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Member Testimony: Jacques McNeil

“The brevity of life and the inevitability of death should cause men to pursue noble and worthwhile goals.”  – Bishop Charles E. Blake

As women, we sometimes have a tough time balancing our different roles on a daily basis: wife, mother, career woman, daughter, sister, and friend. Adding to the list can start to unravel our already harried lives.

But Los Angeles resident Jacques McNeil is finding that balance by weaving family and friends into ministry and discipleship. A West Angeles member for over 30 years, McNeil has found a support system within the church, serving in various ministries including the Young Women’s Christian Council, the Overcomers Sunday School Class, and the Evangelism Department.

Now an aspiring Evangelist Missionary, McNeil is founder of W.I.T.N.E.S.S. Book Club, a Christian women’s group with a two-fold purpose: to encourage women to live victorious, Godly lives through studying the bible and reading books by Christian authors, and to create sisterhood among its members. “WITNESS” is an acronym for “Women Inspired Through Networking Elements, Sister To Sister”.

McNeil is an Instructional Designer with UCLA Health Systems, and also works alongside her husband, Elder David McNeil, at 1 Soul At A Time Ministries. Through their work at 1 Soul, they merge their expertise, skills and anointing to serve as consultants to both individuals and organizations, offering support in a variety of service areas including leadership, ministry and business development, customer service, and conflict resolution. They are the proud parents of one beautiful and brilliant daughter, Micaela.

We spent some time with Mrs. McNeil who shared with us her testimony and journey:

Q: How did your family upbringing and Midwestern roots shape the woman you’ve become? I was born and raised in Canton, Ohio and I was the third of four children. My childhood was amazing. Family gatherings at our home were a central part of life. There was much fun, laughter and a diverse group of family and friends who I had the pleasure of learning from. We attended Shiloh Baptist church as a family, and during evening services, we attended Pentecost Temple COGIC, where Elder Lee Nucklos was Pastor, and my grandmother was an intercessor and Mother of the Church.

My parents instilled in my siblings and me the importance of serving those less fortunate, and they were intentional about exposing us to various cultures. My parents were extremely active in our church and in our community. That really inspired me to also be compassionate, to be at ease with diversity, and to have faith in the impossible. At the age of 13, my parents moved to Los Angeles, due to my father’s health challenges. So my experiences in both [cities] have really shaped every aspect of who I am today.

Q:  How did you choose West Angeles as your place of worship? Several years after my family moved to Los Angeles we started attending West Angeles Church of God In Christ. I was 20 and in college when I was led to rededicate my life to The Lord and to become a member of West Angeles. The “West Angeles Experience” was unlike anything I had ever encountered in my life. The music, the programs, the members, and Bishop’s unique style of teaching the Word of God in a way that was relatable, truly ministered to me.

 Regardless of your story, God loves you and has amazing things in store for you.

Q: You founded W.I.T.N.E.S.S. Book Club back in 1995, but a few years ago, you had an experience which shifted the work of the group’s ministry. Please share that story with us.  In January 2008, I awakened with an idea to deliver sack lunches to people on Skid Row. Our daughter Micaela was 6 years old at the time, and I wanted to introduce her to the importance of serving and giving to those less fortunate. She and I prepared the lunches and, with my husband David, we went to Skid Row to hand them out.

We distributed between 20-25 lunches that day, and the very last lunch handed out was to a young woman. As I handed it to her, she asked if I had any sanitary products, which I did not. She then said, “They give us diapers for that time of the month.” I was so appalled. The women seemed to feel totally degraded. I immediately told the story to the members of W.I.T.N.E.S.S., and suggested that we create personal hygiene gift bags to be distributed on Skid Row on Mother’s Day weekend.

We purchased various items, including feminine products, deodorant, tooth paste, and witnessing tracts, and we prepared 35 beautiful gift bags to deliver to the women that year.

Since its inception, this program has grown exponentially. We now receive corporate donations annually, and this year we were able to create nearly 500 “Bags of Love,” as we call them now. We not only delivered them to women on Skid Row, but to female veterans at the Veterans’ Administration in Westwood, and to women who live in Councilman Curren Price’s 9th District, the lowest-income district in Los Angeles. This year, thanks to the outpouring of donations and support, we were able to include Bibles in the bags as well. God is good and it’s an honor to be a vessel to bless His children.

SLIDESHOW:

Q: Has being a part of West Angeles helped you grow spiritually? If so, how?  Yes! By being an active member of West Angeles, I have grown in ways that I never imagined. Whether attending Sunday School, PCL, Bible College, 6 a.m. Prayer, Shut-In’s, Pastor’s Teaching; witnessing on the streets of LA, on Skid Row, at Convalescent homes, transition homes; or praying, fasting, reading and studying the word of God, my spiritual growth since becoming a member has been constant and enjoyable, and it has equipped me to stand amidst life’s challenges and trials. As a result of the ministry here at West Angeles, the love and consistency of Bishop and Sister Blake, and the excellence in which everything is executed here at West Angeles, I have been challenged to launch my own ministry, and to be a living witness to share the good news of Jesus Christ to everyone I meet.

