GR Dream Center Starts With Request: Can I Be Your Friend?

Written by Paul R. Kopenkoskey on . Posted in Local

Dream Center Leah and Greg Molchan co-founded the Grand Rapids Dream Center in August 2014. Greg and Leah Molchan have witnessed the Holy Spirit use some unconventional methods to open a person's heart to Him. Yes, that includes toilet paper.

"There was a woman in her 50s who lived a life of being a crack cocaine addict for 20 some years and was prostituting herself," said Leah. "She prayed for toilet paper that morning and we showed up with toilet paper. I knew her heart was softening and God was telling me to seek her out and I'll rescue her."

The Molchans are co-founders of the Grand Rapids Dream Center (GRDC), a movement-based, mission-focused ministry they launched in August 2014 that mobilizes volunteers to meet people's spiritual and physical needs.

Casting Crowns Unveils the “Next Thing”

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

casting crownsCasting Crowns features lead singer Mark Hall (center). (Drummer Brian Scoggin is 3rd from left) Brian Scoggin of Casting Crowns said his band's latest album "The Very Next Thing" really comes into the spotlight on their current tour. "We're playing nearly half of the songs from it during the concerts," said the drummer from his home near Macon, Ga.

"That's hard to do when you've got eight records of songs with everybody having their favorites they want to hear."

The million-selling, inspirational-pop band visits Van Andel Arena on March 23 with guest artists Danny Gokey and Unspoken (details below).

The title song "The Very Next Thing" sums up the album's theme: don't wait for the grandiose thing you'd like to do for God someday – just do the very next thing He asks.

Local Christian Bookstores Step Up As Family Christian Closes Doors

Written by Ann Byle on . Posted in Local

bakerBaker Book House Two Christian bookstores, Baker Book House and Kregel Parable Christian Stores, are eager to fill the void left by the impending closing of three local Family Christian Stores locations.

Family Christian announced late last month that it would close its nearly 250 stores around the country, almost two years after filing for bankruptcy. It is unknown when the local stores—on 28th Street, Alpine Avenue and 44th Street—will finally shut their doors.

Kregel Parable and Baker Book House are remaining open.

Profits Earned Respecting Scriptural Principles are Part of God’s Design, Plan

Written by Paul R. Kopenkoskey on . Posted in Local

annAnne Rathbone Bradley: “There’s never been more hope that we’re going to eliminate abject poverty.” Anne Rathbone Bradley displayed on a projection screen a photograph of the Russian Federation's first president, Boris Yeltsin, who in 1991 visited a grocery store in Houston. It's clear in the picture he is captivated by the array of popsicles on display for sale.

"He's depressed and overwhelmed by what he sees," said Rathbone Bradley, vice president of economic initiatives for the biblical advocacy think tank, Institute for Faith, Work and Economics (IFWE), based in McLean, Vir. IFWE's mission is to inspire Christians to embrace a biblical understanding of work and economics, exemplified by greater creativity and increased human flourishing.

Local Gospel Quartet Still Searching

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

faithful Lead singer Jim Visser (2nd from right) and his group are looking for a new tenor singer The classified ad was straightforward it its pitch: "Local gospel group looking to fill position of tenor....currently taking auditions...." read the listing in the local Advance newspaper.

It's a small part of a larger search: The Faithful Journey Quartet has been looking high and low for a new tenor singer for over six months.

"Yes, we've been seeking in many different directions," said Jim Visser, lead singer and manager of the West Michigan-based group. "We've put a message on a (gospel music) magazine posting board, I've placed notices with some of the larger local churches, and other gospel quartets in the area know that we're looking," added Visser, 52.

Good vs. Evil is Theme of Local Author’s Debut Novel

Written by Ann Byle on . Posted in Local

samparkerLocal author Samuel Parker credits three things as genesis of his debut novel "Purgatory Road," released earlier this year by Grand Rapids-based Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

First was a trip he and his wife took to Las Vegas. They rented a car a drove into the desert outside the city. Second, Parker is a fan of Westerns—novels and movies—and dreamed of setting a novel in the west.

Third was a John Donne sonnet titled "Batter my heart, three-person'd God," in which Donne believed that he couldn't change until he was ravished by God.

"The idea of beating the good into someone really got to me," said Parker, who lives in Walker with his wife and twin sons.

Pine Rest Launches Pax Crisis Response

Written by Paul R. Kopenkoskey on . Posted in Local

vanderpolPine Rest’s Bob VandePol: “There is no greater honor than to be there for people on the worst day of their lives.”Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services recently launched Pax Crisis Response (PCR), a new service for people who need to know how to recover from the aftershock of a crisis.

"Crisis" carries with it an elastic meaning, said Bob VandePol, Pine Rest's executive director of employee, church and school assistance programs. Whether it's because of violence, suicide, a pastor's ethical failure, tragic death, or a natural disaster, the common element with them all is there's an immediate need for constructive direction.

Ada Bible Church Pastor Pens Third Book

Written by Ann Byle on . Posted in Local

thinkPastor Jeff Manion has learned the virtue faithfulness in life and ministry. He's served at Ada Bible Church for 33 years; he's seen individuals serve year after year after year, exhibiting faithfulness in even the smallest things.

Manion has preached and taught on faithfulness through the years, mostly touching on it as part of other topics. "But people responded to it," he said. "The material touched a nerve, and seems like a topic that has resonated."

His new book "Dream Big, Think Small: Living an Extraordinary Life One Day at a Time," recently released by Zondervan, speaks to faithfulness in everyday life.

Christian Writer’s Group Offers Skill-Building, Encouragement

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

wordwA Word Weavers writers group at a recent meeting Writing is often a lonely pursuit.

Sitting by a desk or on a couch with a laptop, tablet, or legal pad waiting for inspiration. Perhaps struggling with a string of phrases or sentences. And then wondering what interruption will pop-up next to divert the attention from the task at-hand.

Here's a possible solution: Search out others who share your passion for writing and face similar writing challenges...join a writers' group!
"I believe that every writer needs to be in a group of their peers who understand the writing process," said Kathy Bruins, president of the faith-based Word Weavers of West Michigan. "That's where real feedback will be given with a goal of making their writing better."

John 10:10 Guides The Hope Project’s Battle Against Sex Trafficking

Written by Paul R. Kopenkoskey on . Posted in Local

hope1THP’s Julia Koch: “People won’t support a mission or project if they don’t believe the problem exists.” They are lonely, afraid and abused, a modern day version of slavery that operates under a veil of darkness. But there's hope.

The Muskegon-based outreach and education ministry, The Hope Project (THP), 185 W. Laketon Ave., makes possible hope and healing for the women and girls ravaged from sex trafficking, while spreading awareness and prevention within the West Michigan community.

John 10:10 is its guiding principle: "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."

Outcry Returns to West Michigan

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

Daigle Lauren2 Lauren DaigleThe worship music-based Outcry Tour, the largest "worshipping tour" in Christian music, visits
Resurrection Life Church in Grandville on Mon. April 24.

This year's Outcry line-up is somewhat scaled back from the 2016 version which played in Van Andel
Arena. But the Elevation Worship Band and Jesus Culture are back, along with award-winning singer-
songwriter Lauren Daigle. Pastor-authors Steven Furtick and Levi Lusko are also on the bill.

Daigle, 25, is one of the hottest names in Christian music. The title song from her debut album ("How
Can It Be?) won a 2015 Dove Award as Song of the Year – the same year she won a Dove as top artist.
Last year the album was nominated for a Grammy Award and the Louisiana native won Doves for top
songwriter and artist of the year.

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