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Entries in Financial Testimonies (10)

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
Jan132014

A Second Look for Judy Rhodes

Judy Rhodes, owner of the consignment superstore, A Second Look, in Phoenix, Arizona. (Click to enlarge)Business owner, Judy Rhodes had a great spiritual awakening as she entered her "golden years." When she was in her mid-sixties, Judy found herself forced into a position of self evaluation. At the time, she was emerging from a season of grief and loss, which left her wondering what to do with her latter years. Over a three-and-a-half year period, Judy lost six close family members, and she had come face-to-face with life's fragile nature. Weighing her own mortality, she gave serious consideration to retirement and began to plan how she would step away from the consignment store business she had started thirty years earlier. God's plan however, was quite different.

Judy's family (L to R): Mickey, Jim, Helen, Larry and Zac. Not pictured: Judy's dad, Jerry. (Click to enlarge)Judy is the mother of five children, and her season of grief began with the passing of her youngest son. When the youngest of her first three boys was eight years old, Judy was blessed with fraternal twins, Mandy and her fourth son, Mickey. Mickey, quadriplegic from birth, was the first to pass away; he died in his sleep at age 30. Seven months later, Judy's brother, Jim, lost his battle with cancer. Two weeks after Jim's passing, Judy's mother, Helen, died. Ten months later, Judy lost her father, Jerry. Six weeks later her 32-year-old son-in-law, Zac passed away. And, Judy at work in her office. (Click to enlarge)11 months later, Larry, Judy's husband of 46-years, died.

Throughout the troubling times, Judy's best friend, Janet, did what she could to comfort Judy as she endured the compounding emotional strain of her losses. As Judy contemplated what to do with the remainder of her life, Janet gave her an audio teaching series from one of Andrew's 2010 Gospel Truth Seminars (GTS). The gift Judy received from Janet changed her life.

After listening to the teaching and being encouraged, Judy wanted to know more, and she began visiting Andrew's website. It wasn't long before she found out that Andrew was hosting a GTS near her home in Arizona, and she made plans to attend. It was at the 2012 Judy and her mom, Helen, in the first retail space. (Click to enlarge)Phoenix GTS that the Lord began to reveal His plans for Judy's future. Andrew's teaching for the weekend was Taking the Limits Off God X 10, and the messages were such a revelation to Judy that she had a complete change of heart with regard to her future.

Before attending the conference Judy felt that she was at the end of her life. She realized that she was now the oldest generation in her family. Crippled by her limited thinking, she thought she needed to plan an exit strategy from her business. Judy said, "When I went to the conference, I learned three things: First, that God could make the latter years better than the earlier years; Second, that there is no retirement with God; and third, that God is able to do far more with my life and my business than I had realized. Since I had a renewed hope for an exciting future, I Judy with her sister and business partner, Jeri, working together on the vision for the continuing expansion of A Second Look. (Click to enlarge)decided to 'go for it' in my business—and my personal life!"

Judy's business is called, A Second Look, and what she started out of necessity, with seven boxes of used clothes in the early 1980s, has become a prosperous consignment superstore with more than 38,000 consignors. Although the business was Judy's idea, it has also been a family endeavor since the beginning. Judy came up with the concept for the store and took the initiative to set things in motion, but her finances were restrictively tight from the get-go. Judy didn't have the means to purchase enough merchandise to sell or to lease a storefront on her own, but her mother, intrigued by Judy's entrepreneurial spirit and the opportunity, helped with the start-up costs. At the time, Judy and Larry were buried under nearly a A Second Look opened in 800 sq. ft., this photo is of the store front after moving into 3,000 sq. ft. (Click to enlarge)half a million dollars of debt, the majority of which stemmed from the birth of the twins and Mickey's subsequent health issues. The medical bills coupled with the fact that Larry, a real estate developer, had run into hard times and severe legal issues, forced Judy to seek an alternative source of income—A Second Look was her answer. In 1989, Judy's sister, Jeri, joined the team as the store's office manager.

In 1993, Judy and her staff moved into a 10,000 sq. ft. space. (Click to enlarge)In 1982, A Second Look opened its doors, humbly housed in 800 square feet of retail space. Judy's consignment business was blessed and it prospered over the years. As business increased, Judy and her family expanded the store. In 1994, Jeri became Judy's business partner when Helen retired. Over 30 years, and up until the devastating loss of family members, the retail space required to house the inventory continued to grow to 26,000 sq. ft. Judy was content They moved into more than 25,000 sq. ft. in 2002. (Click to enlarge)with the success of the store—until Andrew's GTS teaching challenged her to believe God for more.

Soon after her change of heart, Judy announced to Jeri that she was ready for more; rather than throwing in the towel, Judy wanted to move forward with the business. The two women began to dream bigger and planned another expansion of their retail space.

After taking the limits off God... the store expanded to 37,000 sq. ft. (Click to enlarge)Currently, A Second Look occupies 37,000 sq. ft. of space at the Paradise Hills Shopping Center in Phoenix, and Judy and Jeri have no plans to slow down. In fact, as A Second Look continues to prosper, so too do ministries in the surrounding area, thanks to the ladies' generosity. True to Malachi 3:10, the Lord has poured out His blessing upon the sisters, to the extent that they cannot contain it. Surplus beyond their capacity is distributed to 28 local ministries.

Through Andrew's teaching, Judy realized that her thoughts of retreating into retirement had been hindering what God could do through her and through her business. When she began to look at things differently, think bigger and expect more, she was free to see what the Lord had planned for her business. Judy's trust in Him didn't make God do more—her steps of faith allowed her to receive the increase He had already planned for her.

