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Featured Articles

New Music Review: Orlando Rodriguez

orlandoOrlando "Substance" Rodriguez has officially gone nationwide with his latest release.

The Grand Rapids-based singer-songwriter has been working these songs for the past several years. But "Turn the World Off" made its USA chart debut several months ago, when his song "You're There" reached Billboard Magazine's list of "most added gospel singles."

Navigating between urban and Christian contemporary sounds, Rodriguez features numerous ballads and several up-tempo tunes on this collection. "Living Blessed" boasts tight harmonies with an urban beat and dashes of hip-hop assisted by his label mate Watchmane.

The Whole Sex Talk is New Ally for Tongue-tied Parents, Churches

twst3Tongue-tied parents and church leaders who are ill-at-ease discussing sex and abstinence with children and teens have a new, biblical-based ally designed to help them to communicate God’s best for physical intimacy, love and relationships while reducing the number of abortions performed.

The Pregnancy Resource Center of Grand Rapids, 415 Cherry St. SE, recently launched The Whole Sex Talk: Dangerous. Beautiful. Gift., a six-session program (recommended length of time for each of the six sessions is one hour) that shepherds parents and churches in how to have ongoing conversations with kids about sex and its consequences before marriage and why it's God's best to wait until matrimony.

New Christmas Book Will Delight Children and Parents

Author PhotoGlenys NellistGlenys Nellist lives in Rockford, but a book published in her native England is the inspiration for her Love Letters from God series of books for children.

When her four sons were young, they loved the book "The Jolly Postman, or Other People's Letters" by Janet & Allan Ahlberg. The story has a postman delivering letters to fairy tale characters, with children able to open the envelope on each page and pull out the letter addressed to their favorite characters.

Nellist brought the book with her to the United States when she and her husband David moved here several decades ago, and it became the inspiration for her own children's books. Her first book, "Love Letters from God: Bible Stories" came out with Zonderkidz in 2014, complete with lift-the-flap letters from God written for young readers.

"I love to write, so when I decided to write a storybook Bible I needed it to be unique because there are so many out there," said Nellist. "God whispered, 'Remember those little letters? Write letters after the Bible stories as if they're from me.'"

Kingsbury Offers 24th Book in Baxter Family Series Just in Time for Christmas

COVERBestselling author Karen Kingsbury has written many books, 24 of which are part of the Baxter Family collection. Her most recent is "The Baxter Family Christmas," released just in time for this holiday season.

The book is first in a new collection featuring the Baxter family. The second, "Love Story," comes out in June 2017 and a third next fall. "The Baxter Family Christmas" has John Baxter eager to bring his family together on Christmas Eve. He also wants to invite the young woman who received daughter Erin's heart after her untimely death.

Some of his family are happy to meet her, but some want nothing to do with this stranger who reminds them of their deep loss.

"I try to create people who are real and readers can relate to," said Kingsbury. "Readers see themselves or a family member in these characters."

Donut Shop’s Closing Highlights Need for Mel Trotter to Come Alongside Least of These with Wide-Ranging Services, Programs

Dennis VanKampen No. 1 Mel Trotter Ministries CEO Dennis Van Kampen: “My greatest satisfaction with working at Mel Trotter Ministries is seeing someone live the life they were meant to live.”When small businesses close their doors, it seldom generates a blip on news organizations’ radar. That wasn’t the case when Propaganda Doughnuts decided earlier this year to shutter its business, stirring a divisive buzz about the public’s view of the homeless — and what can be done to help them.

Formerly located at 117 S. Division Avenue, Propaganda Doughnuts’ owner and landlord said the reasons they closed the donut shop was because customers often complained of panhandlers begging for money, public urination, sleeping in doorways and on sidewalks.

Propaganda Doughnuts was based in the Heartside district, an area in downtown Grand Rapids that’s bounded approximately by Fulton and Wealthy streets and Grandville and Lafayette avenues.

“Old Time Radio Variety Hour”

strongtowerStrong Tower Radio QuartetA throwback to the sounds of yesteryear is helping introduce West Michigan to a new Christian
radio outlet.

The "Old Time Radio Variety Hour" is a Christmas program performed to a live audience on Sat.
Dec. 10 at Wyoming Seventh Day Adventist Church on 44th St SW .

