Category Archives: National

Community Christian School students rally to help family

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Special to Inside The Pew

Community Christian School’s Student Leadership Institute’s director, Judy Klein, saw a need in a former student of hers and CCS graduate, Ryan McLeod.

Ryan McLeod, now a Beaumont firefighter, has a 4-year-old son, Racer, who was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.  Because of the

Ryan McLeod, left, and his family are blessed with donation for son, Racer, from Community Christian School in Orange.

severity of his illness, Racer is in need of a diabetic alert dog.

The students at Community Christian School recently went through Rachel’s Challenge and through the testimony of Rachel Scott, learned that “if one person can go out of their way to show compassion then it will start a chain reaction of the same.”

Based on Rachel’s Challenge, the students of CCS have started a Chain Reaction club and are implementing the challenge in their chapel and Student Leadership Institute program.  This week the entire school is having a “Chain Reaction” week where each day they are focusing on a different act of kindness.

Klein, as part of the Chain Reaction, wanted to show an act of kindness toward the McLeod family.  She presented the need of the McLeod family to the student body during their chapel and they rallied together to raise money throughout one week to help with the purchase of the diabetic alert dog.  The students were impacted by the need of the 4-year boy and raised $1, 500. Together with the money raised by Community Christian School in Orange and the money raised by the community and surrounding areas at the benefit at Precision Autobody in Nederland on Feb. 11, the McLeod family now has the money to receive a diabetic alert dog for Racer.

The CCS family is so blessed to be a small part of helping Racer McLeod.

Whitney Houston’s faith centered on Jesus

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By Mark Ellis
ASSIST News Service

One of the outstanding female vocalists of all time had roots in the church and continued to profess her faith in Jesus Christ until her tragic death at age 48.

“Our hearts are broken,” Pastor Joe A. Carter said Sunday, before a packed service at New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, N.J., where Houston’s inspired gift was first recognized. “How saddened we are at the death of one of the greatest voices of the modern age.”

Houston began to sing with the church’s junior gospel choir at age 11. Years later, her mother, Cissy Houston, is still a devoted

Whitney Houston sings "The Star-Spangled Banner" at Super Bowl XXV in 1991.

member of the church.

“I’ll never forget her right here standing at the New Hope Church, hearing her sing, ‘He Would Not Come Down,’” Pastor Carter said, “hearing her sing the praises of Jesus Christ.”

In a rare appearance on “Primetime” Dec. 4, 2002 with Diane Sawyer, Houston revealed her struggle to overcome drug addiction, which involved a spiritual battle for her heart. Houston admitted she had used alcohol, marijuana, cocaine and pills in the past, but said the biggest “devil” was not the drugs, but herself.

“It’s my heart. It’s what I desire, what I want and what I don’t want. Nobody makes me do anything. I’m my best friend and my worst enemy,” she confessed.

In the interview, she admitted that drug use brought her close to death’s door. “I got as close as it gets, but I know people who have come closer,” she said.

Sawyer pressed the pop diva to say her “bad days” were behind her. “I know I’m on the right path because I’m back home where I started,” Houston said. “I can’t tell you it’s all going to be perfect.”

“I can tell you I’m not self-destructive,” she continued. “I’m not a person who wants to die. I’m a person who has life and wants to live.”

Then Houston opened a small window to her faith. “I pray every day,” she said. “I’m not the strongest every day but I’m not the weakest either,”Houston said.

“Pray for me as a person,” she implored, “pray for my soul, that I’m stronger. I know I’m a child of God and I know He loves me.

“Jesus loves me, this I know.”

Singer Whitney Houston, 48, dies in Beverly Hills

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By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries

BEVERLY HILLS, CA – Singer Whitney Houston was found dead Feb. 11, in the Beverly Hilton Hotel, Calif., after emergency medical personnel were called sometime Saturday, said the sources, who asked to remain anonymous because the investigation is ongoing.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Houston, 48, was in the Los Angeles area for a musical tribute to music executive Clive Davis and had performed and spoken to reporters earlier in the week.

