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Featured Articles

The Blood of the Martyrs is the Seed of the Church

ee235In January of 1956 my parents were at an evening church service when the pastor announcedEcuador. The missionaries and their families were part of Operation Acua, a mission to reach a savage tribe of indigenous people. The killings later became the subject of a feature article in Life magazine. That article did much to bring attention to missions and to advance the cause of overseas missions. Elisabeth Elliot, the wife of one of the young men that was killed, emerged as one of the more high profile members of the group. Through the Gates of Splendor, a book written by Elisabeth Elliot, gave a detailed account of the work the group did. It came out in 1957 and over time became one of the most important Christian books ever written.  Elisabeth would go on to write many more books, including Shadow of the Almighty, a biography on the life of her husband Jim.

Tomlin Enthuses, Inspires Van Andel Audience

Tomlin hands235It probably was a surprise to most of the assembled crowd. Singer-songwriter-worship leader Chris Tomlin led more than 7,000 gathered in Van Andel Arena in a recitation of Psalm 100.

The willing audience at his Nov. 7 concert was able to read the verses aloud from the giant arena screens, completing a great introduction to Tomlin’s song “Psalm 100.”

There was no sermon or even an extended meditation during the artist’s 15-song, 89 minute presentation. But the scripture in his lyrics provided a warm and hopeful message amidst the worshipful themes.

Best Selling List November

Kregel Parable Bestsellers – November, 2015

1. Come Rain or Come Shine – Jan Karon
2. Photograph – Beverly Lewis
3. Two Steps Forward – Sharon Brown
4. War Room – Chris Fabry
5. AD 33 – Ted Dekker
6. Sea Keepers Daughter – Lisa Wingate
7. When Love Returns – Kim Vogel Sawyer
8. On This Foundation – Lynn Austin
9. AD 30 – Ted Dekker
10. Ties That Bind – Kim Vogel Sawyer

Memoir Asserts We’re All Orphans in Some Way Who Can Turn to Heavenly Father

Lorilee Craker 235Lorilee Craker’s new book abounds with humor, lightness and depth.Author Lorilee Craker's latest book makes an assertion that may jar some readers, while others will nod their heads in wholehearted agreement: All of us in one way or another are orphans.

Craker's book, "Anne of Green Gables, My Daughter and Me: What My Favorite Book Taught Me About Grace, Belonging & the Orphan In Us All" (Tyndale House Publishers Inc.), weaves the literal sense of the word "orphan" with the fallout that's let loose when rejection and desertion strikes our emotional and spiritual core.

Terry’s Picks: November 2015

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 November:

For Tomlin, “It’s All About the Songs”

tomlin2235Singer-songwriter-worship leader Chris Tomlin is still doing something he calls "chasing the songs around."

It comes from his early days as a relatively unknown singer in his native Texas. As his songs caught on and started being sung in various churches, he would be invited to come and lead congregations in worship. Thus he started "chasing" his songs.

CLC Network Nurtures Inclusive Communities Far and Wide

CLC Network235Elizabeth Lucas Dombrowski became executive director of CLC Network in September of this year. She previously served in fundraising, visitor and membership services at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago.There was a time when it was considered a radical idea for churches and schools to open wide their arms to people with disabilities. Credit ministries like the CLC Network for helping to nurture the conviction people with physical and mental impairments also possess gifts important to schools and churches far and wide.

Since 1979, the Wyoming-based consulting organization, also known as the Christian Learning Center, has come alongside Christian and Catholic Schools and churches to show them how to nurture inclusive communities.

Author: Vital to Sow Power of Love, Forgiveness in Egypt

Brother Nathan cutline235When it comes to forgiving the unforgiveable, Brother Nathan
walks the talk.
He was six years old when on a sweltering Friday afternoon in the tiny village of Karya Maghola, Egypt, two men wearing checkered headdresses and dark robes baptized him, his father and two church elders in a hail of bullets. In an instant, Brother Nathan's his life was plunged into a tailspin of grief and rage.

