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STORIES OF LIFE CHANGE

If the God of the universe chose a collection of stories as his primary way to communicate with humanity, should we not continue to tell the stories of how he is working in and through our lives?

Stories have the power to inspire us towards incredible action. Stories give us a peek into God’s design for us. Stories matter.

We tell stories for 2 simple reasons:

  1. To inspire the Church to worship Jesus Christ for who he is
  2. To help us remember what he has done

Psalm 102:18: “Let this be recorded for a generation to come, so that a people yet to be created may praise the Lord.”

 

Read, watch or listen to the stories of the people of Christ Fellowship. We also want to hear how God is working in your life. If you would like to share your story, click the button below.

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Life. Love. And Second Chances.

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Life. Love. And Second Chances.

How do you handle life when a storm of disastrous proportions threatens to destroy everything you hold dear? That is exactly the question Cody Sisson has had to answer. You see, Cody got caught up in a colossal storm. Some of it (like most weather phenomenon) was out of his control, but some of it was created with his own two hands. Life was getting tough, Cody felt as if he were drowning. He tried and tried to fight for air, but everything just seemed to keep sinking further and further until finally he gave up. Instead of turning to God for answers, Cody pulled away and focused on his own happiness, his own way……

With just two years under their belts, Laura’s brother had come to live with them for a few months while attending college. Laura often felt torn between him and her husband while Cody felt isolated and jealous of her time. Cody and Laura began to struggle in their communication, rocking their already fragile foundation.

That’s when they celebrated the birth of their firstborn child. It seemed that this would bring them closer and help them return to a happy place. But this celebration was soon blunted by a severe struggle with postpartum depression. Laura drew within herself, convincing Cody she no longer loved him. Try as he might, he couldn’t reach her. When Laura finally found help with the postpartum depression, she struggled with guilt and then poured everything she had into their son, further alienating her husband. In the midst of it all, Cody was just starting out as a firefighter and paramedic with a new station, still going through the probationary vetting process.

As the stress mounted, what little joy remained faded from his life. Cody decided enough was enough and took matters in to his own hands.

It started with the Facebook friendship until, little by little, the relationship became so much more. As Cody Sisson’s friendship with the woman moved offline and into text messages, it became deeper. It wasn’t just information they shared together. They exchanged emotions – eventually desires.

She was sympathetic to Cody – towards his difficult marriage, his exhausted spirit, and his sense of isolation. As he let her deeper into his life, Laura found herself increasingly shut out by her husband. But his emotional draw towards this other woman was just one in a long line of issues confronting their relationship.

One afternoon, Laura received a disturbing email from a man she had never met, a guy who claimed to find her through LinkedIn. More frightening than the fact they had never met was what he claimed to witness. He had suspected his girlfriend had slept with another man, a guy he saw visiting her at her apartment. A peek into the man’s truck gave him the name of this man, who had a cooler sitting in the seat with Cody’s name on it.

Laura immediately rushed home from work to confront Cody. That’s when both of their lives shattered. Cody didn’t fight it, rationalize it or deny it. His relationship with the woman had become a full-blown affair. He had betrayed Laura.

It was the final devastating blow after years of pain dealt out on a broken marriage.

It was a perfect storm of stress, isolation, and outside forces that eventually came to its climax that afternoon when a heartbroken wife confronted her guilty husband. For most love stories, this would have been the tragic end. But for Cody and Laura, it was really just the beginning.

Cody recalls Laura’s response to his confession, “it had to be God because it wasn’t human nature to forgive like that.” He told her he was exhausted and had no fight left in him. He was ready to give up. But despite all of the pain he had caused, she still wasn’t finished.

“I told him it was alright,” Laura remembers. “Because I was going to fight for both of us.”

She was angry and absolutely devastated but in that moment she had decided to forgive him. Laura knew the Lord would give her the strength to fight on, to forgive Cody, and keep their family together. Many have asked Laura how she could possibly forgive, and Laura can’t even put into words how it was possible, only that she knows God made it so.

They immediately got to work. Cody called to confess to his parents who encouraged him to trust in the Lord. Laura called her parents, also believers, affirming her decision to fight for the marriage. Afterward came the hard part. It was time to lean on their life group. The women came over immediately to counsel and pray for Laura while the men reached out to Cody. The couple scheduled emergency counseling and began the healing process.

Laura showed up at Cody’s fire station the next morning, armed with prayer, encouragement, a new haircut and a cute dress. She went out of her way to express Christ’s love and forgiveness through her. Cody’s heart quickly melted and his resignation towards their marriage quickly turned to resolve.

