Stories of Faith

Stories carry power. Your story can work in life-changing ways, just like the stories captured here. If you would be willing to share your story of God’s ongoing work in your life, we would love to hear it. Send your story to us now! For help in telling your story, check out this resource: Telling Your Story brochure.

Facing ProblemGrowingHomeRevolutionSliders

Throughout our life, there are challenges. We have them…we worry about them…we fear them. And truth be told, none of us looks forward to them, so let’s just call them out for what they really are – problems. Major problems packed with trouble that cause us pain! How many of us avoid dealing with our problems at all costs? Sadly, this reluctance often ends up making our problems worse.

Worse still, are the missed opportunities we have to grow spiritually. We have to understand that God wants us to have problems.

Chapter 4 of Peter’s first letter prepares us for this. God uses our problems to direct us, inspect us, protect us, and ultimately perfect us. Our problems are a test of faith and should fill us with joy (James 1:2-3). Paul added that our problems, although small and temporary, will bring us great glory far beyond that of our troubles (2 Corinthians 4:17). But perhaps the most encouraging of all scripture, Romans 5:3-4 promises that by faithfully enduring life’s problems God gives us strength and pours His Holy power into our lives.

What problems have you encountered? How has God brought you through these problems to a better place? I can trace the betterment in my life back to each major hurdle God has helped me to overcome and see the wisdom in why God laid these obstacles before me. Most of these times God placed others into my life at the right moment to help me jump higher than I could alone.

Soon, our church will once again host families facing the problem of homelessness. As Christians, we can respond as directed in 1 Peter 3. Whether or not any of us have been homeless, we can do much to help alleviate and support others who are. Please pray deep and hard about what God calls upon you and consider how you may support our Growing Home ministry.

Unalakleet Water Leak

This July, Adam London, Covenant Youth of Alaska, told me about water leaks in the buried pipe system in Unalakleet, Alaska. Their village’s water tank, whose water level was normally at 20 feet, was down to about 6 feet. He explained that they don’t know where the leaks are to repair them. The discussion sparked in my mind a geophysical survey that I’m very familiar with to help locate those leaks. While I’d used the survey successfully on earth-filled dams, I couldn’t find any publications reporting the use of it on water pipe leaks.

A week passed, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Only one day of prayer was needed to have peace that it was the Lord’s will to go. I Facebooked Adam with my idea, and that same day the Unalakleet city manager, Scott, called. The very next week I was on a plane bound for Alaska. By the time I arrived in Unalakleet, their water tank was down to an alarming 2 feet!

I didn’t have enough vacation hours built up to complete the entire survey, so I asked the city manager if they had anyone who would be willing to be trained. He did: Gus and Saul. Both men were very hard workers and were daily putting in 12 to 14 hours of data collection with me. Ideal conditions for the survey to succeed would require that the soil be uniformly moist, and God blessed us with a week of rain before I arrived! We had beautiful weather during the survey allowing us to collect a lot of data without being slowed down by nasty weather. (The week after I left, it snowed in Unalakleet.)

During the survey, people came up and told me that they had been praying that God would send someone to help them find their leaks. I observed the love and service that the locals show to one another and it was such an incredible example of Christ living in us –they are a warm, kind, and friendly people. Through our survey, we found many locations that were candidates for leaks, but my flight departed before digging began.

I have since heard that the very next week they found a huge leak below one of our suspected locations. As soon as they fixed that leak, the water tank began filling for the first time in a very long time. Two weeks later, they would see the tank water level increase to 15 feet.

This was a real testament to prayer. These dear believers had prayed for God to send help. I prayed about this idea I had to help them. As I was there, friends and family prayed for the success of this survey and that the Lord would be glorified through it. God is so Good! May all of us draw near to Jesus and drink from the “living” water only He can provide.

Brian Rodriguez

Jeanne Solum Perry

Pastor John recently preached from the Book of Daniel, Chapter 3, which follows the lives of Daniel’s three friends. When they wouldn’t bow down and worship the golden image, they were brought before the angry king. He told them he’d throw them into a fiery furnace. As recorded in Daniel 3:16-18, they said, “Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us out of thine hand, O King. But if not, be it known unto thee, O King, that we will not serve they gods nor worship the golden image which thou set up.”

Over fifty years ago, God gave my husband and me twin girls. One was stillborn and the other was severely mentally challenged. The day we drove to UCLA in California to learn the prognosis for our little Connie is a memory I’ve never forgotten.

On our second trip to UCLA, we learned Connie was completely helpless and would never develop beyond that condition. It was a big blow to us. We had packed Connie’s suitcase feeling confident that surgery on the top of her head would allow more room for her brain to grow.

Returning to our car with tears flowing down our cheeks, we bowed our heads and gave little Connie to the Lord. It was at that moment, the Lord gave us from our memorization of the Word, the very verses in Daniel that Pastor John had preached. As we prayed on that day long ago, we reminded the Lord that we (as Daniel) knew that He was able to heal our baby (we believed that truth with our hearts), but if the Lord did not see fit to heal our Connie’s brain, our faith and trust would still be in Him!

The peace of God filled our hearts and we dried our tears. When we returned to the doctor’s office, we were able to tell him that we understood Connie’s prognosis and our faith in God, whether or not He saw fit to heal her, would not waiver. If she wasn’t healed, He’d give us the grace and peace for what lie ahead for us.

Jeanne Solum Perry

Benevolence is a Church-Wide Endeavor!

As an active member of the Benevolence Mission team, I’ve learned that benevolence isn’t simply about a handful of volunteers, but its acts of benevolence demonstrated by many in our church!

Some examples, using fictional names, are the following:

ACKC Team-
In addition to Sharon needing food, she was troubled about her two children having a rough start to summer. Their dad, just released from prison, had been re-arrested.

I realized how Sharon’s kids would benefit from a week at ACKC where they could forget about the confusion of adult actions. I gave her ACKC vouchers to bring them for the entire week at no charge. Some days, benevolence can’t happen without ACKC!

Nursery and Praise Teams-
A young couple, Tina and Casey, sought help with gasoline and infant formula. I gave them a King Sooper’s card to cover both needs.

Upon their request, I led them on a tour of ACC. I explained about the nursery with its trained and loving team of volunteers, and I pointed out the “Cry Room”, enabling them to still be a part of the Worship Service even with a fussy baby.

