April 2021 Pastor’s Corner – It’s Just Not The Same

“Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Heb. 10:25)

One of the most incredible aspects of the past year is how businesses and people adapted to the realities of the pandemic and stay-at-home orders.  Things we used to only be able to do by leaving the house transformed in a few short weeks into things you could do from the comfort of your couch.  Need groceries?  Place the order online and you can pick them up without ever leaving your car.  Want to eat out?  No problem, they’ll bring the food and leave it at your door.  The latest blockbuster movie? Catch it on release day right there in your living  room.  A year ago only the largest and wealthiest churches were live-streaming, but now almost every church is doing so, including ours.  These are amazing and wonderful advances and changes, for which there is much to be thankful.

But can we be honest for a moment?  As great as all of that is, it’s just not the same.  How many times have you purchased the wrong quantity of something because you couldn’t tell how big it was from the teeny picture on your phone?  We’ve almost finished a 25lb bag of flour we accidentally bought last April.  Being able to use Doordash and UberEats is great… but no matter how quick they are, nothing beats the ambiance of the restaurant and eating it fresh from the kitchen.  And Greyhound and Soul were amazing movies… but something gets lost when you’re not seeing it on the big screen.

All of that is even more true when it comes to church and corporate worship.  We’ve learned a lot over the past year about what it truly means to be the church, that in many ways we are able to do more “Kingdom work” outside these walls than within them.  And we are so grateful to be able to provide the ability to worship together when we can’t physically be present at the church.  But, again, can we be honest?  It really isn’t the same.  And it shouldn’t be the same.

Much moreso than eating out, going to the movies or shopping for groceries, worshipping our Lord and Savior is meant to be done by being physically present with other believers.  Yes, the Holy Spirit is still present with us and unites us together even when we’re apart, but there is something crucial and important that happens when we gather together for Sunday worship.  Whether it’s singing our praises to the Lord, praying for one another, celebrating the Sacraments, or hearing the Word of God proclaimed, it’s meant to be experienced in-person, not over a screen.

You’ll see throughout this newsletter how we are moving back to in-person worship, ministry and mission.  We’ll be talking about it more as the weather warms up as well.  Right now, we’re looking at Pentecost Sunday as our “target date” for coming together as the Body of Christ.  You are welcomed and encouraged to join us for in-person worship before that date or on it.  Please know we’re not choosing to ignore the realities of the pandemic or letting our guard down.  We are recognizing that great strides have been taken over the past few months and that we are now at a place where we can, with confidence, say, it’s time to gather back as the Body of Christ and get to work on the mission Christ has given to us in Madison Heights, Amherst County, and around the world.  As our website says,

We are a biblically-based Presbyterian church seeking to experience and share God’s love to transform our homes, community and the world. We hope you will join us.

See you soon!

Blessings,
Rev. David Garrison

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February 2021 Pastor’s Corner – The Power of Love

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. (1 Cor. 13:1–3)
 

The Longest Shortest Month of the Year

There isn’t much in February to celebrate. For most of us, by the time February rolls around we’re tired of winter and ready for spring, and that makes the shortest month of the year feel all that much longer. Of course, sports fans get the Super Bowl and Daytona 500, and baseball fans start to get excited because pitchers and catchers report to spring training. Outside of that, though, pretty much all there is in February to look forward to is Valentine’s Day. This is a day in which we celebrate romantic love, named after a 3rd century saint who was martyred for his care of the faithful during times of persecution. How a ‘holy day’ commemorating him became associated with romantic love is something of a historical question, but nevertheless, that’s what’s happened. Interestingly, this year Valentine’s Day falls on a Sunday, and is also the same date as the Daytona 500, which means my wife can look forward to a romantic afternoon watching a car race…but that’s beside the point… however you might want to pray for her.. or me…
 

It All Boils Down To…

As I’ve been thinking about Saint Valentine, and Valentine’s Day, and all that’s going on around us this year and last, I’m reminded of what Jesus said when asked what the greatest commandment is: ‘“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”’ (Mark 12:29–31) Love. That’s what it all boils down to for us. Many of us have grown up singing the hymn, They’ll Know We Are Christians By Our Love. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be what Christians are known for these days. Mostly we seem to either be known for what we fear or what makes us angry. Maybe this Valentine’s Day (and month) we would do well to get back to the way of love.
 

