An Easter Tale for ‘Perilous’ Times

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

Easter Jesus palm SundayJesus (actor Kyle Warmington) leads a Palm Sunday parade in last year’s production at Magnify ChurchThe true story of missionary Amy Carmichael is woven with depictions from Jesus' life in the latest Magnify Church Easter musical, "Perilous."

"(Amy) is a real Christian heroine," said "Perilous" director Vicki Modert of Carmichael - an Irish-born woman who served the poor, abandoned and abused in south India.

She died in 1951 after working in mission for more than 50 years.

Three different actresses portray Carmichael in the story – in childhood, her teen years, and as an adult. And the biblical scenes offer the characters (and the audience) a view of the Easter story.

Rockford Resident Launches Loving Kay Refij Ministry in Haiti Following Trip That Changed Her Heart

Written by Paul R. Kopenkoskey on . Posted in Local

Cutline No. 1Porta Schut holding one of the Haitian orphans she fell in love with. Porta Schut remembers returning from her first trip to Haiti in 2016 following a visit to an orphanage. She felt confused and helpless.

"There was something about these (Haitian) children that changed my heart," recalls Schut, who lives in Rockford. "I wanted to hug them continually."

These days, Schut's hugs are expressed in a number of ways. She is the founder of the nonprofit ministry Loving Kay Refij (LKR), which in Creole means "house of refuge."

DeVries’ Grace Explorations Helping Men Reach Mountaintop of Their Souls Through Community, Story-telling. And That Might Even Be Over a Beer

Written by Paul R. Kopenkoskey on . Posted in Local

Kevin.DeVries.1Kevin DeVries: “We’re going to dive into the interior of the human soul and we’re basically going to say the greatest journey is always within.” He's scaled five of the seven continental summits, skied the North Pole and searched for the elusive Noah's Ark.

Despite these death-defying episodes in his life, Kevin DeVries, founder and president of Grand Rapids-based Grace Explorations, says the greatest journey is when men reach the mountaintop of their souls by descending to who they really are in Christ.

"Here's the thing: I really don't care about summits anymore, I don't care about elevations, I don't care about the physicality of it," says DeVries. "I'm 54 years old. We're going to dive into the interior of the human soul and we're basically going to say the greatest journey is always within."

Constanza Elected President of the Missionary Society of Catholic Priests

Written by Paul R. Kopenkoskey on . Posted in Local

constanzaPaulist Fr. René Constanza, who has served since 2018 as rector of the Cathedral of Saint Andrew in Grand Rapids, superior of the Paulist Fathers there and director of the Catholic Information Center in Grand Rapids, has been elected the next president of the missionary society of Catholic priests. In June, he will succeed Paulist Fr. Eric Andrews, who is completing his second, four-year term as president.

"I am deeply humbled and honored by the overwhelming support I have received from my Paulist brothers," wrote René in a message to his parishioners in Grand Rapids. "Despite the challenging and e xciting task ahead, I feel a pervading sense of peace knowing that the Holy Spirit is the one in charge of our community and its mission. It also is comforting to continue trusting in God who has always placed wonderful and talented people around me in every leadership role I have had."

Dégagé opens Thrift on Div Store

Written by Paul R. Kopenkoskey on . Posted in Local

thriftDégagé Ministries recently opened its new Thrift on Div store at 140 S. Division Ave. The store offers new and gently used women and men's fashions and will feature artwork and crafts by Heartside artisans, provide an unparalleled shopping experience and employment through Dégagé's Workforce Development Program.

The store will be open Tuesday-Friday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., as well as Thursday evenings 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., with the anticipation of additional hours in the spring.

The interior design of Thrift on Div is the vision of Workforce Development Coordinator, Stacy Postma, who has extensive retail and education experience.

Salvation Army of KC Hires Donor Director

Written by Paul R. Kopenkoskey on . Posted in Local

curtisThe Salvation Army of Kent County has named Joseph Curtis as the organization's donor development director.

In his role, Curtis will function as the key fundraiser working with donors, prospects, foundations, corporate partners and other community organizations to raise financial and in-kind donations that will advance the mission of The Salvation Army of Kent County.

