Terry’s Picks for April 2020

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

EVENTS2Here's the column in which your faithful West Michigan Christian News writer usually surveys the landscape for the area's faith-inspired arts/entertainment/enrichment events over the coming month.

But one of many persistent effects of the coronavirus COVID-19 is: for the entire month of April there are simply no events appropriate to the list that I can be sure will go on as scheduled.

So the "April Picks" headline is a misnomer.

The People of West Michigan Need Not To Fear!

Written by Editor in Chief on . Posted in Local

fear8In this time when the world is plagued by fear and is searching for something they do not have, we believe we have an unusual opportunity to lead eyes upwards, and we want to take advantage of the opportunity.

We have multiple billboards in high traffic locations with the message of hope. Please pray that people that see these billboards will discover new peace in Christ.

Virus Affects Christian Concert Scene

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

Newsboys UnitedNewsboys United’s concert in April was one of many postponed or cancelledUsually the announcement looked something like this: "To ensure the safety of our fans, we're announcing the postponement of the remaining dates on the_____ tour effective immediately. We are working diligently to reschedule dates as soon as possible, and we will notify ticket holders immediately of the rescheduled dates."

That was the exact wording used by the promoter in the cancellation of the Newsboys United "Greatness of Our God" tour, which had been scheduled April 18 at Fair Haven Ministries in Hudsonville.

That was just one of a host of concerts – both Christian and mainstream – postponed or outright cancelled in the effort to fight the spread of the Corona virus (COVID-19).

Revisiting Martin Luther’s “Whether One May Flee from a Deadly Plague” Re COVID-19

Written by Dr. Rex M. Rogers on . Posted in Local

rex99Dr. Rex M. RogersMartin Luther was one of the greatest Christian reformers, the man who in 1517 called the Roman Catholic Church to account by posting "95 Theses" on Wittenberg All Saints Church door.

But enormously important as this is, though, Luther should also be remembered for his actions and thoughtful response to the dreadful Black Plague – and what his wisdom suggests for us today in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the 1300s, the Black Death, also called the Bubonic Plague, swept across two continents, eventually killing half the population of Europe in a short span of four years. Between 75 and 200 million people died and it took nearly two hundred years for the population to return to former levels.

During the 15th and 16th Centuries, various epidemics took more lives in the known populated world. And worse, the Black Death proved episodic, meaning it would die off only to resurge later.

In 1527, the plague came again, visiting Martin Luther's hometown, Wittenberg, Germany. Luther was instructed to leave by his university elector, but he stayed to minister to the sick. Days later, several around Luther had died, while his pregnant wife and others in his household became ill. Thankfully, they survived, as did Luther, but he was asked, even challenged, about the decision he made not to leave ahead of the epidemic.

Upcoming RandyDon Academy to Shepherd Youth Pastors in Servant Leadership

Written by Paul R. Kopenkoskey on . Posted in Local

raydonRandy DonGiovanni: “If there’s ever a time we’ve needed youth pastors, it’s today.”Randy DonGiovanni knows youth pastors of all denominations face similar, uphill struggles. That's what makes the upcoming RandyDon Academy essential.

"I feel leadership today is not being taught in the correct way because everyone wants to be a leader, everyone wants to be a pastor, but no one wants to ... do the biblical principle of serving," says DonGiovanni, who's worked in youth ministry for over 30 years in a variety of capacities and is ordained with Resurrection Life Church in Grandville.

Chonda Pierce: Humorously Speaking Her Mind

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

chonda headshot 11DcT4Q- 2Please Note: The Chonda Pierce event scheduled for Saturday 3/14 has officially been postponed. Promoters are working diligently to provide a new date ASAP, please hold on to your tickets as they will be honored at the new date. If you cannot attend the new date, refunds can be obtained by contacting This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Chonda Pierce has revealed the secret to her decades-long run as one of the nation's top faith-based comedians.