"I was crying when the ambulance came and took my father far away from our home," Brother Nathan said recently during a book signing of his new release, Love Casts Out Fear: A Jihad Survivor's Journey From Revenge To Redemption" co-written by David Culross (BakerBooks).

A Visit Along Tenth Avenue North

Tenth Avenue NOrth Mike Donehey235Mike Donehey (center) and Tenth Avenue North Lead singer Mike Donehey, 34, of the inspirational pop-rock band Tenth Avenue North had a recent chat with West Michigan Christian News writer Terry DeBoer. Subjects included a bit of theology, some music and a surprising West Michigan connection. Here’s part of their conversation:

Terry: Your concert tour is coming to West Michigan on Oct. 25 (details below), and it’s based on your latest album, ‘Cathedrals.’ Tell me about the response so far to the new songs and the tour.

Embracing Differences…Again

danseabornA few years ago a man jumped into the air from 24 miles above the earth in a death-defying plunge from a hot air balloon. He's the first person to reach supersonic speed without traveling in a jet or a spacecraft. He ascended 128,000 feet in a capsule which was attached to an ultra-thin hot air balloon. His descent lasted over nine minutes and his top speed was 833 miles per hour. And he lived to talk about it!

Kregels's Best Seller's List: September


1. Photograph – Beverly Lewis
2. War Room – Chris Fabry
3. Two Steps Forward – Sharon Brown
4. Cup of Dust – Susie Finkbeiner
5. Screwtape Letters – C.S. Lewis
6. Come Rain or Come Shine – Jan Karon
7. On this Foundation – Lynn Austin
8. Sensible Shoes – Sharon Brown
9. Streams of Mercy – Lauraine Snelling
10. Love Everlasting – Tracie Peterson

With New Awards, Music Artists Head To West Michigan

Daigle l w 3 doves235Top new artist Lauren Daigle with her three Dove Awards following ceremonies in Nashville.The Gospel Music Association crowned its flock of annual Dove Award winners Tuesday (10/13) in Nashville. And West Michigan will be seeing several of the honored artists swoop in for concerts over the coming months.

There were 41 categories of all styles of Christian/gospel music recognized at the ceremonies, co-hosted by Erica Campbell and Sadie Robertson. The festivities will air at 10 p.m. Sunday Oct. 18 on the TBN network (WTLJ-TV channel 54 in West Michigan).

Tommee Profitt’s New Season

Profitt Tommee at a concert 235earlier this yearTommee Profitt at a concert earlier this yearTommee Profitt made sure that a questioning reporter understood: this will not be his "final ever" concert.

"I would die if I ever had to completely give this up 100 percent," said the singer-songwriter-producer-worship leader.

"It's just our final publicly promoted concert as the Tommee Profitt Band," he said of his Fri. Oct. 16 performance (details below).

Talk the Talk

danseabornEventually the time will come. The time when a parent and an adult child will need to have the talk. No, not that talk. That discussion should have happened around middle school age. This is the talk about a parent's financial situation as it relates to retirement and any future medical care.

Credo Communications Marks 10-Year Anniversary With Eye to the Future

Credo Communications235Credo Communications President Tim Beals is a sought-after conference speaker as well.Tim Beals launched his company, Credo Communications LLC, 10 years ago because he believed there was need to bring Christian authors' words to life. It's a mission that continues to burn bright this very day.

A decade later, the Christian book publishing world continues to undergo changes, but this much remains clear to Beals: readers possess an ongoing hunger to move them from where they are to where they can belong in their walk with Christ.

Kuyper College President an Art Prize Finalist

Rolling Down - Kroeze 2015235A sculpture bearing a Bible verse is one of the top 20 vote-getters in Art Prize 2015. "Rolling Down," a 24 foot tall wooden waterfall quoting Amos 5:24 is one of five finalists in the competition's three-dimensional category.

It was created by the "Kroeze Krew" which consists of Kuyper College president Nick Kroeze, his sons Nicholas and Nathan, and son-in-law Chet Glass.