Among her many hits were: “How Will I Know,” “Saving All My Love for You” and “I Will Always Love You.” She won multiple Grammys including album and record of the year.

“The performer had drug and alcohol problems for years, and in May her spokeswoman said she was going back to rehab,” said the LA Times story.

Singer Whitney Houston died Saturday in a Beverly Hills hotel. She was 48.

“Publicist Kristen Foster told the Associated Press on Saturday that Houston had died but did not provide further details.”

Fox News reported that the Beverly Hills Police Department responded to an emergency call at the Beverly Hilton Hotel Saturday, Lt. Mark Rosen, of the Beverly Hills Police Department said.

She began singing in the church

Houston first started singing in the church as a child. In her teens, she sang backup for Chaka Khan, Jermaine Jackson and others, in addition to modeling. It was around that time when music mogul Clive Davis first heard Houston perform.

“The time that I first saw her singing in her mother’s act in a club … it was such a stunning impact,” Davis told “Good Morning America.”

“To hear this young girl breathe such fire into this song. I mean, it really sent the proverbial tingles up my spine,” he added.

Before long, the rest of the country would feel it, too. Houston made her album debut in 1985 with “Whitney Houston,” which sold millions and spawned hit after hit. “Saving All My Love for You” brought Houstob her first Grammy, for best female pop vocal. “How Will I Know,” “You Give Good Love” and “The Greatest Love of All” also became hit singles.

Another multiplatinum album, “Whitney,” came out in 1987 and included hits like “Where Do Broken Hearts Go” and “I Wanna Dance With Somebody.”

The New York Times wrote that Houston “possesses one of her generation’s most powerful gospel-trained voices, but she eschews many of the churchier mannerisms of her forerunners. She uses ornamental gospel phrasing only sparingly, and instead of projecting an earthy, tearful vulnerability, communicates cool self-assurance and strength, building pop ballads to majestic, sustained peaks of intensity.”

Her decision not to follow the more soulful inflections of singers like Franklin drew criticism by some who saw her as playing down her black roots to go pop and reach white audiences. The criticism would become a constant refrain through much of her career. She was even booed during the “Soul Train Awards” in 1989.

“At her peak, Houston was the golden girl of the music industry. From the middle 1980s to the late 1990s, she was one of the world’s best-selling artists. She wowed audiences with effortless, powerful, and peerless vocals that were rooted in the black church but made palatable to the masses with a pop sheen,” said Fox News.

“Her success carried her beyond music to movies, where she starred in hits like ‘The Bodyguard’ and ‘Waiting to Exhale.’

“She had the perfect voice, and the perfect image: a gorgeous singer who had sex appeal but was never overtly sexual, who maintained perfect poise.”

Neil Portnow, President/CEO of The Recording Academy said in a statement, “Six-time GRAMMY winner Whitney Houston was one of the world’s greatest pop singers of all time who leaves behind a robust musical soundtrack spanning the past three decades.


“Her powerful voice graced many memorable and award-winning songs. A light has been dimmed in our music community today, and we extend our deepest condolences to her family, friends, fans and all who have been touched by her beautiful voice,” he said.

She influenced a generation of younger singers, from Christina Aguilera to Mariah Carey, who when she first came out sounded so much like Houston that many thought it was Houston.

“But by the end of her career, Houston became a stunning cautionary tale of the toll of drug use,” added Fox News. “Her album sales plummeted and the hits stopped coming; her once serene image was shattered by a wild demeanor and bizarre public appearances. She confessed to abusing cocaine, marijuana and pills, and her once pristine voice became raspy and hoarse, unable to hit the high notes as she had during her prime.”