"My aspiration is to bring people together through newly discovered resources and act as a catalyst for business leaders eager to help foster positive change. That's my life's calling," Curtis said. "It happens to be what I do for a living."

World Renew Moves Office to Byron Center

Written by Paul R. Kopenkoskey on . Posted in Local

worldrenewWorld Renew, the Christian Reformed Church in North America's international relief and development organization, is moving from its current location in the denominational offices in Grand Rapids to Byron Center. World Renew Canada will remain in the CRCNA's Burlington, Ont. building.

A building has been purchased at 8970 Byron Commerce Dr. SW and is around 10 miles from the CRCNA offices. The idea for the purchase came into discussion after a 2019 recommendation was made by CRCNA U.S. Corporation, owners of the current denominational building, to remodel the existing offices and resize the property.

The timeline of World Renew's projected move was then significantly delayed by the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020, but the delay resulted in an outcome that is now adjusted to the current pandemic reality.

Guiding Light Opens Sixth Iron Man House

Written by Paul R. Kopenkoskey on . Posted in Local

ironhouseGuiding Light recently opened its sixth Iron Man house in the city of Kentwood at an undisclosed location. The home comes at a time of increased demand for addiction recovery services.

Able to accommodate seven men, the four-unit apartment building increases the nonprofit's capacity to house men as they transition back into the mainstream of society after successfully completing the Foundation phase of Guiding Light's Recovery program. In total, Guiding Light can house a total of 42 men in its six Iron House locations.

The apartments are designed for community-oriented sober living and are reserved exclusively for men who have finished four to six months of intensive residential treatment that combines evidence-based practices, life-coaching, therapy, support groups, spiritual direction and other resources to equip men to stay sober and reengage with their family, friends and community.

Master Arts Loses its Pioneer Founder

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

Pris McDonaldPris McDonaldStaff and supporters of the local Master Arts Theatre are making plans for a life celebration for the organization's founder and long time director. Priscilla (Pris) McDonald passed away Feb. 11 in Florida at her winter home.

"Pris created a legacy of God-honoring creativity, theatre and theatre artists in this community," stated current MAT executive director Tim Van Bruggen.

McDonald became the faith-based theatre company's first executive director in 1987. She had continued to serve as artistic director after Van Bruggen began his duties in 2015. She retired from that role only recently.

People don’t attend church? Meet Stephen Nylen and his devout band of brothers who declare the Gospel week-after-week on the streets of Grand Rapids, regardless of weather conditions

Written by Paul R. Kopenkoskey on . Posted in Local

sn1Taking a knee and praying for God’s wisdom and favor before setting out to proclaim the Gospel. The 28-degree nighttime temperature is crisp and chilly, made even colder thanks to a wind chill that makes it feel closer to a frosty 10 degrees. It's the perfect evening to huddle inside and sip a cup of hot chocolate.

But for five men who've gathered on a recent Tuesday at the intersection of Burton Street and Eastern Avenue in Southeast Grand Rapids' Alger Heights neighborhood, the night will take on a decidedly different focus.

Four men have joined Stephen Nylen, an open-air preacher who founded Frontline Apologetics around 10 years ago, to declare Christ's salvation outside, where there are no walls, no order of service and no furnace to keep them warm.

Some of the men that work in evangelistic concert with Nylen — Daniel Cross, Joel VanOyen and Jason Silverthorne — will hold placards with Bible verses printed on them and, when possible, hand out four panel, doubled sided pamphlets with the headline, "Do You Know Jesus Christ" ablaze on it, to those willing to accept them.

Family Gospel Group Continues Its Legacy

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

Legacy CD coverThe long-awaited “Legacy” CD is now completeThe James Family Singers, a West Michigan gospel music group more than a half-century old, has released a new collection of songs which builds on its distinguished legacy.

"We started taking about this project way back in 2014," said Marvis James, 72, one of several patriarchs in the talented chorale. "We're getting older and we wanted to leave something behind as a musical legacy for the nieces and nephews and others."

So the title of the 11-song CD, "Legacy," is a natural and resonates on numerous levels.

Several of the anthems, such as "The Lord's Prayer" and "Center of My Joy" are songs the family group has performed for decades, yet has never recorded.

That's understandable, since their previous album dates back to 1993.

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