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A Blessing From Uncle Sam

David and Thelma Ward attracted national media coverage when a one-time adoption credit led to a $54,000 tax refund. Thelma calls the unexpected bonanza an example of God at work in their lives.

“We’re a blessed family,” says the North Carolina homemaker, who quit her job in 2008 to devote all her time to caring for their five adopted children. “You hear about good things happening to other people, but it’s way out yonder.”

Even with the refund, the Wards face challenges. They need a home makeover—windows, carpeting and appliances need replacing, and their washing machine, dryer and stove get a fierce workout.

The Smithville couple, who are members of a Holiness church in Selma, N.C., have raised six of their own children, now ages 21 to 26. They also have provided foster care for more than 100 children over the years.

Now between the ages of 3 and 17, their adopted children—who are black, white and racially mixed—were foster kids with nowhere else to go. Their youngest daughter has a heart condition; others have assorted special needs. 

The children’s various situations require occupational and other forms of therapy, counseling and doctor visits, prompting Thelma to remark: “Don’t adopt a child for the money. It’s not there.”

The Wards now manage on an income of just over $40,000 a year after David’s employer reduced his salary last year by more than $7,000.

Instead of complaining, Thelma says they are grateful he still has a job and health insurance.

“It wouldn’t be this easy if we didn’t have Christ in our life,” she says. “Without a Holy Ghost-filled husband and a pastor who prays for you, it wouldn’t be so easy.”


Lessons for Lean Living

  • Pray
  • Clip coupons
  • Shop at thrift stores
  • Sell to consignment resellers
  • Host a huge yard sale read more

Proving Creationism ... Under Water

Have you ever stood seaside and quietly watched the elegant waves and the majestic aquatic life? What you see, smell and hear can all be evidence of God as the creator. That’s the philosophy of Christian dive professional Tec Clark, who founded a Christian snorkel and dive ministry in 2008. He uses the ocean’s symbiotic landscape to prove creationism.

Since starting Reef Ministries, he’s led hundreds of amateur and professional snorkel and dive tours on a glass-bottom boat into the deep blue sea. At the beginning of every excursion, he uses Scripture and science to enlighten visitors about the case for creationism. Despite traditional aquatic academics, which espouse evolution, Clark explains that a Creator could be the only source of the synergy found among ocean beings. He then presents charts, graphs and other research to support his bold assertions.

The common assertion in marine biology is that it’s taken millions of years for coral reefs to grow; but Clark says that there are areas of the world, such as Bikini Atoll, where reefs have grown six inches per year. He surmises they might not be growing as fast in other areas due to environmental factors such as global warming and acid rain. He admits no one knows all the answers, including evolutionists, and that it’s a matter of ideology. 

The 30-year dive professional has held prominent positions in the industry as the Director of the University of Florida advanced diving program and the head of the National Diving YMCA scuba program. All of his education and experience could never explain the intricacies found among the fish, reefs and sea particles. It wasn’t until he found Christ that the splendor of the ocean made sense to him.

“I realized there’s got to be a difference here; there needs to be a voice championing a Creator,” Clark says. 

Clark seeks to show his dive participants what he’s discovered, and people often tell him they’ve never felt closer to God than when they are underwater.

“Seeing the beauty, the diversity, the color, the splendor, the balance, the design—all of that is truly the thumbprint of our Creator,” Clark says. read more

A ShipWrecked Testimony

This month marks the one-year anniversary of Abby Sunderland’s failure. The teenager was unable to travel the world by boat in record time and beat her older brother’s record as the youngest person to do so.

After Sunderland’s dreams were dashed by high winds and 50-foot waves that caused her boat to capsize, she wasn’t sure what the future would hold for her. But looking back at the aftermath of her attempt, Sunderland says she now sees God’s hand at work in her disappointment.

“My trip being wrecked has given me a bigger platform than I would have had had everything gone according to plan,” says Sunderland of her newfound fame. “I hope it makes people think a little about God, and maybe there is something bigger out there.”

Last June Sunderland was stranded by a storm in the Indian Ocean nearly 2,000 miles east of Madagascar. For a while the plucky girl lost contact with her parents and was feared lost. She says many sailors have stories of pushing past their limits and coming to a place where they had to call on God, which happened several times for her: “God came through for me in such an amazing way that my faith is definitely stronger than when I left in February 2010.”

A homeschool student who recently completed high school, Sunderland plans to take a year off for traveling before going to college to study psychology. She’s also likely to do more speaking about her faith and her adventures as told in her book, Unsinkable. read more

Will Work for Kids

Will Work for Kids

Atlanta-based pastor Shaun King has made a promise to speak or consult with any organization of any size, anywhere in the world at no charge. His only requirement: the ministry using his services must sponsor a child at the Miriam Center for disabled orphans in Saint-Louis-du-Nord, Haiti.

The Courageous Church pastor is part of a group helping to rebuild this dilapidated orphanage, which King says is Haiti’s only school and home for orphans with severe disabilities such as cerebral palsy, autism, deafness and blindness. Many of the children are unwanted by their parents because some Haitians view handicaps as a curse, while others simply can’t afford the hefty bill that comes with caring for a disabled child.

