Stories of how God is working in our lives!
With a graduation on June 16, Amy Weems and I completed “Breaking Free” with a group of 58 women in the six-month faith-based dorm program at Plane State Women's Prison. More than 20 women prayed to receive Christ during this time.
We meet one on one with each one who expresses a desire to become a Christian and pray with them individually. It is a joy for us to watch the women transform as they study the Word week after week. Our goal is to reflect God’s love for them through our lives, to introduce them to Jesus and to show them through the Beth Moore study “Breaking Free” how to be released from strongholds and captivity and walk in freedom in Christ.
We will start a new group of 58 women in June or July. We are so thankful for UBC supporting this Prison Ministry through prayer and financial donations. —Barbara Gibson
going deeper, being more real
The processes set up in the Spiritual Formation workbook are taking our class to a level we have not experienced in our 10 to 18 years together. The first day I started reading this book I went to a Starbucks, thinking I would have some quiet time. But, I was surprised at how noisy it was there. I decided to stick it out and pray. I asked God to help me focus on Him and what He would teach me as I read. As I was reading, there was a song playing, I began to hear this lyric playing over and over, “I want to move in the future with you”—and at the same time I kept coming across the word “future” as I read (p. 13, planning for the group’s future).
From the beginning [of UBC’s Spiritual Formation series], I have felt God’s presence with me, my family and over our church. He is with us, in us, and longs for His body of believers to come together in a real manner, not the world’s superficial facade that we have been trained to be, but deeper, real, like Paul was with his family. Paul didn’t pretend everything was alright, he kept getting deeper into the lives of other believers and helped them to stay on track. Our class is starting to do just this, to go deeper and be more real with each other. Sharing the past, our fears and how God is working in us. As the book indicates, it takes practice.
The second thing that is being revealed is time. Replacing “what we do with our time,” with the practices laid out in this guide, retraining us to spend more time with God and less time focused on the world. It really has been eye-opening and life changing. I look forward to the future in what God is doing for us as a family, His body of believers. Trying to be only His —DJ Floyd
what is love?
One of the main focuses of our Weekday Ministries program is for all of the children in our program to know that God loves them and that He will always be with them. It is always heartwarming to hear stories from the parents that reveal this truth is sinking in. Below is a story from one of our weekday families, as told by the child’s mom:
Baylee (age 3) was tossing and turning and moaning in her sleep. I went in to check on her and I asked her if she was okay. She said her tummy hurt and that she wanted medicine. I asked her if she wanted water instead. I decided to give her a little Sprite thinking the carbonation might help settle her tummy. She’d never had Sprite before and was immediately enamored with its “bubbles.” So, we’re both sitting there on her new big girl bed, her drinking her bubbly Sprite and me watching my baby girl fall in love with the indulgence of a first-time Sprite in the wee hours of the night and we have this conversation:
Baylee, I love you so much.
I love you, mommy.
Baylee, what do you think love is?
Her answer without even a second of hesitation, “ Jesus.”
I’ll probably sleep with a smile on my face tonight… — Baylee's Mom
"all things are Himpossible"
Last month the Bible verse at our son and daughter’s preschool was: “With God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26. We tend to practice over mealtimes, especially breakfast, and they are each so proud when they get both the verse and hand motions correct. Afterwards they chorus “from the book of Matthew!” Our daughter Catherine, however, who is just three years old, has unintentionally shortened the verse to: “all things are impossible” and is delighted with her rendition believing it to be correct. I love this sweet story of her and have been sharing it with friends and family. It has just occurred to me, though, that perhaps there is a greater truth in what she has been saying: if we fail to live life “with God” then perhaps things truly are “impossible.” Out of the mouths of babes… —Sierra Whitney
shopping ministry? you betcha!
The Young Adults participated in the Teen-to-Teen mentoring/shopping trip during the Advent season. Seven members matched up with underprivileged teens through Lighthouse Christian Ministries to do Christmas shopping with them. We also had breakfast and lunch with them. This is our third year for this ministry, and our largest group so far. —Brandi Dean
the joy of serving
Our Learning and Living Bible study group collected Christmas decorations and donated them to the women at Bay Area Turning Point. We also collected gift basket items to begin donating to Bay Area Turning point when one of the women there celebrates a birthday. We also got a small group together to decorate for Christmas the home of two of our class members who are having serious health issues. It was a great outpouring of love for them, and we were blessed by being able to do something for them that brought joy to their Christmas and New Year. —Nancy Inbody
ministry with our group during advent
Our "On The Journey Together" Bible study class assisted in bringing Christmas to three families at Buckner Family Place in Houston. Most of these families have come from the Star of Hope Mission and Buckner is assisting with getting them back on their feet. One family was able to join us for Lighthouse of Hope and they really enjoyed the celebration. As one of the young daughters said when the meal came, "This is awesome!" and we echo her sentiments! Thank the Lord for the opportunity to serve these families and show them a small measure of our Father's love! —Joy Henry
lighthouse of hope keeps on giving
After all the LOH guests had gone, with their bags of groceries and gifts in hand, the UBC kitchen had been put back in order, and the tuckered-out volunteers were finally home in bed…there were still quite a few groceries left! So, in the next few days Butch Peters loaded up a truck with the food, and Jason Haynes drove it down to the men’s shelter in Alvin where we have helped with several projects over the past couple of years. When Jason arrived he was met by Big Mike, who runs the shelter, and cheers from the men who were there. Big Mike shared that the residents and workers had been told the previous evening that there was no more food,so they prayed together. And they were not at all surprised to see a truckload of food pull up the next day! Surely God smiles when we trust Him. More about LOH
Bible stories we remember!
