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Entries in Testimonies (23)


Yes Virginia—There is a God

Virginia Croy, once oppressed by severly legalistic doctrine, is now free from religious bondage.
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Haircuts were not allowed. Pants and jewelry were not allowed. Hospitals and medicine were not allowed. Talking to "outsiders" was not allowed in the church in which Virginia was raised. She was strictly forbidden to ever question any rules or doctrine that came from the pulpit at her church, as her pastors claimed they had the only “truth.” Breaking rules meant that God would strike you with sickness or even death. Virginia chose early on to walk the straight and narrow path so no punishment would come upon her, so when illness struck her as an adult, she began to call out to God and question whether or not He was real. She wasn’t entirely prepared for His answer.

Virginia married Richard, a man from within her church, and was living her life as she was taught she should; avoiding people outside the church, despising television, radio, and social events. She recalls looking at people with condemnation in her heart. Virginia and the other women in her church were not allowed to wear pants, cut their hair or wear makeup.
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“I was so steeped in self-righteousness and legalism,” Virginia said.

Two years after having her second child, Virginia became seriously ill. Standing firm on her belief that going to a hospital was giving place to man and abandoning God; she instead put faith in her own righteousness and believed that God would heal her because she was so good. Unfortunately, Virginia only grew worse; her fever was so high she could peel her skin off, her hair fell out and she could feel a slow burning in her side. She grew so sick; she could no longer care for her children. “I couldn’t understand why God was doing this to me,” Virginia and her family before finding freedom in Jesus.
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Virginia said.

Her sickness led Virginia to a crisis of faith. She shared with her sister that she had begun to doubt whether God was real. One day, out of desperation, Virginia reached for her Bible and began to read. Right away she began to receive revelation from the Word of Truth; however, she didn’t trust it. According to her doctrine, only the men in the church could interpret and understand God's Word. Virginia believed that she was hearing and being deceived by the enemy and she put her Bible away.

Three days later, as Virginia continued to fight her illness; she heard a voice say to her, "Why aren’t you reading My Word?" Virginia asked, "Who are You?" She heard in reply, "Read My Word." Although she was afraid, Virginia began to read the Word and found that she was so hungry that she could not stop. Her heart became full of revelation, Virginia holding her baby as her revelation of Jesus began to increase. (Click to enlarge)yet she was too afraid to share what God was showing her.

Before long, Virginia began to share a bit of what she was experiencing with one of her sisters, and was thrilled to hear that her sister was hearing from God as well. It was encouraging to know she wasn’t alone, but the rest of the family would hear nothing of what they had to say.

Virginia soon felt brave enough to buy an old television and VCR at a yard sale so she could play nature films for her children. Since she had no antenna or cable service, she made a habit of putting the VCR tape in the machine before she turned the television on so that she didn’t have to listen to the annoying white noise. One day, however, Virginia turned the television on first and instead of white noise, a man's voice filled her living room. Awndrew, Virginia (center) and good friend Caroline Yeager at a GTS in North Carolina 2008. (Click to enlarge)It was Andrew! His teaching immediately caught her attention, and although she thought what he was saying was quite bizarre, she knew she needed to keep listening.

Virginia, still perplexed by how she was able to hear this voice on her television at the same time each day, began to use all of her children's VCR tapes to record Andrew's voice from the Gospel Truth program. Virginia would hide the tapes from her husband and then listen to them over and over during the day. For eight months Virginia recorded Andrew’s program, and also ordered the free tapes and CDs that were made available during the broadcast.

Virginia and her husband, Richard, December 2010. (Click to enlarge)Eventually, Virginia’s husband knew something was up. She had overcome her illness and had begun to speak out at church when the pastor said something directly contrary to what she knew was the truth. Her husband was outraged and became verbally abusive and threatened to take the children. He forbid her to go to church, but continued to attend with the kids. Virginia didn’t want to cause trouble in her family, but she had come to know Jesus. “I, a woman, could have this God love me. He wasn’t up there waiting to strike me dead if I didn’t do something right. It was life changing,” Virginia and her family last winter.
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said Virginia.

