Staff Actions: June 2022
And… We’re back!
Staff Actions returns after a brief hiatus with this word from Sis. Nicole Jenkins, our Community Ministries Director at AOS.
Staff Actions returns after a brief hiatus with this word from Sis. Nicole Jenkins, our Community Ministries Director at AOS.
Hello, my name is Justin Burner, and I’m the student pastor at AOS. Thank you for taking time to view or read this blog.
I would like to reach out to the youth today. Youth that might be out there, searching for a church to call home. I have a few questions for you.
If you answered yes to any of these, this is the place for you!
Here at AOS we have an amazing youth group that wants to see you here!
A little bit about our youth group:
If this sounds like a group you would love to be a part of we encourage you to come check us out!
Don’t just take my word for it – I’ve asked some of the awesome youth from our church for their perspective. Be sure and watch the full video to hear from them. We would love to see you here!
And, in case you were curious, here are some of what we are all about:
The Bible says in Deuteronomy 31:8, “The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
The Bible says in Matthew 6:31-34, “So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or “What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
The Bible says here that God will supply all of your needs. He cares that much about you. Now if you’re feeling like nobody cares for you and that you don’t matter the Bible says in Romans 15:13, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
You may feel like you’ve messed up too much for God to love you anymore. Can I tell you in 1 Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”
That lets me know that it doesn’t matter what you’ve done – and it’s not uncommon. But we serve a God who can wipe all that away as far as the East is from the West.
We would love to see you here! Maybe you’re still wondering what kind of church this is, well you should go to our Facebook page and check us out at AOS Youth and Hyphen, or here at AOS.church. We have services in the youth room at 7pm on Wednesday nights, and we have service at 10am on Sundays. We have a wonderful Youth staff here that would love to meet you!
There are young people here looking for new friends. There’s a God here looking for you to commit your life to Him.
If you would love to come but don’t have a ride then feel free to reach out to us, we will provide transportation.
– Bro. Justin Burner
These are words which we are all too familiar with at this time in our world. The data which I would like to draw your attention is the moments in our nation’s history when people flocked to churches. In times of tragedy and difficulty, churches were where people attended for encouragement, direction and to offer prayer. Pearl Harbor, the Challenger disaster and 9/11 are just a few that come to mind where a vast majority of our nation flocked to church in a time of need.
Covid19 affected our nation in a different way. This worldwide event closed churches for a season. Some have yet to recover. I personally believe it will take years before the full emotional and mental toll will be realized. We definitely live in a changed world.
For AOS, the last few years has brought changes in a very positive way as well. Let me just mention a few ways. This gave us an opportunity to take prayer to a new and powerful level. Jesus had told the disciples they would receive the power of the Holy Ghost, and they would be witnesses, ultimately to the ends of the earth. There were no further instructions, strategic plans, or missions statement given. So, what did they do? They prayed! In these times of uncertainty, the strategic plan for God’s people is prayer.
The way we are gathering has changed. Previously, we were busy going to church, not realizing the blessing of what this meant. We have seen the church survive, even thrive, without everyday use of the building.
Our digital presence has also increased. The digital world is one of our mission fields. Someone said to me a few weeks ago, “Pastor, the livestream is a great blessing, but it is also a curse!” They were speaking about the danger of getting comfortable viewing services remotely from a distance and missing the blessing of gathering with God’s people.
The result of digital only services for a season caused us to discover another blessing. People began longing for connections, and we began to see opportunities to connect we had not explored previously.
In short, the church has been reset in a very positive way. This is a new time in which we minister. We cannot miss our opportunity for the future as a result of missing what used to be. Consider this in reference to the days in which we live. No Jew wanted the Romans to occupy their cities and homeland. In 63 BC, Roman General Pompey captured Jerusalem. Long before Jesus or the disciples, the occupying force of Rome controlled Palestine. What an inconvenience to every Jew. The fact remains – the Romans built roads. These roads were built to facilitate the growth of the empire; to move men and material strategically and swiftly. These Roman roads of the 1st Century were used for wartime activity. They were a hideout for murderers and thieves, but these were the very roads which would propel the gospel throughout Europe and Asia Minor. If you trace Paul’s journeys, much of it was on these very roads.
What roads are being built right now by the occupying force of a virus which will be the vehicle to propagate the gospel around the world? God has redefined our vision. We will not wait for normal, and we will go forward together. These are surely changing times, but also the most exciting times!
– Pastor Calvin Jean
We have a lot of things planned for 2022 here at AOS. Today we kick off Staff Actions, a video series aimed at bringing a different staff member in each month to share a little bit of their vision, or deliver a timely thought for the day.
I’d like to start the series off with a brief conversation about… well, about conversation. As Communications Director at AOS, I’m hoping this year to implement some changes expected to improve our ability to communicate here at the church – as well as outside our walls.
Have you ever read what the Bible says about our conversation – particularly in the Epistles? It’s easy to think those scriptures are informing us how we should talk, but in truth, that guidance goes far deeper than just minding our words.
The word, “conversation” in scripture refers instead to our conduct – our complete expression to those around us. So, the question is, how does your conversation really stack up in regards to this? What does your behavior – as you charge through the grocery store, as you navigate a tense situation in traffic – what message does that send to those around you with regards to your Christian walk? Paul writes in Ephesians 2:3 that “we all had our conversation in times past…” The Apostle Paul includes himself in this discussion – and we all should likewise reflect on our behavior daily.
