Church of Christ News

Church of Christ News (149)

Long Island
PHOTO BY MASTER SGT. MARK C. OLSEN, U.S. AIR FORCE
Jersey shore ... no more -       An aerial view during a U.S. Air Force mission shows extensive damage along the New Jersey coast.
CHRISTIANS IN THE NORTHEAST
find blessings in wake of Hurricane Sandy

Images of devastation appearing on TV sets around the world tell the story of what Hurricane Sandy did to the East Coast — but just barely, said Steve Aponte.
In the Rockaways, a peninsula on Long Island, N.Y., “the beach that once was there is now 15 to 20 blocks inland,” said Aponte, a member of the Long Island Church of Christ.
Packed with small homes and low-income apartments, neighborhoods in the Rockaways house more than 2,000 people in a five-block radius, Aponte said. A blast of seawater flooded the lower levels of buildings and buried the boilers, leaving residents without heat. Weeks after the storm, thousands remain without power, desperate for food, water and warm coats.
“The Red Cross can’t keep up with it. FEMA can’t keep up with it,” Aponte said, referring to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. “Thank God for Churches of Christ. ... My brothers and sisters down South, they’ve just been wonderful.”
Since the storm made landfall in New Jersey Oct. 29, Aponte, a retired  manager for a utility company, has spent most days distributing  truckloads of supplies sent by Churches of Christ Disaster Relief Effort in Nashville, Tenn.
At least 75 members of the Long Island church, in partnership with members of other Churches of Christ across the region, have distributed clothes, food and cleaning supplies. They have mopped floors and shoveled mud — and snow, dropped by a powerful “nor’easter” that followed Sandy — as they’ve helped the Rockaways begin the journey to normalcy.
“We’re doing anything and everything we can for the people,” Aponte said. “It’s going to be a long haul.”
‘GET TO A HIGHER LEVEL AND HOPE’
Working alongside the Long Island church members are some of Sandy’s victims, including Cornelius Heyward.
Heyward, who has served as minister for the Far Rockaway Church of Christ for 22 years, was in his home with his wife and three adult children when the storm hit.
“The water came up like a river,” Heyward said. “The surge was so quick that you couldn’t really respond ... (just) get to a higher level and hope.”
After the storm, water in the house’s lower level came up to the minister’s shoulders. The family was blessed to have a generator and electric heaters to get through the night, Heyward said. They slept huddled together in two upstairs bedrooms.
Now the family’s furniture sits in the backyard as they wait for insurance adjusters. The minister’s library is ruined, and the family has lost three cars. But they are grateful for what they have, Heyward said, adding that their No. 1 emergency supply during the storm was their Bible.
“Thank God it wasn’t worse,” Heyward said. All of the Far Rockaway church’s 160 members survived the storm, which claimed more than 130 lives in the U.S.
“Our members, they took it well,” Heyward said. “Most of them had relatives they could go to that had heat.
“I was proud that they responded by saying God is still in control. All of them have hope.”
The church was renting a school building for its worship services as it constructs a new facility, scheduled for completion in the spring. The storm flooded the school, so members worshiped with other area congregations, including the South Jamaica Church of Christ and the Roosevelt-Freeport Church of Christ, which planted the Far Rockaway church in 1977.
Recently, the school they were renting reopened.
“We’re looking forward to meeting this Sunday,” he said, days prior to the church's Nov. 18 service.
‘A LOST WORLD IN NEW JERSEY’
About 50 miles southwest of the Rockaways, church members are cleaning up homes and distributing aid in another community hit hard by Sandy — Union Beach, N.J.
The Gateway Church of Christ in Morganville, N.J., about 10 miles inland, has become a hub for relief efforts, said Carl Williamson, who moved to New Jersey eight years ago with his wife, Alicia, to serve as church planters.
As the family rode out the storm, one of the couple’s two daughters, 4-year-old Elle, said, “Daddy, God is showing his mighty.” Her father agreed.
Now the Gateway church is distributing aid from Churches of Christ Disaster Relief. It’s also working with another group, Florida-based Churches of Christ Disaster Response Team, and the Monmouth Church of Christ in Tinton Falls, N.J., to help the people of Union Beach recover.
“The truth is that Jesus is what these people really need, but it is certainly hard to realize that you need God in the aftermath of such great devastation,” Carl Williamson said. “The food from disaster relief is creating an opportunity for us to spread the Gospel to a lost world in New Jersey, and it is also acting as the hands and feet of Jesus.”
SUFFERING ... FIVE MILES AWAY
In the Rockaways, kindness shown by church members has resulted in opportunities to share Jesus, Aponte said. Storm victims have asked for Bible studies and rides to church.
The people helped by the church aren’t the only ones noticing, added his daughter, Rebecca Young. FEMA staffers and New York politicians have expressed admiration for the churches’ relief work. Young set up a Bible study with a New York City police officer who provided crowd control as the church members distributed aid.
“My children, ages 12, 11 and 10, have been waking up as early as 5:30 a.m. to get their schoolwork done just so they can join me in this relief effort,” said Young, who homeschools the children and operates a Christian preschool in her home.
Her husband, Rob Young, is principal of a public high school in the Far Rockaway neighborhood that was damaged badly during the storm. The principal arranged for Texas church member Mike Baumgartner to use the school’s parking lot as a base of operations for his Disaster Assistance Mission. From his mobile kitchen, Baumgartner and church members have served hundreds of hot meals to the community.
Church members are storing the truckloads of relief in a warehouse owned by the Roosevelt-Freeport congregation. The church’s minister, Walter Maxwell, “has been on call and ready whenever we have needed him,” Rebecca Young said. He’s also rallied volunteers to sort clothes and supplies.
“I find it hard to go on with my life as if nothing happened, knowing that only five miles away from me there are people who are suffering,” she added. Her heart breaks for one storm victim she’s met, Samantha, who is living in a damaged home with 11 family members.
Samantha recently traveled two hours by bus to attend Wednesday night service at the Long Island church.
“She was shivering cold when she got to me,” Young said. “I brought her hot food, and she and her 20-year-old daughter ate in my car before we went in to Bible class. ... She said she wants to keep coming to church with us. I pray she does and that her soul will be won over through this tragedy.”
FAITH IN GOD’S PROVISION
Even after distributing more than six tractor-trailer loads of relief supplies, more aid is needed, Steve Aponte said. The Long Island church also is running low on funds to rent U-Haul trucks and buy gas to get the supplies to the people who need them.
But he’s confident God will provide — as he’s done since the storm made landfall. Aponte recalled that, about four days after Sandy, in between truckloads, the church members had nothing to give out except clothes.
“I said, ‘Lord, you know what’s going on. We have no food to give these people. Just send people to us with diapers, baby food.’
“Within a half-hour, seven cars came, and all they had was food, diapers, baby stuff. I said, ‘How’d you know we were here?’ They said, ‘We got the word.’
“I’m telling you, I cried. God is so good, man. He’s just so good.”

