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Monday
Jun082015

Beauty from Ashes

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me… [3] [to] provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the L ORD for the display of his splendor.

Isaiah 61:1a and 3, New International Version

Teresa Tuten grew up in the confusion of a broken household of different faiths. With an absentee mother and a workaholic father, she relied on the love and security of her grandmother. Unfortunately, her religious upbringing painted a picture of an angry God in her little heart and fed a cycle of despair that eventually turned her life into a pile of ashes.

“After my parents divorced, I lived with my father and grandmother in Savannah, Georgia,” Teresa shared during a recent interview. “When I was in sixth grade, my dad called a family meeting and told my grandmother and me that he was getting remarried. Neither of us knew he was even dating, but within a week, I had a new family.”

Life changed dramatically for Teresa after that. “My grandmother felt like an outsider with this new family and, within a few months, was asked to leave.” Soon after, two of Teresa’s stepbrothers moved into the bedroom next door and began molesting Teresa. “I was very naive. My stepbrother began complimenting me and then adding touch to his compliments. And every time, he went a little further. I didn’t know what to do. My father was so busy working and trying to please his new family; I didn’t think he would listen to me. My grandmother was gone, and I hadn’t seen my mother in years. I blamed myself for what was happening.”

Church where Teresa gave her testimonyFinally, Teresa mustered up the courage to leave. “I went to live with my mother, but by that time, I was a teenager. Since we didn’t have a relationship, we fought a lot. Her favorite response was, ‘I’m going to put you in a juvenile home.’ After I ran away for the second time, she did.”

Little more than a baby herself, Teresa discovered she was pregnant and was disowned by both of her parents. With nowhere to go and no one to help her, she married her boyfriend. “I didn’t realize it, but he was both physically and emotionally abusive. But by now, I was good at hiding my feelings, and no one ever knew.” Ten years later, Teresa signed divorce papers. “When the divorce was finalized, I felt a tiny flicker of hope for the first time in my life. My daughter and I got an apartment. I found a good job and took some time to breathe. When my ex-husband began stalking us, I knew God had to hate me for my inadequacies and failures.”

Then one day, Teresa came across a television program called the Gospel Truth. Although she didn’t care for Andrew Wommack’s style and often changed the channel, Teresa began to catch enough of the Gospel to whet her appetite for more. “I remember hearing Andrew and thinking, This guy is real, and what he says makes sense. Before long, I became interested in Charis Bible College, but I was too scared to leave everything and go to Colorado. So, I compromised and went to Texas.”

Teresa was discontent in Texas, but she continued listening to Andrew. One day, what he said stopped her dead in her tracks. “‘God’s not mad at you,’ he said. I couldn’t believe it! All my life, I lived under that assumption. Really? I thought. God’s not mad at me? With a burning desire to know more, Teresa applied to Charis the next day.

As part of her training at Charis, Teresa went on a missions trip to Belize, where 80 percent of women are raped or molested. While there, she shared her story for the first time and watched in awe as women swarmed the altar for prayer. “I needed a lot of healing, and Charis helped me. The teaching I received there gave me the foundation I needed to rebuild my life in Christ. I’ve grown so much in the last couple of years. I hardly recognize myself! Charis changed my life—and God created beauty from my ashes.”

Monday
Jun012015

Fruits of Obedience

Pete and Ruth RauchWhat happens when you heed the voice of the Lord? Something amazing, something beyond your wildest dreams—something like Charis Bible College.

“When Jamie and I started in ministry, a Bible college was the last thing on my mind,” said Andrew Wommack, founder of Charis Bible College. However, in 1993, the Lord impressed 2 Timothy 2:2 on Andrew’s heart and showed him a groundbreaking way to fulfill that verse’s call to discipleship, with a college that offered a unique blend of God’s Word and practical, on-the-job training. In 1994, Charis Bible College was born. Though its first graduating class had fewer than fifty students, as Andrew and Jamie remained faithful to God’s call, Charis exploded. “It’s awesome what God is doing through Charis, and I know we’re just getting started. I think the impact of this school may be the biggest thing God does through this ministry.”

“We are so thankful Andrew listened to God all those years ago. His obedience changed our lives and taught us how to hear from God ourselves,” Ruth Rauch, a graduate of Charis and business owner, said in a recent interview. “Because of his teaching and that of Charis Bible College, both our business and our marriage are prospering.”