We need to be vigilant over our conduct, and see it as the precious commodity that it is. It’s often spoken of: how important first impressions are. I’d like to add that continued impressions are crucial as well. People can quickly conclude what we are about, what’s important to us, simply by observing us. Even in those times when we go through parts of our day without actually conversing with anyone, we are continuously broadcasting our intentions, our focus, and our attitude.
Moreover, this idea of conversation as conduct extends further, covering the times when we are alone with our thoughts. In those times, we are having this “conversation” solely with God Himself – a sobering thought.
This is the month of prayer at the Apostolics of Salem, so it’s fitting to stop and contemplate how that “conversation” – our prayer life, that daily, ongoing discussion with God – is key to ensuring our “conversation” – our conduct and behavior – is in line with God’s will and plan for our lives. This year, as I consider the ways I can best help others on the church staff or in the church body with the communications regarding AOS, I want to be ever mindful of what I myself am communicating to all those around me – with or without words.
We are excited for what 2022 holds here at AOS, and are looking forward to hearing from God throughout the year. We are looking for ministries to increase in scope, and for new ministries to get started. We are looking for God to assemble the puzzle pieces that the past few years have left us with. Most of all, we’re looking for His will to be done – in us, around us, and through us.
We’re also looking for you! If you don’t have a church home, we would love to have you join us Wednesdays and Sundays for worship. If you’re not nearby the Salem area, feel free to view our worship services and other content online.
God bless you and yours in 2022,
– pHil Rittenhouse
Director of Communications
As you all are well aware, 2022 has arrived and it seems like yesterday the past year began. Time is marching so swiftly! Surely our time here on this earth is racing to a close. It is with this awareness that we begin the new year.
In a war or battle, plans must be made. Soldiers do not just go around everywhere shooting at anything. There must be the coordination of the strength of the force and a unified effort to defeat the enemy. The same is true in prayer and warring in the Spirit. There must be a strategy.
Beginning January 2022, we will be having 30 Days of Prayer at AOS. This will be a time of focused prayer for the entire church. I encourage each of you and each family to be a part of this prayer focus.
Serious prayer is not a special gift, not even primarily a responsibility. Prayer is a practical privilege. Can we even fathom that the God of heaven and earth, the first and the last, invites us to communicate with Him? What an amazing privilege! Prayer is an invitation to speak to the Creator of the universe. There is nothing more useful in giving our everyday lives more weight and direction.
The command to pray is one of the few truly central and radical things God has called us to do in this spiritual battle in which we are engaged. Prayer plays a pivotal role in our putting on the whole armor of God, getting dressed for this fight. A.J. Gordon said, “You can do more than pray after you have prayed, but you can never do more than pray until you have prayed.” The apostles of the early church realized the important role prayer played in the battle. When they got so busy with the daily necessities of the growing church, prayer and study of the Word began to suffer. They had to restructure to preserve prayer! Prayer plays a pivotal role in what God’s people are called to accomplish for the Kingdom.
To pray is to engage in radical warfare. Merely human action touches only surface things. Prayer gets past the appearances to the root of the matter.
We also pray because the work of the church is God’s work, not ours. When Peter received a revelation concerning the identity of Jesus Christ, Jesus let Peter know he had not figured this out on his own or with his own wisdom. Jesus said, “Flesh and blood hath not revealed this to you, but my Father.” Peter did not figure this out by listening to Jesus’ sermons or seeing great miracles. It required a supernatural event, a divine revelation.
There are things you are dealing with right now that require a divine revelation, a supernatural event. Churches can run without prayer. Entire denominations can run without prayer. The question is, is what they’re doing worth doing if they can do it without prayer?
Jesus said He would build His church, and the gates of hell would not prevail against it. Evil and darkness are as entrenched as they were in the 1st Century. Do we really believe programs, committees and doctrinal pronouncements are going to change this? I am not advocating these things do not matter, I am only stressing these things are powerless without prayer.
This leads me to my last thought. Have you ever wondered how prayer is seen in heaven? We have a description in God’s Word. Angels stand before God holding golden censers. Fire from the altar is put into the censer. The burning incense in the censor is mixed with the prayers of the saints and the smoke from these censers goes up before God. The censer is then hurled back down to the earth, and there is thunder, flashes of lightning and earthquakes.
Now think about the saints of God huddled in their prayer meeting. Sometimes it seems that prayer is not even making it out of the building. The prayer meeting sometimes doesn’t bring with it the sensation of cosmic powers being unleashed, but that is exactly what is happening! When you get down to pray, know that mountains are about to move. This is why we ought to pray in hope. Something is about to happen!
Our enemy knows the power that is unleashed when God’s people pray. I heard it said, “There is never a knock at Heaven’s gate but that it sounds in Hell, and devils come out to silence it.” Let us, as a body of believers, storm the gates of Hell that Jesus said could not prevail against us in 2022.
– Pastor Calvin Jean
As a small child, Sundays and Wednesdays were for church. When I wasn’t in church, it was reminders to pray before meals, before bedtime, or whenever I was scared or afraid. The older I got, I was no longer in church because of things that happened between family members that I had gone with and their places of worship.
