ADDING WOW TO CHILDRENâ€™S CHURCH
PRACTICING THE GOLDEN RULE AT WORK
MAKING A FASHION STATEMENT FOR CHRIST MARCH // APRIL 2017
EQUIPPING CHRISTIAN LEADERS TO GROW
WOMEN LEADERS Honoring 21 Christian women who lead in ministry and the marketplace
c o n t e n t s V o l . 3 5 // N o . 2
M a r c h // A p r i l 2 0 1 7
WOMEN LEADERS 20 Artist Caroline Simas is one of 21 women leaders in marketplace or traditional ministry we honor in this annual MT21 issue.
50 | LIFE IN THE CREATIVE STRATOSPHERE
56 | CREATING A WORLD OF WOW
Family Entertainment Centers by Worlds of Wow help families commit to attend church. By Taylor Berglund
64 | THE EYES HAVE IT
Ben and Laura Harrison find hope in helping kids around the world when their son is born with a rare eye condition. By Ken Walker
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are from the Holy Bible, Modern English Version. Copyright © 2014 by Military Bible Association. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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MinistryToday March // April 2017
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56 DEPARTMENTS COLUMNS MINISTRY MATTERS
6 | TECHNOLOGY Prepare for unsaved volunteers who want to join your church tech team. 8 | WORSHIP Worship teams are more productive when their leaders are intentional. 10 | KIDS Children’s ministry leaders are much more than weekend babysitters.
12 | IN REAL LIFE Deriding other leaders only puts us in a bad light. By Dr. Mark Rutland 14 | LEADERSHIP MATTERS Integrate faith and work in your kingdom business. By Mark Tedford 16 | TRUE STEWARDSHIP Draw on God’s strength as you lead in weakness. By Chris Brown 70 | ON PLATFORM Master the moment of a microphone surprise. By Dr. Steve Greene
Ministry Today (ISSN #0891-5725) is published bi-monthly by Charisma Media, 600 Rinehart Road, Lake Mary, FL 32746. Periodicals postage paid at Lake Mary, FL 32746 and at additional entry offices. Canada Post International Publications Mail Product (Canadian Distributing) Sales Agreement Number 40037127. Subscription rate is $24.97 for six issues and $39.97 for twelve issues. Canadian subscribers add $20 per year for postage, other countries add $25 per year for postage, payable in advance in U.S. currency only. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Ministry Today, P.O. Box 6102, Harlan, IA 51593-1602. Send undeliverable Canadian mail to: 1415 Janette Avenue, Windsor, ON N8X 1Z1. © 2017 by Charisma Media. For advertising information call (407) 333-0600. Nothing that appears in Ministry Today may be reprinted without permission. PRINTED IN THE USA
Contents: Leslie Hancock Photography | Cover: Courtesy of Gateway Church
Gus Granger’s uniquely named marketing and PR agency, 70kft, finds perspective from above. By Lindsay Williams PLUS: Charity starts in the office.
Ministry Matters: T E C H IDEAS, INSIGHTS & INSPIRATION BEYOND THE NORM
Prepare for Unsaved Tech Team Volunteers By David Leuschner
MinistryToday March // April 2017
a little more responsibility (stress!), like a sports coach gently pushing the person into the next talent level. Four leadership levels seem to work well for our team, but you can create as many levels as you need. The first level is entry level with the volunteer engaging in simple gear operation with all instruction from other leaders. For example, those in this level are camera operators, learning positions or audio assists. The next level would be similar to entry level except the tech has more talent and can operate more complex tasks. This level is still operational and not managerial. This level should reveal the most about a person. When you promote someone to this level, make sure your leaders are paying close attention to signs of stress, team dynamics, attitudes and spiritual maturity. The leadership level is for those who manage and influence people. If you have an operational position that influences team members or has direct reports, be sure the person in the position is a Christian who is strong in their walk with Christ and sensitive to the Holy Spirit. These leaders tend to be in the trenches, operating the gear and working closely with people. The most important level is the closer. These are people your team can rely on when they identify someone who needs
help with their spiritual growth. They are bold, confident and have the gift of talking with people, helping them with life questions and, if the opportunity presents itself, leading them to Christ. This leader is part of the technical team but may not have a specific technical role. This leader’s primary responsibility is to monitor the health of the team. The bottom line is technical teams are outreaches of the church. They are ministries designed to use people to help preach the gospel to a lost generation. If we treat them only as technical operators, we will miss an opportunity to fulfill our mission. We must have a system that not only creates an atmosphere of worship but also watches over our team to make sure they are working within a healthy spiritual atmosphere. If you don’t have such an atmosphere for your team, you won’t be able create one for your congregation.
David Leuschner is associate senior director of technology and technical arts at Gateway Church in Dallas-Fort Worth. He directs more than 500 volunteers and staff to facilitate several hundred events a month for Gateway’s seven venues. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram (both @davidleuschner).
G Made This
Easter is the church’s Super Bowl. It’s when more people come to church than any other time of the year. Most churches make the season a time of outreach and have a big salvation push. It’s also when many attendees experience our technical environments and think about getting involved with the church. Reflecting on this time of year, I’m reminded of a question that comes up in relation to tech teams: Should only Christians be allowed to serve on church tech teams? Many churches have new member classes, and in them, a profession of faith is normally required. It’s common for a church to require those who want to serve to go through this class first. Theoretically, everyone coming out of the class is a Christian, but in practice, that’s not always the case. No matter how good your church member programs are, some may slip through the cracks and serve but not truly be Christians. All of us, including everyone who wants to serve on your team, are flawed people on the path toward Christ. Our mission is to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature (Mark 16:15), so let’s not rely on the church to screen the people who want to serve. Let’s make the assumption that the people coming onto your tech team may not be Christians. Even if they are, assume they are just starting their walk with Christ. This means the technical team exists not only to operate gear but also to be a ministry of the church. We need to have a net cast and have a system that looks for broken people, understand how to help them and be sensitive to the Holy Spirit in the process. This allows us to bring them to Christ if they are not yet Christians. On my teams, we have leadership levels to facilitate this ministry. Entry level assumes every person who comes in may not be a Christian. Top-level leaders set up the systems that assess talent, spiritual growth and progression through the levels on the team. Each level of leadership should add
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Ministry Matters: W O R S H I P IDEAS, INSIGHTS & INSPIRATION BEYOND THE NORM
Teams Benefit From Their Leader’s Intentionality By Joshua Mohline ministry. The pastor or worship leader is in a never-ending loop of putting out fires. Whenever you have to put out a fire, that person is getting attention, focus and care from the leader, which results in the other individuals being neglected. From this place of neglect, they begin to act out and create messes. And the cycle continues. As a leader, you must break the cycle. Find ways to honor the team members who are doing well, but not just through rewards or prizes. Doing so can create a
3) Experience your team members’ highest productivity.
1) Create a culture of function, not dysfunction.Young children who have to
yell and scream for their parents to notice them learn that yelling and screaming is required to get their needs met. Children who grow up with the love of their parents through moments good and bad learn that by simply being themselves, their needs will get met. It’s the ones who know love, the children who feel secure in who they are, who will function at their highest potential. Likewise, as adults, we learn through experience and environment what it takes to get our needs met. The need for affirmation, encouragement and acceptance are natural needs. We get these needs met from work, relationships, family and community. Leaders shouldn’t disdain or deny these needs; instead, they must recognize their legitimacy and do their part to nurture those in need. If they don’t, the team will see that the only way to get their needs met is through dysfunction. Eventually the leader must constantly play “cleanup” within the 8
MinistryToday March // April 2017
sees him, truly knows him, the good and bad, he feels connected beyond the surface level. He feels safe and secure. Be intentional about letting your team members know you see them. Call out the good in them. Encourage the parts of their personality others don’t see. Address the fears they might have about your acceptance. Affirm the anointing on their life. Of course, leaders must not manipulate or control their teams. Set healthy boundaries to prevent unhealthy bonds. Affirm only what you intend to follow through on rather than paying compliments for the sake of gain.
performance culture where everyone is striving to “do good” to get a prize. Instead, honor them with time. Honor them with love. Create a culture that shows everyone is valued and loved, and where people know if they do what’s asked, their leader actually notices. Their leader actually cares. 2) Build loyalty.One of the biggest benefits a leader gains from being intentional with his team is loyalty. Covenant relationships—relationships bonded through covenant—are built on intimacy and vulnerability. Two people who experience intimacy are far more bonded than two who simply interact through relational transactions. And team members experience intimacy when they are noticed. When a person feels like someone truly
Like a clock that needs all gears working properly to perform at its best, so a team needs each member working well in his respective role.When each person on the team is performing with excellence within his role, the entire organization benefits. A leader who is intentional about bringing everyone on the team to his highest potential will be stunned at the synergy that is created. The team will go from being a clock to being a space shuttle, every element excelling at a higher level than they could alone. This happens when the leader is intentional about taking people from good to great. So, leaders, spend time with your people. Affirm and exhort the ones who are doing well as well as the ones who need your help. Be highly intentional with everyone on your team and see how much value the team gains from your intentionality.
Joshua Mohline is director of WorshipU (worshipu.com), the online school of worship from Bethel Music. With a background as a worship leader in settings from small to large, he has been a part of the Bethel Church worship teams since 2012. He facilitates the worship school as it equips and empowers thousands of worship leaders and teams worldwide. ministrytodaymag.com
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Everyone is familiar with the idiom “The squeaky wheel gets the grease,” an expression that proposes the sad but true reality that people will only receive attention if they are misbehaving. The squeaky individuals who mess up, experience growing pains or make a stink will get the “grease” of quality time, discipline and coaching from the authorities above them. But what about high-performing “wheels”? What about individuals who are succeeding or at least accomplishing their requirements? Why don’t they get any grease? As important as it is to help dysfunctional people on the worship team, it is equally important to steward the time and affirmation for achievers. Leaders must learn to be consistent about reinforcing the “good” behavior of the people on their team. This requires a high level of intentionality. But it is not in vain. There are many values to being intentional with both the squeaky wheels and the smooth wheels.
Ministry Matters: K I D S V o l . 3 5 // N o . 2 Founder/CEO STEVE STRANG
Developing a Kingdom Mindset in Ministry
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By Lenny La Guardia
4) Reach out to the fatherless in your church and community.Develop strategies that will reach those who come from broken homes by revealing our Father’s heart (Mal. 4:5-6). 10 MinistryToday March // April 2017
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pray for each other regularly. Cultivating love for Jesus is the first emphasis of the Spirit. This love will overflow so God’s people can walk out the second commandment and the Great Commission. Jesus defined loving God as being deeply rooted in a spirit of obedience (John 14:21). Let’s pray this simple prayer together: “Lord, give me wisdom as I plan to lay hold of all You have for the children and families of my church and community.”
Lenny La Guardia is executive director of the Children’s Equipping Center and vice president of ministries at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, Missouri. ministrytodaymag.com
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3) Give to the poor and do works of justice.
This includes feeding the poor, caring for the needy, widows and homeless and praying against the oppression of abortion and poverty.
5) Pray for God’s power and spiritual gifts. We must seek to walk in and program for supernatural ministry by functioning in the gifts of the Spirit and using our authority in Christ. We won’t regularly function in the gifts until we earnestly desire them, praying for and using them in the day of small beginnings. Each believer must be taught to receive healing and freedom and then keep it by exercising the authority they receive by standing on the Word (1 Cor. 12:1). 6) Proclaim the supremacy of Jesus.We must love God on His terms. We magnify Christ’s deity and His right to set absolute standards. He is the only way of salvation.
Through the years, I’ve interacted with hundreds of children’s pastors and staff, encouraging them to broaden their vision beyond just showing up to entertain the children while their parents attend church. Children’s ministry leaders have a serious call and assignment from God for families. We need to be aware that we stand at a critical juncture in our nation’s history. The Holy Spirit is visiting His people with power as the darkness increases. Let us have faith that the light will get brighter as the darkness grows darker, and that a great move of God is coming to our children (Is. 60:2). Look for God to pour out His Spirit and empower His people to bring the gospel to all nations (Acts 2:17-20). The Holy Spirit’s desire for us is to be victorious and walk in the doctrine, power, purity, unity and maturity as modeled in the New Testament (Eph. 5:27). We should have these seven vital kingdom values deeply rooted in our lives and church ministries: 1) Love the church!Jesus is building His church, which functions as a spiritual family walking out love and honoring all of its members (Matt. 16:18). 2) Possess a missionary spirit.To fulfill the Great Commission, church ministries need to demonstrate God’s love and power by winning the lost, healing the sick, doing works of justice, making disciples, building godly families, serving in the marketplace and working to transform the seven spheres of society: family, education, government (politics, law and military), economy (business, science and technology), arts (entertainment and sports), media and religion (Matt. 28:19-20).
