GEMS: A Sisterhood Planting Biblical Seeds in Girls

Written by Paul R. Kopenkoskey on . Posted in Local

gems1The theme of the United Nations’ recent International Day of the Girl was Unscripted and Unstoppable. Local GEMS girls finished this statement, “The Truth is I am …” Some of the biggest challenges girls face today include bullying, cutting, depression, thoughts of suicide and the stress of body image issues.

It's a far cry from the problems girls faced in 1958 when Barbara Vredevoogd founded GEMS in Grand Rapids as a Christian Reformed Church ministry to young girls.

Sixty-one years later, GEMS is now a nondenominational Christian outreach comprised of 5,200 women serving over 23,000 girls in more than 800 clubs around the world.

GEMS is a sisterhood that relishes getting together. In July, the nonprofit held its annual conference at Calvin University, which drew GEMS leaders from North America and beyond, and included worship, speakers and seminars.

In West Michigan and beyond, GEMS leaders help way finding girls discover God's unchangeable Word. They learn along the way they are loved and valued just the way they are.

A centerpiece of GEMS is its acronym: Girls Everywhere Meeting the Savior.

“Jam” Returning to Van Andel

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

WJ20The annual "Winter Jam Tour Spectaclular" Christian music tour has once again selected a Sunday in January to visit West Michigan.

Sunday January 19, 2020 is the date the giant 42-city tour comes to Van Andel Arena in downtown Grand Rapids.

David Crowder and his band headline the local date. The bearded Crowder performed only recently at Van Andel with MercyMe. Also on stage will be the worship-oriented Passion group, hip-hopper Andy Mineo, hard-rockers RED, singer-songwriter Austin French, and the host band NewSong.

WCSG-FM Wins National Award Amidst Dove Honors

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

Lemke Hauser WCSG award 2019WCSG-FM executive director Chris Lemke (right) is congratulated by Chris Hauser of the GMA on the station’s Radio Impact Award. West Michigan-based inspirational radio station WCSG-FM (91.3) has received the 2019 Gospel Music Association Radio Impact Award for contemporary Christian radio outlets.

Chris Lemke, executive director of the station, received the honors in Nashville ceremonies as part of the recent GMA Dove Award festivities.

In his remarks during the presentation, Lemke offered thanks to the voting association members.

"This award, of course, is not why we do this," he told the audience, made up mostly of music artists, industry staff and executives as well as media members. "We're prone to say the greater cause is Jesus – that's why we do it, and that would be true. But there's another reason and that's for the listeners. It's the listeners who listen to your music and who sing your songs and who have (them) embedded in their minds and in their hearts."

The non-commercial, listener-supported station is licensed to Cornerstone University and airs on several different frequencies in cities throughout Southwest Michigan. The format features a variety of contemporary Christian music from many of the nation's top artists and for decades has tagged itself as a family-friendly radio voice.

Still Sharing the Story

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

Trent Tammy closer-upTammy Trent Autumn is among inspirational speaker/singer Tammy Trent's busiest seasons.

"Womens' events most often happen during the fall and spring," explained Trent by phone from her Nashville, TN home. "So now I'm full into my fall schedule and busy nearly every weekend up until Christmas."

A Grand Rapids area native (a mid-1980s Forest Hills Northern H.S. grad) the former Tammy Buffum's promising Christian music career was off and running more than 30 years ago. She and husband/manager Trent Lenderink moved to Nashville to be nearer the industry's recording and touring connections and growing community of Christian music artists.

But things took a tragic turn in 2001 when he was killed in a diving accident.

Manna Café Serves Generous Portions of God’s Goodness

Written by Paul R. Kopenkoskey on . Posted in Local

mannaCutline No. 1-5Manna Café founder Craig Witcher: “Our goal is to be a blessing to the community and everybody who comes in.” The late afternoon chatter among customers is lively. Servers bustle back and forth to bring patrons sandwiches, soups and salads or refill cups with steaming coffee. Glasses and plates clink when tables are cleared. Manna Café, in short, has all the makings of a standard restaurant. Except it isn't.

