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Entries in Charis Bible College (46)


Lessons from a Christmas Tree

It was cold…really cold.

It was the kind of cold they warned me about, but I didn’t care. Almost forty-eight hours and at least half a dozen espressos later, I had finally made it. A lot of people had questioned my decision to move to Russia in the heart of winter, but as I stepped out of the airport into the fresh, frosty air of Saint Petersburg, nothing in the world could convince me otherwise. After all, that’s what adventures are, right? The unexpected.

I hopped into a taxi and made my way to my new home for the next six months, nodding and smiling as the Russian driver made small talk to a slightly delirious, young American. As we pulled up to the apartment, we were greeted by my new roommate Rachel, who insisted that we take a trip to the store. It was 11 o’clock at night. I was not amused.

Nevertheless, we ventured out into the dimly lit streets, crunching fresh snow under our furry boots. Everything seemed so still and quiet, almost as if we had walked right into a post card or a storybook that’s in between chapters. We rounded a corner and standing before me was an enormous Christmas tree. It was lit from top to bottom, creating an almost warm feeling as I inched closer to it. All of a sudden, it hit me. It was January 7!

Throughout the chaos of checked baggage, airplane food, and questionable looks at customs, I had completely forgotten that I was arriving on the Russian Christmas Day. It didn’t feel like Christmas. There were no presents, mistletoe, or family around. I was completely alone in a country that didn’t even know I existed or speak a language I understood. However, the quiet stillness around me made me think of the very first Christmas and what it must have been like.

God sent His Son into a world that didn’t know Him and, for the most part, wanted nothing to do with Him. He came to seek and to save what was lost, to heal broken hearts, and to set the captives free (Luke 19:10 and 4:18). When I realized that, this beautiful tree became less captivating and more tacky. The true heart of Christmas became something too beautiful to be compared to a tree.

Suddenly, my trip returned to being this daring assignment entrusted to me. God had sent me, His daughter, to a land that didn’t know me, on a quiet, snowy Christmas evening. I had arrived with a purpose—to tell the Russian people the true meaning of Christmas and what all Jesus accomplished on their behalf.

As Christians, the very heart of Christmas lives inside of us, bleeding out into our everyday lives. It’s not a 24-hour holiday but, rather, a mindset, leading us to carry on the task that began over 2,000 years ago. What I learned underneath the Christmas tree that night was that I felt honored to take Christ to hurting people. It’s a lesson I’ll never forget.

Take time to remember what the Christmas season is all about this year at Charis Bible College. Come out for The Heart of Christmas production! You can also help provide a way for others to attend by sponsoring a family here. This Christmas, remember what was given to us. For tickets and pricing information, go to or call 719-635-6029.


The Greatest Giver

“Saying God’s not a giver is like saying you want the water but hold the wet.”

The first time my pastor said this, we all laughed. I’ve never encountered water when it wasn’t wet. In the rain, from the faucet, or in the sea—no matter how, when, or where I’ve encountered water, it’s always been wet. You can’t have one without the other.

Although most people wouldn’t argue about water being wet, people would argue about the nature of God and His gifts. The Bible says it this way in James 1:17—

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

In other words, the gifts that God gives contain His goodness, and there is no changeability in His nature.

God’s gifts reflect His giving nature. Even in creation, everything He created had a giving purpose. He gave the sun to rule by day and the moon to rule by night to provide a light source for the earth (Gen. 1:16-18). It says in Genesis 1:29 that He gave seed- and fruit-bearing plants as food sources for man:

And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.

Every gift God has ever given contains a seed in it that allows it to continue to give. Every living thing has a built-in ability to give. This is most evident in His ultimate gift to man—Jesus.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

John 3:16

And in Jesus was the same giving nature. He came to give back to man what was taken from them in the Garden, giving them the gift of everlasting life.

It’s wondrous to realize that even in sending Jesus as the Savior of the world, the Father’s unchangeable nature was demonstrated. He sent His Holy Spirit to overshadow a virgin named Mary, and His Son would grow as all children do—from a seed in a woman’s womb:

And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. [31] And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus.

Luke 1:30-31

Although times have changed and society has tried to obscure the origins of Christmas, no holiday centered on man has ever reflected the giving heart of God like Christmas. He remains the greatest Giver throughout all of eternity, and Jesus remains the greatest Gift.

Make plans to come and celebrate that greatest Gift this Christmas season with Andrew and Jamie Wommack at the premiere of Charis Bible College’s original production: The Heart of Christmas. Performances are on December 11 and 12 at 7 p.m. Additional showings are at 1 p.m. on December 12 and 4 p.m. on December 13.

Enjoy a heartwarming mix of modern-day and biblical stories with seasonal songs and American traditions that reveal the true heart of Christmas. This live musical drama was written by Adam Stone from England and Robert and Elizabeth Muren from Norway. For tickets and pricing information, go to or call 719-635-6029.


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.”