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R E A L
L I F E
BY DR. MARK RUTLAND
Twain, Romo and Esteeming Others Deriding the abilities of other leaders only puts us in a bad light
n a March 1922 article in The Mississippian Magazine, William Faulkner lambasted Mark Twain as a “hack writer who would not have been considered fourth rate in Europe, who tricked out a few of the old, proven surefire literary skeletons with sufficient local color to intrigue the superficial and the lazy.” Notwithstanding his own undeniable literary prowess, why in the world Faulkner would have felt obliged to demean Twain’s is beyond comprehension. Such smug dismissiveness of the talents of another is unbecoming, to say the least. Beyond that, our mean-spirited criticisms of others do not make them look bad; they make us look bad. One must wonder what was going on inside Faulkner to make him write such a thing. I suspect it was a projected fear of being compared with Twain’s formidable place in the pantheon of American writers. Perhaps I should say enviable place, for envy is at the back of most such petty attacks on the accomplishments of others. Being measured against the greats who have gone before us may not be the pleasantest sensation in the world, but if we approach it with humility and a sense of humor, it can actually make for an opportunity to shine. For some years I preached at Atlanta’s Mount Paran Church of God in tandem with one of the pulpit greats of all time, Dr. Paul Walker. Intimidating? You betcha! One day another minister asked me in what I felt was a conspiratorial tone, “Do you think Walker is as great a preacher as they say?” “Oh, no,” I answered. “Absolutely not! The rest of us preach. Dr. Walker does something else. The likes of us cannot do what he does.” Currently, I preach at the great Free Chapel church in tandem with one of today’s great preachers, Jentezen Franklin. Recently a friend asked how that felt. Here’s exactly what I said: “No one can do that with a fragile ego. The way, the only way, you can relax and enjoy that is to rejoice in the unique gift which is Jentezen’s, Celebrate it authentically, reject envy and never, ever attempt to imitate him.” I am confident that physicists of no mean intellect cringe to hear it said of themselves, “Well, he’s smart enough, but he’s certainly no Einstein.” I suppose that is understandable, but it is peevish to respond by saying, “Oh, Einstein was vastly overrated, and anyway, his theories were not all that original.” The ministry has its own share of envious hearts. The
temptation to minimize the talents, ministries and anointing of other Christian leaders is nothing more or less than our old high school insecurities popping out like the pimples of long lost youth. Johnny can play a bit of football, I suppose, for whatever that’s worth, but he’s stupid at algebra, so there. Nonny nonny boo boo. Deriding the abilities of others, refusing to celebrate or even recognize their accomplishments, we, not they, suffer diminution in the eyes of others. People are not as easily fooled as we think. They know insecurity and envy when they see it. Faulkner’s sniveling critique of Mark Twain is long forgotten, and Twain’s fame remains undiminished. Faulkner made himself look bad, not Twain. I am not suggesting Faulkner’s opinion of Twain was disingenuous. He may well have considered Twain a “hack.” One is better off praising a hack than deriding a genius. How humble, how much more appealing than Faulkner’s were Ernest Hemingway’s comments on Twain’s talent: “All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn. But it’s the best book we’ve had. All American writing comes from that. There was nothing before. There has been nothing as good since.” Presumably not even Hemingway’s own. When we modestly exalt another’s talents, or celebrate another’s leadership, we are not less for it but greater. St. Paul said, “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves” (Phil. 2:3, KJV). Injured in the first game of the 2016 campaign, Dallas quarterback Tony Romo watched his rookie backup, Dak Prescott, set the field aflame. The youngster reeled off eight straight wins before Romo could return. Graciously acknowledging Prescott’s hard-earned right to continue in leadership, Romo added, “Ultimately it’s about the team. It’s what we’ve preached our entire lives.” We in the ministry would do well to honor our colleagues rather than ignore or attack them. As Romo said, “It’s what we’ve preached our entire lives.”
12 MinistryToday March // April 2017
D r . M a r k R u t l a n d is president of both Global Servants and the National Institute of Christian Leadership. A renowned communicator and New York Times best-selling author, he has more than 30 years of experience in organizational leadership, having served as a senior pastor and a university president. ministrytodaymag.com
“When we modestly exalt another’s talents, or celebrate another’s leadership, we are not less for it but greater.”
L E A D E R S H I P
M A T T E R S
BY MARK TEDFORD
Building a Kingdom Business Adopt these 5 tips to integrate faith and work
ntegrating faith and business is a popular concept these days, but advice on how to accomplish that integration is far from abundant. The concept is easier to understand than to implement because it is person-specific and nuanced by industry. And it’s not just a onetime project but one that requires continuous reflection and improvement. Here are five tips to remember as we seek to integrate our faith and work: 1) Lordship. First, it’s important to understand what is actually meant by integration. Integrating faith and work means submitting our work to the lordship of Christ. As Lord, Christ both defines and directs our work. Many Christian businessmen see Christ as Lord only over their spiritual lives, creating a bifurcation between their work and “church” life, falsely thinking the function and purpose of work is only the tithe. Isn’t Christ Lord of all? Shouldn’t the making and disposition of the 90 percent also glorify Him? 2) Stewardship. Integration requires a stewardship mentality. As described in the Parable of the Talents, God is the One who has given us abilities and resources, and we are accountable to Him for their use. We must see our businesses as a ministry and the vehicle by which we fulfill our kingdom purpose. Our work should reflect our gifting so our ministry is expressed through our work. Sometimes, we try to make work as ministry too explicitly evangelistic, but we miss the fact that faithfully doing our everyday work as unto God is as important as any missionary endeavor. God is pleased with work. Remember, Jesus worked much longer as a carpenter than He did as an itinerant teacher. 3) Intentionality. As any leader knows, a goal is not accomplished through the mere wanting of it. To get something done, you must be intentional about it. It is no different with faith and business. Every integrated business should have a kingdom purpose statement separate from and higher than the mission statement, one that defines how the organization gives glory to God. Once implemented, a company’s kingdom purpose statement can be used as a grid to guide its mission and filter every business decision. Kingdom purpose statements are business- and industryspecific but should also state how God uses the organization’s unique mission. I caution against trying to make it too evangelistic, as that may put more pressure on the integration than the industry allows. For example, a food manufacturer’s kingdom purpose is probably not to evangelize its local community but
rather to feed the community. 4) Mission impact. The business leader’s kingdom purpose will have a direct effect on the company’s mission. Dedicating our work to the Lord requires that it reflect His common grace and add to the common good. This means we should desire to create the highest-quality products that benefit society. Although important, profit is a by-product and not the purpose of work. Making shoddy goods in order to maximize profit or products that are detrimental to society is a violation of the Christian framework of work, even if it means more money tithed to the church. 5) Public faith. Faith can’t be both integrated and private. An integrated faith is necessarily a public faith because the Bible makes claims of universal truths. Some Christians view work as a relativistic neutral ground where the ethical norms of society have priority, but there is no neutral ground in God’s eyes. He has both created and defined everything that pertains to our life and work so every action either is aligned with the truth of Scripture or opposed to it. Because America has a Judeo-Christian framework, our laws and societal norms have traditionally aligned with biblical norms, but this has changed rapidly in the last decade. Modern secular views on purpose, success, identity, sexuality and marriage are diametrically opposed to Christian doctrine. In a diverse culture, adhering to the truth of Scripture while affirming others in Christian love requires wisdom and may require radical change in the way we conduct our business. Working this out practically will be different depending on the industry; it requires thoughtful contemplation and maybe some difficult decisions. While it is much easier to post a Scripture verse on our desk to “Christianize” our work or capitulate to cultural norms throughout the workday, then hold a Bible study after hours, God has not asked us to segregate our beliefs. He has called us to truly integrate our faith and work to His glory.
“Our work should reflect our gifting so our ministry is expressed through our work.”
14 MinistryToday March // April 2017
M a r k T e d f o r d is a partner at Tedford Insurance, a second-generation insurance brokerage, and has business interests in transportation and real estate. After obtaining a Master of Business Administration at Tulsa University, he went to Biola University to broaden his studies and received a Master of Christian Apologetics degree. A regular speaker for business organizations, he serves on several boards and is chairman of the Oklahoma Apologetics Alliance. ministrytodaymag.com
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T R U E
S T E W A R D S H I P
BY CHRIS BROWN
Leading in Weakness
Trade your imperfections for God’s perfect strength
etting older stinks. It’s just not as easy anymore to maintain my physical health. If I’m traveling a lot for speaking engagements, and I can’t keep up my exercise routine, I lose any gains I’ve made within days! Yet as soon as I’m off the road again, I’m back to sweating, trying to cover up any evidence of slacking off. Lather, rinse, repeat. As broken, hurting people, it can be easy to fall into the perfection trap. That often leads us to try to hide our weaknesses. But that also means we rely on ourselves instead of God to overcome them. Maybe the deficiency you’re trying to mask isn’t about your physical fitness. Maybe yours is relational and your marriage is in turmoil, or it’s financial and you’re drowning in debt. Maybe it’s professional and you’re struggling to lead a united team, or it’s emotional and you’re battling anxiety or depression. Whatever your weakness is, how often do you give it to God? How often do you not try to cover it up? None of us will be perfect in this life, so striving for perfection is futile. Now don’t get me wrong; I want to continually learn and grow. I want to always strive to do and be better. Those things are healthy and good. But perfection is a pipe dream this side of heaven. I look forward to a perfect body and endless energy when I go home to Christ, but until then, I have to manage what I have in all of its messiness. If we ministry leaders aren’t careful, we can easily become perfectionists. We’re so worried about what would happen if people found out we really don’t have it all together we try desperately to make it look like we do. The pressure to appear perfect can be emotionally—and in my case, physically—draining. And we often try to manage all of that by ourselves—without the help of Christ, who is perfect in every way. Most of the time, we don’t even realize we’re doing it! Logically, we know that only Christ is perfect. We know He doesn’t expect perfection from us, and neither should we. But for most of us, that logic doesn’t translate to realistic performance expectations. We forget we can have God’s perfect strength now. It’s ironic that we as ministry leaders need to be reminded of this truth more than many of the people who attend our
churches or volunteer in our ministries. My hunch? We’re so familiar with this idea—we hear it, speak it and teach it so often—that we have become desensitized. In 2 Corinthians 12:9, Paul reminds us of how much God’s strength has the power to transform us. He tells the people of Corinth what Jesus said to him: “But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will boast in my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” When I think of all the ways God has displayed His strength over generations, I’m embarrassed to admit I’ve not allowed that strength to rest in me. I want to be a leader who lives a life of God-sized strength. And from what the Bible says, there’s no reason I can’t. I’m done being the kind of Christian whose life shows little evidence I have a powerful God working on my behalf—a God who makes me strong using the weakest parts of me. I’m tired of battling guilt from the enemy to the point of exhaustion. In this constant pursuit of perfection, I’m giving myself over to God. The enemy is no match for His strength. How about you? Are you done pretending you’re perfect? Are you done worrying that your flaws will cripple your ability to lead well? It’s time to begin seeing our deficiencies as prime real estate for God’s presence to take up residence. Your greatest weakness might feel like it’s holding you back, but it’s actually where God wants to show off in your life the most. Today, you can be strong, not in spite of weakness but because of it. Perfect strength shows up only in our weakness—if we allow it. If we’re really serving and leading in ministry for His glory and not ours, let’s rely on His strength— and glorify Him when He makes us perfectly strong.
16 MinistryToday March // April 2017
C h r i s B r o w n is a nationally syndicated radio talk show host, pastor and speaker carrying the message of stewardship and intentional living nationwide. Available on radio stations across the country, “Chris Brown’s True Stewardship” provides biblical solutions and sound advice for questions on life and money. Follow him at stewardship.com, on Twitter (@chrisbrownonair) or on Facebook (chrisbrownonair). ministrytodaymag.com
“It’s time to begin seeing our deficiencies as prime real estate for God’s presence to take up residence.”
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21 Women Leaders Ministry Today honors 21 Christian women who are leading in traditional or marketplace ministries. Following their calling in a variety of professions, from the pastorate to politics, the leaders we have chosen to highlight are making
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a significant impact wherever God has led them. Ministry Today is honored to share their stories.
