Church of Christ News

Church of Christ News (149)

“I never liked church. … It was a symbol of the system that oppressed us.”

Thankfully for hundreds of souls, Machona Monyamane changed his opinion of church after he became a student in the World Bible School correspondence ministry. The native of South Africa has helped plant congregations and baptized untold numbers of his countrymen. He serves the Seeiso Street Church of Christ in Pretoria, South Africa, and currently is a student at Harding University in Searcy, Ark.

Speaking at an Oklahoma City benefit dinner sponsored by the Texas-based ministry, Monyamane shared the story of his conversion. (He’s one of many African Christians who came to faith through WBS. See our recent post about Kenyan minister Jacob Agak.)

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Machona Monyamane speaks during a World Bible School fundraiser in Oklahoma City. (Photo by Erik Tryggestad)

A former communist sympathizer, Monyamane enrolled in WBS after he saw his roommate studying a lesson. He wasn’t looking for a relationship with Christ. He was looking for ammunition to debate against Christianity in South Africa, then under the racial segregation system known as apartheid.

His teacher, John Morgan of Chattanooga, Tenn., patiently “answered my stupid questions,” Monyamane said. After months of back-and-forth correspondence, Morgan asked Monyamane to get in contact with a South African preacher who would give him some additional books on Christianity and answer any questions he had.

The minister’s name: George Funk.

Monyamane knew immediately he was white — one of the oppressors. Nonetheless, he found the courage to call Funk and set up a meeting for May 18, 1996.

“We talked for two hours,” Monyamane said. Every time he asked a question, Funk “put a smile on his face and a finger on the passage” in the Bible.

After the discussion, Monyamane decided to leave communism behind and become a Christian. They found a swimming pool with locked gate and looked for the owner. Though apartheid had ended in 1991, racial tensions still existed, and the pair weren’t sure how the pool’s owner would react.

Unable to locate the owner, Funk decided they should jump the fence, perform the baptism and, if necessary, beg the owner’s pardon.

In the years since, Monyamane has performed hundreds, possibly thousands, of baptisms among his countrymen, said John Reese, World Bible School’s president.

Monyamane thanked Christians in the U.S. for sacrificing their funds and their time to teach students around the globe through WBS.

Now “we’re serving Christ together,” he said, noting the Great Commission delivered by Jesus in Matthew 28: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”

Though Jesus was specific in what his followers should do, he didn’t specify how to do it, Monyamane said, adding that “WBS is one way to go.”

When it comes to taking the Gospel to the world, Jesus “didn’t give instructions in black and white,” he said.

 

from the Christian Chronicle Blog

Last week, Jonathan Fagan sent me a link to this article in the Murfreesboro Post about an open house at the Fosterville Church of Christ.

Intriguing aspects of its history have been uncovered during a six-month restoration of the building by local historic preservationist Jonathon Fagan, but organizers of the event are keeping a lid on specifics until the big day.

“We found some of the most interesting artifacts and inscriptions in the building’s iconic steeple, and tracked down their source in the Fosterville Cemetery,” Fagan said. “It’s quite rare for a Church of Christ of that era to have had a wooden structure with so many unique design elements, and the congregation has done a fine job of preserving it for more than 135 years."

 

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Unusual Shaped Steeple - drawn in red the masonic sign.

A historical church and a century-old mystery involving a cemetery? Count me in.

So on Saturday, I went down to Fosterville, which is two churches, an old stone wall, a post office, and a couple of other buildings along the railroad tracks. Minister Jeff Adcock, who is a descendant of the families that first built the church and who now serves the church, spoke at length about the 1890 tornado that severely damaged the church and killed the father of E.A. Elam, an important figure in Church of Christ history (Elam's father also being one of Adcock's ancestors).

 

....And then it appears that Fagan gave some thought to the steeple, which is unusually elaborate for a Church of Christ church built in the 1880s. Just a quick perusal of Google images for Church of Christ churches will show you how odd this steeple is. (There are some fancy downtown church steeples, but in general the Churches of Christ that have steeples tend to have ones with more simple designs.) Fagan and Adcock, though, seem to have had a hunch based on the presence of that Masonic symbol, and they went and measured the angles of the steeple. The top part of the steeple has a 33-degree angle. The pointed bits are at 90-degree right angles.

read more here

 

historical writing about the building here

 

used by permission: © 1995-2013 City Press LLC, 210 12th Ave. S., Ste. 100, Nashville, TN 37203

 

The latest news: On Sunday, the congregation celebrated the opening of its new building.

