Tuesday, October 15, 2019 | 7–8:30PM First Church of the Nazarene (2734 S. Washington St., Kokomo, IN)
Hope Center in Indianapolis is a residential campus for women survivors of sex trafficking. The nonprofit’s mission is “to transform the lives of women exiting sex trafficking by providing a Christ-centered approach to healing, self-sufficiency, and reintegration into the community.” For more information, see hopecenterindy.org.
Pastor Hubert Nolen, the Executive Director of the Hope Center, and other leaders will share about the lives God is changing through the Hope Center.
Please pre-register by calling the First Church of the Nazarene office at (765) 453-7078.
A love offering will be collected for the Hope Center.
“Hubert Nolen is a Co-Founder of Hope Center Indy and serves as the Executive Director and a Board Member. He is the former Senior Pastor of Brookville Road Community Church in New Palestine, IN, and pastored there for 33 years. Under Pastor Hubert’s leadership, the congregation grew to more than 1,000 members with an annual operating budget of $1.1 million, which has provided millions to world missions and church planting. Pastor Hubert was instrumental in establishing more than 70 churches globally including in India and Brazil. He earned his B.A. in Bible and Pastoral Ministry from Barclay College and completed graduate studies at Asbury Seminary and Trinity Evangelical Seminary.
“In 2015, he took notice of a promotion video featuring a young woman on the verge of taking her own life because of heartache she had lived through from a violent past. Subsequently, she found hope when she discovered an organization where she was given a second chance. Pastor Nolen felt prompted in that instant to launch a center where victims of human trafficking from coast to coast and all walks of life could find a place to heal and recover from the effects of human trafficking. He and his wife, Tonia, have been married 40+ years. They have five children, seven grandchildren, and live on the family farm in Shelbyville, IN.”
In 2018 alone, 85,613 human trafficking victims were identified worldwide.
“This is an urgent humanitarian issue. My Administration is committed to leveraging every resource we have to confront this threat, to support the victims and survivors, and to hold traffickers accountable for their heinous crimes.”
Actress Ashley Bratcher had no idea who Abby Johnson was. The role came to her in a completely unorthodox way.
One day, Bratcher received a comment from an Instagram stranger who told her she would be perfect for this part.
“She said, ‘Ashley, I have been praying for you for about this year, and God is telling me that you’re meant to play this role.’”
Bratcher thanked her, and then ignored it, because it sounded crazy.
“It was the strangest thing,” Bratcher said.
But a while later, the commenter came back around, and told Bratcher she was really meant for this role, and if she could just please take a look.
She relented, and agreed to look at a few pages of the script.
Abby Johnson was funny, witty, and charismatic. From the pages Bratcher had, she had no idea it was the story of a woman who was responsible for 22,000 abortions, and who would do a complete 180 on her position.
Bratcher auditioned for the part.
“I learned that she was a real person, and after the audition, I thought that the character was really cool,” Bratcher said. “So I wanted to look her up and see what she was like in real life.”
“And it was then I heard her testimony for the first time, about what she saw, and what happens during the abortion procedure,” Bratcher said. It hit her, emotionally and spiritually. “I was absolutely floored.”
“I knew that this was something that I wanted to be part of, and I wanted to make sure the world heard the story,” Bratcher said. “From that point on, I was really all in, and ready to just take on the role.”
Abby Johnson is a former Planned Parenthood clinic director; she’d worked for the organization for eight years and in that time rose to employee of the year. Later that year, in 2009, Johnson quit.
Not only did she quit, but she turned to a pro-life organization because they were the only people who understood. And then she spoke out about what she had seen, shocking millions with the truth of abortion.
Johnson had been with the organization, recommending abortions to women, for eight years before she had ever seen the abortion procedure take place via ultrasound, because Planned Parenthood didn’t do it that way. It was only when she was asked to assist an outside doctor with a procedure that she saw it take place—and learned it was common that the baby, still a fetus, would jump away from the abortion instruments, before being dismembered and suctioned out.
