Help & Support

Stephanie and Chico Rogers

Giving Generously

By | about us & resources, adults, Help & Support, I'm New, media center, Missions, Stories, Volunteer, Worship | No Comments

Stephanie and Chico Rogers

Interview by Cheri Weaver, Pastor of Volunteer Ministry

In what areas of Crossings have you been generous to volunteer your time and God- given talents?

Stephanie: I began volunteering in Children’s Ministry by decorating for special events. Our family has helped with the Fall Festival for many years, and this past spring, we served on the disaster relief team in Moore. Next, we look forward to helping build a Habitat for Humanity house with Crossings.

Where have you seen generosity displayed at Crossings?

Stephanie: People get so excited to pick up backpacks to fill for the children in our inner-city partner schools. I mean, you have to stand in line to get a backpack, and then the church runs out! Last year, when we saw all the backpacks filled and returned, the enormous pile was stunning. When we think about Wednesday night dinner, we think, “Without the volunteers, dinner wouldn’t happen.” It takes a lot of people.

Chico: Before I began attending Crossings, I knew it had a reputation of generosity in the community. The church gives to those who are in need, and it is incredible.

Explain how the Lord is personally speaking to you now to lead in Volunteer Ministry.

Chico: Our family has been very blessed, and we are fortunate. This was the perfect time to come across volunteer opportunities, and we are ready to give back. We know God wants us to participate at Crossings, and we want our children to understand we are not supposed to just collect items and give money, but we need to give our time as well. It takes more than your checkbook, and in fact, it is harder to pull up your sleeves than write a check. We need both.

The development of a Volunteer Ministry will help people understand where to go and get a jump start to become involved in the life of the church through volunteering. This came at a great time—It is God’s timing. I’ve been thinking about where I could plug in; helping other people find a place to volunteer is the perfect fit for me.

How does the Lord bless you through volunteering?

Stephanie: I’ve enjoyed all the people I’ve met through volunteering. It makes this large church feel small, and I’ve met a lot of really nice people. In volunteering there is meaning, and it makes me feel like I’m making a difference in the lives of others. I want to make a contribution!

Chico: We don’t want to depend on others. We want to be involved and use our talents and time. There is more to church than worship, and volunteering helps me develop a better relationship with God.

If it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. (Romans 12:8)

“Giving Generously” originally published by Cheri Weaver, Pastor of Volunteer Ministry, in the Winter 2013 edition of Crossings Magazine.

Crossings Members Stacy and Kyle Williams

A Servant’s Heart

By | about us & resources, adults, children & students, Contemporary, Help & Support, Stories, Volunteer, Women | No Comments

Crossings Members Stacy and Kyle Williams

Children’s Ministry volunteer Stacy Williams shares about her passion to serve and how God works in her life through volunteering.

In what areas have you volunteered in Children’s Ministry?

When my children were younger, I volunteered in Nursery Ministry. In the past three years, I’ve volunteered as a second hour Sunday School teacher and/or Volunteer Coordinator. I’ve served during Vacation Bible School and during the Single Moms Conference as well.

How does volunteering help you feel more connected at Crossings?

Volunteering gives me a sense of community. Crossings is a big place—it’s actually bigger than my hometown of Pawhuska. Through volunteering, I have built many relationships with others. I’m amazed at how many Crossings members I know because of volunteering over the years in Children’s Ministry, greeting and ushering, Women’s Ministry, and Mom’s Group. In Children’s Ministry for example, I pray for my Sunday School leaders and students. Praying for others definitely connects me with them on a deeper level.

In what ways are you utilizing your spiritual gifts through volunteering?

Years ago, in the Foundations Sunday School class, we did a study on spiritual gifts called Network. My spiritual gifts are hospitality, teaching, leading, and intercession. This year, I am able to put all of my spiritual gifts into play. I’m a Volunteer Coordinator; therefore, using my gift of leading. I also teach a second grade boy’s class, so I get to use my gift of teaching every week. In addition, I get to use my gift of intercession by praying for my team and students. As for my gift of hospitality, I serve as hospitality coordinator at my son’s school.