Q: What parting words would you share with other women who are looking to make a change in their lives, but do not know where to start? To quote Bishop Blake, “The brevity of life and the inevitability of death should cause men to pursue noble and worthwhile goals.”  I believe we are all born with and for a purpose. We all have unique gifts, talents and specific God-ordained goals to accomplish, and because of the brevity of life, we really only have a short window of time to accomplish these goals, and to impact the lives of those in our circle of influence. I live my life with this at the forefront of my mind. All that I do on a daily basis should reflect that I have spent time with the Lord, and bring glory to God.

I enjoy and am passionate about the things that I am called to do, and that alone makes it all worthwhile. In parting, I would like to remind my sisters in Christ that they are fearfully and wonderfully made, in God’s image. Regardless of their “story,” God loves them and He has amazing things in store for them and for them to do. There is someone, somewhere, waiting to hear your story, to receive your words of encouragement, and to be blessed by your business acumen or parenting skills.

My sisters, be intentional about seeking the Lord and identifying your God-ordained purpose. As you do, the lives which you impact will be endless, and you will experience a level of joy and fulfillment that is second to none.

 

DID YOU KNOW?

West Angeles needs YOU!  There are more than 25 ministries and departments at West Angeles.  To get involved, please click HERE.

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HUMANKIND

Above all else, West Angeles is about its members.

Bishop Blake’s extended family is a massive one, and each weekend, thousands join Bishop in the pews of WestA.

And with the WestA HUMANKIND series, we aspire to give those same family members a voice.

Each weekend, westa.org will gather pictures and commentary from WestA members and WestA visitors, answering questions regarding their experience at West Angeles, what Bishop’s message meant to them, what has caused them to stay with WestA over the years, and other topics.

Check back each week to see what the people of WestA are talking about and what they’re going through, as they share their story with westa.org.

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Clarence Anthony and family, visiting from West Palm Beach, Florida

“We’re here on a conference meeting but we took some time for ourselves. We came to West Angeles because we’ve heard so many great things about Bishop Blake. It’s been a blessed morning. And it was a wonderful experience. The word was delivered in such a divine way and it inspired us. It’s been all of what we thought it would be.”

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Lundon Knighten, a year-long member come September

What made you stick for a year?

“I go off the spirit and how the Lord moves my spirit, and this church, everyone in it is filled with love and the Holy Ghost. My spirit told me where to go and where to stay, and here I am.”

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Bukola Salako, from Nigeria, a member of West A for two years family has been here since 1998, came in 2012

“My family came to America in 1998. I came in 2012, and when I joined my family, we came to this church.”

What are the differences between church in Nigeria and West Angeles?

“There’s not much except for the difference in spiritual inclination. Back home in Nigeria, we cover our heads. They don’t do that here. And there are some things they allow here which we don’t allow, like broken homes. We see it as something that should not even be mentioned among Christiandom. But the praise and worship, and the message are the same thing.”

How has the transition between church styles been for you?

“By the grace of God, as a child of God, you can get acclimated to any situation.”

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Michelle Reynolds, a member of West Angeles for 25 years

What has made you stick with West A for over two decades?

“Bishop Blake’s teachings. The Sunday School department. I was in choir for 13 years. This is home. I raised all of my kids here.”

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Thomas Motter, from Germany, a first-time visitor

“I watch the online service regularly. This is my first time coming.”

What brought you here today?

“I’m visiting LA and it was meaningful for me to be here and see this live. It was a very special experience.”

How did you hear about West Angeles in Germany?

“Through my friend, Penny Ford. She lives in Germany and she is a singer. And she brought it to my attention. Thanks, Penny.”

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Edmund Chung, from Hong Kong, a first-time visitor (second from right)

“We come from Hong Kong. We’re just visiting LA. One of our friends is a pastor in LA and we asked him where we should go and he introduced this church to us.”

How was your experience?

“It was very special to me, to meet so many friends. Most of you are black and we are Asian, so we haven’t seen so many black Christians before. It was really amazing.”

Vick Balakrishman, from Malaysia, a first-time visitor (far left)

“I know a pastor from Hong Kong that has a Chinese church in LA. He told us to come here. The way they worship here and the different expression, it’s amazing. I’m Indian and we have a similar way of expression, but at this church, it’s over the bar.”

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Earl Jordan, a member of West A since 1989

What made you stick with West A?

“I was moved here from Cleveland for the company I was working for at the time and I found West Angeles by accident. I had never been to LA and I went out to search for another church and got lost. By the time I realized it was time to be in church, I looked up and there was West Angeles. I’ve never been anywhere since. This is home.”

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Pamelia Bailey, member of West Angeles

“When I come here I feel the spirit. I feel it so high. I tell everybody about this church everywhere I go. I don’t care if I’m late, I gotta get my word. I come here to have my one-on-one with my man Jesus Christ.”

