Author Archives: grelanmuse

Shape what your Father gave ya!: Dove Foundation gives seal of approval to exercise DVD

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Shazzy feature

By Tonya Whitaker
Inside The Pew

Kristy McCarley is not one to question God, but she still finds it hard to believe that she – a woman with two engineering degrees and aThe Shazzy Fitness team of Vira, left, Kristy, Apollo, and Leslie sport red shoes in honor of the blood Christ shed for us. limited choreography background – has produced two well-received exercise DVD’s.

Two years ago, McCarley, founder and CEO of Shazzy Fitness, decided to create a family-friendly exercise DVD’s for the masses. In August, she reaped the benefits of sacrifice and obedience when the Dove Foundation recognized Shazzy Fitness by giving it a seal of approval.

“I wanted the music to be fun and for people to get excited about fitness,” McCarley said. “Shazzy is good for people who want to do something good for their body and for their spirit.”

The Dove Foundation described Shazzy Fitness’ Christian hip-hop dance workout videos as a “wonderful workout that not only exercises the body but the mind and soul alike.”

Furthermore, in August, the workout DVD was the top seller in the fitness category for Shazzy’s distributor, Total Fitness DVD’s.

“The fact that an independent faith-based video is leading all other secular dance fitness video sales is just incredible and so very humbling,” said the creator of the fat-burning (cardio) and dance DVD.

The invigorating choreography from Apollo, Leslie, and Vera mixed with the sounds of award-winning Christian hip-hop offerings from Da’ T.R.U.T.H., Breezy Brown, E.Dot, and Jai have won over parents and exercise enthusiasts.

“One thing moms said is that they can do it (Shazzy Fitness) with their kids,” said McCarley, who is a wife and mother of two girls. She decided to create a Shazzy Fitness to bring family-friendly exercise DVD’s to the masses.

McCarley said Shazzy is short for Daniel’s Babylonian name, Belteshazzar (Daniel 1:7).

According to the company’s website, “The Hebrew prophet, Daniel, is a model of the power of faith. Despite dire circumstances, Daniel never let fear override his commitment to God. If Daniel were alive today, his hip-hop nickname just might be … ‘Shazzy.”

McCarley, a longtime professional in IT management, was laid off from her job in late 2011. Instead of finding a job that replicates her Kristy McCarley, center, works with the guys from her production team, ECG Production, on video editing.background, she opted to take a not-too-distant memory from 10 years ago and make it a reality.

“During a ‘spin’ class, a Kirk Franklin song was played. I had never heard that type of music in an exercise class,” McCarley said. “I just enjoyed how it made me feel not just during the class but after the class. It made my soul feel good. It made difference to me; it made a lasting impression. We need more of this.”

She wanted to do a live class in the Atlanta area, but she figured it would limit visibility. At the suggestion of others, she decided to produce a DVD.

McCarley pumped up her pursuit. She did her research, found a production company – ECG Productions – and choreographers to make inspiration a reality.

Diversity in the video is important to McCarley. The video’s participants vary in age and race.

“Christian hip-hop transcends race, gender, and age” she said. “Everybody can do this; it is not just for one group of people. Plus, good music is a universal language.”

McCarley said her organization is also aggressively seeking churches, schools, dance studios, non-profits and community organizations that are interested in becoming Shazzy Fitness ambassadors – meaning they are interested in partnering with them to bring their faith-based dance classes to their communities, events, and dance studios.

A question that consistently pops into the mind of the self-professed reluctant entrepreneur is, “Lord, what are we doing?”

“This is purely a walk of faith,” McCarley said. “I remember you can do all things through Christ. There are days when I ask myself, ‘How are we gonna make it?’ The only answer is Jesus.”

Learn more about Shazzy Fitness at Also, follow Shazzy Fitness on Twitter and Facebook.

Renaldo Davis: To be loved and lead by a true shepherd

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Renaldo Davis

By Anita Jarrell-Robertson
Special to Inside The Pew

Thom Rainer, president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources, recently conducted a study of a few hundred laypersons over a span of 60-Renaldo Davis 1plus churches to write down what they desired of a pastor. Their responses were open-ended, and there was no limitation on the number of items they could list. According to Rainer, the top ten characteristics of the ideal pastor include:

  1. Love of congregation. 
  2. Effective preaching. 
  3. Strong character.
  4. Good work ethic.
  5. Casts a vision.
  6. Demonstrates healthy leadership.
  7. Joyous.
  8. Does not yield to critics.
  9. Transparent.
  10. Models evangelism.

All these points relate to Minister Renaldo Davis, who serves on the Ministerial Board, Music Ministry, Youth Ministry, Men Ministry, Evangelism Ministry, and Armor Bearer Ministry at Ever-Increasing Life Ministries under the leadership of Apostle David A. Cowan and Elect Lady Linda Cowan.  He is also a well-traveled Independent Gospel Recording Artist, a dedicated husband, father, and friend.