For more details about Judy's financial testimony, and to hear the story in her own words, be sure to watch the video below.

 

Thursday
Aug292013

God Is In The Bead Barrette Business

Jennifer Zachery's daughter, Kyndal, wearing her original, individual beads to day care. After Kyndal lodged one bead in her nose, Jennifer came up with a safe alternative.
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Children say and do some incredible things. Sometimes their words and actions cause parents to beam with pride. On the other hand, sometimes, they make parents pause and pray. And, on occasion, as is the case for Jennifer Zachery, a child's actions can spark inspiration. In 2009, Jennifer's daughter, Kyndal, gave her the opportunity to reconsider how she managed her little girl's braided hairstyle. Jennifer had just picked Kyndal up from day care, where she had, experimentally, lodged a hair bead up her nose. Shortly thereafter, Jennifer considered a new and safer way to decorate Kyndal's hair. As she imagined what she could do, a creative idea came to mind—a one-piece barrette that had the appearance of a stack of beads.

Jennifer Zachery
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As Jennifer continued to think, her new barrette seemed like a good idea, but finding the time to take her idea to market seemed far-fetched. At the time, Jennifer was working up to 60 hours a week as a Realtor, selling high rise condominiums in the Atlanta area. She had been successful in the real estate market for a decade, and while she sensed in her heart that it was time to move on, Jennifer found it hard to step away from a business with such lucrative rewards.

Early in 2011, however, Jennifer began to feel the pressure of decreasing sales. As successful as she had been in the past, her sales had come to a standstill, and Jennifer knew it was time for a change. She shifted her attention to creating the barrette she had envisioned two years earlier. 2011 also marks the time in Jennifer's life when she began attending a new church; it was there that she received Jesus and was baptized in the Holy Spirit.

Kyndal and her friend model Jennifer's Bead Barrette. (Click to enlarge)Not long after stepping away from real estate, Jennifer's pastor mentioned Andrew's ministry and gave her instructions to visit the Ministry's website. He insisted that Jennifer listen to several teachings including Andrew's series, How to Become a Water Walker.

Andrew's messages breathed life into Jennifer's business pursuits and brought an air of anticipation. "The Water Walker series taught me that I could have supernatural results, that I did not have to limit myself only to the skills and contacts that I had, and that I did not need to accept that my results would be typical," said Jennifer.

In another series of teachings, Discovering The Keys to Staying Full of God, Andrew shared an encouraging When Jennifer's product was ready, she applied to have her barrette sold in Walmart. (Click to enlarge)message about The Power of Imagination. Jennifer learned that her imagination has creative power, and she began to believe that the things she was imagining and seeing in her heart were going to become a reality. "They're my heart's desires, which are also God's desires, being pictured in my mind. The more I picture things and see them in my mind, the more real they become to me. I believe this process builds up my faith and helps me to pull into the natural, what God has already done for me in the spirit."

Jennifer not only saw her product in her mind, but she also imagined selling her Bead Barrette in Walmart. Jennifer said that from the time she became interested in applying to Walmart, to the time that her product actually shipped to their distribution centers, she would go to the store and speak to the pegs in the barrette section commanding them to fill up with her barrettes. She would visualize her product on the pegs.

Kyndal and her friends have modeled the Bead Barrette for product advertising. (Click to enlarge)Jennifer and her imaginings met with resistance from well-meaning friends, and business experts. While these people took turns trying to lower her expectations, speaking forth all the reasons why her idea couldn't work (not enough experience, money, partners, networks, etc...) Jennifer stood her ground. "I handled that by nodding and being polite, but not accepting their words in my heart. To myself, I would say, I reject that in the name of Jesus! I would also meditate on Ephesians 3:20, 'Now to Him who is able to do exceeding, abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.' Then I would simply decide to believe God's word over the world's ways," she said.

The tangible results of imagination and faith. At the time of this post, Jennifer's barrette is available in 437 Walmart locations across the U.S.
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In 2012, after pushing past the opposition and having her barrette successfully manufactured, Jennifer began selling her product at local festivals and through a few local retailers. Finally, Jennifer applied to Walmart to have her barrette carried in their stores. As she worked through the process, she kept her mind on Jesus, understanding that He is her provider. Jennifer said it was amazing to watch things fall into place and to see the appropriate doors open. "I had a choice of applying to be a national supplier or a local supplier, and based on where I was with the business it made a ton more sense to the natural mind for me to start on the local level. However, Andrew's teaching, Don't Limit God x10 made it clear to me that only pursuing the local level was not God's best. I'm currently in 437 stores across the country!" Jennifer said with excitement.

Jennifer and her family have become Water Walkers, and they have the photo to prove it. (L-R: Kyndal (8), Jesus (Eternal), Jennifer's husband, Steve, Jennifer and their son Kyle (6).In May of this year, the Bead Barrette made its début at Walmart. Jennifer went to her local Walmart, and as a matter of routine went to the hair section to imagine her product. To her surprise the Bead Barrette was actually there on the display pegs. "It took my breath away," said Jennifer.

Jennifer happily credits the Lord with slipping the idea for the barrette into her mind as she drove down New Hope Rd., after dropping Kyndal off to get her hair braided. She also shared that sales have been increasing, and she has noticed a trend—the more she prays in the Spirit the more things seem to increase. "The revelation I got from that is that God wants me to be certain that I understand that He is my success! Amen! I'm telling you... God is in The Bead Barrette business!