 

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Lance Evans and family, members of West Angeles

“My wife has been a member of West Angeles. We actually met here, right in
the hall when service let out. I said a prayer when I moved down here to LA
from the bay area. I said, ‘God, bless me with a woman that can speak back
into my life, that can feed my fire, and me not just teaching and trying to
preach to her all the time.’ And God granted my prayers the day I stepped in
here.”

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HUMANKIND

Above all else, West Angeles is about its members.

Bishop Blake’s extended family is a massive one, and each weekend, thousands join Bishop in the pews of WestA.

And with the WestA HUMANKIND series, we aspire to give those same family members a voice.

Each weekend, westa.org will gather pictures and commentary from WestA members and WestA visitors, answering questions regarding their experience at West Angeles, what Bishop’s message meant to them, what has caused them to stay with WestA over the years, and other topics.

Check back each week to see what the people of WestA are talking about and what they’re going through, as they share their story with westa.org.

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Did you get what you came for today?

“Yes. I wanted to know how much God loves me and what He can do for me. He can do whatever. Things you can’t even think of, He can do.”


 

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Why’s it important to bring your little girl to church at such a young age?

“I think it’s important for her to have a foundation for the rest of her life. It’s important to start her early.”

Anything stick out for you in today’s message?

“It was actually hard for me to hear the message because I had to take her to the cry room today.”


 

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“I came here today for a blessing from the word of God and from Bishop, and I truly got it. That’s why I’m skipping out of here, because I can take that word with me as my new armor and get ready for whatever I’m going to go through the rest of the week.”


 

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Did you get what you came to church for today?

“We feel really blessed to come to church. We have some upcoming issues, so it makes us feel at peace and calm. It’s a blessing to listen to Bishop.”


 

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What’s the focus of the book you wrote?

“My book is about following your dreams, despite the obstacles. It’s based on biblical principles. I believe that if you follow your dreams based upon the word, that you should see results.”

How did Bishop help inspire your work?

“He is always so straightforward, and he believes in progress and results. He believes in expecting miracles and so do I. I was paralyzed for three months and I couldn’t walk. Now, I get my step on. I know what it’s like to believe in miracles. Doctors gave up on me when I was nine weeks old and I turn 42 at the end of this month.”

What happened when you were paralyzed?

“I woke up one morning and I just couldn’t move them. This was in 2005. Nobody could explain the condition for a few months. I went to physical therapy and I just told them they need to work something out. And a couple of months later, God worked it out through them.”


 

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What did you come to church for today and did you get it?

“Of course. I always get what I come for, every Sunday. Thank God for that.”

Anything today that stuck out for you?

“The songs are always beautiful. And whenever Bishop is talking, it’s like he’s talking to me. Every time I come, it’s an inspiration. I love my church.”


 

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Why’s it important to bring your son to church with you?

“The Bible says that you teach your child the way and they will not depart from it. That’s what I believe in, that’s how I was raised, and I want Ethan to have God as the head of his life.”


 

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What did you think about the service today?

“This is my second time coming. I came with my boyfriend. I think it’s great. I have my own church that I go to, so I’m a bit biased.”

I take it it’s not as big as West Angeles?

“No, it’s quite small. The teaching styles are different, and there is nothing wrong with either, but I’m just used to my pastor. That’s all.”


 

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“Without God, you don’t have anything, especially in a relationship.”


 

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(Man on the left)

“I’ve been coming here since I was a kid.”

What’s made you stick with West Angeles over the years?

“It’s just the consistency of the ministry. Seeing the leadership from Bishop and how it falls to everyone else. The consistency of the relationships you build with other people. And just God calling you to be in a certain place at a certain time. Those are the reasons I’m still here.”


 

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“My friend and I, we’re both from New York. When we left, I moved to Florida and she moved here. And I hadn’t seen her in a few months, so I needed to come out here.”

So is this your first time visiting West Angeles?

“Yes. Every Sunday, I need Jesus and that’s why I’m here. I loved it. I wish you guys had caught me on camera inside. I go to a church of God in Christ, too, so this was just like home for me.”


 

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What is it about wearing your best when you come to church?

“You always want to give your best to the Lord. He’s blessed us with His very best, which is His son Jesus. I want to glorify His name with the beauty that He’s given to us.”

Finding Purpose

8 Things You Need to Know About Finding Your Purpose

“Before I formed you in your mother’s womb, I knew you.” -Jeremiah 1:5

 

I want to be happy; I think everyone does.  But sometimes life can seem pretty hopeless if we don’t know what our purpose is. The dictionary defines purpose as:

The reason for which something is done or created, or for which something exists.

In a nutshell, since God created each of us, that means our purpose isn’t our choice – it’s God’s.  So it’s got nothing to do with your parents, or your connections, or a particular industry you think your skills fit into. Your purpose is between you and God.

Many of us don’t realize we’re here for a divine reason.  Since God has created us for something special, I have a hunch that the world would be a really great place if we all knew why we were here, and were encouraged to pursue whatever that reason is. But before we realize how purpose is revealed and how it all works, society provides all sorts of fast-food methods for us to claim one, which leads us to think:

  • “I want to work in the ______ industry”.
  • “People on television who are like me are doing_____”.
  • “_______looks like fun!”
  • “My parent was a ______, so I’m going to be one too”.
  • “_______makes me happy”.