Fox News added, “Some saw her 1992 marriage to former New Edition member and soul crooner Bobby Brown as an attempt to refute those critics. It seemed to be an odd union; she was seen as pop’s pure princess while he had a bad-boy image, and already had children of his own. The couple had a daughter, Bobbi Kristina, in 1993. Over the years, he would be arrested several times, on charges ranging from DUI to failure to pay child support.

“But Houston said their true personalities were not as far apart as people may have believed.”

Now Whitney Houston has left us with memories of the great days when at her peak in the 1980s and ’90s, Houston was the golden girl of the music industry and one of the world’s best-selling artists.

Once again it appears that substance abuse may have taken the life of another great performer.

‘God healed my wife of breast cancer’

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By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries

Vasiliy Voytovich, one of the pastors at the Full Gospel Church in Dunedin, Fla., agreed to share with the ASSIST News Service how “God healed my wife of breast cancer.”

Voytovich, who is also the President of God Heals Broken Hearts Ministries (, movingly told the story of how his wife, Lyubov, who was 32 at that time, first discovered she had a lump in her breast.

“It was back 1955, when we were living in the small town Stebnic in the west of Ukraine, that she first she had pain in her left breast and noticed lump

Vasiliy Voytovich and wife, Lyubov

there,” he said. “She went to have it checked out and the doctors, who had not yet discussed surgery, started her treatment with chemotherapy. It was then that I felt prompted of the Lord to pray for her complete healing.

“So I gathered my children together — older son Nikolay 14, daughter Nina 12, and youngest son Vitaliy 10 — and we began to pray for a miracle.”

“At that time, she felt a pressure in her throat and chest and she was so scared that she was dying and yet here we were all praying for her healing. She felt so bad and, at that time was not even praying, just crying.

“However, our prayers were so powerful that, after asking for her healing, we started to thank God for His answer. Then my wife said that in the background she heard a voice that said, ‘BELIEVE.’ She then asked what she had to believe, as she wasn’t even praying or asking about anything.

“She heard us thanking God for her healing, and so she asked God: ‘Do I have to believe that I am healed’ and she heard the reply, ‘Yes!’ After our prayer we knew that she had been healed and were so happy about the miracle.

I asked my wife to check to see if the lump disappeared, but she was not ready at that time. We waited for few days and then went to see the lady doctor who had initially diagnosed her. I was able to observe the change on the doctor’s face when she couldn’t find anything.

“I told the physician not to be surprised, as we had prayed for a miracle and I added, ‘She is healed now. That is why you cannot find anything.’ She replied: ‘You are blessed that you can believe.’

“An X-ray was performed and it confirmed that she was now free from cancer,” he said. “Three years later, when we moved to USA, a biopsy was performed because of my wife’s history of cancer and the chemotherapy treatment, and it was confirmed again that she was cancer free and this has continued with yearly mammograms.”

He went on to say, “It is very much strengthened our faith (me, my wife, and our children) and it showed us how powerful is our God even today. He has His plans for us. He loves us very much and now we share that good news with others who needs that encouragement.”

Besides his pastoral work at the Full Gospel Church in Dunedin, Florida, he also works at the local Health Department and his wife is an RN at Largo Medical Center.

“In our church we have 150 members (Russians and mainly Ukrainians, with some Polish, Hispanic and English people,” he said.

This pastor and his family have truly learned from this healing that indeed, “God Heals Broken Hearts.”

Note: Vasiliy Voytovich, is also the founder of the Happy Family ( Christian online magazine. He can be contacted by e-mail at:


Fort Worth Christian women to help MISSION 3:16

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By Tonya Whitaker
Inside The Pew

Attendees of the Fort Worth Christian Women’s Connection luncheon will be treated to a feisty guest speaker, a good meal, and an opportunity to donate to a worthy cause.

During the organization’s February luncheon, women are invited to bring new teddy bears or other types of stuffed animals to the event for MISSION 3:16, a chaplaincy at Kimbo Juvenile Justice Center.

The luncheon will take place from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Feb. 15 at the Mira Vista Country Club, 6600 Mira Vista Blvd in Fort Worth. The cost is $17.