That’s when the distance began to grow. I was around 4 years old, and no longer had the same instruction I once did to talk to God and spend that personal time with Him. My young mind went on about my days playing and going to school. Just kid things. Fast forward several years to middle school, the same was true until I began going to church with a friend and her family; although this was different than the previous idea I had of going to church. We weren’t in youth classes. Instead we sat in the sanctuary and drew or colored during the service. I began to notice that when my attention was broken from whatever my focus was upon, the singing and praising that was happening around me gave me a feeling of unease, and I couldn’t figure out why.
Even after I had been going with them for several years, nothing really ever changed. I found myself joining them less and less, until I eventually stopped going all together. The only churches I ever remember being in we’re all Baptist churches, in fact when I was 6 years old, I was dedicated at a church in Calhoun, GA where I had gone for three years.
Upon entering high school, I found myself signing up for classes with the CLC, or Christian Learning Center. It’s a nonprofit organization located off the high school campus in which students can go to daily during one of their elective classes. Their curriculum is mostly nondenominational, but the staff progressively grows relationships with students who seek prayer, answers to their questions, etc. I was able to take the maximum of one class per year, for three of my four years in high school. My senior year was the only one in which I was unable to take those classes, and I missed it so much. It was an escape for me. High school was so stressful, and a time of so much uncertainty, and I definitely felt the effects of not having that time away from chaos. In the three semesters that I spent in CLC, I had grown a lot closer to Jesus through prayer and being in the Word.
I spent a lot of personal time seeking His guidance for my life and for answers to so many questions that I began to have. I searched in scripture and through prayer for these answers, but everything always seemed so confusing. I asked person after person, and listened to sermon after sermon. Yet somehow I couldn’t ever find any explanation that made sense to me.
My best friend since middle school was someone who I often turned to when it came to these things, and we had been going to youth together in the church that she had grown up in. I had also recently started dating a guy from the same church. I called them many times asking about things, just hoping that one of them may be able to finally get it through to me. They were both on fire for God, and spent any and every bit of free time they had in church and with God. They both gave me scripture and continuously made countless attempts to help me understand. We got into topics such as the trinity, salvation, and baptism just to name a few. These are things that I grew up gaining more and more knowledge of their importance.
The whole time I had been dating this guy, we had been in church every week with his family up until this year when COVID hit. At that point, services went to online streaming, but that wasn’t something that we took part in. We allowed ourselves to gain much distance from the Lord. The bigger that wedge got, the more issues arose in our relationship. We had been together for a while, and there were now things that we found we couldn’t agree on. Things progressively got worse and worse to a point where we were both very distant from God. In my heart I knew that was the root of most of our issues, however neither of us were willing to do what it took to fix it. I no longer felt the need for prayer or church or conversation with God. I had turned my attention to worldly things, and completely neglected pretty much anything to do with my faith. I just lived day by day, hoping that everything would go well.
That mindset continued through the end of September when my family had made plans to take a beach vacation. We had searched the entire Gulf Coast of Florida and Alabama with no luck. We searched the Atlantic Coast of Florida and Georgia with no luck. Then we discussed visiting Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg for the week… again, to no avail.
It was at this point we knew what we needed to do. My Grandfather’s last living brother was in the end stages of Alzheimer’s, and had recently been brought back home from the memory care facility that he had been in, in St. Louis. We knew that he was now able to have visitors, so the decision was made to take a week-long road trip to visit with him and other family. Because his son and daughter-in-law, Brent and April Nealey, live in Salem, that’s been our stopping place the past several years when we’ve made the trip up to visit.
We made it up to Salem that Saturday, and shortly after drove over to St. Louis. We did the same on Sunday, and Monday through Thursday was an adventure through a few other states. We ended up on Thursday at The Ark Encounter in Kentucky before driving back home that afternoon. This experience alone was a big eye opener, and helped me discover just how far I had run. Little did I know this was only a scratch on the surface of what was about to happen.
After our trip through The Ark, we were getting ready to leave the souvenir shop when April called to let us know that my uncle had passed. We were devastated. The thought of what just happened filled the atmosphere the rest of that day on our 6 hour car ride back to Georgia. We knew that waiting for us when we got back, was other family down from Virginia, and a family reunion to prepare for just 3 days later.
The next couple days were going through the motions until we knew funeral arrangements. As soon as we found out, we repacked and missed the reunion Sunday to travel back up for the funeral. I spent the majority of this trip in prayer and wondering where I had been going wrong my whole life. We arrived fairly late that evening so we got settled in and prepared for the viewing in St. Louis the next day.
It was mentally and emotionally exhausting, and I still found myself drained from not being able to figure out why I had never been able to receive salvation. I was very bothered by the fact that I had hit my hands and knees in prayer countless times, crying so hard I couldn’t speak, just repenting and asking the Lord for forgiveness. I didn’t understand why it felt like God wouldn’t forgive me. I kept replaying sermons in my head from since I was very young. I remembered how I had always been told that I would “just know” when I had been saved. That I would “feel better”. As many times as I completely surrendered everything to Him, I never got the “feeling” that had always been described. Anytime I asked anyone they said, “Keep praying. It will happen. If it already had happened, you wouldn’t have to ask me.” This was one of the many things that I never could grasp.