“Full Of Sound and Fury, Signifying Nothing” — Macbeth

As Paul writes in the passage quoted at the start of this article, if we don’t have love, we’re just making noise, having nothing, gaining nothing. The way to truly experience and share the love of God in our homes, neighborhoods and world is through love. Loving God (Mark 12:30), loving one another (John 15:12), loving our neighbors (Mark 12:31; “Who is my neighbor?”: Luke 10:25-37), even loving our enemies (Matthew 5:44). Pretty sure that covers most everyone in our lives…at least, I can’t find any exceptions in there. Loving others day in and day out is hard…but the path of love is relatively straightforward. Simply ask yourself, in each conversation and action, “Is this word or deed a way to show the love of Christ to this person?” Again, it’s an easy thing to think and ask ourselves — it’s in the doing it that becomes more difficult. But wouldn’t it be nice if we were known for our love rather than our anger and fear? That might just be enough to change the world.
 
We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother. (1 John 4:19–21)
 
Blessings,
Rev. David Garrison

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Drive-In Food Drive & Caroling – This Sunday, December 13 @ 1PM

Food Drive Drive-in

Mark your calendars! It’s coming—the first ever Northminster Food Drive Drive-in! We will be collecting for Neighbors Helping Neighbors (NHN). The items most needed are listed below. Please bring your donation to the back parking lot at 1 p.m. on Sunday, December 13, and stay to sing some favorite songs of the season with Gospel on the Grounds.
 
Items requested by NHN:
  • 14oz. yellow mustard
  • 32oz. pancake mix
  • 4 lbs. sugar
  • 24 oz. pancake syrup
  • 15 oz. ketchup
  • 6 pack of fruit cups
  • 15 oz. mayonnaise
 

Drive-in Caroling

We invite you to enjoy the songs of the season on Sunday, December 13, at 1 p.m. Maggie Brockman and her group, Gospel on the Grounds, will be playing some beloved Christmas carols while we listen. You’re welcome to sit in your car with the windows up or down to enjoy the beautiful music. You can even sit outside on your lawn chair if the weather is nice. We hope you’ll join us for this out-of-the-box, drive-in Christmas caroling for 2020.

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August 2020 Pastor’s Corner – Essential?

“What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” (James 2:14–17)
 

Essential?

As state and local governments imposed increasingly strict rules regarding public gatherings in response to the rapidly spreading coronavirus pandemic this past spring, churches found themselves facing a difficult position. “Essential” businesses were somewhat exempt from the closures, but most states did not classify churches as “essential.” While most churches and pastors submitted to the guidance (and thanks to the blessings of modern technology were able to continue worshipping online or in outdoor settings), the restrictions chafed, particularly the determination that churches were not “essential.” To be honest, for many of us pastors, it chafed because the government was saying out loud what most of us have been feeling for a long time. It’s one thing to feel like you don’t matter… it’s entirely different when someone else says it.
 
As Virginia and many other states have begun reopening and churches, including ours, have resumed in-person worship, this question briefly moved to the background. But as the COVID-19 numbers continue to increase rapidly, many people think it’s just a matter of time before public gatherings are again restricted. Additionally, the Supreme Court recently ruled on a case in Nevada that imposed tighter regulations on churches than on casinos. In his minority dissent, Justice Gorsuch wrote, “In Nevada, it seems, it is better to be in entertainment than religion. Maybe that is nothing new. But the First Amendment prohibits such obvious discrimination against the exercise of religion.” This has returned the question of whether churches are essential or not to the foreground.
 

The Essential Church?