RELIEF FOR THE NORTHEAST: Contact these churches and ministries to contribute to Hurricane Sandy relief efforts or to learn about other ways to help.
Churches of Christ Disaster Relief Effort Inc.disasterreliefeffort.org • (888) 541-2848
Churches of Christ Disaster Response Teamwww.churchesofchristdrt.org • (937) 308-2259
Disaster Assistance Missionwww.disasterassistancecoc.com • (281) 881-1876
Long Island Church of Christwww.licoc.org • (631) 348-7322
Far Rockaway Church of Christ www.farrockawaychurchofchrist.com • (718) 337-5102
Manhattan Church of Christmanhattanchurch.org • (212) 737-4900
Gateway Church of Christwww.gatewaynj.com • (615) 856-3315
Monmouth Church of Christwww.monmouthchurch.org • (732) 747-5193
 

Amity Printing Company passes 100-million mark.

Last week, Amity Printing Company chairman Qiu Zhonghui announced that the publisher had printed its 100 millionth copy of the Bible in July.

The milestone means China is now the biggest publisher of Bibles worldwide.

Chinese government spokesperson Guo Wei said, "The Chinese government respects and protects religious freedom and will continue to support printing and publishing Bibles in China."

Amity Printing began as a joint venture between the United Bible Societies (UBS) and the Amity Foundation in 1988. The company currently is based in Nanjing, China, about three hours from Shanghai.

CT recently profiled Baojiayin, an online-only retailer selling over 1,300 Christian books in China. CT has also examined whether or not Christians should continue smuggling Bibles into China.

China prints 100 million Bibles

Beijing: China has turned the world`s biggest Bible publisher after printing its 100 millionth copy earlier this year, the country`s only authorised Bible-printing company has claimed.
According to Qiu Zhonghui, chairman of the board of Amity Printing Co. Ltd., based in the Chinese city of Nanjing, the 100 millionth copy was printed in July, China Daily reported.
He says the company has printed about 60 million holy books, including nine ethnic minority language editions. It has also provided 40 million copies in over 90 languages to around 70 countries and regions in the world.
A joint venture of China`s Amity Foundation and the United Bible Societies, Amity Printing has been publishing the Bible since 1988.
Due to Chinese government policies, the company benefits from being exempted from various taxes when producing the Bible.
There are 16 million Christians, 55,000 churches or gathering venues, 36,000 missionaries and 100,000 church volunteers in China. Besides, the country has 18 divinity and Bible schools with 1,800 seminarians.

