Six years ago, Karen Brown joined Cry for the Broken. When the outreach began with nothing but a whisper and a prayer, Karen was there willing to do whatever it took to lead broken women to Jesus. She and her husband, Garry Brown, recently began coming to Clear Creek and we are so glad to have them with us!
Karen tirelessly works for those who Cry for the Broken serves. She drives twice a month on outreach. She goes out to the jail twice a month to minister to the ladies, always hoping to see one that she knows. She is the backbone of the organization, planning Walk the Streets in Her Shoes and The Street-Side Soup Kitchen each year. She has been on many late night missions and has done countless rescues for women who are looking for a way out.
She always smiles when she talks about how the girls on the street love seeing her “big black Tahoe” coming. They jump up and down and flag her down, often running into her arms for a hug and a prayer.
Recently, Karen spoke about a young woman in jail that wants to forgive her father for unspeakable things he did to her when she was three years old. Karen listened to her like a loving mother and shared the love of Jesus with her. The girl said she was incarcerated for her first criminal charge and the judge was going to let her go free. She asked the judge to put her in jail instead. She wants to change. Karen is there. Faithful. Waiting for these kinds of opportunities to let women know Cry for the Broken and Clear Creek Church of Christ are there for them. We are so grateful for Karen and her obedience to Jesus.
Every Saturday for 8 weeks in the fall our campus hosts hundreds of visitors who come to enjoy youth flag football. Clear Creek partners with Upward Sports to run a youth league for boys and girls from Kindergarten through 6th grade with the mission of sharing Jesus with children and families. Each week at practice Christian coaches share a verse from God’s word or prayer time with the kids which we pray is planting seeds that will grow throughout the community for years to come. The siblings, parents, and friends of our 225 football players come multiple times per week to the fields behind our building to support their favorite flag football player, but more importantly to be exposed to Jesus.
This season we’ve had Clear Creek members pray with mothers whose husbands have abandoned their families and coaches have prayed with children who are going through substantial physical or emotional struggles. Players have supported a teammate through the tragic loss of a sibling. Parents have encouraged each other and cheered for one another’s kids. It’s a place where healthy competition meets the spirit of Christ.
Jesus tells us in John 4 that the fields are ready to be harvested. After a visit to one of our Upward game-days, this becomes quite evident. There are unchurched and de-churched families right behind our building every week that come to encourage their kids in athletics but leave with an opportunity to draw closer to Jesus through the things their children learn at practice or in games. Please pray that the fruit of this good work continues to be seen for many years.
Catrina Cabe is the new Restoration Developer with Clear Creek Church of Christ. It is her job to go out into the community and lead people to Jesus and make them into disciples. One of the ways she accomplishes this is by going into the jail every Monday to teach a class called Twelve Steps to Freedom. She uses the twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous along with biblical principles to lead women into Christ centered recovery. The twelfth step states, “Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps…” We try to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs. This final step screams discipleship. When we guide people through recovery with Jesus, servants are readily made.
Each week, Jackie Olson is faithful to volunteer in this endeavor. Even though she is not an alcoholic or an addict and has never been incarcerated, she is able to use her own experience with brokenness to relate to the inmates in our classroom. Watching her minister to these ladies with her knowledge and wisdom makes us want to be better people. Today we honor her as a true disciple of Jesus Christ.
Last Monday, Jackie recalled what it was like to enter into prison ministry while talking to the girls in class. She told them that she was scared to death to come into jail and teach. But she knew that God was calling her there so she was obedient to submit to His will. Before she knew it, she was teaching with confidence and so happy that she had answered God’s call. We are grateful to Jackie Olson. All of us are!
A few years ago, one of Clear Creek’s small groups was convicted that they needed to do something more. In addition to their usual times of fellowship and Bible study, they were sure that Jesus wanted them to be reaching out and serving. As they started looking for service opportunities, they quickly realized how tough it can be to get something planned. Small group members weren’t free at the times most organizations needed volunteers. Some service opportunities didn’t work well with the group’s large number of children. And the activities that were the easiest to plan, often seemed like the least interesting.