Renaldo is very serious about ministry and believes that in order to reach unusual people you must have unusual church. Minister Davis’ ultimate dream is to see young men living strong and young women living beautiful from the inside out.  Originally from the Bahamas, Davis served at a vast array of ministries upon initially entering the United States until finally reaching what he considers to be “the best church on this side of heaven, Ever-Increasing Life Ministries located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.”

Davis reflects, “I have a great relationship with my pastor. I consult him in every aspect of my life from my marriage, my music, to my business, and all ministry affairs. He and I talk weekly and sometimes even daily.”

Renaldo’s success as a recording artist is included amongst the areas in which his pastor leads him. He proudly exhibits a strong family life, which he believes should look the same at home and in ministry.  His perception of his pastor and his choice to emulate those positive qualities lead him to success on all sides- balanced living.

“I remember growing up hearing people say they wanted to be like Michael Jordan, well I want to be like him. To me, my dad is Elijah and I want to be his Elisha. I regard our relationship somewhat like I do my marriage. I protect it, guard it, give time to it, and keep the lines of communication wide open. Now, I must say this… I love my mom (Lady Linda Cowan). Talking to her is just like talking to Dad. Their wisdom is far beyond their years. My mom has the perfect nurturing spirit. Overall, our relationship is wonderful and amazing.”

Judging Renaldo’s sentiments about his pastor, Rainer would probably adopt his pastor, Apostle Cowan, as the poster child of an ideal pastor.  In an age where recording artists, independent or otherwise are seen by some as wild and undisciplined bigots who wear their egos on their shoulders, Renaldo is a counter example of how a balanced disciple of Christ operates and why it’s important to submit to a shepherd versus a hireling.  Renaldo’s latest music video can be found at He can be reached via email: or More from Renaldo Davis @

Anita Jarrell-Robertson, a Baton Rouge, La., native and graduate of LSUBR, became a volunteer columnist for Inside The Pew Magazine inAnita Robertson 2014 after writing an article on the Rev. Dr. Alveda King, niece of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr..  Robertson also writes for The Holy Hip Hop Ezine. See more at and follow: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram @anitaworships.


One-hour documentary to chronicle Jim Harbaugh’s mission trip to Peru

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Jim Harbaugh holds one of the locals' baby.

By Tonya Whitaker
Inside The Pew

SAN FRANCISCO – For the first time since San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh has made his annual pilgrimage to Piura,Jim Harbaugh holds one of the locals' baby. Peru, camera crews have been allowed to follow him.

On Sept. 2, Comcast SportsNet Bay Area is set to premiere an exclusive, one-hour documentary that chronicles Harbaugh’s annual mission trip.

The first airing of the documentary, slated for 9 p.m. PT, titled “Peruball: Jim Harbaugh in South America,” will take an inspiring look at the humanitarian side of the San Francisco 49ers head coach.

The documentary is narrated by Comcast Bay Area’s Dave Feldman and produced and edited by Sean Maddison.

According to a press release provided by Comcast SportsNet, for eight days, the missionaries helped at the parish of Santisimo Jim Harbaugh talks football with children in the Piura. Sacramento with its daily community outreach programs and ministries for the people of Piura – a small town almost 600 miles north of Lima. Sixty percent of the population lives in poverty and 20 percent is in extreme poverty.

The documentary reveals Harbaugh’s dedication to his faith in God, his craft (coaching and playing football), and helping others.

“It’s beyond rewarding; it’s a chance to do something good,” Harbaugh said of his recent mission trip. “You can pretty much help someone from the time you wake up until the time you go to bed.”

Along the way, impromptu games of “Peruball” – a combination of football, rugby and soccer – seem to break out everywhere Harbaugh goes, a game where the rules to evolve each day and with each person who plays it. Harbaugh, a former NFL quarterback, taught groups of Peruvian boys about American football, put them through running and catching drills, and thenJim Harbaugh kicked off games of “Peruball.”

The group of humanitarians included Harbaugh’s older children – Jay, who works on the offensive coaching staff of the Baltimore Ravens (coached by Jim’s brother, John), James Jr. and Grace – Feldman and numerous volunteers.

The group built houses, visited the sick and elderly, delivered food packages to an orphanage, worked the rice fields, and attended daily Mass with the locals.

Harbaugh first learned about the mission trip through friends at St. Raymond Catholic Church, his parish in Menlo Park, Calif., and has made the annual trip since 2009. An American priest, Father Joseph William Uhen, has been the pastor of Santisimo Sacramento since 1993 and coordinates the charitable efforts for his parish.  The parish’s outreach includes a women’s shelter, an orphanage, a drug rehabilitation center, a hospice facility and a tuition-free Catholic school for children in kindergarten through 11th grade.

“Peruball: Jim Harbaugh in South America” re-airs later that evening at 11:30 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 3 at 4:30 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 4 at 3:30 p.m., Friday, Sept. 5 at 9 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 13 at 10 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 14 at 10 p.m., and Tuesday, Sept. 30 at 4 p.m.  All times listed are PT. Visit for additional air dates and times.