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From left, Don Wheeler, Burrell Thorne, William Tinker, Joe Higgins and Glenn Griffin are honored with ribbon-cutting duties during the dedication of the new Central Church of Christ building on Sunday. (Photo by Erin Nelson, Tuscaloosa News, via tuscaloosanews.com)

The Tuscaloosa News reports:

TUSCALOOSA — In the initial moments after the April 27, 2011, tornado, members of Central Church of Christ worried about what would happen to their beloved church, whether they could rebuild and come back after the tornado destroyed their church building. But the worry and doubt didn’t last long, said pastor Lee Jamison on Sunday.

“The church is not the building, it’s the people,” Jamison said during a dedication service Sunday afternoon. “Everything we lost was just physical, what was remaining was faith, hope and love — what was only there from the beginning.”

Central Church of Christ reopened its doors Sunday in a new building at its original location on Hargrove Road after being displaced since the tornado. For the past two years and three months, the church has worshipped at the Alabama Fire College.

“We stand here today joyous, but the joy came to the surface long ago, the day after (the tornado)” Jamison told the crowd of several hundred. “What I saw in the eyes of the people came to help was joy, and even thought there was a heavy weight on our shoulders, we did the only thing we could do and look out on our community and see people worse off.”

Read the full story.

from the Christian Chronicle Blog

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Lewis Hale, 87, stands in the auditorium of the Southwest Church of Christ, the Oklahoma City church where he recently retired as longtime pulpit minister. (Photo by Steve Sisney, The Oklahoman, www.newsok.com)

The Oklahoman reports:

Lewis Hale of Oklahoma City has a friend in Texas who wanted to beat his record for years as a pulpit minister.

Hale said the pals have joked often as part of a friendly Red River rivalry — preacher style.

The octogenarian said he recently told Robert Oglesby, of Waterview Church of Christ in Richardson, Texas, he would have to serve his congregation seven more years.

That’s how long it would take the Texan to surpass Hale’s 57-year tenure as pulpit minister of Southwest Church of Christ, 3031 SW 104.

Hale recently retired, with July 7 as his last Sunday in the pulpit. The congregation is hosted a retirement reception  to celebrate his faithful and lengthy service.

“I’ve been very fortunate because the Lord’s been very good to me. I recognize that and I’m grateful,” said Hale, 87.

Read the full story.

 

 

from the Christian Chronicle Blog

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The Woodville Church of Christ sits across from the railroad tracks, just a few doors down from the Bob Jones Community Center on Venson Street in “old Woodville.”
The Woodville Church of Christ sits across from the railroad tracks, just a few doors down from the Bob Jones Community Center on Venson Street in “old Woodville.”

One hundred years ago, in 1913, the church was established and in a few weeks the church and its congregation will celebrate that century anniversary with a weeklong revival.

The celebration will begin on Sunday, July 28, meeting at 10 a.m., 11 a.m. and again at 6 p.m. Each night of that week the church will meet at 6 p.m. and listen to evangelists including, Bill Thomas, George Robinson, Collin Little, Tyler Blizzard, Seth Dawson, Adam Dawson, Charles Washburn, Nesbitt Sanford, and the church’s current preacher, Wes Dawson.  On Sunday, August 4, as the celebration winds down, the church will meet at 10 a.m. and 11 a.m., and will then hold a fellowship lunch at the Bob Jones Community Center at 12:30 p.m.  At 2 p.m. on that day a brief history of the church will be given and a singing will be held.

Wes Dawson says that this year’s celebration isn’t an ordinary revival. The church will also be open during the day so that current members, past members, or just members of the community may come by for a visit between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. each weekday to observe some of the church’s history.

Dawson says that bed sheet charts will be displayed in the auditorium of the church. “Preachers used to preach from bed sheet charts,” he said.  Bed sheet charts are charts painted or drawn on actual bed sheets that have bible verses and sometimes illustrations on them.  According to Dawson, Church of Christ evangelists once relied on these to give their sermons, but most use more modern devices today such as PowerPoint or white marker boards.