You can’t spell “Bisons” without “Si.”

The 2013 Don Meyer Evening of Excellence at Lipscomb University, named in honor of the longtime men’s basketball coach at the Nashville, Tenn., university, features guest speakers who represent a different sport entirely.

Duck hunting.

si bison
Lipscomb University mascot Big Dave and Si Robertson (Screenshot via lipscomb.edu)

Phil, Kay and Si Roberston, the stars of A&E Network’s “Duck Dynasty” and members of the White’s Ferry Road Church of Christ in West Monroe, La., will speak at the April 27, 2013 event. In a promotional video, Phil Robertson urges attendees to bring their duck calls “what you call ducks with,” and their Bibles, “the Gospel of Jesus, what you call men with.”

Brent High, Lipscomb’s associate athletic director for spiritual formation, made a marathon, 1,100-mile round trip from Nashville to West Monroe to shoot the video. Along for the ride were videographer Tom Zaleski and cross country runner (and confessed “Duck Dynasty” addict) Alexander McMeen, who played the role of Lipscomb’s mascot, Big Dave.

In a message to Lipscomb athletics boosters, High writes:

I visited with Phil in his duck blind as Tom was getting everything ready for the video shoot. Phil asked very simply, “Is there going to be anyone there who needs to hear about Jesus?”

I assured him the answer was yes. That’s quite honestly the main reason I’m writing tonight.

Who can you invite that needs to hear about Jesus?

I can tell you right now without a shadow of a doubt that Phil Robertson is going to present the good news of Jesus on April 27th in as direct and powerful a way as anyone you have ever heard in your life. It’ll be a powerful reminder and encouragement for those of us who have already accepted him as Savior and Lord.

We don’t need to miss this opportunity as Christians to let God increase His Kingdom.

 

from the Christian Chronicle Blog

dd group 08202012 jf 0076

Phil, Jase, Si and Willie Robertson of "Duck Dynasty" (Photo provided by A&E)

At the end of every episode of “Duck Dynasty,” the Robertsons gather for a family meal and pray.

Duck Commander Phil Robertson told The Christian Chronicle recently that he always prays in Jesus’ name but the A&E show edits out the “Jesus” before the “Amen.”

For one night at least, that changed.

“Through Jesus, I pray,” Phil Robertson, an elder for the White’s Ferry Road Church of Christ in West Monroe, La., prayed at the end of Wednesday night’s second new episode. “Amen.”

Al Robertson, Phil’s son and a fellow elder with the White’s Ferry Road church, said the family was pleased.

“We are pleased that A&E honored Phil’s persistence, and our Lord, by leaving in Jesus’ name at the end of our family prayer,” Al Robertson said in response to a question from the Chronicle.

from the Christian Chronicle Blog

 

 

459px-Sandy Oct 28 2012 1555Z
Just three days after Superstorm Sandy pummeled much of the nation’s East Coast with severe winds and torrential flooding, donations to relief efforts are pouring in, CNN reports.

Ministries associated with Churches of Christ are among those responding to the needs:

Churches of Christ Disaster Relief Effort: Truckloads of emergency food and supplies are on the way to the Roosevelt Freeport Church of Christ in Roosevelt, N.Y., the Gateway Church of Christ in Union Beach, N.J., and the Garretson Road Church of Christ in Bridgewater, N.J., according to the ministry’s website. Volunteers are busy packing additional food boxes at the Nashville, Tenn., warehouse.

Disaster Assistance CoC: The ministry, sponsored by the Lake Jackson Church of Christ in Texas, is in Hoboken, N.J., preparing hot meals for storm victims. Mike Baumgartner directs the effort.

Churches of Christ Disaster Response Team and WFR Relief Ministries are collecting funds for Sandy relief and promising to help.