 

None of these have to do with why God created us. To find the answer,  we’ve got to turn our own ideas inside out.  Jesus said in Luke 9:23, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”

So if you’re serious about this journey, then you’ve got to fast, pray, meditate on the Word, let go of your ego and:

    1. Ditch society’s idea of who you should be.  This is one of the most important mind-clearing steps. Turn off the television and spend time with Him. The media is soul-numbing and fills your ears with a million voices – but none of them are God’s. Even if you could find your purpose by watching endless hours of talent shows, cat fights, music videos, or sports and news shows, finding it would be like locating a needle in a haystack!  Jesus was sent to be our role model; use His behavior as your guide instead.
    2. Listen to God. He speaks to us in a myriad of ways.  Hearing, listening to, and following Him takes commitment. You have to do the work, but in the end, it’s worth it.
    3. Keep a journal. Record your dreams and visions. Let scripture define your thoughts, and each task you create or do.
    4. Go back to your childhood.  Who you were and what you did best in childhood will reveal the skills you’ll need to manifest your purpose.
    5. Know that you are not your parents. You were created for a specific, unique reason.
    6. Understand that it’s not about your happiness. It’s actually about someone else’s. Everything we’re here to do is meant to uplift others. But the path to seeking your purpose can actually bring difficult times because sometimes our faith will be tested.
    7. Get off the career ladder.  That’s society’s vision for you.  Let God direct your steps in life. You were born with your gifts and skills for a higher purpose.
    8. Listen to your elders. Respected elders have a vision for your life and can confirm the path God wants you to follow.

What voice is unique only to you? You have to clear out the noise of the world in order to hear God’s unique plan for your life.   Psalm 139:14-17 says that we’re “fearfully and wonderfully made”, so  in the end, everything we do is supposed to be a reflection of God.  We’re here to represent Him, to be like Him; to show what miraculous power humankind has, and to make the world a better place for all.  When we make the commitment to do so, that’s when He can guide us toward our purpose in life (Proverbs 3:6).

Our purpose is to show that man is meant for love; to live for the good of others, and to live in harmony with all other living things.  Use your gifts to evangelize, and to manifest His kingdom on earth: that’s the secret to true happiness and fulfillment.  When you answer that call, you’re on your way to living for purpose.

 

Check with Westa.org soon for our EMPOWERMENT  CHALLENGE, a 30-day program for manifesting your purpose!

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25 Quotes from Dr. Maya Angelou

The world has lost a literary legend.

Memoirist and poet, Dr. Maya Angelou has gone to be with the Lord. She died in her home in Salem-Winston, North Carolina on Wednesday at age 86.

Below is a list of some of her top influential quotes, which do their part to help many of us that stayed behind navigate through life.

On God:

While I know myself as a creation of God, I am also obligated to realize and remember that everyone else and everything else are also God’s creation.

Everybody born comes from the Creator trailing wisps of glory. We come from the Creator with creativity. I think that each one of us is born with creativity.

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On love:

Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.

If you have only one smile in you give it to the people you love.

The love of the family, the love of one person can heal. It heals the scars left by a larger society. A massive, powerful society.

On perspective:

If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.

Nothing will work unless you do.

All great achievements require time.

On being a woman:

I am grateful to be a woman. I must have done something great in another life.

A wise woman wishes to be no one’s enemy; a wise woman refuses to be anyone’s victim.

On being black:

Black people comprehend the South. We understand its weight. It has rested on our backs… I knew that my heart would break if ever I put my foot down on that soil, moist, still, with old hurts. I had to face the fear/loathing at its source or it would consume me whole.

I speak to the black experience, but I am always talking about the human condition.

If growing up is painful for the Southern Black girl, being aware of her displacement is the rust on the razor that threatens the throat.

On life:

I’m convinced of this: Good done anywhere is good done everywhere. For a change, start by speaking to people rather than walking by them like they’re stones that don’t matter. As long as you’re breathing, it’s never too late to do some good.

I’m considered wise, and sometimes I see myself as knowing. Most of the time, I see myself as wanting to know. And I see myself as a very interested person. I’ve never been bored in my life.

If you’re serious, you really understand that it’s important that you laugh as much as possible and admit that you’re the funniest person you ever met. You have to laugh. Admit that you’re funny. Otherwise, you die in solemnity.

On humanity:

All great artists draw from the same resource: the human heart, which tells us that we are all more alike than we are unalike.

Find a beautiful piece of art. If you fall in love with Van Gogh or Matisse or John Oliver Killens, or if you fall love with the music of Coltrane, the music of Aretha Franklin, or the music of Chopin – find some beautiful art and admire it, and realize that that was created by human beings just like you, no more human, no less.

