revival, a Great Outpouring. -Written by Lynn Horton

Grand Opening at New Hope North 36 {Better Times Magazine}

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When God’s Will Is Harder Than We Expect “Thy will be done” is not a prayer for the faint of heart.


ur family moved from Chicago to Toronto, Canada two years ago. And for all the obvious similarities between Canada and the U.S., cultural differences do exist. I need only to talk to my Canadian friends or stand in the grocery line to recognize them. As a matter of routine here, cashiers at the grocery store do not whip items over the scanner into the hands of pimply 16-year-olds bagging for minimum wage. Instead, cashiers pluck items from the conveyor belt, one by one, scanning and bagging each individually with such apparent lack of haste that clearly, time is not of the essence.

come my currency of prayer? “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done.” These are the words Jesus taught us to pray, and they bind us, like a gentle and easy yoke, to the will and glory of Another. They don’t promise us an easy life. In fact, the Scriptures assure that following a crucified Savior is an invitation into suffering (2 Timothy 3:12, Romans 8:17, Philippians 3:10). I, like you, would say that I want God’s

Imagine, then, my indignation when: the the foster child we bring into our home persistently wakes in the middle of the night, crying for a bottle he’s long past the age of needing; my 4-year-old son coughs and cries as sleepless hours creep toward my speaking engagement at church the next morning; my plans for a graduate ministry degree are interrupted with a surprise pregnancy—twins; we move to Toronto and two years later, must move again because we’ve been forced out of a lease; another landlord refuses to rent to us because we have “too many” kids; my recently orphaned 18-year-old nephew comes to live with us when the deadline for my first book manuscript looms.

“Have ease and convenience also become my currency of prayer?”

Have ease and convenience also become my currency of prayer? I once irritably timed the inefficiency: 15 minutes. Standing at the checkout in Toronto, I begin recognizing my patriotic allegiance to convenience and ease. These values are the currency of American culture. And it’s made me wonder: Have ease and convenience also be42 {Better Times Magazine}

will. However, what may also be true is that I want it à l’Americaine. “Yes, Lord, I will do as you ask. However, kindly impose no obligations to inconvenience or discomfort, please.” This is the bargain I seem to want to continually strike with God. I will serve. I will give. I know to accept these as terms of God’s kingdom. However, the contractual obligation to which I insist on holding God is the preservation of my hassle-free life.

I want a life that is as placid as the surface of a glassy sea, and instead, God capsizes my efforts at self-assured control. He takes me beyond the comfortable limits of my time, money and capacities into waters that churn with challenge and uncertainty. I don’t ever feel I can keep afloat, and in fact, I often have the sense of near-drowning.

Self-pity is a first responder— when the responsibilities God hands multiply at an alarming rate and I watch as the cache of my emotional, financial and relational reserves erodes. I confess to an initial state of brooding over the injustice of having to give and give more. I don’t suffer well the discourtesy of God’s calling. Why won’t God hold to his end of the bargain? Hasn’t he owed me at least the generosity of making his will easier, especially when I’ve readily complied with his terms? I’m giving, and I’m serving, aren’t I? And then again, when God makes life—and calling—“hard,” there are lessons he means to teach us. I write them as if only to remind myself: 1. Grace is sufficient where time, money and capacity are not. Whether or not we admit it, we are each skilled in habits of self-reliance. When God obligates us to responsibilities that our resources are insufficient to meet, we begin learning to pray—and depend. (2 Corinthians 12:9) The discourtesy of God’s calling serves as one means of rescue. We are saved from our petulant demands that faith be easy, convenient and amenable to our plans. 2. Glory is reserved for Christ alone. Despite our insatiable need to be heroic, God will necessarily return

us to a vision of our proper size. The lesson, which John the Baptist learned, is one we must each begin to internalize: sometimes it takes a too-big life and calling to teach us something of our own smallness (John 3:30). 3. The cross is the central event of the Christian story. It was a vision of ignominy and death before it ever became a symbol of glory and life. Whenever we begin believing that God owes us our best life now, we could stand to be consider Jesus, “who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame,” (Hebrews 12:2).