All of these thoughts had overtaken me by the time of the funeral on Tuesday. I kept feeling the need to go find April and ask her to pray with me. We had already had several conversations in the week leading up to this regarding our mutual heartbreak and being in prayer for one another. I knew that the only way I’d find the peace I needed to get through this could only come from Jesus. I knew more than anything that I needed to go pray, but I tried every way possible to talk myself out of it. Eventually I found a sudden spark of nerve, and walked up front to sit beside April. I asked her if we could go pray, to which of course she responded, “YES!!”
We walked back out into the lobby where we stood for what felt like an hour just hugging, crying, and praying through the tears. During this time, not only did I feel sadness from this death, but a great deal of conviction. That was when it hit me the hardest that I had to get things right! I had to find answers. I was scared, and HAD to find my way back to Jesus! After funeral services were over that day, we made what felt like the longest drive of my life back home. This trip was also filled with prayer, but these prayers were much more urgent. Praise and worship music is all I listened to with my earbuds so I could drown out anything that distracted me from conversation with the Lord.
The next several weeks after getting back, I had been making a lot of personal changes for the better. I knew that it was of utmost importance to get back to where I needed to be. Bible studies became an every day thing. I began watching The Apostolics of Salem live stream on Facebook every Sunday morning, and every Wednesday night. Each week, I noticed things in the messages that finally started making sense. I started understanding things that I had never been able to. I was finally able to see scriptures in a whole new light that resonated with me on a brand new level.
My life slowly began to reflect this. People who were closest to me had noticed that things were looking a little different in many areas. My boyfriend had started asking questions. He told me that I was a lot different since I had gotten back from the funeral. This was the new normal throughout October and into the end of November. We enjoyed a very blessed Thanksgiving Day with family and friends, yet something was a little off. A few days later he decided that his feelings had changed, and after 3 1/2 years together, he wanted to end the relationship. I was heartbroken. I was so confused and had so many questions that I knew would remain unanswered. I didn’t know what to think or how to feel. We had discussed and been praying about our future together. We had talked to our families about it, and they were praying as well. I called April the night it happened, and as always, was given useful advice and was reassured that God has a purpose. I also knew I had her prayers.
As bad as I wanted to lock myself away and stay alone, I woke up everyday praying for strength and God’s guidance. It got easier and easier as time went on. Each Sunday and Wednesday, the messages seemed to feel more and more personal. December 20, the conclusion to the “Do You See?” series forced my eyes wide open. THIS was the message in which I found the answers to questions that I had spent my lifetime asking every person I could think of! THIS was the message that included the truth that no one had ever told me! THIS is what I have spent my whole life trying to figure out!
I was so overjoyed to finally have these missing puzzle pieces! I called April to finally explain the “changes” that I had been telling her about in my life. I told her that this is exactly what I had been praying for and I had to let her know. We began looking for Apostolic churches here in Georgia that I can call home. Christmas Eve she sent me the “Into His Marvelous Light” Bible study. We went through it together over the phone, and I cannot describe the joy and peace I felt knowing that I had finally received the TRUTH that I had been searching for, for 21 years.
Everyday since, I have been so thankful for the way God took situations like the death of someone who was like another grandfather to me, and heartbreak from losing the person I thought I would always be with, to give me such revelation! This year has been trial upon trial, but in every season God’s grace has been enough! His unconditional love that He has shown me through all of my sorrow, distraction, and even distance from Him is overwhelming, and I am eternally grateful for every step of His plan and purpose for my life!
I know He is doing amazing things, and taking me to amazing places! I am so excited to see what He has in store for me!! My prayer for this upcoming new year is most definitely asking Him to lead me to whatever He has for me. All the glory be to God!
I would like to start off by saying that it is an understatement to say the least that 2020 has been a very off and very strange year. This year, even though we may not like it, or understand it; has gone exactly according to His plan. Because only He knows his plan. Brother Kyle just spoke this past Sunday (12-27-2020) about just that fact. I know our church had amazing plans going into 2020 with different ministries. The church had a plan of revival the likes of which this community has never seen. Personally, I feel like even though things have looked different, at times grim, that does not mean that revival did not happen. Even though the church did not see the revival we would have liked, that does not mean that it did not happen. Brother Jean said at one point that the Word of God was spread more widely than ever in the history of the world this year. I believe that he was right!
(Joh 10:10)The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
The enemy seeks to confuse us, put us in despair, blind us, make us question His word. We as Christians and Apostolics cannot lose our faith in Jesus. What Jesus has already done for us and what he promised he would do is what we must keep in mind. I would challenge anyone who is a born again, Holy Ghost filled, to think as God does. According to His plan and His time. Not ours.
The year of 2020 was a challenging year for the Hanselman household as well. We at first experienced some car issues, or house issues. None of that is especially challenging or to be frank, unheard of. But the real issues really began going into this year with a spiritual struggle within my family. My mom and siblings had a major rift between us. So much so that the previous year we refused to even celebrate the holidays together. It was bad enough that every time I spoke with my mom or siblings we would argue until there was nothing more to say. This spiritual, and most often difference in morals, bled over into my family within my household. There was tension between Kristin and I, not because we were of differing opinions, but because of the approach of how to fix the issue. The goal between us was the same: mend the relationship with my siblings, mom, and me. And with that in mind, that was something I set out to do in 2020.