Growing up, I decided, a long time ago, I wouldn’t accept any manmade differences between human beings, differences made at somebody else’s insistence or someone else’s whim or convenience.

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On courage:

Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can’t practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically, but nothing consistently without courage.

One isn’t necessarily born with courage, but one is born with potential. Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest.

We have to confront ourselves. Do we like what we see in the mirror? And, according to our light, according to our understanding, according to our courage, we will have to say yea or nay – and rise!

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Although we may hope for a deferment from heaven’s gates, we praise God for the memory of Dr. Angelou’s voice and spirit.

Sunrise: April 4, 1926                                                      Sunset: May 28,2014

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BE THE CHANGE

So The World’s Got You Down? 6 Actions to Take NOW

While browsing Facebook a few days ago, I found myself mindlessly scrolling through the comments of friends, when one comment in particular popped out at me. In response to a breaking international crisis, someone wrote:

“I feel helpless” 

The comment seemed so small; it seemed as if it dangled alone on the page.  I could almost hear the writer’s tiny, muted voice speaking those words.  By contrast, the next comment was a long, venomous rant of an “armchair politician” who, without holding office, seemed to believe he knew all and had all the answers. The last comment offered up yet another petition to sign; one which, unfortunately, didn’t go anywhere, reach anyone, or change anything.

Social media’s endless reposts of deaths, horrific acts of violence, unjust arrests, and injustice in the courts  have left many of us feeling as if the past 50 years of progress was only a passing dream. Feeling powerless, we’re allowed to blow off some steam on our favorite pages and websites.  We sign off at the end of the day, only to return to new problems the next day.

That helpless feeling may be a sign that it’s time to make a change.  Looking for a way to make a difference in the world? Here’s a list of six steps you can take to  do your part now:

  1.  Ignite your purpose. As long as you’re alive, it’s never too late to find your purpose. We all have one; it’s why we’re here. Using your talents to make the world a better place is the key to true success in life (Ephesians 1:11, ).
  2. Do good. A recent study has revealed what the bible told us all along: that kindness and benevolence actually have a positive effect on our health and life expectancy (Proverbs 4:21-22). “The best way to get rid of bitterness, anger, rage, and jealousy is to do unto others in a positive way”, says Stephen G. Post, PhD, a professor of bioethics at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. #humankind
  3. Go back to church. The church is like the body: it’s a living, breathing organism which relies on hearts, minds, and all of its members not only to work, but to thrive, to flourish, and to move forward (1Corinthians 12:12). 
  4. Connect with a ministry. Plug your gifts and talents into a ministry. The church needs fresh new ideas to give it a new life and light. And if there isn’t a ministry that matches your purpose, start one!
  5. Start a movement. Contrary to the world’s report, some of the most progressive people you may ever meet in life may be sitting right beside you in church.
  6. Change the world. The world’s issues are moral ones; for that reason, true lasting, fundamental change begins in the church (John 15:1-15).

So, are you ready to “be the change you want to see in the world?”[i] Or are you content to stay at home sitting in front of your computer, “pointing a finger” at the misdeeds of others, and hoping that progress is only a click away? Are you using your gifts to strengthen a ministry? Or are you using your words to tear one down?

Don’t be left behind – change starts with you.  It’s time for all of us to get moving and do our part.  Real change doesn’t come by just pointing a finger – but by engaging the entire body of the church.

 


[i] Quote, Mahatma Gandhi.

Match your talents with a ministry here at West Angeles.  For more information, please click the link below:

West Angeles Church Auxiliaries and Guest Services Directory

Need more inspiration and ideas to help make the world a better place?  Check out our HUMANKIND campaign here.

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Our Children Are Missing: Where Are You?

Close your eyes; picture the face of a child you know and love.  Imagine them in school; happy, learning, growing. Hear your child’s voice; smell the scent of his skin. See her sleeping peacefully at night.  Now imagine your child, gone. Where are they?

A few weeks ago, hundreds of Christian and Muslim schoolgirls were kidnapped from their boarding school in Nigeria’s Borno State by a group of Islamic extremists.  The Christian girls were forced to accept Islam; their captors then threatened to sell them as slaves.  Just months before, 59 school boys were massacred in their boarding school by the same group of rebels; the school was then burned to the ground. And just last year in the United States, over 100,000 children were abducted; many of which are forced into lives in the sex trade.

Abducted, oppressed, enslaved, and murdered: across the globe, our children are under attack. The violation of human rights is a moral issue, and it is a direct threat to world-wide security, liberty, and freedom. As Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King once said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”.

Now that your eyes are open, what can you do to help?

