All posts by ronaldwehr

God's Choice Canfield

God’s Choice Canfield

God’s Choice Canfield

It’s been too long since Shirley asked us to write something about our location of God’s Choice. I apologize to Shirley for this delay.

Pastor Shirley asked us to provide Highlights of the last three months but for our first write up I feel led to share our whole story to this point. It is my hope that our story will encourage others to keep trying even when things seem hopeless. God will bless your ministry; more than you could ever imagine. He may just test your faith and resolve first, and maybe from time to time along the way.

Our First Attempt

The Midway Mennonite congregation in Columbiana Ohio, after having Pastor Shirley preach, decided they wanted to open a God’s Choice. Midway’s church building/meeting house, is not readily accessible to handicap individuals, so another site was sought out.

Several other area churches offered to help and  it was decided to utilize the Upper Room facilities. Their church offered an ideal location with easy access. However, we had a hard time getting any participation from local Special Needs/Disabilities agencies or families. After several months with little success it was decided to temporarily shut down and regroup. We felt God was calling us to start this type of ministry, so we met and decided to change the location to a church closer to the Mahoning County agencies. We did this because we had heard most of the agencies didn’t want to travel too far, but did like the idea of a Church that would minister to there Individuals.

Second Attempt/ Success

After an extensive search and much discussion and prayer, the Presbyterian Church in Canfield Ohio was chosen as a place to reopen. Their Pastor was very gracious and welcomed us with open arms. We had cards made up, to pass out, advertising the new location and talked to members of DD in Mahoning County. We opened our doors In September of 2016.

The first couple weeks seemed just like before, with nobody but the volunteers showing up. But God was not ready for us to give up, and soon provided us a surprise of a bus full of Special Needs/Disabilities (SND) Individuals. Too my surprise, I knew several of them from playing Santa Clause at their Christmas Party . The agency that was bringing them was only able to bring one bus each time but had enough interest for two buses, so they alternated each week. This was an answer to prayer and a Praise The Lord Moment for us. GOD’S CHOICE CANFIELD was a reality.

Getting Involvement

Having visited, East Liverpool to visit with the God’s Choice there, were we witnessed several of their SND individuals taking an active part in the singing and playing music. So that inspired us to invite anyone who may want to assist in leading music to come forward during the time of singing. Surprisingly most of our SND individuals came forward to help. Talking with a couple of them afterwards, I discovered that some of them played the guitar. So I told them to bring them and they could help by playing during the time of singing.

The next week we had two guitar players and a harmonica player. What fun and enthusiasm  this brought to the service. I thanked one of the guitarist and  received a huge smile and a thank you for letting me play. I told him he could play every week if he wanted; “Really”, He said, with a huge smile. Now, still to this day he brings his guitar to play along. Now every week we have possibly two or three guitar players, sometimes a harmonica player, and several tambourine or Maraca shakers. This makes for a very lively time of  worshiping. We are not always on the same page but we make a joyful noise to the Lord.

We meet each week on Monday. Our service originally was to start at 5 pm. But after several weeks of our group showing up late, and even once showing up after we had closed up and were ready to walk out, believing no body was coming. We realized that our service time needed to change. So Now we advertise that we start at 6pm but often don’t get started till 6:30pm.

Affermation

Early on in our ministry as God’s Choice, one of our Volunteers over heard the SND individuals talking, One said to the other;” I LOVE MY CHURCH”. What a great affirmation of this ministry that God has lead us to.

Our group has continued to flourish, the agency that  could only bring one bus at a time, soon managed to get enough bus drivers and caregivers to bring two buses most every week. We also have a couple families that bring there SND individuals with them (including children). Many weeks we leave surprised and blessed by things we see, hear and experience that just blow us away.

Special Events

We have had many special programs and times of worship. This past summer, the Presbyterian Church that hosts us, had three different youth groups come and live in the church for a week. They spent time working at service projects in the community. All three chose to extend their stay to be a part of our worship service. God Blessed these services in a very special way. Many of the youth took time to get to know our SND individuals and one group even offered special music for us. Everyone had a great time. One of the groups even sent the host church a thank you letter. Included in this letter was the statement that “God’s Choice was the highlight of their week”.

Midway invited the Gods Choice Church to our annual “Galilean Service” that we hold at the one of our Midway members home. They have a pond and a pavilion, were we can hold our service and share a carry in meal. For this service though we opted to have hot-dogs and hamburgers, to limit the choices and simplify things for everyone.  It was at this service; that we had two of our SND individuals, baptized. Another, “PRAISE THE LORD” moment.

Also at this service by the pond, we had a puppet show, for our worship service message. We conducted the worship service in the God’s Choice style. Everyone, spent extra time afterwards visiting, fishing and watching the birds fly around. We are already anticipating doing this again this year. This time we anticipate 3 baptisms from our God’s Choice Group.

