Enjoy this short clip of highlights from our ministry in 2014!
Saturday, December 13, 2014
“Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.” Philippians 1:27
House Church Conference On Nov 21-23rd our house church met with a house church from Gainesville, Florida to “strive together for the sake of the gospel.” God united our hearts as we sang praises to Him, heard challenging messages, such as Timmy Power’s, “Making Christ Supreme.” We were refreshed in our relationship with God as we studied Colossians privately and together. We were reminded that we are all full time ambassadors for Christ on mission for Him daily. We broke down into small groups to discuss how these truths give eternal significance to our employment, families, and daily tasks. We enjoyed getting to know others who are seeking to do God’s will in a similar context of a simple/house church. Thanks for praying! (Andrew spending some quiet time with God)
Thanksgiving in NYC Danelle, Merry, and I spent a delightful Thanksgiving in NYC with our daughter, Julie and her family. We went to the Macy’s Day parade in the snow, enjoyed delicious meals together, gave God thanks, & had fun sightseeing and shopping together.
Ministry Year In Review We put together this short You Tube video to give you an idea of some ministry highlights from 2014. Go to www.youtube.com and type in “Stephen Nelson Ministry.”
Faithwalkers Conference, Dec 27-30, in Asheville, NC. Pray for God bless this conference. Our house church will be attending, and Steve will be teaching a seminar on Lifestyle Evangelism. Thanks!
Prayerfully consider a special year end gift for our ministry to help us begin 2015 with the financial resources to serve churches in the southeast and overseas, as we did last year. We thank each of you for your generous support and faithful prayers! We know this ministry would not be possible without you.
Steve and Danelle
Send financial gifts to: Great Commission Ministries Account #5951 11002 Lake Hart Drive, Suite 100 Orlando, FL 32832-0101
Or give on line: www.gcmweb.org
Wednesday, November 19, 2014
(Kevin is a new member of our church who gave his life to Christ this past spring.)
Angry, Lost, and Lonely
My parents were Christians who instilled many wholesome values in me as a child, but I didn’t have a real relationship with God. I questioned my faith and God early in life, but instead of embracing the Bible, or calling out for help, I ended up wandering aimlessly.
I was in middle school when I began a confirmation class at our church. I sat in class with my peers but still didn’t absorb the spiritual truth that I would soon need. Shortly after our class ended, my grandmother passed away. Heartbroken and lost, I began to spiral out of control. Not too long after my grandfather followed her. My anger and bitterness drove me away from the idea of a loving God. I believed that everything that went wrong or caused suffering in the world was the result of a God who didn't care.
I met people with different beliefs, others with no belief at all. I tried to understand the reasoning behind their beliefs in attempt to validate my own. I was too wrapped up in giving my own reasons and explanations for how things were to even realize what was happening to me. I was becoming increasingly sad, lonely, and empty. At times I would find myself washed by waves of depression. I could smile and laugh around friends and family, but when I was alone I felt empty.
I found a new job as a lifeguard. God had His hand on me, even though I was unaware at the time! Shortly after starting my new position, I became friends with a number of the participants. One couple in particular reached out to me and helped me seriously think about my faith. One day Steve asked, "If you died today, where would you go, heaven or hell?" At first I was defensive and not receptive to what these two were trying to do for me. I found myself repeating the same old platitudes when I saw pain and suffering in the world. The difference was that I was beginning to experience guilt for the way I thought.
A year later they asked: "Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?" I still hadn't, but not because I didn't want to, but because I believed I couldn't. I was ashamed of everything I had said and done to belittle the works of God. "I'm just a tiny man" I thought. What place did I have to question or even try to explain all that He had done with mankind? I spent a year thinking about it, but I still didn't know how to go about saving my soul. I truly thank God for my mentor and his wife who never gave up on me! I was asked again if I had accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior and I said "I really want to." Three days later I asked God to forgive me and surrendered my live to Christ. From that day on my life was changed. I finally stopped running and made the choice to be born again (the spiritual birth). “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” (2 Corinthians 5:17) Like a breath of fresh air I feel as though my life has been renewed! I'm able to appreciate God's love and guiding hand that brought me this far and that will continue to guide me as I grow and move forward on my new spiritual journey.
If you would like to know more, please contact me. Thank you!
Kevin Ware Shinuyami2@hotmail.com
Tuesday, November 18, 2014
“Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us.” Ephesians 3:20
The Rock Miami God did abundantly beyond what we expected with almost 200 attending our “Finding the Love of Your Life” seminar in Miami. Danelle and I were encouraged by their sincere desire to know God’s plan for relationships and marriage. We used Secure In An Insecure World as the basis for our two days of teaching. The church members, like Fernando and Lily pictured here, were most hospitable. We felt the love of Jesus through Alfred, Jerry, Freddy and all the saints! God is alive in Miami! They just celebrated 40 years of ministry this week. Pray for God to make many more followers of Jesus Christ and strong marriages throughout that city.
Pittsburgh Danelle visited her family the following weekend. God gave all of them some rich times of fellowship, lots of laughs (not a surprise if you know anything about the O’Tooles!), and much love. Thank you all for praying. Your prayers make a difference in eternity!
House Church Conference On Nov 21-23rd (this weekend!!!), our house church will join Larry and Corey Messer and their house church from Gainesville, Florida for a retreat near Savannah, GA. Matt and Jan Gordon from Gainesville, as well as Andrew Hendricks from South Carolina, will also attend. Please ask God to lead us together as we seek to know Him better and make Him known more effectively in our communities. We will spend time alone with God, enjoy our families, make new friends, and study His word together.
Grandson Isaac I finally got to meet our 9 week old grandson Isaac (his name means “he laughs”). He is beautiful! Here’s a recent photo of the growing Shirley family.