(Mat 5:43-44) Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
I still consider myself immature in my walk with God. I still struggle at times with the desire to be petty or to say things that I know would really drive the point home and that I should not give in to those temptations. During the times of strife with my family, that was the struggle I dealt with. I am happy to report that this year we all did celebrate the holidays together. My siblings and I can now be in the same room without a feeling of total awkwardness. I still get angry or upset about some things, but where once before I would hold onto that feeling, I don’t anymore. I try to love as Jesus does. To forgive as Jesus does. No matter the case. I give credit of that victory over to God!
The Dreaded Virus!
I remember thinking to myself when Coronavirus was first mentioned back in mid to late November of 2019 “That’s way over in China, it will be taken care of long before it has a chance to make it to our shores.” How wrong was I?! As the threat grew in the weeks before the first shut down fear and panic set in within our community and the world. The massive and often unnecessary buying of goods started happening. I would keep saying to my family and myself that I would not let fear rule over me and my family. We are all baptized and Holy Ghost filled and that would be the shield I would arm to protect myself and my family.
As the shutdown grew increasingly near the threat of furlough started to set in. Then the fear of how we were to pay our bills started looming overhead. We in our household pray every single night as a family before bed. Every night as that threat kept coming, we just kept praying that this virus never touched this community and that whoever was afflicted with it would receive a miraculous healing, leaving no doubt that God has his hand on the wheel so to speak. I cannot speak for everyone that had Covid and was healed whether they give credit to God for their healing, but I know a vast majority of them did. Myself, Kristin, and our kids included.
(Joh 11:38-39)Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it.
Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days.
(Joh 11:43-44)And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.
And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.
The virus is still out there but God is not done yet! The healing is not finished.
Through the grace of God, our bills continued to be paid on time. Food still ended up on our table. We never once had to worry about using leaves instead of toilet paper. We had soap and hand sanitizer. All because God gave wisdom to my family to know not to overspend, over buy, not to be selfish with goods, to be good to complete strangers, and to plan efficiently. Brother and Sister Byers and us frequently checked in on one another and we had plenty of maters for salads and BLT’s thanks to them! I’m so thankful that even though Kristin and I were both furloughed for a short while that because of God’s will, that time off gave us the much needed time to reconnect with all of our children more and grow much closer as a family and a couple. I’m so thankful that I was given more time to delve deeper into the Word. I’m so thankful that even though church couldn’t be live and in person, we have the Rittenhouse’s and the Jean’s and the Kelly’s to continue the spread of the Word over social media with the live broadcasts. I’m so thankful that even though we couldn’t see each other, that during the times where we’d happen upon a church member in Walmart or the gas station that the joy of seeing that person would in a way renew our love for the church.
Some might look at this time with Covid as bleak and dim. I do not. I look at this time as a time to rejoice in what God has done and what He will do. I consider this time of 2020 as a victory and that victory is His!
Covid 2.0!! Return of the ‘Vid!
With the shutdown over and in person learning allowed to return, things really started to look up. Then it struck!! The (I think) over 30 church members infected with Covid, myself and family included. I remember very clearly the events leading up to this time. Caitlyn working at the daycare and not feeling well for a few days. I texted Sister Traci Burner and let her know that as a precaution that we were going to take Caitlyn to get tested, even though we really didn’t think she had it. She displayed no symptoms other than nauseousness, but I didn’t want to send her to work with the unknown. So, we had her tested. My company had it’s every 60 day mandatory testing around the corner and I was set to be tested September 4th. I had no symptoms at all. Testing time rolled around on that Friday the 4th and all went as planned. Saturday the 5th, we took Sister Cheyann out for her birthday. Sunday the 6th I woke up just very tired and feeling off. Caitlyn still felt nauseous. We didn’t feel right going to church feeling like that and risk getting other people sick, so we opted to just watch it online. Immediately after the service was over I received a call from the health department confirming my fears. I was positive. Kristin immediately started staying away from me as well as Emma. I hadn’t seen my other three kids in close to a month so I knew that I could not have spread it to them thankfully. Caitlyn had been told on Monday the 7th, and Kristin Tuesday the 8th.
The days and weeks that followed were grim for me to say the least. Looking back at this time I’ve often said, and still continue to say, how can a virus affect three people in the same house at the same time so vastly different? We all lost our sense of smell and taste, and all had a temperature, but that was the only similarities. Kristin and Caitlyn got over the virus fairly quickly. Probably around 2-3 days I think. I on the other hand had a bout that lasted around ten days. I would run a temp, then it would go away. Then it would come back and then go away. All the time giving me a false sense of hope that the worst was over. The highest my temp got and maintained was 103.8. It stayed like that for several hours until it finally broke. This was on day 9. I was so short of breath starting from around day 2 that I couldn’t even hold conversations without being completely winded. The exhaustion I experienced cannot be described. I kept almost a daily dialogue with Brother Kyle and Brother Phil. Sister and Brother Byers called and checked on us daily. I expressed my deepest apologies to Sister Rissa and Brother Todd for possibly exposing Cheyann to Covid, and thus them.