Art Prize officials Sunday (10/4) announced the leaders after the first round of public voting in four art categories in which 377, 302 votes were cast. Round two voting continues until Thursday night Oct. 8. Winners will be revealed in ceremonies on Friday evening, with the winning entry's artist(s) receiving $200,000 (details on how to vote online.

Celebration Marking Grand Rapids Pastor’s New Role As Bishop

ms235Newly consecrated Bishop Marvin Sapp (r.) is flanked by his daughters Mikalia and Madisson as he receives the right hand of fellowship at ceremonies last July.Lighthouse Full Life Center Church in Grand Rapids is inviting West Michigan to celebrate the consecration of its pastor Marvin Sapp to the role of Bishop in Global United Fellowship (GUF).

The October 9 gala at the Amway Grand Plaza in downtown Grand Rapids includes a reception and dinner, music from gospel star Karen Clark Sheard and guest speaker Bishop J. Delano Ellis of GUF, a group of Christian ministries which includes the Lighthouse church.

Formal ceremonies marking Sapp's new role were held in July at the organization's annual meeting in Jacksonville, Fla. "That was a grand affair with all of the litanies that go along with consecrating a bishop," said Sapp, 47.

Potter’s House Purchases Building Where it all Began 3 Decades Ago

ph235Potter’s House Roosevelt Church cutline No. 1: Potter’s House Superintendent John Booy stands in front of Roosevelt CRC with some of the school’s students.The Potter’s House has recently purchased the building where the interdenominational, multi-ethic Christian school got its start more than three decades ago.

Potter’s House Superintendent John Booy said the school closed the sale on the former Roosevelt Park Community Christian Reformed Church, located at 811 Chicago Dr. SW, in Wyoming, on Aug. 31 for $375,000. He does not expect the school to be in debt long-term. At press time, donors have all but paid $7,200 on the purchase price, Booy said.

The building was constructed in 1950 when it was then known as Grandville Avenue Christian Reformed Church and was renamed Roosevelt Park Community CRC in 1994.

New Music Review: Rick Hopkins

Hopkins WTRbetter 235cvrWest Michigan singer-songwriter and worship leader Rick Hopkins has a new six-song, vocal & acoustic solo project titled “Where the Road Will Lead Us.”

With his latest effort the artist has determinedly built upon the foundation of his earlier albums.
The overall theme of the new release is faith-inspired community and service.

The opening “Hold My Hand” sets the stage with its combination of Hopkins’ warm vocals and pleasing guitar. The message urges holding on to faith for the long haul as we follow amazing grace to the place “where the road will lead us.”

Quentin Schultze to speak, sign at Baker Book House

QSchultze235Quentin Schultze has spent his career teaching, studying and writing about communication in all its forms. He knows what works and what doesn't, and now shares that knowledge in his new book.

"An Essential Guide to Interpersonal Communication: Building Great Relationships with Faith, Skill, and Virtue in the Age of Social Media" was released earlier this month by Grand Rapids-based Baker Academic, a division of Baker Publishing Group. Schultze will speak about and sign copies of the book at 7 pm Thursday, Oct. 1, at Baker Book House.

"This book is going to help you be a wise, good and effective communicator amidst all of the messaging noise from texts, Facebook, email, Pinterest, Instagram and all the others," said Schultze. "It will help you navigate through all of if it."

Terry’s Picks: October

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:

This Year’s ArtPrize is Fount of Inspiration, Testament to Faith

Paradise LostParadise LostArtPrize 2015 has more than 1,500 works of art on display at 160-plus venues across three square miles of Grand Rapids.

Since Rick DeVos founded it in 2009 in what he bills as a radically open, independently organized international art competition, ArtPrize has inspired a number of artists to create drawings, painting and sculptures with subtle and overt Christian themes.

This year is no exception.

Grand Rapids Church Joins In On “Art Prize”

Joel Schoon-Tanis LifeOne of three panels of Joel Schoon-Tanis work “Life: New Life: Full Life”Andrew Norden is in on the ground floor of his church’s first foray into the world of Art Prize. Crossroads Bible Church, 800 Scribner Ave NW just north of downtown Grand Rapids, is an official venue for the seventh annual community art competition which awards hundreds of thousands of dollars to winning artists.