What do you feel your children are learning through watching you serve?

Kyle and I have two children: Claire and Austin. Serving has been ingrained in them, just as it was with me as I grew
up watching my parents serve. I want our children to grow up loving the Lord, and I want them to see that love put into action through serving. They’ve already learned to greet and serve as ushers—they help Kyle and me in the 9:30 Venue service. It warms my heart each week to see them smile and welcome people to church.

Explain how the Lord is leading you now to continue to volunteer in Children’s Ministry.

Through prayer, I ask God where I can best be used for His Kingdom. As a former teacher, teaching is a passion of mine. There are always needs in Children’s Ministry, and I know that full well because one of my responsibilities is to recruit children’s leaders. I can have a great impact on tender hearts. I’m blessed by showing up each week and letting God use me to plant seeds into the hearts of the precious children I serve.

How has God blessed you through your service?

I have been showered with blessings through volunteering at Crossings. When a child is baptized, my heart is overjoyed. When our second grade boys sang the Old Testament aloud in large group a few weeks ago, I was so proud. When the Holy Spirit speaks through me as I teach the Bible lesson in Vacation Bible School to a roomful of 100+ students (where you can hear a pin drop because they are intensely tuned in to God’s Word) … there just isn’t any better feeling than that. Following God’s calling through volunteering is greatly satisfying!

“A Servant’s Heart” originally published by Jennifer Bardell, Director of Children’s Ministry, in the 2014 edition of Crossings Magazine.

Just Jump In

Just Jump In!

By | about us & resources, adults, children & students, Clinic, Help & Support, Missions, Stories, Volunteer, Women | No Comments

Just Jump In
I drive by the location of our new Community Center and Clinic every day to check on the progress of our new facility, and it brings back many childhood memories. I grew up in the Village and we looked forward, with great anticipation, to the summer time when all the neighborhood kids would walk up to the Village Pool and spend the day. As I looked around, people were on the high dive, the low dive, the shallow end. Some were dangling their feet in the pool, some were reading under the umbrella and others were hanging around the concession stand. While “everybody” went to the pool, the part of the pool they enjoyed or spent their time was different. Years after the pool closed, I realized that at some point, we have to be active; we have to take the initiative and “just jump in” to experience the fun and the rush.

The Bible contains a similar kind of principle for us in Psalm 34:8. It simply says, “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” Enjoy how some of your Crossings brothers and sisters have decided to “jump in” and are “tasting” and experiencing the full goodness of God through their service in our local community.

Disaster Response Team

  • I would have to say the entire trajectory of my life has changed as a result of volunteering … everything from the things I value most to the people I enjoy spending time with to the priorities in my life … I really feel like I am a different person. —Debe Allen (Disaster Response Team, Clinic)

Whiz Kids

  • Through volunteering, I have learned to rely on God for His strength and wisdom and not my own. I have learned to ask for His words and not rely on my own words. God is the ultimate compassionate volunteer who I feel walks beside me. Volunteering has made me realize God is everywhere, even in the smallest details, if I only look. —Kay Tangner, Whiz Kids Tutor
  • My life is full of joy in helping mentor and improve the reading skills of my student through Whiz Kids. I believe we become our best when we are serving others and have the chance to demonstrate the love of Jesus. —Howard Hunt

The Clinic

  • One of the great things about serving at Crossings Community Clinic is the opportunity to pray with my patients without worrying about institutional guidelines or someone looking over my shoulder. Taking a few minutes to get a sense of where the patients are emotionally and spiritually is really worth it to offer a meaningful prayer that meets them where they are. Sometimes, though, it’s hard to figure that out, and I may offer a fairly generic prayer and wonder if I really did anything useful. Occasionally in those circumstances, I have been profoundly impacted when that same patient will ask to pray for me. That patient, who does not know me personally or any of the details in my life, will then ask for the Lord’s help for me in a particular area with which I am struggling at that very time. So God Himself is ministering to me directly through the person I am ministering to myself. It is a great faith-builder to see how He is always in control and continually blesses me in ways I cannot comprehend and often cannot see. —R. Michael Siatkowski, MD
  • Volunteering in the medicine room at the Clinic has given me the opportunity to know more people who need prayer, and it has deepened my joy in praying for others. —Louanne Trueblood

