Local Church Connection Jan - Mar 2020

Page 1


Living by


Galatians 3:11



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Message From The EDITOR




Volume 10 No. 1

appy New Year!! Have you pondered your new year’s resolutions yet? It may seem a little vague, but a good one would be to be what God intended you to be and to be used by God in the way he intended for you to be used. Before this can be accomplished, we must first understand and confess that we are by human nature sinful and do not naturally desire to accomplish this. Not only do we need to confess our sins in general, but it is important to identify them specifically. It takes intentionality.

I John 1:8-10 says, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us form all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make Him out to be a liar and His Word is not in us.”(NIV) Have you ever used a pair of pliers when you needed to use a socket? Yes, it may work, but it also may cause you to skin your knuckles or alter the nut or bolt you are working on. It is always best to use the tool that is intended for the job. You see, as Christians, we are no less saved if we are not doing exactly what God intended for us to do, but we are definitely not going to be as effective if we try and follow our on ways and desires rather than acknowledging he knows best and following his plan for our lives. Accomplishing this starts with acknowledging we are flawed by nature and that we need his grace and guidance for us to be able to know what it is he wants from us as his servants. God answers those who surrender their heart to him because once surrendered, he can shape our hearts the way he intended for them to be. He will then give you the desires of your heart, because he is the one that shaped it to begin with to match up with his plan. Make it your goal to start the New Year out right by confessing your sins to God. Do not bury them in your heart. Give them to God so he can cleanse you so that you can then be what it is he wants you to be in 2020. God Bless, LCC Cover Photo: Crawfordville Baptist Church • Crawfordville, Georgia

For more information, please contact Chuck Thompson chuck@localchurchconnection.com • www.localchurchconnection.com

Cliff (Cag) Gradwell, II President

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Thinking Of His Wonderful Love! By Shirley Duncan


ehold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. I John 3:1

I was born of illegimate birth to a poor country, backwards mother who was way too young and immature to care for a little baby. The circumstances of my growing up was pitiful and ravaged by emotional and physical abuse. I believe that I am alive today only because of God’s grace and the fact that He had a divine plan and purpose for my life. I want to encourage others who are struggling with life’s issues and urge them to trust Him to bring them through! He sure did for me! I never knew the love of a Father until I accepted Jesus as my Savior! My birth father abandoned us and then the other men that my mother connected with were alcoholics and womanizers. They abused me and her other two kids and we lived I in fear constantly. Life was hard. Once I began to grow in Christ, and realized what true love was, I found a tremendous peace and rest in my heavenly Father’s care and comfort. This helped me to reconcile in my mind that God was watching and leading me my whole life long, especially when I entered Hephzibah Children’s Home as a child. God was protecting me and causing my path to cross with those who would powerfully impact me and open doors for me to blossom and grow. Often our lives are developed in the dark places of life, but God always brings us into the Light! My life experiences have profoundly shaped my destiny. I worked at the very same children’s home that I grew up in as a child for 30 years on staff. I could understand the fear, the anxiety, and the confusion of every resident that would come to live there. One of the greatest joys of working there was the opportunity that I would have to talk privately with the children and encourage them to trust God’s plan. I would explain that as we go through a dark tunnel that you just hold on and wait. In Gods timing, the Light shows through and we can see the next step. When Hephzibah recently closed and I lost my job, I had to revisit those words. There was no choice but to hold on and wait. Through many tears and the pain of letting go, I did and sure enough, the Lord allowed the darkness to pass and opened another door for service. I now work at Covenant Care Adoptions and love the opportunity to introduce a young couple to their brand new baby! It’s exciting for both! The parents have been praying for a child to love and the child needs a family! I marvel at His faithfulness to orchestrate such a beautiful plan!

Often our lives are developed in the dark places of life, but God always brings us into the Light!