20 MinistryToday March // April 2017
DIANE BICKLE SARAH BOWLING LEANNA CINQUANTA LINDA CRAWFORD PAULINE CUSHMAN MARLINDA IRELAND VIVIAN M. JACKSON ALVEDA KING ANGELA KOUPLEN ABIGAIL JOHNSTON DEBBIE MORRIS DR. CAROL PETERS-TANKSLEY KAREN JENSEN SALISBURY KELLY SHILEY CAROLINE SIMAS BO STERN MICHELLE SUGERMAN JENNIFER MAE SULLIVAN BARBARA WENTROBLE KAREN WHEATON BARBARA YODER
Executive Pastor Leads Ministry at Texas megachurch
ebbie Morris always believed she would marry a pastor, but she never expected to become one. After marrying Robert Morris— pastor of Gateway Church in Southlake, Texas—she expected to simply support him at home. Then she got involved in the women’s small group, took on some leadership roles and found out she really enjoyed it. “I am the most unlikely person to be leading women, especially on the scale of this,” Morris says. “I am not a great Bible teacher. I’m not a great speaker. My one secret is that I love women, so I just keep telling people that they can do it.” Gateway emphasizes small groups, and Morris’ main responsibility is overseeing the many women’s small groups at the church. That includes weekday meetings, some nightly meetings, childcare offered during small groups and ongoing mentoring programs. She steers the various committees, teams and pastors involved to make sure everything is in accord with the church’s visions and values. She also coordinates several big events during the year, including the new Pink Impact conference. In 2016, the first meeting attracted 10,000 women to the Fort Worth Convention Center. This year, the stage is set to attract even more women, as the event will feature Christine Caine, Lysa TerKeurst and Kari Jobe. But even with all those responsibilities, Morris prefers to stay hands off. She’s in the office only one day every week, though she fits two or three days’ worth of meetings into that workday. After all, Morris still views her primary job as being at home, taking care of her family. She joins her husband on “about 98 percent” of his trips around the world. Although her ministry work may not be typical, she sees serving the Lord as “the coolest job in the world.” “About 60 percent of any church is made up of women, and I have a passion to see them get involved in their community,” Morris says. “Their community could be their homes or their workplace or their actual community. ... I’m actively looking to develop godly women so they can make a true impact in their world. I just see God doing amazing things through them.”—Taylor Berglund » March // April 2017 MinistryToday 21
Niece of Martin Luther King Jr. Fights for the Civil Rights of the Unborn
22 MinistryToday March // April 2017
Alveda King speaks at a March for Life event in front of the U.S. Supreme Court.
outreach of Priests for Life and Gospel of Life Ministries. She speaks out for the Silent No More Awareness Campaign, sharing the testimony of God’s forgiveness and healing after her abortions. She has written more than 10 books, including the newly published America, Return to God (Elijah List Publications). “The new book is just a call for us to realize, as Americans, we have wandered away from God in so many things, in prayer and in acceptance of one another,” King says. “We just need to get back to the Lord.” King does not shy away from the spotlight; she publicly proclaims her Christian faith, the call for an end to abortion and even her political views in speeches, public appearances and as a FOX News contributor. Whether her views are popular
or not in today’s American culture does not matter to King. As a woman whose primary call is to serve the Lord, all she wants is to lead people to Jesus. “If we can express God’s love, truly love each other, people would realize we are all one blood,” King says. “We are all brothers and sisters in Christ.” At 66, King shows no signs of slowing her ministry. She is working on a cookbook and a book on spiritual gifts, as well as speaking across the country and promoting her latest book. Her main personal goal is to draw closer to the Spirit. “Day by day, I want to draw closer to Holy Spirit as a personality, just to hear Holy Spirit and obey Holy Spirit,” she says. “That can be a challenge in this life, but it can be done.” When she meets Jesus face to face, what does she want Him to say? “It’s OK to stop working so hard now, Alveda. You can come home.”—Natalie Gillespie » ministrytodaymag.com
F. Terriy Reid Photography
hen you are born the niece of assassinated civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., you grow up with big dreams of your own. Alveda King’s dream is to speak out for the rights of the unborn and to evangelize everyone she can. “The first evangelists were women in the New Testament,” King said in a January interview as she prepared to fly to Washington, D.C., for a prayer rally encouraging hundreds of citizens, especially pastors, to pray for the inauguration of President Donald Trump. “The woman at the well, after Jesus told her about her life and offered her a better one, she went and told everyone, ‘Come meet this man who knew everything about me.’ Then, Mary and the women went to Jesus’ tomb, and the angel asked why they were weeping and said He was not there. They ran and told everyone. “I am also an evangelist, here to proclaim the injustice of abortion and the goodness of God in restoring families.” King is the daughter of Martin Luther King Jr.’s younger brother, civil rights activist Rev. A.D. King, and his wife, Naomi. King says her life’s mission is to continue her family’s legacy by reminding people that we are one human family, not separated by race, but united by Jesus. “My Aunt Woody always said we are part Irish, and I went to Ireland twice and saw the records,” King says. “One of my ancestors was a full Irishman. So when I talk to people, I say, ‘Why are you saying your race needs to get along with my race?’ We are all one human race, not to be divided by skin color.” King founded Alveda King Ministries, and served a term in the Georgia State House of Representatives. She holds an honorary Doctorate of Laws degree from Saint Anselm College and serves as pastoral associate and director of Civil Rights for the Unborn, the African-American
Jennifer Mae Sullivan VOTEFORJENNIFER.COM
Lawmaker Brings Truth and Light to Florida’s Legislature
ennifer Mae Sullivan’s pursuit of God’s calling led her to a place she never expected to be—the Florida Legislature. When friends and advisers began suggesting that the 21-year-old run for office representing the 31st District, an area 45 minutes north of Orlando, Florida, she laughed. “Absolutely not!” was Sullivan’s definitive answer. After all, she had plans for college and career. But after two months of prayerful consideration, Sullivan was convinced God was the One calling her to Florida’s capital. So began an unusual campaign centered not only on the conservative platform of marriage, life and fiscal responsibility but also on biblical principles. “My faith is who I am,” she says. “I can’t
separate my faith from what I do. It’s how I make decisions and view the world.” The voters agreed, first electing her in 2014, then again in 2016 by a margin of 73 percent. “Politics should never take away our right of freedom of religion. ... I don’t need to hide my beliefs from my constituents,” she says. A homeschool graduate and the oldest of four siblings, Sullivan is passionate about motivating young people to engage their culture. In her teen years, she was active with TeenPact, an organization committed to training young people for lives of service in their communities. Today she encourages teens and young adults to invest in the lives of others. “What are your giftings and passions?”
she asks. “Pursue that wholeheartedly, whether it’s volunteering, helping another mom, running for office, getting your degree, anything.” Rep. Sullivan emphasizes the need to pursue God’s calling as a young person. “Do not buy into the lie that you have to have a title to have influence or make a difference,” she says. “Ultimately, you need to be seeking the face of the Lord and His calling on your life.” She found her own calling in lawmaking. “If we are not willing to engage with the world and be involved in the mission field around us ... then who is determining the laws of the land?” she says. “I view this as an incredible opportunity to be a means of truth and light.”—Lea Ann Garfias
Realtor Supports International Prayer Ministry fter dabbling in real estate for four years, Diane Bickle took a step of obedience and founded Glad Heart Realty in 2001. “I was surprised when the Lord suddenly called me to start my own real estate company,” she says. Bickle’s husband, Mike, is founder of the International House of Prayer in Kansas City (IHOP). “The Lord spoke to me to start a new company, and I told Him that I wasn’t qualified,” she says. “I was homeschooling our two sons for eight years and had not learned much about the business world. I felt intimidated about taking such a risky leap of faith, but at the end of the day, I feared the Lord more than I feared failure.” Bickle had no idea when her husband started IHOP that so many people would flood Kansas City to join his ministry. “We inadvertently became the relocation 24 MinistryToday March // April 2017
arm for the House of Prayer,” she says. “I was captured by the vision of supporting prayer and missions, so we created a commission structure that donated much of our profits to support the 24/7 prayer and worship at IHOP since 1999,” she says. “By the grace of God, we’ve given over $1 million of our corporate profits to IHOP.” Glad Heart Realty opened doors to lead unbelievers to Christ. “I got to lead a precious old termite inspector to the Lord,” Bickle says. “He often came into our office because he liked us. One day he called me up after he found out that he had emphysema.” Bickle also spoke at his funeral, giving her another opportunity to share Christ. Bickle and Linda Fields, founder of 7MPact, host a prayer meeting as well as a gathering to encourage and support Christians in the marketplace. “We come together to pray for God’s
kingdom to be expressed in a greater way in our city through the business community,” Bickle says, showing the potential reach of marketplace ministry.—Leilani Haywood » ministrytodaymag.com
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Dr. Carol Peters-Tanksley DRCAROLMINISTRIES.COM
ombine the healing skills of a practicing OB-GYN with the spiritual insights of an ordained minister, and you get Dr. Carol Peters-Tanksley—also known as “Dr. Carol” to her patients and “Doctor Doctor” to her friends. Along with being a licensed physician who specializes in reproductive endocrinology, she also holds a doctor of ministry degree from Oral Roberts University. From a young age, Dr. Carol knew she wanted to be a physician. Early in her medical training, she realized she wanted to care specifically for women. “That’s how my whole journey started,” she says. “I remember so clearly, just a few years into practice, realizing that I can write prescriptions, I can do surgery, I can deliver babies, but I can’t fix people. I can’t cure them. “There’s so much more going on with these women who I cared for that I just don’t feel equipped to really deal with. Yes, medicine is a ministry, and many Christian physicians offer great ministries to people who they care for. But God built me for something a little more integrated, and I remember so clearly that process when He pulled me to bring me in more directly, more overtly.” At that point, Dr. Carol went back to school to earn her D.Min. degree. “You can’t separate spiritual and body from who you are into separate parts any more than you can separate flour, eggs, sugar and salt from a loaf of bread,” she says. Dr. Carol considers her comprehensive approach to health the role God has designed her for, given the “integrated way in which God made us,” she says. “When I am taking care of a woman as a physician, I have to fill that position’s role, but my ministry training and experience give me a kind of awareness. There are times when a woman … will be open to discussing and bringing in the other 26 MinistryToday March // April 2017
aspects of her life, sometimes not. There are also many situations where I am filling the ministerial role more as either an adviser, a speaker or interacting with individuals or couples online. “One of the things that a lot of women ask about is the intersection between women, hormones and their mental health. Certain times during the month or during their reproductive life cycle, menopause or whatever, those hormonally related times bring up relationship issues. They tweak a woman’s spiritual resilience in unique ways. I think that’s one of the unique parts of who God built me to be—to bring those different
aspects of life together.” In addition to her dual doctor duties, Dr. Carol is an author, blogger, speaker, radio and television program producer, and former host of “The Dr. Carol Show,” which was broadcast on radio from 2009 to 2015. But Dr. Carol believes her personal journey “has to do with not the physical practice but rather with speaking, writing and classes,” she says. “Right now by far, the biggest single area of pain I’m hearing about from the people I talk with has to do with relationships in marriage. I’m actively working on building some resources to help troubled marriages become better and good marriages become great.” One of those resources is her upcoming book, Overcoming Fear and Anxiety Through Spiritual Warfare (Siloam/Charisma House), which releases in June. Dr. Carol admits she didn’t grow up with good role models for the marriage relationship. “God brought my husband and me together when I was 48,” she recalls. “I’d never been married previously. My husband was a little older than me. He passed away last year. We loved each other well. I have come to a place where I can be so grateful for the gift of who my husband was to me and of what our marriage was in preparing me for the next part of what I believe God is calling me to do.”—Kathleen Samuelson » ministrytodaymag.com
Korey Howell Photography
Physician Equipped to Minister to Body and Soul
Leanna Cinquanta with Children’s Home kids
INDIA: ASIA’S POISONOUS HUB OF SEX TRAFFICKING
YOU CAN TRANSFORM THE LIFE OF A CHILD IN NORTHERN INDIA WITH YOUR DONATION. At least 300,000 children across India are drugged, beaten and forced to beg every day, in what has become a multi-million rupee industry controlled by human trafficking cartels, police and trafficking experts say.
For the cost of two average Starbucks a month, you can enable TellAsia to provide the Gospel and education for a desperately needy child. $100 a month enables TellAsia Ministries to transform an entire village! Based on our 20 years of training Christian leaders and establishing churches, TellAsia is now working to end child slavery and trafficking. Please contact us and help us bring God’s Kingdom transformation to north India and beyond!
For more information please contact Leanna at 970-985-8744 or 888-887-6066, or visit www.tellasia.org to learn how you can help rescue and educate children.
Sponsors will receive photos and a report as the ministry in your village progresses. TellAsia Ministries welcomes visitors! Please consider coming on a vision trip to north India.
Pastor’s Nonprofit Saves Babies Around the World
ith a burden for babies and young children in need, Sarah Bowling founded Saving Moses, a nonprofit focused on some of most desperate places in the world, in 2011. Bowling—perhaps best known as co-host with her mother, Marilyn Hickey, of the daily TV show Today With Marilyn and Sarah—is also a senior pastor with her husband, Reece, at Orchard Road Christian Center in Denver. The name Saving Moses harks back to the Old Testament when God protected Moses as an infant. The organization serves children 0-5 years old “where the need is most urgent and the care is least available,” Bowling says.
