Stories are important.  As we share our stories, we are like the stars that shine in the night sky.  The spiritual realm of darkness is cast out as we praise our God in the heavenly realms.  As those stories multiply, the light becomes brighter and penetrates the hearts of mankind.  As each one shares and hears these stories, God's people become stronger and unification of the Church occurs.  Multiplication has incredible potential:  Every person, every church, intentionally and aggressively advancing the Kingdom of God.  That's why we are asking you to share your stories.  Tell us how God has moved and is moving.  Let's cast out the darkness.

Contact Janie Hill at jhill@cdcma.org to submit your story.


A Testimony of Healing

By Kelly Winn, wife of Rev. Aaron Winn, Whipple Heights Alliance Church, Canton, OH

Freshwater Church hosted a Holy Spirit Weekend with Dr. Rob Reimer in October. Rob Reimer's books include Soul Care, Deep Faith, River Dwellers, and Pathways to the King. He is the Professor of Pastoral Theology at Alliance Theological Seminary in Nyack, NY. 

Kelly attended that weekend. Here is her testimony from her encounter with God:

I’ve always been told that I am an energetic person. I’ve used that energy to pack my schedule with activities that I love. In 2008, I was a healthy thirty-one year old, ten years into marriage, and five years into motherhood. I worked full-time during the day and taught dance classes in a neighborhood studio for several hours most evenings. In addition, I was part of a church-planting team, leading worship, working with the youth, and teaching kids classes every week.

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A PAINFUL JOURNEY

In October of 2008, I developed severe pain in my chest and extreme fatigue. I was diagnosed with pleurisy (inflammation of the lungs). I had blood drawn and was sent home with pain pills. The blood work results came back later that week revealing I had an autoimmune disease and I was advised to find a rheumatologist. This started my journey with a chronic illness.

Throughout the last ten years, this disease has attacked my body, resulting in joint weakness, joint pain, difficulty in thinking clearly, eye degeneration, etc. But the most difficult symptom by far has been  severe, debilitating chronic fatigue. On good days, I have to carefully budget energy just to make it through the day. From the moment I wake up, every single task from brushing my teeth, to washing my hair, to packing a lunch has to be measured against its cost to my limited energy supply. Failure to budget carefully leaves me empty by mid-day or triggers a flare up. On bad days, I am simply unable to get out of bed. Just last month I had a flare up so severe that I was bedridden for several days. Chronic fatigue has been the hardest part of my struggle with this disease and this past year has left me feeling especially "withered" spiritually. When you can’t even get out of bed, it’s hard to feel valuable. In June, as Aaron and I celebrated our twentieth anniversary, the realization hit me: from this point on, we would live more of our married life with a chronic disease than without.

IF YOU JUST ASK...

This summer, God prompted me to seek out a mentor to help me cope with some of the struggles I was feeling. A trusted friend who is on her journey with Jesus, agreed to meet with me weekly. She pointed me to a book titled Soul Care by Rob Reimer. God started to use this small book to minister to me. Then Aaron and I heard that the author was hosting a retreat weekend in the area and we knew I needed to be there. I cancelled all my classes for the weekend (I still teach full time during the day and at a studio in the evenings) and booked a hotel, even though the conference was only thirty minutes from home, so I could focus and really rest in God’s grace.

The conference was titled “Holy Spirit Weekend” and consisted of three sessions: Friday night was all about unpacking the sin in our lives to make room for the Holy Spirit to work in and through us; Saturday morning focused on hearing from God in order to minister to others; and Saturday afternoon centered around healing. Based on what I know about church and conferences like this, I figured there would probably be a time for prayers of healing. I had already decided that I was not going to ask people to pray for my healing. I wanted to be part of the team praying for others and see God work in that way. My goal for the weekend was to hear God speak in some way and connect with Him on a deeper level than I had before.

There was a woman near me who had experienced severe headaches since childhood. As I was praying for her healing, I was aware of God’s presence and I heard him say, “I will heal you if you just ask.” I then proceeded to argue with God, telling Him I wasn't ready... I wasn't good enough... I hadn't done enough... there were others that needed it more. I continued to pray and argue with God at the same time. Finally, I said, "Okay, that'd be great God. Heal me." The moment I consented I felt my body flood with warmth, especially in my tired, arthritic joints. It was as if hot liquid had been poured inside my body and flushed through my veins. It was a profound experience and yet no one watching would have known that something had happened. I didn't say anything to anyone for fear they’d think I was crazy. I took notice of it but just assumed it was the Holy Spirit working through me in praying for the other woman. We finished praying, spent some more time in worship, and then the conference concluded. I left feeling refreshed and closer to God, but not realizing what had happened.

