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Thursday
Jan302014

Benjamin Hutcherson: A Good Steward

Benjamin Hutcherson, wise steward, college graduate, artist and CBC-Chicago student.
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Just out of high school, Benjamin Hutcherson was unsure of his future. He made the wise decision to move forward with his college education as inexpensively as possible. Intent on managing his limited finances well, he chose to attend a small community college near his home, just south of Chicago. At age 20, during his two years at South Suburban College, he came across Andrew's Gospel Truth program on television. Benjamin happened to tune in to an episode mid-way through Andrew's teaching on Financial Stewardship—a series that would radically change Benjamin's future.

Although Benjamin had stumbled across The Gospel Truth quite by accident, he recognized Andrew from his childhood. Benjamin's dad, Bruce, would often listen to Andrew, and sometimes he would have the whole family (Benjamin has five brothers and a sister) sit down Benjamin with his father, Bruce, and his mother, Thomesa, during his time at the community college.
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to listen to a particularly impactful part of a message. Benjamin said, "I had a lot of respect for Andrew. The primary thing I remember learning from him back then was the importance of the baptism of the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues. It was in May 2011 that I began actively listening to Andrew’s teachings on my own."

Benjamin was on board with being a good steward of finances, but Andrew's teaching brought something new to Benjamin's attention. He said, "What really impacted me from Andrew’s Financial Stewardship teaching was when he taught from the parable of the unjust steward in Luke 16. I realized that the primary and highest use of my finances is not for my physical necessities, Benjamin (far right) and some of his family. (Click to enlarge)but rather, to make an eternal difference in the lives of other people by sowing into the Kingdom of God."

When he was attending the community college, Benjamin paid for school out of pocket. While his wages, working for a large office supply store weren't high, he was able to tithe as well as cover his college costs. He knew that if he wanted to earn a four-year degree, he would have to transfer to a larger full-time college or university, and he knew his expenses would be significantly higher. As he considered what to do, he continued to listen to Andrew's teachings. He listened to the Financial Stewardship series repeatedly and meditated on the principles he was learning. He also studied Andrew's, How to Receive God's Best,Spirit, Soul & Body, and The Lord met Benjamin's needs even when Benjamin came up short on his end. During his last semester, his school costs were higher, and he actually worked less because of travel. Here he celebrates his 22nd birthday. (Click to enlarge)You've Already Got It.

After deciding to continue his education, Benjamin prayed about what school to attend and how to cover his expenses. Although he could have gotten some financial assistance in the form of college loans, both through the school and through his parents, he chose not to borrow any money. Having seen how so many college students had racked up mountains of debt, he decided that he did not want to take out a student loan or allow his parents to get one for him. "All of those specific teachings were foundational in my decision to go to college debt free. I continued to meditate on those principles," Benjamin said. "I just considered financial debt as bondage and as a curse as described in Deuteronomy 28. I believed that the borrower is servant to the lender as it says in Proverbs 22:7. I didn’t want that for me or my family," he said.

Benjamin pursued his degree in Film & Video with a focus on traditional animation. This is a Character Visualization project from 2012.
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Benjamin's passion for art, drawing and animation to be precise, led him to attend Columbia College in Chicago. His tuition costs leapt from $1,600 per year to $10,000 per semester, plus books, materials and a $150 per month Metra train ticket—a staggering increase. "I did not have a clue as to how I was going to pay for Columbia. So, I registered without knowing how I was going to receive the money. I resolved that either God would pay for it or I would just drop out, simple as that," Benjamin recalled frankly.

Benjamin mediated on the Word and took comfort in the Scriptures about Abraham, and how he simply believed God. "I told myself, 'I don’t care what my bank account says, what my Benjamin and his mother Thomesa, after graduation from Columbia College in Chicago...debt free.
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college advisors say, what my parents say, or what anybody else has to say. I’m going to trust God, and He’s going to provide for me.'"

Although Benjamin refused to borrow money, he did apply for several scholarships, but he never received any of the funding. He said that one of the things Andrew's teaching inspired him to do was give freely. He had always tithed, but had never really sowed into offerings or special projects. Benjamin learned that even though giving may seem like you are moving away from your financial goals, it actually works the opposite way—it moves you closer to your goals. "What liberated me to give so radically was this: Since with my personal money alone, I could never afford to pay to go to college, I would just give as much as I pleased because even if I saved it Today Bruce, Thomesa, Benjamin and his brother Rueben are all studying at CBC-Chicago. (Click to enlarge)all, it would never be enough anyway." Benjamin gave extra to his church and to other ministries, tsunami relief organizations, and he became one of Andrew's Foundation Builders for the new CBC-Colorado campus. Sometimes Benjamin would give away half his paycheck. With regard to his Foundation Builder partnership he said, "I figured that since I wanted to go to school, I should sow a financial seed that would help other people go."

