By Allen Allnoch
Ten years ago, bluegrass music legend Ricky Skaggs released an album, “Salt of the Earth,” with his wife, Sharon White, and her family band, The Whites.
The title song described the honest, selfless, genuine people who embody that phrase:
They’ll all come runnin’ if there’s someone in need
They’ll reach out if someone’s hurt
Diamonds and gold could not match what they’re worth
Good people are the salt of the earth
Shane Clark is one of those salt-of-the-earth kind of people. It’s telling that he was reluctant to have photos of himself made for his new Shane Clark Music Facebook page. Actually, he was reluctant to have a Facebook page, period. For this humble servant of God, life is not about drawing attention to himself, but rather about fulfilling Jesus' Great Commandment – love God, love your neighbors.
On his newest CD, “The Hymn Awakening,” Shane has surrounded himself with a whole company of salt-of-the-earth folks – including Skaggs himself – who also happen to be world-class musicians and vocalists. The result bears out his purpose of using his gifts to serve God and other people.
Shane, a Columbus native with close ties to Christ Community Church, leads Camp Laughing Child, a Christ-centered therapeutic adventure camp for institutionalized children living with terminal illnesses in southern Mexico. Sales of the CD benefit the camp, which provides creative nature-based and animal-assisted therapies on seven acres of beautiful mountain surroundings.
“The Hymn Awakening” is a collection of traditional hymns anchored by Clark’s rich vocals and flavored by a diversity of guest artists. It features a lineup of contemporary bluegrass all-stars, including fiddle virtuoso Andy Leftwich, singers Sonya Isaacs and Claire Lynch, guitarist Ron Block (a member of Alison Krauss’s band, Union Station), five-time Grammy winner Rhonda Vincent, and rising star Sierra Hull.
From Leftwich’s elegant opening notes on “Lead Me to Calvary,” to the toe-tapping rendition of “Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus” with Skaggs and Jimmy Fortune (formerly of the Statler Brothers), to Shane’s chill-bump harmonies with Vincent on “My Jesus, I Love Thee,” the CD is a delightful new take on a timeless set of familiar church songs.
Just as Shane and his guests have poured their hearts into these songs, he’s pouring his life into the lives of sick children 2,000 miles across the continent.
Those kids – and we, too – are richer because of these good, salt-of-the-earth people.
Copies of “The Hymn Awakening” (along with Shane Clark's first CD, “Deep Blue Hymns”) are available in the CCC Resource Center for a suggested donation of $15 apiece. All proceeds benefit Camp Laughing Child. Follow Shane on his new Facebook page at facebook.com/ShaneClarkMusic.
A look at what CCC kids and adults are doing out in the community during our June 4-8 Week of Hope outreach.
Why are we designating this particular week a “Week of Hope?” Shouldn’t we be putting our faith into action and taking hope to the world every day?
Yes we should. Loving our neighbor is a 24/7 biblical mandate, to be sure. And it’s fueled by the power of the Holy Spirit, as Pastor Keith taught in this week's Sunday message.
But just as with our Church Has Left the Building outreach last year, a ready-made outreach sometimes can be the nudge we need to get “out there” and be the hands and feet of Jesus.
And certainly any time we help “the least of these,” we are blessing someone and serving Christ himself.
Week of Hope also is a great opportunity to get to know some of our local ministry partners and get involved on an ongoing basis – organizations such as International Friendship Ministries, Heal the World Thrift Store, Open Door Community House and Sound Choices Pregnancy Clinic.
We’re working with eight ministry partners in all this week, but that’s only a small segment of the organizations we link arms with throughout the year. Visit our Around the City page for a look at all of our area partners, and click the "Contact" link if one of them stirs your heart to help.
As for Week of Hope, we’ve been comparing it to a mission trip, with a few key differences to make participation easier: 1) It’s right here in Columbus; 2) It doesn’t require hundreds of dollars in expenses; and 3) You can do it in two-hour increments – shifts at 9:30-11:30 a.m. and 1-3 p.m. each day (Monday-Thursday).