It is at Valentine’s Day and the month of February that I am thinking of His wonderful love! The above Scripture is so powerful in that we are so blessed to behold Him as our good and gracious heavenly Father! What manner of love! Just think…He didn’t have too but He chose too love us! The likes of you and me, even while we were yet sinners…He determined to love us! Amazing heavenly adoption!!! I am now, because of His great love and adoption, his very own daughter and aligned with His perfect will and plan and purpose for my life! As I remember where I’ve come from, I can only praise Him for every twist and turn in the journey! It reminds me of a favorite hymn of the church, “All the way my Savior leads me; What have I to ask beside? Can I doubt His tender mercy, Who through life has been my Guide? Heavenly peace, divinest comfort, Here by faith in Him to dwell! For I know, whate’er befall me, Jesus doeth all things well, For I know, whate’er befall me, Jesus doeth all things well.

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All the way my Savior leads me, Cheers each winding path I tread, Gives me grace for every trial, Feeds me with the living bread Though my weary steps may falter, And my soul athirst may be, Gushing from the Rock before me, Lo! a spring of joy I see, Gushing from the Rock before me, Lo! a spring of joy I see. All the way my Savior leads me; Oh, the fullness of His love! Perfect rest to me is promised In my Father’s house above. When my spirit, clothed immortal, Wings its flight to realms of day, This my song through endless ages: Jesus led me all the way, This my song through endless ages: Jesus led me all the way.� (Fanny Crosby) Shirley L Duncan Covenant Care Ministry Assistant Please feel free to contact me at: 24-hour, toll-free crisis line: 1-866-813-8655 Covenant Care Adoptions Office: 478-292-6060 Mailing Address: 3950 Ridge Avenue, Macon, GA 31210 Your prayer and financial support are greatly appreciated!

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God Can Make A Way - The Hotdog Club By David Duncan


anuary 2020 is upon us and holds a ton of adventures and blessings in God! My Scripture for this New Year is Ephesians 3:20! “Now to Him who is able to [carry out His purpose and] do super abundantly more than all that we dare ask or think [infinitely beyond our greatest prayers, hopes, or dreams], according to His power that is at work within us.” (Amplified Version) I am claiming that verse because the God of the past has taught me to trust Him and be at peace for the future! Regardless of what is ahead for me, perhaps despite difficult circumstances, I KNOW that God is more than able to take care of me and see me through until I make it to Heaven one day! How can I be so confident about that? I want to share with you something wonderful that happened at Christmas with The Hotdog Club! I ask the kids every year to make out a “Needs List”. They always provide humble requests such as socks and underwear and gloves. These are real needs to them. At the end, I ask them to put down one wish that they’d like for Christmas. Sometimes they can’t even think of something because they are not used to getting something nice. This is one reason why it blesses me to work with them…they appreciate anything! One 5 year old girl named Londyn put down that she wanted a doll house and one Barbie. This was a HUGE request for her as she has 3 sisters and their family lives on meager means. Shirley and I talked and there was no way that we could get that for her as we operate on a Faith only, ZERO budget! It so happened that a lady contacted me on Facebook and asked if she could come to help with the meeting that Friday night. The Lord sent her because another worker had to cancel and we really needed her extra hands! The Lord knew what we needed before we knew we needed it! Tina, the extra helper, was sitting at the table and asked what the kids wanted for Christmas. Shirley read a few requests including the doll house wish. Tina’s eyes got as big as saucers and she perked up like a hound dog ears! Then, she said slowly as if in shock, “I have a brand new doll house in my attic and just this week, I was wondering what I should do with it. I didn’t give it to my daughter 2 years ago because I thought she had too much. I would like to give it to Londyn!” Well, we about all died sitting around the table! ONLY THE LORD could orchestrate such a fabulous surprise for Londyn and grant her the desires of her heart! God sent Tina to help and then used Tina to provide a poor girl an incredible gift for Christmas! But, there’s more to the story!

... the God of the past has taught me to trust Him and be at peace for the future!