The production is courtesy of Strong Tower Radio affiliate WNHG-FM (89.7) which signed on
locally last summer as part of the Strong Tower network. The event offers a peek behind the
curtain of the medium's "golden era."

Terry’s Picks: December 2016

EVENTSWest Michigan Christian News writer Terry DeBoer surveys the landscape for the area's faith-based arts and entertainment events over the coming month. Here are three highlights for December:

MercyMe, GR Symphony, Combine for Holiday Concert

MercyMe ChirstmasMercyMe – (l. to r.) Nathan Cochran, Mike Scheuchzer, Bart Millard, Robby Shaffer, Barry GraulMercyMe guitarist Barry Graul says playing alongside a symphony orchestra is heavenly.

"Having that musical atmosphere in and around everything the band is doing...it's just icing on the cake," said the artist from his home near Nashville, Tenn.
"Those musicians are all such great players – and way more professional than we've ever been," he laughed.

The award-winning, inspirational pop band joins the Grand Rapids Symphony for a Nov. 29 concert at Resurrection Life Church in Grandville. Also featured is the Res Life Church Choir. The band has its own Christmas concert the following night in Kalamazoo (details below).

After the first portion of the evening during which MercyMe performs several of its Christian radio hits (including the seminal "I Can Only Imagine"), the band is joined by the symphony for holiday music drawn largely from last year's album, "Mercy Me, It's Christmas."

Former Planned Parenthood director affirms, ‘My goal is to make abortion unthinkable’

PRC 2016 Gala Cutline No. 1Abby Johnson: “We don’t spend enough time on our knees in prayer for the conversion of the heart.”When it comes to revealing Planned Parenthood Federation of America's tactics to nudge women to abort their babies, Abby Johnson pulls no punches.

Johnson admits there was a time she was a staunch supporter of the nonprofit organization known for providing women and men reproductive health services, which in its view must include abortion.

She previously believed in protecting and expanding its reproductive health services, a euphemism tied to, but not limited to, abortion.

But no more.

Local Author Pens Book for Children

scrappyAbby Van Wormer loves kids and love cats, so it made perfect sense for her to write a
book for children that features a big orange cat.

"Scrappy's Search" stars Scrappy, a charming cat who is helped by lots of folks in the
neighborhood but who longs for a real family and forever home.

"The story was inspired by a cat that came to our family when we lived in Oregon,"
said Van Wormer. "We were moving to a new house and the cat just ran into the
house. We kept putting him out but he wouldn't take no for an answer. The family
adopted Garfield, as he came to be called."

Christmas Music Heralds The Holiday

Troccoli Kathy winterThe Christmas holiday is fast approaching, which means that Christmas concerts are even closer.
Music of the holidays – already on the radio and in retail stores - comes to West Michigan stages
right after Thanksgiving.

Church pageants and Christmas musicals abound – but note that Calvary Church's "Festival of
Lights" is in year two of its hiatus due to the church's construction project. The East Beltline NE
church is expected to resume the series next year.

This round-up concentrates on the larger scale events and concerts from out-of-town artists. The

Facebook Video Streaming Increases Outreach to Native Americans Beyond Church’s Four Walls

4Fires Video Streaming Cutline No. 1Thanks to video streaming on Mike Peters’ Facebook page, many more are hearing about Jesus’ Good News.Editor's note: West Michigan Christian News continues its occasional series that updates the ministries and people previously featured, this time with 4Fires Ministry.

On Wednesdays at 7 p.m. EST, an average of 15 people arrive at Northland United Methodist Church, 1157 Northlawn St. NE in Grand Rapids, to worship the Lord in a Native American contextual ministry known as 4Fires. About 20 minutes later, people from across the nation and around the world join them without walking into the church.

The reason the number of people hearing the Bible study mushrooms is because of live video streaming Facebook makes possible. But it gets better.

Another 200 to 300 will hear Mike Peters' sermons after they're posted on his Facebook page, which can be found online.  People must first "friend" request Peters in order to watch his online messages.

Local Author Offers New Way to Organize Prayer Life

Pray A to Z CoverAmelia Rhodes admits to offering up quick prayers for those in need, but forgetting to pray long-term for those needs. Her prayer life was more haphazard than helpful so she figured out a way to get more organized.

