How a small group led to marriage and more for this ambitious couple
- As coaches of small groups at Rez.Church, Steve and Judy Papenfuss spend an occasional night at the home in Wellington where, as singles, they co-led one of church’s first focused attempts at promoting spiritual community through intimate house settings in 2010.Back then, Judy (Landrum) owned the home and, as a divorced mother of a teen-aged daughter, she opened her house to the small group of believers she agreed to jointly lead with Steve who, at the time, had never been married and lived in Cheyenne.As co-leaders six years ago, the two discovered they liked more than their small group; they liked each other enough to pray and prepare for life together as husband and wife six months into their first venture as Rez servant leaders.Now, Steve and Judy devote most nights to praying for six small groups they coach together and separately; Steve coaches a men’s group and Judy oversees two women’s groups. Together, they coach two more groups.One thing remains the same every night: Before turning out the lights, Steve and Judy hold hands and pray for each other, group leaders and members, and for Judy’s daughter Zaynah.When they’re not coaching or leading small groups, Steve and Judy are attending one as a couple.Their belief that the spiritual health and consistent growth of a church derive from small groups is something the Papenfusses preach and practice.“As husband and wife, we are members of a small group ourselves and, along with others in it, the group is focused on marriages and keeping them strong in the Lord,” says Judy, recalling how she and Steve answered 276 vital questions before they uttered their own marital vows.
“Even with the Lord at the center of our marriage, in our individual lives, and in our servant leadership of small groups, we believe it’s important to be intentional and focused on maintaining healthy relationships with other like-minded couples,” says Steve, who initially dismissed any notion of personal leadership qualities when he agreed to co-lead a group.
As coaches, Steve and Judy observe and support leaders of Life Groups, a shortened name for a multi-media curriculum called Living In Freedom Every Day. It’s designed to build strong believers in the Lord Jesus, and to create life-giving relationships within the church. An enhanced and updated edition of the Life workbook is underway by Rez to fortify believers in Word and Spirit.
While devotion to small groups unites the Papenfusses most nights, Steve’s work day is in Cheyenne, where he manages medical equipment operations for eight Veteran’s Administration facilities in northern Colorado and southern Wyoming.
Judy, meanwhile, is busy most days in the home building their internet-based business, SJPappyColorado, an online retailer of high-quality outdoors and sporting goods equipment.
Their first product, a fixed-blade hunting knife, is selling well enough on Amazon that Steve and Judy plan to introduce other items. They expect their future growth and success will eventually allow Steve to work in the home as well.
The Papenfusses believe the Lord is directing them to tithe 20 percent – not the biblical 10 percent – on SJPappyColorado’s profits, as well as give offerings to global missions. Steve and Judy also envision a day when they will be able to fund vacations for married couples and families.
Their home is the perfect office for Judy because – on more days than she cares to count – it provides a needed respite from fatigue associated with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and a wheelchair. She’s able to successfully navigate a walker to and from her desktop computer on good days which, thankfully, outnumber the debilitating ones.
Despite its unpredictable physical toll, MS doesn’t thwart Judy’s success as a wife, businesswoman or leader.
She does admit to telling the Lord that he needs to fast-track her healing from MS, which manifest 30 years ago while working on her first college degree in communications. She’s subsequently earned a master’s degree in human resource management.
One of Judy’s favorite Life Group lessons is the two types of God’s Word – the logos and the rhema. Logos is a Greek word for the Bible’s written text, and rhema is a word spoken by the Holy Spirit on the inside of a believer.
Judy believes the Lord spoke a rhema word to her in 2002.
“I was at a conference asking the Lord, ‘Are you going to heal me from MS?’ “ she recalls.
“In a vision, I saw the Lord Jesus holding my hands as I was praying. I leaned forward to hear him say, ‘I’m going to heal you in my time and for my glory.’ “
“Then I heard Jesus say, ‘Things are going to get worse before they get better.’ “
At the time, Judy didn’t know how much worse things would get or how her faith would be tried.
