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Entries in CBC Grads In Ministry (52)

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.

Monday
Nov112013

Jeremie Hill: Wherever You Go, HE Goes

Charis Bible College graduate, Jeremie Hill.
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Jeremie Hill has experienced two extremes of the religious spectrum. He's been the model teenage son of parents involved in ministry, and he's strayed to the opposite fringes, nearly burying himself with the abuse and over indulgence experienced by people living lives far from God. As he willfully raced toward his own demise, God never left his side.

By the time Jeremie was a senior in high school, he had reached a breaking point. The weight of being the son of youth ministry leaders had become too much to bear, and he began to squirm under the pressure of having to live an exemplary Christian life. Every time he heard the parents of one of his peers ask, "Why can’t you be more like Byron and Leesa’s son? He never gets in trouble... makes grades... doesn't party..." the weight was compounded.Jeremie began to struggle with the hypocrisy he saw in the Church. (Click to enlarge)

Growing up, life was not without its bumps, including Jeremie's parent's divorce when he was 10. Fortunately he was raised in Spirit-filled environment, even after his parent's separation. Jeremie had embraced Jesus as his Savior, and managed to stay on the straight and narrow for the majority of his adolescent years. His involvement at church eventually included being part of the youth worship band, where he played guitar and helped lead his peers into God's presence. But as the pressure to perform increased, he began to struggle with discrepancies within his Christian circles. Jeremie watched as many of the kids his age drifted away from the church. He also watched those that stayed begin to live hypocritical, two-faced lives. It seemed everybody he was acquainted with lived unholy lives Monday through Saturday, and put on their best innocent smile for Sunday.

During his run from God, Jeremie pushed all limits. In an effort to fill the void in his life, he drank, smoked and snorted more than anyone he knew. His lifestyle prompted frequent discussion of whether he would see his 27th birthday. (Click to enlarge)The closer Jeremie listened, the more he heard people say, "Don't tell Pastor I smoke," "Don't tell Pastor I drink." The people hiding sins, coupled with the pressure to live perfectly, forced Jeremie to rethink his dedication to the church—to Jesus.

Eventually, the overwhelming duplicity pushed Jeremie to give up on God and leave the church. He refused to be associated with the hypocrisy. Over time, he came to doubt whether God existed, and he wondered if the relationship he thought he had experienced was simply the combination of his willing heart and science—just the right amount of chemical interaction in his brain to trigger a feeling of happiness and contentment.

For roughly a decade, including his college years, Jeremie told himself there was no God, and he lived as though God didn't exist. Jeremie tried to fill the void left in his life with other things: his studies, hobbies, drugs, alcohol and marriage; none of which satisfied him, or provided him with the rest he sought. Jeremie pushed the limits of ungodly living, fully expecting to die. Jeremie said, "Every morning, I would wake up amazed I was still alive, and I wondered, how I could poison myself for the new day."Jeremie's college graduation. (Click to enlarge)

In the midst of his ungodly living, the Lord was stirring the hearts of other members of Jeremie's family. After finding Andrew on television, Jeremie's parents left his home town in Missouri, and moved to Colorado Springs to attend Charis Bible College. During the same time, Jeremie's younger brother, Josh, was living in South Carolina, and he too had grabbed on to Andrew's teaching of the Gospel. Jeremie was disappointed with his family's seemingly unintelligent dependency on Jesus, but he could not deny the changes he saw in their lives.

While visiting Josh in South Carolina with his roommate, Jeremie witnessed firsthand that something in his brother was indeed different, but he promptly discredited God and Andrew's teaching as being the source of the fruit he saw manifesting in Josh's life. Although Jeremie thought he had come away from South Carolina unscathed, he was unable to get away from Andrew's voice. He said, "When we came back home During his CBC mission trip, Jeremie shared his testimony in a drug rehab. After speaking he prayed for a group of men in the facility. (Click to enlarge)to Missouri, my roommate was ecstatic. He really climbed onboard with Andrew’s message. I would wake up in the mornings to a Texan accent blasting through my house."

A few months later, Byron and Leesa invited Jeremie to come to Colorado for Thanksgiving. By the time the invitation was extended, Josh had also moved to Colorado Springs to attend Charis with his family. Jeremie reluctantly agreed to visit for the holiday. He had a pleasant time with his family and with some of their fellow CBC classmates. "I got my first taste of real happiness, peace and joy from those students. I was amazed," said Jeremie.