Dawson also says that he has original film equipment that was used in personal evangelism.  In older days, Dawson said that preachers would travel to homes and show the Jule Miller filmstrips, an old series on the history of the Bible.  “We will be showing those at some point during the day,” he said. He added that they will also show a newer series on Bible history, The Story, throughout the day. “It was filmed in the Holy Land and is literally the story of the Bible. It’s a very good series,” he said.

Dawson says that as a child he hated history, but as he has researched the history of the church in Woodville, as well as the history of the Church of Christ, he has grown to love learning about the past. “I have fallen in love with history, especially church history. There is so much rich history here that you can’t help but want to dig deeper. It’s almost become consuming. Where we’ve been really effects where we’re going and when we look back we learn from the past,” he said.

A good deal of the history of the Woodville Church of Christ, Dawson accredits to John Robert Kennamer, who wrote several books including History of Jackson County, Memoirs and The Story of Woodville. “He was a prolific writer,” Dawson said.  Dawson said that John Robert (J.R.) Kennamer began the Church of Christ congregation in Woodville but according to Dawson there is a discrepancy in his accounts on when and how it began. In his book, History of Jackson County, according to “A Short History of the Woodville Church of Christ”, a booklet that will be given out during the 100 years celebration,  “The first gospel meeting was held under a tent on the vacant lot where the Butler and Kennamer store was later located by R.N. Moody.” In his book, Memoirs, Kennamer recounted that it was “articles by brothers David Lipscomb and E.G. Sewell that encouraged him to start meeting with his family and other Christians in his home. This work began in earnest when his brother D.C. Kennamer and family moved to Woodville in November of 1911. The two families began meeting each Lords day in either the school house or their homes to study the Bible and partake of the Lord’s Supper. It was not long before another brother, S.H. Kennamer and his family joined them in weekly worship,” thus creating the Church of Christ in Woodville. Kennamer constructed the church building on part of his garden in the summer of 1913.

Dawson hopes that the hundred year celebration will create interest in the church and help it grow “We are a graying congregation,” he said. “We are really interested in having more young people, more young couples and children, in the church if the church is going to have a future. We want to be there another hundred years or more.”

© 2013 The Clarion
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For more information on the celebration or the church contact Wes Dawson at 256-244-4530.

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A view of the Black Forest fire in Colorado Springs from the building of the Eastside Church of Christ (Photo via www.facebook.com/EastsideChurchColoradoSprings)

 The Eastside Church of Christ in Colorado Springs, Colo., is feeding people evacuated from the path of a raging fire in Colorado’s Black Forest.

The fire, blazing about six to seven miles northeast of the church’s building, forced the evacuation of 2,530 homes and businesses in northeast El Paso County, the Denver Post reports.

At least six members of the Eastside church are among the evacuees, and at least one member lost their home in the blaze, said Patrick Mead, senior minister.

“Officials say fires won’t be out for days,” Mead tweeted Monday night. “Long night and week ahead for Colorado saints.”

Update: The Gazette of Colorado Springs reports on the Evans family, members of the Eastside church who lost their home in the blaze:

At 3 p.m., Tuesday, Skyler Evans ended his father Brian’s nap in the family home at 8050 Swan Road, near Vollmer Road in unincorporated Black Forest.

“Dad, you need to come look at this smoke,” Skyler said.

Brian saw the tower of smoke and quickly began loading the family’s two cars with photos and family mementos. He made a special excursion to find his great-grandfather’s hammers.

By 5:30 p.m., Brian and his wife, Hope, their daughter Cheyenne and Skyler all drove out of the driveway just as a mandatory evacuation order was announced.

On Tuesday night, the family sat and watched the fire at a high point where Black Forest Road meets Woodmen Road. The saw a fireman friend who promised to call if he heard any information about the Evans’ family home.

At 7:45 a.m. Wednesday, the phone rang. It was the firefighter.

Their house on Swan Road was gone. It had been consumed by the fire.

Despite the loss, Brian sounded surprisingly fresh and optimistic as he talked Wednesday.

Despite his fear, Brian said he slept soundly Tuesday night at the home of a friend in Falcon. Turns out, he had more than two dozen offers of shelter from folks at the Eastside Church of Christ, where he worships.