I kept seeing Sister Traci Burner, and Sister Sandy Byers sharing on Facebook a video from a Dr in Vandalia named Brian Dosset that was actually treating Covid patients. One of the only doctors that not only treated but didn’t recommend you go to the hospital unless the oxygen level dropped below 90. Kristin kept commenting to me that I looked blue and grey at times and it was probably due to me not getting enough oxygen in my blood. She begged me to go to the hospital but I wouldn’t. After seeing those videos of that doctor, Sister Sandy called me and told me about how he helped Brother Tim Jerrel. She highly recommended that I go immediately to see him. So Kristin drove me, as I couldn’t even drive myself at that time. When he checked me out he said that I didn’t have pneumonia yet but had I not come in when I did that within the next day or so that I would have developed it in my lungs. He also said that had I not come in when I did that my blood oxygen level, which was at 91 at the time, would have warranted me to be admitted directly to the hospital. He prescribed me with a regiment of vitamins, medicine and an inhaler. Even though I got all this stuff, I continued to be blue and grey and out of breath for 2 days. Kristin still begged me to go to the ER but I refused because I felt deep in my bones that had I gone to the hospital that I may not have survived. I needed to be around my family and in my own home. I remember telling Kristin that I made peace a long time ago with death and if it was my time and God called me home that I would welcome it, but I wouldn’t be separated from my family under any circumstance.
I finally managed to get well. I’m so so thankful for the people of the church who prayed for me. For without the grace and mercy of God and the prayers of the saints of God of our church, I know I wouldn’t be alive today. Even little Emma was completely spared from having the virus altogether! I love each and every person in our church family and I consider every single person a brother and sister. Those I’d like to give a special thanks are as follows:
– Brother Terri and Sister Sandy Byers and family
– Brother Rob and Sister Faith Barton and family
– Brother Todd and Sister Rissa Stratton and family
– Brother Dale and Sister Traci Burner and family
– Brother and Sister Jean and family
– Brother and Sister Kelly and family
– Brother and Sister Rittenhouse and family
– Brother Lester and Sister Halterman
– Brother Paul Wilkins
– Brother and Sister Pate
– Sister Mariah Adams
All of these families and individuals either called or texted me daily to see how we were doing and expressed their prayers every day for a quick and miraculous healing. I can report that not only is my family recovered, but healed completely. We do not have any residual effects of Covid at all. Our lungs have completely healed.
I give that triumph over sickness to the Lord Jesus! And I give the most sincere, and humble thanks to the people of our church for the prayers that were lifted up for us and the other people afflicted by the virus.
Thank you so much! We love you all!
Covid 3.0… Ugh Again!?
As many of you well know, some of us have experienced not only getting Covid, but losing loved ones to it as well. My wife lost her mother and stepdad to Covid shortly before Thanksgiving. My wife and her mother were not especially close later in life, but their relationship was on the mend before the virus struck them. My wife’s mother (Tammy) passed in the hospital alone on 11/20/2020. Her husband preceding her in death a mere 2 weeks before. Both resided in Georgia. We had to take off work and drive down to Georgia to preside over Tammy’s funeral and arrange for all that goes with it.
We cannot express our thanks and love enough for the love and prayers of our church and the grace and mercy of God. Without any of this, we would have had a much harder time dealing with this loss. I know that through prayer, we were given the wisdom and temperance to get through this hard time.
Even though Kristin and her mother weren’t close, the last conversation that Kristin had with her made me know that not only had they mended things, but Tammy was sure that she would be with her Lord, Jesus! Both Tammy and her husband Ronnie were members of a Pentecostal church in Georgia. This unfortunate and sad event gave me hope in so many ways. I have the hope that no matter the circumstance, that nothing is ever so far gone that it can’t be fixed. It gives me hope that when the Lord calls me home that I won’t be scared, and that Kristin and my children won’t be scared. This event makes me so thankful that I have the love of God any day of the week, any hour of the day and any minute of the hour.
Epilogue… Finally right?
I could go on and on about how God has changed my life and the lives of my family over this past year, but I won’t. I will say this though: God works in a mighty way each and every day. And it never stops. I’ve often told people I’m trying to witness to, or my children that I challenge you to wake up every day and find something to be grateful for. No matter how big or small it is. You can be grateful for bacon, eggs and coffee in the morning. Or the roof over your head, the fact that the alarm woke you up in time, the fact that you woke up at all. For we all know that we are not promised the next breath, let alone the next day and that we are mere pilgrims of this world and we are destined for greater things. Having this outlook has forever and profoundly changed my life. I give all the thanks and glory to God for opening my eyes to view the world like that. I will continue to allow God to shape my life and the lives of my family according to His will and His plans, not ours. And I give thanks to Him for continuing to work on me.
Another thing that I’ve told people is that I want to be a tool that God uses. But not just any tool, one of his favorite tools. No different than the favorite hammer, screwdriver, or knife that we would want to use instead of something brand new out of the package.
Thank you so much God and the Saints of God!!
2020 started off relatively normal. But then COVID-19 arrived and turned our world upside-down. We have never seen church services like these. However, with the wisdom of our pastors, the Church-Without-Walls accomplished more than ever expected. We have co-workers and friends that would not attend church but are now regular attendees on the videos. This has laid foundations all over the world in people’s hearts that we never dreamed of. God is so good.
This year, 2020, has been so very challenging. But through it all, we have learned patience. My family and myself have been greatly blessed. Thank you, Jesus!