Community of Faith

  • God brought four amazing Rwandan students into our life at Crossings one Sunday four years ago. Before that encounter, I viewed volunteering as a “when I feel like it” duty if I found the “perfect” time and place to volunteer … so we kept asking (and delaying) but never serving. However, once we got our hands dirty, God began a transforming work in our lives. As a host home to the Rwandan college students, I began to see others rather than focusing exclusively on me. Contrary to public opinion, you are not committing the rest of your life, but for my family, everything changed once we committed to something that required an ongoing sacrifice. —Alan Spies
  • Through volunteering, I feel like God has blessed me with an inner joy that has made me want to be closer to Him and love Him even more. This joy has made me want to listen, follow and serve Him so others can see Him through me. My first opportunity to serve was 21⁄2 years ago serving lunch to the homeless at Community of Faith. I’m still doing that, and I absolutely love it. I am so glad Crossings has so many opportunities for serving! —Camille Glasshof
  • Volunteering as a teacher-partner with one of our inner-city school partners makes me feel like I’m doing a small part of God’s work here on earth. It is fulfilling, and through it, God has shown me that my time and effort spent volunteering reaps many more benefits than pursuing my selfish motivations ever could. —Stacy Townsdin
  • Volunteering with formerly incarcerated women at the Hope House has resulted in the receipt of letters, emails, texts and new friendships. When I began volunteering, I had no idea I would soon become a widow. However, God makes provisions for our need even before the need exists. Imagine what a blessing it was that my sudden loneliness was helped by the letters I received from my pen pals. I’ve become so much more aware of God’s mercy and grace toward me and have grown in my desire to express that same mercy and grace to others. —Julie Blevins

Eugene Field

  • I serve with the art teacher at Eugene Field. She has been going through so much personally this year; over and over, I keep seeing how God’s power is made perfect in her weakness. She has lots of kids crammed into a room with little to no resources, yet from her teaching, these kids are really getting exposed to great art … both learning about it and creating it themselves. Just to see the students’ faces as they excel in their artwork and like what they are creating has been so cool. I love how it isn’t dependent on the supplies, the space she uses for her room or her lack of patience … God can do anything He chooses wherever He chooses to do it. I thought I’d be so much help to her, but in reality, she amazes me in all she is able to accomplish with so little. God’s power is made perfect in my weakness, too, and getting to work with Donna this year has shown me that the only real stumbling block in my being used for eternal purposes is me. So if I am obedient and willing, He will use me, and ultimately that is what I long for… that and a sense of His presence in my day-to-day life. Thanks for this great connection! Loving art with kids at Eugene Field. —Stacey Allen
  • We worked for years to get to the place where we could retire and work for free, and we found true wealth. Through working with children in the inner-city, we have been made aware of MANY THINGS we take for granted. At Thanksgiving, we discovered 23 of our 26 students had never had pumpkin pie! Ed told them it was the best vegetable they’d ever eat! Supporting teachers with prayer and presence filters down as HOPE to children who would otherwise be hopeless. We initially wondered if we were “qualified” to work with kids … it turned out we had attention & kindness to give, and it was exactly what they needed most. —Ed & Allie Frankfurt

The Club

  • I have volunteered at The Club for five years. This afterschool program at Crossings Community Center serves middle and high school students from John Marshall. Every year, I see myself growing in my faith through sharing it with the students in my small group. My love for them grows along with my sense of purpose and blessing from God. This year, I am mentoring a single student outside The Club time, and it is such a precious relationship! I truly feel God is working in me as much as He is allowing me to touch the lives of these students! —Lisa Gilbert
  • I have a passion for kids who, through no fault of their own, are growing up in an environment that puts them “behind the 8-ball” in this world. I began addressing this passion years ago with the semi-conscious idea that I was doing it to make up for the bad things I have done. However, through the volunteers who have entered my life (Sunday School teachers, Men’s Bible study leaders and Crossings’ pastors), I now understand, CONSCIOUSLY and with eyes-wide-open, I can’t possibly do enough to make up for my past wrongs. I learned grace. THAT … has led me to volunteer more passionately than ever before! —Steve Kalmeyer, The Club Inner-City Small Group Leader

“Taste and see that the Lord is good.”

