A Wild Ride
Audio Adrenaline's Mark Stuart is riding for a cause.
Audio Adrenaline frontman Mark Stuart spent two weeks in August riding his Victory motorcycle from Florida to California to raise money for the Hands and Feet Project, an orphanage his parents run in Haiti. "This is an opportunity for us as a band to put our money where our mouth is," said Stuart, who's been involved in ministry in Haiti since he was in the sixth grade. Stuart hopes the tour will help raise at least $80,000, which could build eight homes, and inspire Christian youth to reach outside their comfort zones to "be the hands and feet of Jesus." At the end of the trip on Aug. 26, Stuart planned to auction his bike on eBay and give the proceeds to the ministry.
Adrienne S. Gaine
This month marks the second annual Day of Prayer for the Peace of Jerusalem, which organizers plan to hold on the first Sunday of October until Christ returns. In the wake of the Gaza resettlement, we are reminded of Psalm 122, which tells us to pray for the peace and prosperity of Jerusalem. We encourage you to:
To get regular prayer updates from Charisma's Prayer Initiative, visit www.prayerinitiative.com.
Kendall Ciesemier has been in and out of hospitals since she was diagnosed with a congenital liver disorder at 7 weeks old. Thousands have rallied around her in prayer, and the 12-year-old from Wheaton, Ill., wants to use the attention to help others. Since January she has been selling homemade dog collars and T-shirts at her Web site, www.kidscaring4kids.com, to support Zambian AIDS orphans through World Vision. She has raised $36,000 so far; her goal is to earn $60,000 before the year ends to support a village.
Faith and Culture
Preaching The Gospel
Preaching The Gospel
Gospel artist Fred Hammond is helping put a timeless message in new packaging by serving as executive producer of an upcoming motion picture titled simply The Gospel.
The PG-rated movie, which releases nationwide on Oct. 7, features an all-star cast—including Boris Kodjoe from Showtime's Soul Food and Tamyra Gray from American Idol, as well as several gospel artists, including Donnie McClurkin and Delores "Mom" Winans.
A modern-day tale of the prodigal son, the film stars Kodjoe as a preacher's kid who runs to the world to become an R&B singer when tragedy strikes. He returns years later to find his father's congregation in disarray and an old rival seeking to cast a new vision into the church.
Producer Will Packer said the success of The Passion of the Christ and Diary of a Mad Black Woman made Hollywood "open to hear our pitch. If they can find a formula that works they want to duplicate it." He added that he and partner Rob Hardy, who wrote and directed the film, made the movie because they "felt like the African-American Christian market is underserved."
He said Hammond embraced their vision and came on board as an executive producer. Hammond also performs, as do recording artists Yolanda Adams and Martha Munizzi.
Rhonda J. Smith in Detroit
Satan's Greatest Nightmare
In a Michigan neighborhood, Halloween is all about Jesus
Halloween is supposed to be a scary holiday filled with ghosts and goblins. But two Michigan women are turning the tables on the father of All Hallow's Eve by telling trick-or-treaters what scares him.
Calling their event "Satan's Greatest Nightmare," Anne Aschauer and Kelly Tucker host an outreach on the lawn of Tucker's home in St. Clair, which is about 30 minutes south of Port Huron. With help from their husbands, kids and Christians from area churches, the duo uses music and drama to teach passers-by about the act that defeated Satan once and for all: the Resurrection.
They also distribute food, candy and tracts to visitors. In recent years, representatives from the Gideon organization have given away Bibles.
Aschauer said the outreach started several years ago as a way to "celebrate life" as the rest of the world celebrated death. And they believed Halloween could become an evangelistic opportunity. The outreach has since grown from a simple lawn display to a full-scale production complete with a live band, dancers and strobe lights.
The women, who are longtime friends and prayer partners, foot most of the bill, which can add up to several hundred dollars. And they have no way of tracking how many people have come to Christ.
But they hope the vision will catch on. Two similar outreaches have been launched in other parts of Michigan. "I'm a homemaker. I've had five babies. I home-school my kids," Tucker said. "Anybody can do this. … You don't have to be scared of the devil."
Adrienne S. Gaines
Charisma Makes A Love Connection
2003 Story leads to romance
Principal Ruth Jones was featured in the August 2003 Charisma magazine for her work to reclaim a troubled elementary school in Grand Rapids, Mich. But after the story ran, it was her life that got turned around.
A widowed mother of two and grandmother of three, Jones was working on enrollment for the 2003-04 school year when she received a call from minister Michael Hairston. He told Jones he read about her in a Charisma magazine he picked up in a public library in Columbus, Ohio, and said the Holy Spirit led him to call her, encourage her, and pray for her and the school.