I shared about our talented Praise Team, leading the music at both our Worship Services-one traditional and one contemporary where everyone is welcome.

The dedication of the Nursery and Praise Teams provide needed benevolence!

Library Team-
Some days at ACC, life is busy. I then seek a quiet spot in the library to talk with a person in need. Karyn’s story was familiar – hard times, intermittent work, and help to pay her utilities and buy a little food.

I told her I’d return in shortly and to browse the library. When I returned, she said, “May I take this book on the table that says, ‘Free-Take'”.

I said, “Absolutely!”

Our dedicated library team is intertwined with the Benevolence mission.

OASIS Kitchen Team-
While eating dinner at OASIS, I noticed a member of the Benevolence team eating dinner with a couple I didn’t recognize. They were neighbors, and they had recently asked for assistance from the Benevolent fund. They had then then been invited to enjoy a dinner at OASIS.

Because of the OASIS Kitchen team, we can invite a family in need to dinner and offer an opportunity to celebrate Christ’s love. They are essential to our efforts!

The Office Staff-
In our absence, the office staff meets our neighbors, explains the program, and gives food from the pantry. They are key to keeping “other resources available” papers, other food items available, and even bus routes.

Our computer experts are essential, as they helped, George, who had recently lost his job in metal fabrication locate a job with Jefferson County. Even though life had hit George hard, he left us feeling the kindness and skills of the office staff. He knew God had been there for him!

Anyone who helps a person in need is part of the foundation for the Benevolence Mission team. ACC is united in its belief to demonstrate its benevolence toward all!

Roy Poole

Sue Hutton

The first part of October 2003, I received a miracle from God! He has always taken care of me and been with me whenever I had problems or accidents, which have been many. I’m “an accident waiting to happen” so you see, he always blesses me.

This time my husband was at our cabin cutting down a 60′ tree that was a problem. He tied it very carefully to an ATV and another tree. I came out to help, so we discussed where I should go, where I should stand, etc. When I saw how stubborn the tree was, I gave it an extra tug. As it began to fall, I ran to the bank of the river. Instead of falling the way it was cut to go toward the ATV and tree, it fell sideways and hit me across my left shoulder, throwing me over the six-foot riverbank. I was knocked out and fell into the bank, hitting my ribs against a tree root.

When I came to, I examined myself by moving extremities, etc. I could hear my husband calling. He couldn’t see if the tree had hit me. He helped me up the bank and we made it down the mountain to the hospital. They found nothing wrong with me, no bruises, broken bones, NOTHING! See why I call it my miracle? My God is an Awesome God!

Sue Hutton

A God-Sighting

This past July, short-term missionary, Caryn Camp, and her five-year-old daughter, Kristen, were traveling from Colorado to their home in Taiwan. They were walking from the domestic side to the international side of the San Francisco Airport.

They had stepped onto a long escalator moving people up to the next level. Caryn was burdened with carrying suitcases, and Kristen stood about ten steps ahead of her. A man at the top of the escalator was about to get off when he dropped his large suitcase. Before he could grab it, the suitcase tumbled down the escalator, heading directly toward Kristen. Caryn froze knowing if the suitcase hit her little girl, she would most likely fall and be hurt. All Caryn could do was pray!

Miraculously, even with the suitcase picking up speed as it fell, it stopped right before it reached Kristen. She didn’t even flinch. The man quickly retrieved his suitcase and was on his way. Caryn praised the Lord for his protection and sovereignty!

Once they got off the escalator, Caryn double-checked to see if Kristen was OK. Realizing she was fine, Caryn again praised the Lord for answered prayer and protecting her child from injury.

Kristen’s grandma, Phyllis Camp, (Oma to Kristen) shared this story.

Phyllis Camp

Kinsey R

We live in such a changing world. People are not as open to talking about Jesus as they used to be. In fact, mentioning Jesus can be a sure way to end a conversation. I have always found it easier to talk to people about Jesus after serving them in some way. I think people are a lot more open to conversations about Jesus when they see your faith in action. I got the opportunity to do that recently through a program started by Women Ministries.

Meals Made Simple is a monthly event sponsored by Women Ministries where women can come fellowship together while preparing meals in advance. I love it because I can put a meal in a crockpot while I’m at work and come home to a house that smells wonderful. It’s tends to be much cheaper than the Qdoba runs I make when I’m unprepared for dinner. Women Ministries received a grant from the Mission Opportunity Fund at our church to make scholarships available for these meals to go to women going through hardships.

Last month I applied for a scholarship for a friend from work who is a single mother recently diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. I know she is struggling financially because of her expensive treatments. After working with her for a few years, I gather she may have been hurt by a Christian or the church. I knew she wouldn’t come to our event if I invited her. But I decided that wouldn’t deter me! Instead, the women at Meals Made Simple in June helped me put together meals for her. I surprised her one day with five meals at work.

The next day two thank you cards were on my desk. One for me and one Women Ministries. In her notes she says – Thank you so much for the meals you prepared for me and my girls. It touched my heart that people who don’t even know us were so thoughtful and giving. It will definitely make things easier on those late nights! Than you for your kindness and support. I say thanks to whoever it is that is watching out for me (not quite back to the church yet).

I am so thankful that I was able to put my faith in action because of the scholarships paid for by the Mission Opportunity Fund. I could tell this made a profound impact on her. Something as simple as a few meals reached her heart in ways my words could not. I hope this will open the door to future conversations. If there is a way you can make a difference in a life by something as simple as a few meals, please let me know. I would be happy to give you the criteria for the scholarships and the information on the next Meals Made Simple event. What a simple way to put your faith into action!

Kinsey R

Ceil Higgins

When I was a young woman in my twenties, my husband, Dave, our two small sons, and I lived in San Diego, California faraway from family and friends living on Long Island. If it wasn’t for Martha, my pastor’s wife who became my mentor, I wouldn’t have grown in my faith and learned to bless the sorrows that burst into my life.

It was the late 1960’s, and the sorrows that flooded my life came one-by-one. I lost my three closest childhood friends, Joe, Big George, and Little George to the war raging in Viet Nam. It was an “unpopular” war where many did honor the courage and sacrifice of our soldiers. When I shared my grief with neighbors about losing those fine young man; some shrugged it off, and one even said, “They’re baby killers. They deserved to die.” I was spinning out of control but still trying to manage a life filled with the needs of two active toddlers. It was Martha who came along beside me, encouraged me, shared God’s wisdom, and told me that my friends’ lives had mattered even though their lives were cut short, dying before their dreams could be realized. She took the time to become my safe harbor in the storm raging about me.