“Just Jump In!” originally published by Pam Millington, Pastor of Missions and Outreach at Crossings, in the Spring 2014 edition of Crossings Magazine.

A Letter From Roatan

By | about us & resources, adults, Global Missions, Help & Support, Missions, Stories | No Comments

Gathering and Growing Hunnicutt-for-web

When I was a girl, we gathered. We gathered for cereal or eggs or rice, depending on the time of day and where we were living. We gathered around the Egermeier’s Bible daily. We gathered for Sunday School and birthdays and seashell exploration. We gathered as a family. We gathered as a church. Above all, we needed each other. I needed a community, a gathering, because by the time I was 18, we had moved 22 times as we served Christ all across the globe. And when I wandered away from my community during my college years, they were never too far behind. My parents unconditionally loved me from their calling in Australia and Tanzania. My connections in the Church of God were still there when I left Anderson, Indiana, and found myself in Oklahoma, eventually landing at Crossings, which, at that time, was Belle Isle. Joining a Community Group and participating in Sunday school classes gave me connections and friendships that carried me through some incredibly difficult times.

Connecting Through Crossings

When there wasn’t money for electricity or food because the ministry where I worked wasn’t generating income, the church stepped in. When I found myself on my knees, wondering how I would make it through the next difficult day separated from my now deceased husband, my community embraced me and whispered prayers and words of encouragement. Crossings connected me with lifelong friends, mentors, and prayer warriors who have traveled with me on a journey I never would have scripted for myself. One Sunday night over six years ago, I found myself surrounded by community once again as God confirmed a calling He had been placing on my life. It was time to go serve Him overseas. I remember slamming my Bible on the floor. No, God! There’s no way I’m moving again! I love my life here! I’m not my parents. This is my home. I’m serving you HERE. But it was time. And dear brothers and sisters came alongside me that night, ignoring my Bible-tossing temper tantrum and helped me process the huge shift that was about to take place.

Being Where God Wants You

Despite living in or visiting five of the seven continents, I had never made it to Central America. Of course, God was calling me to Honduras. One of my greatest fears in moving here was the possibility of isolation. I’m a single woman living on an island. Island fever is real, especially when the island is only four miles wide and thirty miles long. What a surprise it was when the Lord blessed me with even more special communities here— from my second church family to my “sons” and “daughters” at the Christian school we started on the island, to my English students who have become my friends to other workers in Honduras. Perhaps the biggest surprise, though, was the huge growth in community—the new gatherings taking place—within my Crossings family. Each of the mission trip teams that have come has been a great encouragement to me. Their friendship extends beyond the week they spend here and one of my greatest joys is seeing them face-to-face again when I come home during the summer and Christmas. What a blessing it is to continue the legacy of my parents who served God all over the world through the Church of God as I now have the privilege to serve in Roatan, Honduras, through the Church of God and Crossings.

It’s a beautiful thing to be in the place God wants you. I know that’s where I am. My heart is full, and at times I can’t believe I’m actually here—that this life has been gifted to me. To have so many taking the journey with me is amazing; Through Crossings, I’m part of a growing gathering, even from 1,500 miles away.

Experience what it is like to walk in Deborah’s shoes by joining the next Learning and Cultural Engagement trip for women (Jan. 30-Feb. 6, 2016). For more information, contact Pam Millington at 405-302-1267 or You can also visit our Missions page to learn more about Missions through Crossings and stay up-to-date with current trips, events, and information.

Written by Sarah Hunnicutt (as told by her mother Deborah), Missions/Outreach Ministry Volunteer

Parking Ministry

5 Reasons the Parking Ministry is the Perfect Place to Serve

By | about us & resources, adults, Help & Support, Stories, Volunteer | No Comments

Parking Ministry

Free food.