You can find all the details, including information on each partner/work project, right here. Pick a shift – or two, or more, even – and get out there!
This fall CCC launched Empowered to Foster, a ministry designed to support foster care families and raise up new ones at CCC and in our local community. The idea is to help families navigate the challenges of foster care by providing meals, assisting with transportation, performing household chores and much more.
About the same time we began to call for volunteers, Christal and Mark Gavin began attending CCC and heard about Empowered to Foster. Here we'll let Christal pick up the story, as shared in an email to Misty Faircloth, who is helping head up the new initiative.
Just wanted to touch base with you and tell you thanks for the work you're doing with the foster ministry.
My husband and I talked about fostering children, even while we were dating. And over the years (we've been married 15 years) we've continued to talk about it.
He's active duty military and we moved here, with our three kids, over the summer. We had a feeling that God had something specific planned for us here. But we didn't know what.
I felt strongly that I wasn't to go back to work and that I was to limit my volunteer ministries. We also have a spare room that we felt we were supposed to leave empty for the time being.
After hearing you speak about the foster crisis in Muscogee County a few weeks back, we decided to pray more seriously about whether God wanted us to pursue becoming foster parents.
I shared all the info from [the initial October Empowered to Foster] meeting with my husband, and it just confirmed what we had both been feeling: Absolute peace with beginning the process of becoming foster parents.
We're excited about how seamlessly God seems to be guiding our steps. We appreciate you being open to his call to raise up awareness and begin this ministry.
We look forward to seeing his hand continue to move.
Christal is blogging about her and Mark's journey through the foster experience. Follow her at ourfosterstoryblog.wordpress.com/blog. If you would like to get involved with Empowered to Foster at CCC, email Misty Faircloth at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brandon Branigan is Outreach Coach for CCC's ARISE Young Adults ministry. He led a mission team to Detroit in July and shares some of the group's experiences here.
“When you keep saying somebody ought to do something creative here, helping the people, and no one else steps up to the challenge, you find out quickly that God is calling you to do it.”
These were the words of Mark Cryderman, lead pastor of The Harbor, a church that has dug its roots in Detroit without a building. After years of pastoring traditional churches in the Detroit/Taylor County Area, Pastor Mark and his wife, Marry, felt called to do something different.
An old school building that belonged to the Detroit Free Methodist Conference was not being used at the time. The idea developed to use it for Sunday brunch services – a gathering that would include breakfast with less-fortunate people in the area, arts and recreation for children, short messages for the kids and adults, and a discussion around the dining table.
A couple of years into this outreach, Mark and Marry noticed that Sundays were not the most popular day in the area for spending time in fellowship and worship. This was when they first felt the call to bring church into the local communities during the week and do church without a building. They realized the people did not need to come to them; they needed to go to the people.
After months of prayer and preparation, a series of weekday dinner services was launched this summer. Our team of 11 from CCC got to participate and lead in these services during the week of July 24-29. When we arrived in Detroit, we shared our plan for arts and recreation with Mark and Marry, and we were delighted to see their joy and their trust in us to lead that effort.
We served in a community center for children/students, a church and a community park. The first day of ministry was long, but filled with joy. We provided games for the children, such as transferring water from one bucket to another with a sponge and “walking the plank.” Our theme for the week was pirates, and one of our members, Tyler Pierce, did an amazing job acting this out.
We could tell that many of the kids had never experienced this type of love before, and often they would latch on to us, which brought great joy. I was blessed to connect with two boys and speak life into them, which I could tell was very important to them. Near the end of the day we shared a meal with the parents and were instructed to lead the discussion at the dinner tables, as well as pray over each parent.
Another team member, Josh Heath, connected with a man so strongly that they exchanged contact information and vowed to keep in touch. There was a moment in which I looked up to see each team member praying over multiple people in the room – what an amazing sight!