“Many of the children were simply dropped off at the doorstep of the Miriam Center,” King says. “The director there has picked random birthdays on the calendar for most of the children.” read more

Not My Life

Hollywood Vs. Holywood

 Today many Christians are fed up with the immorally charged films being produced in Hollywood. And some are heeding the old adage, “If you can’t beat them, join them.” Numerous churches and Christian organizations are starting to make movies and/or back films more closely aligned with their moral leanings. Check out the flicks coming to a screen near you.

 Agape International Missions, dedicated to ending child sexual slavery in Cambodia, helped produce the documentary Not My Life. Releasing next month, the film depicts the disturbing yet inspiring testimonies of survivors of the modern-day global sex-trafficking industry.

 

 

 

 

 

 Jumping the BroomT.D. Jakes, the megachurch pastor of The Potter’s House, releases his third film, Jumping the Broom, on May 6. The movie, which stars Hollywood elites such Angela Bassett and Loretta Devine, chronicles two families from different socioeconomic backgrounds who are being joined by marriage. 

 

 

 

 

 

 The Potential InsideOn DVD, former semi-pro racer Scotty Curlee stars as a veteran cyclist in The Potential Inside. Reeling from grief after a family tragedy, he is given an opportunity he doesn’t want—to train a rookie cycling prodigy. The movie’s message is “about the potential we have inside of us, in Christ, to reach our best.” read more

Dragons’ Delivering Power

Dragons’ Delivering Power

It’s not often that one walks away from a film literally transformed. But that’s exactly what happened to actor Wes Bentley after starring in There Be Dragons, which releases in theaters May 6. 

Derived from true events, There Be Dragons follows two young men who find themselves on opposite sides of the Spanish Civil War. Josemaria Escriva, a Catholic priest (played by Charlie Cox), and Manolo Torres, a bitter soldier (played by Bentley), showcase the extreme positions one can take when faced with dire circumstances. 

Escriva was named a saint in the Catholic church in 2002, and the film showcases his life of faith and forgiveness, while Bentley’s character is deceitful and selfish.  read more

How to Change the World From Your Bed

How to Change the World From Your Bed

 Dick Woodward can’t move anything below his neck. But that hasn’t prevented him from training and mentoring pastors around the world.

Despite a degenerative spinal disorder that slowly robbed him of the use of his arms and legs, the veteran pastor provides audio Bible studies and ministry-training materials through the Mini Bible College (MBC) he founded in 1974. The college offers nearly 800 programs, which have been translated into more than 25 languages and are being used in 50 nations, including India, China, Sudan and Haiti.

Strange as it may seem, Woodward, 80, believes the MBC may never have been more than an idea had he not gradually lost mobility. He was a busy pastor. He founded Virginia Beach Community Chapel—which he led for 23 years before planting Williamsburg Community Chapel—hosted a TV and a radio program, and taught weekly Bible studies. Because of his hectic schedule, he never found time to record the Bible training materials he’d been sensing God wanted him to produce since he was in seminary in the 1950s. read more

The Praises in the Persecution

The Praises in the Persecution

Though we know there is a great deal of persecution currently affecting Christians around the world, we also know that historically the church has grown—usually at a rapid rate— as a result of added pressure. 

In 1900 only 2.5 percent of the world’s population were practicing Christians. Seventy years later that number doubled to 5 percent. In 2010 the number had more than doubled and reached 12 percent in only 40 years. Talk about off-the-chart growth! read more

The Praises in the Persecution

Modeling Faith Through Cerebral Palsy

Modeling Faith Through Cerebral Palsy

Her words slur when she speaks. She has a hard time opening her hands, and the 23-year-old is only now starting to dress herself without assistance. But Megan Haught is also a model and an aspiring actress who says God is healing her of cerebral palsy, and she is determined not to allow her illness to deter her dreams.

Haught says she’s been visiting a chiropractor, but she attributes her ongoing healing to prayers she and her family have made at her church and the healing rooms she has visited.

“I’m seeing a lot of improvement and my doctors are seeing the improvement,” Haught says. Her mother, Susan Haught, clarified her speech as she continued. “I have always known about God and that He could do miracles, but I’m seeing it more now and I have more of a relationship with Him now.” read more

Hope in a box

Hope in a Box

Immediately following Japan’s devastating earthquake and tsunami, Samaritan’s Purse, along with many other Christian organizations, were on the ground in freezing temperatures to help those with little food and clean water and no electricity. The humanitarian group has already distributed more than 93 tons of emergency supplies, including 10,000 hygiene kits.

You can help too. Here’s how:

PRAY:

  • That God would provide supernatural comfort, peace and provision to those suffering. 
  • For wisdom and strength for volunteers and church partners.

GIVE:

  • Via Charisma’s nonprofit partner,  Christian Life Missions, where 100 percent of your donation goes to ministries  helping those on the ground. Call 407-333-0600 or visit christianlifemissions.com for more info.

GO:

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