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”

– Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

  1.  Join a church. Lasting, fundamental change toward human rights has, historically, begun with the church. From the beginning of time, God has called on His intercessors to gather His people and to follow His instructions in order to promote and establish liberty for all. By joining a church and a ministry, you help to build the numbers needed to affect change, and the strength created in spiritual solidarity toward a common cause.  The church also becomes an essential part of “the village” it takes to raise your children[1]; and helps to create a hedge of safety around them (Psalm 91).
  2.  Activate your activism. Write to your elected officials.  Work to change laws which have created a dangerous environment for our children while granting leniency to child predators. 
  3.  Educate a child (Proverbs 22:6). In spite of the enemy’s attempt to destroy it, “education is still the key” [2].  The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has important information on how to help prepare children to be more aware, and how to avoid dangerous situations.
  4.   Pray.  Yes, prayer, fasting, and meditation for a better world works, and one person can make a difference. The Lord’s Prayer asks that God’s “will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:9-13). He sends us the answers.
  5. Have faith. Hopelessness is the first step toward defeat (Psalm 31:24), but the bible reveals the solutions to the moral dilemmas of our time. The recent release of Willie Myrick – the 9-year-old Atlanta child who sang a gospel song for 3 hours, prompting his kidnapper let him go – is why we never give up hope on any missing child, no matter how long they have been missing.

No matter the skin color or the country, we cannot have freedom, liberty, or peace until all in the world do, and we who believe in Jesus cannot rest until that day comes.[3]



DID YOU KNOW?

·         MAY 25 is both National and International Missing Children’s Day.

·         The majority of the victims of human trafficking are black and brown women and children.

·         72% of the world’s trafficking victims are reported here in the US. 

·         America is the top destination for those forced into slavery to this day.

TOOLS AND RESOURCES

West Angeles World Missions – Be a part of changing the lives of others in Brazil, Panama, Haiti and Africa. Call 323-733-8300 ext 2760. To DONATE click  HEREhttp://westa.org/worldmissions/

The International Centre For Missing And Exploited Children  website has multilingual resources and information on legislation. For more information, call (1-703-837-6313), or click here: http://www.icmec.org/

National Center For Missing And Exploited Children has a 24-hour hotline, the Congressional-authorized CyberTipline. Call 1-800-THE-LOST(1-800-843-5678), or visit http://www.missingkids.com/home

Take25.org – Start the conversation with your child! Take25.org has a Child ID Toolkit and other tools to engage the entire family: http://www.take25.org/StartTheConversation.  Download the child ID toolkit here: http://www.take25.org/Resources/ChildIdKit

The Polaris Project – Named after the North Star which guided enslaved Africans toward freedom along the Underground Railroad, The Polaris Project creates long-term solutions that move our society closer to a world without slavery. Call (202-745-1001) or visit http://www.polarisproject.org/

United Nations Office On Drugs And Crime has anti-trafficking tools and publications; click here http://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/human-trafficking/index.html?ref=menuside for more information.

By linking to the external sites mentioned in this article, West Angeles Church of God in Christ is not endorsing their services or privacy or security policies. We recommend you fully review the organization, its information collection policy, and/or its terms and conditions .


[1] From the African proverb “It takes a whole village to raise up a child”.

[2] George Washington Carver: “Education is the key to unlock the golden door of freedom”.

[3] Adapted from “Ella’s Song”, by Dr. Bernice Reagon.

M1_756X439_10_THINGS_SPRING

10Tips for Spring Cleaning Success

Ecclesiastes 3:1&6 (NKJV) –  Everything Has Its Time 

To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven:                                                                                    

 A time to gain,
    And a time to lose;
A time to keep,
    And a time to throw away

If you haven’t done your Spring cleaning yet, then now is a great time to start!  Does God actually want us to keep our homes clean, organized, and clutter-free? Actually, yes! 1 Corinthians 14:40 tells us that “all things should be done decently and in order”.  Order facilitates preparation*, and preparation allows everything else in our lives to flow efficiently (Proverbs 13:4).

We are called to exhibit self-control as a reflection of God (Titus 1:8), and when we mirror Him, we can be a light and an example to others (Titus 2:5 and 1Timothy 3:5). Along with self-control, the cleaning process is also a great way to instill other fundamental values in our children, such as perseverance, diligence, humility, and charity. Simply put, cleanliness and order can edify the soul and reflect peace: which helps us to create the life God intended.

Here are 10 tips for Spring cleaning success:

1.      Say “No” to clutter. Taking the first step toward a clutter-free lifestyle begins with changing our mindset. Often, we hoard possessions out of fear of loss. But God tells us in Luke 12:15 to “beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses”.

2.      Be prepared. Gather cleaning tools and cloths; gather boxes to organize unwanted items; use old newspapers for cleaning windows and glass surfaces. Make sure your vacuum cleaner is operating properly; empty debris and dust from previous use. Use boxes for organizing, and to toss unwanted items.  Preparation is key (1 Chronicles 22:5)!

3.      Make your own natural cleaning solutions! Dilute ½ cup of vinegar with 1 gallon of warm water; use it to clean glass, counter tops, and the refrigerator; wood and tile floors.  Mix ½ cup of baking soda, ½ cup of vinegar and 2 gallons of warm water; use it to clean walls, sinks. Make a paste of vinegar and baking soda to make a scouring cleanser; this also cleans chrome and removes stains. Mix vinegar and ketchup to polish brass and copper; mix vinegar, baking soda and boiling water to clean silver. Remove soap scum or mildew with a solution of 1 cup of ammonia or bleach in a gallon of water. Spray surface; leave for a few minutes until stains disappear. Rinse well with hot water.