  • Yes, it’s true. Parking lot volunteers receive free coffee and donuts every Sunday! Volunteer, Jim Harwood, tells us, “I love working in the Parking Ministry. People stop and talk to me, and one gentleman stops his car every Sunday to give me a piece of candy. I even received a piece of quiche one Sunday!”

Kids love the golf carts, and you get to drive them!

  • “Driving the golf cart is such a fun way to interact with people on Sunday mornings,” says volunteer Brian Gorny. “Little kids jump out of the car and run to the golf carts with their parents, and it’s so rewarding to know you’re a part of their overall excitement about going to church!”

It’s an awesome group of people.

  • Volunteer Trish Baldwin tells us she knew she wanted to serve in the Parking Ministry the first time she came to Crossings. “The parking lot volunteers set the tone for everything else that will follow for those attending that morning. That’s why I think this crew is so important, and I love being a part of the team.”

The weather is always good on Sunday.

  • Well, okay, maybe not ALWAYS, but think of the newfound respect and admiration that will be heaped on you for braving any possible elements to serve God and His people!

You are the first impression a visitor receives.

  • Ryan Brown, Pastor of Connection and Guest Services, has the privilege of overseeing the Parking Ministry and appreciates these volunteers who strive to make everyone feel welcome. “You never know what has brought a person or family to Crossings. It can be the happiest or saddest of situations, and we want to be a church that lets them know we are here for them and are so glad they came. This all starts with a friendly welcome in the parking lot.”

“Five Reasons the Parking Ministry is the Perfect Place to Serve” originally published by Rebecca Ellison, director of Communications at Crossings, in the Spring 2014 edition of Crossings Magazine.


Providing Water to the World

By | about us & resources, adults, Events, Help & Support, Missions, Mobile, Stories, Volunteer, Worship | No Comments


Quenching Their Thirst

You may know Jim Stewart as a worship team leader on Sundays in the Sanctuary, but you might not know that he was privileged to join the Water4 staff part-time in August 2011, as Director of Development. Water4 Foundation, founded by Crossings members Dick and Terri Greenly, is dedicated to bringing fresh, safe drinking water to children and families in developing countries through low cost hand drilling methods and drill kits, as well as training and support which ultimately allow the transfer of the technology, sustainability, and economic development in that country. No small dream since the needs are so great: 884,000,000 people lack access to clean drinking water, and over 27,000 children under the age of five die each week from drinking unclean water.

Learning and Leading

In January of 2012, Jim was given the wonderful opportunity to go to Zambia as part of a Water4 team to be involved in the drilling and installation of three clean water wells on a remote island. With him were Chris Cotner, Paul Anderson, Derek Watson, and H.R. Sweat. Derek, an Emmy award-winning videographer, and H.R.
travelled with the team to shoot video and still shots for a Water4 documentary on the impact of clean water on a village. Dick and Terri, along with their daughters, Timberly and Christy, were able to join the team for a portion of the trip.

Grateful Hearts

The trip began in Samfya, Zambia. From there, they caught a banana boat to Mbabala Island, where 7,000 people live facing great poverty, malnutrition, and no access to clean water. It is impossible for drilling rigs to get to the island and, therefore, Water4’s process of drilling is ideal for this location. Upon arriving on the island of Mbabala, the Water4 team found villages full of very thankful, beautiful people. They were grateful for their presence, for their love, and for their concern for their well-being. The team met with one of the village directors, Michael, who thanked them for the clean water that will help his people, especially children under the age of five who have a much more difficult time fighting off water-borne diseases. He looked them in the eye and asked, “Please, do not forget us.” He also asked if the team could find some DVDs of “The Jesus Film” in their native language, Bimba. (The team was successful in finding those DVDs, and they have been delivered.)

