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Monday
Apr112011

No Greater Love

When the bomb went off, Sloan heard God say, “You’re not going to be killed. You’re not going to be maimed.” The lead truck was blown 20 meters onto its roof, and the gunner from that truck was chucked like a rag doll 150 meters to the south. The improvised explosive device (IED) left a crater fifteen feet wide and ten feet deep, and threw Sloan’s truck out and away, past a burning vehicle and onto what was left of a wall. Five of his men were dead. Of the ten survivors, seven were wounded, leaving three men to fight eighteen insurgents.

Sloan threw open the door of his truck, and a grenade fell right where he was going to put his feet. He slammed the door, braced against the explosion, and then opened the door a second time. Another grenade landed in the same spot, so he shut the door again— this time on his rifle barrel. Still, nothing touched him.

The attacks seemed to be coming from the south. Sloan shoved open his door a third time and ran around to the north side of the truck. He wanted to get his soldiers out and get them into the fight. The door on that side was jammed. While he yanked on it, machine-gun fire came up from behind him, spattering left and right into the truck, and another grenade dropped at his feet. He flashed a look over his shoulder and dove toward a pile of rubble. Now Sloan decided his soldiers were safer in the truck than out fighting, and he moved behind a piece of wall to begin returning fire and scanning the wreckage for wounded. His medic, Sergeant Shin Kim, who had been stuck in the vehicle, crawled through to the front and managed to get out the passenger door. Shin was Sloan’s shadow—everywhere Sloan went, Shin went. Shin crouched and headed to the wall, without a weapon. Sloan noticed and reached down for his sidearm, but shrapnel had cut the strap, and the holster was dangling by his kneepad. As he was groping for it, hurrying to get the weapon to Shin, another hand grenade dropped—right in between them. They were within two feet of one another. Sloan yelled “Grenade!” and blindly threw himself in a backward arc. Everything shook violently and rock and burning debris pelted him.

When he got up, Shin was face-down on the ground. There were machine gun piffs going off all around him in the dirt. Sloan grabbed Shin by the back of his flak vest and dragged him over the pile. Shin had shrapnel in his forehead, and his eyes were going different directions. Sloan knew by the way Shin lay in the street that he had stepped in front of the grenade.

By then, the other two soldiers had managed to escape from the truck and reach the wall. One soldier was an EMT. Sloan told him to work on Shin and handed a weapon to the other, saying, “Shoot anything not in [our] uniform.” They continued the fight until a second patrol came flying up from the south with guns blazing, and an Apache helicopter appeared overhead. Just the sight of the Apache was enough to stop the battle. The enemy immediately broke contact.

Sloan thought he’d escaped with just a few scratches, and when he arrived at the combat hospital in Baghdad—in the green zone—he said, “Give me a couple of Band-Aids, and I’ll be on my way.” He figured to be back out in sector the next day. Instead, he was rushed into surgery and heard, “Count back from ten.” Sloan didn’t even get to nine before he fell into unconsciousness. But he did so remembering God’s promise that he would not be killed or maimed, and he had a good supply of the Word of Life already deposited in his heart. It had been a long journey.

Growing up, Sloan had seen mostly phonies in the church—religion was full of hypocrites and all about manipulating people. At twelve, he stopped believing there even was a God, and until he was thirty, he said, “Life is only a light switch. You’re here and when the light goes out, there’s nothing.” He was a “type-A” guy who took care of business, got things done. He clung to what was black and white and to his own sense of honor and loyalty.

But that code of conduct did not help him when his marriage fell apart. So, during lonely hours in a hotel room, he halfheartedly tried the “spiritual thing” again. Taking a Gideon Bible out of the nightstand, he said, “God, if you’re real, I need to know.” He flipped the Bible open. The first place his eyes landed was Jeremiah 17:9—“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Sloan got mad! He thought I don’t even understand what that means—that’s worthless! and threw the Bible back in the drawer. One month later, after alcohol and depression had taken their toll, he held a pistol to his head. But something—some force—stopped him, and he thought perhaps he could give himself one more chance. He decided to call his dad and go to church.

When Sloan walked into the service, he looked at the people sitting in the pews and felt like a lion in a room full of sheep. He judged them: Why did I come here? These people are weak individuals. Then he thought, Funny thing is, I’m the one who had a .45 to my head last night. When the pastor started to explain Jeremiah 17:9, Sloan felt like he’d been hit with a hammer. There was no way that man could have picked that one scripture by chance out of such a big book—the odds were higher than winning the lottery. God said, “Sloan, you think I don’t exist, but I’ve been here the whole time. Even though you didn’t welcome Me, I’ve been here.”