Saving Moses specializes in malnutrition feeding and night care for the children of sex workers in countries such as Angola and Bangladesh. Night care prevents children from being molested as their mothers work in prostitution. “I don’t think there’s a human on the planet who is more least of the least than the baby of a sex worker,” Bowling says, referring to Jesus’ call to serve “the least of these.” Saving Moses also works in rural Afghanistan with safe birthing, deliveries and immunizations, and in Syria with nourishment support. When she’s not traveling internationally, she ministers through her TV
Bowling and the Saving Moses team serving in Cambodia
program and at Orchard Road. “I minister a couple times a month, totally love it, totally believe in the local church.”—Christine D. Johnson
Leanna Cinquanta TELLASIA.ORG
Former Atheist Trains Indian Converts to Share the Gospel in Their Homeland
eanna Cinquanta, founder of TellAsia Ministries, asserts her team is “not just leading souls to Christ, not just educating needy children, not just combatting child trafficking, but endeavoring to see God’s kingdom come on Earth as it is in heaven.” Initially raised an atheist, her zeal comes from an extraordinary encounter with Christ at age 15. “I saw Jesus,” she says. “I was awake, and I touched Him. He spoke to me. From that moment, I knew Jesus was real.” Three more times the Lord personally directed her life, first to India, then to go alone to the country’s northern region. “I saw the Ganges area being ruled by the powers of darkness, and He called me to break the stronghold and thereby to liberate the entire nation,” she says. Cinquanta began ministering in a region called the graveyard of 28 MinistryToday March // April 2017
Christianity, where 30 million destitute children are exploited by rampant child slavery and trafficking. TellAsia, born in 1997, belongs to the Indian people now. “The work on the ground isn’t my ministry—it’s theirs!” she declares. The ministry unites the body of Christ—with Baptists, Methodists, charismatics and others serving side by side. First-generation believers are trained to pass along God’s grace and love to people in their own villages. Cinquanta is clear that it is the gospel that changes hearts, then villages and nations. “They have to change kingdoms before they can be blessed,” she says. With the tens of thousands who have come to Christ and thousands of homebased churches begun, TellAsia also provides education, clean wells, economic development and the prevention of child trafficking.
Cinquanta ministers to kids from a children’s home.
Cinquanta wrote Treasures in Dark Places: One Woman, a Supernatural God and a Mission to the Toughest Part of India, which was published by Chosen. “There is so much more we could be doing if we can partner with more people,” she says. “We can end child slavery and trafficking in the next 10 years with the right financial partners.”—Lea Ann Garfias » ministrytodaymag.com
NORTHERN INDIA: CHRISTIANITY’S GRAVEYARD With only 1% Christian, the Ganges River area of North India is called the “Graveyard of Christianity.” It is home to over 200 million people–a population equal to the 5th largest nation in the world. Birthplace of ten of India’s 14 prime ministers, this region influences the entire nation. The origin of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism, makes this the epicenter of Asian spirituality. Muslims comprise 20% of the population, making India the second largest Muslim country. Site of the largest gathering in the history of the world (120 million people attended the Hindu Kumbh Mela festival in 2013). 77,000 villages are in need of home-based churches. Leanna with key North India leaders “King” David (left) and Alok (right)
YOU CAN HELP! For more information please contact Leanna at 970-985-8744 or 888-887-6066, or visit www.tellasia.org to learn how you and your church or group can help plant a church and disciple new believers.
TellAsia Ministries welcomes visitors! Please consider coming on a vision trip to north India.
ngela Kouplen never anticipated a career in the energy business, but her skills have led her into an industry where she can be spiritual salt and light. After studying engineering and business and discovering her affinity for human resources, she found a good fit at Citgo to launch her career. Later she earned her MBA. Her career trajectory took her to Williams Companies, and to WPX Energy in 2012, spun off from Williams. WPX has since promoted her to vice president of administration and chief information officer, with human resources, IT and facilities under her care. Kouplen believes her faith makes her a better leader in a number of ways. “My Christian faith really grounds my decision making,” she says. “It’s at my core.” Sometimes, she says, that means “doing the right thing even when it’s not popular.” Guided by Colossians 3:23, “Whatever you do, do it with all your heart, as if working for the Lord, not for man,” Kouplen says her faith drives the effort she puts in every day to do the work in the context of good relationships. “[Faith] also gives me guidance on how I treat others—with mutual respect and grace and kindness, always trying to get the job done but working well under pressure,” she says. “I think stressful times are the true test of your character.” Spending devotional time with the Lord first thing in the office helps Kouplen find perspective on the day ahead of her. “It helps me get focused on the day and calms me, because there’s usually a lot to do,” she says. “There is typically not a lot of time left in your schedule to really breathe. It gives me the drive to make it through the day and it helps remind me of what’s important. Often, I will try to slip my devotional, or something I’ve heard at church lately, into conversations during the day.” 30 MinistryToday March // April 2017
Kouplen looks for ways to minister to her colleagues in her high-stress world. “The Bible talks about commending ourselves as servants of God in every way and being patient through hardships, the challenging times, and the energy business is challenging,” she says. “It’s a pretty volatile environment, and commodity prices go up and down. Every company is going through reductions in force and different growth spurts at all given times, so given all of that, I try to walk and live my Angela Kouplen, center, talks with WPX’s Mart Wenker and faith pretty openly so Allison Byrd about new projects. people recognize that I’m a believer, and hopefully that gives me the opportunity to be resources, so we do the right thing and a force for encouragement or an encour- follow the law. I think faith plays a role in ager to others who may be feeling discour- that and we are fortunate to have a fantastic aged at times when we’re having to make leader who is a Christian man [CEO Rick tough choices.” Muncrief], leading by example. We try to be Although there are no formal Bible very transparent about each of those issues studies or prayer times at WPX, that doesn’t and work closely with our landowners. We mean there is no group prayer. Kouplen talk openly about fracking. We produce joined others in regular prayer out of con- multiple communication materials that cern for a colleague who was seriously ill. speak to how fracking works, the safety “We met on a regular basis to pray for around it and the regulations under which her health,” she says. we operate. Recently, for the first time, we Kouplen’s faith is building her consis- published a methane management report tency as a leader. that talks about the steps we’re taking to “Faith helps me be consistent, and protect air quality. So I think we’re making people know what to expect when they’re steps in the right direction. It really comes working with me,” she says. “It helps me be down to the correlation between energy consistent in the way I conduct myself and usage and quality of life and what we are my activities, so I think it helps with those doing every day so that we can ultimately that I work with to know what to expect help people out of poverty.” and how I’ll handle a situation.” Overall, faith helps her handle the Kouplen also recognizes God as the demands of her workday. source of all good things. This belief comes “Having that relationship with Jesus into play in an industry that must address helps you worry less, maintain perspecsuch controversial topics as fracking and tive and have faith for the future,” she climate change. says. “So you still have to be tough, “At WPX in particular, we realize that but it gives you a great perspective we’re the caretakers and stewards of natural on life.”—Christine D. Johnson » ministrytodaymag.com
Shane Bevel Photography/Courtesy WPX
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Karen Jensen Salisbury
Evangelist Finds She Must ‘Go Along for the Ride’ With God
n more than 28 years in ministry, Karen Jensen Salisbury has seen a lot of surprises—so much so that she is convinced God has a wonderful sense of humor. For instance, she never expected to be a senior pastor. But when her husband, Brent, died in 1997 when she was only 37, she assumed that position in her Boise, Idaho, church. Before she became a mother, Salisbury says she was “clueless” about parenting. But she’s now written several books and travels the world teaching on the subject. She never expected to teach at the Bible school where Brent attended. But she became an instructor at Rhema Bible Training College in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. Once a television news writer for a local station in Oregon, she never believed a
mass audience would read her words. She now reaches millions through her writing. Hers has been a whirlwind courtship with God. “With God, I’ve come to expect the unexpected,” says Salisbury, who has been an editor and writer for Kenneth Hagin Ministries and Oral Roberts Ministries, and now lives in Minnesota with her husband, Bob Salisbury, a businessman she married in 2014. “It never happens the way you think or in the timing you think it will,” she says. “But God has His own plan on how He wants to use you. You just have to go along for the ride.” Salisbury now spends most of her time traveling as an evangelist. She can be heard from the pulpit more than 350 times a year. She has written and ghostwritten more
than 20 books, including Parenting With a Purpose. More than 6,000 followers read her online newsletter and blog, and she oversees a church Bible study. “God is good,” Salisbury says. “He always has something for me to work on. I truly have been blessed in unexpected ways.”—Shawn A. Akers
Prophetic Minister Coaches Marketplace Leaders
arbara Wentroble believes in empowering marketplace leaders to influence business. Peter Wagner, her friend and prophetic minister, was one of the first speakers at a marketplace conference she hosted in the late 1990s. Wagner said that was the first time he ministered at such a conference and encouraged her to launch a business-oriented network. She took his advice, founding Breakthrough Business Leaders (BBL) in 2015. “That same month that I held this conference, Fortune magazine published a cover story about faith and the workplace,” Wentroble says. She now hosts business meetings every third Tuesday of the month at Glory of Zion Global Spheres Center in Corinth, Texas, outside of Dallas/Fort Worth. “One couple who lives six hours away 32 MinistryToday March // April 2017
flies in every month for this meeting,” Wentroble says of the meeting that attracts 50 to 75 business people. “At the beginning, we break up into groups of four to five people, and I ask them a question that relates to what we’re going to talk about. An example is, ‘What’s the greatest challenge to moving your business forward?’” After the icebreaker, Wentroble offers practical teaching on building businesses. “We don’t want this to look like another church service,” she says. “This is a business meeting. We have a prayer team that’s available to pray for them after the meeting.” Business owners have testified of being in the best place of their lives after attending BBL meetings. “We stood with an owner of a car dealership who wanted to expand their business to repair automobiles,” she says. “We drove to their business, prayed over it and
dedicated it to the Lord.” BBL breaks down walls between the church and workplace. “My passion is to help people have a biblical worldview and break religious mindsets that separate the church from life,” Wentroble says. Toward that end, BBL recently released a free three-part video series on becoming a high-level prophetic intercessor, which includes praying for business.—Leilani Haywood » ministrytodaymag.com
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Karen Wheaton THERAMP.ORG
Former ‘PTL Club’ Singer Leads Youth Into God’s Presence
34 MinistryToday March // April 2017
Wheaton founded The Ramp School of Ministry in 2010 as a two-year program to equip young people with the Word of God. The goal is to raise up students to become carriers of God’s presence and leaders in global awakening. Last year, The Ramp launched its first international campus in Manchester, England, and Wheaton looks forward to what else God has in store. She plans to open a new downtown Hamilton campus, for which she has bought several buildings and converted them into dorms for students as well as businesses
What started as a youth group of seven soon grew to 30, and that group quickly multiplied and became The Ramp, with Wheaton as founder and senior leader. The Ramp’s conferences attract thousands of young people each month who are hungry to be transformed by God’s glory. The Ramp’s live stream and The Ramp TV reach hundreds of thousands more. But the ministry’s growth secret isn’t in its fancy lights and music. “The presence of God is what hooked those kids,” Wheaton says. She wants that same presence to define all three branches of The Ramp—its church, conferences and school of ministry. Whereas Ramp Church provides fellowship and discipleship for local believers, its high-energy conferences have an international reach.
to impact the community. Her next goal is to launch “Camp Ramp” on 120 acres she owns. The camp would include a 24-hour house of prayer, a tabernacle and more cabins for conference attendees and students. “My desire for the future is this: I want to pour my life out into these young men and women God sends me,” Wheaton says. “I want to ... help ignite in them a fiery, passionate love for God and then help equip them in the Word and then send them out to change the world.”—Jenny Rose Curtis » ministrytodaymag.com
rom an early age, Karen Wheaton believed she would sing and speak of God’s glory until Jesus’ return. But she never dreamed she would work with youth, much less impact hundreds of thousands of young people through her unusually named ministry, The Ramp. Her youth ministry blossomed out of the hunger for God’s glory she developed as a young girl. “As a child, I had several deep encounters with God that impacted my life in a major way,” says Wheaton, who was raised a traditional Pentecostal. “I guess if you want to put it in sort of a nutshell, I love God, I love people, and I want people to know the God I love.” By the age of 8, Wheaton was singing in her church. Nine years later, in 1978, she attended PTL’s ministry school and majored in Christian drama. “I was told my accent was so Southern I could only be used in comedy,” the ministry leader says. But Jim Bakker discovered Wheaton’s talent when she sang “He Ain’t Never Done Me Nothin’ But Good,” and he asked her to sing on the PTL Club television show. Bakker’s invitation launched Wheaton into a career of singing and speaking at conferences and concerts. But after 20 years of full-time, on-the-road ministry, Wheaton received a prophetic word in 1998 and went back to her hometown. “I got here and, long story short, saw the need of the youth of the city here,” she says. “And young people were never on my radar, ever. ... But the Lord put it on my heart to begin working with the youth in Hamilton, Alabama, right here in my hometown. So I started working with about seven kids in the back of a little storefront church that my sister and her husband pastored, and just thinking, I can love these kids and lead them into the presence of God. And that’s what happened.”