Jim went to Zambia to experience what Water4 has done in many countries throughout Africa, Asia, and South America. He now knows, because he is an eyewitness, that this model of training, supporting, and equipping young men in their own countries can, and will be, the most successful way to deliver clean water to the poor and needy throughout the world and, at the same time, spread the Word of God with no language barriers.

When the poor and needy are dying of thirst and cannot find water, I, the Lord God of Israel, will come to their rescue. I won’t forget them. –Isaiah 41:17

Thank you, Crossings, for your continued support. Because of you, three new wells were drilled on Mbabala Island during those two weeks and a beautiful group of people are being healed physically and spiritually. And, because of you and others, this is happening not only in Zambia but in other countries as well.

Want to Help? Here’s How:

Water4 has partnered with World Vision in the largest well-drilling campaign in the world (1,000 wells with 10 new Water4 well-drilling teams in Angola with a goal of each team drilling one well per week).

Your donations contribute to the goals of Water4 in the following ways:

  • $24 provides four people with clean water
  • $200 installs one pump that will serve hundreds
  • $900 drills one well for a village
  • $5,000 purchases one drill kit capable of drilling up to 50 wells

Financial Partners from Water4 on Vimeo.

Click here to learn more about the vision, mission, and purpose of Water4 and contact Jerry Reiger for more information on how to get involved.

“Water4: Providing Water to the World” originally published by Jim Stewart, Director of Development, Water4, in the Spring 2012 edition of Crossings Magazine.

Larry Andrews

An Unexpected Call

By | about us & resources, adults, Help & Support, Stories, Volunteer | No Comments

Larry Andrews

Overwhelmed by Despair

As Larry Andrews sat alone in his home, he was overcome by feelings of despair. Recently diagnosed with an incurable disease, the former police officer struggled to make sense of a very uncertain future. Then the phone rang. “I didn’t recognize the name on the Caller ID, so I didn’t plan on answering. For some reason, though, I picked up the receiver on the last ring.” It was a phone call that not only changed his life but opened the door to a future of blessing.

A few weeks prior, Andrews’ employer suggested that he take a sabbatical to pray, focus on the Scriptures and meditate on God’s mercies and healing power. His “new normal,” though, sometimes yielded fearful doubts and dark days.

I kept asking, ‘Why me?’ and wondering why a miracle wasn’t coming.

Then the phone rang that day, and as he picked up the receiver, he heard an unknown voice on the other end. It was a woman from Crossings who had heard of his situation and wanted him to know that she and others were praying for him.

Giving Back To Those In Need

“After hearing my story, she prayed with me, and we talked some more. As I hung up the phone, I felt this great sense of relief, then realized that I had almost missed a call that gave me hope and changed my perspective. I immediately broke down and wept in thanksgiving.” Soon after that, Larry and his wife, Charlotte, became more involved at Crossings and began volunteering in several ministries. A couple of years later, he heard of a need for people to make weekly prayer calls to Crossings people in need of encouragement. “I couldn’t help but jump at that chance,” says Larry.

On his first day as a prayer volunteer, Larry met Renee Russell, the woman who had called and prayed with him a couple of years earlier. She was serving in the Congregational Care ministry and helped Larry get started in doing just what she had done for him in the past. “What a thrill it was to tell her how much her call had changed my life!” Although he still suffers physically, Larry no longer sits in a quiet house, wondering if God is listening. He now spends each Wednesday at Crossings on a team that prays for people whose lives have been affected by hard times, then calls each one to offer encouragement. Although he doesn’t always get an answer, he leaves a message, just in case.

Listening for God’s Message

“Recently, I was having a hard time reaching a certain couple that I had talked to the first few times. I was thinking about ‘retiring’ their prayer card, but I decided to try one last time and was surprised when the wife answered. She explained that they had been out of town a lot, but that they appreciated the calls. Then she explained, ‘Some weeks the only good thing that happens is coming home and hearing that someone is praying for us.’” Larry continues, “It’s funny that just like I had almost rejected that call a few years earlier, I had almost stopped calling someone on the other end years later. I am so grateful that in both cases, I felt God’s nudge to pick up the phone. And I am even more grateful that I get to play a role in a church family that cares so much for one another.”