Then, we lost Dave’s dad to a sudden-death heart attack. He was only 50 years, and Dave was just 27. Big Dave was a tool-designer working on the Lunar Excursion Module that Neil Armstrong took that “first small step and giant leap” for mankind. We were devastated at his loss, occurring only three weeks before that famous moon landing. Again, Martha was at my side sharing God’s love and comfort. It was Martha that patiently listened and helped us in too many small ways to count. It was Martha that took our sons to the 4th of July picnic and fireworks show, as Dave and I frantically tried to find a way to fly to Long Island for Big Dave’s funeral. In those days, money was in short supply in our home.

God places mentors in our lives because He knows our needs. They listen, they comfort, they encourage, and they offer God’s wisdom. I learned well from Martha, and I’ve tried to follow her example if only in small ways. Martha said more than once, “To really understand another person’s story, you have to listen with your heart.”

Tom Williams

This past Lent, I participated in an unusual way. For 40 days, I gave up consumerism. I avoided buying anything that wasn’t an absolute necessity. Food was allowed, but a new iTunes download wasn’t allowed. Repairing the car if it broke down was allowed, but buying a new tool was off-limits.

I don’t spend a lot of money on ‘stuff’, especially stuff for myself. I research major purchases and save the money for them. Then, I pay for them out of my ‘allowance’ in our home budget. So a consumer fast seemed simple. During the fast, I would be saving my allowance for a spending spree that could occur after Easter. It would be equivalent to a period of fasting from your favorite foods, but afterward, indulging at an all-you-can-eat buffet.

To my surprise, when I began not to spend, I suffered withdrawal. The first week I was besieged by things I’d notice. I’d say, “I need that” or “I want that”. I thought I’d handle this pheromone by making a list of things to buy after I completed the consumerism fast. But the list got long, and it wasn’t helping me. I went cold turkey and stopped the list: if things were needed, I’d remember them after Lent.

After a couple weeks I noticed surprising benefits. I had more time in my day, which I attributed to freeing up time spent shopping. And I realized that much of my time on the Internet and with newspapers and magazines was devoted to looking at ‘stuff’ that seemed like it would be interesting to own. To put a sharper edge on eliminating these consumer activities, I labeled them ‘consumer pornography’. When I stopped those pursuits, I had more time in my day.

Then, I noticed that not only did I have more time in my day, but I was happier. I hadn’t realized that so much of the ‘stuff’ that calls out to be bought issued a false promise-stuff would make you happier. The obvious conclusion – if I didn’t own it, I’d be unhappy. Now that my consumerism fast is over, I realize the importance of not focusing on the things I thought I wanted, but rather I’ll focus on my contentment and happiness with the things I do possess.

Tom Williams

Laura Rodriguez

I was fresh out of high school, doing a summer student internship in Honduras. One day the eight of us American students headed to the powerful waterfall of Pulhapanzak. Like many other tourists to the area, I had been there before and enjoyed watching the mighty waters from the ledge above – taking pictures and smiling at the fine mist that sprayed up from 100ft. below.

A young Honduran man joined us and he spent the next few hours guiding us down to the base of the waterfall, and back up again. We hiked over boulders, through pools, into caves, behind the falls and through them. It was when we were passing through a smaller waterfall that I saw an image that will probably stick with me for the rest of my life.

I was directly behind our guide when he stepped through the wall of water and I completely lost sight of him. I was afraid of what laid behind the falls – what if, when I stepped forward, I didn’t find firm footing and was swept downstream by the rushing waters? In those moments of hesitation, I saw my guide’s hand come through the white sheet of water, reaching out to me. I placed my hand in his and stepped through the waters as he pulled me through to the other side.

I have often thought of that moment in times when I feel like I’ve lost sight of God or His path for me. I’ve been embarrassed to share such times with others or even admit them to myself. It feels like something must be wrong with me, something wrong with my faith. But I have come to recognize those times as part of the journey; part of God doing what He knows is best to prepare me for what is to come. It is in those times of silence that I’ve learned more about His faithfulness, of my own need to rely on His perfect timing, and how to be more faithful to Him myself.

And when I grow discouraged, when I’m tired of waiting, when I’m afraid I’ve lost the way or feel stuck in the desert place, I remember that hand reaching out to me from beyond what I can see. I choose to grasp hold of God’s Word and His proven faithfulness and hold on until He pulls me through to the other side. And so far, His paths have been pretty amazing.
“Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.”Psalm 27:14

Tony Marquez

I was born into a Roman Catholic family, and I was raised to believe in the church’s teachings. But my life changed when I was a sixth grade Catholic school student.
A nun accused me of talking in class. I told her I wasn’t talking, but she called me a liar. It escalated, and she hit me on the back of my hand with a pointer stick and demanded that I quit lying. Again, I told her I wasn’t lying. She hit me again. , I said, “If you hit me again, I wouldn’t stand for it.” She hit me again. I was already six feet tall and weighed 185 pounds, so when I hit her, I knocked her out.

Afterward, a priest paddled me 25 times. When I was sent home, my parents and my brother beat me. When I went to Confession on Saturday, the priest wanted me to kiss his ring and say 100 Our Fathers, 100 Hail Mary’s, and 100 Acts of Contrition’s so I could go to heaven. I refused. I told my parents I would never return to church or school. They enrolled me in a public school. I was the only kid with a Spanish name, and I started fighting.

One day I was late for school, and the teacher accused me of ditching. I said I was late but not ditching. He called me a liar. Again, the situation escalated and he hit me-twice, causing me to bleed. I was about to fight him, but the gym teacher arrived, and he threw me out of school. I walked home, got a knife, and I was returning to school when the police stopped me. I was sentenced to Juvenile Hall for 6 months. After I was released, I was expelled from every public and parochial school I attended. Then, I worked for six years before I enlisted in the Army and was deployed to Vietnam. I didn’t know it at the time, but the Lord was watching over my every step.