Benjamin learned to trust God and rest in Him. He gave freely, and he received freely. Each semester began the same way; Benjamin would start classes without any idea where his funds would come from, and the provision would come. Even for his last semester, during Benjamin and his brother Rueben, enjoying the 2013 Christmas party at CBC-Chicago. (Click to enlarge)which he incurred higher than normal tuition and book fees, and he actually worked less hours at his job, the provision still came. "When I look back, I think to myself, 'How in the world did I manage to do that every month?' It was an absolute miracle because whenever I try to figure it out mathematically it doesn’t make sense. So I just stop trying to figure it out," Benjamin said.

Benjamin not only earned his degree in Film & Video with a concentration in traditional animation, but he did it with straight A’s and perfect attendance, and he graduated with honors. He did it all debt free!

The summer after he graduated, having not heard back from the places to which he applied for work, Benjamin laid his cards on the table before God and declared that he was willing to put his animation dreams on hold, to do whatever God wanted him to do. To his surprise, God used Andrew's program again to help guide Benjamin. After Benjamin's declaration, he came across Andrew's, How to Find, Follow, and Fulfill God’s Will series on the Gospel Truth. It was the first time Benjamin had ever heard the teaching, and a short time later, he knew that going to Charis Bible College in Chicago was God’s next step for him.

Today Benjamin, his brother Rueben, his mother Thomesa and his dad, Bruce, all attend CBC-Chicago. And of course, Benjamin is attending debt free.

Monday
Jan272014

CBC Students Minister in Europe

CBC's Serbia and Hungary team (Click to enlarge)Late last year, CBC-Colorado sent a second-year mission team to minister overseas in Serbia and Hungary. The team led by the CBC's Missions Coordinator, Michelle Patterson, teamed up with Jeff Serio and European Initiative, an outreach ministry serving 10 nations in Europe. Over the course of the team's nine days of ministry in the two nations, the team served every day, from early morning until late at night—literally stretching the time they had to reach as many people as possible with the almost-too-good-to-be-true news. According to Jeff, the team's efforts were, "nothing short of remarkable."

In the nine days on the ground in Serbia and Hungary, the team of 20 ministered in eight churches, five public high schools, blessed the poor in four remote villages and conducted several outreaches in subway stations in downtown Budapest.

To see highlights from the trip, please take three minutes to watch video below. And, to be fair, the team did have the assistance of some super heroes... for more details check out this article on the European Initiative website.

Thursday
Jan232014

Julie Mapatano's Redeeming Love

CBC-Colorado graduate and founder of Redeeming Love Ministries of the DR Congo, Julie Mapatano.
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For years, Julie Mapatano, her husband Isaac, and their children dreamed of fleeing their war torn home in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to come to the United States. Although the family's journey has not been without struggle or heartache, Julie has realized her dream and found more than physical liberation in the United States; she found her true identity in Christ, and the purpose for which she was created.

Julie's journey began in 1997, when she and her family fled Congo and sought refuge in Kenya. They spent three trying years in Kenya, praying for the acceptance of their application to enter the United States. "Coming to America was a dream that came true for my family. Many people applied, Julie, Isaac, and their four daughters, Dawn, Sweethope, Suzanne, Joy and Innocent in Kenya. (Click to enlarge)but they never got a chance to be selected, and many died from starvation as refugees in Kenya. So for us, it was a big miracle to be selected to come to the USA," Julie recalled.

The family immigrated to the U.S. in 2000 and made their home in Atlanta, Georgia. Julie landed a job within a local hospital, where she worked as a Patient Care Technician. Isaac was also employed at the hospital. As the family settled into their new surroundings, Isaac came across Andrew's Gospel Truth program on the radio. After sharing with Julie what he was learning, the teachings began to transform his family. Julie was particularly impressed by Andrew's series, Spirit, Soul & Body. Julie said the series helped her understand how God created people, The Mapatano family arriving in America. (Click to enlarge)and who she is in Christ. "I found that I am loved, and I have been forgiven—forever—not just for short time," shared Julie.

As Andrew's teaching broke down binding and legalistic doctrine for the couple, Isaac sensed the Lord leading him to move to Colorado to attend Charis Bible College. Eight years after arriving in the U.S., the Mapatano family relocated to Colorado Springs, where Isaac and Julie enrolled in classes at CBC.