Later that week, we met Tina and her husband Sonny in the Krogers parking lot on Forsyth and got the dollhouse and loaded it in the van. PEOPLE: it was COLOSSAL in the box! Shirley and I discussed how in the world would we ever get it put together!!! We talked about a couple of friends that might have the skillset and/or the time to do it but just didn’t feel clear yet. Plus, Christmas is such a busy time but we knew that God would have to intervene for the timing all to coincide with our Hotdog Club party coming up. Well, Shirley got the bright idea to contact Tommy Campbell’s Collison Center in Bolingbroke! Tommy had donated food before for The Hotdog Club and we knew that he has a servant’s heart. Another miracle was in the making because Tommy and his guys were more than willing to do it FAST! His guys worked amazingly and put it together in record time, including the doll furniture and deluxe accommodations with a flushing toilet, grand piano, elevator, and chandeliers that lit up! BAM! When God does something, He blows the lid off of our “little” thinking! The problem next was getting it into the van because it was three stories tall and bodaciously wide! Friends, it just barely went into the back, of our full size van! We snuck the doll house into our bedroom and covered it with a queen size sheet. We had to hide it from the children who come every day for a snack. The night of the party, the air was electric with excitement! All the gifts were passed out to the children and then I announced that the Lord has a super duper surprise for Londyn! Two grown men had to carry it out of the bedroom and set it before little Londyn. The entire room froze with anticipation. Nobody knew what the Lord was about to do! We unveiled ad Londyn screamed with wonder and happiness! Everyone broke out in thunderous applause!!! It was amazing the lengths that God would go to just to gladden the heart of a child! Now, you see how I can KNOW and TRUST and BELIEVE God for His glorious power, protection, and provision for 2020!!! God can make a way when there seems to be no way and He can do far more than we could ever hope, imagine, or dream! Follow me on Facebook or contact me at dedsld13@juno.com David E. Duncan (Reverend Monkey)





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Where are you on the “love meter” with Jesus? By Kelly Grant Marrero


ow intimate is your relationship with the Lord REALLY? I was challenged with this question years ago at a women’s retreat. This one question “rocked my world.” I was forced to examine the depth of a relationship I took for granted. My appreciation for what Jesus did on the cross for me had casually evaporated into thin air. Like a stagnant pond, there was no freshness, no fragrant aroma, no movement. Just there. Can you relate?

While my husband at the time and I were stationed at Fort Wainwright, Alaska, I had the opportunity to attend a Christian women’s retreat through the chapel. To be honest, for me it was a weekend away from the kids to rest and have adult fellowship. However, for several months prior to this event, the Lord was preparing my heart for revival. Clues to my indifferent heart unfolded through the pages of my journal. Below is a sampling. “Thank you, Lord, for showing me two things yesterday. (1) That I am not really studying your Word, and feel like I really don’t know how. (2) That I really don’t pray much. In my quiet times with You, Lord, I just read a little here and there. I don’t really study the scriptures.” The retreat at Camp LI-WA: Intimacy with God was the focus. The speaker challenged us with truths that made me ponder—just how intimate was my relationship with the Lord—really? She said, “God yearns for you. Do you know He loves you with an everlasting love, and draws you to Him? When we turn away from God it hurts Him. Are you hurting God?” She told us that in Luke 8 we could glean four ways to respond to God. (1) We can have hardened hearts desensitized to the Word of God. (2) We can be shallow, settling for a minimal dose of intimacy. (3) We can be too preoccupied and busy. (4) We can be open and share all our thoughts with God. Then she challenged us, “Which way are you responding?”

Press into the heart of God. He yearns for intimacy with you.

Over and over at the retreat I would hear the speaker saying, “Press into the heart of God. He yearns for intimacy with you. Personal holiness is where the battle is won. Heaven is your home, not earth. Do not conform to the lukewarm Christianity around you. Is Christ in all you do?” After the speaker finished the last session, I kept hearing her words echo in my mind. I realized my faith did not have much evidence. I had no authentic intimacy with God. These words of power turned another key inside me. When I returned from the weekend retreat, alone in our log cabin at the kitchen table, I told the Lord He could have my whole heart. I would follow and do whatever He asked or required of me to fulfill His plan for my life. I was all His. My life has never been the same! Before the retreat my heart was like a tough piece of meat, not pliable and uneasy to penetrate. It desperately needed to be tenderized by marinating in the Word of God. Neither was there any depth. My Christianity was superficial on all levels. Go to church, read my Bible periodically, pray occasionally, help others, etc. Other interests captivated my life. Relationship with Jesus was not a priority. Communication with God was scant. In a nut shell, I failed the test. Christ was not in all I said, thought, and did. What a humbling reality. It takes extraordinary time and effort to build deep intimacy with someone. Detailed knowledge and understanding develops. There is affection, vulnerability, passion, trust, and a desire to be together. Uniqueness and an undeniable bond characterize this type of relationship. Where are you on the “love meter” with Jesus?