Two days before the conference, she was in a car crash that aggravated the pain associated with MS, which was already crushing at times.
Four back surgeries later, Judy is understandably anxious for her promised healing, sometimes telling God to “hurry up.”
Even as her patience is tested, Judy’s faith is buoyed by two previous miracles, both of them confirmed by doctors.
When Judy’s heart spasmed before a surgery – which turned out to be a good thing – it cleared a 96-percent blockage, rendering the procedure obsolete by a cardiac surgeon.
Later a scheduled shoulder surgery was canceled after Judy received a word of knowledge that the Lord wanted to supernaturally repair the damage.
“I know people see me in this wheelchair and wonder about me,” Judy says. “Imagine their response when I’m up and dancing or playing basketball.
“They will have to give God the glory because of his promise to me,” she says.
Steve isn’t alone in believing that MS will someday be a thing of the past though, for now, he heartily endorses Judy’s pursuit of homeopathic and alternative remedies. They include high vitamin dosages, chiropractic and other natural treatments.
Pastors and long-time friends at Rez agree with Judy’s insistence that the Lord intends to heal her.
“As a pastoral staff, we believe that Judy has a rhema Word of God in which he has told her of his intent to heal MS,” says Pastor Bill Kline, who oversees small-group ministry and Sozo, a New Testament word meaning to save, heal, restore and deliver.
In addition to Judy’s faith in the Lord for healing, pastors unanimously agree they’re inspired by her feisty nature and intense relationship with the Lord
“My observation over the two-and-one-half years I’ve known Steve and Judy is that their lives are marked by a willingness to serve in building relational connections within small groups,” says Bob Dudley, director of small groups at Rez.
As coaches, the couple’s contributions to the life of Rez are marked by Judy’s personal and communications skills, and Steve’s knowledge of the Word, pastors say.
The small group leaders Steve and Judy coach say they are privileged to enjoy not only their leadership but the Papenfusses’ friendship as well.
“My wife and I really enjoy having them as our coaches because they’re so supportive,” says Norm McAtee.
“They’ve greatly assisted us in seeking information from pastors when we didn’t have answers. The pastors support them due to their trustworthy, servant leadership.
“It’s apparent that they derive great pleasure and joy from serving the Body of Christ at Rez,” McAtee says. “We consider Steve and Judy friends.”
The Papenfusses loyalty and commitment to servant leadership was rewarded in a surprising and unusual way in late 2015.
A member of a small group, Keith Scritchfield says he felt led to ask Judy if he could bring a basketball to church – as a gift to her.
“He told me the basketball was to serve as a reminder of the Lord’s desire to heal me of MS,” Judy says. “What he didn’t know was that I played basketball and served as a team captain.
“I need to remember to bounce that ball more often, so that my ball-handling skills are sharp when I’m able to run the court with it,” Judy says, her bright smile and twinkling eyes communicating a feisty, competitive streak and a determined faith that will someday return her to the hardwood floor.
