Monday, 03 November 2014 17:29

Bounce Back From a Setback: 6 Ways

Written by Rev. Victor M. Parachin

Since she was 12, Catherine Romero was athletic, running and then doing triathlons. Shortly after posting her personal best time of 1 hour, 31 minutes in a triathlon, disaster struck. The Seattle attorney suffered a stroke. “No one expects a healthy, fit 39-year-old woman to have a stroke. I certainly didn’t,” she says. Testing revealed a large hole in her heart. Doctors believe she was born with this hole and her heart enlarged to compensate for it. During the two months she waited to have surgery, she remained at home. The once very energetic, strong athlete was now “weak, dizzy, unable to walk or use my left arm properly, having trouble with certain words, afraid of having another stroke and feeling extremely depressed.”


In 1996, Tom Benz was working as a Regional Director with IBS, the International Bible Society, developing partnerships to underwrite new translations of Scripture and see those new translations published and distributed. His work took him across the world, and in the spring of 1996 he took a trip that changed his life. The Bible Society invited Tom to observe a Bible camp in the southernmost part of Ukraine, in Yevpatoria, a coastal community on the Black Sea. Soon after the collapse of the Soviet Union, IBS launched a program aimed to place age appropriate Scripture in the hands of every one of the million plus orphans in the former Soviet empire. Though Tom was initially apprehensive (he grew up in the midst of the Cuban Missil Crisis – these were the bad guys!) this trip would allow Tom to have firsthand understanding of the initiative and ignite a passion in his heart that would go beyond anything he could have imagined.



Wednesday, 01 October 2014 15:17

Sex: It’s Time to Talk

Written by Bryan Levangie


“Mom, I’m pregnant.”


I think this may be at the core of what every parent of a teenager is secretly hiding in their heart. It’s the fear that one day their son or daughter may make that one mistake that will change the course of the entire future. On the outside this fear is often masked. We have to appear we have it all together, right? Our children would never do something that bad. Yes, they are human, and we all make mistakes, but we are a Christian family and they have been taught to do the right thing. It will be okay.

Let’s face it. Being single can be hard. Especially in the South and especially in Montgomery and the River Region. Marriage, while a good gift, is often times elevated to something the Church places a high premium on and it’s easy for the single friends around us to walk a confusing path of defining life by whether or not they are married in the midst of walking out their faith.  River Region’s Journey sat down with singles ranging in age from 26 to 51 to hear about their experiences. Whatever their age, all of them agreed there seems to be a focus on the challenges instead of the opportunities to being single within the Church. However, we also talked with a few ministries in the River Region serving singles in a way that equips them to walk with Jesus, find healing for past hurts and companionship for the journey.

Tuesday, 02 September 2014 18:11

How to Be a Better Friend

Written by Victor M. Parachin


Just before the Christmas holidays, Lesley Dormen’s phone rang. The voice at the other end was so frail and frightened she had a hard time recognizing that it was Toni, her former college roommate. Though they had been close in school, they didn’t speak often nor did they see each other much as both lived in different cities. “What’s wrong?” asked Lesley. “I have cancer,” Toni replied. She was anxious because it was a recurrence of the breast cancer she’d been treated for 10 years earlier and had now spread to her stomach and ribs. Unmarried and living alone, Toni had recently experienced her first three rounds of chemotherapy. Extremely weary and discouraged, she phoned her college friend who listened compassionately. When the conversation was over, Lesley immediately called an airline and made a reservation. Next she phoned her husband at work to let him know that they would have to cancel all their weekend plans. Finally, she called Toni back saying “I am coming over this very weekend.”


Years ago, the word “hospitality” put an instant knot in my stomach. To me, hospitality was serving a gourmet meal to a houseful of guests I welcomed to my clean and uncluttered home. With two small children, a smaller budget and a lack of talent in the art of small talk, I felt like a perpetual failure. Then I met Lester Hostetler.



Jenny Garnett’s aging mother was once a vibrant and outgoing woman, but began falling deeper and deeper into what Jenny called a dark hole of depression. She quit talking and memory loss soon followed. “I felt like I had lost my mother,” said Jenny. “We didn’t know what to do.” But then something happened. Something miraculous. It didn’t happen in a moment or even noticeably, at least not at first. But slowly and surely, Jenny Garnett’s mother began to show glimmers of her “old self.” She smiled. She laughed. She sang and she danced.


Tuesday, 01 July 2014 08:29

Church Relevance in a Changing World

Written by Rachel Fisher



What makes the Church relevant to the everyday lives of Christians?


This is the question we set out to answer this month and the answers may surprise you. We had the unique opportunity to interview four leaders shepherding churches in four different places in the River Region. Each is seeking to serve the people in their community in ways that will reach them where they are, and while each leader carries a different vision for the different places God has called them to lead, they all work with the same goal in mind - to make Jesus known and to promote His Kingdom on earth.


Tuesday, 01 July 2014 08:18

Pride vs. Humility

Written by Candy Arrington


On the night Steven proposed to Hannah, she immediately took several pictures of the two of them, her left hand prominently displayed on his shoulder. Within moments, she posted the pictures on several social networking sites. When Hannah got home, her parents knew she was engaged, not because she had called them, but because one of their friends had seen her post and called with congratulations.


Monday, 02 June 2014 16:55

Practicing the Art of Good Fathering

Written by Victor Parachin


Although Kris Kristofferson is a well known singer-songwriter and actor who enjoys the company of many important individuals, it is his father who had the greatest impact on his life. Among the many important life lessons Kristofferson learned from his dad, the one which stands out was his father’s hidden acts of kindness.




It’s not a secret that we all struggle. We can hide it, push our thoughts away, and tell ourselves “it’s not a big deal” or “this is just how I am,” but at our core we want to believe God has more for us than being controlled or held captive by wounds from the past or struggles of the present. Jesus came to set captives free. Which means all of us. He didn’t just come to set us free so we could go to heaven when we die, but he came for more than that. He came so that his good news could bleed over into our struggles, whether with things we hide or things we’ve done that have hurt others.



Linnie Dickson grew up with parents who were World War II veterans determined to give their kids a better life. Working long hours eventually allowed them to move from public housing to an upscale neighborhood, but financial success did not bring the happiness they thought it would.  Instead, the pursuit of the American Dream, and the mounting pressure for more, eventually led to a broken family.





Recently, my son (age 2) looked up at his big sister (age 5) sitting on the bathroom counter next to the sink, raised his little arms and said confidently, “Jump my arms! My catch wu!” [Let the reader be aware that my son says “wu” instead of “you.”] When my daughter laughed and told her little brother that she was too big, he insisted confidently, “Wu not too big. My can catch wu!”


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