Prayer Requests House Church Conference. (Nov. 21-23) Ask God to lead our time by His Spirit, to meet pressing needs, to transform lives and marriages, and for more laborers for the harvest in Atlanta and Gainesville. Please pray we would be encouraged and envisioned.
Thanksgiving with the Newtons. Danelle, Merry, and I will be in NYC with the Julie, Matthew, Jasper, & Dewey over Thanksgiving. Please pray that we would have a rich time, make some good memories, and all give sincere thanks to our great God and King for all His gifts!
Yours on His mission,
Steve and Danelle
Monday, November 17, 2014
For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will. Matthew 24:44
Several times today I realized that I had not been paying attention and missed my opportunity. If we are not ready, we can miss out on what we want, what we worked hard for, and dreamed about. In my case, I missed catching a few trout because I was either daydreaming or preoccupied with the calm beauty of the river this early April morning. I told myself, "Pay attention! Be ready next time!" I did not know which cast would produce a strike where I would have to instantly set the hook.
In the same way, Jesus is telling us to be ready for His return, because we don't know when it will occur. But we know He is coming! Therefore, remind your fellow Christians to be ready for Christ's imminent return. If we help one another stay vigilant, we will live soberly, make wise choices with our time and resources, and live for the eternal welfare of others. We won't let the opportunities to share Christ with the lost, or to serve the saints, catch us off guard.
Secondly, pray every day for the Lord Jesus to come back. "He who testifies to these things says, "Yes, I am coming quickly." Amen. Come, Lord Jesus." Revelation 22:20 Be ready for your Lord to return every moment of every day! "The end of all things is near; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer." 1 Peter 4:7 If we constantly remind others to expect Jesus's return and we pray for it, this will profoundly impact our lives, and make us ready - whenever He should appear.
Friday, September 19, 2014
Dear Friends, Jesus Christ has been building His church here in Atlanta! We have seen each part (member) doing their own special work to help the other parts grow. Kevin and Victoria have both been attending our gatherings, infusing new life with their sincerity and eagerness to learn. This is an answer to your prayers. Praise God!
The Rock Atlanta This Sunday (9/21) Danelle and I will speak at the English and Spanish services of the new Rock Church in Atlanta. Pastor Mandy Fernandez will interview us about marriage. Please pray.
Miami Danelle and I have been invited by the Rock Miami Church to teach our seminar on Relationships using Steve’s book, Secure In An Insecure World. We will be there October 31-November 2nd Steve will also speak to the church on Sunday morning in their new facility.
Pittsburgh Danelle will be visiting her family November 7-10. Please pray for her time to be relaxing, fun, and to build many good memories. They don’t get to see each other often.
House Church Conference November 21-23 Our house church will join the Gainesville, Florida house church for a retreat near Savannah, GA. It will be time to relax and be alone with God, enjoy family, make new friends, seek God together in prayer, and learn from the teachings.
Growing Family Stephanie and David welcomed Isaac Stephen Shirley into the world on September 7th! Isaac and I will now share the same birthday. He and his mother are doing well. Danelle was able to drive down to help them for the first week. Isaac is our 11th grandchild! We had better keep exercising so we can keep up with them!
Pastor’s Conference I will join fellow pastors in the Southeast in Clemson, SC for our regional meeting October 17-18. It’s always a pleasure to be with men of like heart to follow Christ!
Praise Reports and Prayer Requests
1. Kevin and Victoria. We rejoice that they have been attending regularly. Pray they would keep growing in faithfulness, and they come to our house church conference in November.
2. Danelle. Please pray for her to have an excellent time with her family in Pittsburgh from November 7-10.
3. The Shirleys. Praise for baby Isaac! Pray for God’s grace for their family to make adjustments and get sleep. Pray for David’s job situation too.
4. Timmy Powers. Please pray for him as he is in Ukraine now until October 15th training leaders. Pray for his wife Kenyon to stay encouraged while he is away, and for her health.
5. Our Finances. Thank you to those who have given special gifts recently! We are not out of the woods yet, but on our way! Thank you to each of you who give so faithfully. We love you all, and could not do this without your partnership!
6. SE Pastors Conference Pray we would encourage & build one another (Oct. 17-18).
7. House Church Conference. Ask God to lead our time by His Spirit, to meet pressing needs, to transform lives and marriages, and for more laborers for the harvest in Atlanta and Gainesville. Pray that all would leave encouraged and with fresh vision from God.
Yours on His mission,
Steve and Danelle (GO TIGERS!)
Saturday, September 13, 2014
Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, and you people say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. John 4:20
I receive much of my inspiration while praying and worshipping God when I am running with my daughter Grace. Early one Saturday morning while running along the river, we discussed how we sometimes equate worship to a limited period of time, a specific place, or an event that must be led by a specific person. Do you ever wonder why these are conspicuously absent in the New Testament?
The Samaritan woman embraced this view of worship: "Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, and you people say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship." But Jesus gently corrected her: "Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father" (John 4:20-21).
You are a worshipper-always, everywhere you go. Don't be fooled into thinking that your relationship with God must be limited to a few hours a week at a certain place, led by a special group of people. It is who you are!
Sunday, August 17, 2014
Has the Lord redeemed you? Then speak out!