Written by Steve Rees
From Self-Loathing To Spiritual Life
- “I was raised in a dysfunctional, alcoholic home with seven brothers and sisters,” Debbie DelPrete recalls. “Our parents never attended church, but they always made us kids go to one just down the street from us; probably to get us out of their hair for a while. I heard the preachers say if I didn’t receive Jesus that I would go to hell, so this scared me and I accepted the call of salvation out of fear.“We heard little about the love of Jesus, so I assumed going to church was a matter of making me a good person so I could stay out of hell,” she continued. Over time, Debbie started skipping church, but as guilt feelings and the felt need for fire insurance built up, she would sporadically return for short spells. As she describes it, the church’s emphasis seemed to be on enforcing behavioral patterns through legalism rather than on establishing a close relationship with God by which the Holy Spirit can instruct his people.Then came Rez. “I started attending about 15 years ago, but only on an off-and-on basis. It was there I heard about the love of Jesus and the need for an intimate relationship with him. However, for a long time, I heard, but I was not listening.” Debbie explained that she had a very poor self-image, and continued to feel she wasn’t a good person. “I didn’t like myself much, and I now understand that my introverted personality worked against developing and fostering close relationships with others… including Jesus.“One day I went through a significant emotional upset and hurt someone. This only caused me to dislike myself even more.” As often happens, the event seemed an inexcusable tragedy, but in reality was a new beginning. “Jesus showed up in a big way and I began to understand that a good relationship with him didn’t depend on me, it was just a matter of acknowledging who and what He Is. So, this time I accepted him as my savior knowing that he was drawing me out of his great love for me.” The fear awakened Debbie, but love drew her.At about this time, Pastor Jonathan began discussing the merits of the Growth Track program and Debbie was listening intently. “I had a new determination to serve Jesus and do what he wanted me to do. Here I was a quiet person, thinking people would probably see me as just an introvert. But I put these scary thoughts on the shelf. Growth Track seemed like the right place for me to do my searching. I wanted only to do something to give back to the Lord and to my church.”Growth Track personality and skill tests, along with subsequent teachings and counseling more than met her hopes and expectations. “This discovery of my gifts, some confirming and some new, was a burst of affirmation. Perhaps the greatest value was the help I got in linking both my likings and my gifting, as a sure channel to service. And these revelations led directly to my serving the church in the administrative department, doing something I have always known how to do, but completed now through a love of service rather than as the everyday requirement of surviving a job.”Growth Track was an amazing process, she summarizes. “It caused me to learn to like myself. I say it as in a dream: After a lifetime of living with a poor self-image, I like myself!”
Then — with a big smile and shining eyes, Debbie concluded: “Growth Track was a catalyst for me in making the transition from religion to an intimate relationship with our Lord. I hope others will see this story… it could be a life-changing experience for them as well.”
Written by Ron Mallett
“I Am Going to Be With You Through This,” God Told Rez Pastor and Ironman Victor Mary Bangs
- Finishing her first Half Ironman Triathlon in second-place behind a former Olympic athlete from South Africa, Pastor Mary Bangs focused on her race time – 6 hours and 33 minutes – before its prophetic significance hit her.Matthew 6:33 reads, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” These – the words of Jesus recorded in the Gospel of Matthew – have guided Mary from her youth in Northbrook, Illinois, the one-time, speed-skating capitol of the world. There, she trained with three Olympic champions in speed skating – dreaming herself of bringing home a gold – and excelled in gymnastics and track-and-field.But her home changed to Fergus Falls, Minnesota, and over time so did her athletic ambitions, along with her spiritual life and physical health. Yet, Matthew 6:33 remained a constant. Married in 1980, Pastors Steve and Mary Bangs today lead a thriving children’s ministry, have four children and seven grandchildren. Six years after her marriage, Mary was diagnosed with a life-threatening disease.Husband Steve, a fellow competitor and friend, joined by a ministry-school student, and a medical doctor didn’t doubt the tenacity, resolve, courage, spirit and faith of Bang’s training for the Half Ironman Triathlon (1.2 miles in water, 56 miles on bike, and 13 miles on foot), or that she would finish her race; what troubled them was Addisons Disease, an autoimmune condition that left Bangs in a coma near death and tied to a bed in 1986.Slightly over a month before the longest distance competition of her life (and second-place behind the former Olympic athlete), Bangs suffered an Addisons crisis during an Olympic-Distance Triathlon praying, “God, I don’t know if it’s stubbornness, but I’m going to cross the finish line if I have to crawl over it.”Cross it she did, her body shutting down and falling into the arms of Pastor Steve, who arrived in time with a jar of pickle juice. It, along with steroids and medications, neutralize hormonal deficiencies normally regulated by the body’s adrenal glands. The condition impacts kidneys and livers and can lead to diabetes.Resolved to compete six weeks later in one item on her “bucket list” – a Half Ironman Triathlon – the pastor enlisted help from her former endocrinologist, a student in the ministry school where she teaches, a close friend and fellow distance runner and, of course, husband Steve who is her biggest supporter.