Rhodes began a blog series offering an organized list of things to pray for and downloadable cards for readers to print and create their own lists. Readers asked for sturdier cards, so Rhodes and her husband began developing a stand and card pack in September 2015. By March 2015, the Pray A to Z card pack/stand were available for purchase.

Now that initial idea has expanded even more thanks to her new book "Pray A to Z: A Practical Guide to Pray for Your Community," to be released Tuesday, Nov. 15, by Worthy Inspired ($14.99).

"My hope is that readers will become more engaged and excited about their prayer lives," said Rhodes. "I hope the book will be a starting point, that readers will get excited about their relationships with God and go deeper and farther."

"Pray A to Z" offers five topics per letter; three are prayers of petition and two are prayers of praise. For example, the letter A has readers praying for Adoption, Abuse and Alcoholism, and offering praise for Abundance and Almighty.

The letter C offers prayers for Cancer, Court Cases and Caregivers, and praises God as Creator and Comforter.

Local Artist Ready to “Jam” on National Tour

Malcolm Steve pointing 1000 Steven MalcolmSteven Malcolm is heralding January 8, 2017 as a dream come true.

Amidst the hoopla with the late October announcement of the gigantic Christian music Winter Jam tour, area fans may have missed the addition of a local artist to the bill.

"I will be performing at the Van Andel Arena in my hometown," gushed Malcolm, a Grand Rapids-based music artist, to his 11,000-plus Facebook followers.
The 25 year-old hip-hop artist is officially part of Winter Jam, a cavalcade of Christian music artists which travels to 46 cities from January to April playing in major arenas. Along with top-selling artists such as David Crowder, Britt Nicole and Tenth Avenue North, Malcolm is part of the "pre-jam" opening act roster for the January 8 event, which has an admission price of $10 at-the-door.

His slot on the prestigious tour comes in tandem with his recent signing to a national record label – "4 AGAINST 5" (in Roman numerals, "IVAV"), a hip-hop imprint of industry giant Word Records.

His self-titled national debut releases early next year. The first single - "Hot Boy," with a beat which bounces off a keyboard riff - is already available, listen to the lyric video online.

"I use the phrase 'hot boy' to say I have a burning passion to glorify God in everything I do," he said. "God has given me the gift of music and I want to be on fire with it."

The Conquerors Demonstrate How to be Strong in the Lord

The Conquerors cutline No. 1000 Mike “Brickhouse” Benson starts to give a steel rod a new shape.Mike "Brickhouse" Benson grabs hold of a steel rod and does something with it he calls the Tylenol Bend. The feat gets its name because it's a sure-fire way to trigger a headache.

Wrapping a cloth around the rod's center, Benson places it on his head and with the sheer strength of his massive biceps, bends it into a U shape.

Applause and shrieks of amazement arise in the cafeteria at Discovery Elementary School in Kentwood where around 400 kindergarten to 5th graders are gathered to witness feats of strength at a recent motivational assembly that's fronted by Benson's Grandville-based the Conquerors International Strength Team.

Other strength demonstrations included Yago "Batman" Williams successfully snapping a baseball bat in two and blowing into a hot water bottle to the point of it bursting. Benson bent a 12-inch frying pan into the shape of a burrito while giving a horseshoe an entirely different look.

Hacksaw Ridge: A movie about a Christian man called a coward that saved 75 American lives

poster02Directed by Mel Gibson, Hacksaw Ridge is a faith-based movie that tells the true story of Desmond T. Doss, a medic in World War 11 and, because of his Christian faith, Doss fought as a conscientious objector. Tagged a "coward" and constantly prodded by military commanders to "go home", Desmond hung tough and stayed, going on to save 75 lives. He found the injured men following the battle at Hacksaw Ridge, and lowered them to safety by rope, facing great danger every time. He kept praying each moment after saving one, "Lord, just give me one more," and then he prayed this way again and again, until he had saved the 75.

Doss was a Seventh-day Adventist, and his conscience was guided by a framed poster of the Ten Commandments and the Lord's Prayer, one his father had purchased where Doss grew up in Lynchburg, Virginia. An image on the poster of Cain holding a club above his dead slain brother, Abel, is an image Doss never forgot. He asked himself how a brother could do that to his sibling.