Wooding: Opponents pour cold water on ALS Association‘s ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’

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George W. and Laura Bush

By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries

LAKE FOREST, CA (ANS) — Many around the world have been posting videos of themselves taking part in the “ice bucket Ann and Ted Bleymaierchallenge” to raise funds for the ALS Association, who are trying to find a cure for this terrible degenerative neurological condition also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

I have been moved as I watched these videos of celebrities and ordinary folk, taking part in their “soaking,” for a cause that is close to my heart.

You see, I recently lost to this dreaded disease, Theodore “Ted” Bleymaier, a dear friend.

It was Ted and his lovely wife Ann, who were among the first friends we made when we, as a family, moved over from the UK to Southern California, back in June of 1982. They showed us great love and introduced us to Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, then being pastored by Chuck Smith – the “Father of the Jesus People Movement” – and with whom I am now a “Media Missionary.”

Ted was then working for Maranatha! Music, with his close friend, Chuck Fromm, and spent many hours helping us to readjust to our new life in the “New World.”

But sadly, Ted’s life changed forever on March 27, 2012, when this super fit former Stanford football player, and his wife Ann, sat across the examination table from specialist, Dr. Kamisky, as he confirmed to them the devastating diagnosis for Ted of ALS.

“It is hard to put into words exactly what I felt at that moment,” he said shortly afterwards. “Other than a few mechanical injuries I had sustained playing sports all my life, I had never really been sick.

“I was 62 years old, in great shape with a beautiful wife, two daughters, a son in law and the greatest dog in the world named Berwyn. My wife and I were traveling the country helping non-profits put on fund raising golf tournaments and we loved it. This also afforded me a great opportunity to play golf as I have most of my life. In fact, with a career in the Air Force and then as International VP for Word Entertainment, I have been blessed to have played golf in over 40 countries around the world.”

Ted Bleymaier, who met Ann in the U.K. while serving with the US Air Force – she is from North Wales – continued, “Lou Gehrig’s disease affects the motor neurons; they die and your muscles atrophy. It affects the voluntary muscles, but not the involuntary. Your heart is not affected and for the most part you are fully cognizant of the fact that your body is falling apart and there is nothing you can do about it.

“You will lose most of your motor skills including the ability to breathe and swallow. To this day, they have not figured out what causes ALS and there are no known remedies or medications to cure the disease. In the US, only 2 out of 100,000 come down with ALS. 50% of the patients die in the first 18 months and 90% die in 3 to 5 years. As a result, there are only about 30,000 people in the US who have this disease at any one time.

“In fact, if it was not for Lou Gehrig, this disease would be almost invisible. If I may, let me take you back to 1939. Baseball was the biggest the country and since Babe Ruth had retired in 1935, Lou was the sport’s biggest hero. There is no equivalent to Lou’s stature in our country today. He had not missed a single game in 17 years for the NY Yankees – truly the original iron man.

“As the season began, Lou was only batting 158 with just 1 RBI. He then gets diagnosed with a disease which no one had ever heard of and then two weeks later the Yankees and all of baseball honored Lou before the start of a home game. Lou never played another game and died within two years. This was later immortalized in the movie, ‘The Pride of the Yankees,’ starring Gary Cooper. In one of the most recognizable sport quotes of all time, Lou called himself ‘the luckiest man on the face of the earth.’

“ that is having an attitude of gratitude!”

Ted Bleymaier was so moved with learning of Lou Gehrig speech, that he received a standing ovation when he recited it at a Nashville Sounds baseball game in Nashville, not long after receiving the news that he had the same illness as the baseball great.

Sadly, Ted passed away this year at his home in Spring Hill, Tennessee, on Friday April 4, and that is why I have watched and cheered so many “ice bucket challenges,” especially those of my family members and also friends as they have posted the videos on Facebook.

But now recently, an eRumor has been circulating on the Internet criticizing this worldwide “ice bucket” phenomena.

One of the messages reads, “Everyone has seen video after video (on social media) of friends, family, and colleagues taking the #IceBucketChallenge for the ALS Association research foundation.

“The goal of which has been stated to find a cure for those suffering with neurological breakdown through diseases like ALS.

“For any who have witnessed such struggle in those we love, the sincere and desperate hope for a cure seems like a big payoff for a bit of ice cold water being dumped on the head!

“The only problem here is that–unknowingly–this very challenge is contributing to the ongoing destruction of human life–intentionally.

“The ALS association is actively now funding embryonic stem cell research and admitting that they likely will continue to do so in the future.

The message went on to say, “The funding of embryonic stem cell research means that children are created and at their earliest stages of life they are destroyed so that the stem cells (from usually the base of the brain) can be harvested to perform tests with.

“Embryonic stem cell research has proven zero percent effective in combating diseases like ALS and other neurological degenerative diseases.

