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May 2016 posts

Moms Making a Difference - Rev. Terri Ofori

Rev. Terri Ofori hails from the ‘City of Brotherly Love’ and this home town heroine shows the love of Jesus wherever she goes. This Harvard and Princeton graduate serves as the Chaplain at Bloomfield College in New Jersey.  With all her awards, degrees and accolades this power house is most loved by her beautiful son, Noah.

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She is a sought after Clergywoman who speaks all over the globe; bringing the new life of the Holy Spirit to once dead churches. Terri is gifted with the ability to bring the world of Pentecostal and Presbyterian congregations together; oftentimes bridging the racial divides that separate us on any given Sunday morning. Together with her husband, Dr. David Ofori, they serve the at risk youth in New York City as co-directors on Pan African Youth Academy.

 

Here's Terri singing Blessed Assurance and giving her testimony.  Click here.

 


Moms Making a Difference - Elder Luevena Dawson

Elder Luevena Dawson is a licensed and ordained Elder known throughout the country as an accurate prophet with a clear Word from the Lord.  This loving mom and doting grandmother is known for her charitable spirit and the loving way she delivers concrete, tailor made words straight from the throne room. 

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Luevena is gifted in prophecy, exhortation, the word of wisdom, the word of knowledge, healing and administration. A native of the ‘Great Lake State’ she is a knowledgeable Bible scholar who has studied at Ashland Theological Studies and has traveled to Israel, Egypt and Europe to round out her studies. Elder Dawson’s sweet nature coupled with her powerful presentation is a service to the body of Christ and more directly to its leadership. Elder D’s ministry encourages the body and helps to support our growth to maturity in our Christian walk.


Women of Faith – Loved – The Farewell Tour 2015

Several women’s ministries began in the 90s, yet nothing creates quite a storm in and outside of the Christian world like the Women of Faith (WOF) conferences. It is the largest inspirational event for women to date.

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Created in 1996 by Steve Arterburn, it started with four original speakers, Barbara Johnson, Patsy Claimont, Luci Swindoll, and Marilyn Meberg. The non-denominational conference tours to a different part of the country once a year. Each event often boasts a bevy of speakers, mostly Christian, who would stand before a maxed out arena of hundreds of thousands of women. They share their compelling life stories and how they overcame sufferings through practical applications of biblical solutions. The infusion of humor into what oftentimes are most harrowing stories, works like magic to lighten the blows. The weekend-long events are usually packed with live musical and theatrical performances by contemporary Christian artists such as eventual regulars, singer Sandi Patti and actress, Nicole Johnson.

As a final curtain call, the Women of Faith Conferences bring the event, titled, "Women of Faith – Loved – The Farewell Tour 2015," to over 40 cinemas across the United States and Canada in the very first effort of its kind in its 20 year history. Using the genre and style of part-documentary and part-live stage performances, Women of Faith takes the audience through its 20-year journey of touching lives of millions of women through their tours. The film opens with an introduction by the pint-sized bags of humor in the group, Patsy Claimont. The rest of the film is narrated by Mary Graham who, although battling health challenges of her own, displayed a level of grace worth emulating. I appreciate the fact that the individual messages by the speakers and performers, while not aggressively evangelist, are primarily Bible-based. Mary Graham describes the typical audience as being a blend of Christians and non-Christians. The stories presented by the speakers are done with full transparency and cover a wide range of topics. A presentation on mental illness was very masterfully given by Sheila Walsh, who later became part of the group of resident speakers, along with Thelma Wells. Some of the other topics tackled are divorce, homosexuality and Alzheimer’s disease. All these stories are relatable and offer some form of inspiration and comfort. The messages are often quite hard to digest but this is where infusing humor seems to work. In a particular segment dealing with cancer and breast exams, Barbara Johnson sets the auditorium alight in true Barbara style, “You can prepare for a mammogram right now, at home, using these simple exercises,” she quips. “Exercise one, refrigerate two bookends overnight. Lay one of your breasts between the two bookends…and SMASH the bookends together as hard as you can.” In response, the entire auditorium roars with laughter.

It is quite refreshing that clips of the two-decades long conferences now put to film, can be seen by women who perhaps, over the years, could not make it to any of the events. The clips do occasionally feel like lightening flash. Clips could conceivably have more of an impact if left to run a little longer on purpose. Nevertheless, this film captures the essence and full story of the Women of Faith Conference, but more importantly, the core message of hope and faith in Christ Jesus.