Before attending Charis, Pete and Ruth Rauch had built a successful business in South Carolina, but their outward accomplishments only masked a longing within them for more. “One day while I was doing laundry, I left the television on and overheard a man talking. He was answering questions I’d always had about the Word and teaching things my church always skimmed over. I was hooked, and soon my husband and I were watching Andrew every morning.”

During one of those broadcasts, the Rauches heard about Charis Bible College. “We wanted so badly to learn the Bible for ourselves and stop taking everyone’s word for what it said, but we didn’t know where to start. When we heard about Charis, we figured that if Donald Trump could run his business from anywhere in the world, we could surely run ours from Colorado Springs. And, by God’s grace, we did.”

One of Ruth's mended broomsGod’s grace not only allowed them to run their business cross-country, but it also taught them how to live productively. “The grace of God changed our entire lives,” Ruth recalls. “Before Charis, we lived under the burden of our self-imposed expectations. They were stifling and really hindered us from experiencing God’s best.” Charis taught Pete and Ruth how to live and love together, as God intended, in their marriage. “When Pete and I first got married, my primary use for a broom was as a weapon, and I broke several during that first year! We loved each other, but we didn’t know how to be married. We didn’t understand how God’s grace toward us could be extended toward one another.” In their business, Ruth worried and fretted over every decision, every employee, and every client. But at Charis, she learned to trust God to be who He said He’d be—her provision (Ps. 54:4 and 1 Tim. 6:17). Now Ruth and Pete rejoice that the fruit of their lives is overflowing!

“Charis really discipled us in every area of our lives. Not only is our marriage a blessing, but our business is prospering. And we are debt free! Thank you for teaching us to hear from God. Thank you for sharing God’s grace with us. Thank you for helping us think bigger and look for ways to not limit God. We are changed!”

Monday
May252015

An Unexpected Journey

For months, Karen Tinger had been trying to find a good book for studying the Old Testament. “I saw the announcement that Charis Bible College was starting online courses,” she explains, “and there was a course called Old Testament Survey, by Wendell Parr.” Karen immediately enrolled, not sure what to expect from an online course. Little did she know that she had just taken the first step of a journey that would lead her beyond her wildest dreams.

From her dining room, Karen had the opportunity to fellowship with other students from around the world. “I was fully enjoying the incredible experience of learning together with other students,” recounts Karen. “We also had a fantastic facilitator who journeyed along with us—ready to explain, encourage, and provide additional experiences or teachings to help us comprehend to our fullest potential.”

What started out as a desire to learn more about the Old Testament turned into an online, at-home source of fellowship. “And if I was away from home, I could still connect through the internet,” explains Karen. “It was so amazing to have such great fellowship with spiritually hungry believers right at my fingertips!”

One of the features of Charis Online that really captured both Karen’s heart and attention was the facilitators and their heart with each student to help foster a closer walk with the Lord. “They love to bring others into the love of Christ that they have come to know. They’re very personable and love to connect with you.”

Not only did Karen gain connections, but she also found some lasting friendships. A few years after taking her course, one of the online facilitators emailed Karen after seeing her graduate from Charis, congratulating her on her accomplishment. “I was so honored to think that one of my facilitators from three years ago not only remembered me but also still had my email address and contacted me. These facilitators genuinely take an interest in every student’s life.”

“I really had no idea the Lord had me on a specific journey,” admits Karen. “I was just enjoying the individual courses and fellowship, not really having a plan in mind.” But after finishing the first-year curriculum through the Distance Learning Program, Karen started her second year at the Charis location in Gardner, Massachusetts. “I am so thankful that Charis offers the different formats to take the courses. They truly make the learning experience convenient for anyone’s schedule. There are no excuses for not getting started!”

Just four weeks after graduation, her journey would continue as she made the move to Colorado to begin the Third Year in the Charis Business School. Today Karen is employed at Charis as the administrative assistant for the student portal, working with directors of other Charis locations, some of whom were her very own facilitators when she was enrolled in Charis Online. They were sowing seeds into her life, and now she gets to sow into theirs. “You never know where that first step is going to take you!”