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Through counseling, they learned how to communicate again. They began praying together, grew in forgiveness, and invested deeply into their community at Christ Fellowship. Though Cody was expecting judgment and condemnation from their life group, he instead found kindness, support, and encouragement.

The Sisson Family

Today, Cody and Laura enjoy a marriage restored – a marriage sweeter than it’s ever been – a living testament to God’s grace. Laura’s willful decision to forgive became the start to a new relationship marked by repentance and mercy. Now their story is a constant encouragement to the couples around them who struggle under similar circumstances.

 

Journey to Forgiveness

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Journey to Forgiveness

Journey to Forgiveness

As a child, Peggy Miller believed she had a good father. Outwardly, he was the epitome of worldly success: brilliant, an accomplished litigation attorney, a popular and well-respected Bible teacher. He was well-connected with many of the best and brightest minds in Christian circles. He taught a weekly adult Sunday school class with over 700 attendees and hosted a weekly radio Bible program heard throughout the southeastern United States. Peggy was proud of her father and loved listening to him preach and teach. It was her father, in fact, who led her to salvation in Christ. Publicly, he was everything a good father should be, and Peggy was rightfully proud to be his daughter.

Privately, however, he was a very different man, harboring a dark secret and lustful appetite. Peggy was in middle school when, one night, he entered her room and shattered her innocence.

Peggy’s life changed in an instant. Outwardly, she was still the “good church girl,” remaining involved in church, even serving as a counselor at Billy Graham crusades. She made sure to keep up appearances that everything was fine, but inwardly she was screaming for help. At the time, churches had no programs to help victims of sexual abuse.

Peggy Miller

“There was no one I could turn to , no one who would listen to me, no one I could trust with my secret,” she remembers. “And so I suffered in silence.”

What she didn’t realize was that her silence was slowly killing her from within. When Peggy was 15, she began binge drinking. She struggled with an eating disorder, sometimes going up to two weeks without solid food. She became consumed with guilt and shame, thinking what had happened to her – what was still happening to her – was somehow her fault. Peggy lived with a constant internal scream; one that led her to contemplate suicide. At night, she suffered from vivid dreams in which she would violently kill her father.

During Peggy’s sophomore year of college her parents’ marriage finally crumbled and, with it, her father’s ministry. When he remarried less than a year later, Peggy was no longer welcome in his home. Her family relationships began to fall apart. Suddenly she found herself completely alone, broken and suffering. Peggy had been betrayed, not only by her father, but also by the church. No longer believing that it was a place of refuge and healing, Peggy walked away. The bitterness and anger she felt toward her father became stronger and more consuming. She dealt with it the only way she knew how: burying herself in her work.

Work brought a brief period of relief, an opportunity to silence that internal scream. Yet while she was successful at work, she was a failure at relationships. Peggy received four separate marriage proposals, but the relationships always ended before the wedding. What she could not yet understand was that the Holy Spirit was still working in her heart to restore her, heal her, and ultimately bring her back to him. Finally, at age 30, she met the man God intended for her; they were married after four years together. Peggy’s father performed the wedding ceremony.

Marriage seemed to be the answer to her suffering. For a few years, she was finally happy. But as time passed, that silent internal scream refused to be quieted and depression set in. Every attempt to return to church only reinforced her pain, forcing her to leave. Her father sent her a Bible as a gift, but she couldn’t bring herself to read it. She found no comfort, no relief to the bitterness she felt. One day, while watching a morning talk show, Peggy imploded and realized her need to seek help. That was the turning point that began her journey toward forgiveness.

Peggy recalls, “I wanted my father to suffer. I wanted to seek revenge. But what God wanted was for me to forgive.”

She realized she was still holding on to her right to be angry, to her bitterness, to her demand for justice. With the encouragement of her counselor and the support of her husband, Peggy confronted her father. Sadly, his reaction was merely sorrow that he was caught, showing no remorse for what he had done. Peggy wanted justice. But God wanted her to extend mercy.

Shortly after she began counseling, Peggy’s aunt sent her a series of audio tapes on forgiveness, a faith-based testimony of what it means to forgive. As she listened to those tapes, her healing began.

Peggy Miller

“I realized forgiveness comes from me, from the power of the Holy Spirit living within me, regardless of whether it is sought. Even if my father never admitted his wrongdoing, it was still my responsibility to forgive him. And so, I forgave him.”

But forgiveness does not always involve reconciliation. As a tangible expression of her obedience to God, Peggy wrote a letter to her father expressing her forgiveness. Rather than restoring their relationship, her letter signified the end. Peggy and her father never spoke or saw each other again. He never met Peggy’s two children, his grandchildren. At his death six years later, Peggy learned she alone of all her siblings had been removed from his will and cut out of any inheritance. But through the power of forgiveness, she felt no anger or bitterness, only peace.