For further information about Crossings Prayer Ministry, contact Renee at or 302-1219.

“An Unexpected Call” originally published by Lance Ward, Pastor of Congregational Care, in the Spring 2012 edition of Crossings Magazine.

Getting Off the Porch

By | about us & resources, adults, Help & Support, Staff, Stories, Worship | No Comments

Williams-FamilySearching for the Truth

As Director of Recorded Media, James Williams is responsible for the sound and video quality of the worship services for their distribution online. He is also the live audio engineer for The Venue services. Every week, he post-mixes a song from both The Venue and Sanctuary services, as well as the Sunday morning message, for uploading online. Currently, the combination of Crossings music and messages online are listened to approximately 2500 times each week! James also did the mixing for the latest Voices of Crossings Choir CD and both Crossings Live CDs. James was a freelance live and recording engineer and drummer for years before he first came to Crossings in December 2005, when he was contracted as the monitor engineer for the Christmas program. He stayed with Crossings on a contract basis as a monitor engineer on Sunday mornings until he started working weekends at Life Church in March 2006 as a studio broadcast engineer for one of their church online campuses. He had already committed to them, but was torn about leaving Crossings. His supervisor, Larry Wallace, assured him by saying, “We’re all part of the same team … a Christian army … there’s no competition involved.”

When Life Church stopped broadcasting live on Sundays and began a simulated live broadcast, James’ workload shifted to Saturdays instead of Sundays. The same week he found out about it, Larry Wallace happened to call and check up on him—and ended up asking him to work at Crossings on Sundays again. Later, when processes at his job changed again, his position was eliminated. At the same time, Crossings was beginning a Saturday night service; so James became a part-time employee of Crossings. He says, “The timing has always been incredible!” He shifted to a full-time employee in December 2011. He remarks, “I don’t know if I could ever leave Crossings because of how much I’ve been loved here.”

James grew up as a preacher’s kid (PK) in the Baptist church. He comments, “All the bad stuff you’ve heard about PKs—that would be me.” Although he was about six when he somewhat understood what Christianity was, at around 19 years old, he “completely kicked all religion out … and decided to find God for myself and make sure I wasn’t believing in something that was just not true.” He explains, “In my quest, I very vigorously searched out the truth and did a lot of research. In my early 30s, I found enough evidence that let me believe without doubt.” He refers to himself as a “Thomas,” saying that he’s a skeptic—not on purpose, it’s just the way he’s built. However, he has so many personal experiences to add to the hard evidence he found that he no longer doubts. “…The experiences on top of the evidence has unbelievably blessed me with the peace of not ever doubting … I know what it’s like to doubt … and it’s just life-changing to not doubt.”

Praising and Worshipping

One of the most transforming experiences in his Christian walk has been in the area of tithing. Prior to 2012—his first year of being full-time at Crossings—James did not have a solid, steady income that wasn’t based on being a free-lance contractor. He still gave some offerings and tithes—he was a Baptist PK, after all—but he never gave “on a consistent, rock-solid schedule, and if I didn’t have enough money to tithe, then I wouldn’t,” he reveals.

In the early months of 2012, that changed as he felt God speaking to him through the passage of Malachi 3:10. He describes it as the Scripture saying, “Test me on this—tithe!” He paraphrases, “God says you need to at least be obedient and trust Me. He says, ‘Test me on this; you won’t be disappointed … You tithe and I will shower you, ‘” explains James, “and that’s what I wanted!”

So in 2012, James decided to trust God. Though he always—even in his doubting years—believed in God. “I have trust issues,” he discloses, “trusting people and trusting God to take care of me.” But he goes on, “I made a decision to give at least 10 percent of my gross earnings from Crossings as tithe … My life changed completely!”

“I think the whole point of tithing and giving,” he declares, “is not about money but about trust … trust in the One you say you believe in … and that trust being an act of worship and believing there really is a God. You don’t do that kind of stuff religiously when it’s barely in your budget if you don’t truly believe there is a God and that He will take care of you.” To James, recognition of God is praise, and what you do from that recognition is worship. “Praise and worship are sometimes grouped together as the same thing, but they’re different. It takes one to do the other. You can’t worship what you don’t believe in. You have to recognize who God is before you can worship.”