The mission donates a stuffed animal – or Prayer Bear – to a patient at Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth every time one of the Kimbo kids earns a certificate for being on Level 1 behavior for seven consecutive days.

The stuffed animals must have the store tags still attached.

Since November 2002, Kimbo Juvenile Justice Center has donated “Prayer Bears” to Cook Children’s Medical Center on behalf of detainees maintaining the highest level of behavior.

The scheduled guest speaker for the February luncheon is Qujette Cone, a fun-loving grandmother, who will take attendees on a journey of her heart’s travels in “Music From the Heart.” Jimmie Porterfield will accompany Cone on her musical journey.

In addition, Ryan Loehndorf will showcase the variety of pampering at Moda’s Aveda Salon on Seventh Street.

Childcare is provided. All reservations, and cancellations, including childcare, must be made by Feb. 10. Email Patsy at for reservations.

Study explores gap between God and jobs

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Center for Faith & Work

Special to Inside The Pew

DALLAS — Do faith and work mix? And if so, as America’s workforce increasingly wants meaning beyond a paycheck, do pastors help? From a recent national study commissioned by Dallas-based LeTourneau University’s Center for Faith & Work, answers are, “Yes,” and “Not enough.”

“Ninety-three percent of pastors say they want to help members of their congregations integrate faith and work but fully two-thirds of them admit their efforts fall short,” Bill Peel, Center for Faith & Work executive director, said. “People work more, and better, when their labor carries a sense of calling. But most employers can’t give it, and most pastors don’t.”

The church-work gap emerges in data from two surveys commissioned by the Center and conducted by the Barna Group.


• Nearly all (93 percent) pastors said helping people integrate faith into daily work is “very important”
• A third (32 percent) of those pastors claim an “excellent understanding” of workplace issues
• Half (49 percent) of churchgoing, employed Christians “strongly agree” that their church gives information, guidance, and support to live out faith at work
• 26 percent of pastors say their sermons address faith at work
• 8 percent of pastors provide prayer support for workplace issues
• 3 percent of pastors report they visit their members at work

The LeTourneau Center for Faith & Work, founded in 2011, reflects a burgeoning “faith at work” movement to help the employed — and unemployed — find God beyond church doors.

The Center’s web site assembles resources, tools, and curriculum for churches, students, and the global Christian community to equip and connect them to live out their faith in the workplace. Foundational to the Center is the notion that God values good work well done.

“From Genesis to Revelation, work is essential to human flourishing,” Peel said. “Pastors and pew populations too often default to esteeming ‘church work’ over traditional business. But God doesn’t draw that line.”

In 1946 R.G. LeTourneau, industrialist and inventor, founded LeTourneau University; and his refusal to separate faith and business formed “the DNA of the university.” Bill Peel, founding executive of the university’s Center for Faith & Work, is an award-winning author of seven books, including Workplace Grace, What God Does When Men Lead, and Discover Your Destiny.

Music publishing vet creates Church Musicals

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In the know: For more on Church Musicals, visit

Special to Inside The Pew

Record company and Christian music publishing veteran Ed Kee has created a way for churches to minister to the unchurched Broadway style.

Kee’s latest endeavor, Church Musicals, provides high-quality Broadway-style musicals that not only entertain, but also create a

Church Musicals' production of "Humbug"

non-threatening outreach tool as well.

Founded in 2003, the vision for Church Musicals began when Kee, as creative director for Brentwood Records, would go to New York and see Broadway musicals.

“The combination of story and character-driven songs was powerfully moving,” said founder Kee. I realized that this was the perfect medium for the church to convey biblical truths and concepts in a way that people would easily relate to. This is exactly what Jesus did through the parables he told,” Kee said.  “I thought, If Jesus was able to convey God’s truth through stories, why can’t we do the same thing – with the same affect?”

Kee said Christian Musicals allows churches to minister to the unchurched without losing them in “Bible-thumping” rants or “church-speak,” something they do not readily understand.