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I am eternally indebted to the speaker who challenged me to look into the mirror in order to evaluate how intimate was my relationship with the Lord REALLY. Will you do the same? It’s a game changer! O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You In a dry and thirsty land Where there is no water. (Psalm 63:1, NKJV) “What’s closest to your heart is what you talk about, and if God is close to your heart, you’ll talk about Him.” Aiden Wilson Tozer “We were never created to settle for mere religion. Jesus did not die so that we could have a religious belief system-but rather a life-giving relationship with our Father.” Christine Caine Copyright 2020: Kelly Grant Marrero


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Nehemiah’s Secret By TREY DICKERSON


ll of us fail and make mistakes in our Christian walks. We all sin and fall short of the glory of God in our actions. So how should we respond when we are reminded of our past failures? Let’s look over in Nehemiah chapter 8 and allow God’s Word to answer this question.

In the beginning of this chapter, the people gathered together to hear Ezra read them the Law of Moses. This was a rare point in the history of the people of Israel when they were committed to worshipping and serving their God. They had just returned from their captivity in Persia—where God in His benevolent mercy granted Nehemiah favor in the sight of the king of Persia to go and head up the rebuilding of the city of Jerusalem. The people were repentant and desired to once again become the nation that God had created them to be. They were now committed to rebuilding not only the walls of the city, but also the strength of their faith in God. So they humbled themselves to hear God’s Word and listened attentively to it (see vs.3). But after Ezra led the people in a glorious praise service to where all the people exclaimed— “Amen! Amen!” and bowed down to worship the Lord, the people began to mourn and weep. They became so sorrowful that Ezra and the rest of the Levites had to exhort the people that this day was holy to the Lord and they were not to sorrow. So why were they saddened? Verse 9 tells us that they wept as they heard the words of the Law. But what was it about hearing the Word of God that caused them to become sorrowful? It was that in hearing God’s statutes and commandments they were reminded of how they had fallen short, which resulted in their recent exile and the destruction of their homeland. So when they were reminded of God’s standards, they were also reminded of how they had failed to live up to those standards. This is what led to their repentant hearts. Has this ever happened to you? Has there ever been a time in your life when you maybe had fallen short in your walk with God, and in your desire to rebuild your faith, you were reminded of how you had failed previously? These memories are oftentimes inspired by the devil and his cohorts. They are always trying to condemn us and make us feel guilty for our mistakes that we made in the past. They pour on this condemnation in several different ways—subtle thoughts in our minds, through the words of people, and even through good things like the Word of God.

“Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

This was the case with the people of Israel here! They were reminded of their failures through hearing the Word preached. Did you know that the enemy will try and get you to use on yourself the very Sword of the Spirit that is meant to be used on him? Yes, he will use even your own desire and passion to serve the Lord against you by constantly harassing you with Scriptures that both you and he know you have failed to live up to. If we allow ourselves to hear God’s Word through this filter of condemnation, it will cause our walks to be fruitless and will even hinder our growth. This is why Nehemiah and the rest of the leadership said what they did in verse 10: “Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” There are several nuggets contained in this verse, but the portion I want us to focus on is the last sentence— “Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Now again, why were they sorrowful? It was because they were reminded of how they had failed in their covenant with God. So what do you suppose Nehemiah was saying here? In essence, he was saying— “Do not feel sorry and be grieved over your failures! But rather rejoice in the Lord, because the strength to not fail is found in the joy of the Lord!” Did you hear that? Our strength for obedience is not in feeling guilty and condemned about our mistakes, our strength is found in rejoicing in the Lord. I know that Nehemiah 8:10 says, “the joy of the Lord” but the common interpretation that he was referring to the Lord’s joy is not correct because these were unregenerate people who were not capable of walking in the Lord’s joy. While it is true that we today have His joy resident in our spirits, under their covenant, this was not possible. No, what Nehemiah was referring to was the joy of the Lord. In other words, he was referring to their joy about the Lord or as Paul puts it in the New (continued on next page)