Blessings have taken on a new look for me this year, and some are still yet to be fully known in what they have to offer. All I can say is I trust the Lord in what He’s done and what He’s doing. This world and anything it can offer has become completely unappealing to me over this past year at the cost of many sympathy cards sent and received. I guess you can say the cost was a Blessing. This song sums up my personal experience of 2020. Blessings of this kind have caused me to learn of the Lord in a new way and lean on Him unlike never before. 2020 has been about submission. I’m still learning and discovering but I’ve determined to submit to whatever the Lord has planned.
We survived 2020.
A few weeks ago we began having a Zoom family Bible study led by Blake with our 18 year old grandson who lives in Asheville, NC and who has been searching after God. He had been going to a denominal church and was baptized at that church. Two weeks ago Blake taught the “Into His Marvelous Light” Bible study. We had a wonderful time of prayer afterward. The next day Kyle text and said he had been studying the oneness doctrine and it’s so clear he didn’t see why he hadn’t seen it before. He said the trinity is not even biblical. We were so excited that he had the revelation of the Godhead. The he text and said he wanted to be baptized in Jesus name! We were overjoyed. We put him i touch with a church/pastor that would baptize him. This past Sunday he went to church, received the Holy Ghost during the service and was baptized in the beautiful name of Jesus after service. He’s testifying to his co-workers and he is like a sponge soaking up the Word of God!. God is doing marvelous things in our family! For this we give God all the praise!
In the whirlwind of 2020, Betsy and I have had a year full of changes! On February 2nd, I got baptized in Jesus name and received the Holy Ghost. We had plans to be married in May, but then the virus hit; plans changed and Pastor Jean married us in April.
In the year that most people feel has been a curse, God has blessed us with more blessings than we could count. Our church family has been loving and supportive; a great example for a new family to follow. Just the other day, as the year draws to a close, God gave us yet another unexpected blessing. Betsy had broken her tooth several months ago and her insurance refused to cover it, even though it was medically necessary. She tried every avenue to get it fixed, but it was going to cost over $1000. We just kept praying, knowing God would provide. Betsy wound up calling her old dentist in Chicago to see if they could help us. They called us back and said, “Merry Christmas, the dentist is going to fix it for free!”
2020 has truly been a year of 20/20 vision for us. We have seen God as our faithful and loving provider. We are learning to live Psalm 46:10 – to be still and know that He is God. He knows all of our needs. Before we even pray, He has already provided for us.
After my wife passed away in 2018, my family turned away from me but God has blessed me with a new church family. The Lord has helped me tear down walls in my life. God has taken anger and shame away from me and given me peace. I have learned to trust Him alone. I have woken up in the middle of the night crying and praising God for all He has done. People have bought me meals and other things. I’ve been able to help others I’ve met on the street, been asked to pray for people in McDonald’s and Denny’s and at church. I’ve been able to help others through CR also. Most importantly, I received the Holy Ghost and was baptized this year.
In spite of the COVID virus this year, my family has been so very blessed. A couple weeks ago, Lonnie had a phone appointment with his pulmonary doctor. When the doctor learned that Lonnie had not only survived the virus but was well, he was surprised and said, “But he had all the risk factors.” We give thanks to our amazing, merciful Savior, who heard and answered the prayers of the saints. When I personally was at my sickest with the same virus, I would lie in my recliner and listen to Gospel music. My prayers seemed so feeble and ineffective, but God ministered to me through songs. One particular hymn spoke into my heart, “The Anchor Holds”. When the ship is battered and the sails are torn, when we face a raging sea, the Anchor holds. Nothing compares to feeling God’s holy presence during days of tribulation.
My brother became very ill with the virus, just a couple of days after cutting down a tree for his neighbor. My sister-in-law rushed him to the ER after noticing his gray color and confusion. His oxygen levels kept dropping in spite of being on high oxygen therapy. Of course, I’m sure it didn’t help that he kept taking the oxygen off. They sent him home with oxygen and then back to the ER where a CAT scan showed he had multiple blood clots in both lungs. Intercessory prayer was made and today he is slowly getting better. How good is our God?
I made a dear friend at Odin Nursing Home. She was in her mid-forties and bed-ridden, paralyzed on one side. I would visit her weekly and together we asked God for a miracle. My friend died a few weeks ago from the COVID virus. The good news is, she was water baptized in Jesus name and had received the Holy Ghost. She received the ultimate healing. I don’t know why God heals some and takes others, but I do know that whatever life brings me, I have an Anchor.
Bro. Scott Kerns’ posted his testimony on Facebook this past week, and a request was made to share it here for those who might not have seen it. Be encouraged and uplifted!
Among their many other roles, many parents have suddenly become Sunday School teachers in this new reality of staying at home and shelter-in-place orders. Sis. Lanelle Valdez has contributed this wonderful resource to help parents connect with their young children on the matter of prayer.
Click the image below to download this activity guide as a printable PDF file to share with your children!