Even before Mary lined up her support team, there was an intercessory prayer pastor at her church in Colorado, whose direct questions inspired her and brought Matthew 6:33 into sharp focus: “What did you like doing when you were a child, a teenager, an adult?”
“My two favorite things have always been studying and teaching the Bible, and athletic competition. After I answered those two questions, I knew God would be with me to the finish line,” she remembers thinking in advance of the September 2015 Half Ironman.
One of her students, Ben Miller, agreed to help Pastor Mary in training, particularly the cycling leg of the three-part event. He and Dr. Phil Hooper, who diagnosed the pastor’s adrenal/thyroid condition almost 30 years ago, turned out be big supporters whose encouragement made the difference during the training and race itself. Bangs says she benefited not only from Hooper’s medical and dietary advice and personal support, but from Miller’s encouragement, which proved to be prophetic words that spurred her onto victory.
“It’s something God set up so that you two could have a father/daughter day,” Miller said. “Race day is not a pass or fail,” the student told his teacher. “It is the day you get to be the apple of His eye. You will be all that He is watching. There is no defeat or fail in this. This is your worship. The pass/fail happened in training and preparation,” Miller told her.
“It was a spiritual thing that I don’t know how to explain,” says Bangs, adding that the Holy Spirit spoke to her about strategies, including the words “don’t overheat,” during the run and race segments. “I did feel my Heavenly Father’s tangible presence on me, and I do believe that I was the apple of His eye.”
Friend Chris Vick, who’s competed side-by-side Pastor Mary in numerous endurance events and insisted she go for her “personal Olympic gold medal” by competing in and finishing a Half Ironman, says she’s amazed by her pastor’s tenacity coupled with her wisdom.
“It was impressive to watch her push through difficulties in training, including an Addisons crisis,” says Vick, who completed her own Half Ironman in a different age group. “When a lot of people would have given up, she did everything including contacting her doctor for wisdom,” she says.
Recalling his wife’s triumph and his fear of her physical body’s failure a month earlier, Pastor Steve talks emotionally talking about the dual realities they faced that day. “The tears come from emotional relief that the race was over. Her previous race experience, and nearly having to take her to the hospital had cast a pall of angst over me.
“Therefore, when she crossed the finish line and I saw how great she was, the pall lifted. Tears of relief welled up from inside. It was over but it was good,” Pastor Steve says.
Looking at her finish time, 6:33, Pastors Mary and Steve say they were reminded of God’s faithfulness to them in their ministry and personal lives. By seeking first God’s kingdom and His righteousness “all these things” – the Heavenly Father’s pleasure, a personal gold medal, and an inconsequential disease when it counted – were added to them on race day.