Tell others he has redeemed you from your enemies. Psalm 107:2
Greetings Dear Saints! We pray that you are telling others Christ has redeemed you! Danelle and I have had many opportunities to “speak out” to believers and unbelievers alike this summer. Thank you for making this possible through your support and prayers. Some of the highlights…
LINC Danelle and I taught the students in the Atlanta LINC program, our third LINC this year. Their enthusiasm for our Lord, and their desire to bring others to Him was contagious. Steve enjoyed teaching the Orlando staff and interns (photo above)) about the church, one of his passions. Not sure what Mark Groff was smiling/laughing about in the photo below. –
Praise Reports and Prayer Requests
1. Praise God with us for Kevin’s spiritual growth! We meet weekly to read the word and pray. He told me last week while we studied Paul the apostle, that he was so thankful for God sending me as an apostle to him. I am too! Thanks to you all for making this possible. Please continue to pray for Kevin to develop a heart for others.
2. Danelle and I had a delightful time this summer with our daughter Julie, and granddaughters, Jasper and Dewey from New York (photo right). Danelle was able to help Julie continue her sewing business, while we all had times to go for walks, swimming, and even a trip to the beach with Scott and Maria’s family. We miss them already.
3. Our daughter, Meredith, has a new job starting next month! It is only a temporary job with her current employer Habitat for Humanity, she will have more income, and it could lead to permanent employment. Merry thanks God for His provision!
4. Danelle and I have been able to Skype weekly with Katia in Spain and Rocio in Mexico! As many of you know, we lost touch with Rocio (photo below) for months after she returned home to her daughters. Both of these women are young believers and need your prayers for growth and to lead their families to Christ. Please pray for God to give us wisdom to build into them, and for local fellowship.
Yours on mission,
Steve and Danelle
Wednesday, July 2, 2014
Orlando LINC Danelle and I had a delightful time with the students in Orlando last week. It refreshes our hearts to see young people who are serious about following Jesus and sharing their faith with others. We joined them several times to meet UCF students, and tell them how to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. God gave us many quality conversations with students open to the gospel. I also taught several seminars. Please pray for those we met, and others they will contact this summer, to experience God’s love from a new birth.
Kevin. Danelle and I left Orlando left Orlando on Saturday morning in time to join our house church for a special evening event. Our new brother in Christ, Kevin Ware, was baptized June 14th in the Chattahoochee! He obeyed the Lord while our house church, and his girlfriend Victoria, gathered to support and celebrate. We praised & thanked our risen Savior, who continues to forgive sinners and give them new life - eternal life! Then we enjoyed sweet fellowship during a cookout at Grace and Ward’s place on the river.
GCC Pastors Conference I joined several hundred pastors in Kansas City for our annual pastor’s conference. Josh McDowell (on left) came to speak to us about communication. Josh was instrumental in my becoming a Christian in Clemson 41 years ago. Danelle and I heard him speak about the family in Ukraine (right) about 6 years ago when we served there as missionaries.
1. Please continue to pray for Kevin’s spiritual growth, and for his desire to share Christ with his friends and family. Pray for Kevin and Victoria to serve God and others together.
2. Pray for our time with our daughter, Julie, and granddaughters, Jasper and Dewey. They will be visiting in Georgia for 6 weeks.
3. Pray for our house church to grow deeper in our devotion to Christ, one another, and the lost.
Yours on mission,
Steve and Danelle
Sunday, June 8, 2014
The Good News I Have Discovered On My Journey Through Life
If you have this piece of paper in your hands, it is because somehow our paths crossed. If time allowed, there is some good news that I would like to sit down and talk about with you, and with everyone I meet.
This good news was announced by an angel over two thousand years ago- “Don't be afraid! I am here with good news for you, which will bring great joy to all the people. This very day in David's town your Savior was born—Christ the Lord!”
Like many people, I heard about Jesus Christ from the time I was a child. I understood that he was a very significant person of history because even our calendar is based on the time of his birth. However, it was not until later in life that I understood clearly that Jesus is much more than a historical figure. When he walked the earth, Jesus said that He was God become man. He said that by watching him, you were actually seeing what God is like. It was a monumental and eye-opening discovery for me to realize that in reading the words of Jesus and seeing the actions of his life, I could understand the character of God and the purpose for which he made me.
Let me share with you just a few of the important observations I made. Jesus was loved by and considered a friend of “the sinners”, but was despised by many of the religious people. Why? The religious people wanted to make sure they would be in heaven one day, and they thought that by their own moral behavior and good works they could guarantee themselves a spot.
Jesus explained that it was impossible for any man to earn eternal life, and that in reality God was proposing much more than just everlasting life in a beautiful place. Jesus said that eternal life is a relationship with him that can begin now and will last forever and that will satisfy the deepest longings of your soul, because it is the purpose for which you were made. Jesus said that anyone can have this real life if they would simply turn from their sin (living life independent from God and contrary to his desires) and come to him in humility and dependence. Jesus life and message was good news for even the worst of sinners because they realized no matter how bad they had lived, they could come to Jesus and he would forgive them of their sins and transform their lives.
The Bible is full of stories of how needy and broken people turned to Jesus and how he transformed their lives. He is alive today and he is still transforming lives. He changed my life when I discovered more than thirty years ago the good news that Jesus came to this earth and became the Savior and friend of all who would truly trust in him- by his perfect life, by his death on the cross to pay for our sins, and by his resurrection from the dead.
I wish I could sit down and tell you more about the good news that Jesus loves you and he wants to give you real life. Please feel free to write or call me if you have an interest in hearing more.
Saturday, June 7, 2014
Spain Mission Danelle and I had an excellent mission trip to Pamplona, Spain. Thank you for interceding on our behalf! Please pray now for the dozens of college students and others who heard the gospel to respond to God’s voice. A personal relationship with God was foreign to most of them. Steve taught on The Word, The Church, and Conflict Resolution to the LINC team. The “Finding the Love of Your Life” weekend seminar impacted lives. The three discussion sessions after each part proved to be beneficial for practical application of the truths. We also had numerous informal counseling sessions that God initiated and led.
Dom Baptizing Iris, a Chinese student.