are asking the wrong question (“What would Jesus do?”) when we should instead be probing, The discourtesy of God’s calling serves as one means of rescue. We are saved from our petulant demands that faith be easy, convenient and amenable to our plans. We are returned to the cross—and to the way of Jesus. The difficulties God providentially allows as we seek to follow him teach us to live more willingly into the mystery of the words that Jesus taught us to pray: Your

“How would Jesus do it?” kingdom come, your will be done. They grant us the courage to invite God to accomplish His work—in His way. We could even say that suffering produces real and resilient faith, and for this reason, is cause for joy (James 1:2-4). Written by Jen Pollock Michel Jen Pollock Michel lives in Toronto with her husband and five children. She is a regular contributor to Christianity Today’s her.meneutics blog and is publishing a book next year with InterVarsity on how the Lord’s Prayer forms holy desire

In his book, The Jesus Way, Eugene Peterson argues that the American church has divorced the truth of Jesus from the way of Jesus. We like the message of the Christian faith, but we aren’t jazzed about the means. Peterson says that we

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THE STORY OF THE LAMB: Katie Fisher, 17, entered the Madison County Ohio Junior Livestock Sale hoping the lamb she had for sale would get a good price. For months Katie had been battling cancer. She had endured hospital stays and been through chemotherapy a number of times. Before the lamb went on the block, the auctioneer told the audience about Katie’s condition, hoping his introduction would push the price-per-pound above the average of two dollars. It did-and then some. The lamb sold for $11.50 per pound. Then the buyer gave it back, and suggested the auctioneer sell it again. That started a chain reaction. Families bought it and gave it back; businesses bought it and gave it back. Katie’s mother said, “The first sale is the only one I remember. After that, I was crying too hard.” They ended up selling the lamb thirty-six times that day, raising more than $16,000 in the process.

CORRIE TEN BOOM: The measure of a life, after all, is not its duration, but its donation. MISSIONARY JIM ELLIOT: “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose.” {Better Times Magazine} 47

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Brian and Charles at Falcon’s game

my life, and I had to search for why things happened the way they did. It is something I needed for a long time; I just did not know where to find it.” Over a period of twenty weeks in a facilitated, gender specific, safe group, Brian learned the skills and process that helped him focus on understanding how he had arrived at the decisions and actions that were causing the problems in his life. “I needed to see what had affected my life. I needed to learn how to forgive myself for all the chaos I had caused and all the people I had hurt.” Forgiveness, restoration and growth have been a featured part of Brian’s “Story.” The magazine you hold in your hands

By: David Parfitt Chaos, burglary, heroin…. this is not how Brian Anderson’s life was supposed to turn out. “I could not keep going the way I was headed, I was scared and I knew I was on my way to prison.” Brian, now 30, grew up in a strong family that has been a vital part of the Fayetteville community for generations. “My grandfather, Jack Dettmering, served as mayor and city councilman for 25 years. Brian graduated from Fayette County High School in 2001 where, in addition to his studies, he also played football, baseball and golf. But something else happened in high school—he was introduced to alcohol, then to marijuana. Marijuana eventually led to heroin and addiction followed soon thereafter. Drugs took over his life, “I hit bottom, I was in trouble, and I needed help.” Brian entered A Better Way Ministries on February 26, 2012 and a few months later joined a ministry experience called “Restoring Your Heart.” “Restoring Your Heart was different from anything I had been through. Past counseling did not work; I needed to go someplace deeper, I needed God. “RYH made me look back, to take the time to really examine