Last Sunday at dinner, I asked the kids what they learned in WBS. Jake, who is in kindergarten, launched into this very detailed description of the story of David and Jonathan. He must have talked for several minutes. I was very impressed as he really must have paid attention. Then I asked my second grader Alex what he learned, and he said something about some dead sea scrolls and a cave and some guy who couldn’t fit, so some other guy went in… and then something about broken bottles…. So I asked him “did this guy have a name…was it dude”? (thinking he didn’t know any names so I was just being funny), and he said “yeah... Deuteronomy.” We all laughed so hard! —Sondra Del Sardo
nothing is impossible...
I found myself praying for what seems like an impossible situation to come to a good conclusion. In the midst of my prayer I realized that I had absolutely zero faith for the request. So I just prayed out of obedience. That night I was leading my Bible Study Fellowship group and one of the members shared that he was in his sixth year of stage-four pancreatic cancer. He has been doing chemo every other week for six years and the doctors don’t understand why he is still alive. He has no doubt as to who is responsible and he continues his spiritual journey studying God’s word. How sweet of the Lord to provide me a living example that nothing is impossible with God. Do you need to hear from the Lord on an impossible situation? Be Strong and Courageous! —David Mobley
My husband, Travis, believes this is a movie [Courageous] that every man should see. The biggest problem we see in our society today is the decline of the father's role in raising their children. One thing that really stood out to him was how totally inadequate it is to be "good enough." The movie does a great job of showing how to be a father with purpose. As for me, I cried within the first two minutes and several times thereafter! The movie is so powerful. If every father had the conversation with their daughter that the man at the restaurant had with his little girl, there would be no teen pregnancy, fewer failed marriages, and more girls with confidence in God's protection through their fathers. —Laura Wardlaw
power of prayer
On the afternoon of September 4, I received a panicked phone call from my mom that the wildfires were approaching their home in Leon County and moving extremely fast behind the thick tree line that backs up to the house. Terrifying noises of timber falling in the very near distance and smoke so thick it hurt to breathe was encroaching their house faster than anyone, including the firefighters, expected. My family was in a full panic and there was nothing we could do to help…except pray. So that is exactly what we did. However, I knew that I needed as many prayer warriors as I could get so I posted the situation on my Facebook page and asked for prayers. Within 30 minutes, my mom’s cousin had posted the following comment: “Have family here, we gathered in a circle, held hands and each one of us lifted them up.” Little did I know the impact of that comment and prayer.
After the smoke had cleared and the immediate danger had seemed to pass, my mom’s cousin called her to check in and see how they were doing. My mom’s reply to her was that everything seemed to be okay for now and then proceeded to tell her about the most intense moment she experienced. At the point the fires were getting dangerously close to the house, my mom was standing on the deck in tears feeling helpless as she watched the firefighters fight the flames just a few yards away. With strong winds gusting in the exact direction of the house, the fire chief ordered my parents to leave and was unable to give them any hope. As they were getting ready to leave, my mom stood in awe as she gazed at what was happening—the winds, almost in an instant, shifted directions and it seemed as though the smoke from the flames “circled” the house.
At that moment, my mom’s cousin stopped her and immediately explained that after seeing the note on Facebook, her family gathered in her living room, held hands and each individually lifted my parents' situation up in prayer. She said that when it got to her son-in-law (who is also a missionary), his specific prayer was: “Father, if the fires get dangerously close to their house, we ask in your name that you shift the winds and circle the flames around their house.”
Needless to say, upon hearing that, there was no other explanation needed. God had heard the prayer and with His will, shifted the winds causing the smoke and flames to “circle the house.” All the glory goes to God that my parents' home is still standing and aside from the loss of many trees, lots of smoke and a few days of stress, life is great and we all feel extremely blessed. God is Good! —Melissa Wren
lasting impact of vbs
Recently my granddaughter, Lauren, was listening to a VBS song in my van. It brought her teachers to mind as she commented "Nona, I wish I could visit my VBS teachers again.” It warmed a grandmother's heart to hear such a special memory that has stayed with Lauren since last June because of such fun, loving and caring VBS teachers she had for only one week! —Diane Orr
prison guards "come to the water"
Last weekend I was able to go lead worship for the church service at a women's prison in Dayton. During our drive we specifically prayed for the guards, that doors would be opened to minister to them. Traditionally there is one guard who stands at the door during service and when 8:30pm comes the head guard can stop what we are doing and the women leave. What happened in the service an hour later none of us would have dreamed! Not only was the guard at the door listening, but 3 other guards walked in to listen over the course of the service. As the speaker finished and I stood up to lead a few more songs, I was asked to sing a song I wrote called "Come to the Water." I've not seen more heartfelt emotion in my life! The head guard walked in right at 8:30pm and when another guard began to stop us for the women to leave, the head guard said, "You can go ahead and sing for 10 more minutes if you want to." Later after the inmates were escorted out, the other guards came to get my contact information so they could get the CD to listen to the song at home. Not only did the Lord answer our prayer to reach the guards, but He also provided an open door to keep communications with those women! —Debbie Forrest