One such miraculous God-ordained meeting was through AJ Ozanich, one of the college students on our team. AJ met Oksana, a Ukrainian woman, near our apartment one Sunday morning. With his limited Spanish, he told her that there were some Russian speaking people on our team. She came to the Spanish church service where we met her briefly. We arranged a meeting with her the next day, and she brought her good friend, Katarina. Danelle and I were amazed at their hunger for God and His word! God gave us grace to speak with them in Russian. J We met with them four times, each time having deep discussions about how to grow in Christ, their marriages, and getting to know them.
Kevin Here is a photo of our friend Kevin, who recently trusted Christ. This picture was taken after dinner and Bible study at our house. He will be baptized June 14th in the river! Then our house church will celebrate with a party at Grace and Ward’s place.
Kevin and Steve after Bible study
Orlando LINC Next week we will be in Orlando to help Mark Groff and the students with the LINC program from June 10-14. This will be similar to the training and outreach in Spain. We will teach several seminars and share the gospel at the university and do outreach through sports. We covet your prayers.
Timmy’s Testimony Read how the good news of Jesus Christ transformed Timmy Powers’ life. This month’s featured testimony tells Timmy’s journey through life where he discovered that Jesus was much more than a historical figure. I for one am very thankful that he did, and because of his relationship with Jesus Christ, we have been close friends and coworkers for 25 years! Enjoy Timmy’s story and share it with others!
Spain Follow Up
1. Pray for Iris (pictured) when she returns to China in July, because she does not know any Christians in her city. Pray for fellowship, continued growth, and courage. Her parents aren’t happy about her new faith.
2. Pray for Oksana and Katarina as they both have difficult family situations. Pray that we would be able to Skype regularly with them to study the Bible together. Pray they would find Ukrainian speaking Christians in Pamplona.
3. Pray specifically for Tomas, Eduardo, Echum, Filipe, Isabelle & Andor to become followers of Christ.
4. Pray for Serg, Martin, Maria and Julio, Filipe (a different one) to continue to mature in Christ.
5. Pray for Dom & Domaris Marrone and their three children to rest in God’s grace as they serve as missionaries in Pamplona. Pray that they would see breakthroughs with Spaniards coming to faith in Christ.
Pray for the team of students who are already there to be good testimonies at their workplace. Ask God to save students and others, and to unite them with the church. Finally, pray for us to be effective communicators and loving servants while we are there.
Yours on mission,
Steve and Danelle
Saturday, May 10, 2014
David’s Testimony This month we feature David Shirley’s story of how he came to faith in Christ. We all have questions about the meaning of life and God always answers us if we ask with sincerity. Enjoy reading how God spoke to David, our son-in-law, and answered his questions, even those he was not asking initially, but those that we must all come to grips with.
Spain Mission Danelle and I leave on Wednesday, May 14th for our mission trip to Pamplona, Spain. God provided our expenses through you. Thank you! Please pray for us as we will be sharing the good news with college students at a local university, as well as teaching our team, and having an outreach seminar, “Finding the Love of Your Life” with Steve’s book (now in Spanish). We return June 2nd. (We don’t plan to run with the bulls this year!)
Kevin It has been a pleasure to help this young man grow as a new Christian. Today, as I write this letter, he is one month old in the Lord. Please pray for him to continue to see his need for reading the Bible, seeking God, fellowship, and following Christ in baptism. Danelle and I had a fantastic Bible study with him and his girlfriend last night and he wants to get baptized!
Orlando LINC Shortly after our return from Spain, we will travel to Orlando to help Mark Groff and the students with the LINC program from June 10-14. This will be similar to the training and outreach in Spain. We will teach several seminars and share the gospel at the university and do outreach through sports.
1. Spain Pray for God to love through us and bring many into a personal relationship with Him. Ask God to use us to build the local church & our team. Pray for strength, health, & safe travels.
2. House Church Pray for our growth and compassionate outreach to unbelievers.
3. Orlando Pray for the team to be prepared to serve others and love unbelievers. Pray for Danelle and I, for stamina, and that our teachings would be life transforming and helpful.
Yours on Christ’s mission,
Steve and Danelle
Friday, May 9, 2014
David Shirley’s Story
At an early age I began questioning some simple things. For example, why did I need to wear anything but pajamas, why couldn’t I play in the room with the nice furniture, and why couldn't I eat candy for every meal? As I got older, things started to make sense through explanations like culture (why no pajamas), finance (nice furniture was expensive), and science (candy diet..yikes). But, as I got into college I still could not answer questions that were beyond any human explanation: What would really happen after death? Is God real? Many times, these questions would even keep me awake at night.
I was raised attending church, listening to church music, and believing there was a God. But as I got older, did it still not make sense. I started a full investigation of the things I believed. After about a year of reading the Bible, great philosophers, and historical books, I began to see things differently. The Bible (John 1:3) claims that all things were created by God, and without God nothing exists. An engine alone isn’t enough to describe a car. If God is the greatest and biggest of all things, then I can’t expect science or even my own intellect to be enough to explain or prove God. Instead of dismissing the idea of God, or questioning who God was, I began to ask what He wanted. The crazy part was, I found God only wanted me to love Him. Because God was perfect, I realized that I wasn’t. I had a tendency to make a mess of my life. I lied, got jealous, and the list went on.
But, God said there is a way for me to be free of my wrongs and be worthy to have a relationship with Him! God wants all people to experience forgiveness of their wrongs (sins) and believe that through Jesus’ we can be free from God’s judgment and our guilt, and can truly love God! (see 1Timothy 2:4 & John 10:9) Now, I know this could sound strange, but this free gift from Jesus changed my life and truly answered my questions about God!