Despite her husband’s attempts to destroy their marriage, Virginia kept herself full of God’s Word and love, and managed to keep herself from repaying anger with anger. During Virginia’s unplanned fourth pregnancy, she had labor complications that led her husband to make the decision to bring her to the hospital; a decision they both believed would send them straight to hell. Although Virginia had been set free, she found, in her moment of weakness that she still had fear regarding hospitals being one of the worst sins.

Set free in Jesus! Sporting events were once off limits to Virginia and her family. (Click to enlarge) When she arrived at the hospital they told her that her baby had already died, and that she had a raging infection that would most likely take her life within an hour. As they proceeded to deliver the baby via cesarean section, they were able to shock him back to life, but his prognosis was very bleak. Virginia had spent a week trying to deliver the baby at home and the pressure had caused his leg to be wedged in her hip bone and also lacerated his shoulder. The doctors told Virginia that although they felt they needed to operate to address her deadly infection, they would not do so, for fear of the almost certain life-threatening complications that would follow. The doctors left Virginia to face death on her own.

Virginia strengthened by the seed of God's word, did not die and her son is strong and healthy today. In addition, because her husband was no longer welcome at church, as a result of his decision to go to a hospital, he became more open, little by little, to what Virginia had wanted so much to share with him. Virginia, her husband and their four children now attend Andrew’s seminars and a Bible believing church, as a family.

“I tell people all the time, Jesus can’t be explained, He can only be experienced,” Virginia said. She certainly knows that for sure.


Daniel Amstutz: CBC's Way to Worship

Daniel Amstutz, the Director of Charis Bible College's School of Worship and the School of Healing. (Click to enlarge)Charis Bible College of Colorado continues to expand its third-year Ministry Training program. The third year has been specifically developed to further equip those students who have been called to an office in full-time ministry (Ephesians 4). Among the available course offerings, or tracks as they are called, are the School of Ministry, School of Worship and School of Media. Each of these tracks is led by a well-seasoned minister or team of ministers. As the third year offerings increase, the Lord continues to bring quality leaders to oversee each department. In the case of the School of Worship, CBC has been blessed to welcome to its staff, music ministry veteran, Daniel Amstutz, whom some refer to as a "Father of Modern Worship."

Daniel was raised in a Christian home as one of five children, and the son of a Baptist minister. He remembers the day he was born again when he was five years old. Daniel speaking in Greely, Colorado in 1978. (Click to enlarge)"I prayed with my Mom in the kitchen of our home in Montana, and received Christ at that time," recalled Daniel.

He knew from a young age that the Lord had called him to a life of ministry, but it wasn't until Daniel's latter college years that he realized his call to music ministry. As a young man, Daniel developed his musical skills to the extent that he was accepted to audition for several prestigious positions and collegiate-level scholarships across the country. Among these auditions were one for the Fisk Memorial Scholarship at the University of Colorado (CU), and one for a position at the Juilliard School of Music in New York City. After auditioning for both, he was awarded a full scholarship to CU, Here Comes the Son, Daniel's first album release. (Click to enlarge)which he and his parents viewed as a confirmation from the Lord of His provision. Daniel graduated from CU with a degree in Vocal Performance.

In the mid 1970s, after graduating from CU, Daniel began writing and publishing music while he was leading worship for his dad's church in Alamosa, Colorado. He then recorded his first album while working as a music minister with Faith Ministries Fellowship in Greeley, Colorado. "My first solo project was called Here Comes The Son, recorded in 1981, and it was all original songs—most of which I wrote during the sermons, and would sing at the end of the service as a part of the altar call," Daniel and Praise & Worship artist, Don Moen, at CBC's Better Way to Worship Conference June 2011.
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said Daniel.

Over the years since his first release, Daniel has recorded several other projects, including his second solo effort called, Inside Out. In 1983, while Daniel was the worship leader for Bob Yandian's church, Grace Fellowship in Tulsa, Oklahoma, he and his worship team recorded Heart to Heart, the first of five live recordings he was a part of at the church. "At that time we were one of the first churches to record live praise and worship," Daniel said.