is living proof of his life change. Brian is a recent graduate from A Better Way Ministries, having completed the program on August 26, 2013. Brian is also the operations manager of Better Times Magazine! He is responsible for production, advertising, editorial content, communication, accounting and the administration of this quarterly publication. A Better Way and Restoring Your Heart have helped prepare Brian for a promising future. “Today I see how God is preparing to use me and to bring Him glory! Yesterday it was all dark…Today it is sunshine. A Better Way, and Restoring Your Heart have helped me see the light!” Charles Anderson III (no relation to Brian) was living a life that seemed like a dream. A great family, a loving home, many close friends. He played both football and basketball in high school and graduated with honors. Charles was accepted to and began attending college at the University of Georgia. But that dream life was soon to change. “I tried crack cocaine and I was hooked,” Charles said. “My life became filled with trips to jail and extended stays in rehabilitation programs. I knew I had to stop, but couldn’t. I was addicted; I was desperate; I was weak; I was broken.” Charles entered A Better Way Ministries on August 4, 2011. He remembers that day well, and says of it, “I was an unbeliever, and highly skeptical of Christianity.”

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to say he is now a believer and his life has never looked more promising. “I have learned how emotional problems develop and how to process my pain. I have learned God’s plan for forgiveness. Restoring Your Heart has indeed restored my heart!” Like Brian and Charles we all are wounded in some way. We grew up in imperfect homes and have dealt with issues in our lives imperfectly. In addition, there is often little permission in the world, or in the church, to admit that our wounds exist, and little teaching about how to deal with them. Everyone can benefit from identifying and working on areas of their life that have been negatively impacted by unresolved pain or unmet needs. An additional benefit of healing from past issues is that we can better understand others and the ways they struggle. God created us for relationships, yet often, relationships are the source of our greatest pain. As children, we rarely know how to handle emotional pain, and begin to believe lies about ourselves, about God, about the world and about others.

But something began to change. Charles entered a ministry experience in January 2012, that is part of the Better Way process called “Restoring Your Heart,” and as Charles states, “I began to learn the value of safe groups and how to both identify my sources of pain as well as a process to let them go.” Over the ensuing five months of the experience, group leaders led Charles to acknowledge and understand where he had been wounded and to understand how God intended to heal him. Charles began to learn healthy behaviors, and while we all experience suffering, he learned he could both learn and grow from his pain. Through the care and direction of A Better Way Ministries, and the experience of Restoring Your Heart, Charles is proud

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Worldwide Discipleship Association Inc. created Restoring Your Heart (RYH) with the goal of helping individuals process their pain and equipping leaders to establish and facilitate groups focused on biblically based emotional restoration. Restoring Your Heart groups are not addiction groups, but groups that help to deal with the pain that drives addictions and produces unhealthy coping mechanisms. These gender-based safe groups help people to become healthier so they can continue to grow in the discipleship process. (See the accompanying article for details about Worldwide Discipleship Association). RYH Groups use specific workbook questions and shared experiences within the confines of a safe confidential group to help people: Process Pain, Understand Emotions, and Conquer Shame. Jesus said He came to set the captives free (Luke

4:18). A Restoring Your Heart group applies biblical princi-

“I thought I was going to go to ABW and help men change

ples to emotional issues in a relationally caring environment.

their lives, but what happened is my life has been transformed

WDA, with the help of Christ and those who know how to deal

in a way that I never expected.”

with emotional issues, has learned we can overcome many of the struggles in our lives. Jesus came to heal us as well as

Learning to overcome life’s struggles is something that trans-

help us grow. In fact, it is quite common that as people heal

forms our lives and creates the capacity to love and serve oth-

from emotional issues they experience tremendous spiritual

ers. Woody’s conclusion? “I get so much more from the men

growth, as many of the barriers in their relationship with God

at ABW than I have ever given them. I just praise God that

and others diminish.

He allows me to be a part. May we all recognize that our only hope is Jesus.”