Even questions like, if God is really good, then why is there: evil in the world, natural disasters, or people doing horrible things? Maybe you have faced these questions too. Here is a favorite quote I remember when I contemplate these questions.
“When we begin an argument with ‘Well, I wouldn’t believe in a God who would…’ Who would what? Do something that you wouldn’t do? Or think in a way that’s different from the way you think? Do you ever even consider the possibility that God’s sense of justice is actually more developed than yours, and that His love and mercy are perfect, and that you could be the one that is flawed?” Does it even enter your mind that maybe He knows something that you don’t? Or, is it always ‘I have this ability to reason and I have this level of morality, so something in Him must be off here and I won’t believe in Him.’”
I hope that my short story can give you some hope as you investigate your own questions. The good news is that there is a way to live without guilt, with purpose, and not trust in things that disappoint and will only disappear when we die. We must place our hope in Jesus and follow Him!
If you would like to chat more, please send me a text or an email! Thanks for reading!
- David Shirley
Friday, April 18, 2014
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have a child? Maybe you already have children. Being a parent is both an awesome privilege and huge responsibility.
I was child number five in a family with seven children, yes seven! I was the most mischievous and spiteful of the bunch, and I tested my parent’s concept that having children was indeed a privilege. I poured wet gravel from the aquarium on my friend’s head, painted nail polish in books, shoved my cousin down the stairs, and the list goes on. My rotten behavior did convince my parents that raising children was a huge responsibility! They prayed a lot for me (and for themselves), and God answered them before I had to go to prison. What happened?
I noticed a joy in my older siblings, which I knew came from their relationship with God, and I wanted to experience this myself. Therefore, when I was six years old, I asked God to forgive all of my sins, and trusted Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord. Even at that young age, I understood that God had changed my heart, which resulted in me loving others. The joy followed; like any relationship I grew over time in understanding how much God loved me and where I needed to change.
Now I am married, and we recently took the crazy leap to parenthood. And what a sleep-deprived, yet fantastically joyful experience it has been. I discovered the most amazing revelation was being able to relate to God who also had a son. God the Father allowed His Son to be beaten, bullied, and killed! I’m not sure I could allow my son to go through that….so why would the Creator of the universe allow this? His motive: "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, so that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16)
The depth of His love has become so much more real to me after the birth of my son. Jesus came to earth knowing that it would cost His life to purchase our salvation. Wow! How do we respond? He is not asking you to do good deeds and try to earn eternal life, because we can’t. "It is by grace (an undeserved gift) that you have been saved through faith-and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God, not as a result of works that no man should boast." Ephesians 2:8-9 All that is necessary to become God’s child is for you to agree with Him that you are sinful (self-centered), and sincerely ask for His forgiveness, and then invite Him into your life to take control (be your Lord). That is how you receive His Gift! Would you like to make that decision today?
The fact that I met you today to tell you this amazing news was God trying to tell you how much He loves you!
Thursday, April 17, 2014
Happy Spring! We welcome the warm weather, flowers, honey bees, and new life. This letter targets a few new life stories from our neck of the woods. We trust they build your faith in God!
Stephanie’s New Life This month we feature our daughter Stephanie’s testimony, “Having a Child.” She has been faithfully sharing Christ by using her tract featuring her family as a point of common interest. She tells us that God has been using it to keep her actively involved in outreach, even though she is a mother of a toddler and expecting in September. She asked that we pray for her and her husband David to inspire others in their small group to reach out. Enjoy!
Kevin’s New Life! A young man named Kevin, our lifeguard at the pool, is a new creation! (2 Cor. 5:17) Our house church has been praying for Kevin’s salvation, and Danelle and I have befriended him and shared truth with him for three years. I finally had an opportunity to share the entire gospel with him two weeks ago. We discussed his anger with God over his grandparent’s health problems, the purpose of the commandments, and salvation by grace through faith in Christ. Then I asked him what prevented him from giving his life to Christ. He thought for a moment and then said, “Nothing!” I told him that the decision was between himself and God, and I explained what he needed to do. Since he was working, I encouraged him, “Later on get alone with God, and talk to Him out loud, because it will help you think about what you are saying. Then tell Him that you a sinner and you want to surrender control of your life to Jesus.” Three days later he did just that! Praise God! He has come to our house for dinner twice in the last two weeks so that Danelle and I could help him get started in his new relationship with Jesus Christ. He is eager! Please pray for Kevin’s growth and desire to share Christ with others.
New Lives In Pamplona, Spain Danelle and I are headed to Spain in one month to teach, train, and bring new life in Christ, May 15- June 2. We will assist Dominic Marrone (in the photo) and the church with outreach to college students, as well as training the American LINC team. Please pray for us to prepare for the numerous teachings and the relationship seminar using Steve’s book – now in Spanish! We will take both the English and Spanish copies to use to reach students. Please ask the Lord to provide the remaining funds for the trip as well. We still need $2,000 in special gifts. If you want to help us, go to www.gcmweb.org and click “Give.” Enter 5951 and follow the prompts. Thank you very much!
Yours in Christ’s love,
Steve and Danelle
Thursday, March 20, 2014
I was home-schooled up until middle school, but I had many friends in church and in our neighborhood. When I went to public school in seventh grade, I noticed that many of my friends there seemed different. They were tired, hopeless and desperate.
When I was fifteen, I went on my first mission trip to Ukraine. My dad asked me to explain to the students in our English class how Jesus Christ had changed my life. I was scared and nervous because they were all college students, and I felt that I didn’t have an impressive testimony. But, I did find myself with an overwhelming desire to tell them all about the hope, freedom, and forgiveness that I had and wanted all of them to have as well. This verse expressed my hope….