According to the book, Hero of Hacksaw Ridge, written by Booton Herndon, the men of the 77th infantry told him, "When we go into combat, Doss, you're not comin' back alive. I'm gonna shoot you myself!" They added, "You're nothing but a coward!" But Doss stuck to his firm belief that his mission was not to kill, but to heal. His fellow soldiers changed their minds after being rescued by him and seeing how he put himself at great personal risk.

Terry’s Picks: Nov. 2016

EVENTSWest Michigan Christian News writer Terry DeBoer surveys the landscape for the area's faith-based arts and entertainment events over the coming month that might be overlooked. Here are three highlights for November:

The Garden St. Francis Inspired

Mic Carlson Cutline 1235 Sculptor Mic Carlson stands near one of his sculptures depicting St. Francis preaching at Assisi, Italy’s Temple Minerva.Surrounded by towering trees at the Dominican Center at Marywood, 2025 E. Fulton St., is an urban haven of undeveloped land that invites visitors to till the soil of inner peace and learn about a man's steadfast devotion to Christ.

The 11-acres of terra firma is called the St. Francis of Assisi Sculpture Garden that first started taking tangible form in 2009. Work continues today to make the pathway into a continuous loop as funds become available.

For King & Country: Light Shines on Message

Luke l and Joel Smallbone at Dove AwardsLuke and Joel Smallbone of For King & Country at the 2016 Dove AwardsIt's a movement that includes a book, feature film, song and now a concert tour.

"Priceless" contains a message for justice presented on multiple platforms by singer-songwriters Joel and Luke Smallbone and their band For King & Country.

"When we began traveling as a band several years ago we started to share (about the tragedy of human trafficking) and were amazed at the response," said Joel Smallbone, 32, from an office in Nashville, Tenn.

"We knew there was a bigger story to be told," he said of its emphasis on God-given human worth.

Their "Priceless" concert tour stops in Muskegon on Nov. 4.

The theme is woven through their song "Priceless," which topped Christian radio charts last summer, and the August release of a book of the same title (Worthy Publishing).

Band Embraces “Opening Act” Status

Hawk Nelson235 Dan Biro, (left) and his band Hawk NelsonThe Christian pop-rock band Hawk Nelson doesn't mind serving as an opening act for the better-known Tenth Avenue North.

"We actually love supporting other artists," said bass guitarist Dan Biro from his Peterborough, Ont. home. "There's just more strength when you're together."

The tour comes to Community Reformed Church in Zeeland on Oct. 27.

Hawk Nelson (named after a superhero character) had already been around for several years before its 2004 national debut. Beginning with a pop-punk sound, it has transitioned into more conventional pop-rock. Even with fair success in Christian radio, the band has long had a role in multi-artist tours and performed for hundreds of thousands of fans.

Novelist Lynn Austin Talks About Her Newest Novel

LynnAustin235Lynn Austin Popular novelist Lynn Austin moved from the Chicago area two years ago, and naturally set her next novel in her new home. Early Holland, Mich., is the setting for Waves of Mercy, which came out the first week of October.

Austin is author of a dozen standalone novels, three series (Refiner's Fire, Chronicles of the King, The Restoration Chronicles) and one nonfiction book, Pilgrimage.

Austin, who had book signings in Grand Rapids and Holland, answers questions about Waves of Mercy, her life, and her writing.

Q: What inspired you to write Waves of Mercy and set it in Holland?
A: My husband grew up in Holland, so when we decided to move back there two years ago, I began researching Holland's history to see if it would make a good novel. Also, I grew up in the area of New York State that was originally owned and settled by the Dutch, and I visited Holland for the first time when I attended Hope College. I was immediately impressed by how proud the community was of their faith and Dutch heritage.

New Book Encourages Women to Slow Down; Be Real With Their Health, Lives

Kathy Fannon 1235 Author Kathy Fannon is a holistic health coach through the Institute of Integrative Nutrition.Slow down, make memories with friends and family, drink more water, set up a budget, get your nose out of your iPhones and iPads and be more active.

And by all means, take the time to enjoy your food.

It's sage advice amid a circus of deadlines and demands that can go a long way in enabling women to enjoy life more — but only when they're real about their feelings, struggles and perceived failures, said Jenison resident Kathy Fannon.