It turned her worldview upside-down, and was the final nail in the coffin. In press conferences and talks around the country, she exposed Planned Parenthood as an abortion-driven business, aiming to increase their sales, rather than a health provider as it claimed to be. She’s written her story down in the memoir “Unplanned,” and the film “Unplanned” came out earlier this year.
Johnson and Bratcher didn’t meet until halfway through production, but they talked on the phone and texted constantly and became fast friends.
It was an intense seven weeks of filming.
“I was cast and I had a four-hour notice to get on a plane,” Bratcher said. She had a hundred pages of lines and appeared in nearly every scene of the movie, and she dove right in.
Before “Unplanned” Bratcher’s stance on abortion was a common one in the current cultural climate. She personally didn’t want to get an abortion, but didn’t want to stand in the way of women who felt they needed one.
“I wasn’t really familiar with the pro-life movement,” Bratcher said. But in the few days she had to prepare for the role, she was researching non-stop. She watched all sorts of videos and talks, and heard Johnson’s story for the first time, reducing Bratcher to tears.
“It was a lot,” Bratcher said. “It was probably the biggest undertaking I’ve ever had as an actor.”
The “Unplanned” story put a face on the victim. “Knowing that and seeing that in my research just really blew my mind—to think that I’m my age and I had never known what really happened,” she said.
Another twist in Bratcher’s own story occurred while filming was underway. It was on set when she learned that she was almost aborted herself.
Bratcher had already known her mother had an abortion at age 16, and wanted to share this story she was working on as it was about mercy and forgiveness. But as she was describing the story, her mother broke down in tears, and told Bratcher that when she was 19, and pregnant with Bratcher, she had decided to get an abortion. She was on the clinic table before she had this gut feeling she couldn’t go through with it, last minute, and left.
Bratcher told Fox & Friends she later confirmed the story with her father, who told her that they didn’t think they could afford a child, and couldn’t even afford the abortion. To pay for the abortion, he had pawned a family shotgun—that was the price of her life.
Bratcher is often asked whether she was worried the film would negatively impact her career. Twitter had suspended the film’s Twitter account and revoked its ads, and a number of television networks refused to run its advertisements. The filmmakers have protested the R rating given to the film, which prevents minors from seeing it. But Bratcher says she is fearless, because she knows where she stands.
Despite efforts to limit the distribution of the film, “Unplanned” hit No. 1 in DVD sales on Amazon and received rave audience reviews.
Bratcher got into acting almost by accident. In her last year at college, she needed to take an elective and chose an acting class on a whim, since she had fun in theater classes in high school.
“It kind of ignited that fire inside of me,” Bratcher said. On stage, she had escaped. She wasn’t Ashley Bratcher, whose mortgage was due and had to go grocery shopping later. She got to tell someone’s story.
Then, out on a date with her high school sweetheart—now husband—at the North Carolina State Fair, she saw a big booth with a sign: “Do you want to be an actor?”
Bratcher signed up, and auditioned for a local commercial—and got the part. From there an agent took her to New York, where she auditioned for a hundred managers and agents, and received over 20 offers.
“It just made me realize, ‘Oh, wow, I can actually do this,’” Bratcher said.
But at the time, it was driven by a desire for fame, and Bratcher, who is competitive by nature to begin with, said she had more or less been living with a selfish mindset. Life was about what she wanted, and what she could get out of it. She moved to New York and lived an emotionally and spiritually exhausted life battling rejection. One acting workshop planted some positive seeds, when she was tasked to write a letter to herself.
She had to write down why she decided to become an actor, and what it meant to her, and what sort of impact she wanted to have with her career.
“That was the first time where I said, ‘I do have a serious, legitimate reason for wanting to be a part of this,” Bratcher said. “From that moment on, I always took that letter to heart.”
“In the last couple of years … I have been able to be a part of stories that I feel give people a sense of hope,” Bratcher said. “I wanted to be part of telling really good stories that did something good for people on the inside.”