THE BLESSINGS OF A BASKET
- About 4 years ago, my husband and I were a young married couple and our son was going to be turning one year old on Christmas Day, and we found ourselves unable to pay our bills, unable to buy groceries, and facing an incredibly difficult situation. I have gone to Rez my entire life, and as a child and even as an adult loved going to the auctions. I never fully understood the impact these baskets make until I found myself in this situation. My husband and I had been making decisions regarding whether we would eat or pay our bills. We made sure our young son had food, but often we would eat very little or sometimes nothing at all. Looking at us, you would probably have never known that we were in such a situation but we were. Our sons very first Christmas, which also happens to be his birthday, was fast approaching and we had about two gifts for him under the tree which nearly broke our hearts. Receiving a basket from the church was such a blessing to our family. Getting a gift for him, which was included in that Christmas basket was a gift for us in that we were able to put something else under the tree. It was such an incredible blessing when we needed it! I want people to know that when they donate items or when they come to the auction and pay way too much for a pan of cinnamon rolls, or donate a check in the offering that they are impacting real families who really need the help and that we are thankful!-Ashley Mayes
Spaces and Places
- The next time you attend REZ, be sure to look around for signs of great progress. Our facility is under renovation and restoration with some phases complete and others in process. It is being transformed into beautiful, well-planned spaces that meet needs of visitors and members alike. Theaters 1 and 2 are complete and our children love the worship and ministry environment the theaters have helped to catalyze and enhance.We’re doing this because we want to see thousands of Colorado families transformed by the love and grace of God. As more and more of your church is transformed, you will have the opportunity to see just how effective a tool a well-built facility can be to The Great Commission.While the need for physical improvements is easy to see, there are other kinds of opportunities that can help to build THE CHURCH. Life tends to get busy and unless we remain vigilant toward the needs around us, we can turn a blind eye to opportunities to bless people both materially and spiritually. We must work to build the Church by meeting the needs of those who are struggling so they might hear the gospel of the Jesus Christ.Both of these opportunities are important enough that REZ will spend the remainder of 2015 focusing especially on these two issues. We’re calling this initiative Whatever It Takes-Spaces and Places. “SPACES” represents our continuing efforts to strengthen our building and facilities. “PLACES” represents our desire to meet needs of those locally and around the world through acts of compassion which express the Gospel.As we conclude 2015 we will focus our year-end special offerings toward Whatever It Takes-Spaces & Places. During November our special offerings will focus on Whatever It Takes-Places. Last year we introduced a message series entitled “At the Movies” that was overwhelmingly received and many came to Christ. During this series we brought our annual Christmas Basket Outreach auction into the weekend services and received one of our largest compassion offerings ever. This November we will once again present the “At the Movies” series and will present and receive our Whatever It Takes-Places Auction & Offerings. All designated proceeds will support our annual Christmas Basket and compassion outreaches like House of Neighborly Service, Convoy of Hope, and more. Here is a story from one of the recipients from the 2014 Christmas Basket Outreach:“A year ago, I was basically unemployed, my wife had lost her full time job at School District 6, and the holidays were just around the corner. This sounds like the set up to a movie you would see on the Hallmark Channel, but we were not in a Hallmark movie. We just did not have any extra money.One morning after church, our son handed us a ticket to receive a food basket. I was reluctant to receive the food because, I told myself, there were other families that needed it worse than we did. In reality that was just a smokescreen to cover my pride. As I looked more realistically at our situation, I was grateful that our son gave us the ticket.
When I came to the church to pick up the food, I was truly overwhelmed by what was going on. I saw full shopping carts wheeled out to cars. And then a full shopping cart was wheeled to my car. When I got home, it took three or four trips to bring it all in. Each trip I took, my mother-in-law who was at our house would exclaim, “There’s more!” I unpacked abundant provision, and it took up almost all of the available counter space in the kitchen. I took some pictures to send to my wife who had a teaching sub assignment that day. She lost it when she saw the incredible generosity that had been showered on us.
When she came home, she made a declaration: “Next year we will give to this.” My heart and mouth agreed with her, but my head wasn’t quite so sure. Looking at our situation, it would take a miracle.
Last year we gratefully received the generosity and love poured out by Rez.Church. We want to thank you from the bottom of our hearts. This year, things have changed. Just as my wife declared, we are grateful to be able to give into this wonderful project.
Through our financial situation, we have experienced the great faithfulness of our God. He is a not a God of just get by, but He is a God of abundance and He is able to do exceedingly abundantly more than we could ask or think according to the power at work within us.”
Then in December we will receive our Whatever It Takes-Spaces offerings. For those who have already committed to invest in our facility through the Whatever It Takes initiative, thank you. We are not asking for anything beyond your commitment. We would ask you to consider giving what you can toward that commitment by December 31st. Our goal is to pay cash ($772,000) for the structural steel of our new facility. By paying cash we will be saving a significant amount of money. For those who are new to REZ and have not yet had an opportunity to make a commitment to Whatever It Takes, I would ask you to prayerfully consider how you might invest in the challenge ahead.