Jeremie, Byron and Kelsey stand with Andrew and Leesa as they celebrate their CBC graduation. (Click to enlarge)Toward the end of his visit, his parents had grown concerned with Jeremie's physical appearance and overall health. He was exhibiting signs, including a severe rash, that his years of alcohol and drug abuse had taken a toll on his body. Byron and Leesa asked if they could pray for him, and after seeing how their lives had changed, Jeremie accepted their prayers.

As they surrounded Jeremie and prayed, he sensed an overwhelming release. All the peace, joy and love he had lived without, but longed for as he ran from God, came flooding back into his spirit. It also became evident that Jeremie had received physical healing, as the rash that had consumed his body began to disappear. Over the course of the next few days, the rash completely disappeared. While Jeremie was a student at CBC, the Mayor of Colorado Springs visited the school to present Jeremie and his brother, Josh, with Awards for outstanding character for their efforts in a volunteer program to clean up the city. This was the first time the honors were awarded. (Click to enlarge) "I fell to tears on the floor, and gave my life back to the Lord," Jeremie shared.

It was in those moments during prayer that Jeremie experienced resurrection and found his rest in God again. "I no longer had to try to live my own life to find happiness and peace. I realized how badly I wanted to be back into the flow, and how much I wanted to be in the Father’s love," he said.

Within a month of his Thanksgiving visit, Jeremie had relocated to Colorado Springs to join Byron, Leesa, Josh and their sister, Kelsey, at CBC. Like the rest of his family, Jeremie has since graduated and set a course for a life in ministry. Currently, he resides in the Springs where he is involved with a young adult ministry called, Pulse. "I’m involved in worship, and I’m the Evangelistic Outreach/Small Group Coordinator Jeremie and his fiance, CBC-graduate, Adriana Arroyo.
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for Pulse. I also have a small group that meets at my house on Wednesday nights," Jeremie said.

Jeremie is also engaged to be married to fellow CBC graduate Adriana Arroyo. The two plan to marry in November and, after a few short months, they will join Byron, Leesa and Josh in Australia where the family is launching a new extension school, CBC-Gold Coast.

Jeremie said, "Looking back, I know God still had his hand in my life, even if I didn’t know it or want to believe it at the time (Psalms 139:8). God’s rest is a real thing. His blessings are real. His love is true, and it never fails."

Monday
Jul012013

CBC Graduates Launch Church in Ohio

Charis Bible College graduates, and founders of Rain Ministries, Lance and Jessica Miller. (Click to enlarge)Lance Miller was four years old the first time he heard Andrew's voice. That was back in 1979, when Lance's mother, Vicki, started receiving Andrew's teaching tapes in the mail. With such an early introduction to the Gospel Truth, it's no wonder that Lance was born again and Spirit filled by age six.

Lance and Jessica met in high school. (Click to enlarge)In the early 90's, Lance met Jessica. The two were teenagers, attending the same high school in Ohio, when they began to enjoy spending time together. Lance's family welcomed Jessica with open arms, and she eventually began going to church with Lance's mom. It wasn't long before Jessica received Jesus and the infilling of the Holy Spirit.

Lance and Jessica were married in 1997. Shortly after their exchange of vows, Vicki introduced Jessica to Andrew's ministry, and the seeds for the Miller's future were planted. Jessica enjoyed the teachings, and her favorite message, to this day, is Knowing God. "I can listen to it over and over again," said Jessica.

Despite the Miller's spiritual foundation, over time their experience with mainstream Christianity left them sour Lance and Jessica in the cockpit of his father's plane. Lance was employed as a pilot at the time. (Click to enlarge)and disenchanted. Religion, life and everyday circumstances interrupted God's plan for their lives.

"When I was in my early twenties, a preacher gave me a prophecy that I would be very wealthy and successful. I spent the next ten years trying to force "the God prophecy," as I call it, to happen, and trying to prove something to my dad and to the world," Lance shared.

Looking back at the same decade, Jessica realized that she had learned to be religious. She said, "I knew how to pray, how to dress, how to act, and how to be extremely critical and As Lance pushed to prove something to the world, and to force-fulfill a prophecy, he lost sight of the best in life. Lance would party on the weekends to cope with the pressures he endured throughout the week. (Click to enlarge) judgmental of others. I thought I had it all figured out."