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." Romans 15:13. I wanted them to have that hope and peace throughout their lives. That was the first time I recognized how truly awesome and beautiful the relationship I had with Christ was. God wants you to have that same relationship with Him. We all have pasts, baggage, and sin, but God says that it is "by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God." Ephesians 2:8. A gift by definition is free and simply received. It is the same with God’s gift for you. "If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." Romans 10:9.
I would love to talk with you more if you have any questions. My email is :
A Personal Testimony This month we included our daughter Grace’s personal testimony tract. She and her husband, Ward, are a vital part of our house church. Grace and Ward have been building friendships with their neighbors, sharing their testimonies (verbally) and the gospel in the comfort of their living room or while walking in the nearby park. Please pray for these precious lives to be transformed by the power of the gospel!
House Church Last Sunday our house church had a Spirit-led discussion about how to win our lost friends and family members to Christ. Danelle and I were greatly encouraged to hear the practical ideas and Scriptures that were shared for each unbeliever we discussed. Here is one verse we discussed that shows the loving heart of God, “Do I actually delight in the death of the wicked, declares the sovereign Lord? Do I not prefer that he turn from his wicked conduct and live? Ezekiel 18:23 When was the last time you had a discussion with a fellow believer about how to meet the specific needs, or answer the specific questions, of your unbelieving friends? Strategizing about how the Lord can use you to speak into someone’s life is worth the effort.
Clemson Past Isn’t it fascinating to find out something you did in the past that had a positive effect on someone? Here is such a story from my days as a student at Clemson almost 40 years ago! I played soccer and our goalies were Greg and Jeff. I received this note from Jeff just this week…
Steve -- I just joined a new church a few months ago and as part of the covenant with the church, I got to give my testimony. You were part of that story.
Joyce (you may have met her at Clemson) and I have been Christians since a few years after we left Clemson. Part of our conversion story was the witness we experienced while at the university. In my case, that was you. I specifically remember a conversation you had with Greg in which you were arguing the validity of the Bible. After he vented his disbelief, you asked him if he had ever read it -- he said no.
It is the classic example of planting a seed. Your conversation with him may have had little effect on him, yet to me, an innocent (really bad choice of word there) bystander, it had a life changing effect.
Anyway, thank you for your stand for Jesus. I appreciate the difference you made in my life. - Jeff
Pamplona, Spain Finances Danelle and I believe that God wants us to go help missionary Dominic Marrone and the young church in Pamplona for two and a half weeks in May. We will also train the Americans involved in LINC. It will cost $3,000 for this mission trip. Please pray and give as God leads you. You can use the GCM website if you wish. www.gcmweb.org Thank you to all who support us regularly!
Yours in God’s love,
Steve and Danelle
Thursday, March 6, 2014
“We are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.” Ephesians 4:15-16
My friend Neil introduced me to the majestic Sandhill Crane many years ago on a cold sunny day in December. He said, “Look up! Do you know what those are?” as dozens of large birds soared overhead, almost out of sight because they were so high. They made a constant, distinct, high pitched gaggle as they flew south for the winter.
So when I was running last week, and heard the familiar high pitched gaggle, I knew I would see the cranes when I looked up. Have you ever tried to run and stare up in the sky at the same time? I probably looked like I had been drinking to the other runners on the trail. It was worth the inconvenience, because God reminded me of how the growth of body of Christ, the church, depends on “the proper working of each individual part.” As I studied the cranes, I noticed how they constantly changed leaders. The first bird, or leader, does the most work by breaking the air/wind for the other birds. Therefore, God designed them to constantly rotate the hard work of leading, just like God designed His church to function.
We attended a Christian gathering recently where one of the young men was greatly relieved to learn how to share the leadership of the group with everyone, just like the Sandhill Cranes. Everyone was learning to practice their priesthood, bear one another’s burdens, listen to the Holy Spirit and rest under Christ’s headship. Remember and imitate the Sandhill Cranes!
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Clemson Conference Danelle and I taught a conference February 14-15 near Clemson, SC. Thank you very much for asking God to change lives! He did - including ours! What an inspiration for us to see college students give up a Friday night (Valentine’s Day!) and Saturday to hear what God says in His word about relationships and marriage. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.” Matthew 5:6 Our theme, “Finding the Love of Your Life,” was based on material from Secure In An Insecure World. The truth resonated in their hearts, and then we had small group discussions to consider how to apply it to their lives. Brian and Miriam Bridgeman and Jean Wan did an excellent job organizing, recruiting, and preparing for the event. Thank you guys for your hard work! It was a team effort. Praise God! Here is a photo of most of the students.
A Personal Testimony As we stated last month, we are including a personal testimony tract in each of our newsletters for the next few months to inspire you to share yours, and possibly to even write yours. Let us know if we can help with a simple outline and ideas to get you started. It can be so much fun too! Just last week I gave my testimony in Russian to 80 year old Boris at the pool. I keep a copy of my testimony (Russian and English) in my backpack. I also keep copies of them in my wallet and in my car. I would have made a good Boy Scout. “But in your hearts set Christ apart as holy [and acknowledge Him] as Lord. Always be ready to give a logical defense to anyone who asks you to account for the hope that is in you, but do it courteously and respectfully.” 1 Peter 3:15 (The Amplified Bible)
Enjoy reading this abbreviated version of how Danelle came to know Jesus Christ as her Savior and Lord!
A Little Angel?
I grew up going to Catholic school and so I believed in God from a young age. In school and at home I was taught to be good and to have good morals. In my early teen years my family went through some difficult financial times and when my mother went to the priest for help, he was unkind to her. That was the beginning of years of questioning my faith. It culminated in a history class in college where I learned about man's inhumanity to man in a way that profoundly disturbed me. I began to doubt the goodness and power of God since there were so many evil people. I decided I didn't know what to believe but that I was going to live a good life and help others. And that is what I did. I went to college and studied Psychology. I worked with at risk children as well as needy elderly people. I volunteered at our college hot-line, spending sleepless nights talking with fellow students going through a crisis. I thought I was good little angel.