A week before her father’s death, Peggy had been invited to a Bible study led by a fellow dance mom. She was reluctant to go, but for her friend’s sake decided to attend. When she arrived, she was the only one there.

“At that moment, I knew God was leading me back into relationship with other believers. My family began attending church there and developed lasting relationships with other families. Forgiveness had set me free to become a part of a church family once more.”

Through the power of forgiveness, Peggy has also found the freedom to regain a relationship with her Heavenly Father.

“Not only do I understand the goodness of my Heavenly Father, but I am also grateful for my earthly father’s spiritual guidance in my young years. I’m thankful that my father taught me about God and led me to the saving knowledge of his Son, Jesus Christ. I look forward to seeing my earthly father again one day in heaven. My Heavenly Father, through my willingness to forgive, has healed me. No longer do I have nightmares or depression. No longer do I experience the darkness of anger or resentment. My good, good Father has restored my soul, healed my broken heart, and taught me how to forgive others and myself.”

Redefined by Christ

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Redefined by Christ

Identity. It’s who we perceive ourselves to be and how we get our self worth. For Gary, his identity was totally wrapped up in hockey. How he performed, what his coaches and team mates thought of him, where he ranked on the depth chart. Hockey was life.

And then it all got taken away…

Gary Steffes

Why Didn't You Tell Me?

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Why Didn't You Tell Me?

A beautiful evangelism story of friendship, loss, jealousy and sharing Jesus.

Joy in the Trial

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Joy in the Trial

Just months after her brother lost his battle with cancer, Monica learns she will be fighting her own battle. Hear how God proved himself faithful in the journey.

A Child's Example

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A Child's Example

Led by the example of their children, watch Randall and Beth Moore’s story of how they prayed through God’s calling for them to give generously to the Make Room building campaign and see how God provided in return.

Young Faith

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Young Faith

Finding Christ at Camp

A story of how two best friends decided to follow Christ.

A little over a year ago when my husband, Corby, and I decided to send our three children to Camp His Way, we made the joint decision to also go as counselors. When the five of us returned happy, dirty, smelly and exhausted, I thanked God for the experience, but decided that surely my week of service meant that the following year’s adventure would look a little more like a beach vacation for Corby and myself, while the kids went to camp all by themselves.

My much less selfless husband, however, committed to another year as a counselor, and I will admit that I not so enthusiastically followed suit. I had no idea that what God had in store for me this year at Camp His Way was far greater than anything any vacation could ever hold. My excitement grew as I was assigned to a cabin with my daughter, Claire, and seven of her best friends.

These girls have spent countless hours at my house and I adore every one of them. What an epic weeklong sleepover this would be! When my eight buddies and I arrived at camp, the camp director explained that there was a new addition to camp this year. It was a simple one – a bell, hung right outside the chapel doors. When a child made a decision at camp to give their life to Christ, they were to ring the bell, and
everyone at camp would stop and cheer.

Claire and I have had many discussions over the last year about what it means to become a Christ follower, but she always became very emotional and stopped just short of making a decision. Hannah, one of her best friends, and the daughter of my dear friend Amy, was also one of my campers.

Hannah and Claire met in preschool at the age of 2, and quickly became the best of friends. Our families have shared so much together – school, sports, church, vacations, memories. They are more like sisters than friends, and our families have become family to each other.
Amy and I have laughed about the differences in our two girls, and wondered what their journeys to Christ might look like. Claire, the sweet tender soul who has always seemed “ripe for the picking,” and Hannah, the confident, strong willed leader, who would make that decision when she was good and ready without input or encouragement from anyone else. Amy has always said she just prayed Hannah would find Jesus sometime before she turned 18.
On the second day of camp, Hannah seemed uncharacteristically quiet and reserved. Near the end of our morning activities, she came to me and said, “I want to ring the bell.” Thinking she just wanted to ring the bell because it seemed like a fun thing to do, I asked, “Hannah, you know that has a special meaning, right?” She nodded, and held my gaze. Quietly, I asked, “Hannah, have you asked Jesus into your heart?” She said, “Not yet.” I asked if she wanted to talk to me about it, and she said yes. I didn’t even notice that Claire was standing there until I heard her say, “Mom, I’m ready too.”

With my heart pounding and pleas firing up to Heaven for God to speak through me to them, I led them to the front row of the quiet, empty chapel. I asked each of them to share with me what was in their heart, and was brought to tears by their sweet responses that were evidence of the Holy Spirit at work.