In 2009, while the Mapatanos were enjoying their first-year studies at CBC, the family suffered a terrible loss—at the Julie and Isaac welcomed their son, Abraham, to the family while in Georgia. (Click to enlarge)age of 47, Isaac passed away. The sudden loss left Julie with the awesome task of raising and providing for their six children (five daughters and one son) on her own. As Julie reflected on the family's unfortunate circumstances, she said, "The loss of Isaac did make life difficult, but it also improved my relationship with the Lord because I was [forced] to trust him more."

Rather than forego the opportunity to grow in the Lord, Julie continued to attend classes at CBC, and graduated in 2010. She went to school during the day, and she worked as a Certified Nursing Assistant by night. Although she was working, there were times when she had to trust the Lord to provide for her family. Julie said, "My life has changed a lot because of CBC, because I was able to remain in the Lord for a long time. Julie with Isaac and Abraham at CBC during their first semester of classes.
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Meditation in the Scriptures really helped me to become stronger in my faith."

All of Julie's time at CBC was impactful, but she credits one of Andrew's teachings for helping her through some the rougher moments. Julie read Andrew's little booklet, Self-Centeredness: The Source of All Grief, and she said it helped her shift her attention to what matters most. "The book helped me to focus on what God had been doing in my life and in the lives of those around me, instead of focusing on what people can do for me. I learned that my life is not just my own, but that I am here to serve and to be a testament to God’s goodness," said Julie.

The Lord has been faithful to provide for Julie and Andrew after the 2010 Commencement ceremony at CBC-Colorado. (Click to enlarge)Julie and her family, and as Julie gleaned from her time at CBC, so too, did her children. They learned early on, to guard their confession and to trust the Lord. For example, Julie encouraged them to trust God for wisdom and favor in all areas of life, including in their school work. "God helped them in school," said Julie, "They were very smart, and earned full ride scholarships to very prestigious schools."

A Father's Call

Julie's entry into active ministry came during a phone call with her father. Shortly after Isaac passed away, Julie and her father, Mwozi Daniel Barukaza, in the DR Congo.
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Julie received a phone call from her dad, who serves as a headmaster of a school in the Congo. She could tell he was discouraged. The heaviness in his voice stemmed from having to turn orphans away from the school because they could not pay their tuition. These were orphans whose parents died in the war or from AIDS and other diseases. Immediately, Julie felt compassion well up in her heart. "Do not send them away," she said, "God will pay for them!"

As it turns out, Julie had just received her income tax refund from the previous year's earnings, and had asked God to direct her in donating the money in Isaac's memory. Julie Children at the school in the Congo. (Click to enlarge)saw this opportunity to sow into the Congolese children's lives as God's direction. "That year, my children and I were able to support more than two hundred kids, allowing them to stay in school," Julie said with excitement!

"After that my heart was really warm and happy because I realized that God still had a purpose for my life. God’s faithfulness is amazing! When you think you are done or useless, He has a better plan for our lives if we let Him," she said.

After Isaac passed away, Julie did not think she could ever dream, or think about anything except raising her family. But during her second year of Bible college, Andrew taught about dreams and Julie and her family today... Dawn is now 20 years old, and she is a pre-med student at Colorado College on a full scholarship. Sweethope is 18, and studying biology at Duke University, also on a full scholarship. Suzanne is a Junior in high school, Joy is in ninth grade, Innocent is in eighth grade and Abraham is in third grade.
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visions. During one class session God spoke to Julie. "He said that when he created me, He knew me and also my husband and He brought visions and dreams to us as He pleased. He also told me that Plan B can be better than Plan A. From that day forward, God continued to show me that nothing is over until it’s over!

Since her dad's phone call, Julie and her family have continued supporting many orphan children in DR Congo, and in 2011, they had the privilege to visit with some of the children during a trip to Africa. Julie said, "It brought so much joy when we met them. After we met with them and saw the many other children who begged us to help them, I realized that God was not finished with me yet! These children need love and more importantly they need the foundation, which is the Word of God. That is why I founded, Redeeming Love Ministries of the DR Congo."

Redeeming Love serves the orphans in practical and spiritual ways including through the provision of basic necessities, food, medical care, school tuition, supplies and uniforms as well as solid Biblical teaching. To find out more about Julie and her family's amazing journey from the Congo, or to find out more about her expanding efforts to help the Congolese orphans, visit the Redeeming Love website. You can also check out her ministry's Facebook page.