Interestingly enough, after a while my conscience began to bother me, because I realized that I wasn't doing all these good deeds from a pure heart - I wanted everyone to notice what a good person I was and I knew in my heart that that was wrong.
About that time some people began to talk with me about God and how He is not interested in people being religious. He is a personal God who wanted a personal relationship with ME! I had never heard of such a concept before and it was intriguing! I began to understand Jesus' death on the cross in a whole new light - eternal life isn't dependent upon me believing in God and doing my best. If that were true then there would be no reason for Jesus to die. Everyone can have eternal life and a relationship with God when they recognize that they have sinned against HIM. Amazingly, that same God loved each of us so much that He sent His Son to die for everything that we have ever done wrong. And if we simply confess that we are sinners and yield our life to Him we can have a personal relationship with Him.
This is so amazing that it sounds too good to be true! It’s also amazing that God knew I would cross paths with you today so that you could hear this. Maybe this is the first time or maybe this reminds you of something you already know. If you act on these truths you can have eternal life and a personal relationship with the God who created you, actually, who created the whole universe!
Please contact me if you have any questions.
1. Ukraine. As you know, the protests in Kiev, Ukraine recently turned deadly, with the soldiers killing over 80 people. At this point, the president has left Kiev, and the people have new hope. All of our friends are safe too! Pray for the fighting to truly be over, and for Russia to stay out of it. Pray for godly leaders to fill the void. But more than anything, pray that the people of Ukraine would recognize the corruption in their own hearts, and turn to God. Pray for the Christians to share the gospel with courage.
2. Summer Plans. We are going to Pamplona, Spain the last two weeks of May to train college students at LINC. Please pray for our travel expenses, many to be saved, and the local church to be encouraged.
Yours in Christ’s unfailing love,
Steve and Danelle
Sunday, February 9, 2014
“Cease from anger and forsake wrath; do not fret, it leads only to evildoing.” Psalm 37:8
We read yesterday that God does not want us to envy evildoers because they will wither like the grass, they have no real future. What they have obtained through their sinful actions is not worth having. Do you believe that? Sometimes I find myself getting angry at people who try to get ahead illegally or at other’s expense. I want them to stop. I want them to pay for their selfishness –now! When these anxious thoughts come into my mind I am tempted to do evil myself, to say or do something Jesus would not be proud of.
I faced such a temptation recently. We were waiting in line to board our flight from Kiev, Ukraine to New York along with 300 other people. The line was moving so slowly it seemed like I was going backwards and may end up back in the seat I had left thirty minutes ago! Then a man came from behind us and subtly slipped in front of us. Nobody noticed, except me. I was tempted to be angry! But, I did not say anything to him. I did mention it to my wife and we discussed his selfish actions. Later, as the line crawled along at the speed of a glacier, he impatiently slipped out of his place and attempted to go through another check point to board. My wife and I both laughed to ourselves when he returned to his place in front of us because it was a plane bound to another destination! He could have ended up in Egypt!
We finally arrived at the gate to board and our daughter noticed that her teacher, who was on our flight, had been assigned the same seat as me. The 10 hour flight is hard enough with only one person in the cramped seat. How would this work? We asked the flight attendant and she said the three of us had been moved up to business class. We were pleasantly surprised and thanked God. My faith was reinforced as I sat in the spacious leather seat and our selfish “friend” walked by. Justice was served for this man and grace was extended to us.
No, we may not see the results while living here on earth of not fretting because of evildoers. I have flown over 40 times across the Atlantic to the former Soviet Union and only twice have I been bumped to business class. I think this time God was trying to teach me to rest in Him and not envy the evildoers. He wanted me to learn a lesson - He is here, He loves me and everything is okay. “Thank you Marie.” “Thank you Jesus!” I will remember your words and try not to fret.
Friday, February 7, 2014
“Do not fret because of evildoers, be not envious toward wrongdoers. For they will wither quickly like the grass.” Psalm 37:1-2
Don’t fret! You won’t hear these words used very often today. I remember my dear grandmother, Marie Turnage, saying those words to me as a child. Maybe my mother was leaving me to go to the store, or I had fallen down and cut my knee on the street. She was communicating, “Don’t worry my child because I am here. I love you and everything will be okay.” I was upset about something and she was trying to calm my anxious little heart. Her words and her peaceful disposition had a profound impact on me, even to this day. Isn’t it amazing how that works?
What was King David so worried about that God had to tell him, “Don’t fret?” We read that evil people were profiting from their wicked schemes and David was tempted to be envious. He was tempted to want what they had obtained (illegally, immorally and at other’s expense). We call it envy. The dictionary defines envy as, “a feeling of discontent and resentment aroused by and in conjunction with desire for the possessions or qualities of another.” God went on to say in verse seven, “Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him, do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who carries our wicked schemes.” God tells us to rest in Him, to be still in our hearts. How do we do that? Prayer! Only by giving our anxiety, envy and jealousy to God in prayer and receiving His love and strength through His word and by His Spirit, can we resist the temptation to fret. We will rest and not fret when we learn to trust God more and recognize that He is in control and He only has the best for us.
God shows us in His word that the wicked will get what is coming to them. Justice will be served. God tells the wicked, “be sure your sins will found you out,” Numbers 32:23. They will reap what they have sown. It is just a matter of time. It may appear like they will get away with the evil they have done. But God says they won’t. The score will be settled, either here on earth or in heaven. He promises. Do you believe Him? “For evildoers will be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord, they will inherit the land.” Psalm 37:8 “Thank you Jesus, and thank you Marie, for teaching me not to fret!”