When I was twenty-nine years old, my father died. Together, we had accepted the Lord, and I attended church. Then, my life changed again. During a robbery at my workplace, I was hit on the head with a metal pipe and suffered my first stroke. I didn’t walk or talk for a year. For the next 21 years, I blamed God and stopped attending church. But while I was panhandling on March 3, 2011, I met Kenny Shoemaker, a member of Arvada Covenant Church. He prayed with me and my burdens lifted. I’ve attended ACC ever since. I was baptized on June 11, 2011. Thanks to ACC, I’m growing in my walk with Christ.

Tony Marquez

My Story….

I have found it difficult in our modern age to find safe and meaningful ways to serve others with my young kids. That’s why I wanted to share about Soup’n Serve, a Women Ministries event hosted this fall. It was an afternoon for women to gather and serve other women! I thought it would be a perfect event to do with my daughters.

Samantha, my 10 year old, and I packed a bag of essentials for women at Hope House and Theodora House. As part of the packing we were encouraged to write a note to the woman who would be receiving it. After the first bag was finished, Samantha jumped in with gusto and took over the entire process for the woman at Theodora House who would receive our bag. In fact I was banned from having anything to do with writing the note! She chose a beautiful verse of encouragement and followed that with these words:

“Please never forget how much God loves you. He is never far away and will always love and believe in you.”

My friend, Glory, goes to Theodora House faithfully, leading bible studies and got to be a part of the team that delivered the bags to the women. After church she shared with me the rest of the story.

After gathering all the bags, dinner and other donations together, the team prayed and headed out. They set up the dinner and during the meal told the women that they had some goodies for them – which got them excited!

The pink bags had been stashed away until the appropriate time. I wish we could have recorded their reactions to receiving what was in the bags. They were so grateful – they kept thanking us. One lady in particular came up to Glory crying as she showed her the card that was in the bag. She said that the bible verse and the words expressed on the card was something that really touched her heart. And Glory got a glimpse of the handwriting – it was a child’s writing. You see the woman at Theodora House needed the soap and razors, shampoo and brush for her body but her soul needed the note.

God’s timing is amazing – and who he chooses to use is not limited by age, talent or gender. He is limited only by our hearts.

Now, Glory and I don’t know for sure that it was Samantha’s note that made it to that specific woman, but we rejoice that the words of our daughters and the actions of their hands extended the arms of Jesus to a woman in need.

Myron L. Treber

In the late 1970’s, my career started its downward spiral. Changes and issues had occurred within the companies where I held my first two jobs, and both times, I found myself unemployed.

In 1978, I was hired as Director of Administration for a large C.P.A. firm. After several months, I determined that I couldn’t thrive in this environment. Nonetheless, this was a stabile position, and I tried to make it work. Eighteen months later, my only motivation pushing me out of bed – I had a wife, Donna, and four children to support.

I knew something was haywire in my life. I began to attend Eisenhower Chapel, a refugee for people working downtown, three lunch hours per week. I wrestled where my walk with the Lord was heading, and what He might have in store for me.

One day, Jesus made it clear to me – although I had accepted Him as my Savior in 1956, and I was active in church activities, I had never made him Lord and Master of my life. I had a spiritual life, a wonderful wife and family, but I was more focused on my career than on Him. I wept with regret, realizing that I had never turned my life over to Him. It was then that I made that commitment. In 1979, God opened the door to change employers, and the rest is history.

It’s important to be involved in church activities, to do your best to provide for your family, and to accept Christ as your Savior; but what’s most important is to make Jesus the Lord and Master of your life. It will provide you with a peace that passes all understanding. My prayer is for God to bless you to that end.

Myron L. Treber

Greg Smith

One morning I received a call from my tearful sister. Through hand-written notes, Dad had convinced family and doctors that the ventilator keeping him alive should be removed. After years of suffering with Parkinson’s disease, his life was slipping away. With blood clots in his lungs, he knew the effort to prolong his life was futile. He wanted to talk with his family and pastor before dying. He had chosen to completely put his life into the hands of the God who created him.

I spoke with him briefly on the phone before catching a flight to Dallas. He said, “I’ll try to be here when you get here.” Forty minutes after disconnecting the ventilator, breathing became unbearably painful, and Dad was drugged unconscious.

The next afternoon my sisters beautifully sang “Be Still My Soul” at Dad’s bedside. I kept glancing at him and then at the monitor screen, a gut-wrenching representation of a life ending. We all gathered around him.

Respiration went to zero, the heart flat-lined, and red lights came on along with a steady warning horn. He was gone. An empty shell of a body lay there-he had gone to heaven to meet Jesus, the Savior he had trusted for decades.

We all cried, but I believe the moment he died was the most wonderful relief, full of fantastic joy. It was the beginning of life without end, a life to be lived more fully than anything experienced in 84 years on this earth, and a great reunion with loved ones, all in eternal peace.

My father, Paul Smith, faced death with amazing boldness and peace that came from completely trusting a loving God who has power over life and death, the source of true peace. I hope to do the same when my time comes.

Greg Smith

Dave Higgins

“Tom’s Story”

The event took place at Pastor Wes Swanson’s house in the Colorado mountains. Pastor and his lovely wife, Carolyn, have planned a day of rest, sun and beauty that only exists in Ward. About forty people arrived at the request of Tom to celebrate his life. A day that was so beautiful, colorful and filled with memories.

Tom’s life is very interesting and filled with things that you wouldn’t expect. He now has cancer and is working hard to be cured. A battle we all pray he wins!

Tom has a life that started on an all time high living on the campus at Stanford University with a family of privilege. Mid way, Tom fell to an all time low, only to rise back to a new, different, all time high. Remarkable!

Why did all these people come this day?

Most of us couldn’t remember when we met Tom. It seems he was just there, and we knew him. He was everywhere and is and will always be.

After much to eat, we settled down to comment on when we met Tom and why we remember him so well. How did this guy touch so many?

A common theme is his love of Christ and his sharing of that love, his passion for prayer and his constant contact with friends all over the place to share his faith.

My take is a little different. Tom does something that separates him from the pack. In my case, Tom brought Dick Clark, a consummate entrepreneur, and me together at his house for dinner. He did it because we each had needs and potential and Tom wanted it to come out. He brought us together and the Lord helped us move forward.

This is something Tom does all the time. He sees talent and need and does something about it. Dick and I became close friends and we worked on his idea, Sadly, Dick died from cancer sometime later before we could perfect and complete his idea.