4.      Make a plan.  Take one room at a time; work from ceiling to floor, leaving the vacuuming and floors for last. And don’t forget the attic, basement and garage.

5.      Organize your important papers – Download our Monthly Expense Form to help organize receipts and expenditures.  Sort bills and receipts by month; store in an accordion folder. Safely store important documents and booklets for your appliances, insurance policies, automobiles, and medical history; place all in a dedicated space in your home.

6.    Organize your closet – Wash or dry clean soiled clothing; polish shoes; mend, tailor, or repair if needed. Organize items by type and color (this method even works for books too).

7.      Donate old family photos.  Don’t throw away those old photos! Our lives are an important source of history; give photos and memorabilia to an archive, library or repository.

8.      Stop the junk mail! Yes, you can opt-out of mailing lists!  You can contact any company yourself to make this request, or you can contact Catalog Choice or the Direct Marketing Association; both organizations will submit your opt-out requests for free. Virtual junk mail and even unwanted phone calls create clutter too.  Click here for additional information from the Volunteer Guide.

9.     Don’t forget the yard – The outside of your home is as important as the inside. Rake up dead leaves, prune bushes and trees, pull weeds, dust away old spider webs. Hose down garden furniture; discard any unwanted junk that’s lying around.

10.  Have a yard sale; GIVE your excess to charity.  Luke12:33 (NIV) – 33 “Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that    will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.”

When your Spring cleaning is completed, complement your fresh new home by choosing one room to enliven with a pop of color: add a bouquet of flowers, a new throw pillow or two, even a new paint color on an accent wall. By adding a softly scented candle near your home’s entryway, you’ll awaken the senses and welcome visitors.

Spring reprsents humankind’s annual opportunity to “make all things new”, to move ahead with renewed purpose and passion, and to create room for God’s power in this season of renewal and strength.

RESOURCES:

The Salvation Army – Schedule a pick-up of your donated goods online. Website – http://satruck.org/,  or call 1-800-SA-TRUCK (1-800-728-7825).

Goodwill http://www.goodwill.org/donate-and-shop/donate-stuff/.  To donate items call 1-800-GOODWILL.

Catalogue Choice.orghttps://www.catalogchoice.org/.  A free service to opt out of catalogs, coupons, credit card offers, phone books, circulars and more.

Direct Marketing Association’s DMAchoice https://www.dmachoice.org/.  Everything you want to know about direct mail, the mail preference service and more.

*DID YOU KNOW:

The day before the Sabbath is called “Preparation Day” (Mark15:42)? It’s traditionally the day to do all remaining work and cleaning in order to prepare for a restful Sabbath Day. The most significant Preparation Day known to Christians is the day the body of Christ was prepared for burial, preceding His glorious Resurrection.


By linking to the external sites mentioned in this article, West Angeles Church of God in Christ is not endorsing their products, services, or policies. We recommend you thoroughly review the business or organization, as well as their policies, terms and conditions.

 

TAXM1_756X439_TAXES

Stressed? 8 Last-Minute Tax Tips!

It’s that time again!

April 15 is the annual income tax filing deadline, yet most of us still file at the last minute. If you fear the idea of owing money, or maybe you feel lost in a sea of papers and receipts, no worries…we’re here to help!

Since God wants us all to be good stewards of our finances (Matthew 25:20-21), we’ve compiled some tools and tips to help ease the stress of tax time, and to empower you to take control of your finances now and in the future:

  1. Organize. Use a box or separate envelopes to toss receipts, and to store tax forms received from employers or clients. Use an accordion file to store receipts and bills; use one section per month. Designate a place in your home where these items can be kept on a permanent basis.

  2. Chart your spending. Record your expenditures by category. This will help your tax preparer make the right deductions for you, which could result in a bigger return. It will also help you to better budget your spending. Download our free MONTHLY EXPENSE FORM; use it at the end of each month to organize and record your receipts and expenditures.

  3. Gather all necessary paperwork. H&R Block has compiled a handy list with additional information that can affect your tax filing status. Click here to download.

  4. File an extension. Feeling stressed by the last-minute rush? The IRS grants special penalty relief to many taxpayers who request a time extension to file their federal income tax returns. You’ll find Form 4868 here.

  5. File online. If you feel confident that you can fill out the forms yourself, then avoid those long lines at the post office by filing online for free. The IRS now offers many services on their website at IRS.gov, including the Online Payment Agreement application, and Free File, a step-by-step tax return filing system. Filing through Free File, you avoid the late-filing penalty on money you may owe. Even if you make a mistake, there’s a solution. Use  Form 1040X to correct any errors, even on previously filed returns.

  6. Owe money? Don’t panic! Some struggling taxpayers may qualify for an offer-in-compromise, an agreement between the taxpayer and the IRS that settles the taxpayer’s tax liabilities for less than the full amount owed. Eligibility is determined by the taxpayer’s income and assets.