Sandi Patty Reminisces on “Farewell Tour”

SP 1000She's won Grammy Awards, performed on national television and sold 12 million albums.
But before the spotlight and media came calling, singer Sandi Patty spent plenty of time in West Michigan.

"Grand Rapids was the home of my very first record company," recalled Patty during a phone interview from her Oklahoma City home. "I met some of the most incredible musicians there."

Her first national record album was "Sandi's Song," released in 1979. It was produced by Phil Brower for the former Singspiration label owned by then Grand Rapids-based Zondervan. It's also where she met arranger-composer David Clydesdale, with whom she has worked throughout her career.

OCC Shoebox Spurs Love, New Life in Christ

Livia Cutline1235Livia Young was 12 years old when she received the surprise of her life in a shoebox.Livia Young opened the box she received from Operation Christmas Child and gasped. At the very top was something she longed not long after she started living at an orphanage in Galati, Romania at age 2: a package of hairclips.

The gift geeked Young so much she tried putting all of the hairclips in her closely shorn hair.

“Revive Us” Event Coming to Area Theaters

Cameron KIrk 235Kirk Cameron is calling a "national family meeting."

The actor/producer is hosting a live presentation titled "Revive Us," a combination of prayer, song, worship and inspiration, coming to theaters across the country on Tues. Oct. 18 (see details below).

"As I visit churches all across our country, moms tell me they're concerned about their children's future and dads know the nation is on the wrong track," said Cameron in a press release.

‘Dreamers’ Casts Degage Patrons in a New Perspective

Degage ArtPrize 1 235(left to right): The community God fashioned: Thomas Carpenter, Samantha Schmitt and Michelle Cuppy.ArtPrize 2016 has drawn to a close but the fulfilled dreams of four Degage Ministries' patrons depicted in Michelle Cuppy's photographs live on.

Cuppy titled her ArtPrize entry "Dreamers" to emphasize that people struggling with life's challenges may have their ambitions sidetracked, but they can be resurrected.

And that there is always hope.

Cuppy's photos will be on display at Degage, 144 S. Division Ave., through Oct. 13.


dan seabornDan SeabornWas there ever something in your life that you really, really wanted? Think about what it is or was right now in your mind. To help you understand what I am talking about, I want you to think about it in terms of that thing you thought would bring you the greatest happiness. It could be a promotion at work, a new Corvette or a relationship. Whatever it is or was you knew once you got it you could say, "Ahhh! Finally! Complete!"

Then you get it and find out it only brings you temporary pleasure. A good example for parents is to think about all the toys you bought your kids for Christmas or birthdays, that they said they would die without, and yet you find these toys carelessly discarded just days after they were opened.

Hospice Chaplain Likens Ministry to Handrail

Faith Hospice 235Vila Vi Daniel No. 1 Rev. Vila “Vi” Daniel understands the reasons why God equipped her to be a hospice chaplain.When it comes to working as a chaplain for Faith Hospice, Rev. Vila "Vi" Daniel thinks of herself as a handrail.

"Some people are very unsteady in this point in their lives and can't even support themselves, so they need someone to hold onto so they can progress," said Daniel, a chaplain for Faith Hospice since January 2012.

"That helped me with what my purpose is: I'm the handrail and I'm just there for that moment for them to find a place to hold onto, and a lot of time that's through faith. Sometimes it's something inside of them, their spirituality, and me being present with them helps steady them for that moment."

Church Ramps Up Art Prize Effort

Understanding235“Understanding the Whole” by Kim Kleinhardt Art Prize 2016 certainly has brought new people into church.

"Foot traffic has been good through here," said Alex Fernandez, pastor at Cornerstone - Heritage Hill in downtown Grand Rapids.

Fernandez said through the first weekend of this eighth annual art competition, nearly a thousand visitors had seen the church's 16 art displays both indoors and out.

The upstart congregation (a campus of the multi-site Cornerstone Church in Caledonia) featured only outdoor pieces the previous two years with Art Prize. But this year the church took a big step and added indoor displays as well.

"We've got enough staff and volunteers here during the open hours that we can be good hosts and even are giving interested people a tour of our historic building," he noted.

Band Finding “Where the Light Shines Through”

Switchfoot b 235Switchfoot worked through a daunting creative process on its latest album and arrived at a place "Where the Light Shines Through."