Our last day of ministry was the most blessed for many of us. The plan was to spend an entire day in Detroit sightseeing and having fun, but the Lord had another plan. Mark and Marry had connected with a barber in Detroit weeks ago, a man who had built a community park across from his shop as a way to bring positive influence to the area. It just so happened that on that Wednesday morning, they ran into the barber again and they all agreed to do dinner church that day.
We got to witness the first day of a dinner church plant in Detroit! Upon arrival in the park, Josh fired up the grill, Camille prepped the food service station, Florence found a lady to minister to, and all of us spread out to meet the people and spend time in fellowship. Once again, connections were made and long conversations held. We all walked away that night fully convinced that Detroit is not a lost cause, as the media often portrays it, and that God has a huge heart for this city.
Another memorable aspect of the trip was that we got to see something unique in the city every day. Pastor Mark wanted us to walk away saying Detroit is a great city, and he did a great job arranging these excursions, which included a trip to Mexican Town, a visit to the Detroit Museum, a great deep dish pizza place, and a walk along the river where we could see Canada!
The team ended the week with a trip to Cedar Point, Ohio, a theme park with some of the best rides in the U.S.
Our team is so thankful for their heart and the fruit we got to witness this summer. Clearly God is up to something huge in Detroit, and it is a great place to experience.
By Allen Allnoch
“I want to go to America.” Those were the words of a young Rwandan man I met during my recent mission trip to “the land of a thousand hills" with a CCC team. We were seated in a small classroom, eight of us in all, me the lone American, just chatting about life.
It wasn’t the first time I had heard such a sentiment. I wanted to know more.
“What do you think is the impression most Rwandans have of the United States?” I asked.
Without hesitation, my new friend said, “I think most people here view it as heaven.”
Wow. If only he knew.
For me, a week in Africa – far from America’s toxic news and social media climate – was a breath of fresh air.
(Not literally, though – Rwanda in dry season is surely the dustiest place I’ve ever visited.)
I suppose it all depends on one’s perspective. Many Rwandans today carry the burden of the 1994 genocide that left an estimated 800,000 dead.
As one of our hosts, Pastor Jean Baptiste, told us, “Everyone knows someone who was killed – family members, friends, neighbors. It’s still hard to talk about, but it’s important that we remember.”
Then there’s the aforementioned dust – and the difficult access to clean water in this still-developing country, and the various other hardships that make our “first-world problems” seem all the more absurd when viewed in context.
Yet so many of the people we met are full of joy. Smiles, especially among children, come easily. Beautiful voices fill the air with song.
In Jean Baptiste’s village, Muyumbu, people are coming to Jesus and experiencing dramatic life change.
One woman, Maria Rose, was a prostitute with no hope until she wandered into Jean’s church one Sunday morning. She heard the Gospel message, came to know Christ, and today earns a living making jewelry and other hand-crafted products.
In Gahara, another rural village where Jean has built relationships, a church body is working hard to make disciples of all ages.
Our trip came about through CCC’s relationship with Jessica and Jonathan Taylor, pastor at our Phenix City campus. Jessica leads two ministries, Come Away Missions and COPOmarket, and has been taking teams to Rwanda since 2009.
Come Away Missions works with Jean Baptiste to create ministry opportunities through short-term mission trips, with the goal of helping fulfill Jesus’ Great Commission – “make disciples of all nations” – and building lasting relationships between visitors and the Rwandan people.
COPO (Creating Ownership, Providing Opportunity) trains Rwandan artisans such as Maria, markets their products, and equips them to build businesses and better lives.
Jessica sells COPO products at the Saturday morning market in Uptown Columbus, is working to get them in stores, and makes them available online as well.
Back in Rwanda, Jean Baptiste stays busy discipling and training pastors, employing locals and teaching them to farm, and in his latest venture, raising support for a medical clinic in Muyumbu. Writer and speaker Jennie Allen has organized a fundraiser to help – click here to learn more and contribute.