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Pastor Teaches Believers How to Suffer Well After Losing Her Husband to ALS o Stern describes herself on her website as “a mom, writer, speaker, pastor and world-class procrastinator.” While the first four words are irrefutable, “procrastinator” seem self-deprecating, as Stern couldn’t possibly have time to procrastinate. Not only is she a teaching pastor at Westside Church, a multisite Foursquare congregation in Oregon, she also writes books (Beautiful Battlefields, Ruthless, When Holidays Hurt) on understanding how God uses us through grief, difficult marriages and other personal battles. Stern is known as a tireless advocate for finding a cure for Lou Gehrig’s disease, or ALS, which took her husband’s life in 2015. “As we endure suffering, we learn so much about the character of God,” says Stern, who suggests that although “we often focus on the powerful aspects of
His nature, He is also the God who suffered. Throughout the New Testament, we see such steady encouragement to suffer strong, suffer with hope, suffer with the assurance that it is connecting us more deeply to His heart and His kingdom.” Stern’s own experiences with grief have given her insights she shares with her church and readers.
“Grief often comes packaged up with deep, deep questions like, ‘Why, God?’” she says. “This isn’t a bad question, but it can become a counterproductive one. Even if I had a perfect answer for why my husband got ALS, it wouldn’t change how much sorrow I feel that he’s gone.” Stern advises grieving people to “let that question rest on the back burner for a bit” while they “process the first waves of grief. There will be time to go back and deal with it later,” she says. Through her life experiences, Stern has realized that relationships are what matter most in life. “People are God’s dearest treasure, closest to His heart,” she says. “My tendency is to gravitate toward books and study and theology, but I always find that my truest inspiration comes from relationships with people—hearing their stories, seeing them grow, and live and love well in their world.”—Kathleen Samuelson
elly Shiley was in real estate when God gave her an idea for a gift business. “Not only did He speak to me and tell me to start it, but He led the most amazing people to me, and every day that I get up, I’m blown away by how He orders my steps,” Shiley says of her business. “There is absolutely no way I would have this company if I wasn’t a Christian. It’s God’s plan for my life. Everything that we’ve done and been able to do is because He’s sent people to me and opened the door, and I’ve walked through it. It’s unbelievable what He has done.” Based in North Carolina, Mary Square ships its products from Decatur, Texas. The company has a broad line of products—from accessories to apparel, some with Scripture and some not—sold 38 MinistryToday March // April 2017
through stores from national chains, pharmacies and hospital gift shops to Christian retailers and church bookstores. Shiley is truly grateful for her customers. “We really care about their success because we wouldn’t have anyone to sell to if they weren’t so loyal,” she says. She also is serious about the purpose of her company, as seen in this statement on the company’s website: “Our desire is to see Mary Square retail and wholesale customers gift with purpose and make a longterm impact in lives of those less fortunate.” To make such an impact, she formed the Five & Two initiative based on the Parable of the Five Loaves and Two Fishes, partnering with World Help to meet the needs of people, give them Bibles and tell them about Christ. Last year, Mary Square donated over
$60,000, enabling Mary Square to send a container of Bibles to Cuba and provide homes for girls who have been rescued out of the sex trade in Thailand. The company also sends two of its employees every year on a mission trip, knowing what a personal impact such trips can make in their lives.—Christine D. Johnson » ministrytodaymag.com
Benjamin Edwards Photography
Successful Gift Company Finances Missions
Vivian M. Jackson
‘Dr. Viv’ Overcomes Cancer to Continue Her Marriage and Education Ministry
Kea Taylor/Imagine Photograqhy
ivian Jackson is no stranger to the enemy’s schemes to keep spiritual warriors from making a difference in the kingdom of God. As the Christian education and women’s pastor at Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, Maryland—where her husband, Bishop Harry Jackson, is senior pastor—Jackson has overcome numerous ministry and personal hurdles, only to emerge on the other side praising God with a stronger faith than she’s ever had. Because of her health, Jackson is no longer is able to minister on a worldwide level, which took her to 19 nations to spread the gospel, but she continues to impact the kingdom through the miracle of modern technology. “I have not stopped—I’ve just been able to do it in a different form,” says Jackson, known in many circles as “The Marriage Doctor” or as “Dr. Viv.” “Rather than me going to the pastors of nations, the pastors of nations find me and come to me. God’s purpose is still being fulfilled. I use every piece of technology or every gadget I can from Skype to Periscope to Facebook Live, Twitter, you name it. The money we would previously spend on flying to those countries and the other expenses involved, we can forward those dollars to those entities and empower them, plus I write, through blogs, magazine articles and books. I believe we’re reaching just as many people, if not more, and we’re continuing to make a difference for God.” Jackson’s booklet, Surviving and Thriving in the Midst of Crisis, sold well and led to her first book, An Overcomer’s Guide to Living Well, which can be used as a daily devotional. In part, the book tells the story of how she and her husband within the past 12 years have both waged multiple-year battles with cancer and faced death. Diagnosed in 2005, Bishop Jackson won the war against esophageal cancer ministrytodaymag.com
in 2009 and has been cancer-free since. Vivian Jackson was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a blood cancer, in 2008, and she went through five years of treatment. Today her cancer is also in remission. For most of her life, Jackson was known by her middle name, Michele. While battling and overcoming cancer she decided to reclaim her first name, Vivian, which means “alive” or “living.” Jackson, who has a doctorate in education and was ordained to the ministry in 1985, has been an advocate for building strong families through supporting academic achievement. She founded two Christian day schools, one in New York state and the other in the Washington, D.C., area. She also hosts conferences and workshops to help families develop solutions to build strong marriages and empower their children to dream and plan for the future. “We have a strong value of education, believing that God has given each person a gift to be developed and deployed,”
Jackson says. “As Christians, we should be in leadership roles in society, empowering adults and young people to find out what their gifts and talents are, and to provide them with the necessary training and enrichment experiences to refine their gifts so they can move forward in their lives and do the work they have been called to do. “We’ve seen some of these kids working in universities as professors and working in other nations for the kingdom. One of the students owns a business in Lagos, Nigeria, and she just came back to the States to get married this past summer. Humbly, we feel like we’ve been able to make some significant contributions in our students’ lives.” The First Lady of the International Communion of Evangelical Churches, Jackson also works behind the scenes with her husband in his ministry endeavors, including the High Impact Leadership Coalition and The Reconciled Church: Healing the Racial Divide Movement.—Shawn A. Akers » March // April 2017 MinistryToday 39
Creation-Inspired Artist Touches Lives Worldwide
hen Caroline Simas was 6 years old, she already knew she wanted to be a mother, a teacher and an artist—and God has helped her fulfill all three of those desires. Now a mother of four—two sons and twin daughters—ranging in age from 12-18, Simas started her career as a first grade teacher before she and her husband, David, started their family. But having been brought up by two parents who had “creative souls,” she has always dabbled in art. Inspired by God’s creation, Simas says she sees “the extraordinary in the ordinary.” She is known for using bright colors
and florals in her painting and designs, which are licensed for use on gifts and home décor. Shoppers who visit Simas’ Multiple Blessings Boutique in Charlotte, hospital gift shops, Christian retail stores and other locations worldwide will find her art on products from calendars and cards, crosses to coloring books. Calling on “the best artist of all,” Simas prays with her assistant, Leslie Hancock. “We pray every morning in the studio before we start work, and we pray over every print before it ships,” she says. “I feel like it’s not an accident. It’s supposed to be where it ends up.” She is crystal clear about her purpose. “I try so hard to let others see Christ
through what I create,” she says. When she hears from people in faraway countries that the Scripture or message on her products touched them, “that, to me, is God’s hand,” she says, “and that, to me, is better than any royalty check I will ever receive.”—Christine D. Johnson
hen Abigail Johnston announced her plans to be an attorney, her grandfather’s first question was: “How in the world can you be a lawyer and a Christian?” The future lawyer responded: “Just watch me.” Today, the pastor’s daughter is a wife, mother of two and owner of The Johnston Law Firm, P.A., an Orlando, Florida, firm that employs 10 and handles court cases ranging from adoption to special education advocacy to divorce and paternity. Johnston grew up near Columbus, Ohio, and was homeschooled through middle school, then went to a public high school. The family moved to Orlando, where she completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Central Florida in three years. She planned to be a physical therapist like her mother but realized she didn’t have a passion for it. “So I took an aptitude test, and ‘lawyer’ was on the top of the list,” she says. Johnston chose to attend law school 40 MinistryToday March // April 2017
at Regent University in Virginia Beach, Virginia, where she could weave her faith in with her law studies.
Abigail Johnston and her husband, Elliot, with their sons Malcolm, left, and Liam
“Regent was the very first school I got a call from, within 24 to 48 hours after I applied,” Johnston says. “Everything fell into place so exactly, and the path became so clear.” After graduating from Regent, Johnston
dove into family law, an area where she can be “intentional” about the cases she chooses and work to reconcile divorcing spouses or enable them to make decisions as amicably as possible. She works pro bono with dependency cases and mentors UCF Honors and Regent law students. A member of the Christian Legal Society, she has been a guardian ad litem since 2002 and a court-appointed attorney ad litem since 2004. “I have many cases where we really do make a positive difference through the services we put in place, to see my clients become different people when they get out of an abusive situation, for example, or to strategize with divorcing clients in a way that either leaves the possibility for reconciliation open, or even helps to reconcile them,” she says. Johnston admits it is difficult to juggle the roles of wife, mother, mentor, leader and attorney, but says it is vital for women to be all God created them to be.—Natalie Gillespie » ministrytodaymag.com
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Pastor’s Homeschooled Daughter Makes a ‘Positive Difference’ in Family Law
Animal Rescue Leads to Evangelistic, Prayer Ministry
ormer executive Pauline Cushman is driven by the belief that God created animals and sees their lives as precious. In 2002, Cushman founded Hope for Life Rescue Center, a Virginia Beach, Virginia, pro-life street rescue caring for abandoned and abused animals and adopting them out with no set adoption fee. Cushman left the retail world where she worked as a district manager for 50-some stores and then in the corporate office. She admits she was only living for herself at the time, ambitiously working her way up the proverbial corporate ladder. “My life was falling apart all around me,” she says. “No one could help me, not my family, not my friends. I fell to my knees and I asked the Lord, ‘If you’re real, I need you, and He came into my heart at that very moment, and my life completely changed.” Days later, she noticed some stray cats near her condo. “For the first time, God opened my eyes to see something other than myself, and I felt a desperate need to rescue those cats,” she says. “I had never done rescue before because I was too involved in my personal life, but I did everything I could to figure out how to rescue these cats. I was finally able to get rescue for them. And that’s when God really spoke to my heart and opened my eyes to the needs of all these animals in the streets.” Supporting her animal rescue only out of her personal income, she started praying with her prayer partner about what to do with her new burden for animals. “We literally prayed every single Tuesday night for seven years, and on one Tuesday night at the end of that seven years, God spoke to both of us at the same time, and we knew it was time to start Hope for Life Rescue,” she says. “He even gave us the name.” The name, Hope for Life Rescue Center, pointed to the way God would 42 MinistryToday March // April 2017
use the business as a ministry, not only for animals but for people as well. “There are so many people out there who had been hurt by other people that they turn to animals for solace and companionship,” Cushman says. “As people would come in and share their personal stories with me, I would feel obligated
which Cushman renovated and turned into Hope’s Garden Resort, a dog and cat boarding facility with profits supplementing the rescue work. Hope for Life operates solely on donations, including an annual gift from Cushman’s church. Cushman says she has “a real heart for pregnant animals and senior animals.” That’s why she started the Heart to Heart program to “connect a senior person with the right senior animal to benefit them in their senior years.” Seniors can adopt a companion dog or cat for free, and the shelter handles the pets’ health concerns, which can cost around $2,000, before the adoption.
Pauline Cushman with Stormy
to pray with them as we would work on the process of finding the right companion animal, be it a dog or be it a cat.” When word got around that the rescue was a faith-based organization, people began sending in prayer requests. “We have people who come in and specifically ask for prayer, not here to adopt an animal, not to do anything but ask for prayer,” she says. Every morning, Cushman also leads her team in devotions, which is not mandatory. Volunteers have accepted Christ. Cushman rescued 125 cats the first year and now takes care of about 300 dogs and 200 cats a year. In 2005, a contractor did a $160,000 buildout for Hope for Life in half of an 1,800-square-foot warehouse. The contractor occupies the other half of the building. In 2008, God provided more space,
Zachary and Brittany Taylor and their daughter adopt a neglected dog named Diva.