“Adult stem cells – which can be harvested from living humans without them being killed – have on the other hand – proven vastly effective in making progress towards slowing down and in some cases seeing remission or reversal of degenerative defects.”

There have made other criticisms of the #IceBucketChallenge, one of which stated, “Be it that millions around the world die from a lack of clean water, while millions of Americans have now poured out tens of millions of gallons of it. Or the idea that ALS takes approximately 1.6 lives per 100,000 deaths, while hunger amongst orphans is taking the life of a child every 90 seconds with roughly 60 million orphans globally.”

So what is the truth behind all of this condemnation? Well, intrepid veteran eRumor investigator, Tony Ashlin, who runs Truth or Fiction, a web site started by the late Christian broadcaster, Rich Buhler, has looked into the stem cell allegations, and says that it is only true in just one case.

“The ALS Association funds one study that uses embryonic stem cell research, according to an August 23, 2014, article by the Minneapolis Star Tribune,” said Ashlin in a posting on his

“The ALS Association said that the research was funded by ‘one specific donor who is committed to this area of research.’

“Additionally, the ALS Association said donors were able to stipulate that they do not want their donations used to fund any stem cell research, if they so choose.

“Human embryonic stem cell lines that are used in research come from embryos that were left over from in vitro fertilization, or from embryos that carry genetic mutations like cystic fibrosis or Tay Sachs disease, according to the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine’s website.

“After a couple completes the in vitro fertilization process, they either continue paying for the leftover embryos to remain frozen or allow them to thaw, which destroys the cells.

“Couples in some states, however, also have the choice to donate the embryos to research or adoptive families, according to the institute.”

Ashlin added that the ALS Association said on its web site, “The discovery that human embryonic stem cells can be isolated and propagated in culture with the potential of developing into all tissues of the body is a major medical breakthrough.” It admits, however, that “it has raised a great deal of ethical questions.”

So there you have it.  Many of the tens of thousands who have taken the “ice bucket challenge,” have often done so for dear friends, like Ted Bleymaier, who they have lost, and who made a huge impact on our lives.

They were not making any statement other than that!

Of course, there are those who appear to have as their life slogan, “You name it; I’m against it! They dedicate their blogosphere lives to criticizing others, as I well know, having been on the receiving end of some of these folk.

Of course, each one of us has a choice to make in participating, or not, in the “ice bucket challenge,” especially if one personally knows someone who has died from ALS. However, if there is only one case involved here in which the funding from the challenge is not being used, I am trying to figure out why there has been such a fuss, unless maybe it is to build up their mailing lists.

For me, I prefer to follow what Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward” (Mark 9:41 NIV). You could substitute, a “bucket of ice water,” if you wish.

Where do you stand? I know where I do, and it all relates to a dear friend called Ted Bleymaier.

Good news from Ferguson, St. Louis!: The Church responds to crisis

Published by:

Justice Peace and Love

By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries

ST. LOUIS/FERGUSON, MO (ANS) –We have all witnessed the extraordinary scenes from the streets of Ferguson, a city in St.Robert Loggins Louis County, Missouri, over the past several days, wondering what could be done to bring calm, peace, and civil treatment on all sides back to this small city.

But there is also good news: the Church is responding to the crisis.

Christian Emergency Network (CEN) Founder and President Mary Marr, has interviewed Pastor Robert Loggins, Executive Director of Mission Metro St. Louis and a city missionary for 38 years.

An African-American, born in Winona, Miss., but considers Laurel, Miss., his hometown, he shared that in the midst of the looting, escalating violence, finger pointing, and with media lights on full throttle in Ferguson and parts of St. Louis, the Hope of Christ is shining ever brighter!

She began by asking him what was the overall situation in the area from a Christian worldview?

“Ferguson and St. Louis are not unlike other cities in the U.S. We suffer from the same divisions which often separate the body of Christ. But there is an invitation from Jesus Christ to the Christians of these two cities right now to be Light in the midst of this darkness. Only Jesus can do what needs to be done to right the wrongs and to heal the land,” he said.

“The Lord Himself is bringing the Light of Jesus Christ in the midst of the pain and the turbulence in the area. He is inspiring unityJustice Peace and Love through the many prayer gatherings and is moving us toward acts of loving kindness toward each other, as well as toward the Brown family and all those who are confused and hurting. We are able to put our arms around the anxious and the fearful with the Hope of God.

“I pray the Lord would penetrate the radiant Light of Jesus Christ through His followers here that would spread across this nation.”

How are Christians praying, caring, and sharing the Hope of Christ in the area?

“We have had lots of humble prayer meetings, beginning at the First Baptist Church Ferguson, then St. Marks, and tomorrow prayer meetings will be held in North County Ferguson/Moline area. Each group is sending out prayer info within their own network on this,” said Pastor Loggins.