Another special service was having a guest (Bryan Moyer Suderman) who is a song writer, singer, and comedian. He shared with us his music while playing a guitar and teaching us to sing his songs and providing accompaniment for our usual songs with a bit of a flare added in. For this service we invited each of the churches that support us and any friends and family that wanted to attend.

These special services have helped us to grow our volunteer base. As well as to increase involvement of the caregivers and families that attend. We have been very fortunate to have as many volunteers as we do. There is enough help in the kitchen to allow volunteers to take time off when they need to. We also enjoy the help provided by the church janitor and his wife, who have now become regular volunteers, although we have our own volunteer that heads up those duties as well.. The janitor’s wife has been active at being our second piano player. In addition we now have three individuals that are capable and willing to lead the worship service. Typically the service is lead by our leader but I take over one week each month and our third is available on an as needed basis. God has really blessed us with our volunteers.

Volunteers? and Caregivers?

The caregivers have been a real blessing to us as well. Sometimes it is hard to draw a line between caregivers and volunteers. The leader of the agency that attends each week, is very active and supportive. Her along with another caregiver or two often (most every week) bring our service to a close with a song of praise. We then end with  a closing prayer that is offered up from a caregiver that introduced herself as a pastor of the streets, when she first started coming. These ladies have a very dynamic worship style that is different to that of a Mennonite Church. It is a very welcome and exciting mixture for all who attend. Typically after the prayer we conclude by singing “And the Church Said Amen” while walking around greeting each other.

Prayer Time

Our services also include a time of prayer for any needs or praises that the group wish to share. This time of prayer has transformed into many of our SND individuals coming forward and praying individually for their caregivers, prayer concerns, and anything else they wish to share. There prayers are not always fully understood by everyone but it is obvious that they are heart felt prayers. Sometimes it is very difficult keeping this from going on too long. It could be just one sharing or a line may form each waiting to say their own prayer. Sometimes, the same person will say two or three prayers in one service. The care givers and  volunteers are  always told “Thank You” and “I love you” during this time of sharing.

We have had many opportunities to pray for very special requests. Cancer, Hospitalizations, and other injuries. We even had a family link to one of the people injured on the ride at the Ohio State Fair. On one occasion, we were asked to pray for a SND individual that was diagnosed with cancer. Without an invitation many of the SND individuals and caregivers along with volunteers swarmed (gathered) around this person and we prayed for her. Today she is doing very well. Praise God most of these prayer concerns have brought about amazing healing.

Advice

If I were to offer any advice, it would be simply “Step Back and Let God”. When you do this amazing things seem to happen. Trying to be to rigid can hinder the work of God. Sometimes this is hard, and sometimes you do need to keep things under control. Just let things happen and be prepared for whatever does happen. When those unexpected things happen, that is when you will be blessed the most.

Feel free to come and Enjoy our service at anytime. You, will be met with a warm greeting, and if you want suggestions,  everyone will be willing to share on their experiences.

Ronald Wehr.

Volunteer at God’s Choice Canfield.

 

East Liverpool Prom

East Liverpool Prom 2018

East Liverpool Prom 2018 will be held on Tuesday, May 22, 2018 aEast Liverpool Promt our location at First Free Methodist Church, 16260 St. Clair Avenue, East Liverpool, OH. Starting at
5 p.m. until 9 p.m. We will be serving pasta with red or white meat sauce, salad, garlic bread, cake and soft drinks. Snacks will also be available.

Music and DJ service provided by Ryan Stoval.

All God’s Choice locations are welcome to join us. If attending, please contact Ann or Jerry McMains at 330-843-4744 with the number of persons coming. There is no fee for attending. Please let us know by May 15th. Thanks and hope to see you there!

Gods Choice Cove Run Highlights

Gods Choice Cove Run Highlights

 