Testament—their rejoicing in the Lord. This becomes even clearer when we consider the people’s reaction to Nehemiah’s exhortation: Verse 12 tells us that the people then went their way rejoicing greatly. So, you see, Nehemiah was literally saying that our strength for walking with the Lord is found when we rejoice in the Lord. The Lord had to correct me about this one time in the past: On this particular occasion, I had fallen short in my relationship with Him, not by doing anything necessarily wrong, but by failing to do what I knew I needed to do like spending time with Him, reading the Word, etc. So as I was praying, I was spending most of my prayer time focusing on how short I had fallen in my relationship with Him. I was apologizing, repenting, whatever you want to call it, and the Lord spoke to me. He, in essence, said to me— “Stop magnifying your weaknesses and start magnifying My goodness! For it is in magnifying My goodness that you find strength to overcome your weakness!” Wow! What a revelation that was for me! You know, many believe they are being “spiritual” by always confessing their failures—thinking that it is “humility.” But the truth is, humility in its purest sense is simply coming into agreement with God—that is, submitting to what He has to say. In this case, He tells us to rejoice in Him- magnifying His goodness, His mercy, His love, His grace- especially when we’ve missed it. So if we are going to truly be “humble” we should do what God tells us to do instead of what we think we should do. You know, God already knows when we have missed it. We are not “enlightening” Him with some new information when we constantly talk to Him about our faults. He knows us better than we know ourselves. We are not pleasing Him by magnifying our weaknesses, but we can please Him by magnifying His goodness! You see, by magnifying our weaknesses we remain weak and can even make ourselves weaker, but by magnifying God’s goodness we gain strength to not be weak anymore! This is why we can please Him; it is because we are glorifying who He is. And, on top of that, we are doing what is necessary to rise out of our weaknesses. Second Corinthians 3:18 tells us that as we behold God’s glory, we are changed into the same image we are beholding, from glory to glory. Paul made this statement in reference to Moses and how His face shown when he beheld God’s glory. You see, when we focus on God and how great and glorious He is, we will actually begin to reflect who He is. It will release His life and ability into us and we will begin to be transformed from the weak and limited carnal person that we are in ourselves into the strong and glorious being we are in Him! But if we constantly behold ourselves—how weak and limited we are—we will never be able to rise up out of our problems. We are doomed to wallow around in the limitations of our flesh. Friends, it is only by beholding God’s glory that we gain strength to change, not by beholding how we have fallen short of His glory. I know that this has been a relatively simple teaching, but I really felt like it is the Lord desiring to speak to some of us in regard to this. Many times the most vital keys to unlocking God’s perfect will for our lives are found in the simple truths of God’s Word. And I believe that this one truth will liberate many of us and lead us into triumphing over areas that we have struggled with for years. So let’s adopt this secret of Nehemiah into our lives! Let’s begin to praise and magnify the Lord when we are tempted to become discouraged by our mistakes. Let’s begin to rejoice in Him when we are upset with ourselves. For some of us, our religious thinking might scream at us saying, “You are such a hypocrite! You don’t need to praise God right now! You need to repent! You need to show Him you are truly sorry for your mistakes and grovel for a little while!” If these thoughts come, just keep rejoicing in Him anyways. Tell Him, “Lord, I thank you that you are good! I thank you that your mercy endures forever! Lord, thank you that you have separated my sins as far as the east is from the west! I glorify You! I magnify You!” You will find that your joy of the Lord will yield the freedom, strength, and life that you need. Successfully rebuilding the walls of your faith is found in no other way but rejoicing in the Lord—glorifying God and boasting in Christ Jesus! We become strong in the Lord as we rejoice in the Lord! Trey Dickerson serves as the Senior Pastor of High Point Church located at 2963 Hollis Rd, Macon, GA 31206 and is also President of Living Logos Ministries Inc. If you would like more information or materials from Pastor Trey’s ministry, you can visit the following websites: www.treydickerson.com & www.highpointmacon.com. You can also contact Trey via phone @ (706) 207-4337 or via email at treydickerson@yahoo.com.