What is it that makes a church “essential”? Frankly, it doesn’t (or shouldn’t) matter what any government says. The Church is not subject to the government, but to Christ. The First Amendment doesn’t give the Church its authority or make it essential, it merely affirms and protects the authority given through Christ to the Church. As Edmund Clowney writes, “The great mark of the church is in the message it proclaims: the gospel of salvation from sin and eternal death through the cross and the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who alone is the Way, the Truth and the Life.” (The Church, pg 103). The proclamation of this message comes through what we say and what we do. We proclaim the Gospel through our words by preaching and sharing our testimony and lives with others. We proclaim the Gospel through our actions by the administration of the sacraments (Baptism and the Lord’s Supper) and acts of service and ministry in which we love our neighbors as ourselves and care for “the orphans and widows” (James 1:27). It is my belief that we, the church in general, have become “non-essential” because we have failed to love and serve our communities well in Jesus’ name. A question I often ask myself and the Session is this: “If Northminster (both the building and the congregation) were to disappear from the corner of Clearview Road and Route 29, would anyone notice?” If the answer to that question is “no” then we have made ourselves non-essential.
 
But there is another reason the Church is essential, one that likely won’t be discussed in many of these conversations. One of the roles of the church is to intercede on behalf of the world. In addition to the call to pray for governing authorities (1 Timothy 2:2), there’s the example of Abraham’s intercession for Lot and the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 18:22-33). We are here to seek God’s healing and blessing for Caesar, our communities and the world. The opportunity we have through our corporate prayer on behalf of the communities and world around us is an enormous privilege and opportunity.
 
As we continue through this pandemic, may the question of whether Northminster is essential or not be answered, not by a government edict, but by the ongoing faithful proclamation of the Word through our words and even more through our acts of love and service to our community.
 
Blessings,
Rev. David Garrison

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NEPC’s Response to COVID-19

March 18, 2020

Dear Friends,

We are in unprecedented times, being forced into new patterns of being that feel unnatural and strange, but are ever so necessary in order to “flatten the curve” and slow the spread of this pandemic.  The rhythm and flow of our “normal” lives has been completely disrupted, and we’re just beginning to experience what this is going to be like.  It’s hard, it’s scary, and it’s frightening. What are we to do? Well, there are a few answers to that, which I’d like to share with you today.

What am I to do?

Be wise and prudent, but not fearful.  We can take the novel coronavirus seriously and apply appropriate social distancing and good hygiene without falling into fear.  I encourage you to follow the guidelines issued by the CDC and the federal and state governments.  Wash your hands often, don’t touch your face, stay 6’ away from others, and avoid large group gatherings.  But even with those efforts you might contract the virus.  Whether you do or not, you are always in Jesus’ hands.  He is present with us in our isolation, our quarantines and even more in our illnesses.  He is already and will continue to watch over each one of us.  We need not fear for our present or future, because Jesus is already there.

What is our church to do?

Both Scripture (Romans 13:1) and our confession (Westminster 23.4) command us to submit to civil authorities, and while (at the time of the writing of this letter) no law has been issued barring us from gathering for worship, we do believe that it is our civic responsibility to comply, as best as possible, with their recommendations to slow the spread of this virus.  To that end, we have cancelled all ministries and missions outside of worship.  This includes Sunday school, Bible studies, women’s circles, and youth group.  We are also moving the focus of our worship service to online streaming.  As long as you have an internet-connected device (cell phone, TV, computer, iPad, etc), you can join us for worship.  Simply go to www.facebook.com/npcmh at 11am on Sunday morning, and you’ll see the livestream there (you do not need a Facebook account to see the service).  We will publish the bulletin online so you can follow along.  We’ll send more information about how this works on different devices in a few days.  In addition, the Sanctuary will still be open if you would like to be present with us, but we encourage folks to sit 6’ apart.  But let me re-emphasize: If you are in the higher-risk categories for COVID-19, please do not put yourself at risk by going out.  Also, if you have been reading for B90, by all means keep it up!  While our discussion groups won’t be meeting, we’ll email you online videos and tools.