Cushman also started Partners in Hope, a sponsorship program that asks participants to give whatever they can afford, perhaps only $5 or $10 a month. Cushman says on Hope for Life’s website, “We came from the Lord!” Hope for Life is truly more than a business; Cushman sees it as a ministry with the community as her mission field. “Every person that walks through the door is another opportunity to introduce Christ to them.”—Christine D. Johnson » ministrytodaymag.com
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Apostle Barbara Yoder Offers Advice for Young Leaders
postle Barbara Yoder speaks internationally to thousands, runs the Breakthrough Apostolic Ministries Network and pastors the Shekinah Regional Apostolic Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Yoder says she always felt called to full-time ministry and eventually to the pastorate, but she never wanted the call. After starting her career in academia, she assisted a small church in Ann Arbor— only to inherit the pastorate after the pastor quit. God spoke to her husband and another woman, who urged Yoder not to dissolve the young church, so she got the job of leading the congregation. Those early years, full of trial and error, taught Yoder many valuable lessons about leadership. One of the first was that God often shapes believers’ pasts to prepare them for their future. “I taught in the medical school—in one
of the grad programs in nursing—and I had to teach doctors and high-level nursing professionals, and particularly the doctors could be intimidating,” Yoder says. “Having to regularly teach and input at that level built a strength in me in dealing with people, which I would eventually [use] on the platform God gave me. So look at your past and realize that all of your past experiences contribute to both your present and your future— in experience, in anointing, in relationship, in faith. It’s sort of like building a history, like the Israelites did—a history with God that enables you to overcome literally everything and take what God has given you.” Yoder would also advise young leaders to seek God and not let others interfere. “You first have to know what God’s called you to,” she says. “I don’t think that can come out of you prophesying
to me or [anyone else] prophesying to me. I believe I have to know in my heart in an unwavering, sure kind of way. What I’ve found is when I know God has said something, I can do anything, even things that are uncomfortable, to fulfill what God’s said to me in the place where He’s positioning me. That’s both personal and corporate in that the personal knowing enables me to move into venues I maybe wouldn’t have moved into by choice.”—Taylor Berglund
CPA Prays and Plants Gospel Seeds in Her Clients’ Lives
inda Crawford knows without a doubt that owning her own CPA firm is the path God designed for her. She has seen Him work through her many years learning the accounting business at a variety of places and has seen Him guide just the right clients her way. “I never would have dreamed that God would so bless me with a wonderful life,” says Crawford, who owns Crawford CPA LLC in Titusville, Florida. “I love my job, husband, family and church.” In her early 50s, Crawford started her career at the Kennedy Space Center. During those years, she earned her master’s degree in accounting and got married. After moving to Gainesville, Florida, for her husband’s schooling, Crawford worked for the prison system before resigning to study for her CPA. She passed on the first try. 44 MinistryToday March // April 2017
Linda Crawford, left, at a Daughters of the American Revolution luncheon
Crawford worked at several firms before she and her husband moved back to Titusville and she opened her own accounting firm. “I pray about each of my clients,” Crawford says. “I’ve taken on some clients that a few Christians might frown on, but I feel like I can share the love of Jesus with them. I try to make this business about reaching the lost and hurting.”
Crawford recalls with tears the day she led a client, who was dying and preparing his estate, to the Lord. She calls herself a seed planter, but that day she was the harvester. “At his funeral, I met a couple who said they’d been praying for him for years,” she says. Crawford is sole owner of her business but partners with a bookkeeper for some tasks. She’s never done direct advertising, instead gaining clients through word of mouth for her tax and business consulting and audit consulting. “God will give you divine appointments,” she says. “I’m glad God lets me be used by Him through this business.” Her heart for ministry extends to her family life as well. She was able to help care for her mother before her death and now helps care for her dad too.—Ann Byle » ministrytodaymag.com
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Pastor Leads Hundreds to Christ Through Music
inistry was never Marlinda Ireland’s goal as a young woman—and neither was leading hundreds to Christ through music. She was a college business major with a detailed life plan. But God made her a worship leader when she and her husband, David, planted Christ Church in Rockaway, New Jersey, in 1986. Indeed, worship is one of the primary ways she fulfills Christ Church’s mission statement: “Uniting People to God and to Each Other.” “We believe music is such a powerful tool in the hand of God in the hearts of people to move them from just spectators in the congregation to really encountering the presence of God,” she says. Ireland pioneered the congregation’s worship team as its sole member, but God soon added more like-minded
worshippers. The woman who as a little girl created a construction-paper piano to practice on now leads a choir of 40 to 60 voices. The worship team plays a variety of musical flavors. “We try to cover the whole spectrum, so from rock to boogie and from rock to Rachmaninoff, [we use] different genres so that we can reach different people,” Ireland says. Every Christmas, she and the church choir present a concert that typically draws 4,000 to 5,000 over a weekend. “We’ll see at least 100 or more people make decisions for Christ because we weave the gospel into the music,” she says. The team has gained such favor with locals that around 10 years ago, New York City’s Lincoln Center invited them to perform on Martin Luther King Jr. Day for an audience of about 2,700. They also sang at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center for
about the same number of people, again to celebrate the life of Martin Luther King Jr. Marlinda also pastors the church full time with her husband. Last May, she launched “Divinely Dangerous Women,” the goal of which is to equip women to see the dangerous times they live in as divine opportunities for kingdom impact. Even after 30 years of ministry, Ireland is still zealous for her work for Jesus: “Ministry, for me, is really the only thing that satisfies the deep longing in my soul to do something that shapes, and also shapes eternity.”—Jenny Rose Curtis
Michelle Sugerman LEADINGSYNERGIES.COM
ichelle Sugerman founded Leading Synergies LLC, a consulting and coaching business, to help busy executives lead using best practices. With a background in technology, franchise and project management, she often works with tech executives. “Think how easy your work can be when you have your mission, vision, values and gifting in place,” says Sugerman, who has offices in Denver. Sugerman used to travel to meet with business leaders, but now she does much of her work via video and phone calls. Sugerman coaches business leaders across the spectrum but offers leaders who want to blend faith and work an added bonus. In 2016, she launched Synergy Groups, which brings four to 10 leaders together from across the country for 46 MinistryToday March // April 2017
discussions about business and faith. “Synergy Groups are for people mature in the Christian faith, for new Christians and for seekers with questions about faith,” Sugerman says. “It’s about taking biblical concepts and tying them to work.” Synergy Groups meet for 55 minutes in conferences to discuss a business-related case study Sugerman sends members in advance. The discussion is a segue to the biblical perspective on the topic. “It’s interesting to have conversations with business people but to also ask them things like how Jesus might take a customer service call,” Sugerman says. “We talk about a business giving a caller a good customer service experience and what that means as a Christian assisting them in a loving and helpful way.” Sugerman expects Synergy Groups to grow as churches use them to reach
business leaders and launch men’s and women’s groups. She has also designed some groups for specific business needs such as health care or nonprofit concerns. “I love combining best business practices and the Lord and His best practice,” she says. “Great things happen in business and your heart when you combine the two.”— Ann Byle ministrytodaymag.com
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Life in the Creative
Stratosphere Gus Granger, 70kft founding principal
Gus Granger brings his faith to the world of marketing and PR
ometimes life makes more sense above the clouds. From an airplane, the world below looks small, and we often realize what’s truly important. With that perspective, we also may dream bigger dreams. For integrated brand communications agency 70kft (pronounced seventy » kay » eff » tee), the view from the top is where all great ideas begin. “It’s all rooted in big-picture strategic thinking and just getting high above a problem and being able to see over the horizon and putting that level of thinking to work before we approach the creative solutions that we’re applying for our clients,” says Gus Granger, 70kft’s founding principal. The Dallas-based company employs 35 people with expertise across a variety of creative services, including brand design, copywriting, strategy, digital marketing, public relations and social media. The company works with Fortune 100 companies across the nation, but it’s taken years for Granger and his team to achieve that level of success.
50 MinistryToday March // April 2017
After graduating from Drake University, Granger—a Minnesota native—spent seven years working for large design firms, ad agencies and interactive companies “really learning the ropes” before launching 70kft in 2003. But the passion to start his own company was always present. “This has been a goal—to start a creative firm—ultimately since I was in college. Even then, it was about creating a smart company of like-minded people who were great collaborators, fun to work with and dedicated to doing great work,” he shares. “I think that was the dream before I really knew anything about the professional world.” Although 70kft has been located in downtown Dallas for nearly a decade, the company has essentially followed Granger and his family around the U.S. After Granger and his wife, Audrey, got married, they decided to try on several cities for size before becoming rooted in any one place. “Our plan from the very beginning was to move around the country every couple years and then, after some period of time, take a step back to figure out what we liked best and ministrytodaymag.com
BY LINDSAY WILLIAMS
then go back and move there,” Granger explains. This strategy took the couple back to Minnesota before moving them to Dallas; Chicago; Charlotte; Stevensville, Michigan; and South Bend, Indiana. The Grangers finally decided Dallas was where they wanted to live for the long haul, so they moved back eight years ago.
Loving Your Neighbor as Yourself
Courtesy of 70kft
The agency’s home base may have changed through the years as Granger slowly grew the company, but his philosophy of doing business remained the same no matter what city he worked from at the time. From the beginning, Granger hinged his company, and its subsequent culture, on faith-based principles. “My faith has been central to the way that I’ve worked, even before starting the company,” he says. His approach is simple and rooted in the Scriptures. “Even as we’ve matured, we’ve held onto this core Creative Director Stefan Reddick, left, and Gus Granger, belief of that Golden Rule: We’re going to love our center, deliver feedback during a 70kft design critique. neighbor as we love ourselves,” Granger shares. “As I looked back at all the places that I had worked, what felt right to me versus what felt wrong to me, everything went back to that central principle Christ articulated for us that a lot of times gets left out of business. “We think we have the way that we operate in our business life and the way that we should operate in our Christian life,” he says. “They need to be the same thing—whether that’s the way we treat each other in the office, the way we treat our competitors, the way we treat our vendors,
Working with the Dallas Holocaust Museum, 70kft created marketing materials for the Ground Zero 360 exhibit; the agency also matched the OutdoorX4 magazine’s digital presence with its existing aesthetic.
Prioritizing Joy in the Work
The warmth and care with which the staff at 70kft treats their clients is what sets them apart from other companies that provide similar services. Time and again, Granger hears stories from clients about what a different, positive experience his staff provides. “I have to be able to attract the people to be able to do the type of work we do, and also, the clients have to enjoy working with us,” he says. “That combination of having a really strong, positive culture, which is committed to excellence and committed to great relationships, has gotten us to the point that we have clients who genuinely love working with the people of the team as much as they love the work that we do. To me, that’s how all that becomes intertwined.” At 70kft, people are prioritized over projects. “We know we’re working with human beings, with people who are trying to, at the end of the day, just do a good job and go home to their own families and feel that they did something that they’re going to be proud of, and we’re an extension of that effort,” Granger says. “If we can set our pride aside and not get our dander 52 MinistryToday March // April 2017
Husband-and-wife team Gus and Audrey Granger, center, discuss a new project with the 70kft team.
Charity Starts in the Office Granger’s servant-minded mentality extends to investing 70kft’s resources in causes and organizations that help others, and he’s intent on providing ways for his employees to stay involved in service on a local level. The 70kft agency offers employees a set number of hours each year to use toward community service on company time, in addition to giving each team member a modest Kiva account where they can help fund entrepreneurial efforts by those living and working in developing countries. “We’re showing how we’re taking company resources and putting that forward in the world to magnify it,” Granger says. “It’s business, but it’s also service in that regard.” Moreover, the company also provides pro-bono work for numerous faith-based projects, including a long-term partnership with the Dallas Holocaust Museum, for which 70kft produces promotional materials for the museum’s events and exhibits. “[The] primary champions there have been the Jewish community, but it’s become an organization through which all faith traditions have been involved in looking at how we can come together to stand in the way of social injustice to make sure that the ultimate manifestation of evil doesn’t happen again,” Granger says. “That type of conversation in this community has been something we prioritize as a company.” Granger and his family are active in their local church too. He also works with Mercy Street, an organization that mentors high school students in West Dallas. In addition, Granger is a member of Convene, an international organization of Christian CEOs who meet regularly to discuss the issues they’re facing and to encourage one another. “We meet in small groups and mentor each other, and really just help coach each other through different problems and how to guide these companies in a way which is Christ-honoring,” Granger says. —Lindsay Williams ministrytodaymag.com
the way we handle conflict or the way we support the people who work for us. We’re approaching that through the lens of true warmth, care and servant leadership.” Granger uses words like “mutual respect,” “honor” and “love” when he discusses interaction among co-workers and their interaction with clients. “Interpersonal communication and how we handle conflict, how we handle support—that all becomes relevant,” he says. In addition to upholding the Golden Rule, Granger wants to maximize the Godgiven gifts each of his team members possess, making sure they are stewarding their respective talents with the utmost care and attention. He believes this attitude leads to purer work and increased morale. “We are all blessed with talents God expects us to be multiplying,” he says. He adds that it’s important to be “making sure that we are breathing life into that talent. How [our staff] expresses that to others, that is how they’re blessing their neighbor through bringing their absolute best to the people they come in contact with.”