As we conclude 2015 our commitment to do Whatever It Takes to bring the gospel to those near and far is resolute. Whether you give much or little to Whatever It Takes-Spaces and Places you can be assured your church will play a critically important role this year in partnering with God in building HIS CHURCH.
The Story That Didn’t Get Written
- We envisioned writing an article highlighting the unprecedented upsurge in numbers of people saved at Rez this year. The statistics are impressive. Over 830 souls thus far, approaching a massive four-fold increase over last year’s harvest.But, as we thought and talked more about it, the numbers seemed to fade toward insignificance. The enormity of the statistic overwhelmed our ability to comprehend its depth and width. How could we… in just a few words and in one little article… inspire, motivate, elevate and, in fact, electrify our readers, bringing them to a fully-energized awareness of the majesty of what is going on at Rez?And then, God’s Word intervened to give a clue. Luke 15:8-10 tells the Parable of the Lost Coin. One coin out of ten that a woman previously owned had been lost. But she searched carefully and found it. In gratitude, she rounded up friends and neighbors, crying out: “Rejoice with me, for I have found the piece which I lost.” Jesus then remarks in the last verse: “Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”There we have it! One salvation inspires a party in heaven! If what Jesus tells us is true, the salvation of over 800 people has erupted into a full-blown carnival among the heavenly host. The sounds of the celebration must still be ringing in the ears of our creator.Think on it! The lesson here is that numbers fade in the presence of The One.One God, One Salvation and One Person in One-On-One communion with our lord and savior.Can any of us believers absorb this profound truth… the ultimate reality of our purposeful existence?
Let’s winnow these thoughts to yet a finer level of granularity. Six months ago, Diane Roberts found herself mired in the debris of her transient, unstable and genuinely chaotic lifestyle. An ‘army brat’, she had never known stability, nor had a chance to develop close and enduring relationships. Estranged from even her extended family, she found little solace at home as she and her parents seemed caught in a cyclical tide of mutual annoyance and disrespect.
“Having no connections to anyone I could trustfully lean on,” she explains, “I never developed a sense of self worth, and my life was a never-ending series of uncomfortable situations, people, places and circumstances. I perpetuated the instability and the discomfort myself by moving from person to person and place to place. The only stable period came from my determination to earn a degree in accounting at a Georgia school.”
Afterwards, she found herself in Greeley, working gratefully in the accounting department of a large corporation. “Even then,” she relates, “I got into an argument with my supervisor and got fired. Talk about hitting bottom!”
Things didn’t look good for Diane… but, God intervened. A fellow worker at her job had taken notice of her unhappiness. A godly man, a Rezite, he consulted with his wife and they then took Diane under their wings.
One day they invited her to a Rez service. “I really didn’t want to go,” Diane recalls, “but I was so grateful for their friendship that I didn’t want to say no. So I went with them. I was entranced. Each week Pastor Mike held an altar call and talked about how we had screwed up, and we always tried to fix it ourselves but couldn’t. Only Jesus could fix it. It’s time to come home, he said.
“I didn’t raise my hand for a couple weeks. Then, I had a tingling sensation in my heart, and tried to hold back the tears. I knew I had reached that special point and gave my life to Jesus that day.”
Diane’s story doesn’t end there. In fact, it is just starting. She has enrolled in the Resurrection School of Ministry as a means of learning more about God.
“That’s how it began,” she interjected, “but now I find myself searching for what God made me to be, and what he has planned for me. Already, God has told me to go back my job in Greeley. I really didn’t want to go back, and even my Rez friends have said it’s not likely, because I was fired. But I believe I’m hearing from God. There are people there that I despised and I want them to see the changes. I have been told to humble myself and to serve them. It seems impossible. But when it happens, it will be a giant faith builder… for me and for others.”
Obviously, the rest of us will be following this on-going story closely… the sequel should be a magna-blast.