Much of this is rooted in Bratcher’s faith, which hadn’t been a big part of her life until she became a mother herself.
“I had my own unplanned pregnancy,” Bratcher said. She had just started acting, with few results, and her husband had graduated college and had a job, but neither really had a career.
“I had to be on government assistance. I had Medicaid, I used WIC; we just couldn’t afford it,” Bratcher said. “But at the same time, we were figuring out ways to solve that problem. And I totally believe in government assistance when it picks people up and gets them on their feet. I think when it’s used appropriately, it empowers people to get back up and do what they need.”
Bratcher needed it for a little over a year, and it helped put her on the right track.
“Having my son, first and foremost, deepened by faith. I looked at this tiny little person, and I just could see nothing but the love of God,” Bratcher said. “I couldn’t imagine loving him so much. And it just clicked with me that if I love him so much, how much more God must love me to be able to hold this little baby in my arms and feel this incredible amount of love.”
It changed her whole outlook on life.
“The most important thing I learned from my son was what it meant to love selflessly—because I had been so selfish in the past,” Bratcher said. At the root of all her choices was pleasing herself; other people weren’t even a consideration. But the moment she understood selfless love, she realized what a shallow life she had been living.
“I had experienced a love that I feel like we’re on this planet to experience. I had felt, for the first time, this very pure and selfless love,” Bratcher said.
“That was a huge spiritual awakening for me,” she said. “After I had him, and I got back into the film industry, I had this sense of faith and identity.”
“I wasn’t looking to anyone for validation, I didn’t need to book a role to feel like I was going to be successful, I didn’t need anyone’s approval to know what my worth was,” she said. “It is critical for me to make sure that I am digging into my faith.”
Bratcher initially never wanted children, didn’t want to be responsible for another life and forego all the travels and experiences and the career she dreamed of. Now she has all of those things, and her son as well.
And “Unplanned,” far from ending her career, has opened up avenues for Bratcher to help make a positive impact. She’s done two TV shows and is the lead in a romantic comedy where the proceeds of the film will go towards charity. She recently partnered with Heartbeat International to launch the Unplanned Movie Scholarship to help moms with unplanned pregnancies with educational scholarships.
“A lot of times women choose to have abortions because they don’t have the support that they need or want or desire,” Bratcher said. “They’re told if they have kids they can’t be successful, they can’t finish school, all of these things.”
She wanted to provide an option to solve the problem, such as the scholarship fund that would give mothers financial means to finish their education, and partner with an organization with resources and expertise. Heartbeat International has 3,000 pregnancy health centers and provides everything from parenting classes to formula and childcare.
“I wanted to make sure that I was using my voice in a way that was loud enough to say ‘yes, you can’, and actually do something about it,” Bratcher said.
Sunday, October 6, 2019 | 2:30-3:30 PM Pick up signs at First Baptist Church (at the intersection of Taylor St. & Washington St.)
Stand with thousands of pro-life individuals throughout the USA and Canada in honor of millions of babies whose lives have been lost to abortion. Pray for people in crisis situations and for our nations. You’ll be a light in a darkened world as you help put an end to abortion through prayer!
Signs will be available for pick-up at 2:00 PM at First Baptist Church of Kokomo at the northwest corner of Taylor St. and Washington St.
The event begins at 2:30 and ends at 3:30 PM.
We will be forming a cross by lining up on the North/South Street Washington Blvd. between Markland & North Streets and the East/West street Jefferson Ave., between Indiana Ave. & Apperson Way.
This year we are inviting church leaders as well as individuals to go to our Facebook page and choose a spot on the cross to stand. Tell us the location you have chosen. We are praying that this will be the year that the city of Kokomo will see the longest LIFE CHAIN ever!
We will stand with our pro-life signs while we pray silently for our country, our leaders, those who drive by, for women and men who have or will in the future be making a “life decision” and for the pro-life cause.