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Exposing Clients to Christ
While serving their clients and one another in a Christlike manner is the foundation of Granger’s agency, 70kft is not explicitly branded as a “Christian company.” Not all of the employees who work there are believers, and while they often do pro-bono work for faith-based organizations, the majority of their clients are secular companies. “We are not presenting ourselves as a church,” Granger offers. “For me, I didn’t want for that necessarily to be a stumbling block for certain companies coming to us to be able to experience our team and experience the work that we do.” That doesn’t mean Granger and his Christian co-workers aren’t vocal about their faith when working with clients. “When we have these types of conversations—whether we start talking about why culture is important to the company, what motivates me as an individual or how that becomes part of our DNA— as they get to know me and a lot of our leadership, that’s not something I’m that shy about sharing and talking about. It’s definitely part of our DNA, but it’s not the company’s uniform or something we wear on our sleeve.” However, Granger also realizes his company may be many nonbelievers’ introduction to faith, so he wants to make sure his leadership and work reflect Christ. “For a lot of people who may never step foot into a church, our company may actually become the place where they are first exposed to Christ,” he says. 54 MinistryToday March // April 2017
Gus and Audrey Granger with their son, Yates; daughter Reed, center; and daughter Smith
Serving His No. 1 Clients Granger and his wife, Audrey, have two girls and a boy, ages 12, 9 and 7. And if he’s clear about anything, it’s that his children come first. “Those kids are our No. 1 clients,” Granger says. “We never want our clients to feel like they have to compete with anyone, but kids are something else.” At times, this means adjusting meetings, flight schedules and other business commitments to accommodate his family life. “I remember I had a huge presentation in New York last December, and I had a commitment to be with the No. 1 clients— my kids—to take them to see Rogue One, the new Star Wars movie,” Granger recalls. In order to honor his commitment, the father of three went to great lengths to fly in and out of New York in a day in order to make it home in time to head to the theater. “They’re the reasons why I’m working and created the company in the first place,” he says of their brood. “They’re not the by-product; they’re the whole reason.”—Lindsay Williams Granger admits that, like any other corporation, 70kft experiences tension or internal discord at times. Yet it’s much easier to resolve when you’re working from a place of faith and reliance on God. “No office is free of challenging conflict, but having this type of Truth North has been important and key to making sure that it’s a destination people want to return to,” he says. “We’ve got a special thing going on, and I think it’s putting Christ at the center of it.” Granger says the agency’s growth often parallels his own walk with the Lord. “As my faith walk continues, the company’s walk is going to mature,” he says. “What I find is that we are continuing to evolve, and articulating these principles and reiterating it is part of the journey.”
Along the way, he hopes 70kft is best known for the way the staff treats people. After all, in business, in life and, most importantly, in one’s spiritual journey, there’s never a time when the Golden Rule doesn’t apply. “We now have a platform by which to reach some of the biggest companies in the world by following these principles, being committed to mastering a certain topic, being committed to taking great care of people and being committed to taking great care of our clients,” Granger asserts, concluding, “When those things become paramount, we get the great work.” L i n d s a y W i ll i a m s is a freelance writer and editor based in Nashville, Tennessee. ministrytodaymag.com
Courtesy of Gus Granger
up when our client may have an idea or may make some kind of change at the last minute that drives everyone crazy. ... It’s how you handle those types of moments. We push through those things where a lot of other agencies may shift into a defensive posture.” Not only does Granger want his staff to be a joy for their clients to work with, he also wants them to execute their efforts with the same enthusiasm the clients experience when partnering with the firm. “I try to prioritize joy,” he says. “Because we’re a creative organization, I think we’re not going to get a good product out of work that is not created with some level of joy and happiness and positive collaboration among the team.”
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Bringing fun to children’s church in an age of distraction
BY TAYLOR BERGLUND
With 2-D appliqués, 3-D sculptures, interactive play elements and a digital wall covering, this play unit at Champion Forest Baptist Church in Houston stands about 15 feet tall.
BY TAYLOR BERGLUND
orlds of Wow wants to get kids excited about going to church again. The innovative Denton, Texas-based company specializes in building Family Entertainment Centers (FECs), themed play zones for children. Founded and led by Reagan Hillier, Worlds of Wow believes the key to reaching the next generation for Jesus is getting kids hooked on church while they’re young. The company is devoted to building play areas for churches that will not only entertain kids while they’re there but also will make them want to come back for more. Sales and Marketing Director Darrin Rutledge explained why children have been the company’s main focus. “When you look at why people pick a church to stick with a church, they do it because their kids love it,” Rutledge says. ministrytodaymag.com
“There are a lot of great churches out there for everybody—there’s one for everyone—but a lot of parents will make their decision based on their kids wanting to be there. Our mission is to make kids want to be at a church. Make it fun. Make it cool. Make it a place kids can come and learn about Jesus.”
Leading Kids to Jesus
Hillier had a background working in the play equipment industry. Worlds of Wow “basically started in [Hillier’s] kitchen,” Rutledge says. “He knew there was a need to bring better play, better theming to churches throughout the nation, just to spur kids on to want to come and, well, to be frank, to get them to meet Jesus.” Launched in 2004, Worlds of Wow has made a name for itself in the Family Entertainment Center market. The company works primarily with churches but also with secular businesses, including the pediatric dental/medical market, YMCAs and military recreation centers. » March // April 2017 MinistryToday 57
“The reality is there are a lot more commercial businesses looking into theming their facilities for children,” Rutledge says. “In almost every mall, you’ll find some place people can take their kids to play. ... It’s becoming more and more prevalent as time goes on.” Just as Worlds of Wow serves both Christian and secular businesses, the company employs people from all types of backgrounds. Yet ultimately everything the company does is driven by kingdom principles and values, and that’s reflected every day in Worlds of Wow projects. “We don’t only hire Christians,” Rutledge says. “We don’t make a habit of preaching to everybody we hire. We’re
A brightly colored fish draws attention at Children’s Dentistry of Murfreesboro in Middle Tennessee; INSET: This foam block sculpture is in the production phase.
an equal opportunity employer, and we hire men and women of all races and genders. But people just know when they’re coming to work here that our key market is churches, and because of that, the Bible and faith touch every one of our lives every day.” That focus on faith is wrapped up in everything from the company’s overarching philosophy to operational minutiae. The art department designs biblically themed areas. The artists design and create drawings, characters and 3-D themes based on the churches’ programs. These biblical characters and designs are produced, painted and installed, eventually touching almost everyone on the team. 58 MinistryToday March // April 2017
“It’s just nice to be able to work at a place where you get to not only create biblical atmospheres and themes for churches, but you get to share your own faith with people individually throughout your business,” Rutledge says. “It’s so much a part of what we do, it just happens.”
Competing for Kids’ Attention
Though the team enjoys creating fanciful characters and creative designs, that’s not what motivates them. The creatives of Worlds of Wow are driven to help churches and businesses build lasting relationships with children—relationships that will hopefully cultivate a relationship with God. “When you hear a children’s pastor say,
‘I wouldn’t even be here if it weren’t for that one time I came in to a children’s ministry area and heard about Jesus and it changed my life,’ those are the types of moments that happen every day,” Rutledge says. “You just don’t know how those children are going to turn out. You don’t know how God’s going to work in their lives. But getting them connected at an early age and locked in to this way of thinking, that Jesus is with me wherever I go and feeling secure about that, it’s very important.” Many of Worlds of Wow’s employees used to work in the church and understand the needs of ministries. “Reaching families is a foundational part of why we work so hard,” says Mackenzie Hastings, Worlds of Wow’s marketing director. “We know that creative environments and attractive spaces enhance the efforts of ministry staff, they help reach the hearts and minds of children, they create an identity for your church, and they lead to transformational experiences. Over the years, we’ve seen and worked with many of today’s fastest-growing churches, and in every case, they have two main characteristics in common: They’re passionate about their unique mission, and they’re reaching families by focusing on children.” Again and again, the team reiterated the importance of getting children plugged into church at an early age. Children’s ministries have to find new ways to stand out in an age of distraction. “Let’s look at the competition,” Rutledge says. “It’s video games. It’s play areas that are just phenomenal when you go to some FECs. And for a church, it’s important you grab those children’s attention. You give them a place where not only do they learn what the basics and fundamentals are for what it means to walk out a Christian life, but you give them a place with just as much wonder as anything else the world is trying to give them.” More than anything, in a world that feels increasingly dark and cynical, sometimes an exuberant play zone is just what children need to feel God’s love. Rutledge is a big believer that even colors, designs and aesthetics can shape a child’s view of God for the better. “I just think it’s important that they know that God is full of color, God is full of wonder, God is full of life, and when they walk into that space, they ministrytodaymag.com
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Designs such as this one at Traders Point Christian Church in Whitestown, Indiana, take four to eight months to install.
need to see that,” Rutledge says. “We serve a God of ‘Wow,’ and we’re trying to help children see that. We know churches know that because it’s one of the key factors they consider when expanding their current facility.”
Attracting Families to Church
Though every church is unique, Worlds of Wow has a fairly standard process for each of its clients. Once the company
contacts the client, it sends someone to do a site visit, take measurements and fill out a creative brief. “Once that creative brief is filled out, they meet with the concept department,” Rutledge says. “They’re a great group, very imaginative, and they’ll bring the wow. They take the thoughts and designs for each room, and they really bring it to life.” That process can take as long as two months, depending how much back and
forth is necessary to get a concept that both Worlds of Wow and the client like. After a contract is written and both sides sign the production agreement, that’s when the real fun begins. The design team takes the agreed-upon concepts and fleshes them out further. Elevation drawings, finished artwork, prints, characters and play attractions are created during this phase. Finally, everything is shipped to the church where installation begins. “At that point, the install crew can take anywhere from a few days to a couple weeks,” Rutledge says. “They’ll install all the items, get the customer’s final approval, and the job is finished. Generally, depending on the project, it takes anywhere from eight to 12 weeks, but it can take longer if a job is very large.” By the end of the process, the client is left with a polished FEC that often goes above and beyond what they hoped for at the start of the process. With more than 13 years of work, the Worlds of Wow team has accumulated some incredible success stories. Dawn Brand, a preschool minister at
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Trinity Baptist Church in Lake Charles, Louisiana, was elated with the final product. “TK’s Place is a unique facility that will simply make your jaw drop and say, ‘Wow,’” Brand says. “Worlds of Wow created this amazing environment that will help our children’s ministry attract families throughout the lake area. There is nothing like this in Southwest Louisiana.” At Spring Baptist Church in Spring, Texas, the new kids area revitalized morale in the children’s ministry. “It is not an uncommon sight to see families taking pictures of their children by the scenes,” Mark Harrison says. “This has helped change the attitude of the workers and parents alike in a positive way.” Ruth Charlson, from Second Baptist Baytown in Baytown, Texas, had specific numbers to quantify the “Wow” effect. After creating a new FEC with Worlds of Wow, Charlson says the children’s ministry “experienced a 35 percent increase in overall attendance—nursery, preschool and elementary age. The increase is attributed to the new facility environment,
this open shop,” Rutledge says. “We did a 3-D Bible where the ark is literally coming out of the Bible, and of course, the whole area looks like an ark when you come in. That was a really good project for us. We got to create some unique characters and be a part of something very big.” The company has also handled projects for megachurches such as Gateway Church in Dallas/Fort Worth. But Rutledge says it’s not the size of the church that matters. Whether they build for a megachurch or a small rural church, success comes from seeing kids excited to learn about God. “When we take and do a smaller project for a smaller church, and we hear them talking about the kids’ reaction when they first came in, to me, that’s a success story every time we finish one out,” Rutledge says. “Kids love having a place where they can come in, and it’s a wonderland.”
Minnesota’s Eagle Brook Church takes kids to the ocean.
which includes new spaces, great décor, state-of-the-art security/check-in system and a super location.” One of the company’s biggest projects was at Answers in Genesis’ new Ark Encounter theme park in Williamstown, Kentucky. A full-scale recreation of Noah’s ark, The Ark Encounter has become one of the biggest Christian tourist attractions in the year since its opening. The attraction drew 400,000 visitors in its first four months and is expected to draw 1.2 million in the first year. And when all these visitors enter the park, one of the first attractions they see is the Fairy Tale Ark— which the Worlds of Wow team created. “We got to do several pairs of animals in the ark, and they’re looking down into
T a y l o r B e r g l u n d is the content development editor for Charisma Media. He hosts the “Charisma News,” “Charisma Connection” and “C-Pop” podcasts.
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March // April 2017 MinistryToday 61
THE EYES H AV E IT
Ben and Laura Harrison enjoy the company of their daughter, Sophie, and son, Jonas, whose eye condition led to the founding of Jonas Paul Eyewear.
How Jonas Paul Eyewear meets kids’ physical and emotional needs
BY KEN WALKER
o one would have blamed Ben and Laura Harrison for sinking into a pit of despair when their first child came into the world suffering from glaucoma and a rare eye condition. Thankfully, they avoided the trap of self-pity and used their entrepreneurial genius to craft a solution, one that helped their son, Jonas Paul, and children around the world. Through a special program, Jonas Paul Eyewear has provided fashionable glasses for 15,000 children nationwide. Beyond that, a mission program has helped more than 25,000 kids in developing countries with preventive eye care and glasses.