For the next year the small group tried serving in different ways, but nothing seemed right. Then one day they came across a quote from Mother Teresa, “You can do no great things – only small things with great love.” Rather than trying to plan a great service event or figure out what issue they cared most about, they decided to get involved with a community that needed love. The next month they went to Patten Towers (a downtown public housing development) for the first time. They walked around, met people and offered to pray. Nothing fancy and no big agenda – just being present and loving like Jesus did. Some residents smiled, others ignored them. Some were happy to pray, others refused. But everyone in the small group agreed that it felt right.
The small group quickly made Patten Towers a regular part of their monthly routine. Over time they met more people and began to be recognized around the building. They started offering a free dinner at the building every few months to meet more people and have more time to talk. Even the building’s housing manger asked how they could help! Being a regular part of the Patten Towers community allowed residents to see the light of Jesus. It made it easier to the small group to see the actual needs of people in their community. It also made space for God’s Spirit to work in unexpected ways.
One of the most interesting relationships to emerge from this ministry is with a middle-aged man named Ameen. Ameen is a Muslim refugee from Iraq. He speaks broken English and goes fishing a lot. He’s also incredibly friendly and willing to study the Bible. Members of the small group developed a friendly relationship that is growing into something more. There have been multiple Bible studies together. Ameen has been in their home for dinner. And he has gone to worship with them as well.
Looking back over the last couple of years, it’s exciting to see how God took a desire to serve and turned it into even more. This group has been blessed with chances to grow, new friends, opportunities to share the Bible, and so much more.
And the word of the Lord came again to Zechariah: ‘This is what the Lord Almighty said: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor. Do not plot evil against each other.’” Zechariah 7:8-10
Blazing Hope Ranch recently accepted a third survivor of human trafficking into their transitional program at HOPE Haven. The transitional living program at Blazing Hope Ranch provides a place where Healing, Opportunity, Protection and Education can happen on a daily basis.
Clear Creek small groups have been involved at Blazing Hope in a number of ways. Some provide gifts of love and other necessities to residents at Blazing Hope. Other groups have helped at Blazing Hope’s camp by serving meals and leading activities. One of our members said he was surprised that the campers were grateful for our coming to serve food and help with the activities. The camp opened his eyes to opportunities for service that he had never considered. Partnering in the ministry of Blazing Hope has provided opportunities to join Jesus in his ministry of reconciliation and restoration.
It’s a phrase we have all had to speak when meeting new people, but imagine having to say it in a language that’s not your native tongue. The SE Asia ESL class began as a way to take the work Clear Creek has been doing for several years in Asia, and continue it right here in Hixson. Similar to our overseas missionaries, teaching English as a second language is an avenue to connect people to God and to each other.
In 2012, while thinking about our time in China (and missing Chinese food), we met Andy and Ivy Cheng, owners of New China restaurant. They spoke just enough English to intrigue someone from Soddy-Daisy, so we started a conversation and began a relationship. When we met Ivy and Andy, their children Elin and Sharon were still living in China with their grandparents, but were planning to move to America. Over the next six years, our families grew closer, celebrated holidays and spent time in each other’s homes.
In 2017 we saw how the Great Commission was being played out in reverse with people from all over the world coming to Hixson. We launched the SE Asia ESL class on Sunday mornings to build relationships, improve English and show Jesus to our Asian brothers and sisters that live in our city. God is working through these ESL classes to impact families. Ivy and her two children along with her mother and father-in-law are attending the ESL classes and connecting with other families in the Children’s ministry and other Christians at Clear Creek. What began as a craving for Chinese food, God used to create friendship and opportunity.
Early in July, a woman’s life, death, and resurrection was captured on Facebook Live…
She had spent the day with a friend riding around Chattanooga using drugs. Her friend offered her heroin and even though she had never tried it before, she let the friend inject her with the drug. The woman overdosed and started convulsing. She stopped breathing and lost her pulse. Her friend frantically beat on her chest to no avail. Horrified and afraid of the criminal charges that could be brought against her, the friend pushed the woman out of the car into the street. The woman lay lifeless in the gutter while the car sped away. A good Samaritan rushed to the woman’s aid. He performed CPR, restoring her life’s breath. First responders rushed to the scene.