He also shares, “I had always felt like a step-kid on the porch, while everybody else was in God’s house eating at the dinner table. I would get fed, but I wasn’t part; I wasn’t a part of the immediate family, I was somehow acquired. I feel like part of the main blessing of tithing for me is being right with God in His design … we were designed to depend on Him and trust Him.” James began tithing because he wanted “to trust God to bless me instead of me trying to do it. I wanted to get all the blessing I could and … be in communion with God.”

Connecting Passion and Purpose

James remembers, in 2012, being lonely. He had always felt like he was meant to be married, but had already been through a divorce. Although his life was somewhat good and he had a great job, “the big point of life was missing … my own family. That’s what I really wanted.” He recalls, on Christmas Day of 2012, being in his apartment with only his dog, heartbroken because he didn’t have his own immediate family to be with on Christmas. “It was a hard day,” he remembers. “I cried to God to please send me the one He had for me.” God was already at work. On that same evening, Melissa Jackson was in a hotel room far away from home. After stretching her boundaries on eHarmony, Melissa saw James’ profile and contacted him. They were married on November 23, 2013. He shares, “I’ve never met a sweeter woman in my life … I think if someone is truly, authentically sweet, it only comes from God.” Their son, Jackson was born on September 14, 2014. James reveals, “Having a child has rocked my world. Sometimes I just look at him while I’m feeding him, and I just cry … and that’s out of worship … realizing what God and only God can do.”

“Trusting,” he says, “by tithing … it’s huge. My life has never been the same. It’s out of my control … Even though our money is tight because Melissa isn’t teaching this year, we still tithe and we won’t stop tithing—because it’s not about the money … it’s not a finance issue, it’s a trust issue. Trusting Him on this … is the beginning of blessing; it’s the beginning of experiencing God.” He explains, “I didn’t do it to get something, except to get in line … in unison … with God. I feel like it brought me off the front porch and into the dinner table sitting right next to Him, feeling loved.”

He challenges those who are skeptical about tithing: “Try it because God does say we can test Him on this.” You, too, may discover, as James did, that the real blessings are not financial, but more of God Himself.

“Getting Off the Porch” originally published by Jennifer Ayotte, Director of Internal Communications, in the Winter 2014 edition of Crossings Magazine.

The Safehouse and the Smuggler

By | about us & resources, adults, Help & Support, Missions, Stories | No Comments

KyanMy name is Kyan. I’m 45 years old. I have a wife and two children. These details may not be very interesting to you, but maybe my part-time hobby will be. I’m a smuggler for the underground church in North Korea.

In 2007, I began crossing illegally out of North Korea into China to find food for my family. During my visits, I met kind Korean-Chinese Christians who helped me gather supplies for those in need back in my home city. I was able to secretly attend their worship services where I accepted Jesus as my savior. My Korean-Chinese friends even opened a special house near the border where those like myself could be given training and discipleship in our faith.

I’ve received so much from my visits to the house. In that safe place, a teacher and his wife help me understand the Bible, how to disciple and care for my friends back home, and even how to secretly evangelize. I’m grateful for each lesson and take the knowledge back to share with my wife and children, my two brothers, and the two neighbor families who all meet in my home. The house hosts tell me I’m now a pastor, though I know I still have so much to learn.

When I return to North Korea, I carry more than just new wisdom in Christ. At the house I’m given food aid, warm clothes, and medicine, which I must smuggle across the border to share with my small church. I was even provided a digital media player— filled with audio and video Bible teachings —for our gatherings.

I visit as often as possible even though I risk being shot by border guards each time I cross the river that separates my country from China. The spiritual and physical food is worth so much to my people, and I am committed to my hobby until all of my dark country is flooded with the light of Jesus.

As a supporter of Alpha Relief, Crossings (YOU!) have provided for Kyan at a safe house run by friends on the North Korean border.