  7. Filing after the 15th? It’s not the end of the world. Contact the IRS’ Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS). They’re your voice at the IRS, and they can answer questions about tax credits, penalties, and tax return preparation. Their job is to make sure that all taxpayers are treated fairly.

  8. Help is FREE. There are several resources for free help with tax return preparation and questions:

The West Angeles Community Development Corporation offers free tax return preparation for individuals and small business owners with low to moderate incomes. Click here for more information, or call 1-323-751-3440.

AARP Foundation Tax-Aide offers free, individualized tax preparation for low-to-moderate income taxpayers, with a special interest to those 60 and older. There are more than 5,000 locations nationwide; click here to find a site near you, or call 1-888-227-7669.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program offers free tax help nationwide to people who generally make $52,000 or less, persons with disabilities, the elderly, and limited English-speaking taxpayers who need assistance in preparing their own tax returns. IRS-certified volunteers provide free basic income tax return preparation with electronic filing to qualified individuals. Click here to find a VITA site near you or call 1-800-906-9887.

The Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) program offers free tax help for all taxpayers, particularly those who are 60 years of age and older, specializing in questions about pensions and retirement-related issues unique to seniors. The IRS-certified volunteers who provide tax counseling are often retired individuals associated with non-profit organizations that receive grants from the IRS. Click here to find a TCE site near you or call 800-906-9887.

The IRS’ Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS)   offers free help to guide you through the often-confusing process of resolving  tax problems that you haven’t been able to solve on your own. Their role is to help you understand your rights. Click here or call 1-877-777-4778.

1 Peter 4:10 ESV – As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.

By linking to the external sites mentioned in this article, West Angeles Church of God in Christ is not endorsing their products, services, or privacy or security policies. We recommend you review the business or organization’s information collection policy or terms and conditions to fully understand what information is collected by these entities. Our thanks to H&R Block.

8_thingswomenlg

THE POWER OF WOMEN: 8 DYNAMIC TRAITS SURE TO INSPIRE YOU

THE POWER OF WOMEN: 8 DYNAMIC TRAITS SURE TO INSPIRE YOU

As modern-day women, we seem to have more on our plates now than at any other time in history.  It’s as if there aren’t enough hours in the day to balance the mountain of responsibilities heaped upon our shoulders.  We start our days on the run, stressed-out and worried that we’re unable to manage in our multiple roles as wife, daughter, mother, and career woman. We end our days seeking a moment of solace, immersed in our favorite TV shows or social media outlets. But instead of peace, we’re bombarded with soul-shaking stories and images which seem to challenge our progress as a nation, our strengths as women; or, worst of all, our faith in God.

We also know that we should first make sure we’re fit and healthy, in order to be at our best for others. However, with so much to do and so little time, we go to bed exhausted and awaken the same way; unsure of how we’ll summon the strength to rise again and start another day.

If there’s one thing I know for sure though, we cannot lose heart when the help we need might be as close as the nightstand beside us. The bible tells us the whole story of our history, and it has the key to our empowerment.  Women throughout history – from the Queen of Sheba to Harriet Tubman to Oprah Winfrey – have gained strength from its source.  Here’s a list of eight dynamic qualities of women in the bible to inspire and fortify you:

Prayer Warrior. Women in the bible exemplify the power of prayer.  Hannah’s prayers produce a warrior for God (1Samuel1:9-11); Anna’s prayers are rewarded with the promise of God’s New Kingdom (Luke 2:36–38).

Support system.  Together, Naomi and Ruth use Godly wisdom to secure their family’s future – changing the course of history (Book of Ruth). 

Purpose-driven. To cure her condition, one woman endures the possibility of distain, scorn, and banishment in order to connect with Jesus. She allows nothing to deter her from the healing Power of God, giving us a shining example of unwavering faith (Matthew 9:20-22).

Entrepreneur.  The woman described in Proverbs 31 is a hard-working, enterprising, industrious entrepreneur who not only weaves her own fabrics (Proverbs 31:19), but from that fabric she also “makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies sashes for the merchants” (Proverbs 31:10-31).

Prophet.  Deborah knows what would save her nation from oppression.  She aligns herself with a leader named Barak who can get the job done (Judges 4).

Life-saver. Esther uses the power of grace, fasting, and marriage to save her people from extermination (Book of Esther).

Ruler of Nations. The Queen of Sheba uses wisdom and discernment before giving King Solomon her blessing (1 Kings 10:1-13): but Jesus warns a disobedient generation that they will not have the same results! (Matthew 12:42)

Mother of Humankind. Eve is the first woman – mother of us all (Genesis 3:20). And to Mary, a Savior is born, whose existence gives us the only living example of our fullest potential (Matthew 1:18-21).

As a gift from us to you, we’ve attached a colorful download of this list here –  8QualitiesofWomen ; print it out and keep it handy for the next time you need to boost your faith.  Stay strong, encouraged, and focused on the Promise of The Word.  As women, we can do all things through Him.

Written by Karen Lascaris