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.
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!
It’s never too early to start instilling leadership lessons in young people. At Reese Road Leadership Academy, such lessons are implied in the school’s very name, and carried out on a daily basis.
Teachers make prodigious use of the Steven Covey book “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” and “The Leader in Me,” Franklin Covey’s whole-school transformation process, to foster principles and skills for living a fulfilled, productive life.
For the past three years, Christ Community Church has helped RRLA recognize those high-achieving students with the quarterly S.O.U.L. (Spirit of Uncommon Leadership) Awards.
Two students from each level of the K-5 school are recommended for the award by RRLA teachers and other adult leaders. The CCC staff typically hosts a ceremony for the students and their parents, with each student receiving a certificate, a written commendation from their teacher explaining why they were chosen for the award, and a framed photo.
The most recent ceremony, on Thursday, May 11, took place on campus at RRLA and followed the same format.
“We teach students the right way – the Roadrunner way – of doing things,” said Principal Katrina Collier-Long, alluding to the Reese Road mascot. “We love being able to honor them [with the S.O.U.L. Awards].”
CCC and Reese Road are part of the Greater Columbus Partners in Education (PIE) program, a joint venture of the Muscogee County School District and the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce. Through individual partnerships with businesses, churches and other local organizations, PIE enables schools to tap resources to meet unique needs in a student body, provide excellent educational programming, and recognize achievement.
As RRLA's Partner in Education, CCC encourages volunteer engagement from within our congregation. One upcoming opportunity is during our upcoming Week of Hope – RRLA is one of our ministry partners for this "local mission trip" initiative. But the possibilities to serve don’t stop there – the partnership is year-round, and RRLA Media Specialist Ruthie Hite says the school welcomes volunteers for one-on-one tutoring and reading to classes, as well as donations to fulfill certain material needs.
If you would like to serve with Reese Road, or for more information, email Karla Curran, CCC’s volunteer liason with the school.
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:
By Allen Allnoch
Last week a team of seven from CCC traveled to Jackson, Kentucky to serve at Oakdale Christian Academy. This Free Methodist-affiliated institution was named by TheBestSchools.org as one of the 30 best Christian boarding schools in America. It’s easy to see why.
Oakdale is a Christ-centered community where faculty and staff live on campus and create a nurturing environment that positively impacts students from a variety of backgrounds and locations.
For these educators and administrators, Oakdale is more than a job – it’s a full-time ministry, and they are playing a key role in “training up a child in the way he should go.”
Just as God’s work is evident in these leaders, the campus environment is a testament to his handiwork as well. Nestled along a two-lane highway in eastern Kentucky, Oakdale is bordered by lush hillsides and a burbling creek, forming an idyllic natural setting in which students can enjoy His presence.
The CCC team helped with several campus maintenance and beautification projects, including cleaning and painting the administration building, painting and staining a water-damaged residence, and spreading mulch around the grounds. The team also took turns throughout each day in the “Prayer Chair,” a quiet place to intercede for students, staff and fellow team members.
There was ample opportunity to interact with students during meals. The concept of “community” is apparent at this unique institution of learning. It’s also one of the pillars upon which CCC itself is built, and this mission team thoroughly enjoyed being a part of it in rural Kentucky for a week.
Oakdale Christian Academy is one of more than 40 ministries that CCC supports around the world. If would like to help support Oakdale individually, or simply learn more about its work, visit oakdalechristian.org.
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.