"Every time I leave my house I kind of always know how I want the evening to end," she said of the approach to her stage show which treads into hilarity yet retains a relevant message. "I've always worked from the ending first. So I start writing the material and work backwards to the beginning. We've done that for 25 years."

Throughout her career Pierce has shared with audiences bits of her own life journey, which includes bouts with depression, family estrangement and the death of her husband in 2014 following his long struggle with alcoholism. Yet woven through is humorous and hope-filled encouragement.

"My story is my story, there are aspects of it that will always show up," she said.

Upcoming Gilda’s LaughFest

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

Sapp HenryHenry Sapp Comedy veterans and newcomers alike are joining in on the fun at this year's LaughFest.

The annual West Michigan comedy festival was created by and is a benefit for Gilda's Club Grand Rapids, a non-profit that offers free support programs for cancer victims and their families. (This year's festival is March 5-15; www.laughfestgr.org

And area residents - the stage-savvy Henry Sapp and upstart comic Abbie Lemke - are both performing at various LaughFest events.

Lakeshore Couple Invents New Game to Create Connection

Written by Ann Byle on . Posted in Local

rankDana and Chip Brown noticed that technology—in their own family and across society—is preventing people from connecting. Rather than conversation, there are constant phone checks, games, and responding to emails and texts.

Combine that noticing with both of their creative experiences working with Disney, and they came up with The Rank Game, a brand-new game that "is about you and your people," said the Browns.

The Rank Game features cards listing four items to be ranked in order of preference by a Ranker. Guessers record their guesses as to the Ranker's order, getting a point for each correct answer. For example, one card says Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter so the Ranker ranks which he or she likes best to least, with Guessers trying to guess correctly. A new Ranker ranks for the next round, and so on.

Show Up in Your Own Story, Debut Author Says

Written by Ann Byle on . Posted in Local

remorBeth Fisher learned the hard way how to show up in her story, to be who she was created to be. Now she shares her journey and offers encouragement in her debut book, "Remorseless: Learning to Lose Labels, Expectations, and Assumptions Without Losing Yourself."

"I had to fight my whole life to be who I knew God created me to be, to not succumb to assumptions," said Fisher, who lives in Ada. "I spent so much time defending who I was. Turns out God knew all along who I was."

One of her dreams was to write. The desire was always there, but the timing was not. It took her daughter Olivia encouraging her to do what she always wanted for Fisher to take a sabbatical from her high-powered sales job. Fisher thought the request to spend time with her during Olivia's post-college gap year was facetious.

"When I asked her why, Olivia said that this was probably the last time we'd live together as a family so maybe I could stay home and write my book," said Fisher, which she did. It released last month.

Local Colson Center Mission Director: Need to ‘re-evangelize’ Church Still Essential

Written by Paul R. Kopenkoskey on . Posted in Local

chuckcolsonChuck Colson went from being Nixon’s hatchet man to Christ’s ambassador. The late Chuck Colson was a hard-charging man before and after he became a Christian.

It's the "after" that convinced Colson how vital it is for Christians to make an impact in the public sphere. And although he died nearly eight years ago, his life's focus is all the more important, says Jeff Rogers, director of mission advancement for The Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview. Rogers is based in the Grand Rapids area.

Colson is perhaps best known for serving as Special Council to President Richard Nixon, and was once known as the 37th President's "hatchet man." Colson, who served seven months in a federal prison for obstruction of justice in the Watergate scandal, was not the same man when he became a Christian in 1973, according to Rogers.

Pat Barrett and His “Good, Good Father”

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

Barrett Pat studio2020"I'm at the mercy of the moment in my songwriting," said Pat Barrett, 35, during a recent phone interview.

His first consideration: "What do I need to sing right now about what I'm walking through in life?" posed the worship leader/recording artist.

"And if (the songs) end up helping people in some way like they've helped me, it's wonderful."

That's how his signature praise anthem "Good, Good Father" emerged from his creative process.

The song, with its can't-miss chorus hook, was a result of a session with co-writer Tony Wood. "It came along at a time we needed to see God and ourselves in a healthy way," Barrett said.

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