“Prayer meetings are continuing with calls to unite in prayer for healing in the city. The Christian leaders within our community have issued a challenge to all Christians to participate in inter denominational prayer gatherings with calls to action. Bishop Scott of Word Fellowship Church, one of the largest African-American churches in area, is calling Christians to unite their voices and begin a dialog of repentance reminding them of the Scripture, ‘If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray, I will heal their land.'”


He went on to say, “After Pastor Joe at First Baptist Church Ferguson held an excellent prayer meeting, his church got with other churches in the area and started cleaning up the community and helping the businesses by not only cleaning up, but apologizing on behalf of those who had damaged their property.

“There is a lot of hurt and shame here, but this situation does not reflect our city. Rather, we are feeding and helping the needy with clothes. And one ministry group is giving $20,000 in scholarships to the other members of the Brown family. There is an out-pouring of compassion from all ethnic areas. St. Louis is a divided city, but Christians are seeing this as an opportunity to demonstrate the love of Christ in action. We may not be doing it at the level of excellence all the time, but His heart is moving us in St. Louis. Serve St. Louis and other ministries like it here, are doing so much, and yet they do not advertise themselves.


“We are sharing information in St. Louis [and Ferguson] as well as sharing resources to open the door for the Gospel to be seen. We are witnessing things happening through relationships we have not previously seen, which have allowed us to present the plan of salvation to people who are coming to churches.

“We are seeing people who are more desperate, who may not have anything directly to do with the incident, come forth saying they are fearful or have a need. Teens are coming asking for help with their family problems, or police are coming asking for prayer and comfort in dealing with their many challenges. We are just lovin’ on people. And with the help of the Holy Spirit, we have seen Christians re-dedicate their lives to Christ. Lots of good stuff.”

Mary Marr then asked the pastor if he believed there may be more incidents like this one.Mary Marr

“God has been speaking to America,” said Pastor Loggins. “It is not the same America as what I saw growing up. God has been speaking and America is not listening. How we treat Jewish families – we are not listening. Congress and the President are not listening. Pastors, often, we are not listening! Proverbs 7 reminds us it is not about the seekers but about the believers God is speaking to. Yes, groups are coming into our city and tearing the city down, and some may be of other convictions as well.

“But this is a wakeup call. And if we do not answer His phone call and give God the right info on what we have done wrong or what we are going to do about the matter, more will come.

“We are told righteousness exalts a nation and sin is a reproach unto God; so our sin and disobedience are because we are not sharing the Gospel right here where we find ourselves, in a nation with the largest mission field that exists because we are not sharing our faith in Christ. We need to come to the end of ourselves, stop focusing on buildings and numbers in the pew, and expand the Gospel by leading others into a saving knowledge of God.

“I was taught how to love God and share His love at an early age in the midst of the projects filled with drugs and all sorts of problems, yet my life was untouched by these things. And why? Because my Aunt had walked faithfully before me and showed me the way.

“If God’s people are to be the presence of God, they must be marinated into His being, then the racial, economic, educational, all these issues which we focus upon will be resolved. We need to produce fruit from the bottom up, not top down, as we have been prone to do in the church today. Come to the end of yourself. Get back to forming disciples!”

Meltzer: Those who maintain God’s goodness in business dealings go far

Published by:

David Meltzer

By David Meltzer
Special to Inside The Pew

Editor’s note: David Meltzer and Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Warren Moon are founders of Sports 1 Marketing. According to Meltzer, “We bring the rightDavid Meltzer people to our projects that, in turn, attract more of the right people. This elevates the awareness and exposure of the project thereby allowing us to maximize its monetization in order to make a lot of money, help a lot of people, and have a lot of fun!

“We take great pride in partnering with both outstanding individuals and exceptional corporate brands that have the same moral character and integrity that we believe in as our daily operating ethics.  We have also been involved with consulting and producing some of the most inspirational and aspirational films of our time.”

Why did you create your business?

“Warren Moon and I created Sports 1 Marketing in order to make a lot of money, help a lot of people, and have a lot of fun.”

What is the one scripture that you draw strength from?

“Psalm 107:1, ‘Oh give thanks to the Lord for He is good.  For his mercy endures forever.’  This psalm teaches the importance of gratitude and the connection to God or goodness. Gratitude provides perspective and empowerment, and the concept of enduring forever shows not only how important it is to connect to God or goodness, but also maintaining that connection.  This is what my book – Connected To Goodness – is all about.”


Share the best advice you can share with an entrepreneur.

“I’d like to advise a fellow entrepreneur to be kind to your future self.  In everything you do stay connected to goodness and do the right thing.  You never know who orConnected to Goodness by David Meltzer what will come back in your life to either help or hurt you. So be kind to all and everything you encounter especially your future self!”

Have an interesting tidbit about your business or yourself that you would like to add?