After 3:30PM, please return the signs to the person at First Baptist Church (at Taylor St. & Washington St.), or to Bible Baptist Church, 2635 S. Dixon Road.
If you have any questions, please call (765) 210-9367.
We hope you will establish a sign-up sheet for your parishioners as well as frequently giving out reminders to friends, family members and neighbors to further encourage their involvement in this very important national event. Each year we are encouraged by the increasing number of motorists and pedestrians who honk or show a thumbs up in solidarity with our message. This is a chance for the church of Christ to stand up for those who cannot speak for themselves.
Will you stand with us?
To learn more, visit Howard County Right to Life on Facebook or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can select a designated spot to stand by viewing the cross in our Facebook post. Just select the spot you want for your church/organization/business and reply with a comment telling us your choice. We will post your group on our Facebook page within 24 hours.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to call.
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
You can make a difference in someone’s life. With every volunteer, someone gets closer to having somewhere to call home. Whether you have never picked up a hammer before or you’ve built many houses, we would love to have you spend a Saturday with us!
Our current build is taking place at 1404 Belvedere St., Kokomo, IN, 46902. We typically start building around 8:30 AM and end by 4:30 PM. Lunch is provided through our wonderful donors in Howard County.
We encourage potential volunteers to please sign-up online (via the link below). This helps us to have an idea of how many to expect for lunch and also for the type of work we might try to get done on a given work day. Click here to access the sign-up for the house build at 1404 Belvedere.
The first things you notice when you get to Narrow Gate Ranch are horses. The large barn is surrounded by gently rolling acres. The horses graze in small groups, some galloping a few yards as the mood takes them, most still and watchful. It’s not far from downtown Kokomo, but the flowing land and calm presence of the horses leaves you feeling far from anything you’d find in the city. It’s a peaceful scene, and one that Susan Zody appreciates.
For the past few years, Susan has been running the Narrow Gate Horse Ranch. Susan wasn’t familiar with horses when she started on this journey. She had been searching for a way to get the kids to continue coming and engaging with a youth outreach program where she volunteered, and remembered an article she’d read about a therapy horse ranch. After raising the funds through donations and researching therapy ranches, Susan was able to take a group to a nearby facility. The funds continued to roll in, and Susan started seeing the impact the visits were making on some of the kids in the program. Grades improved. Behavior improved. The kids started making better decisions. She was impressed, and committed to continue providing this to the children.
“They come here really, to build a relationship with a horse,” says Susan about the draw for the youth she works with at the ranch. These young people have sometimes suffered abuse and neglect, and an adult seeking to mentor these individuals will often face an uphill battle. But a horse, patient and calm and not demanding, can bridge that divide.
As donations continued to come in, Susan had to ask herself if there was more that she could do. Was it just the small group of children that she currently worked with that were meant to benefit? Could something else be done? It was a crossroads for Susan. She knew the need was greater than what could be met by visiting a horse ranch an hour way. She could see the improvements, but her kids, and the kids she knew needed connection in the community, would benefit from a slightly different approach. One that focused on building relationships and making better decisions, and ultimately, one that had its foundation in faith.
This was where Susan found herself in 2016 when she invited a group of people from the community to a discussion. Would the community support an organization like what she envisioned? Were the resources there to make it successful? Her plans were met with enthusiasm and support, and a board was formed. In a short three years, Narrow Gate Horse Ranch has been established and has weekly classes.
Narrow Gate’s target audience is at-risk youth in the community. In Howard County, Indiana alone, over 4,000 children live at or below the poverty level. At the Ranch, these children are able to grow their confidence, leadership skills, and communication skills.
“I want these kids to gain some confidence and to know that if they do things correctly, there will be a good ending.”