The hopeful song titles the new release, which is the Grammy-winning band's 10th album.

"We've been through a lot as a band, and in writing these new songs we went through some mountains and some valleys," said keyboardist Jerome Fontamillas during a call from a tour stop in Minneapolis, Minn.

Prodigal Son Art Collection Illustrates Need for ‘Huge Dose of Forgiveness’

Larry Gerbens AMDG Architect 1235 Larry Gerbens discusses artist Robert Barnum’s rendering of the prodigal son parable. Gerbens said Barnum was drawn to God’s racial grace, so depicted that the buildings are shaken off of their foundations.The parable of the prodigal son is sourced only in the gospel of Luke, but as Larry Gerbens' art collection attests, the allegory about forgiveness resonates with artists and people from around the world.

"This country needs a huge dose of forgiveness and people seeking forgiveness," Gerbens said at a recent afternoon talk titled, "The Art of Forgiveness" that was hosted by AMDG Architects in downtown Grand Rapids.

"Forgiveness is huge and untapped in today's world. Art elevates us culturally."

Master Arts Exec Stepping into Roles On and Off Stage

Van Bruggen Tim 235 Bonhoeffer Tim Van Bruggen in his role last spring as Dietrich BonhoefferBYRON TOWNSHIP - Master Arts Theatre (MAT) executive director Tim Van Bruggen is nearly a full year into his new position with the faith-based community theater group.
And he's overseeing a season of stage productions which includes him as an actor and director – both simultaneously in the opening musical "Horizons of Gold," playing now through Oct. 8 (details below).

"When I came on board (late last year) they were making the final decisions on the coming season," recalled Van Bruggen, 48, from his MAT office on 77th St. SW. But he did have some influence in the resulting schedule.

"I was so excited about this show ("Horizons") that I ended up directing it," he said.
The musical is a re-telling of the biblical book of Ruth, and set in rural Kansas of 1940 in the middle of the devastating "dust bowl" era.

Terry’s Picks: October 2016

EVENTSWest Michigan Christian News writer Terry DeBoer surveys the landscape for the area's faith-based arts and entertainment events over the coming month. Here are three highlights for October:

New Music: Music Video Review

Beacon LIght CD235The West Michigan based gospel rap/hip-hop artist Beacon Light has released his fourth album, titled "Lit." Its boisterous song "Haters" is showcased in a remarkable new video.

The video version pictures the artist fleeing from an SWAT-style group of armed soldiers in an abandoned building. With some cool slow motion and other special effects, he stands up to the threat proclaiming, "I love the haters."

There are plenty of beats, drops, dance moves and other of the genre's stylish features.

‘Same Kind of Different As Me’ Author to Speak at Guiding Light Banquet

Ron Hall 235 Hall’s feature film will be released early next year.There was a time when Ron Hall would have been an unlikely guest speaker for Guiding Light Mission's Oct. 5 annual banquet.

Equally improbable was him becoming an advocate for the homeless and a New York Times best-selling author, as well as a new feature film to be released early next year.

High finance, owning his own art gallery and working as an international art dealer who bought and sold museum quality masterpieces in major countries were Hall's career priorities years ago.

Best Seller's List September

Bestsellers – September, 2016

1. Without Warning – Lynette Eason
2. Selfless Act – Wanda Brunstetter
3. Guide Me Home – Kim Vogel Sawyer
4. 2nd Half – Lauraine Snelling
5. Witness – Robert Witlow
6. Until I Love Again – Jerry Eicher
7. Traces Of Guile – Dee Henderson
8. Sensible Shoes – Sharon Brown
9. If I Run – Terri Blackstock
10. Gone Without A Trace – Patricia Bradley

From Mellow to Metal: A Packed Christian Concert Menu for Fall

Wilson JOsh performing 2015Josh WilsonAs the fall season sweeps in, there are plenty of musical offerings from faith-based artists in a variety of West Michigan venues.

Just compiling and listing them all in a single column is a challenge.

From Muskegon to Holland to Grand Rapids, there's music from Southern gospel to classical, aimed at audiences from youthful to senior citizen and everything in between.