“You don’t know how many people care about you until something stupid like this happens,” Brian said.

And he was not mourning the loss of his possessions.

“It’s just stuff,” he said. “The wife and the kids are out. The dogs are out. After that, the rest is just . . . stuff.”

 

from the Christian Chronicle Blog

 

IN OKLAHOMA, tornado prompts Christians to ask why even as they rely on their faith
NEWCASTLE, Okla. — "I found them! Whoo-hoo!”
Digging through debris in what once was her bathroom, Kala Leger rejoices. She has recovered something of great value — not jewelry, not her wedding dress or baby photos, but handwritten Bible lessons.
Each Thursday night, she and 30-plus Christians filled every corner of this 2,100-square-foot home — now a mass of broken bricks and tattered, wet insulation — to worship and work. They crafted the lessons for children at their congregation, the Southwest Church of Christ in nearby Oklahoma City.  
Less than 48 hours earlier, their house was one of the first hit by a tornado that intensified as it plowed eastward toward Moore, Okla. There, it wiped away entire neighborhoods, toppled two elementary schools and killed 24 people — 10 of them children.
As the warning sirens screamed, Leger and her husband, Jason, rushed their own children — McKenzie, 14; Madison, 11; Jett, 10; and Hutton, 3 — into a tiny concrete bunker next to the house. On his phone, Jason Leger filmed a massive funnel as it formed down the street. Then he shut the door and prayed.
bible web1Branches, pipes and car parts clattered against the door, knocking loose the exterior latch. Jason Leger jumped to brace it, feeling pressure throughout his body, a sensation he describes as “being immersed in mashed potatoes.”
The kitchen wall fell and smashed the bunker’s vent, covering the family in dust. The single light bulb illuminating the shelter burst.
“We’re OK, we’re OK,” Kala Leger yelled as she held her children, unable to hear her own words — and wondering if they were true. “Four minutes, just four minutes,” she thought to herself — the time she’d been told it takes for a tornado to pass. It likely was much shorter, she said. It seemed like eternity.
Finally, the storm was gone. The house was too; they knew it. Jason Leger resumed filming and opened the door. Panning across a field of devastation, he said, “The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Wow.”
The video caught the attention of international media. As the sun set, TV networks interviewed Jason Leger in his yard. Viewers commented on the “eerily serene” quality of his voice as he quoted Job, the Old Testament figure who lost his sons and daughters to “a great wind.”
Jason Leger, a deacon of the Southwest church, said he didn’t intend to question the divine. As he stood among overturned cars and strewn Bible pages, stripped of his worldly possessions, he was keenly aware that, “at that moment, it was just me and God.”
••••••
“Why did this happen? Why an elementary school? Why little kids?”
Jennifer Simonds flutters between anger and thankfulness as she grapples with those questions.
God “kept me alive and kept my kids alive,” says the 26-year-old kindergarten teacher, who attends the Memorial Road Church of Christ in Oklahoma City with her husband, Colby. The couple met as students at Oklahoma Christian University, next to the church.
The May 20 storm attained EF5 status, cutting a swath of destruction more than a mile wide, as it moved from Newcastle to Moore, where Jennifer Simonds teaches at Plaza Towers Elementary School.
Parents had picked up all but six of the 22 students she teaches during afternoon kindergarten. She made sure the remaining students were in the “duck and cover” position. As the storm got closer, one of the girls asked her if a train had come in the building.
Jennifer Simonds remembers the lights flickering, the sound of breaking glass, the taste of dirt in her mouth as she yelled “we’re going to be fine!”
“I kept praying ... that if anything was to happen, it would happen to me,” she says. “When it was all over ... I sat up on my knees and realized that, on my back, was an upside-down SUV.”
Rescuers pulled the sport utility vehicle away from the teacher and her students. Paramedics took them to a hospital in nearby Norman. They all survived but later learned that seven third-graders, ages 8 and 9, had perished when a wall collapsed on them.
Colby Simonds raced from his work and walked through block after block of debris to reach the school, only to learn that his wife was at the hospital. The couple reunited about five hours after the storm.
Remembering the devastation he saw, “I don’t know how anybody walked away from that,” Colby Simonds says.
Jennifer and Colby Simonds
Now Jennifer Simonds sips frozen coffee left-handed at a Starbucks in southwest Oklahoma City, en route to get a new driver’s license. Hers was lost in the storm. So was her car.
Her right arm, no longer in a sling, is still stiff. Her T-shirt, bearing the logo of Plaza Towers Elementary, covers most of the “road rash,” as she calls it — scratches and gashes suffered as she shielded her six students.
They call her a hero. So does her husband. She calls herself blessed.
“Although it’s horrible, and I don’t understand why it happened,” she says, “God put his hand on us and he protected us so that we could walk out of there … and see our family again.”
•••••• “One thing about a disaster — it removes all boundaries and borders.”
Danny Benefield, an elder of the Oakcrest Church of Christ, talks as he works, arranging tables in the church’s gym so it can serve as a relief center.
Near the storm’s path of destruction, houses of faith overflow with help. At the massive Baptist church and tiny storefront churches in Moore, volunteers form assembly lines and make sandwiches next to banners offering free food to victims and relief workers. Regardless of denomination or doctrine, “everybody is here to serve Christ,” Benefield says.
Outside the Oakcrest church’s building in Oklahoma City, about four miles north of the destruction, members unload bottled water and canned goods from passing cars. Inside, high school students sort through donated clothes on the church’s pews.