There, on what will always be the best “vacation” of my life, I got to hear those sweet voices ask Jesus to live in their hearts. I loved witness them ring the bell. For our families, Camp His Way will forever be more than just a church camp. It is the place where two little girls who started as preschool playmates became sisters in Christ.

Floyd and Tamra

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Floyd and Tamra

Floyd and Tamra’s involvement in Uganda began with a short term trip in 2010 and never ended. They are now preparing to move to Uganda long term to continue working with Pastor Makumbi Johnson and Victory Living Word Church. They will live and serve on the land in Kapeeka, Nakasake to develop a village. The long term vision includes a home for orphans, all level schools, a trade school, a clinic, a home for unwed mothers, business development, and more.

To support Floyd and Tamra visit bit.ly/stanleysupport

Homeless

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Homeless

HELPING THE HOMELESS

Matthew Osborn

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Every year there are 9,000 homeless men and women come to the Dallas Convention Center for a one day event hosted by Operation Care Dallas to receive gifts that were gathered from local churches in the DFW area. On a Saturday in December, Christ Fellowship’s Student Ministry and Young Adults (Elevate) teamed up to care for the homeless people of Dallas by helping with clean up, prayer, organizing shoes, and simply sitting down to getting to know them over a meal and great conversation.

homless story 3A lot of our team had a heart to serve and do something for someone else. The group that went down already had a mindset to make an impact, so when the opportunity to serve and minister to the homeless came up we were all excited to go.

Thousands of shoes, haircuts, vision checks, jackets, socks, meals, phone calls home, foot washing, and prayer. We also engaged in great conversations as well as evangelism before they received gifts.

Some people hugged, some cried, and others simply gave us a word of thanks. Our team was the most impacted. We were stretched outside of our comfort zones and experienced a glimpse of a different lifestyle that we don’t normally see.

homeless-storyOne student from our team, Anthony, finished washing a gentleman’s feet and was on his way to get some shoes for him. After searching for the correct size, Anthony realized that there were no more left. When Anthony returned to the man, he generously gave the homeless man the shoes off his own feet. It was not a burden to give away his own shoes, but he was privileged to bless the man with what he had been blessed with.

Multiply

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Multiply

Living Springs Church began as a part of movement to multiply. See the story of how your generosity made it possible.

Laurie

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Laurie

Serving on staff at the church is at times like viewing the backside of a tapestry. There are threads going every which way and patchy globs of color in spots. Some threads are tangled up with each other and some are going here and there – deadlines to make, meetings, relational issues, ministry programs to initiate, next steps to encourage, rooms to set up, volunteers to coordinate, providing needed care and counsel for peoples significant life issues – a conglomeration of strings going in every direction.

Then you have the privilege of going on a mission trip and you get a glimpse of the other side of the beautiful tapestry that God is creating through the people that ministry has been blessing. God is the ultimate artist and his design is a perfect masterpiece created for his glory.
What we didn’t take on our Guatemala mission trip – personal agendas, wifi, sports leagues, rush hour traffic, schedules, work issues, and all of the cultural distractions and frustrations. Our team marched forward fully equipped after weeks of team building, preparation, prayer, packing supplies, a church body commissioning, a supportive group of partners, a fully funded trip, and most importantly in the Power of the living God with palms open wide and hearts eager to serve and fulfill His agenda.

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Each person on our team served beyond their own strength and let God use them for his mission in Guatemala. We spent 14-16 hours of each waking day together – long bus rides and in some extremely challenging physical conditions and environments that carried very heavy emotional burdens. Our team rose to all the challenges they faced.

Weaved throughout our morning and evening devotions and side conversations – was how a Christ Fellowship ministry – Promiseland, Students, Community & Global Impact, Life Groups, Worship, Sermons, Spanish, Mom’s Connection, Camp His Way, VBS, CFOnline, altar call, and others – how each ministry has been an integral part of helping the individuals on our team take “next steps” and grow closer to Christ.

What Rafe & I had the privilege to get a glimpse of on the mission field was the beautiful tapestry God is creating through all of the Christ Fellowship ministries. It was an awesome privilege!

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I took a lot of pictures during the trip and I’m I was bothersome at times – “just one more picture please”. I love pictures but I also wanted to make sure our parents on the team had a chance to see the eternal impact their child was making during the trip. And also, once our team returned home and got caught back up in the cultural distractions, they could take a quick glimpse of a picture from the trip and be reminded of the amazing ministry in Guatemala. We would be reminded of how God used us then and how he will continue to use us right here where we are if we rely on God’s strength and continue pressing on for the glory of our King!