Courtesy of Jonas Paul Eyewear | Jill DeVries Photography | Courtesy of Christian Blind Mission (CBM)
Creating Good in the World
Faith has always been a large part of the business, says Laura, co-founder of Jonas Paul Eyewear. Indeed, although Jonas Paul’s parents never knew this company would be a part of their journey, they felt like God was preparing them for it during the first seven years of their marriage. But it wasn’t until Jonas was born with bilateral Peters anomaly (which leaves a fourth of its victims legally blind) that they felt the Lord directing their paths. In the next three years, Jonas would face nearly two dozen surgeries. “When I was in the space of comfort, I found myself becoming emotionally numb to the needs and struggles of individuals around me,” Ben recalls. “I found myself searching for a greater purpose, and though I would have never imagined it or wished it upon anyone, I received a clear answer in the form of intense pain and challenges.” The couple finds a great sense of purpose in the business. “We feel as though, of all the businesses we have started over the years, that Jonas Paul Eyewear has a much different and greater purpose than just being in business for the sake of business,” Laura says. “The lives that are being touched have truly been incredible to see. We are just so thankful that the Lord has used our very difficult situation to create good in the world and make an impact.” Based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, the fledgling company moved to larger quarters in January. The new area provides more storage and workspace as the company expands its lineup of fashionable frames for children. At the same time, it began adding several people to its small staff, which is expected to reach 10 by the end of the year. Laura calls the move exciting and scary. “We are really excited about this change,” she says. “Even though we are sad to leave our current space, as we’ve had so many memories here, we are excited for this next stage as well.” »
March // April 2017 MinistryToday 65
The company has attracted significant media attention ranging from stories in The Huffington Post, the Wall Street Journal and Women’s Daily to a feature on the NBC Evening News. The company’s launch in 2013 followed several other entrepreneurial endeavors, starting with a photography business that primarily focused on weddings. After photographing ceremonies across the world and having their work featured in numerous publications, they created an album-template business. That led to a website and hosting business in which they serviced more than 1,000 accounts annually. However, everything changed for the Harrisons with the birth of Jonas Paul on March 28, 2013. Soon after his delivery, the doctor gave the couple the bad news: “Your son may be blind.” But that was only half the story. Before the age of 3, Jonas Paul endured a string of surgeries, done in the hope of providing him the greatest potential for sight. Fortunately, because of Medicaid funding for vision-impaired residents, the Harrisons had coverage for any expenses remaining after insurance payments. That includes not only the surgeries but also the medications Jonas has received in the last four years. This all helped them discover the truth behind the adage, “Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” something Ben calls the “unexpected upside” to adversity. He says every new parent harbors dreams of what their child will be like and activities they will enjoy, such as throwing a ball, teaching them to ride their bike or teaching them how to drive. Even though the couple released those dreams, Ben says they have been replaced by a reality that is even more beautiful. While all parents love their children regardless of who they are, Ben wrote in an article for a website for those with disabilities that there is something divine in loving a child without motive or expectation. “It allows you to find beauty in the existence, rather than the achievements, of your child,” Ben says. “When Jonas was born, we were thrust into a new space of visual impairment. “We recognized quickly the majority of eyeglass solutions were incredibly costprohibitive and focused purely on function, 66 MinistryToday March // April 2017
“We knew when starting Jonas Paul Eyewear has a much different and greater purpose than just being in business for the sake of business. The lives that are being touched have truly been incredible to see.” —Laura Harrison often at the expense of a child being embarrassed to wear glasses. If our son was going to have to wear glasses at a young age, we were determined they were going to be a fashion statement, and he was going to feel like a little ‘stud muffin’ in them.” That same year the Harrisons launched Jonas Paul Eyewear with the mission of helping children feel beautiful in their glasses—and to provide sight to needy children with every purchase. The latter takes place through its Buy Sight, Give Sight program. A percentage of every sale goes toward helping children in developing nations. To accomplish its goal, the company formed partnerships with CBM (Christian Blind Mission) International, Vitamin Angels and Restoring Vision. These organizations help provide eye tests, corrective eyeglasses, cataract surgeries, mectizan (a specialized drug for tropical climates) treatments to prevent river blindness and Vitamin A supplements to prevent childhood blindness. “We know how helpless we felt when Jonas was born,” Laura says. “We had an amazing team of doctors that could care for him, so we knew when starting Jonas Paul Eyewear that we wanted to pass along the blessing to those in need in developing countries.”
Making Kids’ Fashion Affordable
Although many parents are used to paying upwards of $250 to $400 for a pair of glasses for their child, Jonas Paul Eyewear wanted to provide frames kids would want to wear at a reasonable price.
The company’s prescription glasses start at $79. Affordability was only half the battle though. The other was getting children past the inevitable teasing and bullying aimed at youngsters wearing glasses. Ben recalls the embarrassment he experienced as a child, starting with the doctor telling him he needed glasses to selecting frames from a cartoon-laden collection. Then came walking into school for the first time with an object on his face that was impossible to hide. Years later, millions of children are still barraged by peers with terms like “nerd” and “four eyes,” says Ben, who points out that a child’s self-esteem and identity can be cemented by as young as the age of 8. “If we can use a beautifully designed product and brand to prevent some of these scars and boost the self-esteem of children, I feel confident we are going to make a lasting impact,” he says. Ironically, even as a 4-year-old, Jonas and his parents encounter strange reactions as they walk through public spaces with his cane. Laura says the average person doesn’t interact much with visually impaired people—let alone a preschooler with such impairment—so they get quite a few comments from children and adults who don’t know how to handle Jonas and his cane. She says they try to brush off the negative comments and looks, and treat interactions with strangers positively. They hope to show their son that how he handles himself can be a light to others. This also lets others know that even though Jonas may ministrytodaymag.com
Courtesy of Christian Blind Mission (CBM)
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look different, he still deserves respect. Unfortunately, it is quite common in American culture for children to get bullied or teased for wearing glasses. At first, they couldn’t believe that was still happening. “Since glasses are such a fashion accessory for adults, we thought the same would be true for kids,” Laura says. “Unfortunately, kids just haven’t felt confident and beautiful in their glasses, so that was a big motivation for us to create stylish and functional glasses for kids. Even though they are kids, they still want to feel good about themselves, especially if they wear glasses.”
“If we can use a beautifully designed product and brand to prevent some of these scars and boost the self-esteem of children, I feel confident we are going to make a lasting impact.” —Ben Harrison
Making a Difference in Attitudes
68 MinistryToday March // April 2017
Jonas Paul Eyewear partners with Christian Blind Mission to help children in a number of developing countries.
“I’ve been told by several of her friend’s parents that their children want glasses because they love Ava’s so much,” Molino says. Prior to giving Jonas Paul frames a try two years ago, Emily Loeffelman’s 4-year-old son, Asher, had been wearing a pair of bendable plastic frames awkwardly held in place by a strap. After enduring daily battles, the Mississippi mother ordered a new pair, noting she can buy two Jonas Paul frames for what one would cost at the eye clinic. “The affordability of these glasses has given me the opportunity to purchase a few pairs a year, which gives him more options and a back-up pair,” says Loeffelman, a photographer and lifestyle blogger. “I love that they are stylish and durable. He loves that they are comfortable and kid-friendly.”
Such comments bring a smile to the Harrisons’ faces. So does the fact that Jonas can see well enough now to attend a special-needs preschool class, with hopes he will be able to transition to a regular classroom for kindergarten. As they continue to pray that Jonas Paul Eyewear would grow into something greater, Laura loves how the glasses help set children up for success in life. “Even though the circumstances that brought us to this point in our lives wouldn’t be anything we would wish upon others, it is our story,” she says. “We’ve embraced this new reality, and we continue to pray that we can share the love of Christ through our challenging situation.” K e n W a l k e r is a freelance writer and book editor from Huntingdon, West Virginia. ministrytodaymag.com
Courtesy of Christian Blind Mission (CBM)
Two mothers whose children have eye problems are delighted with the difference Jonas Paul glasses have made in their lives. Lauren Molino’s daughter, Ava, suffers from accommodative estropia, an ailment that causes crossed eyes. The day an eye doctor diagnosed her condition in January 2015, the Molinos felt “deflated” after searching the racks in the office and finding such a limited selection of frames. That night, Molino, who is production coordinator at Philadelphia Magazine, discovered Jonas Paul’s website and turned into the company’s biggest fan. Molino was thrilled with the efficient customer service and quick delivery of a “try on” kit. Though not quite 4 years old then, Ava even had a hand in choosing her frames. “The process alone was exciting for a child her age,” Molino says. “It felt more like a fun decision than a ‘prescribed task.’ We are now on frame No. 8 and truly love everything about the product and what the brand stands for in helping others.” Indeed, she says Ava would be unable to focus on any aspect of life without these glasses, which correct her problem so well that the kindergartener wears them from the time she wakes up until bedtime. While Molino was nervous at first about her daughter being the only child in her class with glasses, wearing her fashionable eyewear has given Ava confidence, a sense of responsibility and—with her twin brother—the glasses provide a sense of ownership of something that is “just hers.”
P L A T F O R M
BY DR. STEVE GREENE
How to master the moment of a microphone surprise
ven for professional speakers, an impromptu invitation to “come up to the platform and share a few words” can produce a guttural gasp. The dreaded brain freeze accompanies a Peter Pan moment when a wave crashes in that “today, everyone will find out I cannot fly, never have flown and never will fly.” Usually the uninvited microphone comes when least expected. In the worst-case scenario, the topic of the impromptu speech is also requested. “Steve, come up here and share a few words about thermodynamics and the law of entropy.” Isn’t that great? I was just thinking about that topic with my Cheerios this morning. I had written about entropy on a few occasions, so perhaps I should have been expecting it. But I wasn’t expecting to speak, and I certainly had no intentions of sharing such a topic for an after-dinner palate cleanser. At such moments, I’ve always wished I could juggle water glasses or levitate the emcee. What pressure! Take the microphone and say something memorable, mesmerizing and magnificent. Right now! “You don’t eat chocolate dream cake anyway, do you?” I’ve learned a new definition of “be instant in season and out of season.” I dare not walk into any gathering of people, platform and microphone without the expectation that I may be asked to yap a few words. Every Sunday morning, I am prepared to speak a message of hope without a prayer for the rapture to happen in the next 30 seconds. The key for me is to always expect to be called on. I have one of those faces and a neon sign floats over my head that says, “I’m ready if you need me.” As a service to all who will likely face an impromptu moment with a microphone, I offer the following survival tips: 1) Memorize a couple of all-purpose quotes or relevant Scriptures. I save good quotes in my notes app on my phone. Scripture is hidden in my heart, and the Holy Spirit helps me recall the right verses for the moment. I rehearse certain quotes and think about how to include words of wisdom from others when needed. 2) Practice telling a story about one of the big surprises in your life—explain how the surprise of “being called on” ranks right up there as a top surprise. Stories are helpful in connecting with your audience quickly. Storytelling improves with practice. There are great books available on effective storytelling. Everyone
who squeezes a microphone should become a masterful storyteller. 3) Be the object of any humor. Pick on yourself. You probably did something funny today! I’ve learned the hard way not to try to be a stand-up comic. My humor comes only at my expense. “I remember the last time I was asked to say a few words at a meeting like this. I was about 30 seconds into my talk when the power went off, and everyone stood and applauded.” 4) Shift the attention to someone else. Offer a compliment or thank someone in the audience. “Without Billy Bob, I wouldn’t be speaking to you today. Let me tell you a story about how Billy impacted my life.” Try to make one good point and get to the chocolate cake. Remember, the request was for you to say a few words. I assume the focus is always on “few.” 5) If you are surprised on platform and receive a plaque or trophy or any type of award, show quiet confidence. False humility will cause the presenter and audience to feel they made a mistake in selecting you. Leave the “aw shucks” refrain to the guy with the guitar. Be firm in how you thank the presenter. Tell everyone what you will do with the award and how you hope it inspires others to reach their potential. It’s also a good time to share a Scripture. Build a library in your mind. Practice thinking, What would I say if I were called to speak right now? Great impromptu speakers are well-rehearsed. The audience never knows that the speaker expected the unexpected and lives prepared to speak at a moment’s notice. It’s not just about speech survival. A platform speaker must deliver the mail at every opportunity. The dazzle comes from hours of trench work and a finely tuned, evergreen message. There’s an unexpected microphone in your future. Practice with your Cheerios.
70 MinistryToday March // April 2017
D r . S t e v e G r e e n e is publisher and executive vice president of the Media Group at Charisma Media and executive producer of the Charisma Podcast Network. Follow his daily, practical Greenelines blog at ministrytodaymag.com/blogs/greenelines and download his “Greenelines” leadership podcast at cpnshows.com. ministrytodaymag.com
“Take the microphone and say something memorable, mesmerizing and magnificent.”
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