During his last tour in Iraq, Sloan’s dad sent him “secret” packages—blank CDs that he burned with Andrew Wommack’s teachings. Unsure of what he could send, he didn’t label them but numbered them and put them in a plain wrapper. Sloan liked how Andrew spoke—“straight up”—and he stuck like glue to the Word. He began to get Andrew’s teachings from the internet as much as he could. It would take four to five hours to download one MP3, so he’d start the process and go on patrol amid the insurgents. When he got back, he’d listen to something like Lessons from Elijah.

The attack happened on June 28, 2007. After surgery, Sloan recovered amazingly well and ended up being shipped to Colorado Springs. Then, suddenly, so many doors opened for him to attend Charis Bible College that it was like a big neon sign saying, “GO!” So, he went, but often he would show up angry—angry because some lady in a coffee shop complained there was too much foam in her latté, then not enough foam, and then she had the audacity to storm out in a fit; or because some driver on the highway would go into a rage after being cut off in traffic. Sloan would think, Well, did you have to pick up a dead child today?

In Iraq, even when they were being attacked every day, there was such love among the men. Somebody would get sick, and a guy who’d been on a fourteen-hour patrol would take another fourteen-hour shift— out in sector, getting shot at, possibly killed—just so his buddy could rest. Now, back from war, Sloan couldn’t stand it when people fussed over petty things. He didn’t want any strife. He didn’t want to miss the beauty of a single sunset. People frustrated him so much that he didn’t think he could stop being angry. Sloan Sulham serves Andrew Wommack Ministries as part of the Security Department. (Click to enlarge)He’d arrive at school spitting nails and leave praising His Father in heaven, marveling at the wisdom and peace that the knowledge of God created in him, how it changed him!

Some people don’t know what it’s like to have somebody die for them, but Sloan does because Shin Kim died taking a grenade for him. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13)—like Jesus, the One who wrote the Book of love.

Although Sloan is no longer wearing the uniform of the United States Army, he is still spending his life watching out for others by serving at Andrew Wommack Ministries in the Security Department.

Reprinted from the article No Greater Love found in the Spring / Summer 2011 edition of Andrew's Gospel Truth Magazine.

Thursday
Apr072011

Four Campus Mission

In March, Charis Bible College sent four teams of second-year students on to the mission field in Central America. In a combined effort the teams from Colorado, Indiana, Illinois and Massachusetts, united with Karen and Darey Jolley founders of Ambassadors to the Nations to serve the local communities in Nicaragua. The thirty-six member team ministered to many groups of children in schools and neighborhoods, expressing God's love through the giving of gifts of clothing, shoes and other necessities. The CBC students also had the opportunity to share God's Word in a women's prison and at a Pastors' conference. As you will see in the images below, many lives were impacted by the teams' ministry efforts and the good news of the Gospel of Jesus.

A bus load of ministers and and a wagon load of wood. (Click to enlarge) The living conditions of those in need in some of the areas the student's visited. (Click to enlarge)

 

 

Gifts at each stop included Spanish translation Bibles, clothing and... candy! (Click to enlarge) God loves a cheerful giver and to see His children receive provision. (Click to enlarge)

The CBC teams were prepared with drama performances pointing to Jesus. (Click to enlarge) Bright smiles could be seen wherever the teams ministered. (Click to enlarge)

 

Pastor Daniel interprets for Ruth as she shares a message. (Click to enlarge) Boxes of love—these contained shoes and clothing for the children. (Click to enlarge)

The teams sort through shoe sizes.
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The teams washed the children's feet before placing on the new shoes. (Click to enlarge)

Sometimes ministry looks like clowning around. (Click to enlarge) Sometimes ministry looks like a dance party! (Click to enlarge)

Karen Jolley (left) and several team members pray for a young boy. (Click to enlarge) The teams ministered in schools, churches, prisons and in the streets. (Click to enlarge)

 

 

Monday
Apr042011

Janet Maley: The Positive Fruit of Hearing

CBC graduate and founding pastor of Charis Bible Fellowship, Janet Maley standing with her husband David (right) and fellow minister Arthur Meinjtes.
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Words, good or bad, may be looked upon as seeds being planted in the hearer's or mind. These seeds eventually bear fruit in the hearer's life—positive or negative. Even people choosing carefully to listen to the goodness of the Gospel can find that there are differing degrees of goodness being presented. Such is the case for Janet Maley; she was a consistent listener of a number of well known pastors and teachers. She enjoyed receiving goodness from a handful of today's top ministers and thrived in her walk with the Lord. Then, Janet started listening to the almost-to-good-to-be-true-news that Andrew shares.