“It’s a lot of work – we anticipated that,” said Norden, who is part of a church team led by community life pastor Brad Klaver. “Being our first time (as part of Art Prize) new things have popped up but we’re finding our way through it quite well, I think,” he added. Art Prize officially opens Wed. Sept. 23 and runs through Oct. 11.

Spreading “Flavor” to Africa: Local Woman Shows Heart For Mission

Sarah S. on the road235Sarah StacilauskasWhen God called Sarah Stacilauskas to Africa, he told her he would show her something she was looking for.

"He took me down this long road (in Uganda) to a school for orphans that was supported by widows," she recalled of her trip last May.

And now the determined Byron Center native - age 35 and a widow herself – has launched Project 616: an effort to help connect with and support the rural African school with nearly 200 needy, orphaned students.

Part of that campaign is a Sept. 19 concert/benefit auction titled "WHOA! – Widows Helping Orphans in Africa" featuring several area Christian music artists (see details below).

Master Arts Theater Names New Director

masterarts4The Board of Master Arts Theater is pleased to announce that we have appointed Tim Van Bruggen as the new Executive Director, effective November 9, 2015. Priscilla McDonald will continue in her role as Artistic Director, but Tim will assume many of the responsibilities formerly handled by her, including organizational leadership and implementation of the Strategic Plan.

After careful consideration and numerous interviews of a dozen candidates, each with unique qualifications, and after much prayer and reflection, we selected Tim Van Bruggen as the one best suited to take up the particular administrative and leadership responsibilities as Executive Director.

‘Sensible Shoes’ author to talk about, sign second novel

SharonBrown235Sharon Garlough Brown, author of the bestselling "Sensible Shoes," will be at Baker Book House on September 24 to talk about her newest novel, "Two Steps Forward: A Story of Persevering in Hope."

This sequel continues the stories of Hannah, Meg, Mara and Charissa, the characters who embarked on spiritual journeys in "Sensible Shoes." Each one faced her own struggles in life, and each one grew and changed, with their stories continuing into the new novel.

"The desire to write was a way to process what was going on in my world," said Brown, who is co-pastor with her husband Jack at Redeemer Covenant Church in Dutton. "The dream went dormant for a long time, until I finally that the sense that it was the right time."

Training Event to Focus on Worship Volunteers

Rozier Andi live shot235Andi Rozier of Vertical Church Band is a presenter at The Worship CollectiveFrom his perspective as a musician and worship leader, Jordan Koller knows the importance of volunteers in assisting a body of believers in worship.

And in an effort to better equip volunteers with teaching and training, the worship arts pastor at Ridge Point Church in Holland has helped create an event titled "The Worship Collective."

The sessions of workshops and music labs is set for Sat. Oct. 3 at Ridge Point, 340 140th Ave. Holland (see details below).

City on a Hill mission grows with purchase of neighboring building

COH medical building cutline No. 1The 6,000-square foot former medical center is across the street from where City on a Hill is located.City on a Hill executive director Gary Ellens said the Zeeland-based ministry has purchased a former medical building for a "significantly less" cost that will enable it to offer additional space to the community nonprofits it refers to as its ministry partners.

"Realistically we're maxed out," Ellens said of the 100,000-square foot building that formerly was Zeeland Community Hospital located at 100 Pine Street. COH purchased the building in 2006.

Pauls’ Moms’ Cookies Finds Tasty Way to Support Degage’s Open Door Women’s Center

Degage Pauls Moms Cookies Cutline No. 1(l to r) Kristie Newkirk, Calvin College intern Meghan Bogema and Karen Petchaucr work together selling cookies at the Rockford Farmers Market. On Saturday mornings, Kristie Newkirk and Karen Petchaucr stand underneath a canopy along with Calvin College intern Meghan Bogema at the Rockford Farmers Market selling what is arguably some of the tastiest homemade cookies in West Michigan.