This period of my life has been inspired and is leading me to working with entrepreneurs.

Everyone talked about Tom’s giggle that is his exclamation mark, signifying his time to move on!

Dave Higgins, 9-10-2011

The Triplett’s

Our daughter Lydia is 3 years old and has Down Syndrome. We have participated in the Step Up Walk for Down Syndrome (previously known as the Buddy walk) for the past four years. Lydia was 2.5 months old for her first walk. We have put together “Team Lil Lydia” for each walk ever since and will continue to for many years to come.

The walk is put on by the Mile High Down Syndrome Association and is held in late September every year and it is the largest fund raising event of the year. This year there were 148 teams consisting of 3200 people walking and raising $266,000 for vital programs to assure inclusion and enhance independence of people with Down Syndrome. MHDSA achieves this by providing education, resources, and support in partnership with individuals, families, professionals, and the community.

We had such a wonderful time this year at the walk as we have at each of these walks. It is great to see the Down Syndrome community gather to celebrate who they are and what they have to offer. It is also nice to see all of the support there is and how much love there is in the world. Many of our family and friends were able to help support our team by walking with us and also by financially contributing to our team. Jackie, Lydia and I are so blessed to have such wonderful family and friends to support us.

Sometimes we hear and focus too much on the negative things going on in the world and it is very refreshing to be part of something like the Step Up Walk where one can be recharged with knowing that good is all around us all of the time. We are really looking forward to the day that Lydia is old enough to understand how great it is to have support of friends and family so that she can feel as touched and blessed as we do. God has a purpose for all people and His design is perfect. I know that God has great things in Lydia’s future and we feel honored to be Lydia’s parents and have a “front row” seat to see how it all unfolds.

God is great!

The Triplett’s

Tom Shoup

With magnificent mountain clad views to the west and peaceful lake views to the east, many a person drank in the beauty of God’s creation. Wes and Carolyn Swanson were hosting a “Celebration of Life” gathering for their brother in Christ, Tom Shoup. It was a beautiful day, a day never to be forgotten for Tom was very much alive in Christ as friends gave their testimonies about him.

Suddenly out of the blue, Nickie interjected, “Because of your love, I want to be like you, like you, like you, like you, like you, like you,” as she pointed to at least six people. “I want to become a born again Christian.” “You” is a reflection of all the joy and love the folks at Arvada Covenant Church had shown her during the last couple of months. Nickie wanted that love, that joy, and that peace the goes beyond all understanding. What better celebration of life is there than Nickie asking Christ to come and live in her heart?

Thank you, Arvada Covenant, for walking the walk and talking the talk. The Holy Spirit worked through you to bring Nickie salvation. The next day, after reading the sinner’s prayer, Nickie received Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior as she signed and dated her new Bible given to her by the Gideons.

Jackie Bembenek

Some years ago, we were on a Sower project (Servants on Wheels Ever Ready) at New Tribes Mission just 25 minutes from Douglas, AZ. The Sower men had left to build better housing for a poor Mexican family in Mexico on our day off. That same day another lady and I decided to drive to Douglas for some groceries. That same morning, it was put into my mind that I probably should memorize the Mission’s phone number, just in case I needed it sometime. Little did I know then, that I was going to need it. On the way home from the supermarket and about 10 minutes out of Douglas, my car’s timing belt conked out. I could tell when the speedometer needle slowly went to zero. I pulled off the road. Both of our husbands were in Mexico. We did not have cell phones and here we were, two old ladies stranded. Now here is where it gets interesting – I noticed a business about a half mile up the road, so I walked to it, found they had a phone and had that phone number in my head. I was fortunate that someone answered the phone at the other end. I told the Sower our situation and about 20 minutes later, here comes a truck and several Sowers with a heavy chain to tow us back to the project. On the way back, I noticed there was not one business or building that I could have phoned from. The Lord stopped me just in time where we did stop. Not only did He do this, but He put the idea in my mind about the phone number. The story does not end here – one of the airplane mechanics was waiting for a part for a plane and was free to put a new timing belt in our car. The Lord was working overtime that day. I had a hunch He wanted us to help in the mechanic’s support, which we have done ever since.

God’s Gifts from Hand to Hand

About a year ago, a stranger walked into Arvada Covenant Church in need. She wasn’t “poor” by the usual standards, but the world’s challenges were starting to pile up. Her son was fighting a battle with cancer. This had redirected her finances. In order to continue her home-based business, she needed help. Nothing complicated, just a check to cover the cost of her internet connection for one month. Her church had been unable to help her, and she found her way to ACC. The Deacons and the Benevolence Mission of ACC supported this struggling mother. They wrote a check for the modest amount and prayed with the mother for God’s continuing support. Recently, the mother returned to ACC. But this time, she shared how much the earlier gift had meant to her. Her son is winning the battle over cancer and her home-based business is prospering. She felt led to return $100 of the gift that she’d received earlier, so the Benevolence Mission could continue to support those in need. We are often given gifts from God. They’re not necessarily ours to keep, only for us to use, before passing on to others. Your gifts to the Benevolence Mission are truly a Gift from God.

Roy Poole

A thumping and vibration in the car at 65 mph? My grown daughter and I were on our second day of a road trip from Virginia to Colorado and were just in northern Kentucky. I discovered two of the four lugnuts were missing from one wheel.

Well! We could go no further. I tried to tighten the remaining two lug nuts, and drove slowly to a nearby gas station. The mechanic wasn’t on duty, but there was an auto parts store a mile down the road.

I drove 200 yards and realized we’d never make it. As I pulled into the front lot of a steel fabrication company, a pickup truck followed us. The driver had seen our wobbling car and offered me a ride to the auto parts store. We left my daughter and the car there.

The store had three bolt studs in addition to the lug nuts. I don’t know why, but I took all three. I really only needed two, but the last three bolt studs went into a bag.

When we returned to the car, I started to remove one of the lug nuts, and the bolt stud broke off. I really did need that third one!

Then I needed a big socket wrench and an air compressor, which the owner of the steel fabrication company gladly offered me.

Just two hours after the wheel had nearly flown off the car at highway speed, we were back on the interstate, headed for home.