To visit the women of Faith website: http://www.womenoffaith.com

 

Writer: Frances Butler


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Moms Making a Difference - Mary Showed Love to a Murderer - Could You?

“From Death to Life:  A Tale of Two Prisoners”

By Karen Stewart-Ross

That Fateful Night

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     February 12, 1993.  Minneapolis, Minnesota.  A party filled with young people laughing, dancing, and having a good time was going strong for both 20 year-old Laramiun Johnson and 16 year-old O’shea Israel (formerly Marlon Green), an admitted former gang member, high-school drop-out, and drug dealer who said prior to that fateful night he had been working to change his life around and get back into school. 

     According to Israel, both he and Johnson were hanging with their friends that night and everything was good until their worlds collapsed and lives were changed forever.

     “It was a clashing of egos really.  I was at an after-hours party and I s[aw] him and he [saw] me and it was kind of like the clashing of egos really.   He was there with his crew and I came in with my crew and, I don’t know, I guess we just kind of bumped heads on site,” said Israel.

     Israel claims underage alcohol consumption on the part of both him and Johnson played a major role in what transpired and hampered communication - so much so that he ended up fatally shooting Johnson because he claims the 16 year-old uttered an offensive remark about Israel’s female companion.

The Call

     Mary Johnson-Roy, Laramiun’s mother, was at work when she received a call from her sister-in-law that her son had been killed. Shocked, Johnson-Roy reacted in disbelief and called her sister to obtain confirmation. 

     “…and she said she’s gonna call the police and she did and she called me back and she said, ‘Mary, I called the hospital and the hospital transferred me to the police department and the police asked me to describe the clothing Laramiun had on the previous night and she said, ‘I did.’ and she said, ‘Mary, they’re coming to [your] house and she said if it wasn’t true, they wouldn’t be coming.’ And I just remember saying, ‘Don’t tell me that.’  And I believe the phone went one way and my body went another because when I came to myself my supervisor was holding me and I don’t recall her being around anywhere,” said Johnson-Roy.   

     Her memory is a blur after that.

     “I don’t remember getting out of the elevator and going down eight flights.  I don’t remember the short walk to the car or the short ride from downtown Minneapolis to North Minneapolis.  I don’t remember those things.  The next thing I remember is walking to my sister’s door and she was standing there waiting for me to tell me that the authorities were there,” said Johnson-Roy.

A Spiritual Prison

       Israel was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 25 years in prison.  Ironically, he wasn’t the only one convicted.  Johnson-Roy had begun serving her own spiritual prison sentence - convicted of bitterness, anger, hatred, and unforgiveness toward the young man who killed her son.  Her sentence was brutal.

    Despite the fact that she had spent the majority of her life in church and had surrendered her life to Christ a year before her son’s murder, she questioned God demanding answers as to why her only son had been murdered in cold blood. One day, God spoke to her.

     “…. And I remember hearing him say, ‘I’ve done what you asked me to.  You no longer have to worry about your child.  He’s with me.’  …,” said Johnson-Roy.

     For a short time, Johnson-Roy felt somewhat consoled but the coming years would prove challenging.  She found that not only was she still bitterly angry with her son’s killer, she was also furious with God. 

     “…. And I was like, 'Well, you know what, you [God] really could have-couldn’t you have done this another way? And [if] it was his [Laramiun’s] time to leave, why was it [done] like the way it was?,’ ” said Johnson-Roy.  

    Israel’s trial proved to be extremely difficult for Johnson-Roy. She told herself that she had forgiven Israel.  She told the court that she had forgiven Israel.  She told his mother she had forgiven him but that was far from the truth.  Her grief, anger, bitterness, and sadness morphed into one word.  Hate. 

   “I hated O’Shea.  I wanted him to be charged with first-degree murder. I saw him and viewed him as an animal.  I felt that he deserved to be caged and [to] never ever get out of that cage.  Never ever be able to step on the piece of ground that I would step on and even though I was a Christian woman, that’s exactly what I wanted for him and I had a whole ‘lotta hate for him,” said Johnson-Roy.

The Poem and the Calling

     One day, Johnson-Roy came face-to-face with her rage when she read a poem called “Two Mothers.”  The poem is about two mothers grieving the loss of their sons in heaven.  As one mother describes her son, the other mother recognizes that the woman speaking is actually Mary, the mother of Christ, and bends on one knee in humility.  Mary lifts her up and kisses the tears from her face and asks the other mother who her son is.  The other mother replies that her son is Judas Iscariot and the poem abruptly ends.