‘Who I am In Christ’ Pocketbook Points Readers to Lord’s Promises of Victory

Dave  Kathi Byker 235 Evangelist Mike Benson holds the Spanish and English versions of “Who I am In Christ.”Some 25 years ago, an elderly woman who lived in Florida handed Kathi "Kibby" Byker a stack of lined paper with a string of Bible verses handwritten on them.

The woman made it clear the reason why she was giving the pile of papers to Byker.

"She had written them out in her shaky little handwriting," recalled Byker, who now lives in Grandville with her husband of 45 years, Dave. "She said to me, 'Here honey, you're going to need to know who you are in Christ.' I was a new Christian then, and after I became a Christian, I started listening to God's voice and felt it (the scriptures) needed to be in book form."

W.O.W. Ends Season on High Note

WOW crowd A huge crowd saw Mark Schultz close this year’s W.O.W. series Four long-term volunteers are retiring after years of service with the summertime "Worship on the Waterfront" (W.O.W.) series at Grand Haven's Waterfront Stadium.

At this year's final event on Sun. Aug. 28, a crowd of more than 2,500 gathered to hear inspirational singer-songwriter Mark Schultz. And the audience also showed its appreciation to volunteers Irv Boersen, Bob Bennett, Sharon Yonker and Carolyn Manting.

Cowboy Church Lassos Church-Shy People With Music, Testimonies

Cowboy 1235 Four of the seven-member Old Time Gospel Singers perform songs that included “When He Was On The Cross, I Was On His Mind”; and “That Night Old Jack Daniels Met John 3:16.”Loneliness washed over Gloria Cole of Sand Lake when her husband of 52 years died in January 2016. Since his passing, she's been attending the 2nd Chance Cowboy Church to ease her solitary life.

"It gives me a night not be to home alone and to hear God's Word and the beautiful music and hear Ron share about what he's doing for troubled kids," said Cole.

Terry’s Picks: September 2016

EVENTSWest Michigan Christian News writer Terry DeBoer surveys the landscape for the area's faith-based arts and entertainment events over the coming month that might otherwise be overlooked. Here are three highlights for September:

Donut Shop’s Closing in Heartside District Illustrates Need to ‘Work Collaboratively’

Stuart Ray Propaganda Doughnuts Guiding Light Mission executive director Stuart Ray said the recent closing of a donut shop in the Heartside neighborhood punctuates the need for sustainable, collaborative solutions.The recent closing of a donut shop in the Heartside district of Grand Rapids illustrates the need to do less finger pointing and more implementing of achievable solutions, according to the head of an area nonprofit ministry.

"I don't know if we're doing anyone any favors by blaming anybody versus finding more common, more sustainable solutions," said Stuart Ray, executive director of Guiding Light Mission.

The Heartside District is bounded roughly by Fulton and Wealthy streets and Grandville and Lafayette avenues. Guiding Light is located in the core of Heartside at 255 S. Division where it provides homeless men with temporary shelter, substance abuse counseling, employment assistance and biblically based mentorship programs.

‘Worship Night’ Coming to West Michigan Theaters

Tomlin kneeling 235 Chris Tomlin (center) and fellow music artists kneel at “Worship Night in America”Picture this: author/pastors Max Lucado and Louie Giglio, singer-songwriter worship leader Chris Tomlin and several other special guests lead a "Worship Night in America," showing one-night only in select theaters and churches nationwide.

The on-screen event, scheduled for Tues. Oct. 25, is actually a presentation of a sold-out gathering taped earlier this summer in New York City's Madison Square Garden. Interviews and back-stage footage are part of the package.

Third Day Still Clicks with Worship Mix

Third Day235Third Day (l. to r.) Mark Lee, Mac Powell, David CarrThird Day is a heritage Christian band with a stack of hit songs and slew of awards over its 20+ year recording history. Along the way they've played to a generation of followers. But recently they were introduced to some new friends.

"We were on tour with Steven Curtis Chapman, and some nights we asked the crowd if they had ever seen us (in concert) before," said Third Day lead singer Mac Powell of their concert pairing.

"There definitely were some who never had. So hopefully we are making some new fans."
Powell and his Third Day band mates are still riding on their 2015 release "Lead Us Back." Although worship-based songs are sprinkled throughout their catalog, this collection is their first full-fledged worship album in 12 years.
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