When we visited Susan at the ranch, we also met Scott MacDonald, the equine specialist at the Ranch, and Kelsey and Autumn, two sisters who volunteer. Together, Susan and Scott shared stories that more often than not brought tears to the eyes of both speaker and listeners. The horses at Narrow Gate have faced their own challenges, much like the youth that works with them. The kids relate to the horses. They see their own struggles, and they work together to overcome challenges. It’s a rewarding experience for everyone involved, and one the team at Narrow Gate never tires of.
It was an honor to meet with Susan and Scott at Narrow Gate Horse Ranch, to be introduced to the horses, and to meet some of the youth benefitting from this wonderful operation.
“Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” — Ryan O’Neal, Love Story, 1970
“That’s the dumbest thing I ever heard,” — Ryan O’Neal, What’s Up Doc? 1972
We Baby Boomers and The Greatest Generation before us suffered the whiplash of sudden cultural self-awareness in the 1960s followed by the grinding self-indulgence of the “Me Decade” in the 1970s. Christianity could barely catch its breath.
Not that I was a Christian at that point. Navigating my middle-teen years and the bounty of intelligence, introspection, and worldly wisdom (cough, cough) I was to gain through college and into my early 20s and subsequent career, I had drifted completely away from my religious youth as an altar boy in the traditional Episcopal Church.
No, I didn’t know Jesus, but Father Cooper was a wonderful and kind man, and I knew the old communion service by heart. It wasn’t until 30 years later that I came to understand and appreciate the beauty and depth of those words I could recite at 14.
The difference later was that I came to know Jesus, the Bible, and met so many Christians who were everything I didn’t think they’d be. They were smart, kind, creative, educated, funny, generous, prosperous in their faith, highly productive in their vocations, and unwavering in their belief that Jesus is the Christ, Son of the living God, trusting Him as their Lord and Savior. I learned all that in a church that reads the Bible.
None of that last paragraph would have made any sense to me prior to 2001, at age 47, when I very suddenly “got it.” Jesus made sense and the church came alive. Most importantly, from an operational standpoint, the Bible mysteriously, magically, wonderfully before my eyes turned from opaque gibberish into utter clarity. I saw God’s person, Jesus’s truth, humanity’s great fall but great opportunity, and the excitement, adventure, and joy of so much of life making an eternal kind of sense I had never seen before. Why, even my childhood church liturgy morphed into a new creation of wonder.
All these lights coming on comprised the greatest gift imaginable. They provided to me a life-changing, mind-altering, priority-shifting, and truth-testing reboot not just of worldview but of hope (eternal), understanding (divine), and love (other-directed).
So, here’s my point, which despite the preceding autobiography is really nothing about me. It is everything about why and how we are encouraged to go to church, be in Christ, seek comfort and wisdom in the Holy Spirit, discern God, and consume our hearts with the grace, peace, trust, and compassion of Jesus. What I’m saying is:
Fear and guilt can never build a loving relationship; trust and responsibility do. A self-focused life will imagine that “being loved” means “doing whatever I want.” My own glory requires, “I gotta be me!” Ergo, one never has to say, “I’m sorry.” Rubbish.
A worldly, liberal church going overboard to make your magnificent “You!” front-and-center relevant misses the key message of Christ that this life is about God’s glory more than mine or yours. And a church holding everyone’s sin and stumbles in constant reproach for the “price Jesus paid” and the “punishment we deserve” is preaching worldly transaction and retribution instead of extolling God’s divine grace in Jesus.
That’s when freedom and love die at the altar of control by fear and guilt. Amen.
Satan applauds self-focus because it creates comparison, envy, and division. Loving relationships grow amid mercy, encouragement, and trust, not self-obsession.
Still think it is all about you? Sorry… I’m afraid not.
I am beginning to identify with Jeremiah, the one called “the weeping prophet.” Not that I consider myself a prophet, but I am one who weeps. Each time my fingers tap out the words to send from my heart to yours, this thought runs through my brain, “Maybe I should write something that has a lighter feel.” And each time God whispers to my ear that there are so many people hurting, struggling, wounded, and uncertain about the future. I count myself one of the many.