I know I’m not lucky enough to have all those things happen: I was behind the wheel , not my daughter; a man just happened to follow and offer me a ride; I bought an extra bolt that I didn’t know I would need; and the required tools were available. I realize this was all a gift from God.

These days, I call them blessings. And I always remember to thank God for each one.

Roy Poole

Steve Smith

My daughter was born forty five days premature. We were able to take Jennifer home only after she had a lengthy stay at the hospital. One odd thing about preemies is that they are able to suck, breath and swallow, but sometimes as they are doing one they forget to do the other. My wife, Amy was home alone with Jennifer and had just fed her. She was holding our baby when Jennifer started turning blue. Amy realized that she had stopped breathing. She called 911. The operator talked Amy through what she should be doing and sent an ambulance.

At that time I was working at a union controlled work place. It is illegal to just leave your job and you could get fired for doing so. On this afternoon I got a call from Amy saying: “Jennifer has stopped breathing, we are going to the hospital.” … click. I immediately went over to the chairman and said that I was leaving and why. I did not wait for permission from the foreman. I just left. Jennifer was more important to me than my job.

I have heard that a person has to have an open hand when it comes to their possessions. We need to be willing to let God take whatever we own. Whenever I felt that I was too possessive with something that I owned I would open my hand and symbolically give that thing back to God. As I was driving to the hospital I drove with one hand on the steering wheel. The other hand was open to God. I wanted to bring to bear all the resources I had at my disposal. But I knew that that was not good enough. That my best action was to place Jennifer in God’s hand. I had to do it continually because I wanted to take control. I drove all the way to the hospital with one hand on the steering wheel.

When I reached the hospital and walked down the hall I heard Jennifer’s cry. I was so relieved that she was crying. God came through for me that day in more ways than one.

Steve Smith

Ron Davidson

Three years ago I decided to shave my head to raise money for St. Baldricks. There was a group of guys from the Arvada Chamber of Commerce that created a team, they asked if I would like to get involved. It was for a good cause and a I was not too attached to my ever graying hair. Reece, age nine at the time, also decided to shave his head. We raised over $2,000.

The week after I shaved my head a customer came into our store and asked me “why did you shave your head?” I responded “to raise money to fight childhood cancer”. This woman who I had spoken to several times in the past started to cry, she had lost a son to cancer just two years before. “Thank you, you don’t know how much that means to me” she said before she hurried out the door. The memory of this interaction still stirs deep emotions inside of me. I am so very grateful to God for my two children, the strength, and energy they have, losing my hair is too little of a sacrifice for what I have been given.

Now, this year and last, I have shaved my head with a different group at Arvada West High School. The older son, the one who survives, of the woman that was so moved by the first time I shaved my head, organizes a St. Baldricks event in memory of his brother at his high school.
(This year Ron and Reece decided to dye their hair green before shaving it as an extra incentive for the fundraising. It worked!)

Ron Davidson

Cheryl Meakins

The Daniel Fast

Fasting was a discipline that I had seldom attempted. And it had not been broached in my life for over 20 years. Last year God challenged me to begin fasting once a week, specifically for the ‘impossible’ circumstances in my life. As I began this journey he brought to me books, people, scripture and stories about fasting.

I quickly learned that fasting was not the act of rubbing the proverbial lamp of God, where he suddenly appeared and granted my three wishes. Rather, it was the action that was loudly proclaiming to Christ and to my soul that I desired to know God and his perspective on the ‘impossible’ more than I desired food.

And then… God kept upping the ante. By the fall he led me to fast from sugar substitutes for a month (yes, that meant no Diet Pepsi!) and by Christmas it seemed that he was challenging me to give to him three weeks in January through The Daniel Fast.

In January a group of 10 women joined me and made a commitment to know God more. I practiced a Daniel Fast, others sacrificed the extra half hour of sleep in the morning, and still others fasted from food one day a week or abstained from certain foods for the entire three weeks. God led each of us to a different sacrifice but the results were the same.

Every single one of us could tell you about knowing God more. There was a common thread of renewed joy in our salvation, an awareness of sin, and remarkable answers to prayer. Answered prayers varied from courage to face fears, increased self-control, guidance to an over the counter medication that gave health that no prescription medicine provided, and a daughter proclaiming her belief in God.

In the end, all of us talk about continuing in this renewal of spiritual disciplines; journaling, prayer, memorization, reading scripture to name a few and how this experience really only left us wanting more. More of God not food!

Danette Purdy

Blessings during the holiday season are many and found in unexpected places. This year after going through a Divorce Care program at Arvada Covenant Church, I wanted to give back for all the blessings God had placed in my life. I let Pastor Nate know that I and a few from the group wanted to adopt a family for the holiday season. He related that there were two families, linked by tragedy, in desperate need of help this holiday season. All they desired was a gift for each of the young children and a Christmas meal.

Within days I had commitments from 10 families desiring to help. Their generosity allowed us to purchase gifts for the children, their parents, two Christmas dinners, with enough left over to fill their pantries with food and household items to last a month.

Delivery day was December 23. Both families were excited to receive us. The first home had a two year old with only a doll to play with. Her eyes lit up as I pulled some books from a bag and she climbed on my lap to read about a snowman. The second home was filled with children. Within minutes their tree was filled with presents to their delight. Each family knew that God had blessed them.

After praying and talking with this family, I left feeling overjoyed. Within minutes I received a call from the victim’s advocate for the family, reporting that they couldn’t believe that there were such wonderful people in this world! This woman would be able to give the little she had saved for a Christmas dinner to another family, because we had taken care of all their needs. This is the power of Jesus. We are so blessed to have been used by him to touch these lives.

Cecile Higgins

The four of us would race along the ocean’s edge dodging driftwood, mussel shells, and seaweed. Joe, Big George, Little George and I would play war – they were the soldiers and I was the nurse. I’d patch their pretend wounds drenched with ketchup stolen from their mothers’ pantries. No one ever got hurt except for an occasional splinter, jellyfish sting or sunburn. No one ever died. We’d all run to our homes when our mothers called us for supper.

That all changed when we grew up, and Joe, Big George, and Little George became real soldiers and took that long flight to a place few had ever heard of – Vietnam. One-by-one their mothers called me to say they had been killed in battle. On the home front, most people didn’t seem to care. Some people even called them war-mongers and baby killers. Some spit on the flag that covered the coffins that brought their bodies home.