The Work of the Church goes on

In the midst of this, we are still hard at work serving you and our community. Our programs might be temporarily cancelled, but the work of the church is more than a program or ministry.  Please continue giving.  Our community needs the light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ now more than ever.  Send your tithes and offerings in weekly.  If you find yourself quarantined and unable to go to the store or need help, please let us know.  Look for ways to to love your neighbor, old or young.  Invite a neighbor to join your family for worship in your living room (but practice appropriate social distancing).  Call one another and check in to see how folks are doing.  And when you hear of a need or concern, please let us know.  In the midst of this terrible situation, we have an opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus for each other and our neighbors in ways we’d never dreamed.

The Church has faced pandemics like this time and again throughout history.  While we don’t know how long this will last, we know that it too shall pass and look forward to the time when we can worship and be together in person.  Until then, be wise and prudent.  Practice good hygiene, appropriate social distancing, and the guidance of our governing authorities.  Help where you are able.  And above and beyond all else, pray.  For we are all in God’s hands, and we should earnestly pray for his mercy to bring an end to this pestilence both here and abroad.

Yours in Christ,

Rev. David Garrison


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Gleaning for the World Service Project – 2/13/2020

On February 13th a crew of seven went to Gleaning for the World. Personal hygiene products were sorted and boxed. Fabric was cut and packaged for delivery to cottage industries in developing countries.A good time was had by all.
 

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Neighbors Helping Neighbors Community Meal – November 26, 4:30-7pm

Neighbors Helping Neighbors will start having a FREE evening meal (5:00-7:00) on Tuesdays beginning in November.  They are looking for volunteers.  We would bring the food already prepared and then warm it up upon arrival.  Jimmy Price has opened his building located on route 29, near Dixie Airport Road, for this purpose.  We (MOE committee) invited Garry Friend to speak at Northminster and explain in detail what would be expected of an organization willing to help. 

We have agreed to serve one meal, on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, November 26.   We will serve about 50 people – about the size of a church covered-dish meal.  This may be the only Thanksgiving dinner for our guests.  

NHN provides plates, napkins, cups and eating utensil and they clean up.   

The menu is listed here: turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans, gravy, rolls and butter, cranberry salad, pie and whipped cream, coffee, sweet tea, and water. 

We need people to serve, greet, cook, pray, and help with a little clean up.  (Donations are helpful as well.)
 
Update from Sunday, November 24 Bulletin:
Thank you to everyone helping with the Neighbors Helping Neighbors Evening Meal on Tuesday, November 26th
Just a few last minute items:
If you are making food be sure to deliver to Jimmy Price’s building no later then 4:30 (4:15 would be better). We start serving at 5:00 p.m.
If you are dropping off your food at NEPC or are unsure of the location and want car pool please let me know or see Vonnie.
Find your NEPC tee shirt and wear so our guest will know who to ask for help or seconds.
Please be in prayer for those coming for dinner.
Thank you
 
Update from Sunday, November 17 Bulletin:
MEAL FOR NHN ON TUES NOV 26:
Northminster is serving a meal on Tuesday, November 26 from 5:00-7:00 p.m. We need to be at the Jimmy Price’s building around 4:30 p.m. to pray and see where we will be serving. Please wear your NEPC tee shirt. See Judy Reyburn if you need one.
  • We still need volunteers to serve the meal
  • Kitchen volunteers to dish up the plates
  • Cooks
      • 2 more turkeys
      • Rolls and butter
      • Drinks (sweet tea, lemonade, water)
      • Pie and whipped cream
      • Cranberry salad
  • Light clean-up
 

Please contact Judy Reyburn if you can help prepare and serve food, or if you can prepare food but cannot attend the meal.  

Missions, Evangelism, Outreach Committee


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Operation Christmas Child 2019 is Underway!

