Category Archives: Nonprofit Spotlight

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

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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: http://www.project2heal.org/. Nominate for nonprofit spotlights via email at pewnews@aol.com

 

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

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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.Watch movie online The Transporter Refueled (2015)

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 mccann1983.ta@gmail.com.

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.

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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:

Review: Bradshaw recounts the ‘Front Nine’ of her spiritual journey

Published by:

Sherry Bradshaw

By Tonya Whitaker
Inside The Pew

I have to be honest: I am not a fan of golf. However, for some odd reason, I felt the need last weekend to catch a glimpse of The "The Front Nine: Making Your Shots Count In Life" by Sherry Thrift BradshawMasters Tournament. I didn’t witness Bubba Watson win his second green jacket in three years on April 13, but I did use the brief experience to help me relate to the metaphorical backdrop of Sherry Thrift Bradshaw’s release, “The Front Nine: Making Your Shots Count In Life” (LifeBridge Books, $19.95).

I enjoy reading faith-centered literature that places the Christian walk into terms that most people don’t think about; Bradshaw’s book follows this model. Bradshaw’s background in golf was fulfilled through her children. Actually, she is a former World Champion Clogger, Miss South Carolina, and 1st runner-up in the 1985 Miss America pageant.

Bradshaw and her husband, Bill, are parents of three Division 1 golfers – sons Brewer and Thomas (at mom’s alma mater, Clemson), and daughter, Collins, at Georgia. You can safely call Bradshaw a golf mom, as she has spent countless hours on the links with her children as they perfected their golf game.

“The Front Nine” has practical advice on topics ranging from building self-confidence to learning from the “double bogeys” and mistakes of life.

“Through my kids’ participation in golf, I have learned so much about life – patience, kindness, and self-control; God is my caddy,” said the Columbia, S.C., native. “My spiritual gift is to help and encourage people.”

Although the book equates golf to one’s Christian walk, you don’t have to be a golfer to understand its meaning. “The Front Nine” is Bradshaw’s story are the lessons, experiences, and adventures she has encountered. At the end of each “tee,” (better known as chapter) Bradshaw provides notes for readers’ scorecard. Tee #2 on “Your DNA” was interesting. As a child of the Almighty, we are created in His image. Sadly, there are many people walking around today thinking they are worthless. God loves you because He made you! Bradshaw wrote, “Don’t ever let Satan convince you that you aren’t worthy; you are a child of God (John 1:12).”

“The Front Nine” is a message of hope for us. Regardless of past mistakes, the future is always brighter if we cling to Him; don’t allow the “double-bogeys” to deter your path to righteousness. The high point of the book is its brevity; I was able to complete reading it within two hours.

Through her nonprofit organization, fittingly called Back 9 Ministries, Bradshaw is now living her divine purpose by encourages others to be all He created them and to live a life of significance. She has inspired hundreds of audiences at corporate events, schools, churches, and community organizations.

Learn more about Bradshaw and Back 9 Ministries by visiting www.Back9Ministries.org.

Note: In closing, I ask everyone to keep Sherry and her family in your prayers; her mother has recently gone home.

Fort Worth-area ministry schedules job fair; Yolanda Adams to entertain at fundraiser

Published by:

Yolanda Adams

By Jacob Trimmer
Inside The Pew

In Euless, Texas: More than 100 employers will be on the hunt for potential employees, as CareerSolutions, a nonprofit job-seeker ministry, will present its annual job fair on April 16 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The fair will take place at First Baptist Euless Campus West, 1000 W. Airport Freeway, in Euless. Free resume review and seminars will be available. Learn more at http://www.careersolutionsworkshop.org/job_fairs.html.