 

 

from the Christian Chronicle Blog

Jones
PHOTO BY TED PARKS HE WALKS THE TALK -       Minister David Jones visits residents at the Schrader Acres Assisted Living Center, a ministry of the Schrader Lane Church of Christ in Nashville, Tenn.
NASHVILLE, TENN. - When the Schrader Lane Church of Christ moved to its current location in 1968, members occasionally had to chase cows and hogs off the property, minister David Jones recalls.
Forty-four years later, the 15-acre campus is home to a licensed child-care center, a 21-apartment senior center and an assisted-living facility.
Jones preaches to nearly a thousand people every Sunday. The church tutors children, sponsors leadership training and academic enrichment programs and supports missions in Africa.
Jones recently celebrated five decades of ministry for the church, which met on Jefferson Street before moving to Schrader Lane, north of downtown Nashville.
Those who know him say Jones has done much more than just talk about the Gospel these past 50 years. He has given the message hands and feet, empowering the church to take on problems Nashville shares with many American cities: under-performing schools, crime and the hopelessness fostered by discrimination and poverty.
“He takes the doctrine of sin very seriously, but he also takes the doctrine of redemption very seriously,” said Rubel Shelly, who ministered for Churches of Christ in Nashville from 1978 to 2005. “He believes that redemption is not simply the forgiveness of sins, but it’s the empowerment of the Holy Spirit to be a servant to God to change the world in positive ways.”


EDUCATION AND DISCRIMINATION


The journey that led Jones to a half-century of ministry in Nashville began in northern Louisiana, where his father was a sharecropper. His mother helped support the family by cleaning the homes of whites.
Jones grew up Baptist, but that changed when his mother attended a tent meeting in 1954 in Bastrop, La., held by evangelists Luke Shearry and James Cooper. A white Church of Christ in town sponsored the two black preachers, Jones said.
When Jones’ mother told him she had finally found the church described in the Bible, he argued with her.
“I thought it was the craziest thing I’d ever heard of, because we were already in the church,” he recalled. “And those people had a tent.”
But Jones soon followed his mother’s example and was baptized. A handyman as well as a preacher, Shearry became a mentor to Jones. The two built a facility for the church that sprang from the tent meeting.
About a year later, Jones took advantage of one of the few educational opportunities in Churches of Christ open to black members — the Nashville Christian Institute, a primary and secondary school launched in 1940. Jones graduated as valedictorian from the school, known as NCI, in 1958.
Bible instructors from another Church of Christ school, David Lipscomb College, taught classes at NCI. But Lipscomb refused to admit black students.
“It troubled me that I could go to … most schools that were northern, and even in the South, but I couldn’t go to Lipscomb, where I needed to go,” Jones said.
In contrast, Lambert and Mary Campbell, white church members who housed Jones between terms at NCI, treated him like family. Mary Campbell taught public speaking to black preachers at NCI.
“I remember meeting (Mary Campbell) downtown, anywhere, she’d just grab you and hug you, and that was just unheard of back in the 1950s and ’60s,” Jones said.
He also remembered Mary Campbell telling him, “Don’t let the ignorance of a few people stop you from learning what you need to know.”
“Learn all you can,” she urged him, “use your mind well, stay out of trouble, and you’ll have plenty of time to fix things.”


CHANGING THE CHURCH’S IMAGE

Jones took the advice.
Graduating from Tennessee State University in 1963 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and English, he earned a master’s in guidance and counseling in 1967. He completed a doctorate in education at Vanderbilt University in 1981.
While preaching, Jones worked in Nashville public schools for more than 30 years, rising to the rank of assistant superintendent.
In 1962, the Jefferson Street church invited him to serve as assistant minister as the congregation’s elderly preacher transitioned out. Jones and his wife, Carolyne, lived in an apartment above the auditorium.
On Sundays, Mrs. Jones put a roast in the oven to cook while her husband preached.
“The only problem was that the aroma would seep into the church auditorium and make everyone hungry,” recalled Carolyne Jones, now an archivist for the church. The Joneses celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary next year.
When plans for constructing Interstate 40 through Nashville called for the congregation to relocate, Jones honed his vision for the church. While some members wanted the congregation to move to a more affluent part of town, Jones preferred to stay in the area, home to historically black schools including Tennessee State, Fisk University and Meharry Medical College.
“I wanted to change the basic image of what the church could be,” Jones remembered. “I wanted the church to really be … the biblical model of an active, life-changing church.”
In 1968 — a year marked by the death of civil rights crusader Martin Luther King Jr. and racially charged riots across the nation — the church inaugurated its new building on Schrader Lane by hosting a “Race Relations Workshop.”
As historian Richard Hughes noted in “Reviving the Ancient Faith: The Story of Churches of Christ in America,” the workshop was one of three key meetings of church leaders in the 1960s to deal with racism.