     “I read it [the poem] again and this time I heard within myself, ‘I [God] want mothers of murdered children and mothers of children who have taken life to come together and heal together and I thought, ‘No way, uh uh.  I’m not doing that.  I don’t want to be involved in that.  I don’t want to be involved with the mother of a child who has taken life.’  But, over the years, I just kept hearing, ‘This is what you’re to do.  This is what you are to do,’ ” said Johnson.  “So, I finally said if I’m going to do that, I need to go and meet O’shea.  And I thought if I have been set free from all the bitterness and hatred-I knew I needed to be. I had to be set free in order to deal with mothers on the other side of the fence.”

The Journey to Forgiveness

     The journey to forgiveness and willingness to accept the call to help others took some time for Johnson-Roy.  Twelve years to be exact.  She said God walked her through the process instructing her to repent for what she had said and thought about Israel.  He also told her to pray for him like she prays for herself and to say she forgave him each time she thought about him. 

The Meeting

     In 2004, Johnson-Roy reached out to Israel for the first time with a request to meet him.  He rejected the request as he felt he wasn’t in the “right place” mentally to meet her and he also questioned Johnson-Roy’s motives. In 2005, Johnson-Roy requested another meeting with Israel and this time he agreed.  She did not know what to expect at the meeting but once it was over, ironically, Johnson-Roy said she became a “free” woman.

     “It was beyond belief-what took place in that room that day.  We were able to sit down and talk.  I said, ‘You don’t know me.  I don’t know you and my son didn’t know you.’  I told him, ‘We’re here to get to know one another.’ And that’s what we did,” said Johnson-Roy.  “I was the offender set free that day. …God delivered me from, from all of the bitterness and hatred that I had for him.  He instantly took it away from me.”

     In fact, after Israel hugged her in what was a powerful moment, Johnson became very emotional and a friend rushed to her side to hold her up.  She said at that moment she felt something leave her body - a root of bitterness. 

    “And when she lifted me up, I began to feel something moving in my feet and it moved up and up and up and I felt it leave out.  Instantly, it was over,” said Johnson.

     Israel also felt free – felt like a weight had been removed from his shoulders although he still took responsibility for unjustly taking a life.

     “Not only did I begin to make amends but I had to live who I said I was-the change I said I wanted to be.  So there was no turning back after that,” said Israel.

From Death to Life

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     Over the next five years, Johnson-Roy and Israel shared their testimony with other prisoners who marveled at their story-many wishing to be in Israel’s shoes. 

     In 2010, Israel was released from prison. Johnson held a “Welcome Home” party for him with people committed to helping him succeed and the two continue to share their testimony around the country as part of an organization Johnson founded in 2005 called From Death to Life that focuses on ending violence through healing and reconciliation.  The two have become very close – so close that Israel is Johnson’s next-door neighbor and she now considers him her spiritual son while Israel considers her his second mother.  Johnson has also reconciled with Israel’s mother.    

     Johnson likens unforgiveness to a spiritual disease eating at a person’s spiritual core.  She admits that the task of forgiving can only be done with God’s help.

   “…..And the one thing that I learned about forgiveness is that forgiveness is for me. It wasn’t for O’shea.  That forgiveness was for me.  It’s for me so that I can move on and do what it is God has told me to do. …,” said Johnson.

     Johnson doesn’t wrestle with unforgiveness anymore and advises those struggling with it to let God have His way in their lives and allow Him to take them through a process of forgiveness – a process she doesn’t regret.

    “I am a free woman of God.  I am free and I’m grateful,” said Johnson.

For more information about or to donate to From Death to Life, please visit their website at www.FromDeathtoLife.us.


Moms Making a Difference - Nancy Parlette - Healthy Living

Nancy Parlette is a digestive health specialist and president of Healthy Living Strategies LLC, where she shares her passion to ENERGIZE YOU FOR LIVING WITH NUTRITION!

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Nancy’s certifications and her Master of Science in Human Nutrition, makes her the perfect authority to help you live a more healthy life.  Watch Nancy in action. Click here.

 

Check her out at - www.nancyparlette.com


Moms Making a Difference - Lauretta Pierce - “IF GOD CAN USE A COOKIE…”

LAURETTA PIERCE – “IF GOD CAN USE A COOKIE…”

Lauretta Pierce is the CEO and founder of Covenant Cookies, Inc., based in Atlanta, Georgia. She is a mother, an advocate for domestic violence, an author, speaker, and a philanthropist.