In Louisville, Ky.: Christian Hunger Fund founder and president Dave Phillips will host the Rethink Mercy Conference set for AprilDave Phillips 11 on the campus of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville immediately following the Together for the Gospel conference. The Rethink Mercy Conference will feature a pastors’ roundtable discussion on these issues, as well as keynote messages by Al Mohler, author and president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Dhati Lewis, lead pastor of Blueprint Church in Atlanta. Information on the conference can be found at RethinkMercy.org. Also on the site, churches can learn more about joining one of Children’s Hunger Fund’s Mercy Networks.

In Port Arthur, Texas: The Port Arthur Christian Women will hold its luncheon titled “Live, Laugh and Love Life” on Friday, April 11, beginning at 11:45 a.m. at the Pompano Club LeChambre  Room, 330 Twin City Highway, Port Neches.  The cost of lunch is $17 per person. Pat Sadler from Nederland will be the special singer; Joann Cravens, well-known humorist from Nederland, will bring the special program. Pat Gordon from Frisco will deliver the inspirational message; her theme will be “Live, Laugh, and Love Life.” Reservations are essential for the luncheon and for the nursery, if needed, and may be made by calling Donna at 409-722-0951 or Gerry at 409-727-8262 by Tuesday, April 8.

In College Park, Md.: Four-time Grammy winning gospel artist Yolanda Adams will headline a benefit concert for EleanorYolanda Adams Roosevelt High School and A Very Taylored Foundation (AVTF) on April 6 at 3 and 7 p.m. at the University of Maryland, 3800 Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, Dekelboum Concert Hall, in College Park. Funds raised will help Roosevelt students and AVTF purchase tables and chairs, build an additional bathroom, and provide scholarship opportunities for students at the Marmanet Secondary School in Kenya. Purchase tickets at www.yolandaadamsconcert.com.

In Chicago:  The Midtown Educational Foundation will hold a benefit breakfast to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Wrigley Field on April 10 at the Chicago law offices of Skadden Arps, 155 N. Wacker Drive, 28th floor. Registration and continental breakfast begins at 7:30 a.m., and the program runs from 8 to 9 a.m. Proceeds will benefit the nonprofit, which provides after-school and summertime enrichment programs for 1,100 at-risk children ages 8-18. Guest speaker is Kevin Saghy, manager of communications for the Chicago Cubs.  Cost is $15 for breakfast and a chance to win tickets to the official 100th anniversary game against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday, April. 23. Register at http://www.midtown-metro.org/champions for further details.

 

Registration under way for free youth pastor summit in Tulsa, Houston

Published by:

By Jacob Trimmer
Inside The Pew

In Tulsa, Okla., and Houston: Student Leadership University will hold its annual Youth Pastor Summit in Tulsa on April 7 andlogo in Houston on April 8. Registration is free. Visit http://www.slulead.com/ to register.

In Dallas: Paul Quinn College and the 10th District of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church will partner together to play host to a job fair on Wednesday, April 16 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the campus of the college, 3837 Simpson Stuart Road. There is no cost to either employers or future employees. Contact Kelsel Thompson at kthompson@pqc.edu for more additional information.

In Baton Rouge, La.: More than 500 faith leaders from across Louisiana will descend on the state Capitol Building on April 1 for a Faith Day at the Capitol rally to demand Governor Bobby Jindal and state legislative leaders to provide leadership to secure passage of legislation that will curb the high mass incarceration rates in the state. Louisiana has the highest incarceration rate in the world. The rally is slated to run from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.; a press conference will follow. Visit www.piconetwork.org.

In Dallas: Save April 15 at 11:30 a.m. on the calendar! Hope Mansion, a nonprofit organization in Cedar Hill that helps womenTracey Mitchell ages 18-35 who experience crisis pregnancies, has planned its Extraordinary HOPE women’s luncheon with guest speaker Tracey Mitchell (author of Downside Up). The conference to will take place at The Tower Club in Thanksgiving Tower, 1601 Elm St. in Dallas. Tickets are $30 per person; $240 for table of eight. Contact Jennifer Wulff, luncheon chair, at info@hopemansion.org.