SERVING SOULS, YOUNG AND OLD

 
In 1972, the church opened a childcare center, initially overseen by Carolyne  Jones. Forty years later, only about 6 percent of the center’s students — ages 3 to kindergarten — are from Schrader Lane families, said Shirlee G. McClesky, program’s current director.
The church’s service to the community through the center has drawn new people to the church, McClesky added.
In the 1980s, a rash of muggings and break-ins plagued the neighborhoods near Schrader Lane. Frightened widows asked the church for prayers.
The church prayed — and constructed the Schrader Acres Senior Citizens Center on its campus in 1985 to support and protect the elderly.
Jones originally planned to seek government funding for the center but changed his mind, convinced Schrader Lane could rise to the challenge.
“I don’t want to get the government to do it. I want us to do it,” he said.
In 2004, the church built the Schrader Acres Assisted Living Center. Members dug deep and paid off the loan for the $4.5 million facility in four-and-a-half years with no federal help.
Schrader Lane elder Anthony Etheridge credits Jones with foreseeing the positive impact Schrader Lane’s facilities would have on both the congregation and community.
“He’s been able to see way down the road,” Etheridge said.
Jack Evans, a longtime friend of Jones, called the preacher’s five decades of ministry “miraculous.”
From a handful of souls, Schrader Lane has become one of the largest predominantly black churches in the nation, said Evans, president of Southwestern Christian College in Terrell, Texas, a historically black college associated with Churches of Christ.
“And he has not only preached the Gospel,” Evans said, “but he has demonstrated what it means to live the Gospel.”
 
defaced signHUNTINGTON, Ind. (WANE) A viewer used  Report !t to send WANE pictures of the sign in front of the  South Broadway Church of Christ in Huntington on Friday.

One side of the sign read “Christ voted Democrat” and the other read “Romney hates women”.

Luke Jackson, the pastor of the church, said the statements on the sign were vandalism and that the authorities had been contacted.

"I had about eight missed calls from church members and people from the community," Jackson said.

He said the sign must have been changed late Thursday night, but not by anyone associated with the church. The sign was still up Friday morning, but Jackson said an elder with the church came in and changed it.

Jackson said the person responsible used letters that were already on the marquee, and stole the remanding letters that were used Thursday.

"One community member in particular had said, 'I don't believe a church should be promoting anything like that in a political way,' and I agreed 100 percent," he said.

On one part of the sign, it says "Jesus said forgive". Jackson said that's in reference to he and the church forgiving the person responsible for changing the sign.

"I would like for them to come and visit us on Sunday, we'll love to have them," said Jackson.

NewsChannel 15 tried to call Huntington Police regarding the investigation and see what charges could be faced in this situation, but our calls were not return.

protest-1024x686

In Duraz, Bahrain, people protest against an anti-Islamic YouTube video. The banner, in Arabic, reads: "The Islamic nation will not tolerate with those who offend its sanctities." (Photo by Mohamed CJ, via Wikimedia Commons)

Online now, find The Christian Chronicle’s coverage of the recent protests over a YouTube video that angered the Muslim world.

How should Christians respond to Muslim rage? We talk to church members, including those with extensive experience in North Africa and the Middle East, about the issue.

EDITORIAL: The high calling of free speech. We defend the First Amendment — and use it to express our distaste at the insulting video and condemnation of the acts of violence that followed.

Christ and Islam: A view from Africa. In a web-exclusive column, a longtime missionary in Mozambique talks about his experiences living among Muslims.

Understandably, we have received responses to the stories as they appeared in the November print issue. Statements in our front-page story led some readers to believe that we were linking the protests against the film to the death of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens in Libya, and a statement in the editorial made a direct link between the two. (U.S. officials were making similar claims as we went to press with the issue.)

Recent news reports indicate that the death of Stevens was the result of a terrorist attack that was not connected to the demonstrations. We have corrected the references in the story and editorial and sincerely apologize for the error.

We approached this emotionally charged topic prayerfully as we reported on it. We continue to pray, echoing the sentiments of Khalil Jahshan, one of the experts we interviewed for our coverage.

When asked what he prays for with regard to the Middle East, Jahshan replied, “Any time you see turmoil like this, what else? My permanent prayer always has been and always will be for peace and stability. That is what we are instructed to do as Christians.

“Our No. 1 priority always should be peace, which is probably the furthest thing right now from the region.”

from the Christian Chronicle Blog

INNER-CITY CONGREGATION working to expand its outreach to former inmates who have served their time.
 