Daniel leading worship at CBC. (Click to enlarge)After the initial recording at Grace, Daniel began hosting an international worship gathering called, The Local Church Music Seminar, which drew hundreds of attendees. "People came from all over to receive teaching and mentoring in what was the beginning of the contemporary worship movement—although at the time we didn’t know that's what it was," said Daniel. It was then that many people, including his peers, began referring to Daniel by the nickname, Father of Modern Worship. "I was just trying to hear from God and obey," stated Daniel humbly.

Since the late 1970's, Andrew and Daniel had occasion to minister in the same places, and each became aware of the other's ministry. Over the years since their initial meeting at The Rocky Mountain Faith Minister's Conference held in Daniel and his wife, Tracy (green shirt) ministering together at CBC's Better Way to Worship Conference.
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Greely, Colorado, the two have maintained a friendship. Looking back Daniel said, "Every time I heard Andrew minister, it was so full of revelation and yet somehow so practical. He really ministered to me. I really could not be doing what I’m doing, and teaching what I’m teaching, without what I have received from Andrew."

When the suggestion to include a School of Worship as part of CBC's third-year program came forth and began to take hold, Daniel ministers to a couple. (Click to enlarge)there was some question as to who would lead. As roles were being considered last fall, Andrew recalled Daniel's influence in the music ministry, and called him to ask if he would consider being a part of leading CBC worship once a week or so. "That developed into more of the 'or so' and pretty soon I was asked if I would like to teach in the night school—and then the day school—and then when they found out that I had already written much of the worship school curriculum at Grace Fellowship in Tulsa, they asked me to put together a proposal to lead the CBC program." In January 2011 CBC welcomed Daniel to his new full-time position as Director of the School of Worship.

Daniel makes his point with contagious exuberance at a recent meeting.
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Daniel has ministered through his music in many places and in many capacities through the years, and now he has found his home at CBC. Just as Andrew has found A Better Way to Pray, Daniel has found a better way to worship. His revelation of what it means to praise and worship the Lord from a New Covenant position in Christ is being well received, and is sure to stir up the world of music ministry—again.

"It's a real blessing to have Daniel as part of the school. I think it's a Godsend. It's just awesome. He's got such great vision," Andrew said.


Katherine O'Brien: Focused on God

21-year-old Charis Bible College graduate and missionary to the nations, Katherine O'Brien, loves Jesus, and travels the world sharing the Gospel.
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Katherine made the decision to follow Jesus when she was eleven years old. She understood that being a part of a "nice" southern family meant that she would be expected to attend and participate in the social aspects of church, to which she conceded. Beyond those obligations, Katherine was aware that Jesus had died for her, and she made a conscious effort to pray each night, but that was the extent of her relationship with Him.

While Katherine was a senior in high school, her dad attended Charis Bible College in Atlanta. Although she was aware that her dad was going to school, she didn’t know, nor did she care to know, anything more about it. The O'Brien family (L-R) Elizabeth, Tommy, Leslie and Katherine.
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In fact, she knew that her dad had had a powerful encounter with God that radically changed him, but she thought he was overreacting.

During high school, Katherine enjoyed attending parties. For several years she purposely avoided the alcohol and drugs, but during her junior year, she began to compromise. The lure of the uninhibited party scene, the seemingly carefree fun, became irresistible. Katherine began to drink, and she drank increasingly more to avoid coming to terms with the pull she felt on her heart to fully turn her life to the things of God. Katherine and friends at CBC-Colorado during her second year.
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Katherine knew God's love would change her—it was fear of that change that kept her drinking. “I knew I was on the fence. I would get wasted on Saturday night and then go to church hung over the next morning,” recalled Katherine.

Although she had a knowing that turning to God would change her life for the better, she kept making excuses. “I pictured fully surrendering to God like jumping off a cliff or a high dive; you really want to jump, but you are scared, and once you do jump, there is no looking back,” Katherine said.