Here, in Tornado Alley, disaster relief is a way of life, Benefield says, adding that Oklahoma City showed the world how to respond to a crisis — with compassion and self-sacrifice — after the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in 1995.
The 900-member Oakcrest church served as a relief site after a May 3, 1999, tornado that also devastated Moore. In the years since, the congregation has become a well-oiled machine for relief. When the director of a church-supported disaster ministry calls Benefield’s cell phone and offers to coordinate the church’s relief efforts, the elder politely declines.
On the north side of Oklahoma City, members of the Memorial Road church also are lining up rows of canned goods and organizing relief teams — for Moore, Newcastle and communities damaged by other recent tornadoes, including Shawnee and Luther.
The 2,200-member church’s newly anointed director of disaster relief, Joe Crawford, was a recipient of the church’s relief efforts in 2011, when a tornado ripped apart the house where he, his wife and four daughters lived in Cashion, Okla.
“Every phone call I’m getting now is the same phone call I made” two years ago, Crawford says as he writes on a dry-erase board in the church’s fellowship hall, jotting down the names of available van drivers for relief teams.
Beyond immediate needs, storm victims call with questions about insurance claims and counseling. Crawford remembers their concern. This storm will impact their lives for years to come, he says.
“I know how to move trees,” he says. But dealing with shock and trauma is equally important. The church plans to build relationships with storm victims, to help guide them through the rebuilding and healing process.
“We don’t want to go down, clear their house, give them bottles of water and leave,” he says. “We’ve got to come up with a system that’s long-term, or we’re just moving rubble.”
•••••• “This is God on earth — the Lord’s church.”
Kala Leger talks to a TV reporter as she watches nearly 50 volunteers from the Memorial Road church and Oklahoma Christian University sift through the remains of her house.
After they’ve salvaged what they can, the volunteers move on to a house across the street. As the group’s coordinator, Woody Loden, tears down what’s left of the Legers’ home with a front-end loader, the family watches.

“I kind of thought I’d be bawling,” says their 10-year-old son, Jett, “but not yet.”
They mourn the losses in their spiritual family, the Southwest Church of Christ. A member, Brandon Smith, lost his brother in the storm, Jason Leger says. They also regret that they weren’t able to salvage the paperback Bibles they use during Thursday night devotionals. Each participant had one with his or her name on it.
But they can buy more Bibles, Jason Leger says, and the weekly studies will continue, uninterrupted by the storm. In less than two weeks, he plans to accompany members of his church on a mission trip to Peru.
When asked if he wonders why God allows tornadoes, Jett Leger simply shrugs and says, “God has a purpose for everything.”
Job, whom Jason Leger quoted as he surveyed the ruins of their home, also questions God in the Old Testament story. Though he receives back from God twice what he lost, he wants to know why his heavenly father allowed tragedy to befall him.
God answers Job “out of the storm,” according to the Bible story. The answer, though lengthy, points to the Lord’s power, wisdom and control. Put simply, he is God, and he is with you.
Colby Simonds says he saw evidence of God’s presence as he and his wife returned to Plaza Towers Elementary.
They searched the remains of her classroom, looking for her belongings and salvageable school supplies. Though the school is gone, Jennifer Simonds plans to teach again this fall.
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Colby Simonds found his wife’s car in the parking lot. There was little inside, except for a piece of a picture frame, likely blown in from a nearby house.
Originally, “it probably said ‘God bless this home’ or something,” he says.
After the wind, after the rain, after almost unimaginable devastation and death, the broken piece bore only one word — “God.”
Tears flowing, Colby Simonds says, “I just know he was there.”
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Volunteers from Churches of Christ in Texas and Oklahoma help sort through the remains of Jason and Kala Leger's home in Newcastle, Okla. (Photo by Erik Tryggestad)