A NEW CREATION

I climbed out of bed the next morning without any fatigue. As I went through my normal routine, I stepped on the scale and was shocked to realize I had lost seven pounds. That is unheard of for me. I may fluctuate a few ounces from day-to-day but never seven pounds! That was the moment I really started to take notice.  A little voice (mine this time, not God’s) whispered, “You’re healed!” I had no doubt that a miracle had occurred. I finished getting ready, which is frequently the hardest part of the day with no problems. As I stood in the pew worshiping that morning, I embraced the reality that the ever-present weight of the fatigue I'd lived with for ten years was completely gone!!

Now I wake up feeling like I did ten years ago, full of energy, lighter, and with sufficient energy for the day. Freedom becomes almost impossible to imagine when living with a chronic disease. I didn’t allow myself to go there because it hurt too much to think about. Now, after more than three weeks of living my new, weight-lifted life, it’s becoming harder to remember how bad I felt and how awful it really was.

I am a new creation! I can reach my arms over my head without feeling exhausted. In fact, Aaron says I’ve started talking with my hands again. More importantly, I can dance---the thing God made me for---with the energy I had a decade ago!  In the days immediately after my healing, the Holy Spirit reminded me of the account in Matthew 9 of the woman who had just enough faith to just reach out and touch Jesus’ cloak. Jesus said to her, as I’ve heard him say to me now, “Daughter, be encouraged! Your faith has made you well.”


Save-the-Date

By Esther Schaeffer, International Worker to Burkina Faso

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Several months ago our son David proposed to Jillian and she said “yes!” A few weeks later we received a “save the date” postcard, announcing the date of their wedding.

Burkina Faso also has a form of “save the date.” When we received David and Jillian’s announcement, I bought a big bag of salt, divided it into small measures and put them into little bags. Then I handed out these salt bags to my friends and neighbors, informing them that our son would be getting married. In Burkina it is our way of saying, “You’re invited to the wedding, save the date.”

A disturbed woman began attending one of the Bible studies I teach. She often disrupted the study and her words were incoherent. During prayer times she would get up and run out of the church. Fatigued Bible study members were ready to dismiss her. Hoping to calm her, I encouraged her to sit near me and always included her in our prayer requests.

After several weeks of this erratic behavior, she became calmer and began to remain still until the end of the study. The week I brought my salt bags, she was there. When I handed her a little bag, she was surprised and hesitated to take it. “Go on,” I said, “This is for you.”

She grasped that bag of salt as if it contained gold and lowered her head to say “thank you.” Through the rest of the Bible study she remained silent.

The following week, she listened quietly as I taught. Afterward she came up and took my hand. The other women watched, wondering what she would do next. It seems they feared she might wrestle me to the floor. But, with the other women listening in, the disturbed woman said the first coherent words I heard her say. “When you have the wedding, I want to come and help you with the cooking.”

Her sincerity brought tears to my eyes. My simple “save the date” had gotten through to her, assuring her I wanted her to be with us.

This is essentially Jesus’ invitation to humanity. He wants every one of us at His wedding feast. He loves us! He wants us to be with Him forever. In Rev. 22:17 we read, “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ ” Let all who have known the pain of rejection, disappointment and loneliness, come! All are invited! The date has been set, the invitations have been sent.

But, in a very real sense, these “save the date” cards are still in our hands. We are the ones to send out the invitations, to do the inviting. When it comes to this wedding, there is no limit on the number of guests, no fear that there will not be enough space or food.

A small gesture of kindness made a big difference for a troubled woman in Burkina. It will make a difference for those the Lord brings your way as well. The date of this heavenly wedding is fast approaching. Let’s work together to get these “save the date” invitations out as soon as possible!

CONTACT INFORMATION:

Andrew: aeschaeffer@gmail.com

Esther: estherschaeffer@gmail.com

Donate: We are supported thanks to your giving to Great Commission Fund at your local Alliance church. If you would like to help with ministry projects donate online at www.cmalliance.org and mark your gift “Andrew Schaeffer work special.” You can also send in your donation to: The Alliance, 8595 Explorer Drive, Colorado Springs CO, 80920.

Our ministry is part of the worldwide effort of The Alliance. Our “big team” includes over 750 people! To subscribe for regular updates about Alliance efforts, go to www.cmalliance.org/subscribe. You can also view updates on social media at www.cmalliance.org/connect.