For a long time, I was not only filled with the sadness of losing my three childhood friends, but I tasted the root of bitterness. My anger only deepened with time. Even when I saw their names engraved on the Vietnam Wall, it didn’t ease my sorrow. I thought the wall to be a cold, dead stone – godless like my country had become. For years, I sought God’s wisdom through prayer. How could losing my friends in a war where few cared whether or not they lived or died mean anything?

One chilly, spring afternoon when I was walking in the woods behind my home, a simple answer came to me. Although it was simple, it transformed me. My three friends only lived to be in their twenties – and only Joe left behind a wife and son born after his death, but their lives counted. They counted to me, to their families, and to those who knew them. Joe’s keen intelligence taught me to be curious and to challenge. Little George’s faith, even evident as a young boy, helped bring me to mine. And, Big George’s courage caused him to sacrifice his life while saving the lives of others. Their lives did count. Their lives had purpose. Their lives helped me to put my life in perspective. It helped me to forgive those who hated them simply because they were soldiers.

God has helped me to understand that everyone’s life has a meaning – has a purpose, no matter how short or long that life might be. No matter what the mood of the country might be. My friends’ sacrifice has taught me to value everyone and to trust that God’s purpose will always be fulfilled even when we don’t understand.

Lynn Yoder

A year ago, my doctor told me that I had prostate cancer. Never being sick in my life, I thought I was going to die. Later, I was told that I was going to have treatments everyday for 40 days and 40 nights (something Biblical about that).

The same week my treatment began, my other doctor called and told me that the spot on my arm was melanoma, and I needed immediate surgery. Now I was positive I was going to die.

I was physically and mentally exhausted having both treatments at the same time. Then, I had to have a second surgery, as the melanoma was still present on my arm. I was discouraged.

After treatment #26, I went to bed that night, and as always, prayed for healing. I went to sleep, got up and went to treatment #27; I came home and went back to bed. Before I went to sleep the word TRUST came to me. I didn’t think much about it and went to sleep. When I awoke the word FAITH came to me. I repeated the two words God gave me – TRUST and FAITH.

God wanted me to have FAITH that He would heal me. And if I would TRUST Him, He would take care of me. He said that He wanted to talk to me each day through prayer and tell Him my problems and that He would listen. He also said to start reading the Bible and understanding Scripture. I thought of the people in the Bible that had faith. I said that I could have TRUST and FAITH. I thought of Prov. 3: 5-6 – trust in the Lord with all you heart. Every day I prayed asking God for healing and for directions in my life. Soon the treatments and surgery were over, and I was on the mend.

By the grace of God, I am a healed man. God works in strange ways and His plan for you may take a sudden turn just to get your attention. He has my full attention. Do you have a complete relationship with Jesus Christ?

Dave Higgins

When I was just a boy, a neighbor lady changed my life. Growing up on rural Long Island in the 1940’s and 1950’s, my parents were solid, hard-working people, but they were not church-goers.

Miss Arlene lived down the street with her parents. When I was about nine-years-old, she started asking the kids who were playing outside in the neighborhood if they’d like to come to her house on Sundays to eat homemade ice-cream and sing songs.

Several of my friends and I went to her home, probably more with the thoughts of eating ice-cream than singing songs, but Miss Arlene proved to be a beautiful Christian lady. She taught us to sing Christian songs, and she told us the stories in the Bible over-and-over until we knew them by heart. It was while eating ice-cream at Miss Arlene’s house that I learned to recite the books of the Bible.

Miss Arlene left a powerful impact on my life as a boy. If she had not taken the time to invite us kids to her home where she dedicated her Sunday mornings, many kids like me would have never come to know Christ. To this day, I have the Bible that she had given me several years later – my first Bible. The inscription reads, To David, From Miss Arlene, 1953.

What a simple thing to do – invite kids in your neighborhood to your home and teach them about the love of Jesus. They were simpler more innocent times when I was a boy. Today a woman inviting kids to her home to eat ice-cream and learn the Christian message might be arrested, but the need to bring children to Christ is as strong as it has ever been in our society. Perhaps more of us need to step out in faith like Miss Arlene did all those years ago.

Joy Olson

He was three years old and on his way to surgery for a genetic defect, singing, “Jesus loves me, this I know.” As the drugs took effect, he recited his bedtime prayer, “Now I lay me down to sleep… ”

A year later, he went back to the hospital for complications. Something wasn’t right and his fever just kept climbing. The doctors and nurses struggled to start intravenous fluids. His veins would not allow life-giving fluid to pass.

The doctor told the parents there was nothing more he could do. Their little boy may not make it through the night. The parents asked God to deliver their son. But if it was God’s will to take him home, it would be ok, so long as he did not suffer.

A minister came to the room and prayed with them. The mother tucked in her little boy and sang the Sunday school songs he remembered.

Shortly past midnight, the boy awoke and asked, “Mommy, could you turn out the bright light over me? I can’t sleep.”

With tears in the dark room, she answered, “Sleep Dear, Jesus came and is covering you with His light to comfort you and help you to sleep.” Through the night the mother stood over her son as he began to rest and be comforted from the fitful restlessness that had plagued him.

In the morning, the doctor and nurses came in to hover over the little boy, who was awake and talking to them. The doctor said, “I don’t believe this, but his labs have all come back normal and his fever is gone. We are going to get fluids into him and if he does well he can go home.”

The miracle boy is our son, Eric, now 38 years old. He still has issues from surgery, but through the years he has had three healings. God’s mercy and love are the messages we share through Eric’s story.

Ron Oehlerking

This past July, God was truly present at our King’s Team Camp. He was at the core of a teachable moment for two young boys who’ve had some violent and miserable times in their lives.

King’s Team is a camp for teens, twelve to fifteen years old, who are in the foster care system. Christian counselors and the staff caring for and mentoring the teens are volunteers.

At camp, one of “our boys” stole an I-Pod and cell phone belonging to one of our camp counselors. The guide was a young college girl working the summer at camp. The young counselor came to me and told me about the incident. She asked, “Grandpa, can I talk to a couple of your boys privately?” I assured her that it was OK to speak with them. Out of my concern for her safety, I “hung around”.
She confronted the boy about taking her I-Pod, and she asked him to pray with her. Also, she read a few verses from her Bible. In her prayer, she asked God to forgive the boy and please repair his heart.