2159782
PHOTO BY BOBBY ROSS JR.
Elder Randy George and minister emeritus James O. Maxwell visit outside a one-time dry cleaners that the Roswell Church of Christ intends to convert into a resource center for released inmates.
KANSAS CITY, Kan.
— Monique Singh wraps her arms around Vickie Owens, her beloved sister in Christ, and gently kisses the side of her head.
 
If not for Owens and fellow members of the Roswell Church of Christ,  Singh has no doubt that she'd still be trapped in an abyss of  desperation and despair.
 
"God has delivered me from the bondage of myself: drugs, alcohol,  prostitution, gang affiliation, homelessness, a hopeless state of mind," said Singh, 45. "I realized I needed a savior — Jesus — and this family took me in as I was and loved me until I learned to love myself."
 
Through inmate mentoring, addiction support groups, private counseling  and transitional "houses of hope," the Roswell church strives to share  Jesus — and a better way of life.
 
Now the inner-city congregation endeavors to renovate a one-time dry  cleaners and transform it into a Christian resource center to serve  prisoners after their release.
 
"Christ reached out to the downtrodden. I don't think we should be any different," church elder Randy George said, recalling Jesus' concern for the "least of these" in Matthew 25. "If we're going to impact the community, we have to reach out to those who feel that they have no hope."

'NOT TOO BIG FOR GOD'

The Kansas Department of Corrections has an initiative called Mentoring4Success. The program, supported by Gov. Sam Brownback, aims to provide a mentor for every person coming out of prison.
 
"The governor has found out what we already know," George said. "In order to have a higher success rate, many of those that have been incarcerated need support once they're released.
 
"If they don't have support, they will go back to the same environment that caused them to be incarcerated," the elder added. "So the church has been very active in not only preaching the Gospel in the prison but trying to follow through."
 
Roswell members collaborate on inmate mentoring with the Bonner Springs Church of Christ and the Overland Park Church of Christ — both in Kansas. Also active in the jail and prison ministry are the Heartland Church of Christ and the Swope Parkway Church of Christ, both in Kansas City, Mo.
With help from volunteers, including union laborers, the Roswell church has put a new roof on the former cleaners and installed external doors and windows, minister emeritus James O. Maxwell said.
 
However, completing the project will require an additional $200,000 to $300,000, said Maxwell, who serves as vice president of institutional advancement for Southwestern Christian College in Terrell, Texas, and commutes to Kansas City on weekends.
 
"This is really bigger than all of us — but not too big for God," Maxwell said of the resource center. "We believe if we share this need with the brotherhood, what we want to do and how we want to do it, there may be people who say, 'Yeah, I think that's a good work and want to support it.'"
The project has the backing of Nathan Barnes, a commissioner for the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kan.
Barnes describes the Roswell church as a beacon of light in a blighted community.
 
"They are roll-up-your-sleeves and start-where-you-are kind of people," Barnes said of the church. "I'm with them 150 percent."
Already, the 400-member congregation is building a housing complex to serve low-income senior citizens. Funded with a $5.1 million federal grant, that project is expected to be completed by next spring.
 
"Economically, what we've been able to do is nothing but a miracle because we've been able to do it on faith," George said. "Just within the congregation, many people would say there's no way we could have done what we've already done."

'A BIG, BRIGHT LIGHT'

Church leaders envision the resource center as a hub for those seeking employment, housing, food and clothing as well as services such as resume writing, computer training, family and marriage classes and money management seminars.
Owens, a Roswell member for 34 years, served as a mentor when a drug treatment center referred Singh to the congregation's houses of hope.
"I will brag on Monique," Owens said, "because you feel good when you've helped somebody to turn their life around, to get off the drugs and the old lifestyle, and really become a Christian and do what God wants you to do."
 
For nearly three years, Singh has been sober with no relapses, she said. Now she focuses on street outreach, handing out informational flyers to drug addicts, prostitutes and gang members.
 
The resource center will welcome outcasts, she said, who feel rejected and repugnant.
"Prostitution, drugs, gangs — it's all in this area that we're in," Singh said. "This would be like a light in the dark — a big, bright light."
 
TO HELP with the resource center, a nonprofit under the Roswell Church of Christ, see www.roswellchurchof christ.org or write to 2900 Roswell Avenue, Kansas City, KS 66104 Attn.: Randy George.
 
 
 
DuckDynasty
 
PHOTO PROVIDED BY AL ROBERTSON
Jacob and Esaus - Al Robertson, third from left, dares to be different. He's pictured with his brothers Willie and Jase, father Phil, uncle Si, brother Jeptha and duck call makers Justin Martin and John Godwin.
FOR THESE REALITY TV STARS, 'holding Hollywood's hand' presents a challenge as they endeavor to share Jesus.
 