Fullness can be a difficult feeling to describe. Is there a difference between being full and being satisfied? Perhaps, such a question is worth consideration for the time we are living in where satisfaction has been easy to come by and fullness has; at times, been even easier to achieve. Society developed an adept ability at inundating humanity with a smorgasbord of distraction. Creating satisfied people is not the goal of the world, rather it is filling an individual up with corruptible things that will perish and have no worth in eternity. We have been filled with ambitions, we have been filled with motivation, we have been filled with desire, we have been filled with entertainment, but often these cravings are not spiritual; rather, they are ambitions for more wealth, they are motivations for prestige, they are desires rooted in individualism, and entertainment focused on fallen proclivities over finding time to host the presence of God. In a sense, one can become satisfied with the presence of God in their lives on Sunday and strive during the week to be filled with the smorgasbord of “gray areas” in their lives throughout the week. However, in our current circumstance it has become apparent that “gray areas” have no power to help a person stand. Sure, a few weeks ago maybe your “go-to” coping skill was Netflix, YouTube, or a videogame, but where is their power to fill you up now? Looking back in this way can help us understand what meaningless things were at work populating our lives with distraction. However, now is a perfect opportunity to turn our attention away from being filled with powerless things and become more than satisfied in the Spirit by seeking to be filled to the brim and running over. We see a power inherent in being more than half full when Jesus entered the wilderness in the Gospel of Luke.
And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness. Luke 4:1
The question to ask oneself in this verse is if one can be truly led by the Spirit in the wilderness when one enters it without being full of the Holy Ghost. Consider how important guidance by the Holy Spirit is. The Spirit guided Paul who was shipwrecked, stoned, and hungered. Was Paul’s life full of hardship? Yes. Was Paul’s life blessed? Yes. Did the Holy Ghost change the definition of what it means to live? Yes. Jesus and Paul exemplified Matthew 16:25
For whosever will save his life shall lose it: and whosever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.
Laying down one’s life for the sake of Jesus is how Paul both died and lived. Today we will hear a similar call during the tragedy surrounding the current state of the world: Will you lose your life to save it, or will you save your life to lose it? Without being full of the Holy Ghost you will not have direction in how to lose your life for the sake of Jesus because the carnality and wickedness of the heart will always lean into self-preservation. This is not to say we should abandon being our brother’s keeper by spreading illness, but it is to say, that an excuse of powerlessness will be just fine for the flesh to lead you into selfish living. However, today is a day where God desires us to be led of the Spirit in the wilderness not to save our lives, but to lose them (in selflessness) that we might truly live. When you are full of the Spirit, God will lead you into wilderness places where you will experience the transformation of leaving behind satisfaction and entering a fullness with God where life eternal has filled your being.
In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in the darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. John 1:4-5
For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. The light of the body is the eye; if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness Matthew 6:21-23
The question is are you looking for comfort today in distractions and medical breakthroughs in the world, or is your eye being directed by the Holy Ghost to a wilderness where God will change you? If you are full of the Holy Ghost, God will show you how to surrender your life in order to find life that is the light of men. When you are full of this light, this Holy Ghost, your eye will be single in vision and directed by the Spirit in the wilderness place. Darkness and light are not equal in power; rather darkness is simply the absence of light. Darkness is so much different than light it cannot comprehend it. A comparison would be if a candle were lit in a hurricane. The winds could blow all they want, but light is so different from darkness the winds will never be able to make the candle flicker. When you are full of the Holy Ghost darkness will try to stone you, it will try to make you feel starved, it will try to make you feel shipwrecked with no hope of rescue, but you will arise, you will be filled by the Word of God, and you will know where your help comes form. Today we are in a wilderness situation, but we are not without hope, it’s time to pray like the next second is the moment we will meet him in the air. We need to take inventory of what can be sacrificed, we need to evaluate what we have been giving to the kingdom of God. We need to consider our relationship with God and how long it’s been since we actually experienced change. If you are not changing you’re not walking in the wilderness and that’s the place God wants to lead you through, but you have to be full of the Holy Ghost. So, today, let’s get full of the Spirit. Let’s remember the outpouring in the upper room and the birth of the church. Let’s be Apostolic and remind ourselves that living in the Spirit was never about saving our own lives/soul, but about surrendering it to the God who loved us enough to die on a cross for our sins. Let a renewed call to repentance and consecration arise so the wilderness will be a place where your life will not be lost, but rather be given for the hope of truly experiencing the life that is the light of men. Be full today.
by: Bro. Blake Byers
This was a message given in prayer to Sis. Claudette Walker, who was kind enough to bless us all by sharing it.
The Lord said, “Oh, that My people were as aware of the virus of sins and weights that that can so easily beset them as they are aware of the Coronavirus! The finish line of your race is near! I need for my people to DISTANCE THEMSELVES from all sin and distractions. FOCUS ON ME as a bride focuses on her groom the days before the wedding. BEHOLD, I COME QUICKLY!! Check your lamps to make sure they are full of oil! Be FULL OF MY SPIRIT! Seek to be LED BY MY SPIRIT in these days of turmoil and uncertainty.”
I encourage you to fast as the Lord leads you. We need to be informed but do not let your spirit be pulled down by a steady diet of the news. Remember to quote and live Phil. 4:8 and 9. We must THINK ON THINGS OF GOOD REPORT. Watch anointed sermons. Listen to anointed music. Take regular PRAISE BREAKS THROUGHOUT THE DAY. Sing to the Lord. Dance in your homes. Have verbal testimonies of all that God has done for you. Read the Word often.
We must more than ever … BE THE CHURCH!!!
Pastor’s wife, Faith Apostolic Church of Troy, MI