But, perhaps our most important learning point is this: What greater service can we offer than to work with God through His Holy Spirit to bring just one soul to the foot of the cross? And it’s all so simple. Pastor Jonathan has made it clear. Bring someone to church and share in their salvation. There’s a lot of Diane Roberts out there, and they need but a smile and an invitation!
Ron Mallett – Rez Writer
A DIVINE APPOINTMENT – June 8th 2015
- My camper needed new decals and I found a decal business after seeing a truck displaying a decal service pass by me on the highway. I quickly took a picture of the truck so I wouldn’t forget the number. Weeks later, I called the business and asked for an appointment and we set it for early on a Monday morning. I showed up excited about getting new decals on the camper but quickly found the business owner did not share my enthusiasm. He didn’t seem at all happy to see me. He seemed miserable inside, with the demeanor of a curmudgeon. After having some issues finding a tape measure, we walked around the camper and took measurements. We ended up inside his shop looking at his computer for different decal designs. Meanwhile, a friend of the business owner came in the shop said hi to him and they chatted for a minute. I noticed he was wearing a United States Marine Corps hat and struck up a conversation with him, as I too was a Marine. We had a very enjoyable conversation, which lasted for a good 15-20 minutes. I noticed that the business owner wanted to join our conversation but with no past military experience he wasn’t able to. Once the friend left, the business owner got back to work and presented me with a quote for the decals. The quote was for more than I wanted to spend, so I declined him gently and took a step to the door to exit. As I was leaving the business owner said with an elevated voice “Hey, I want what you have!” I stopped, turned around and replied “Well, you can get that model camper on Craig’s List.” He said “no that’s not what I mean. You have the world by the tail with being retired, working part time (when you want to), taking your daughter Halibut fishing, etc. I just want it all”. “OHHH” I said. “Well, have you got a few minutes and I’ll share how it happened?” I went on to explain my life basically sucked; I had made a mess of it, my wife had left me, my dog died, etc. It sounded like a bad country song. I told him about committing my life to Jesus Christ and what happened after that. Things slowly started to mend. My relationship with the Holy Spirit started growing and my life started coming around. All sorts of things started changing and I even reconciled with my wife! He told me about growing up Catholic and that he’d had some bad experiences and ended up leaving the church 30 years ago. He went on to tell me about his life, which was as bad as it could be. He was divorced, has strained relationships with his kids and hasn’t even met his some of his own grandchildren! He asked me, “So, I can have a personal relationship with Jesus? How do I do that?” I went on to explain the differences between a holy “want to” when living with the Holy Spirit and a religious “have to” when following religion. We talked for quite some time covering all sorts of areas. Then he said, “Well, I’m in. What do I gotta do?” I started to tell him about the salvation prayer (while franticly trying to recall Pastor Mike’s eloquent alter call), and he started writing it down. After a minute or so of dictating to him I stopped him by putting my hand on his and said, “Are you ready to do this? This needs to come from your heart. Are you ready right now?” He said “Yes I am.” I said “Well, stand up and let’s do this now, repeat after me”. We stood together holding hands with our heads bowed, and he said the prayer of salvation. When it was over, he sat down and I took a sharpie and circled June 8th on the calendar that was pinned on the wall and said, “This day was the day you were saved!” I went on to explain the next steps in developing his relationship with Jesus. I told him to how to find a good church and to get a Bible. He said, “I don’t want a good church. I want to go to yours!” I told him about REZ and he said he’d see me there. I left the store. This was a first time for me that I had helped bring someone to Jesus! Feeling a bit weak in the knees, I went to the truck and camper. I sat down and prayed for him and thanked Jesus for the divine appointment, and for the opportunity to be a witness for Him. I soaked up the moment and took off. The next week he showed up in church, sat next to my wife and I, and raised his hand in reconfirmation when Pastor Mike did the alter call. Wow, what a blessing!!!I never did get decals on the camper but I discovered the appointment wasn’t about that! I was just following one of my passions in life for camping, and the Lord used it as a divine appointment! ;-)Tracy Kline (friends’ call me Trace)