Saturday, February 1, 2014
"And do you not remember, when I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces you picked up?" They said to Him, "Twelve." Mark 8:18-19
Remembering something intellectually is a far cry from remembering with the heart. The disciples had witnessed Jesus’ miraculous feeding of the 4,000 and the 5,000. They remembered these events in detail, but their hearts were hardened with unbelief. They recalled intellectually, but that is as far as it went.
How often do we all fall into the trap of remembering what God did in the past, while thinking it makes no difference in our current situation? Have you seen someone come to Christ for salvation, or a marriage on the rocks restored, or a drug addict freed by the power of God? We saw God do specific miracles in the past, but we fail to believe He can do similar deeds in the present.
We must have fresh faith for every situation. "And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him" (Hebrews 11:6). Yesterday's miracles and victories don't automatically translate into today's divine intervention. Yesterday's faith is like the manna the Jews collected in the wilderness. What they gathered would last for one day, and the leftovers spoiled; it was worthless the next day. They had to gather fresh manna each day. We too must gather fresh faith each day. Therefore we must read God's Word daily because "Faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ" (Romans 10:17). Then we must unite it with faith from our heart!
Thursday, January 23, 2014
Have you ever gone down a path only to find out later on it was not what you expected?
I lived to play soccer! It was an exciting, non-stop, action sport that I was good at! I followed several of my high school teammates from Atlanta, Georgia to play at Clemson University back in the 70’s. My best friends were on the team. I was living my dream, but something was missing in my life, and I couldn’t identify it.
I began the year with high expectations. It didn’t take long before my expectations crashed and burned as I sat on the bench, week after week, and watched my friends play. Little did I know God was using this to get my attention. I was surprised at how angry I was at the coach and jealous of my teammates. Conversely, when I got to play, which only happened once in my freshman year, I was happy. Why were my emotions tossed up and down by my circumstances? Because I was my own god! When I got what I wanted, when I wanted it, and how I wanted it, then I was happy. If I didn’t get my way, then I was angry, depressed, or jealous. This self-centeredness is what the Bible calls sin. This sin separated me from God and real life. I discovered that freedom from this selfishness and resulting guilt only came through Jesus Christ.
Some students explained to me that God loved me so much that Jesus died on a cross for all of my sins, which were many. Then to prove He was God, he miraculously rose from the dead, and now lives in heaven. The Bible says, “For by grace you are saved through faith, and that not of yourself, it is the gift of God, not as a result of works, that no man should boast.” I received the free gift and gave Him complete control of my life when I was nineteen years old.
Jesus Christ has far exceeded my expectations for over 40 years! He has given me the strength to love others more than myself, and I know I am going to heaven when I die!
Would you like to know God personally and know you are going to heaven? Please contact me if you have any questions.
Steve S. Nelson firstname.lastname@example.org
Faithwalkers December 27-31 Danelle & I went to Asheville, NC to participate in the annual Great Commission conference with 800 students (photo below). Our marriage seminar went well, with many deep questions at the end. Brian Bridgeman had asked Steve to assist him with teaching, “How To Avoid The Comparison Trap.” At the last minute, Brian’s little girl got sick, and he and his wife had to take her home. God gave Steve much grace to teach the entire seminar to an enthusiastic overflow crowd. Praise God! Thank you for praying!
A Personal Testimony Have you ever noticed how personal testimonies are constantly used on the radio and television to sell products from dog food to diets, from cars to dating services? People testify as to the effectiveness of a product or service. Hard to beat that! We listen. We remember. Often, we buy!
The Apostle Paul shared his personal testimony of his conversion with everyone who would listen. It was often the starting point for preaching the good news of the gospel to Jews, Gentiles, prisoners, Kings, and everyone he met. “But when Silas and Timothy came down from Macedonia, Paul began devoting himself completely to the word, solemnly testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ.” Acts 18:5
We are going to include a testimony tract in each newsletter for the next few months, for your edification and inspiration. Maybe you want to write yours? Let us know if we can help.
Secure In An Insecure World Do you know any Hispanic folks that need to find a personal relationship with Jesus, or any that could benefit from understanding Biblical principles for marriage and relationships? The Spanish edition of Steve’s book fits that bill, and it is now available on Amazon! It is a great tool to give to your unbelieving friends, as it contains Steve’s testimony and a clear presentation of the gospel. The book is useful to those who are dating or considering getting married.
Clemson Danelle and I will teach a seminar for students at Clemson and Southern Wesleyan over Valentines weekend, February 14-15. Pray for God to change lives!
1. Valentines Conference. Pray for many college students to come and invite their unbelieving friends. Pray for Danelle and I to be empowered by the Spirit, for needs to be met, and relationships transformed.
2. Secure In An Insecure World. Ask God to use the new Spanish and English versions to change lives around the world!
3. House Church Ask God to use our house church to lead many to Jesus in Atlanta, including internationals – Hispanic, Russian, etc. Pray for our faith to be strengthened. Hebrews 11:6.
4. Ukraine. You may have heard about the ongoing political upheaval in Ukraine and the protests in the streets. Timmy Powers is presently in Ukraine until February 12th. Pray for his ministry to be effective and for his safety and health. Our friends there tell us that God is using this bad situation to bring people to Him. Pray for true peace through people turning to Christ.
5. Summer Plans. Please pray for clear direction, the finances, and God’s grace for us as we plan to go to Spain and Orlando this summer to teach students at LINC (Labors Impacting Nations for Christ) in both of these locations.
Yours in Christ’s love,
Steve and Danelle