WEST MONROE, La. — Hollywood, meet the real Robertsons.
A&E's hit reality series "Duck Dynasty" has made celebrities out of Duck Commander Phil Robertson, his wife Kay and their bearded, camo-clad sons Willie, Jase and Jeptha, not to mention "Uncle Si," Phil's younger brother.
As the network portrays it, the series — whose Season 1 finale drew 2.6 million viewers — follows a Louisiana bayou family living the American dream as they operate a thriving duck call and decoy business while staying true to their family values.
For the Robertsons, those values relate to the grace and salvation found in Jesus.
But for the show's producers, the family's strong Christian faith seems to be an uncomfortable storyline — one frequently chopped in the editing room.
"They pretty much cut out most of the spiritual things," Phil Robertson, a one-time honky-tonk operator who gave up his heathen lifestyle in the 1970s, told The Christian Chronicle. "We say them, but they just don't run them on the show.
"Hollywood has run upon the kingdom of God, and there's a rub there," said the Duck Commander, a tenacious personal evangelist who has brought hundreds of souls to new life in the Ouachita River. "Well, we have to be as harmless as a dove and as shrewd as a snake in the way we deal with them."
The entire Robertson family is active with the White's Ferry Road Church of Christ, which meets just a few miles from the Duck Commander/Buck Commander warehouse in this northeast Louisiana town of 13,000.
"They have been consistently evangelistic," White's Ferry Road minister and elder Mike Kellett said of the Robertsons. "Jase and Willie were both in my youth group years ago and were reaching out to the lost as teens."
Other White's Ferry Road members include duck call makers John Godwin and Justin Martin and secretary Linda Hammit, a former missionary to Tanzania with her husband, Ryan.
Godwin has lost 35 pounds since ripping off his shirt in a scene in which a skunk sprayed him. In an impromptu interview at the warehouse, he said he grew up "kind of knowing about God."
But when his wife, Paula, pushed him to go to church, he resisted.
"I don't want to be around these holy rollers," he recalls telling her.
Then the longtime paper mill employee met the Duck Commander. Godwin decided he'd go to church and maybe stock up on "duck calls" — hunting tools used to emulate the sound of ducks.
"Boy, I got way more than that," he said of his conversion to Christ.

NO BEARD FOR 'REPLACEMENT WILLIE'

Phil Robertson and his oldest son Al — the clean-shaven member of the clan who describes himself as a "Jacob in a family of Esaus" — both serve as White's Ferry Road church elders.
After 20 years in the pulpit, Al Robertson recently stepped down as one of the 1,200-member congregation's ministers.
He left to help run the family business, which has exploded with growth since "Duck Dynasty" premiered last spring. This year the company expects to sell more than 150,000 duck calls.
"I'm the replacement Willie," said Al Robertson, who doesn't have an official title.
While still preaching some, he's filling in the gaps for his CEO brother as Willie Robertson meets the demands of running the company and taping the show. Each episode takes about a week to film.
Willie's wife, Korie Robertson, is the daughter of John Howard, also a White's Ferry Road elder and Duck Commander employee. Korie's grandfather, the late Alton Howard, wrote gospel songs and sold more than 3 million church hymnals used in Churches of Christ.
"It's a total mission and ministry," Kay Robertson said of "Duck Dynasty," which launches its second season Oct. 10.
Despite the spiritual material cut out of the show, the duck diva said, "We're so blessed for what we can get in there. That's really unknown in today's TV on a regular, big TV network like that."

'GOD-FEARING, FAMILY-ORIENTED PEOPLE'