“I try to devise ways in order to let my employees and interns experience the awesome power of gratitude and goodness. For instance, before the office closed for the Christmas break, I gathered everyone into the conference room per our usual Friday training session (which is based on the principles found in my book).  However, instead of a training session, I handed out small pieces of paper, instructed everyone to write down a number between 1 and 10 describing how they were feeling at that exact moment. After collecting the pieces of paper, I handed each individual in the room – employee and intern alike – $60 in cash in the form of three $20 bills. I told everyone that they had one hour to go out to any store they wanted and do the following: the first $20 was to buy a gift to place under our office tree (to be taken to the Orangewood Children’s Home), the second $20 was to be used to buy a gift for a child in the store, and the third was to be used at their leisure.”

“Upon their return, I huddled everyone back into the conference room and returned their pieces of papers to them.  I proceeded to ask them to write a number that corresponded to how they were feeling at that very moment.  Everyone in that room now reported being at a “10” …  all simply because making someone else feel good made them feel good.  These random acts of kindness connected everyone to goodness and kept them connected.  Quite simply, in the case of this Christmas experience, everyone, including myself and Warren found this to be the most fulfilling day we’ve ever experienced at the office … bar none!”

Meltzer’s book, Connected to Goodness, is available for purchase online at Read more about Meltzer’s and Moon’s sports marketing company at

One pup at a time: Project2Heal changes lives of children, adults

Published by:

Charlie Petrizzo

By Charlie Petrizzo
Special to Inside The Pew

Editor’s note: Project2Heal breeds and trains service dogs and companions and donate them to service organizations around theCharlie Petrizzo U.S., free of charge. The organization has sent dogs to help those in need all over the country, from children with autism to wounded warriors. According to Petrizzo, founder of the organization, the name Project2Heal reflects the fact that the greatest project ever undertaken to heal was when God sent his only son to save the world from sin. “Each of us has a project to heal and it’s only when we find the talent that God blessed us with that we will find true happiness,” Petrizzo said.

Why did you create your business?

“I faced two life-threatening injuries before turning 20. When I finished college, I married Sandy, the love of my life, and my injuries continued to bother me, both physically and emotionally.  I questioned my faith and my career as a Fortune 500 executive, and I slipped into depression. I took a leave of absence and through a period of healing, reflection and time spent with a special puppy, I started to become myself again, and I returned to the Catholic faith. I sought spiritual wealth above all and God showed me the path of service and healing from an unlikely source: puppies.”

What is the one scripture (or two) that you draw strength from?

“Two scriptures have played an important role in making me who I am today. First, ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me’ (Phil 4:13) and second, ‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot.’ (Rev 3:15) There have been many times when I’ve looked at my injuries and asked myself, ‘Why me?’ I struggled to find faith in God and myself. Founding Project2Heal has helped me rediscover God and grow in the confidence and strength of his love. I consider myself a blessed man, and the scriptures have helped outline my path as I continue to get to know God my Father.

What the best advice you can share with an entrepreneur?

“Use the gifts God has given you to help others. I have a gift for working with animals and using them to help people heal. That’s myproject2heal_logo Project2Heal, but we each have a Project2Heal that we can harness and share with the world. Take advantage of your talents and use them to serve God and your community. If you make mistakes along the way or lose faith in yourself, just remember that God is always looking out for you, that he loves you, desires good for you and wants to use each of us to tell others about His love.”

Have an interesting tidbit about your business or yourself that you would like to add?

“One of our amazing success stories involves a marine from Indianapolis named Nick Bennett. While deployed in Iraq, Nick’s unit was unfortunately struck by a rocket and he was seriously injured. Twenty-six surgeries later, Nick’s hands and legs are repaired, but the actions that used to be stress-free, such as tying his son’s shoes or attending a baseball game with his family, incited much fear and anxiety due to Nick’s PTSD. We bred a dog named Festus to help Nick, and Festus received additional training from the Indiana Canine Assistance Network (ICAN). With the help of Festus, Nick is now able to be the father that he always wanted to be.”

Learn more about Project2Heal online: Nominate for nonprofit spotlights via email at


Paths of purpose: Boys to Men mentors young men of color

Published by:

Terrence Alston

By Tera Alston
Special to Inside The Pew

On a daily basis there are thousands of young men of color entering into the prison pipeline. In some cities across our country it

Terrence Alston

has even become an epidemic. Young men of color are being incarcerated in alarming numbers with some studies showing more young men of color being incarcerated every year than graduate from high school.

The million dollar question is: What can be done about this ever-growing epidemic?  There is no quick and easy solution. We are dealing with a complex issue that will require an all hands on deck solution if we truly want to make any type of positive and lasting impact.

Over the years there have been programs instituted to assist young men who appear to be heading down the wrong path. Training programs such as pro-social skills and violence prevention have been instituted in schools and community-based programs. However, it can’t stop there. Additional methods are needed to help rescue the growing number of boys and young men of color entering the prison system.

A great place to look for these solutions is to research ideas that have proven to work and change lives. One of those solutions is mentoring. There are many studies which show young people who have mentors are more successful throughout their lifetime.