We truly want to finish well the race that is set before us. But in the spirit of authenticity, sometimes I find my faith teetering on the fence of doubt.
Perhaps the days of lightheartedness will come soon. I hope so.
But for now, we are called to-
lock arms hold one another up offer grace when one stumbles lift each other up and take one more step in this heavenly race.
We are to remember that this world truly is not our permanent home (Hebrews 13:14). There is a glorious place waiting for us. But until we stand face to face with Christ in all of His glory, we must remember we are ambassadors of His kingdom (2 Corinthians 5:20-21). We are called to bring what’s up there down here in our day to day lives. We are reflectors of grace, set apart for a greater purpose.
We are called to know Him and the power of His resurrection as well as the fellowship of His suffering (Philippians 3:10). Confession time. We have all seen that crazed football fan. The one who paints his/her face with the team colors and roars with every advancement of the ball down the field then jumps up punching the air with his/her giant sponge hand when the team scores. That’s me when I hear the first part of this verse, “the power of His resurrection.” YES!!! Go, God! That’s what I want to see, the resurrection power.
As I reflect on this verse in light of so many who find themselves in life’s hard places, there is a clearer message coming into view. There can be no resurrection power without death first. Wow! I never saw that before.
Maybe today you are experiencing a death of sorts–the death of a dream, a job, a relationship, health, or expectation. My friend, these are the places where His resurrection power breathes life into dry bones.
Every victory won was first a battle fought. Each body cured, was first a disease diagnosed. All mountain top views were reached by trekking the valley.
This week’s “Hope for the Journey” is less organized in thought than I am comfortable with. However, it seemed fitting to take a step back and remember some truths about who we are and who we are called to be. Suffering never negates the greater purposes of God or our identity in Him.
Stand strong, dear one. Hold tight to His promises. Live with your eyes wide open to…
His divine peace His miraculous ways His overwhelming joy His unexplainable presence His extravagant love His wondrous grace
This is our God! Remember Him and live in awe.
Until next time, let’s find hope in the journey, Evelyn
Hi There! My name is Evelyn. I am a lover of all things family, faith and Fall. So grateful that you found your way here. The chaos of life can leave us feeling a bit worn around the edges. Sometimes a little ray of hope is all we need to provide courage for the next step in our journey. So come on in, take a deep breath. My prayer is that in this space, you will be able to grab hold of hope. For more of Evelyn’s columns, see her blog Hope for the Journey.
Friday, November 8th | 8AM-1PM Northview Church (12900 Hazel Dell Parkway, Carmel)
TRANSFORM THE MARKETPLACE
This annual conference cultivates, encourages, and inspires leaders and those who desire to serve the Lord in the marketplace. If you want your work to have eternal significance, even if it means going against cultural norms, come, network with likeminded leaders, and learn from national experts on how to live out your faith so you can impact the marketplace for Christ.
Join thousands of other Christians in business for a powerful one-day event designed to equip and inspire you.
We are seeking talented writers to help tell the story of Bible translation to churches around the world. The work that God is doing, and the role that the local church can serve in that work, is a powerful message that we need to share.
We are turning the testimonies of hearts changed by God’s Word and accounts of how churches are leading the process of Bible translation for their communities into stories that are easy to translate and understand. Stories are a powerful way to engage new national Bible translators. These stories will be broadcast to remote people groups and those living in persecuted areas. Your stories can help reach people who have never heard God’s Word in their own language!
If you have a professional writing background and are willing to contribute a few hours per week, then we need your help. Experience with or knowledge of our programs is a plus. If you do not have previous Wycliffe Associates experience, we will provide training.
If you or someone you know is interested in learning more about this storytelling opportunity, please see the Wycliffe website for more information, email us, or call Jennifer Cunneen toll-free at 1-800-THE WORD (800-843-9673). Jennifer will provide you with more details about this project. See the
Thank you for praying and sharing this opportunity within your circles of influence to help us involve more people in Bible translation.