In Shreveport, La.: Centenary College of Louisiana’s World House for Environmental Sustainability, in cooperation with community partner Shreveport Green, will host Chad Pregracke, CNN Hero of the Year for 2013, Thursday, April 3. The Living Lands and Waters founder and president will deliver a convocation at 11:10 a.m. and a workshop-styled lecture at 4 p.m. in Kilpatrick Auditorium. Both events are free and open to the public. Visit www.centenary.edu.

In Katy, Texas: The Katy Christian Women’s Connection will hold a fashion show luncheon on Thursday, April 17 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at The Golf Club at Cinco Ranch, 23030 Cinco Ranch Blvd. Cost is $18 per person. Take a sneak peek at the latest fashions from La Centerra’s. The guest speaker is Oklahoma native Deborah Cerkovnik. Deadline for reservations is noon on Monday, April 14. Email katyCWC@gmail.com for more information.

Christian nonprofit and events roundups are run weekly. To get your event listed, contact Jacob Trimmer at pewnews@aol.com.

American youth give Pope Francis unique anniversary gift

Published by:

Catholic Extension

Special to Inside The Pew

To celebrate the March 13 anniversary of Pope Francis’ election, the youth of America, with the help of Catholic Extension, areCatholic Extension giving him a unique gift: a close-up look at their efforts to extend beyond themselves and “make some noise.”

After the pope challenged youth to “make some noise” at World Youth Day in July, Catholic Extension asked young people to answer his call by dedicating a day to prayer, service or philanthropy – an “Extension Day.” They then encouraged young people to document their Extension Day on video.

More than 70 videos were received involving thousands of youth from 47 dioceses across the U.S. Top videos were determined by social media support and a panel of judges, including Father Dave Dwyer, director of Busted Halo; Rev. Father Mark Mary, co-host of EWTN-TV’s popular Life on the Rock program; and actor Chris O’Donnell.

This week Cardinal Francis George, chancellor of Catholic Extension, is presenting a selection of the videos in a special report to Pope Francis. Finalists will be chosen and announced later this month. In addition to the chance to have their videos viewed by Pope Francis, recipients will be eligible for grants to benefit their ministry. Based on the response, Catholic Extension hopes to make Extension Day an annual event.

“We were overwhelmed not only by the number of youth participating in Extension Day, but also by the compassion and creativity of their good works,” said Joe Boland, vice president of mission at Catholic Extension. “Young Catholics in America are extending the love of Christ in so many ways, and we believe that sharing this with Pope Francis will be a meaningful gift to him.”

Catholic Extension, which is a national organization that supports people, ministries and churches across America, has a special relationship with young Catholics, providing more than $3 million annually in support of programs that engage youth and nurture future Church leaders. To watch Extension Day videos and learn more about Catholic Extension, visit http://www.extensionday.org.

 

Annual art show to benefit New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanities

Published by:

By Grelan Muse Sr.
Inside The Pew

The New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity (NOAHH) will host its third art show Thursday, March 20 from 5 to 7 p.m., in the organization’s ReStore, 2900 Elysian Fields Ave. in New Orleans.CD23Bouzasmall

The annual event will showcase work from students at Metairie Park Country Day School and Academy of the Sacred Heart.

“The art the students make is nothing short of impressive,” said Jim Pate, executive director of NOAHH. “We’re proud to host their work and support the arts in New Orleans. It’s an integral part of the city’s culture that NOAHH sees as a vital part of its broader mission.”

As with previous art shows, students from kindergarten to high school created paintings, photographs, sculptures, and other works of art portraying the show’s theme, “Home Dat.” All art will be for sale during the event as a fundraiser for NOAHH. Proceeds from the sale will be shared with each individual student.

A giclee print by celebrated New Orleans artist James Michalopoulos will be for sale through a silent auction. Michalopoulos, a regular ReStore customer and supporter, donated his work with all proceeds from the auction going to support NOAHH.

Musical entertainment will be provided by students of Metairie Park Country Day School.