Although 1:1 mentoring is most commonly known, there are other forms of mentoring that can also be used. For example, group mentoring can be used to provide a safe environment for participants to discuss issues with their peers and their adult mentors.

There is one group in Chesapeake, Va., that utilizes this approach to help boys and young men turn away from the path to prison towards paths of purpose.

Boys to Men is a Christian-based ministry at Union Bethel Baptist Church. The ministry reaches out to boys and young men, encircling them literally and figuratively by older men in the church. The organizers also encourage fathers to participate in this circle of mentors. According to Geoffrey Canada, President and CEO of Harlem Children’s Zone, there is a “…need for black boys to be surrounded by older, black role models.” Boys to Men has done just that by providing a circle of role models to mentor not only boys of color but any boy or young man in need of a positive role model.

The mission of Boys to Men is simple says Terrence Alston, one of the group’s leaders: “our mission is to mentor and mold young boys and young men…to encourage unity; teach respect for oneself and others, and most of all…to teach young boys and young men to be strong upstanding men in the eyes of God and in their communities”.

Alston is a proponent of mentoring and a supporter of reaching out to young men who are at risk and are on the threshold of the prison pipeline.

The ministry was started in early 2000 by the late Pastor Calvin White. Pastor White tasked the church deacons to become involved up close and personal in the lives of boys in the community. According to Alston, “he wanted us to be their role models instead of rappers and athletes; he tasked us to teach them how to be men.”

As a collective group, the boys and men discuss topics such as anger management, peer pressure, the dangers of drugs, bullying, success in the classroom, their future, dressing for success, and how to explore their feelings. Part of the group’s focus is also based on biblical principles, which is highlighted in their pledge which the boys recite at the beginning of each group. Part of the pledge reads, “I will live my life based on God’s word…Your word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against You” Psalm 119:11 (NKJV).

The outcomes are proving that the group’s approach is working. This year, several participants graduated from high school and college and one entered the military. This helps to show that what we see and hear on TV is not true about all boys and men of color. They can succeed and are succeeding towards paths of purpose.

For more information about this ministry, contact Union Bethel Baptist Church at 757-488-3117 or email Terrence Alston atTera Alston

Tera Alston is a women’s ministry leader and human resources professional in the Hampton Roads region of Virginia.  She also partners with her husband to assist at-risk youth and their families.  She has a BSBA from Old Dominion University and an MBA from Saint Leo University.

Rutherford: Three spiritual lessons from the Tour de France

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By Dudley Rutherford
Special to Inside The Pew

If you had told me a couple of years ago that I would one day ride 60 to 70 miles on a road bicycle for fun, I don’t think I wouldDudley Rutherford have believed you. But years of playing basketball and golf had finally caught up to me, causing major damage to the meniscus cartilage in my knee. I could hardly walk after playing in a game—that’s how bad it had gotten. Then a good friend of mine recommended that I try cycling as a way to stay in shape and maintain the competitiveness I love about sports, but with less strain on my knees. So I joined the cycling ministry at Shepherd Church, the congregation I pastor in Los Angeles, and I’ve been hooked ever since.

Now that I’m an avid cyclist, the Tour de France takes on a whole new meaning for me. I’ve always admired the strength and endurance of the athletes who compete, but now I have a deeper understanding of the passion and intensity of the sport. Of course, I would never be able to race at the speed of the professionals, but as I was writing my latest book, Walls Fall Down, about the seven-day victory God gave the Israelites over Jericho, I got to thinking about what believers can learn from the Tour de France to obtain victory in our spiritual walks.

In the Bible, the Apostle Paul actually compares the Christian life to race in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27. Here are three biblical lessons we glean from the Tour de France on how to be victorious whether we are facing a personal battle or striving to accomplish something extraordinary:

Race with purpose: Every cyclist in the Tour de France has one goal: to win (or help his team leader win) the race. These athletes do not put themselves through months of painful training for the purpose of taking a leisurely bike ride in Europe or aiming to come in 57th place. No, their mission is to be the best. Italy’s Vincenzo Nibali proved his dominance in cycling to the world on July 27  by winning the annual race. In 1 Corinthians 9:24, Paul writes, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? RunVincento Nibali in such a way as to get the prize. “From the moment you decide to become a Christian—from the very second you put your faith in Jesus Christ—your race begins. And it’s not sprint; it’s a marathon. It’s a lifetime journey that takes commitment and perseverance. It ends when you die, or when Jesus returns in glory (Matthew 24:30). Until that day comes, your purpose in life as a believer is to love God and to love others (Matthew 22:36-39) and to make disciples as Jesus did (Matthew 28:19-20).

Practice self-discipline: Can you imagine the extreme physical training and the strict dietary regimen that would be required to prepare one’s body to cycle across the nearly 2300 miles of terrain for the Tour de France? How many people would be willing to sacrifice time, energy, junk food, and hobbies in order to dedicate his or her entire life to a sport?