The Power of Your Tithe in Nepal
- On April 25, 2015, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal, destroying thousands of homes and flattening villages, killing over 8,800 and injuring over 23,000 people. Further destruction from several aftershocks leveled more Nepalese villages and caused more casualties. An indigent and politically paralyzed nation, Nepal had no ability to respond to the devastation, galvanizing people around the world to help with relief. The power of the tithe enabled Rez.Church to immediately respond to the crisis in Nepal by supporting several ministries who provided relief to the people of Nepal.ChurchAsia received a total of $190,000 in donations to the quake relief that included Rez’s support, which provided for four 20-ton trucks full of emergency supplies for the Nepalese people. Careful to avoid duplicating efforts of other organizations and reach as many people as possible, ChurchAsia is now focusing relief aid on rebuilding earthquake resistant infrastructure.With support from Rez, Eternal Light Ministries provided aid to those in the Kathmandu valley near the epicenter of the earthquake. At devastated villages, Eternal Light handed out $200 Relief Packs to 500 families containing a tent, blankets, mattresses, rice, lentils, cooking oil, tea, milk powder, and sugar. These Relief Packs provided a home and groceries for a month for each family.Soon after the quake, Convoy of Hope and its partners identified three high priority areas to focus relief operations: Sindupalchok, Okhaldunga, and Ramechaap. These areas were severely impacted with 80% or more destruction of homes and a large number of displaced people. Moreover, they were receiving little support from other agencies or organizations due to their inaccessibility. Convoy of Hope’s Disaster Services team distributed nearly 1,800 tarps that provided shelter for hundreds of displaced people and circulated “family kits” or relief packages to those within these affected areas. By mid-May, Convoy of Hope distributed more than 290,000 meals with 560 volunteers putting in nearly 3,000 volunteer hours.H.E.L.P. International was enabled to partner with a ministry called Studio 10, which provided hospitals with volunteers to care for patients, bring in casualties, and feed those affected. Their biggest contribution was helping those who needed medical attention by paying for surgeries, surgical implants, and antibiotics. H.E.L.P. saw over 60 people receive the surgeries they needed. They additionally provided the space and care for convalescing patients in make shift tents as the hospitals did not have enough room. H.E.L.P. remarked that Rez’s contributions saved lives and brought life to people in a very dark and hopeless time.The relief efforts and your support continue to help the people of Nepal. Thank you for touching your world with the love of Christ.
A Transformed Life
- I was raised as a Catholic and baptized as an infant. Shortly after moving to Colorado, my then three-year-old son began attending RCS Preschool in 2013. After a year of his attending preschool at Rez, and while continuing to attend a Catholic church, I felt pulled to attend a Rez weekend service. It was somewhat of a decision for some reason, with many generations of Catholics in my family. But the Lord was persistent and continued to gently lead me to Rez. On February 2, 2014, I finally attended a Rez weekend service. It was quite different than the Catholic mass I was accustomed to and a bit to take in. But even during this very first visit, I felt the Lord’s presence and raised my hand, accepting and declaring the Lord as my savior. Since then, my life on the outside probably does not look all that different, I still go to church regularly (although now it is at Rez), read the Bible, pray, and read devotions. However, it is no longer out of a sense of duty but a true desire to be there, to get to spend time with the Lord, and grow in my relationship with Him. I still work at the same place as a psychiatrist at the VA and have always felt the Lord has led me to this field. Now I have a new perspective on healing and a renewed and strengthened sense of the Lord’s presence in my life at work, in addition to my life at home, with family, and with others.I love coming to the weekend service (really hate to miss it actually!) and earlier this year completed Growth Track and a LIFE group. Our two sons still attend RCS; our oldest will be entering Kindergarten this year. I have learned a great deal and continue to desire to grow in my relationship with the Lord.