The NOAHH ReStore, according the Habitat for Humanities’ website, is one of several nonprofit home improvement stores and donation centers that sell new and gently used furniture, home accessories, building materials, and appliances to the public at a fraction of the retail price.

Previous arts collaborations have included partnerships between Isidore Newman School and the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA) to share artwork from local students and raise funds as part of the grand opening of the NOAHH ReStore, and between NOAHH and St. Martin’s Episcopal School and Louise S. McGehee School.

 

Church leaders buying out theaters for screenings of ‘Son of God’

Published by:

Diogo Morgado

By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries

HOLLYWOOD, Calif. (ANS) — American church groups are seeking to “take over” entire theaters for screenings of “Son of God,” theDiogo Morgado upcoming movie from 20th Century Fox, about the life of Jesus Christ, and based on the hit “Bible” miniseries.

According to Hilary Lewis, writing in the Hollywood Reporter, “Various religious organizations throughout the country have been buying out screens and distributing tickets to groups of thousands of people for ‘Theater Take-Overs’ on Thursday, Feb. 27, the night before the film’s officially released, according to production company Lightworkers Media.”

The story went on to say that Crossroads Church in Cincinnati is bringing thousands of people to a Cinemark theater, where “Son of God” will be showing on 13 screens at the same time.

“Our church bought out every screen in the theater,” Crossroads’ Brian Wells said in a statement. “If anyone comes to the theater to see another movie that night, they’ll be out of luck, unless we have a few extra tickets to give them!”

There are a few other theater buyouts for “Son of God” scheduled at Cinemark locations throughout the country, according to the theater chain’s marketing and communications head James Meredith.

“It’s very interesting to see this level of excitement around the movie,” Meredith said. “The interest level for meetings, events, screenings and buyouts seems to be on par with that of major blockbuster, tent pole or franchise movies.”

Mega-church pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., is buying out screens in eight different theaters throughout Orange County.

“I’ve seen most of the films about Jesus produced in the past 50 years, and ‘Son of God’ is the best,” Warren said. “We’re excited Jesus is back on the big screen, and we’re going to fill the theaters. I want every other faith leader in America to do the same. Whether you can buy out a whole theater, or just one screen, now is the time to show up. This is a rare opportunity to bring the story of Christ into our mainstream culture.

“We want to see Jesus in movie theaters where sight and sound can open up our senses and let grace come in. The message of the Gospel deserves to be on the big screen – and this is our chance to see it there.”

Besides supporting the film, Warren is also partnering with LifeWay Christians Resources to release a Bible study for movie.

The small group curriculum resource by Warren is said to be the “perfect companion” to “Son of God,” produced by husband-and-wife team Mark Burnett and Roma Downey. The study became available Feb. 15, two weeks before the movie hits theaters Feb. 28.

“Son of God: The Life of Jesus in You” is a DVD small group Bible study, which features Warren explaining how you can find your purpose in studying the life of Jesus, and is available at LifeWay Stores and www.lifeway.com/n/Product-Family/Son-of-God.

“There’s nothing more important you can do with your life than spending time getting to know Jesus,” said Warren. “Through the Son of God study, people will receive practical teaching on the life of Jesus and its impact on individual lives and life purpose. Jesus’ teaching trans forms from the inside out.”

The six-session study features video clips from the theatrical movie and custom videos from Pastor Warren explaining Jesus’ teachings and their impact on people’s lives. Topics include baptism, temptation, suffering, death, resurrection and ministry. Scenes from the movie such as Jesus being baptized by John the Baptist will help illustrate each topic.

Other churches and organizations, ranging in size from 10,000 to 4 million, are distributing tickets for a “Theater Take-Over.” Some pastors will also buy out screens showing the film in Spanish and Korean. There’s even a Catholic “Theater Take-Over” planned for Miami.

The Hollywood Reporter story also stated that various business leaders throughout the country are also donating tickets to churches and non-profits.