The Millers owned several businesses, and as Lance worked his way toward fulfilling the prophecy to be wealthy, he became consumed by his drive to succeed. By the world's standards, his relentless efforts were paying off, and he and Jessica were successful. In the process of building his empire however, he lost sight of what was important, and his pursuits wreaked havoc on his physical health and his marriage.

"I was a horrible person. Lying for business was not a problem, and I coped with stress by getting drunk and partying every weekend. I was a bad husband, with a great wife. At one point, I didn’t care if I lived or died, and I did things that should Lance and Jessica visiting Rampart Reservoir near their home in Woodland Park, Colorado. (Click to enlarge)have killed me numerous times," said Lance candidly.

Eventually, in 2008, unable to take the pressure any longer, Lance cried out to God. He said, "I can't do this anymore. I need a spiritual bath" (Psalm 51:10). As far as business was concerned, nothing changed in that instant, but Lance sensed God's grace in a new and powerful way. In those moments he realized that he didn't know God. Prior to this experience, Lance viewed God more as a lifeguard watching over him as he did things his own way. "I had an incredible, supernatural, God experience that lasted several weeks and totally rocked my world, and everything forever changed in my life," said Lance.

Lance and Jessica enjoyed the beaches in Florida while attending CBC in Jacksonville. (Click to enlarge)Within six months, the Millers closed down most of their business ventures, and moved to Colorado to attend Charis Bible College. After their arrival, they anticipated that they would spend the rest of their lives in Colorado. But in 2009, just six months later, God turned their attention to Jacksonville, Florida.

Conscious of the Lord's leading regarding Florida, the Millers made the most of the time they had in Colorado. From March to June of 2009, Lance's relationship with God expanded as he spent many hours just walking and talking with Him. It was in the mountains of Woodland Park that Lance learned how to hear God's voice, and it was there that God told him he would lead a church. "We had actual conversations where I would ask a question, and He would give me the answer. I would write down what He was Lance and Jessica on their second-year mission trip to the Dominican Republic. (Click to enlarge)saying as fast as I could," said Lance with a smile. The funny thing was, although Lance and Jessica were Bible college students at the time, Lance didn't like to read the Bible. He would have long conversations with God, and share with Jessica what he had heard. She in turn, would open up the Bible and show Lance the verses that the Lord was quoting to him as they spoke.

"She confirmed that I was not crazy," joked Lance. "This was the beginning of my wonderful relationship with my dad—God. It laid the foundation of everything that is good in my life today."

The Millers in their CBC graduation caps and gowns, outside the school in Jacksonville. (Click to enlarge)Jessica had her own conversations with God during her time at CBC, and she realized quickly that she had not established a true relationship with the Lord. Jessica said, "At CBC I heard people give testimonies of real relationships, with a real God. Eventually, I was extremely honest with God, and told Him that I didn’t trust Him because I didn’t know Him. He told me that He would prove himself trustworthy. That started my journey of getting to know Him. I took down all formality and got real. He slowly drew me to Himself—to the real Him. I now know a God of pure love and goodness."

After completing their first year at CBC, the Millers moved to Florida to attend CBC-Jacksonville for their second and third Jessica stands ready for Kid's church at Rain Ministries.
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years. While the relocation appeared crazy at the time, they had many confirmations that they were to finish school in Florida. Although the transfer was not without turmoil, their relationships with the Lord continued to grow over their two years in Jacksonville as they prepared for the ministry ahead of them.

When the Millers completed their studies in Florida, they returned to Ohio with a feeling of having been made over and restored. One year later, they launched Rain Ministries in the rural town of Covington. Lance said he is not interested in duplicating the traditional church model; he simply wants to introduce the God he and Jessica know, to the people of the world, by showing His kindness and His power.

Lance and Jessica know that many people are looking for the real God, and having had the same desires, they can Lance sharing a message at a Sunday morning service at Rain Ministries. (Click to enlarge)identify with those still searching. "I can relate. I was a bad person because I was misguided as to who God is," said Lance. "And out of my experiences, I want to teach people who He really is."

"We want people from absolutely any background to walk into church, the first time, and feel totally comfortable and at home. They don’t have to talk a certain way, pray a certain way, or dress a certain way. We also want to empower people to find their destiny and live it. God is most interested in their hearts, and so are we," said Jessica.

Visit the Rain Ministries website for more information about Lance and Jessica and their growing church in Covington, Ohio.