Restoring Your Heart is in its fifth year at A Better Way with dozens of men having worked their way through the eighteen-

A heart that is strong is a heart that helps heal others. Restor-

week process. It is now common to hear residents exclaim,

ing Your Heart is a ministry that is designed to work with pro-

“Restoring Your Heart has changed my life!” The evidence of

grams that are already established in a local church or com-

life change has greatly affected the ministry of A Better Way.

munity ministry. Its purpose is to grow mature, Christ-like disciples who in turn serve, lead, give, parent, love, mentor,

“We have seen many men come out of their shell, deal with

sacrifice and invest their lives to grow more disciples.

their issues, and turn into men of compassion and understanding,” according to John Barrow, founder of A Better

At A Better Way, success is measured one man at a time. Each

Way. “In turn, they have begun to help others just as they

man must assume responsibility for his actions and develop

have been helped through Restoring Your Heart. Words alone

the discipline to return to society as a productive and valu-

cannot describe how much I love what God is doing through

able individual. Through the many dedicated, caring people,

this ministry.”

and ministry initiatives like Restoring Your Heart, many men proclaim stories of victory. Just like Brian and Charles, they

Restoring Your Heart has not only changed the hearts of the

can reclaim their place in society and their purpose.

men at A Better Way but also the hearts of those leading the groups. Woody Johnson, a Fayette county real estate devel-

Charles, who knows how long and painful his journey has

oper and owner of multiple Marco Pizza restaurants, was

been, also knows the promise of his future.

trained to lead RYH groups at New Hope Baptist Church in Fayetteville and was instrumental in bringing the program to

“I am back at college, pursuing my degree in economics. My

A Better Way Ministries.

life has purpose. I know God has a plan for me and I have learned a process to understand and process my wounds and

“Seeing God change lives through the Restoring Your Heart

the lies of the enemy. I look forward to the new life ahead of

process at ABW is amazing” Woody said. “Experiencing men


opening up and watching God transform their lives right before my eyes has been, and continues to be, the joy of my life.

David Parfitt is part of the facilitation team for Restoring

Men that the world has told, ‘You’re no good,’ see their hope

Your Heart at A Better Way Ministries. He, along with his co-

lies in Jesus Christ. They are broken and ready for change,

leader Dr. Mike Younker has lead RYH groups for the past

they see hope and go for it.

four years.

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What is Restoring Your Heart? Restoring Your Heart (RYH) is a process developed by the WDA Restorative Ministry to help people grow and heal both relationally and emotionally. The RYH process happens in small groups of six to eight people who spend approximately eighteen weeks together exploring their emotions and their families of origin. Many people have never before experienced a safe place where they are able to share matters of the heart. The bonding that occurs in these groups is both healing and essential for emotional, relational and spiritual growth. RYH begins by way of a training program to develop leaders, primarily in churches or other ministries, so they can begin their personal healing process and subsequently help others to heal. The RYH training process takes approximately one year and involves both teaching and experiential learning about emotional issues. During this process, future RYH leaders will work on their own emotional issues and learn many principles about emotions, relationships, childhood issues and adult problems. The WDA Restorative team has developed workbooks to be used in small groups, as well as training manuals to assist RYH group leaders. We also have on site and web training seminars. Once people complete the RYH Leader Certification Process, they can begin to lead groups and help others in the church or community begin their healing process. Why is Restoring Your Heart important? With over four decades of experience discipling people, we at WDA have discovered that unresolved emotional issues from a person’s past can be a stumbling block in their spiritual growth. We believe the Church should be instrumental in helping people heal emotionally, but frequently it is not equipped or staffed to offer help. The WDA Restoring Your Heart Ministry is dedicated to teaching lay people in churches (and other ministries) how to help people heal emotionally and relationally. Everyone can benefit from going through this process because everyone has some degree of pain from their past. Everyone can benefit from going through this process