  1. Over the last three months, what “glorious moments” has your ministry experienced?
    • We’ve had a change in leadership in our kitchen staff to a more team-oriented model rather than a single “overseer.” We saw inherent problems with that model, which drove some of the volunteers away. It has since changed and we’ve seen God bring some of the kitchen volunteers back.
    • The menus have also changed for the better to be healthier as well as more cost-effective. The girls have implemented a “summer” and “winter” two-menu system that really will work and save cost. As a result, we’ve had more houses ask how they could help than ever before. It’s amazing to see how little changes make such a deep impact.
    • We’ve experienced a little more growth and more reach into the community.
  2. Have you had any learning experiences, good or bad, which may help others?
    • We learned more about the causes that our special needs participants and their caregivers care about, such as the Autism Day, Special Olympics, and “Spread the word to end the [“R”] word” campaign. I think it is absolutely vital to involve the God’s Choice volunteers and the host church in these community events whether or not they’re attached to the Christian church/movement at all. Why? Because it’s a way to learn, a way to interact, a way to meet many others who aren’t attending God’s Choice because they don’t even know about it, a way to minister to more lost people, etc. It’s an extension of service. It’s easy to sit back and let them come to you and the church, but we must also go to them. Jesus didn’t tell us to “sit” and make disciples when at church, He told us to “Go, and make disciples…” That’s a huge learning experience and it’s paying dividends both in communication and our spiritual growth.
    • Training of new volunteers is important, and we have learned that we need to schedule it bi-annually at the very least. Volunteers, especially teenagers, come in without having been through our initial training and we expect them to understand. They don’t. Train often. Make time for it.
    • We learned from a recent Caregiver Meeting that their loved ones and “clients” don’t like to be called “clients.” I’m sure this is a regional thing, but I was informed that the word around this area is “participant.” To be frank, I never liked the word “client,” and we’ve since stopped using it. Reeducation and listening are two things we must do for our individual God’s Choice ministries. We tailor likewise if it makes sense. Thankfully, no one was offended, just wanted to let me know. I was so very thankful and gracious to them for bringing it up (which was the whole point of the meeting). As a result, we’ve stopped using “mainstream” and “client” and began using other regionally accepted terms.
    • Another good thing was re-branding God’s Choice Church to God’s Choice Ministries at Cove Run. The reason is because too many from the community were disassociating God’s Choice from Cove Run, when we’re partners in this endeavor. People have asked all sorts of strange questions: “Is that a church that thinks its people are perfect or what?” Yes, that happened, a couple of times. They see “perfect in the eyes of God” on our sign and thought that our people think we’re sinless. Not kidding. Blew me away. Or, “We thought there were two churches operating in the same building.” To clear the confusion, we’re re-branding it to God’s Choice Ministries and changing all of our signs to reflect this necessary change. I would assert that to call God’s Choice a “church” disassociates the host church from the ministry to special needs persons because, sadly (but it’s a reality), people in America today don’t understand church, so they see a sign that says “God’s Choice Church” and make wild speculations. We want to clear that up and we think this will be a positive change.
    • We started to use our own curriculum for the Bible lesson. Since we’re almost two years into this ministry, we felt it time to move away from the manual’s lessons and use our own material that we use for Sunday School for our children. They’re not “better”, they’re simply different and gives a different way of presenting the material in a positive way. We still do the discussion questions at the end – sans the prizes – and the participants love to answer them even without the promise of a prize. 🙂
  3. What is the average attendance for you weekly? 45, including volunteers
  4. How many volunteers do you usually have? 5-6 kitchen, 4-7 youth, 1-3 “floaters”
  5. Please share any stories from your ministry that have stirred your hearts.
    • I (Pastor Branden) attended my first Special Olympics basketball tournament this past Saturday. Two years of God’s Choice at Cove Run and I never knew that SO events were open to the public. I just showed up and ended up spending 2.5 hours with well over 100 people (possibly 150+) from the Knights of Columbus to Special Olympics and many volunteers. They asked me to pray for the pizza, and three of the mothers who attend God’s Choice all but forced me to “plug” God’s Choice to the crowd! Needless to say, God used it to spur on this wonderful ministry in our communities.
  6. Any other thoughts/ideas/events/questions you want to share?
    • Not at this time, except to communicate that our God’s Choice Spring Dance this year will be held at the Free Methodist Fairchance Campground (the hall was donated) on Saturday evening, May 19, 2018. 🙂 We’re so excited to see the 2nd anniversary of our annual prom/dance event!
We thank you for your prayers and support of our ministry at Cove Run Church. I hope the above feedback gives Pastor Shirley and the whole God’s Choice ministry body some great things to pray about in their own ministries. Thank you, and God bless. Please let me know if you need any more information.
Elosh Family

God’s Choice, Growing Fast

God’s Choice, Growing Fast

Shirley is busy doing God’s work. She started out working with one church in East Liverpool.  Today there are 14 locations of God’s Choice  special needs churches. Shirley and her family are as surprised as anyone at the growth of God’s Choice. Much of her time is spent setting up the next locations. Training sessions are held at each new location. Volunteers are trained to run the ministry on their own.

Every time I (Ron Wehr) talk to Shirley she is excited about a new inquiry of  someone wanting to start a God’s Choice church in their area. Currently God’s Choice is In Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Michigan, and Africa.  Only God knows where this ministry will expand. With God’s leading, the Elosh family is willing to go wherever he sends them.

Donations are much appreciated.  Shirley receives some  travel expenses (mileage) from the Free Methodist. An offering is taken up at every service. These funds go toward supporting the location that they come from. Beyond that funds are needed for office supplies and other expenses. Please consider donating through the “Donate” button in the side bar. More importantly, Shirley asks for prayers to continue finding leadership in each location as well as the overall ministry as well.