"Money. Family. Ducks," proclaims the tagline on A&E posters promoting the show.
Except that the "Money" part has been scratched out on the posters seen at the newly opened Duck Commander store, where hundreds of fans who show up at the warehouse can buy "Phil for President" T-shirts and catch a glimpse of the world's largest duck call.
"They give us these to pass out," Al Robertson said of the posters. "We 'X' out 'money' and write in 'faith.' What's interesting is, most people get it, and they think A&E did that."
People enjoy reality television for many reasons, including the shock factor, said Jim Miller, director of the mass communication program at Harding University in Searcy, Ark.
Television producers know that reality often needs to be altered to make interesting viewing or overemphasize certain stereotypes, the professor said.
"That explains some of the tension the Robertsons apparently feel with the producers of 'Duck Dynasty,'" Miller said. "I think people are especially interested in 'Duck Dynasty' because the Robertsons' family and friends are outrageous, unpredictable characters. Yet they also are relatable and likable. They are God-fearing, family-oriented people who enjoy life."
By taking advantage of an opportunity to be "salt and light" in the entertainment media, the Robertsons gain a voice and a presence in a culture-shaping industry, Miller said.
"The challenges they face deal with compromise," he said. "For example, does the opportunity to influence a segment of culture in very broad ways as TV personalities outweigh the disappointment they may feel with the producers cutting out 'in Jesus' name' at the end of every televised prayer?"
Equally shocking to the Robertsons: In the first two episodes, the producers bleeped out words said by Willie and Korie to make it appear that they cursed. The family complained. As Al Robertson explained, "We don't cuss."
Jase Robertson, slipping his beanie off his head before praying, alluded to the tension as he shared communion thoughts on a recent Sunday.
"It's a slippery slope when you're holding Hollywood's hand and you're trying to accomplish something," he told fellow church members, "when deep down all you want to do is proclaim that Jesus is Lord."

'HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY'

In the first season of "Duck Dynasty," the Robertsons waged war on beavers disrupting the water supply and hunted bullfrogs on a golf course.
The Robertson women sold some of the men's prized possessions in a yard sale, while their bearded spouses hatched a plan to build a luxury duck blind in the sky and tried to suck bees out of a honey-filled hive with a portable vacuum cleaner.
Amid the humorous misadventures, a few glimpses of the family's faith survived.
In one episode, Kay told Phil that it was his Christian duty to babysit his granddaughters. In another, Phil urged one of his grandsons to find a woman who knows how to cook, lives by her Bible and loves to eat bullfrogs.
In still another episode, Si said that he always travels with three things: a gallon jug of iced tea, his plastic cup and his Bible.
One scene found Phil relaxing in his easy chair, his Bible open on his lap, as he prepared to preach. "Duck Commander Sunday is basically a redneck rendition of fearing God, loving your neighbor," Phil said on that episode. "We all sing church songs, everybody wearing camo, and everybody happy happy happy."

WHO'S THE UGLY DUCKLING?

Al Robertson dares to be different.
He shaves.
He likens himself to Marilyn on the 1960s sitcom "The Munsters."
"She was beautiful," Al explained. "She thought she was ugly because she was around ugly people."
He joked that he feels the same way about his brothers, who used to shave after every duck hunting season until the beards and camouflage became a permanent marketing tool.
"Really, it's not that hard of an image to project," Al said with a laugh. "You just have to let yourself go: Quit shaving. Quit bathing. Quit worrying about it."
"Duck Dynasty" is based loosely on events in the Robertsons' lives, but the producers change scenarios to fit storylines.
"In terms of people, Si is the most like he really is," Al said of his uncle, whom he likens to Barney Fife on "The Andy Griffith Show" or Kramer on "Seinfeld."
Kay Robertson agreed: "I'm telling you, Uncle Si has always been crazy. But we never thought he'd do that on camera."
Si Robertson, a Vietnam veteran presented as single on the show, is married. He and his wife, Christine, are active members of the church.
Since Willie serves as the CEO, the show touts him as the responsible member of the family. That's not quite the full truth, Al said.
"Willie is just as irresponsible as anybody, just to let you know," his brother said with a chuckle. "And then Jase, they kind of have him as the wild man and all that, but he's much more conservative in personality than he projects on the show."
As for himself, Al said he wouldn't mind appearing on the show in the future — preferably without a beard: "My idea was, jokingly, that they have me come in and demand to know why I've been left out of the family."

TALKING DUCKS, SHARING JESUS

Even before "Duck Dynasty," Phil Robertson developed a wide following for his powerful, revivalist-style gospel preaching. He talks about ducks. He shares Jesus.
As the show has gained popularity, though, crowds once in the hundreds have swelled into the thousands, Kay Robertson said.
Phil Robertson said he and his sons Al and Jase preach the same message of faith, repentance and baptism wherever they're invited.
"We don't have godly people and followers of Jesus owning the channel that we're on or filming what we do," Phil said. "So what you see (on TV) is a functional, godly family, but there's not a whole lot of Gospel and Bible verses.
"However, the audience ... can be reached in other ways than the TV show," he added. "We're going to be making a Robertson family tour. You'll see the real family when you get us in some arena somewhere and it's just us telling people the good news of Jesus.
"People just have to realize that there's more than one way to skin a cat."
 
 
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