Today, I’m proud to call myself an Okie — and I’m blessed to be a part of the body of Christ.

I spent the morning with a group of volunteers who helped Jason and Kala Leger sort through the remains of their home in Newcastle — a small town southwest of Oklahoma City where tornado that devastated the city of Moore began.

Jason Leger, a deacon of the Southwest Church of Christ in Oklahoma City, shot video of the approaching funnel and the aftermath. The video went viral and got the attention of the international press. (See our blog post about it.)

My home congregation, the Memorial Road Church of Christ, organized the relief trip, though we had volunteers from a Church of Christ in Texas and community churches throughout the metro area.

Speaking with the Legar family was a truly uplifting experience. I pray that I can show the kind of grace and humility they showed in the midst of loss. Look for more on them in our next print issue.

I also stopped by the Oakcrest Church of Christ in southwest Oklahoma City, which is nearly overflowing with bottled water, donated clothes and canned goods. This morning, boxes of supplies arrived from Churches of Christ Disaster Relief Effort in Nashville, Tenn. The church is acting as a collection and distribution point for relief efforts.

This will not be an easy task, and it won’t be over anytime soon. See our “How to help” post to be a part of the recovery.

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A Bible is among the items salvaged from the Legers' home in Newcastle, Okla. (Photo by Erik Tryggestad)

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Volunteers make signs to direct tornado victims to relief supplies at the Oakcrest Church of Christ in Oklahoma City. (Photo by Erik Tryggestad)

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Volunteers pray at the Memorial Road Church of Christ in Oklahoma City before heading southwest to Newcastle. The church sent other groups to the tornado-hit towns of Shawnee and Luther. (Photo by Erik Tryggestad)

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Donated clothes line the pews at the Oakcrest Church of Christ in Oklahoma City. (Photo by Erik Tryggestad)

Church2021Recieved the following email from an Airman in Afthanistan, and I wanted to share it with you.  Many have someone you know who is in Afghanistan, and would like to worship there.  This information is just what they may need.
 
My name is Nathan Johnson. I am in the Air Force and deployed to Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. I would like you to know that we have an active Church here at Bagram. If you have any or know of any military, federal civilians, or contractors who are or will be at Bagram Air Base, we would love to see them worship with us. Some of our members were not aware we existed before they arrived here. I think there are other Brothers and Sisters on base that we are not aware of. We meet each Sunday Night at the Enduring Faith Chapel Annex at 530 PM. For directions or information, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. We also have a facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/?ref=logo#!/BagramChurchOfChrist/info and a website (https://sites.google.com/site/bagramchurchofchrist/} Please pray for our safety and growth, we would greatly appreciate that.

Yours In Christ,

 

Nathan Johnson

Screen-shot-2013-05-21-at-8 06 56-AMOne of two agents with the FBI’s elite hostage rescue team killed on a counterterorrism training exercise Friday was a member of the Three Chopt Church of Christ in suburan Richmond, Va., NBCWashington.com reports.

Minister Bob Odle said agent Christopher Lorek, 41, and his family came to the congregation about six years ago:

“They are as solid as they come,” Odle said. “They were here every time the doors were open.”

Church members knew he had a high-risk job and was often out of town, but they didn’t know exactly what he did.

Lorek joined the FBI in 1996 and is survived by his wife and two daughters, ages 11 and 8, according to the report.

Read the full story.

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