The Sunday School classes will be taking up items for our shoeboxes through Sunday, November 17.  We will put together as many shoeboxes as we can during SS on November 17.  However, we will continue to put boxes together during that week should we have more items come in later.
 
Operation Christmas Child suggests that we have one WOW item per box such as a doll, a stuffed animal, an outfit of clothes, a small musical instrument, or a backpack.  Our boxes are divided by gender and the following age groups:  2 – 4, 5 – 9, 10 – 14.
 
Some suggested items are: combs, hairbrushes, chapstick, bandages, toothbrush, watch, packaged soap, washcloth, stick deodorant, reusable plastic containers (cups, plates, bowls), blunt edged utensils, blanket, nail clipper, finger nail file, shirts/pants, loose fitting sundress, underwear, shoes, socks, flip-flops, hat, scarf, mittens, sunglasses, tote bag/purse, hair bows, pencils, manual pencil sharpener, colored pencils, pencil case, crayons, markers, pens, ruler, scissors, coloring pads/books, picture books, notebooks, glue sticks, tape, water color set, play doh with plastic cookie cutters, sewing kit, stickers, chalkboard and chalk, jump rope, foam ball, finger puppets, slinky, etch a sketch, yo-yo, marbles, costume jewelry, small Frisbee, small kite, solar powered calculator, puzzles, binoculars, plastic tools, plastic dinosaurs, small cars/trucks/boats, flashlight (if battery powered – an extra set of batteries), and compact mirror.
 
The things that are not allowed in the shoeboxes are as follows:  candy, toothpaste, gum, used or damaged items, war-related items such as toy guns, knives, or military figures, chocolate or food, seeds, fruit rolls or other fruit snacks, drink mixes (powdered or liquid), liquids or lotions, medications or vitamins, breakable items such as snow globes, or glass containers, and aerosol cans.
Please bring any donations to church by Sunday, November 17. There will be a collection bin in the church foyer for your donations. If you choose to pack your own shoebox, please bring it to church that Sunday morning as well.
 
If you have any questions, please contact Sharon Bryant.

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Good News from Hard Places – A Missions Seminar, Saturday, May 18, 2019

Elon Evangelical and Northminster Evangelical Presbyterian Churches Present


Good News from Hard Places

Saturday, May 18, 2019
9:30 – 11:15 am
 
Northminster Evangelical Presbyterian Church
106 Clearview Drive, Madison Heights VA 24572
Join us at 9:30 am for coffee and pastry – the seminar begins at 9:45 am
Please RSVP to Office@npcmh.com

Come learn why the Church in difficult places has much to teach us about both the cost of discipleship, as well as its fruits!
 
Marilyn Borst shares first-hand experience behind global headlines as she sheds light upon the work and witness of the Presbyterian Church in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Egypt (all of which Marilyn has visited in the past 6 months) and invites us to come alongside that work through our prayer and presence.

This is the Church which Paul describes: “we rejoice in our suffering because suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us….”
 
Marilyn Borst is Associate Director for Partnership Development of The Outreach Foundation, a Presbyterian mission agency which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. She works with churches around the United States to help them discern God’s call to global engagement while connecting them to that work alongside the Global Church in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, Asia and the Middle East—a particular area of specialty for her. She travels extensively, nurturing relationships with church leaders, assessing ministry initiatives and leading short-term vision teams especially to Cuba, Lebanon, Iraq, Egypt, Syria and Israel/Palestine. Her heart for the Church in difficult places has also brought her to Iran, Pakistan and North Korea. Prior to joining The Outreach Foundation staff, Marilyn served for over 6 years as Director of Global Ministry at Peachtree Presbyterian Church in Atlanta where she oversaw the international partnerships of this 8,000-member congregation in over 33 countries. Marilyn holds a B.A. in Classical Studies from Calvin College (Grand Rapids, MI), an M.A. in Art History from Michigan State University, and an M.A. in Theology from St. Thomas University (Houston). She has participated in four archeological digs in Jordan and Egypt and taught as adjunct faculty at the University of Houston for 20 years. She is ordained as an elder and has been married to Mark Borst for 40 years. The Borsts reside in Atlanta.

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Crumrine Update – January 2019

 
Dear Family and Friends,
 
As we start this New Year, we are reminded again of these familiar verses in Proverbs: Trust in the Lord with all those heart, and lean not into thine own understanding. In all thine ways, acknowledge Him and He shall direct the paths.
 
The work God has called each one of us to do is not our own but His. We are so grateful to be a part of His plan. Thank you to all of you who faithfully pray and support us. You a vital part of the ministry here. We are excited to work together with you because God has blessed here in so many ways. Let us share some of the ways God has been working here in Tirokave.
 
Souls Saved:
We have had some souls come to Christ this past month. One man, Beno, has been coming to the church here for years but has never made a commitment to salvation. He has been under the preaching since Ben and Lauren first came. He finally decided to leave his sin and come to Christ the first part of this year. Another lady, Lena, has been searching for some time now to find the Truth through her own good works, but finally realized that she needed to bow before the Lord and accept His True Peace. These two have been such an added blessing to the ministry here. Beno, even before he came to Christ, thought himself to be Keith’s personal bodyguard as he traveled around preaching at the markets.
 
Karafa and Taveo
One blessing we encountered this past month during our service at Karafa was the heavy conviction of the Holy Spirit on the leader ( Toba) there. He has asked the men to come and sit down with him and explain the Scriptures to him. Please pray that God would make this meeting possible this weekend. Keith and the men have tried to set up something but the man had gone to town. We also had an excellent service at Taveo as well. Because of the abundance of rain, everyone had to walk more than an hour to get to this houseline.
School Situation:
Many of our youth have left for surrounding towns and cities for school because of the uncertainty of the school reopening here in the village. We have truly missed each one of them. They have been one faithful group of young people. May God continue to grow them and help them to follow Jesus!
The younger children up to eighth grade will start school here tomorrow if the roads are passable again. Because of the rain and earthquakes it has made it difficult for people to get around.
 
Yababi:
The Lord allowed Keith an unique opportunity to preach at church about 30 minutes away for a three day revival meetings. Some of our church went and stayed for this time, while we traveled back and forth for the services. We really felt the working of the Holy Spirit working in the hearts of people that attended. This church at Yababi has had some serious issues within their church, but we believe His spirit was working to change the people involved. Deana and Hudson were able to tell the story of Mary Slessor and do some crafts with the kids, so the adults could focus on the messages. Please continue to pray for the growth of this church.
 
Other Opportunities:
Keith has been able to have a carpentry class with the men of the church teaching them the basics of building. Many of them are preparing to build new homes, and they are learning good skills to help them accomplish this task. Deana is attempting to have a few classes in cooking for the ladies. She was approached by one lady who wanted to learn some different recipes, so Deana is going to attempt to do this about two times a month. The ladies would like to sell some of these baked goods. Although these two classes are not necessary to the ministry, we are trying to build relationships and help give opportunities to the church people here, we also use this time for a bible study. We do so enjoy spending time with them and encouraging them to live for Jesus.
 
Pray 1. Toba, the leader of Karafa, to come to Christ
2. Christians would stand strong in the faith and be good witnesses in their local area and the surrounding houselines.
3. A certain fighting village ( Famu) Keith had the opportunity to share the Gospel with to come to Christ.
4. Taveo and Karafa ministries
5. Continued funds to finish our stay here.
 
Praises:
1. God has provided money to purchase plane tickets to go back home in May. Lord willing, we should be home in the 3rd of May.
2. Souls Saved this past month.
3. We have had many “impossible situations” that God has answered throughout this past year. All praise goes to our Heavenly Father . May God continue to bless you all as you serve Him with JOY in your side of the world!
 
For His Glory,
The Crumrines

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