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Lauretta’s backstory is anything but glamorous or picture perfect. Yet, out of her harrowing life experience came the idea for her thriving ministry and business. Covenant Cookies are gourmet fortune cookies filled with Scriptures and uplifting messages. An idea she says God gave to her at the lowest point in her life.

As a teenager, Lauretta suffered a stroke and endured ferocious domestic violence in her relationship. One incident was so horrifying that the skin on one side of her face was literally peeled off and she was left paralyzed for a year. After giving her life to Christ, things went from bad to worse; as her only daughter was diagnosed with a brain tumor, which left her blind and wheelchair-bound. Due to taking much needed time off to attend her daughter’s radiation treatments and regular hospital visits, she was soon fired from her job and lost her home.

During this time Lauretta began to desperately seek after God and the things of God. She would literally sprawl out before Him and stay in His Word morning, noon and night. Lauretta was dyslexic and could not read the Bible chronologically. Often, she would end up mixing up all her reading and this often left her confused. The way she was able to read the Bible was to target and write down specific Scriptures, which spoke particularly to her circumstances. Although hope for her daughter’s recovery seemed so dismal that it appeared death was near, Lauretta persistently prayed the Scriptures on healing over her daughter. Within months, her daughter recovered fully and was admitted into university in Atlanta. Lauretta relocated with her.

Lauretta received divine inspiration and all Scriptures she had previously written on sheets of paper and napkins during her periods of adversity, are now inserted in fortune cookies to inspire and encourage people all over the world. Covenant Cookies, which now operates two manufacturing plants based in Atlanta Georgia, and California, are available in various delightful flavors and stunning designs. She has committed her life to advocating for homeless women and victims of domestic violence. This year, Lauretta received her Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters. Her philanthropy, advocacy work and business, have earned her several awards, which include but are not limited to, ‘One Smart Cookie Award’, ‘Dr. Martin Luther King Award’, and ABC television ‘Person of the Week’ award. She currently shares her amazing testimony

Lauretta is a living testimony of the goodness, mercy and grace of God. She shares her amazing testament wherever she goes and has recently been on Trinity broadcasting Network (TBN) and Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN). Her mission is to inspire the world – one cookie at a time.

“If God can use a Cookie to change such a broken life as mine, think of what God can do for you,” says Lauretta.

Watch her testimony on the 700 CLUB. Click here.

Written by, Frances Butler

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Moms Making a Difference - Maria Gonzales Jackson

Mrs. Maria Gonzales-Jackson is a hometown heroine. This pint sized powerhouse is a force to reckon with.  She is full of the WORD and full of God's grace.

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Maria volunteers regularly at her local house of worship and over the years has spent countless hours at the Laurel Pregnancy Center where she offered sound counsel to women struggling with their pregnancy.

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Maria is a model mother to her two daughters and a faithful prayer support to several ministries. Watch the girls play the flute. Click here.

 


Mothers Making a Difference - Dr. Vivian Jackson

This week's heroine of the faith is Dr. Vivian M. Jackson. 

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Dr. Vivian Jackson pulls on anecdotes from her 35 years of marriage and decades in marriage ministry to help mend relationships.  Though she is a prolific writer, her most treasured jewels are her two beautiful daughters. Dr. Vivian is known as ‘The Marriage Doctor’ and writes regularly for Gospel Today magazine.  Her books include: Where the Rubber Meets the Road: Surviving and Thriving in the Midst of Crisis and Radical Praise: It’s Not Business as Usual.  Dr. Jackson is a sought after speaker with nationally recognized marriage workshops which build communication between the sexes.  www.the-marriage-doctor.com

 

Here's Dr. V in action...

 


Mothers Making a Difference

This month we celebrate strong women who are making a mark for the Kingdom of God.  Ordinary, every day women who are set apart for greatness because of their dedication to the faith.  Each week we will highlight these unsung heroines and I hope you will get a glimpse at these lives - lived for Christ.

Our first heroine is Sister Frances Butler.

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Frances Butler is an award-winning creative writer, filmmaker, and radio presenter. She is a commanding raconteur and performer. Her current writing projects include, Living Wisely magazine, TV critic for Christian Post, dramatic screenplay for BBC television and, adapting her latest theater play for radio.  Frances is a fresh face and rising star on the media landscape. In all of her accomplishments her greatest triumph is raising her wonderful son.  Frances often lends her vocal talents and endearing British accent to television and radio.  She was recently awarded the Hometown Media Award for her video segment on aid to Africa.

Click here to see the award winning piece.