The Relief of Cancer By Marti Sullivan Tidwell


n 2005, I took my first trip on mission overseas to Russia. On my return home, I had an experience that I won’t ever forget.

Upon landing in Charlotte and passing through customs, I remember a long corridor. I saw my father waiting for me at the other end. When I saw him, although I don’t remember being homesick or anxious on my trip, I broke out into a run. When I reached him, I jumped into his arms, buried my face in his neck…and sobbed. Sobs of relief and thankfulness. I was home, and I was safe. That trip to Russia marked an end of innocence in many ways for me. Within just a few weeks, I would lose my job and within a few months, my older brother would have recurrence of cancer that took his life in 2006. And through all of that, the moment in the corridor has stayed with me. As I weathered the storms of the next several years, I went back to the memory over and over again, and soon drew the parallel to my heavenly father. I began to genuinely see my time on this earth in a way that my scandalously charmed life thus far had not afforded me…as a journey through foreign territory, often dangerous and unstable. So many things about this world look and seem familiar and comfortable, but in our guts, we know it isn’t right. It is the human story. We long for what is good, and sure, and lasting. Unchangeable and unshakeable. What will never betray us, fire us, divorce us, die on us, or leave us. We search for what is lasting and faithful and without fault. And if we can’t find it, we strive to be it. Our efforts, in vain. This life, whether we admit it or not, has proven to be much harder then we every believed it could be.

We long for what is good, and sure, and lasting.

This New Year, I aim to bury my face in the neck of my Savior. To run to him and sob when I am overwhelmed, and beg Him for the wisdom, protection, and peace that only He has. I will bury my heart in His Word, hide it there, and dig for those treasures when life gets hard. I will fight for joy. His joy. I will fight for it because my family and those I serve deserve that, the Kingdom of God deserves that. Many that I love are leaving behind a hard year, perhaps the hardest year of their lives. I know you share the same story. Prayer lists are longer as the world grows more and more broken. So, for my people, those that I serve, I want to be a fountain and not a drain. To be a place of refreshment and encouragement, a source that points and leads to true life and hope. A place of relief and safe-haven…pointing the way to the only One who can provide. The One who has already won the victory. One unknown day, I will awake on the other side of eternity, and in my best dreams I see Jesus in the distance and my two faithful old dogs running towards me. I sprint towards Him, jump in His arms, bury my face in the neck of Jesus, and choke on sobs of exhaustion and relief. And He will say, “Well done, well done…” almost as though He’s saying, “Calm down, calm down.” You are home now. You are safe. Dedicated to my friend and mentor, Penny Anderson. Well done, you fabulous servant. My life and legacy are better because of you and your undying love for Jesus. Ephraim.




Ron C. Douthit

CPA rdouthit@mmmcpa.com Direct Line: 478-330-5211 Main Office: 478-746-6277



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Northway Church - Page 8

Navicent Health BKO Children’s Hospital - Page 21

Abundant Life Church - Page 8

Navicent Health Pediatric Emer. Center - Page 24

Lizella Baptist Church - Page 10

Smaha Orthodontics - Page 28

St. Innocent Orthodox Greek Church - Page 12

Macon Volunteer Clinic - Page 29

Forsyth United Methodist Church - Page 12 Temple Of Encounter - Page 22

Automobile Sutton Acura - Page 2 Raffield Tire Master - Page 13

Printing / T-Shirts / Signs Panaprint - Page 2 Image Ink - Page 14

Turning Point at Mabel White - Page 22 Macon Full Gospel Holy Temple - Page 25 Piedmont Church - Page 27 Lizella United Methodist Church - Page 27 Musella Baptist Church - Page 29 Camp Grace - Page 29 Rock Springs Church - page 30

wants to THANK all of our Advertisers for helping make this magazine possible! 31

Connor Suttles, Agent 101 Allen Way Bonaire, GA 31005 Bus: 478-449-8022 Connor@connorsuttlessagent.com




State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company State Farm Indemnity Company Bloomington, IL