Paul writes, “Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize” (1 Corinthians 9:25-27). The apostle ran the Christian race with purpose and was intentional about rejecting worldly, temporal vices so that he would not be disqualified from the ultimate prize of eternal life.

As I wrote my book Walls Fall Down: 7 Days Steps from the Battle of Jericho to Overcome Any Challenge, the Lance Armstrong doping scandal had erupted in the media. After convicting him of using performance-enhancing drugs, the US Anti-Doping Agency stripped Armstrong of his seven Tour de France titles and banned him from cycling. Armstrong later stated that he broke the rules because of the culture of drugs in cycling—that by using performance-enhancing drugs, he was simply operating on a “level playing field.”

In sports and in the Christian life, there are no shortcuts. We will not be victorious by impure means or by trying to fit in with the culture. We simply must follow the guidelines God has set forth in His Word, the Bible, and win the race the good old-fashioned way: with integrity, commitment, faith, and self-discipline.

Focus on the eternal rewards: Every cyclist in the Tour de France dreams of getting to wear that iconic yellow jersey—the coveted prize awarded to the champion. In many other sports, the winner receives a trophy. In the Olympics, it’s a gold medal. In the Apostle Paul’s time, it was a crown, which was just a wreath made of wild olive leaves. He writes, “They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever” (v. 25). Paul is pointing out that, in any competition, the culmination of all the hard work, sacrifice, blood, sweat, and tears produces a winner, and that winner receives something that will not last forever. However, when we run the Christian race and keep our faith in Jesus through life’s various trials, we will receive the crown of eternal life (James 1:12; Revelation 2:10). We will spend an eternity with our Father in Heaven where there will be no sorrow, pain, death, or disease (Revelation 21:4).

God has wonderful things prepared for those who love Him! The Tour de France is an incredible event showcasing some of the greatest athletes in the world. But the Christian race has far greater implications. So run your race with purpose. Don’t be distracted or led astray by the things of this world. And keep your eyes fixed on the prize: the crown of eternal life. No other prize is better. No other victory is sweeter.

Dudley Rutherford is the author of Walls Fall Down and the senior pastor of the 10,000-member Shepherd Church in Porter Ranch (Los Angeles), California. You can connect with Dudley on Twitter @pastordudley. Visit for more information.

Through crowdfunding, WeRaise equips nonprofits to serve communities

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By Abigail Miller
Special to Inside The Pew

Editor’s Note: Abigail Miller is manager of crowdfunding and social media at Wheat Ridge Ministries. WeRaise is a Christian crowdfunding site, hosted by Wheat RidgeWeRaise_Homepage Ministries. Wheat Ridge provides start-up funding and resources to new health and human care ministries around the world. Christian organizations use WeRaise to share their ministry project details, spread the word, and raise funds – all online!

Why did you create your business?

“We built WeRaise as a tool for inspired Christian leaders to raise funds and support for their ministry ideas. Our long term vision is to provide additional grant funding to innovative projects launched with WeRaise that are positioned to scale, replicate, or expand. We want WeRaise to be a tool, which is why, unlike many crowdfunding sites, we don’t take any portion of the funds raised. Our hope is that WeRaise allows leaders to be innovative, creative, and intentional when it comes to addressing the needs in their community.”

What is the one scripture (or two) that you draw strength from?

“One verse that captures the essence of WeRaise is 1 Peter 4:10, “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” We know that each community is different – the leaders, the people, and the needs. It is encouraging and inspiring to see the brilliant, selfless ways people use the gifts they’ve received from God to serve those around them. Crowdfunding uses the gifts of the whole community – from donors and their financial resources, to project teams and their social networks, to organizations who give energy and commitment, to Wheat Ridge staff members who help the process run smoothly. WeRaise equips people of all ages to put 1 Peter 4:10 into action.”

Share the best advice you can share with an entrepreneur?

“Seek counsel and support! When we work with WeRaise project leaders, this is one of our key pieces of advice. Crowdfunding is a group effort – not just in fundraising, Crowdfundingbut in planning as well. As projects are created, we encourage the leaders to establish a prayerful, committed team to work through the entire process together. Together you can seek God’s will, encourage one another, and hold each other accountable.

“Another piece of advice is to be confident in what God is calling you to do! If it is on your heart, it might be time to take a step out in faith. We have seen many successful ministries come out of a small nudge that someone heeded. God can do big, life-changing things through just about anything – no matter how small, insurmountable, or just plain crazy it may seem to you right now.

Have an interesting tidbit about your business or yourself that you would like to add?

“WeRaise currently boasts a higher project success rate and higher average donation rate than the industry average. We think this is due to the nature of the crowdfunded projects. The passion behind the projects is inspiring, and donors are eager to give to leaders who bring health and hope in the name of Christ.

As an organization, Wheat Ridge has had the honor of seeding many ideas that have grown to become amazing ministries. A few organizations that began with funding from Wheat Ridge include: