Category Archives: Ministry

Helping Those Who Fought for Our Freedom

Becky Campbell and Son

Becky Campbell with her son David.

Becky Campbell founded Children of Fallen Soldiers Relief Fund (CFSRF) in 2003 after her son, David, joined the service and was deployed to Iraq. As she and her husband watched television coverage of the war, she felt a strong desire to help the children whose parents who had been killed overseas. Their nonprofit ministry provides assistance to surviving children and spouses of U.S. military service members who lost their lives in the Iraq or Afghanistan Wars. They also help severely disabled veterans.

And for the past 12½ years, the nonprofit she founded has provided more than $1.9 million in emotional, educational, financial and moral support to families of fallen heroes in the United States.

We are amazed by their strong mission to support the orphan and the widow through James 1:27. Since our partnership began in 2007, you’ve helped us donate more than $135,000 to their cause. This donation went toward student scholarships to attend a four-year college, as well as funding housing and utilities costs for families who were struggling to make their payments.

Veronica’s Story
As a teenager, Veronica Riddle planned to graduate from high school and join the Air Force, with hopes of obtaining an education while serving in the military.

Veronica and Parents at Graduation

Veronica with her parents after graduation.

In 2008, that dream was placed on hold. While on tour in Iraq, Veronica’s father, Sgt. Scott Riddle, was involved in a severe accident, suffering a broken neck and traumatic brain injury. Despite his hospitalization, a two-year gap occurred from the time Veronica’s father applied for military disability pay and received it, which put financial strain on Veronica’s family.

Due to her family’s financial hardship and father’s illness, Veronica changed her plans of joining the Air Force and remained close to home, helping her mother take care of her father.

Veronica eventually applied for college at a local university, but she was unsure of how she’d afford her education. When she learned about CFSRF through an internet search, she applied for a scholarship and was awarded with the Severely Disabled College Grant for Salisbury University. She graduated with her Bachelor of Science degree in 2014.

Jesenya’s Story
Sgt. Ian Thomas Sanchez was doing a security sweep in Afghanistan when he was killed by an IED, or Improvised Explosive Device. His wife, Tiffany, and daughter, Jesenya, endured many struggles from the devastating loss of Ian.

One of them was the heartbreaking news of Jesenya’s brain tumor diagnosis at age 11.

Jesenya underwent surgery to remove the tumor and was in in-patient rehabilitation for two months and out-patient rehabilitation for three years. Despite her health issues, Jesenya was a full-time honor student invited to travel to Barcelona earlier this year for a language immersion trip. CFSRF paid for Jesenya’s trip through a grant from their Children’s Enrichment Program.

Did you know?
Every day, 22 military veterans commit suicide. They volunteered to serve our nation, and every 80 minutes, one of them takes their own life.

The difference is yours to make. You have an amazing opportunity to help severely disabled veterans and surviving children and spouses of fallen heroes. If you would like to support, donate $10* by texting FAMILY to 52000.

*Your one-time donation of $10 will be added to your mobile phone bill or deducted from your pre-paid balance. Message & data rates may apply.

Supporting One Widow Through the Adoption Process

“I made up my mind I was going to take the kids,” Jean said. “And I was going to do my best, whatever I could for them.”

Jean and her three children.

Jean, a Navajo widow, is trying to adopt her three grandchildren, Ilias, Daniella and Ivas.

Jean’s heart was heavy. After a car accident left her injured and recovering at home, she became aware that her grandchildren were being abused. After much prayer, she knew she had to get the kids out of the house—even though it would tear apart her relationship with her daughter. Jean began to file papers for custody, with an end goal of adoption.

New Life Christian Assembly stepped in to help their sister in Christ. They gave clothes to the kids, purchased groceries, provided a home close to the church and are counseling Jean through the adoption process.

“The church is walking me through it,” Jean said. “And Jesus is helping me every step of the way.”

We love Jean’s sacrificial spirit. One of the ways Family Christian cares for orphans and vulnerable children is by helping them find forever families through adoption, and we desire to lift up Jean through this long journey.

If you’d like to support widows like Jean, donate $10* by texting FAMILY to 52000.

*Your one-time donation of $10 will be added to your mobile phone bill or deducted from your pre-paid balance. Message & data rates may apply.

A Pastor’s Call to the Navajo Nation

In September 2000, God called Nathan Lynch to pastor to the people of Pine Dale, New Mexico. The community is 97% Navajo Native American, and 48% of the families live below the nation’s poverty level. The church, New Life Christian Assembly, ministers to more than 60 widows on a regular basis.

Nathan Lynch looking on.

Nathan has pastored to the Pine Dale community for 15 years and New Life Christian Assembly since 2009.

“They’re very needy, but they’re beautiful, loving and caring,” Nathan said. “My family fell in love with this community.”

The district initially asked Nathan to stay for six months until a permanent pastor was hired. But 15 years later, Nathan’s still in Pine Dale—and he stayed because God told him.

Hear Nathan’s story in his own words, as well as how Family Christian has been able to partner with New Life Christian Assembly to help the widows in their community:

Firewood: A Means of Survival

77% of homes in Pine Dale use firewood to stay warm in the winter. Pine Dale is tucked away in the mountains—so without firewood, Navajo widows will freeze to death.

In late 2011, God led us to New Life Christian Assembly in Pine Dale, New Mexico. We were inspired as we watched them be the hands and feet of Jesus through their ministry work with widows.

Staying warm by the stove.

You helped us purchase a heating stove and firewood for Emma so she could stay warm through the bitterly cold winters.

Through our commitment to James 1:27, we’re passionate about serving widows in distress—both abroad and in the U.S. When we learned having enough firewood was a matter of life or death, we were devoted to helping. And for the past three winters, YOU have helped us keep widows warm and alive.

Since 2012, we’ve been blessed to send mission teams to Pine Dale to help with light construction work on widows’ homes, including building porches and installing stoves. We also purchased a van for Pastor Nathan so he could deliver firewood, as well as helped fund a new bunk house for future mission teams’ stay.

All of our work with New Life Christian Assembly would not be possible without you, our loyal customer. Thank you! Help us continue giving hope to Navajo widows, and donate $10* by texting FAMILY to 52000.

*Your one-time donation of $10 will be added to your mobile phone bill or deducted from your pre-paid balance. Message & data rates may apply.

What’s Next For Widow Connection?

Previously, we shared with you how Widow Connection started and how Family Christian has partnered with them along the way.

Now, let’s take a look at what’s in store for 2016 and beyond.

Along with her daughter, Valerie Neff Hogan, Miriam Neff plans to launch a brand new radio show, called $tarting Over Financially, which will be several 20-minute features that address starting over when life has brought unwanted change.

“It’s primarily geared to widows but also addresses the same needs to people who have gone through divorce or whose spouse is incarcerated,” Valerie explained, adding that a few topics include assessing one’s financial situation, debt and surplus, document gathering to do a budget and building wealth and worth.

Miriam and Valerie

Miriam and Valerie.

In addition to working at Widow Connection, Valerie is also an attorney and offers Christian budgeting counseling and financial planning, so her financial experience paired with Miriam’s counseling experience make for a perfect way to offer sound advice to widows in a loving and caring way.

The idea for $tarting Over Financially came as a result of all the feedback they’ve received from listeners, who have often said they wanted to hear more advice surrounding money.

Widow Connection’s work will also continue overseas, where they’ve provided skill training to widows in Mozambique, Kenya, Malawi, Ghana and Albania.

In these countries, widows’ needs are different—compared with the U.S .—because these widows are truly in poverty. One example is the need for clothing. In the U.S., we have access to stores with inexpensive clothing—but these widows do not .

Widow Connection stepped in to assess these widows’ needs and developed a plan to help. They empower women to support themselves by offering sewing classes, which allows them to provide clothing for their families and earn money by selling the clothing.

These widows now have the means to earn a living for themselves. And many of them can afford to keep and feed their children, instead of having no other option than to put them in an orphanage.

We are very thankful for all the work Miriam does and look forward to continuing partnering with her in her mission to help and support widows in distress.

Join us in giving hope to widows around the world. Donate $10* to Widow Connection by texting FAMILY to 52000.

#FCGiveHope

*Your one-time donation of $10 will be added to your mobile phone bill or deducted from your pre-paid balance. Message & data rates may apply.

Widow Connection: Lori’s Story

It’s difficult for anyone to understand the feeling of becoming a widow without having gone through the unfortunate experience themselves.

“The temperature in your home isn’t the same. The refrigerator isn’t the same. Sometimes your children don’t want to come to your home because it reminds them of the sadness from losing their dad, and you want them there all the time because you’re lonely,” Miriam said, describing what a widow’s life looks like after she becomes widowed.

In addition, upon becoming widows, women lose 75% of their friendship networks. That’s why Widow Connection has been a blessing to so many people, including Miriam.

Through her nonprofit ministry, she’s met and served many widows around the world. One such example is Lori Fox-Ritter, a widow with whom she has become very close.

Lori’s husband, Eric, lost his battle with ALS on April 21, 2010—four years to the day after Miriam’s husband. At the time, her two children were 7 and 13 years old.

It wasn’t an instant connection, though.

Through her friend, Lori found Miriam’s radio program, New Beginnings, about a month after her husband passed away. After listening to an archived version of the broadcast, she felt that Miriam knew her heart and everything that she was going through and wanted to learn more.

A few weeks later, Lori purchased Miriam’s book, From Widow to Another, and was surprised at what she learned on the first page: Miriam’s husband passed away four years prior to the day Eric did. Both of their “vehicles to Heaven” were ALS, and Lori figured God was telling her to read the book—and that night, she finished it.

Lori felt very connected to Miriam after reading the book, so she decided to reach out to her on WidowConnection.com. After corresponding over email, they decided to meet in Chicago that December.

This would mark the beginning of a fresh start for Lori. After meeting Miriam, she was introduced to more widows with whom she could trust and relate to.

Lori Reading

Lori enjoying Miriam’s book, From One Widow to Another.

Following the death of a spouse, life is flipped upside down, but with the encouragement and love of God and others, widows can get back on their feet.

“That period of time afterwards we can decide to just stay under a rock and not get healthy and not figure it out, or we can say, ‘God gave me this body, and it needs to serve me,’” Miriam said. “One of the things we encourage each other to do is to listen to and take care of yourself, and God is going to love you and comfort you.”

Miriam noticed these positive changes Lori was making in her life.

“When I saw the way you were growing and loving your kids, kind of getting your body healthy again, I thought ‘this woman is going to encourage a bunch of other women with her journey. And it happened.”

Miriam invited Lori to be featured on her DVD series, One Widow to Another, and she graciously accepted.

“I was really excited when she asked me to be part of this. I wanted to be used to share the things that had helped me,” Lori said, when explaining the impact Miriam’s book, website and entire ministry had on her life.

And it wasn’t just widows that God put in Lori’s life.

Lori knew she had to be in a good place before entering the dating scene again. She prayed that God would prepare someone’s heart for her. She knew it had to be a Christian man and one with whom she would want to spend the rest of her life. And in 2011, God brought Lori and Todd together, and they’ve been happily married since 2012.

Today, Lori uses her accounting skills to help her church and her brother with their finances and is more than willing to help new widows the same way Miriam helped her back in 2011.

As for Widow Connection, they have plans to grow and continue helping widows all over the world. Continue reading to see more about their future.

Join us in giving hope to widows around the world. Donate $10* to Widow Connection by texting FAMILY to 52000.

#FCGiveHope

*Your one-time donation of $10 will be added to your mobile phone bill or deducted from your pre-paid balance. Message & data rates may apply.

Widow Connection Teams Up With Family Christian

“Family Christian has been a partner that has literally helped put us on the map,” Miriam said. “They’ve been so important in what Widow Connection is doing today.”

Miriam Talking Into A Microphone

New Beginnings is a 60-second radio spot where Miriam offers wisdom, humor, and insights for widows.

In our previous post, we introduced Widow Connection, a nonprofit ministry that equips, informs and educates widows in the U.S. and around the world—and all with a biblical basis. They also encourage people in widows’ lives to know how to care for them.

The ministry was launched in 2007 by Miriam Neff, who only a year prior became a widow herself. After launching WidowConnection.com and authoring her book, From One Widow to Another, she began to think of ways she could reach even more widows.

In 2009, Miriam’s next goal for Widow Connection was a feature on the radio. Through her research, she learned that stations would carry a one-minute program at no charge. But she still needed funds to record it—and that’s when she reached out to us.

Soon after Miriam laid out her plan to us, we were on board and New Beginnings was born. The one-minute feature focuses on starting over, whether from a loss of any kind, divorce or financial turmoil—and is an encouraging word to those who listen.

Once New Beginnings took off, more stations took notice and picked up the show, drawing more people to WidowConnection.com. The website is not only an excellent resource for widows to read other widows’ stories, they but can also email Miriam, who takes time to individually respond to every one of them.

From a simple 60-second radio spot, many widows were reached and many of their lives were changed.

Today, New Beginnings is broadcasted on more than 1,000 stations in the U.S.

Continue reading to discover one widow who was dramatically impacted by Widow Connection, and more specifically, Miriam.

Join us in giving hope to widows around the world. Donate $10* to Widow Connection by texting FAMILY to 52000.

#FCGiveHope

*Your one-time donation of $10 will be added to your mobile phone bill or deducted from your pre-paid balance. Message & data rates may apply.

Widow Connection: A History

Six years ago, Miriam Neff walked into a Family Christian store with her daughter, Valerie, and three adopted grandsons, who were in foster care at the time. Our store was hosting an orphan care event, and while the boys enjoyed a craft and snack, Miriam struck up a conversation with a store manager, expressing how impressed she was with the event for orphans and adopted children.

Miriam with Picture of Grandsons

Miriam proudly showing us her grandsons.

She was thrilled to learn about our commitment to supporting orphans and widows in need through James 1:27, which says, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” (NIV)

“That’s awesome! Most people don’t get it. They may do the orphan piece, but they don’t understand that it also says widows,” Miriam said, reflecting on that day.

In 2006, Miriam became a widow after her husband, Bob, lost his battle with ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Immediately she felt ripped apart—feeling as if she was no longer whole—since when people marry, they become one, and Bob was taken away from her.

Unfortunately, before his passing, Miriam had scheduled her retirement for that same year. So halfway through 2006, she was without her husband and a job.

It left a large void in her life—one that she was unsure how to fill.

At first, she tried to find resources that would provide her with guidance financially, emotionally AND spiritually, but what she found was very limited.

Then she sought to find fulfillment by spending time with Bob’s friends and trying to connect with memories she struggled to hold onto.

One of these trips led her to Burkina Faso, Africa, where she was asked to teach a group of widows about the Bible. The widows enjoyed it so much they asked her to come back at the same time the next day.

That night, which also happened to be the seven-month anniversary of Bob’s death, Miriam was sitting in her hotel room when she realized God was calling her to serve widows.

“I’d never had a calling before,” Miriam said, adding that God asked, “‘Miriam, if you’re not finding these resources, what are you going to do about it?’”

That was the birth of Widow Connection.

Miriam began by launching the website, WidowConnection.com, which has grown substantially into a place where widows can seek comfort by reading shared stories from other widows and find resources for their own current situation.

Next , Miriam wrote her book, From One Widow to Another, and then began thinking about how she could further spread the word about her ministry and serve more widows—that’s when she asked us about our widow outreach, and our partnership would begin.

Continue reading about how Family Christian and Widow Connection work together today.

Join us in giving hope to widows around the world. Donate $10* to Widow Connection by texting FAMILY to 52000.

#FCGiveHope

*Your one-time donation of $10 will be added to your mobile phone bill or deducted from your pre-paid balance. Message & data rates may apply.

Pray America: How You’ve Been Helping Feed Families

Last November, we shared with you how families in Guatemala were still seeing the effects a drought in 2014 had on their food supply. Many of you donated to help purchase dry ingredients, including corn, rice, beans and salt, for Pray America to distribute to the neediest families in Chichicastenango.

Your donations helped provide over 90,000 pounds of food.

Your donations helped provide over 90,000 pounds of food.

We’re thrilled to announce that your generous donations have raised enough for 1,733 food kits! Each food kit contains 52 pounds of food and will feed a family for 30–45 days.

Let’s take a closer look at how God’s amazing plan unfolded:

Winter 2015

  • Guatemalans are still seeing the effects of a drought in 2014. Ron Morin, Founder and Director of Pray America/Manos de Jesus, asks God how his ministry can be prepared if the drought returns. God responds to build a bodega, or food storehouse. Ron and his team begin to build, not knowing if they’ll have the funds to complete the project. He trusts God and acts.

Spring 2015

  • God leads Family Christian to develop a ministry plan that includes a 10-day focus on famine relief in Guatemala. We commit to match the first $25,000 that is raised by our guests.
  • We share the great news with Ron, and through tears, Ron proclaims that he now knows why God called him to build the bodega. Still without the funds to finish construction, Ron is firm in God’s plan and continues to walk by faith.
  • A man in the U.S. contacts Ron, saying God put on his heart to donate money to Pray America for a special project. Ron is overjoyed. The funds pay for the bodega’s roof.

Summer 2015

  • The bodega’s construction is complete. Now the need is to fill it with dry, natural food—corn, rice, beans and salt—that Guatemalans can survive on.

Fall 2015

  • In November, our 10-day campaign to raise funds to purchase food for the bodega kicks off. Our guests respond, and more than $50,000 is raised in donations!
  • In early December, we learn the famine crisis continues to worsen in Guatemala.
  • Ron travels to our office in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He graciously accepts the funds to purchase the food for the bodega, and we celebrate God, our Provider.

January 2016

  • The dry food is purchased and begins to fill God’s bodega.
  • The last week of the month, a mission team from Family Christian travels to Guatemala to serve with Pray America. The team distributes the critically-needed food to families in famine-stricken communities—and the team’s overwhelmed by the joy and relief from each recipient. God’s provision is clear.

This is a great accomplishment, but there are still so many Guatemalans who need food, and YOU can help! Donate now >

Introducing Widow Connection

In 2006, Miriam Neff became a widow after her husband, Bob, lost his battle to ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Shortly thereafter, she sought out resources that could provide her with advice for dealing with grief and her new financial situation. Unfortunately, she couldn’t find a comprehensive book for widows with a spiritual perspective.

On the seven-month anniversary of Bob’s death, she was in Burkina Faso, Africa teaching a group of widows who were hungry to hear the Word. That evening in her hotel room, she knew God was calling her to serve widows and their children.

That was when Widow Connection was born.

Today, Miriam is educating and encouraging widows all over the world through her:

Recently, we had the opportunity to sit down with Miriam, her daughter and even one of the widows she has connected with and helped.

We had a wonderful time getting to know her and her story. She is extremely passionate about serving widows in need. One such case was that of Lori Fox-Ritter, a widow who connected with Miriam after reading her book. After reading the first few pages, Lori learned that Miriam’s husband also passed away from ALS—and four years to the day earlier than her husband, Eric.

Next month, we’ll dive deeper into the past, present and future of Widow Connection, as well as share the rest of Lori’s story with you.

Stay tuned!

Living Water: Violet’s Story

Violet Smiling

Violet rejoices at the sight of clean water.

“Please tell everyone that my suffering ended today.” – Violet

How often do we take the simplest, yet most vital things in life, for granted? Are you conscious of how much water you use daily–whether you’re brushing your teeth, washing your hands, taking a shower or enjoying a refreshing drink?

In America, we have an abundant access to clean water. We don’t have to worry about running out or becoming sick from doing these everyday tasks. But there are still areas of the world where people don’t have the luxury of just turning a knob and having water pour out.

Some don’t even have clean water at all.

Every day when Violet used to fetch water, she wished she was in school. Three times a day, she had to walk two miles to fetch water—water that caused disease, pain, poverty and suffering.

Violet and her family needed the water to survive, even if it meant risking disease and missing school.

Then World Vision came in and drilled boreholes in her village in Zambia and everything changed. As the holes were being drilled, villagers danced, sang and laughed. Everyone wanted to touch and taste the clear, clean, refreshing water.

To them, clean water means hope. Violet will no longer be sick, with itchy sores all over her body. Violet and her friends now have a chance to go to school, rather than constantly fetching water. And now, Violet believes she can reach her goal of becoming a doctor.

World Vision not only brings health through clean water but also a new chance at life. Violet is one of a million reasons why World Vision is drilling for water across the globe, reaching one new person every 30 seconds with clean water.

And YOU can be a part of the story.

Join us and World Vision as we seek to create a better the future for people in need around the world. World Vision is committed to a goal of providing universal access to clean water by 2030, so let’s help them! Donate $10* by texting FAMILY to 52000. Or, find out more by visiting us in stores or at familychristian.com/wvwater.

#FCGiveHope

*Your one-time donation of $10 will be added to your mobile phone bill or deducted from your pre-paid balance. Message & data rates may apply.