Janet's friends had given her one of Andrew's tapes in 2002, but at the time, Janet was not interested in adding a new teacher to her listening menu. This changed in 2003, Janet with some of her CBC friends, Tonya Spence, Denene Humphrey, Rebecca Ristesund. (Click to enlarge)when Janet's summer project was to paint the exterior of her home in southern Colorado. As she set out to paint, she borrowed her friend's entire audio library of Andrew's material. That summer, Janet spent ten hours a day listening to Andrew's teaching, planting the seeds of love and grace in her heart, and her life was transformed.

Among Janet's favorite teachings is Spirit, Soul & Body, particularly the second message in the series, where Andrew discusses the believer's eternal redemption. "As one who lived my life thinking that I had no real assurance of a lasting salvation, this was good news," said Janet.

A year later, Janet attended Andrew's Summer Family Bible Conference hosted by Charis Bible College (CBC) in Colorado Springs. She was so taken with her experience that she enrolled at CBC and began classes in August that summer. Janet's ordination ceremony at CBC. (Click to enlarge)The following three years at CBC equipped and prepared her for the ministry to which the Lord would call her.

As Janet began her first term at CBC, the thought entered her mind that she may one day plant a church. At the time, she was leading an adult Bible study group, and the idea of leading a congregation held some appeal, although it was truly counter to Janet's shy and introverted nature. This coupled with Janet's misimpression that the administration at CBC was against female leadership in the church, caused her to put the thoughts aside.

From time to time, Janet would hear comments from other CBC students and apprentices regarding what they perceived to be her call to pastor or lead a church, Andrew's hug of congratulations.
(Click to enlarge)
but Janet would dismiss the sentiments because of her inaccurate assumption that female leadership was not acceptable. Her thoughts of starting a church continued to lay dormant, like a seed in the ground, until January of her second year as a student, at which time she took a class on church planting.

During the semester, Janet approached her instructor, and asked him if he wanted to plant a church in her hometown. He responded respectfully declined, and suggested that Janet should be the one to do it. The instructor went on to mention that a married couple he knew was sensing that their time in Colorado Springs was coming to an end and that they may be a good fit to help her launch a new church.

Janet and David stand behind visiting Christian recording artists, Wendy and Don Fransico and several members of the Charis Bible Fellowship.
(Click to enlarge)
Janet and her husband, David set up a weekend for the other couple to come visit Pagosa Springs to discuss the prospect of launching a new "grace" church. Janet also contacted people she thought may be interested in being a part of the new fellowship. Unfortunately, during the week leading up to the visit, the other couple called to cancel, simply stating that they did not feel God was leading them to Pagosa Springs. As Janet made the phone calls to cancel the meeting, she heard herself explaining to the person who was to host the gathering that she could preach. "I said, 'I can preach, I've got so much inside me that I've got to share, I can preach,'" said Janet. This was an uncharacteristically bold statement for Janet, one which prompted the meeting's host to insist on holding the meeting anyway.

After the meeting, Janet felt strongly that she needed to discuss her plans with Andrew—after all, she was a woman preparing to lead a church. Janet and David with their son Thomas and grandsons Dylan and Travis.
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Contrary to her assumptions, Janet was overwhelmed by Andrew's support for her idea. Not only did he share his blessing, but he encouraged her not to be swayed by those who would despise her because of her gender. "In essence, he told me to do what God has called me to do without apology," said Janet.

Janet launched Charis Bible Fellowship in Pagosa Springs in 2006, while still attending CBC, and stepped into full-time ministry after graduation. Through Jesus, and the seeds of the goodness of God's word being planted in her heart, Janet overcame her shy and introverted nature, and began to share the unconditional love of God with the people of her new congregation. Since those early days, Janet has seen steady growth—and the positive fruit of guarding what she had chosen to hear.

Be sure to visit the Charis Bible Fellowship website for more information about Janet and the fellowship she started in Pagosa Springs, Colorado.