“The goal is to entertain and demonstrate God’s love at the same time,” Kee said.

Kee said more churches are discovering Broadway-style musicals are an effective outreach to the community.

“It gets people into the church where relationships can be formed and where the gospel can be shared,” Kee said. “One essential component, however, is quality. The stereotypical picture of a ‘church musical’ involves people in bath robes and sandals. Unless you provide high quality entertainment, people aren’t likely to come,” he said.

For those churches that do musical theater, the available repertoire has been slim to non-existent. The large Christian Music publishing companies have – with a few notable exceptions – made rather feeble attempts in recent years at creating musicals for this market, but have now abandoned it altogether because of its niche appeal. Kee is a staunch believer in niche marketing and in the power of this medium for communicating the gospel. His goal is to be the “go to” company for Broadway style musicals. Kee is also in the process of writing and developing other original musicals for release later this year and early 2013.

Atlanta pastor, family killed in Fla. pile-up

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By Michael Ireland
ASSIST News Service

A pastor, his wife, and teenage daughter were among the 10 people killed in a massive highway pileup in Florida, now deemed as the deadliest crash on an American highway in 20 years.

According to CBN News, pastor Jose Carmo, Jr. and his family from the International Church of the Restoration in Atlanta were returning from a religious conference when their vans collided with several cars, six tractor-trailers, and a motor home on Interstate 75 near Gainesville on Sunday.

CBN News footage from accident

Senior pastor Arao Amazona told CBN News  he had opted to delay his departure until the next morning. Amazona said Carmo had wanted to be back in time for the suburban-Atlanta church’s Sunday morning service.

“We couldn’t have imagined such tragedy would come to us,” Amazonas said.

The crash took place after the Florida Highway Patrol reopened the interstate following an earlier serious accident. The broadcast outlets said the highway had earlier been closed due to thick smoke from a fire alongside the road which hampered visibility for drivers, according to broadcast reports.

“We went through the area. We made an assessment. We came to the conclusion that the road was safe to travel and that is when we opened the road up,” said highway patrol spokesman Lt. Patrick Riordan during a news conference.

“Drivers have to recognize that the environment changes,” he said. “They have to be prepared to make good judgments.”

The crash’s 18 survivors were hospitalized. Some are still in critical condition.

UAB gospel choir honors church bombing victims

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Special to The Pew

The University of Alabama-Birmingham Gospel Choir is celebrating Black History Month in a special way this year, with a song that honors the memory of the four little girls who lost their lives in the 16th Street church bombing in 1963.

“You Don’t Know What I Could Have Been” is an original song penned by choir director Kevin P. Turner. The song was written and performed for the choir’s most recent theatrical concert, “Gospel Anthology II: The Church and the Civil Rights Movement.”

The track is available for download at iTunes,, and Myspace Music. Local, national and satellite radio stations, secular and gospel, will all have copies for radio play, Turner said. Comedian, radio host, and Birmingham native Rickey Smiley will debut the song to his national audience, as well.

“This is perfect timing as we celebrate the service, sacrifices and achievements of the Civil Rights Movement, including those of the Foot Soldiers, the Freedom Riders and the children who died during this time in American history,” Turner said. “This song gives voice to the children who did not survive attacks during the Civil Rights Movement.” The timing of the release coincides with Black History Month and national observations of historic anniversaries and events, including the opening of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial and the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Riders.

2011 was a banner year for the choir, with its first overseas tour to London and Birmingham, England and Amsterdam, the Netherlands, two CD releases, an East Coast tour, a live performance on NBC’s “Today” with Al Roker on the campus of UAB to 5.5 million viewers, and the special recognition they gave to local heroes of the Civil Rights Movement who recently passed away by presenting the “Gospel Anthology II” concert. Turner also was honored by the Carlton Reese Memorial Unity Choir, the original Civil Rights mass movement choir.