52 {Better Times Magazine}

because everyone will understand more about the nature and importance of grieving and forgiveness. Relational healing enables everyone to develop a better relationship with God. The results of RYH can be seen in healthier people, healthier families, healthier churches and healthier communities. Our culture has tended to separate emotional healing from the Church and relegate it to the realms of psychology and psychiatry. At WDA, we are convinced that emotional and relational healing is an integral part of the discipleship process and was modeled by Jesus as he taught his disciples. These healing principles are laid out for us in Isaiah 61:1-4 and which Jesus quoted in Luke 4 as he began his ministry. “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me
 to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
 to proclaim freedom for the captives
 and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn ,and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
 instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
 instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
 instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
 a planting of the Lord
 for the display of his splendor. They will rebuild the ancient ruins
 and restore the places long devastated;
they will renew the ruined cities
 that have been devastated for generations.” This is the plan of healing that Jesus left for us to follow. Jesus intended for emotional healing to be a part of what happens in a community of believers. The Restorative Ministry is just one of the ministries of Worldwide Discipleship Association. We invite you to visit our website at for more information. For more information on Restoring Your Heart contact us at:

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Out of the Woods Grows a Church Oh! come, come, come, come, Come to the Church in the wildwood, Oh, come to the church in the dale, No spot is so dear to my childhood, As the little brown church in the dell. There’s a church in the valley by the wildwood, No lovelier place in the dale, No spot is so dear to my childhood, As the little brown church in the dell. Do you remember the tune to that sweet, sweet hymn from long ago? The pictures that it calls to mind are of a precious sanctuary, shaded by large oak trees with a mossy graveyard along the side. Well, it exists just west of Newnan, Georgia. Except that it has a red brick chapel, and it is about to burst at the seams! There are plans in place now to expand this 113-year-old church on the newly purchased 6.6 adjoining acres. Praise The Lord for this season of growth and for making the struggles of this faithful congregation bear such amazing fruit. Oak Grove Baptist Church has a fascinating history dating back to antebellum days when two and a half acres were deeded to the original slave congregation. The little church was burned down three times by the KKK, but was always rebuilt in a spirit of hope and assurance that God’s plan was for this church to prosper. And prosper it has! Three years ago the population of Oak Grove had dwindled to 15, the pastor had a serious health problem and Jeremy Tuck was asked to fill in. His answer was “no,” three times... but he finally agreed to come on every fourth Sunday. “It was the best decision I ever made,” Jeremy exclaims. There were four in Bible study, then 15, then 20, 35, and now 40 plus! After six months and a serious talk with his dad who told Jeremy, “I think God is asking you to make a leap of faith,” he stepped into the role of pastor. God had taken Jeremy Tuck down a long and winding road to bring him to this “little church in the dell.” Jeremy, the second son in a family of seven, grew up in a two room house with no running water and where his mom cooked off of the same kerosene heater that provided warmth in the winter. He admits that he struggled with the fact that ‘God is a God of blessing’ often asking, “Why do we live like this?” His mother, a fierce prayer warrior who 58 {Better Times Magazine}

taught him to pray with sincerity, told him, “Our current condition is never the conclusion.” He learned from her that he didn’t “have to be a product of now.” His journey to the pulpit began when he would leave the choir in the Pentecostal Church where he was raised and speak to the congregation. He was licensed and ordained at the age of 12, had a best-selling album B-Strong at 17. However, when the promises of the record moguls went south and the label went belly-up, Jeremy went through a serious period of doubt and rebellion, saying, “I had started to doubt. Does God really want me?” Thus, Jeremy ended up in college where all he knew at that point was what he didn’t want to be. He worked a short period of time for Delta Airlines in customer service and later in the business world as a contract negotiator for companies like The World of Coke and The Georgia Aquarium. Yet, he kept hearing people pronounce that he was destined to do something great. Even Dr. Sam Chand, the first person he saw during his enrollment at Beulah Heights University told him, “You’re a leader; You will do great things,” and Pastor Johnathan Alvarado , in the same setting, grabbed him and pulled him aside to prophesy, “You’re going to be a leader someday. God is going to use you.” Jeremy scoffed and said, “Hogwash!” These two men would change Jeremy Tuck’s life by directing him to the study, discipleship, self-edification and love for the Word of God that would mold him into the dynamic, caring pastor he is today. Full of fresh, exciting ideas like the highly successful Coffee and A Book ministry, and plans for developing outreach ministries to support the homeless, to reach students, and to aid in the adoption of the ‘Lost Boys’, and finally an exciting and ambitious plan to build an Assisted Living home for the elderly and sick which will be staffed with church members. Pastor Tuck says one of the earliest programs, Coffee and A Book, not only encourages folks to read (the choices are motivational as well as inspirational), it gives them the opportunity to discuss and voice opinions in a safe group. Books by John Maxwell and Joyce Meyer, and Samuel Chand’s book Who’s Holding Your Ladder are examples of the challenges this book “club” enjoys. Regular Bible study meets every Wednesday at 7 p.m.

Choir practice, Sunday School, writing and singing the music he loves, plus the completion of his first book From Poverty to Power keeps this man of God zealously busy for the Lord. Pastor Tuck has a seemingly endless supply of ideas, energy and enthusiasm! He says, “I can see and feel that God is present in this moment of greatness here in this church.” He certainly needs to call on that energy supply at home where Jeremiah and Ayden, his three and one year old sons, keep this former track runner on his ‘mark’. He and his wife of four and a half years were introduced by a mutual friend while at Beulah Heights University. Both Jeremy and Akila (which means princess) were ‘dating to marry’ and the courtship quickly culminated in his proposal on Christmas day. Hus-

band, father, singer, songwriter, pastor, Jeremy has managed to accumulate a BA in Biblical Education and Philosophy, a BA in Business Administration, an MBA in Business Admin and is currently working on a doctorate through Oral Roberts University. Add to this his work as Assistant Pastor of the Redeeming Power Church of God In Christ and you have one very busy, very dedicated young man. At 28, Pastor Tuck is the youngest ever called to lead Oak Grove Baptist. Jeremy worked with the church initially as the youth pastor but says he was “not really connected.” Today he is truly connected and is a long way from the youngster who was called from the back row in a tent meeting “out in the sticks” by a “giant of a white man with a great grey beard”; a man who told this boy that his ultimate goal was to preach the

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Pastor Jeremy Tuck gospel and to change the world. He knows the Holy Spirit spoke to him that day. “I was so young, and I didn’t have all the clutter and ‘junk’ in my life. My faith was limitless. Jesus was my hero!” Jeremy exclaims. Jesus remains his hero, and though he has weathered his share of what he calls “mandatory storms” and periods of rebellion, Jeremy Tuck believes that “your misery and your mess become your ministry.” His two year tenure at Oak Grove has seen this multicultural church family grow from 15 to 150 members, has seen the remodeling of the ancient sanctuary into a light, airy and welcome auditorium, and has seen God’s hand in the negotiation for the purchase of 6.6 acres of adjoining land that will become a future expansion which will include a brand new sanctuary, classrooms and continuing education programs. Their mission program has grown to reach not only college students (Jeremy sometimes preaches in the quad at Georgia State), but the men’s ministry has adopted a home for men on parole; the women’s ministry supports ‘Fresh!’ a girl’s shelter. The altar at Oak Grove is truly a place of change and alteration according to Pastor T. Twenty- four souls found their way to the altar on a recent Sunday. “You are just like Clorox, a change agent,” he says, “whatever it touches, it changes. We should be like that, just a capful of Clorox!” To change and grow; To reap and to glean; To minister to the orphans and the homeless; To read and study the Word with passion; To sing to His glory; To stretch hearts and pockets.

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These are the goals that this little church is meeting and as they do, the blessings pour in. The people pour in. And Pastor Jeremy Tuck, his church leaders, his family, the youth, the seniors...all are believing Isaiah 43:19: “I am going to do something new. It is already happening. Don’t you recognize it? “ -Written by Lynn Horton

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Better Times Magazine Fall '13  
Better Times Magazine Fall '13