During a Bible study meeting, which Katherine’s parents hosted and insisted she attend, the leader asked participants to write out Katherine in Mozambique, Africa for missions training at the Iris Harvest Shool of Missions. (Click to enlarge)prayer requests. She wrote, “I just want to be happy.” Months later, when she found the piece of paper on which she had written her prayer, she realized how empty and unfulfilled she had truly been. “I was so blind, being enticed by the things of the world that look so alluring and fun, but in the end just leave you empty,” Katherine explained.

It was during a New Year’s Eve party, ringing in 2008, that Katherine's dad became aware that she was drinking. “When my dad found out that I was drunk he got pretty upset and kicked everyone out. That night, after my dad calmed down, he fell on his knees sobbing, and I had a powerful encounter with the love of God. It was like a light came on and I could see and think clearly,” Katherine said.Katherine praying for a woman while on a mission trip to Nepal. (Click to enlarge)

The battle in Katherine's mind raged. She knew that if she made the decision to focus on God, all of her desires would change. She thought, “Do I even want to be a person who doesn’t want to party?” In that moment, Truth prevailed and Katherine made the decision to lay down her life for Jesus. “I just said, ‘forget it, I’m focusing on God and whatever happens, happens,’” she said.

Katherine immediately stopped drinking and partying. She deleted all of her secular rap music, and even decided to skip her senior prom, choosing to go to a Christian conference in Georgia instead. Katherine and her team in Thailand shortly before heading to Japan with Iris Relief. (Click to enlarge)Katherine's friends were baffled, and it was extremely painful for her to witness their lack of understanding. Although Katherine didn't fully understand God's love for her, she knew, in a tangible way that He loved each of them as well.

Katherine had planned to go to a big university in Tennessee and join a sorority, but her desires had changed. As she was driving one day, she prayed for direction, and she heard the Lord say, "Go to Charis Bible College in Colorado." "It wasn’t an audible voice, but it was so loud in my spirit. I burst into tears and had to pull over. I honestly don’t know if I was aware that there was a school in Colorado, Katherine's Iris Relief team began ministering in shelters in Sendai, Japan a short time after the first earthquake and tsunamis devastated the region. (Click to enlarge)but I knew, that I knew, I was supposed to go. I was so excited that I had gotten direction," said Katherine.

In the summer of 2008, Katherine, and her family moved to Colorado Springs to attend Charis Bible College (CBC). Her time at CBC provided her with a solid foundation in the Word and strengthened her relationship with Jesus. It was while serving with a CBC mission team in Mexico that Katherine realized she had a desire to minister to the nations. As her second year at CBC drew to a close, she prayed about her next steps. Katherine wanted to be a good steward with everything she had learned at CBC, and to share with people all over the world, the truths Ministry and relief look different in different situations–in some instances it can look like a circus. (Click to enlarge)that had brought her freedom.

After graduation, the Lord led Katherine to Iris' Harvest School of Missions in Mozambique, Africa, where she went to train for life on the mission field. Today she is serving in Japan on the administrative team for Iris Relief, which sends relief aid and international mission teams to hard hit disaster areas. When the teams arrive, administrative work becomes secondary and the focus becomes ministering relief aid and the Gospel to the suffering people.

Katherine praying for people in Japan. (Click to enlarge)When asked what she hopes to accomplish on the mission field, Katherine had this to say: “Every place looks different, but the need for Jesus is the same. You get to a place and you figure out what love looks like there. In Africa love looks like flip-flops because they are barefoot, and rice because they are hungry; in Japan it looks like wearing a gorilla suit because they need joy; in Thailand it looks like giving roses to a "working lady" and telling her that she is valuable. My desire is to love well. My desire is to stop for the one. I never want to limit God. I want to see nations transformed. I want to see orphans belonging to a family, drug addicts and hardened mafia guys melt in God’s love, un-reached people groups hearing the Good News, schools built, churches planted and people discipled and released into their destinies. How will that all happen? I have no idea. I'm really just a girl that loves Jesus and obeys God one step at a time, whatever that looks like and whoever it's with.”

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