Hairston, actively involved in prison ministry in Ohio, said he couldn't get past the look of compassion in Jones' eyes. He had been single for 20 years and recently had begun to pray for a wife. Hairston began calling every day, but Jones did not answer. Once she told her secretary, "Will you tell that man to get a life?" Finally, Jones wrote Hairston a curt letter, telling him she liked her life the way it was.
After receiving that rejection letter, Hairston was hesitant to approach Jones again, but he said the Holy Spirit again told him to encourage her. So he wrote Jones a letter and told her that he would be praying for her and lifting up her arms just as Aaron and Hur held up Moses' arms in Exodus 17.
Jones said the note made her stop because her constant prayer since becoming principal had been, "Lord, please send people to lift my arms." The two began talking on the phone every day. After two months, they met in person. Then on one of Hairston's trips to Grand Rapids, he proposed.
The couple was married Feb. 13, 2004, convinced that God brought them together.
JEAN VAN HOUTEN in Grand Rapids, Mich.
Patrick Flyte had nowhere else to turn the day he called his parents, pleading for their help. At 25, the manic-depressive college student struggled with drug and alcohol abuse when he dropped out of school for a third time. "My life hit bottom," Flyte said.
With no money and nowhere to go, Flyte accepted the only thing his parents would give him: their advice. They wouldn't give him money, but told him about a program "that might really work out" for him. A week later, Flyte enrolled in Teen Challenge of Arizona, a Christian residential substance-abuse program. A year later, Flyte graduated in 1985 with a burning desire to complete the degree that eluded him for so long. And after receiving his undergraduate degree from the University of Arizona, he responded when God placed another desire on his heart: one to become a doctor.
After receiving his medical degree from Ross University School of Medicine in Dominica, West Indies, Flyte's vision became reality when he became a board-certified staff physician at Harvest Medical Clinic in Casa Grande, Ariz., making him the first-ever Teen Challenge graduate to become a medical doctor.
"It was just a life-changing spiritual experience," Flyte said of his time at Teen Challenge. "Basically, the Holy Spirit gets a hold of you eventually and you realize that, yeah, you do have problems and that the power of Jesus and the Holy Spirit can work things out."
Today Flyte attends Casa Grande Assembly of God.
Celebrating 50 Years
Back in the late 1940s, Christian publishing pioneer Robert Walker knew of only a few "Christian supply stores," and he could name only two in his hometown of Chicago. Today there are at least 3,000 Christian bookstores nationwide, and Walker is considered the father of the first magazine devoted to covering the industry that fueled that growth.
Debuting in 1955, Christian Retailing is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. In the early days, bookstore owners said the magazine, then called Christian Bookseller, helped them fulfill God's call on their lives to distribute Christian materials.
Today, Christian retailers still say the magazine meets a need by covering a changing industry that has grappled with a variety of challenges—including increased competition from large secular chains such as Wal-Mart. Industry gatekeepers say Christian Retailing has fueled lively debate about best practices in the industry. Through the years the magazine has provided "insight, breaking stories and spirited dialogue to the Christian marketplace," said Bruce Ryskamp, president of Zondervan. "They are a valued resource to the Christian conversation."
Walker believes the best is yet to come for both the magazine and the industry it serves. "Clearly the first half-century of Christian retailing has been great," Walker wrote in a special issue of Christian Retailing, which is published by Charisma's parent company, Strang Communications. "But the next 50 years may prove to be even greater."
Former PTL host Tammy Faye Messner is facing her third bout with cancer. Messner was diagnosed with colon cancer 10 years ago and last year announced that the disease had spread to her lungs. In July, she announced that the cancer had reappeared in her lungs. In a July 31 appearance on Larry King Live, Messner said doctors planned to treat the cancer with chemotherapy and that she was optimistic about her prognosis. "I believe [God] knows where I am," she told King. "The day that He put me in my mother's womb He knew the number of my days and He's not going to short-shoot me."
Contemporary Christian musician Jaci Velasquez announced in August that she and husband Darren Potuck have divorced after two years of marriage. Though she did not elaborate on the reasons behind the divorce, the 25-year-old said she and Potuck underwent counseling but were unable to save their marriage. "I have avoided discussing the divorce because it is clearly too painful," she said in a statement. " I am still in the healing process and ask for your prayers and consideration for my privacy."
The leader of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) has announced plans to retire, effective in March. Paul Nelson, 65, has served as the organization's chief executive for 12 years, the longest tenure of any ECFA president. The nonprofit organization provides financial accreditation to some 1,200 ministries who receive roughly $14 billion in contributions.
Evangelist Ken Gaub will be celebrating 50 years in ministry this month. The Yakima, Wash.-based minister began preaching in mountain churches in Kentucky and has since ministered in more than 115 nations. Known for his humorous style, Gaub is the founder of Youth Outreach Unlimited and is known for offering straight answers to tough questions.