After she finished with the boys, I decided to speak with them. I asked if at any time in their troubled lives had they ever taken something that didn’t belong to them. They both replied they had and on many occasions. Then, I asked, “Did the person you took something from ever sit and pray for you and read the Bible to you”? Through tears, they said, “No”!

God provided a teachable moment for these two boys – boys who had known misery and violence in their lives. But here was a young Christian girl, not much older than the boys, with her heart focused on the Scripture and prayer that made a major impact on their future.

Each summer, Ron and Pauleta Oehlerking faithfully serve as Grandma and Grandpa at Royal Family Kids’ Camp and Kid’s Team Camp.

Ed Holroyd

I’ll never forget the day my heart stopped beating.

One day after my sixty-fourth birthday (1/12/09), I was in Lutheran Hospital undergoing a simple but boring test, trying to show my doctor that sometimes my heart beats more slowly than it should. After twenty four minutes, the test recorded a slow pulse.

Then, the unexpected happened. My heart stopped – not one beat was recorded! Immediately, I fainted. People had to tell me later what happened next.

Since I was hooked up to an EKG, which was hooked up to the hospital computers, alarms sounded when my heart stopped. Cardiologists came running from adjacent rooms. My attending cardiologist was one of them. He told me to cough, and even thought I was unconscious from fainting, I apparently did so. My heart had stopped beating for only seven seconds. The coughing jiggled my heart into a very irregular beat for the next eleven seconds, and then into a clean rhythm. A few hours later, my wife, Gail, and I were able to return home.

Later my thoughts revealed that the episode was a sudden and painless way to die and go to heaven. It would be a nice event for the final time of heart stoppage. The miracle about my story was that the cardiology ward of the hospital was the perfect place for my heart to stop and be revived. If it had stopped anywhere else, I would now likely be enjoying the benefits of heaven.

On November 13, 2007, my older daughter’s heart stopped while jogging in a residential neighborhood. Her heart had stopped for a few minutes, not seconds like mine, before she was rescued. But this is her story – her miracle – to tell.

For more details, visit Ed’s web site

Martin Mauer

In an effort to get to better know our neighbors, we hosted a block party.

For the past twenty-two years, we’ve lived in our current home and have gotten to know many of our neighbors fairly well. Our home backs to the King Soopers, and as a result we don’t have neighbors living behind our property. A combination of original families (1968) and newer families live in the neighborhood.

We hand delivered our invitation to each of the sixteen neighborhood homes, using this as an opportunity to meet a few of our neighbors for the first time. In addition, we asked each neighbor to fill-out a questionnaire, which provided us with their contact and family information. We garnered the information and created a booklet.

At the party, we gave a booklet to each household. Also, we made it a point to give the booklet to the neighbors who were unable to attend.

We provided a light lunch and beverage. Other neighbors brought appetizers and salads. In all, we had seventeen neighbors attend representing ten of the homes. We enjoyed a relaxed time, without any agenda, getting to know one another better.

Too often, we waive to our neighbors throughout the year, but we don’t take the time to sit and talk with them. At our block party, we learned of one neighbor battling cancer, others with health issues, up-coming trips, remodeling projects, and some of the early neighborhood developments. We discovered a block party is a simple event to help develop and strengthen the relationships with people who live around us.

As a post-note, our neighbor with cancer passed away. It was nice to have our neighbors’ contact information to share this sad news. The neighbors made financial donations and provided a large meal the day before the funeral to help feed the friends and family that attended.

Debbie Hardy

To look at me, you’d never guess what my childhood was like. You wouldn’t know that I was raised in “the projects” in Cleveland, the fifth of six children of a stay-at-home mom and abusive dad. I learned at an early age to put on a “plastic face” for the world.

When my husband Bryan was diagnosed with cancer a short time ago, I was sending e-mail updates on his condition. When adding a word of hope or encouragement to each message, I had to decide if I was going to put on another “plastic face” or if my faith in God was real.

After much prayer and tears, I decided that it’s real. It is so real. And God gave me the courage, strength, and hope every day to just put one foot in front of the other.

I asked God to show me the hope I needed, and He illustrated it in so many unexpected places: quotes in TV shows, movies, newspapers, books, and scripture from my morning devotions all contained something that would get me through the day. That’s what I shared-the hope that I found and how it helped me.

That hope extended to my readers. Some changed their attitudes about their own problems; others became more devoted to their spouses and committed to their marriages; still others restored relationships with family members that had been broken for years. One friend, who was also dying of cancer, found the peace he needed for his own passing after watching how Bryan and I faced death.

Ironically, God gave me Hope in more ways than one. I’ve written a book for cancer caregivers titled Stepping Through Cancer, A Guide for the Journey, which will be out early next year. God gave me Hope through that book. My editor and good friend is … Hope … Flinchbaugh. I thank God for hope!

Mark Delahunt

Because of a lack of oxygen, I nearly died at birth. As a child, I was diagnosed with dizzy spells and put on medication. When I was ten years old, a doctor diagnosed me with epilepsy and put me on the proper medication.

Later when I learned the epilepsy would stay with me for the rest of my life, and because of the seizures, I couldn’t drive a car. I was angry with my mum and God for the limitations. I didn’t go to church or read my Bible.

Twenty days after my twenty-first birthday, my dad died. But this time, God drew me close to Him, and I sensed his presence as a father.

After I married and the birth of my first son, my seizures worsened, going from convulsions to black-outs. I would collapse. Bumps and bruises covered my body. I started to attend church and was baptized. For five years, my wife and our friends prayed for me and my seizures stopped.

I had been reading my Bible when the Holy Spirit entered my life. I prayed that I could stop taking my medication and still not have seizures. It wasn’t until I took the Majoring in Men curriculum that I realized that I should live to be like Christ and walk in faith. Ten years ago, God told me to trust Him and to stop taking my medication, and I did. My seizures have never returned, and I now have my drivers’ license.

Jesus directed me to teach in the Majoring in Men curriculum with its goal for men to live in Christ’s likeness and prosper. He made me a wholly new person healed from my disabilities. As a result, I’ve set up a ministry, Maxim Warriors. Its goal is for men to live by Christ’s example in all aspects of their lives. I’ve written one book and started another, knowing with God nothing is too big or too small in His plans to prosper us.