As I see people like Jessica and Jennie linking arms across the ocean with Jean Baptiste and his family and friends, I see the body of Christ in action.
America certainly isn’t heaven. But when Americans and Africans work together like this, we're undoubtedly seeing a glimpse of paradise.
CCC took the day off from morning worship services on Sunday, April 24, and instead went out to be the hands and feet of Jesus to the community that surrounds us. The work included:
At the conclusion of his February 8 message, Pastor Keith read these words of truth over the congregation. May they be a blessing to you as you read and claim them for yourself.
The Cry of God's Heart, from Genesis to Revelation
My child ...
You may not know me, but I know everything about you (Psalm 139:1). I know when you sit down and when you rise up (Psalm 139:2). I am familiar with all your ways (139:3). Even the very hairs on your head are numbered (Matthew 10:29-31). For you were made in My image (Genesis 1:27). In me you live and move and have your being … for you are My child (Acts 17:28).
I knew you before you were ever conceived (Jeremiah 1:4-5). I chose you when I planned creation (Ephesians 1:11-12). You were not a mistake, for all your days are written in My book (Psalm 139:15-16). I determined the exact time of your birth and where you would live (Acts 17:26). You are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). I knit you together in your mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13) and brought you forth on the day you were born (Psalm 71:6).
I have been misrepresented by those who don’t know me (John 8:41-44). I am not distant and angry, but am the complete expression of love (1 John 4:16), and it is My desire to lavish My love on you simply because you are my child and I am your Father (1 John 3:1).
I offer you more than your earthly father ever could (Matthew 7:11). For I am the perfect Father (Matthew 5:48). Every good and perfect gift that you receive comes from My hand (James 1:17). For I am your provider, and I meet all your needs (Matthew 6:31-33). My plan for your future has always been filled with hope (Jeremiah 29:11) because I love you with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3).
My thoughts toward you are countless as the sand on the seashore (Psalm 139:17-18) and I rejoice over you with singing (Zephaniah 3:17). I will never stop doing good to you (Jeremiah 32:40). For you are my treasured possession (Exodus 19:5). I desire to establish you with all My heart and all My soul (Jeremiah 32:41), and I want to show you great and marvelous things (Jeremiah 33:3).
If you seek Me with all your heart, you will find Me (Deuteronomy 4:29). Delight in Me, and I will give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4). I am able to do more for you than you could possibly imagine (Ephesians 3:20). For I am your greatest encourager (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17).
I am also the Father who comforts you in all your troubles (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). When you are brokenhearted, I am close to you (Psalm 34:18). As a shepherd carries a lamb, I have carried you close to My heart (Isaiah 40:11). One day I will wipe away every tear from your eyes, and I’ll take away all the pain you have suffered on this earth (Revelation 21:3-4).
I am your Father, and I love you even as I love My son, Jesus (John 17:23). For in Jesus, My love for you is revealed (John 17:26). He is the exact representation of My being (Hebrews 1:3). He came to demonstrate that I am for you, not against you (Romans 8:31), and to tell you that I am not counting your sins (2 Corinthians 5:18-19). Jesus died so that you and I could be reconciled (2 Corinthians 5:18-19). His death was the ultimate expression of My love for you (1 John 4:10). I gave up everything I loved that I might gain your love (1 John 4:10).
If you receive the gift of My Son, Jesus, you receive me (1 John 2:23). And nothing will ever separate you from My love again (Romans 8:38-39). I will never leave you, nor forsake you (Deuteronomy 31:6). Come home, and I’ll throw the biggest party heaven has ever seen (Luke 15:7). I have always been Father and will always be Father (Ephesians 3:14-15). My question is: Will you be My child? (John 1:12-13). I am waiting for you (Luke 15:11-32).
Your Dad, Almighty God
The CCC Blog is a collection of writings and images from staff members and guest contributors, all pointing to the extraordinary life made possible by a relationship with Jesus.