If you're calorie-counting, these hefty cookies are not for you. But if you don't mind indulging your taste buds, you will not regret munching on cookies with hard-to-resist flavors that include peanut butter chocolate ganache, salted caramel chocolate chunk, lemon dream (in the summer) and oatmeal berry (in the fall), molasses ginger and mint meltaways. The cookies are sold four to a package for $6. For June and July alone that translates into selling $5,000 worth of cookies.

Take the Dare, Don’t Compare

danseabornI once heard someone say that if you always compare yourself to others then there are more opportunities to make excuses. When I heard that, I thought how true that statement is when it comes to evaluating your marriage, family and your life in general. It's so easy to either boost yourself up or tear yourself down depending on your perspective.

Area Concerts to Feature Dove Nominated Artists

Battistelli235Dove Award nominee Francesca Battistelli comes to West Michigan Nov. 21Looking over the nominations for the 2015 Gospel Music Association Dove Awards, it appears that West Michigan will get more than its share of concerts from award-winning artists.

Nominees in the major Dove categories were announced earlier in August at a Nashville press conference. Award ceremonies are set for Oct. 13.

Artist of the Year is considered the most prestigious award, but there are also categories of top artists in the genres of contemporary Christian, gospel, Southern gospel, and best new artist.

CD Review: “Sparkle” by Jasmine Hurtado

Sparkle235Local teen talent Jasmine Hurtado has issued a new inspirational-pop CD titled "Sparkle." She hosted a special release concert in July at Resurrection Life Church in Grandville.
The bouncy title song expresses the desire that her faith would "sparkle for all the world to see."

The mixture of uptempo and ballad selections includes a side trip with "One Word" and its shades of a country-folk beat! Also differing in approach is the closing "Bought By Blood," with its ethereal background vocals.

Iranian’s Thirst for Truth is Quenched, Now Works so Muslims can Embrace the Gospel

Rahi Solanti 235Rahi Solanti works full-time spreading the gospel in Farsi on two websites he oversees.Rahi Solanti is a seeker of truth. Correction, make that he was a seeker of truth.

Following an intense, personal search for truth, Solanti embraced six years ago the eternal salvation Jesus Christ's sacrifice on the cross makes possible. His life has not been the same since.

Now, he's works full-time at Seventh Reformed Church, 950 Leonard St. NW in Grand Rapids where Dr. Tim J. R. Trumper is the senior minister, to do his part in helping to shepherd Muslims living in Iran and elsewhere to accept the good news of the Gospel.


captive235"Captive", premiering September 18, is a movie based on a true story and on the book "Unlikely Angel: The Untold Story of the Atlanta Hostage Hero", written by Ashley Smith. The movie stars Kate Mara as Ashley Smith and David Oyelowo (Selma) as Brian Nichols.

The synopsis for the movie says it is a fact-based thriller about a single mother, battling drug addiction, who is randomly taken captive in her Atlanta apartment by a man that just broke out of jail. It was in April 2005 that Ashley Smith made headline news when she managed to talk her way out of being held hostage by the alleged courthouse murderer, Brain Nichols, after he held her captive for seven hours. She was a 26-year old widow and mother of a six-year-old girl.

“Cross” Music Event Highlights Area Christian Artists Ministries

At Foot of the cross Ty Gonzalez 235Ty Gonzalez performs at last year’s “At Foot of the Cross”Chris Moore had to do some faith-walking to launch his vision for "At the Foot of the Cross."

"I've kind of learned on my faith journey to take a step forward and see what happens," he said of his musical venture. "But doors just kept on opening and opening and I just kept moving forward."

The first "At the Foot of the Cross" was held two summers ago in a field outside his Easton United Methodist Church in Ionia. He gathered a variety of area Christian music artists and church worship teams for a day-long concert celebration held outdoors in front of a giant cross on the church grounds.

Living Threads Entwines Memory Quilts with Overseas Support

Living Threads 235 No. 1(l to r) Living Threads founder Jill Dannenberg and operations manager Michelle Grabill. When Living Threads founder Jill Dannenberg receives the garments once worn by a deceased loved one that will be used to make a memorial quilt, it's handled with tender loving care.