Isaiah 55:2 and John 6:35 are ablaze on the 85-seat eatery's walls. The waitresses' T-shirts have printed on the back "serving goodness from God's creation." The for-sale merchandise made from around the world helps to support ministries near and far.

Christian Environment is Centerpiece of Adult Foster Care Nonprofit, David’s House Ministries

Written by Paul R. Kopenkoskey on . Posted in Local

davidshouseDavid’s House Ministries president Casey Kuperus shares a moment with resident Kerry while listening to music on her record player. Nestled in Southwest Wyoming is a seven-acre development where hope and faith dwell for those with development disabilities.

Founded in 1987 by Rev. Jay and Lois DeBoer, David's House Ministries (DHM) provides physical, spiritual, emotional and social care for 40-plus people with developmental disabilities, traumatic brain injuries or mental illnesses.

A full life

The goal is to give them as full a life as possible, according to Casey Kuperus, president of DHM.

"What we're doing is providing care at home and support needed for folks not able to live on their own," said Kuperus. "They all have either development cognitive impairments and many have physical impairments as well. Our goal is that this is their forever home which is sometimes different for other group home models that are out there."

Zach Williams: Story of A Rescue

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

Williams Zach w wife at 2019 Grammys Zach Williams and his wife Crystal at this year’s Grammy Awards "I'm ready to play some new music and ready for people to hear the new songs," said singer-songwriter Zach Williams. "And to see how God is gonna speak through them and use them."

Those new songs are contained in his brand new album "Rescue Story." And the tale woven by the new collection starts with the title track.

"For me, that's maybe the most personal song I've written...It closely follows my own story,"

said Williams by phone from a concert stop in Lubbock, TX. The anthem cries, "You were the voice in the desert, calling me out of the dead of night...You are my rescue story."

The new song is already a rising fixture on Christian radio.

Another of the tunes is "Slave To Nothing," once again referring to his changed outlook. "People are gonna bring up things about your past," noted the artist. "But God is doing a new work in my life."

MercyMe: Poised for New Music

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

MercyMe-Press-standing informalAn informal moment with Bart Millard (center) and MercyMe Although staying fairly busy, it's been a while since the inspirational-pop band MercyMe had a top ten hit on Christian radio.

"It's probably good to go 'dark' for a little bit....people are getting tired of us," joked lead singer Bart Millard during a recent phone interview.

But now the Grammy-winning, platinum-selling band is embarking on its "Imagine Nation Tour" which stops at Grand Rapids' Van Andel Arena Oct. 13 .

The band's trajectory was changed with the release of last year's movie, "I Can Only Imagine." The film, bearing the name of the band's signature song, told Millard's life story involving his early estrangement and eventual reconciliation with his father.

It was a surprise hit, grossing $17 million its opening weekend in theatres eventually garnering more than $80 million worldwide.

Devotional, Songs, Offer Path to Healing and Hope

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

Norquist Becky-2Becky Nordquist There are two main things Becky Nordquist wants grieving parents to know: "Your baby's life matters, and you are not alone."

Nordquist, a wife and mother as well as singer-songwriter/worship leader, has written a new devotional book and recorded two original songs. They're combining to enable a season of comfort and help for parents who have suffered miscarriages or infant loss.

The book carries the title of one of her songs, "Before We Said Hello."

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood Showcases the Life of Mr. Rogers,

Written by Edwin L. Carpenter on . Posted in Local

mrrogerspicMr. RogersI was curious as to how Tom Hanks would portray Mr. Fred Rogers when I attended an advance screening of A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. I needn't have worried. The two-time Oscar winner captures the spirit of the children's host who emphasized kindness during his years as a TV host. Hanks sounds similar to Rogers without overdoing it—it is a subtle and nuanced performance. His kindness and warmth shines through and even Rogers's widow, Joanne, shows up in the beginning to introduce the movie and says she believes Mr. Rogers would have been very happy in knowing Tom Hanks portrayed him.

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