“Son of God” is a version of the hit “The Bible” miniseries, featuring new and used footage, focused just on the story of Jesus Christ. The Bible averaged 11.4 million viewers during its five-week run on the History Channel and became the top-selling miniseries on DVD of all time.

Mark Burnett and wife Roma Downey, said in a statement, “We’re very excited that the community is mobilizing to support ‘Son of God.’ The grass roots support is so important and the faith community is amazing when it mobilizes. Our hope is that the story and message of Jesus Christ will reach tens of millions of people nationwide.”

Burnett and Downey promoted the film at last week’s National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C., where President Obama spoke to an audience of religious and secular leaders from around the world.

“We are going to spend around $10 million on commercials, and that is nothing. You may not even see a commercial for this. … The only chance we’ve got is the church community spreading the word,” Burnett said at the prayer breakfast, where 30 minutes of the film was shown to the audience. “We carried the backpack so far. We made it; we unbelievably got it in theaters everywhere. It’s now a great time for people to bring groups and bring people with them who need this message, who need to know who Jesus is.”

To find out more about the film, and see the trailer, go to www.sonofgodmovie.com.

Shields of Strength to share God’s word at Sochi Olympics

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By Tonya Whitaker
Inside The Pew

An athletic ministry and a Christian jewelry company have found the perfect way to put Christ on the minds of the athletes who arePhilippians 4:13 taking part in the Sochi Winter Olympics.

Shields of Strength, along with Athletes in Action (AIA), a ministry of Cru (formerly called Campus Crusade for Christ), will minister to coaches and competing athletes by providing spiritual, emotional, and mental support in the multi-faith center of the Olympic Village.

Team member and Olympic Chaplain Carl Dambman has been ministering to Olympic athletes in both the summer and winter games for the past 33 years. He said a dozen AIA staff and volunteers will distribute the shields to athletes who are seeking God’s word.

“The world’s eyes are on heroes of the sports fields, and we want to strengthen and encourage them as people watch them relying on God as their Creator, their Savior, and the One who gave them the talents to perform,” Dambman said.

“If the Shields of Strength can help them in their walk with the Lord, then we’re all for partnering with whoever wants to lift up Christ.”

Kenny Vaughan, founder of Shields of Strength, said that the company has donated over one million of the three million shields they produced to individuals, the U.S. military, churches, and ministries such as AIA. Both Vaughan and Dambman find that the organizations’ new partnership works well.

“Our missions align well because we can give them a tool to help them share Christ through a one-on-one relationship,” Vaughan said.

Vaughan said he understands the fear and pressure that Olympians experience during competition. While trying to win a U.S. Nationals for the water ski long jump, he described a comparable feeling that he was insufficient.

“The unique thing about an athlete, especially in the Olympics, is that they are prepared for pressure,” he said. “But until that momentJoshua 1:9 when you should be disciplined, it’s then when you find yourself saying, ‘God I need you.’ Right then is when you’re even weaker than you realized.

“Athletes in competition think if they have enough courage, they can overcome fear. But really that thought is the trap of life. And it’s not courage, but love that overcomes fear. It’s the courage to love that makes us courageous. That’s the message of God’s word, and Athletes in Action is taking advantage of this opportunity to share that truth.”

During his time of doubt and fear, Vaughan’s girlfriend (now wife), Tammie, wrote scriptures on his ski equipment, which, through God’s power, found their way into his heart and eased his fears. This led Vaughan to inscribe verses onto dog tags and wear them underneath his shirt.

From that first shield, Shields of Strength has grown to also include women’s jewelry and other accessories, like key chains and athletic tape. Seventeen years later, the company hopes that the shields can help Olympians as they face the same trials during competition.

“Love doesn’t always guarantee a win in life; it just ensures we compete with all we have and that gives us a better chance to win,” Vaughan said.

According to Vaughan, the shields have be found on the battlefield and the football field, providing encouragement as a simple reminder to new and established Christians alike.

Learn more about Shields of Strength at www.shieldsofstrength.com.