"When people bring us their clothing, it's sacred material," Dannenberg said. "The volunteers are not allowed to bring that material home. When they're completed, the memorial quilts become a conversation piece because the quilt makes it comfortable for people to talk about the one they lost."

City on a Hill Makes Possible for Ministries to Shine Light, Usher in Good Deeds Locally, Worldwide

City on a Hill Cutline No. 1City on a Hill is 100,000-square foot building constructed in stages located at 100 Pine Street that formerly was the Zeeland Community Hospital.Zeeland-based City on a Hill (COH) is a sprawling, 100,000-square foot building that is home to dozens of ministries that may have not been birthed into existence had it not been for this Christian nonprofit that in earlier times was Zeeland Community Hospital.

There are around 40 tenant ministries that lease space at COH that find the competitive rent rates easier on their budgets, which in turn, is intended to enhance their ability to meet the physical, emotional, educational, spiritual or medical needs of people locally and worldwide. It's a wide birth of ministries that operate independently of one another.

Film Tie-In “Millennial Tour” to Appear at Unity Festival

Love Collide235Love Collide (Brooke and Lauren DeLeary)Thousands of area Christian music fans are familiar with the annual Unity Christian Music Festival where early each August, you can see top artists such as Matthew West, Third Day and David Crowder. Those three and many more will be performing this year during the festival’s Aug. 5-8 schedule (see www.unitymusicfestival.com for more information).

     But there’s a unique artist spot this year on Unity’s lesser known A (Alternative) Stage, located under the big tent out near the point at Muskegon’s Heritage Landing.

Terry’s Picks: August 2015

EVENTSWest Michigan Christian web 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 August:

New ICCF President Possesses ‘Wealth of Experience’

ICCF235Ryan VerWys said he plans to do much learning and listening his first 90 days as ICCF’s president.Starting Sept. 4, Ryan VerWys assumes the leadership helm of Inner City Christian Federation, Michigan's oldest nonprofit affordable housing provider. He succeeds longtime president/CEO Jonathan Bradford, who will retire after serving 34 years in the position.

VerWys said he intends to be quick to listen and slow to speak during his first 90 days in his new job.

Be Careful What You Wish For

tugA mom sits on the couch while her three-month-old nuzzles her neck and squirms uncomfortably trying to find the right spot to sleep. Her two-year-old daughter has just bounded out of her baby brother's room wearing a pair of his pants which of course look like shorts on her. She is wearing nothing else. Her five-year-old, normally very independent, is whining to her dad about not being able to peel her orange, while he's trying to clean up the dinner dishes.

Cooperfly Puppet Troupe Sparks God’s Gift of Imagination at Fuller Avenue CRC

Cooperfly Puppet 1Puppet EdGar Sinclaire with puppeteer Justin Haveman and Kevin Kammeraad get the kids laughing and clapping with the song, “Chocolate.”Despite an overcast sky that threatens a sudden downpour, the chatter among the adults and children at Fuller Avenue Christian Reformed Church's parking lot is lively and buoyant. Soon, they have more to enjoy than the chicken dinner and watermelon that's been served to them free-of-charge, courtesy of the Southeast Grand Rapids church's annual summer Tuesday Family Fun Nights.

Before long, all eyes are on puppeteer Justin Haveman's puppet EdGar Sinclaire. With his bushy eyebrows, bright red fur and ears that stick out to there, EdGar's presence alone tickles children's funny bone, but the laughing swells when the fuzzy puppet starts with a comical song, "Chocolate" that has the kids and adults laughing for joy.

Master Arts Theatre Making Progress in New Director Search

matMaster Arts Theatre, the local faith-based community group which offers a full schedule of annual stage productions, hopes to have a new executive director by this fall.

"We've been actively interview candidates for the last number of weeks," said John Miedema, chairman of the non-profit organization's board of directors. "We've been pleased with the response and the caliber of candidates we've been getting."
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