Cry for the Broken reached out to this woman, giving her the opportunity to receive help if she was willing. Justin and Catrina Cabe drove her to a detox facility in Nashville and ministered to her heart on the way. This woman is now clean and sober thanks to a loving God who saw her brokenness and is now putting her pieces back together. The ladies of Cry for the Broken are following up with the woman by writing letters and sending cards. We hope to welcome her home soon. Catrina has also reached out to the friend who pushed the woman out of the car in hopes that she will accept help as well.
Cry For The Broken is a Clear Creek ministry that reaches out to addicted prostitutes to build personal relationships and share the love of Jesus as they help to transition them into sobriety-based living. They pray for and with these ladies in hope to lead them out of their broken lifestyle into a life-changing relationship with Jesus.
One of the greatest joys in following Jesus is the invitation to participate in both the great command and the great promise that he articulates in Matthew 28. The command is to make disciples and the promise is that Jesus himself walks with us as we go. One of the questions we get asked all the time is, “Why another church plant in Chattanooga?” It’s a good question, and the answer has everything to do with participation. Participation
with Jesus in the mission of God is an essential component of discipleship. The call of Jesus in the Gospels is to be with him and to do what he does. Showing up to a construction site is not enough to become a master carpenter. To be a carpenter one must learn from and be with a master carpenter. The same is true for apprenticeship to Jesus. That is discipleship – learning from Jesus to do life in the Kingdom of God.
At City Collective we’ve seen that planting a church has allowed people to rally around a vision and has given them opportunities to put their talents to work in the Kingdom. The reality in a new church is that all must participate in order for the vision to come about. This need creates space for new leaders to be raised up, equipped and discipled in the Kingdom. As churches grow and multiply there is a natural need for more teachers, more worship leaders, more volunteers and generally more participation in both the life of the church and the mission of God. More discipleship happens as people discover the love of God toward them and the way their talents uniquely equip them for participation in the mission of God in Chattanooga.
Significant discipleship happens in the context of small, committed communities that gather around the person of Jesus. Some people in our city will walk into a church plant when they are unwilling to walk into an established church. In this way, planting new churches creates the opportunity for more discipleship. There is a young woman in the church who recently expressed that learning the ways of Jesus in committed community has helped her begin to walk again as a disciple. It was relationship with people that allowed her to experience renewed relationship with Jesus in spite of the wounds and pain that life has given her. The community of faith carried her and believed for her until she could believe and trust again. The intimate community born out of the vision of partnering with God in a new expression of his Church in a city can be a catalyst for this kind of rugged discipleship.
Discipleship happens as we walk together in intimacy with Jesus. That intimacy cannot be microwaved. It only comes about by doing life together around Jesus. The beauty of following Jesus in the context of church planting is that if we can create a new space to be with others and with Jesus and to practice his ways together, he will do the transforming work of making those who have come into good disciples.
When God’s Kingdom grows, everybody wins. We experienced that
recently on a Sunday in April as Icces Furr, a college student at UTC,
was baptized into Christ.
Icces’ story is an amazing example of how God works in his own time through his people to fulfill his mission. Icces met some UCM students at the beginning of the school year when they were giving out free pizza. She became quick friends with a few UCM girls, went on a Beach Trip, started coming to Bible studies, and became a steady presence in the group.
After a couple months, Icces confided to her friends that she didn’t really know anything about Jesus. But she wanted to. Icces was raised by her mother, who wasn’t a Christian, and she knew very little about the Bible. But she could see something real in the faith of these college Christians. These were people who took their faith seriously. They served the community together, lived together and studied the Bible together. And they were part of a church together.
One Sunday, Icces went with her UCM friends to a church meeting. She loved the casual atmosphere, style of music, and friendly people. The church was City Collective, Clear Creek’s downtown church plant. Icces continued attending City Collective, growing under the teaching there and her weekly Bible study with UCM students.
When Icces decided in April that she wanted to be baptized, she knew just how she wanted it to happen – at City Collective with her church family and with all her UCM friends there as well. Icces’ story is one of God’s grace and his pursuit of those who don’t know him. It’s also a story of God using college students, a new church plant, and lots of different people to bring himself glory in Chattanooga.
Of the volunteers who help every Thursday with Inner City Outreach, one stands out as going above and beyond. Always smiling, Rosalind Crownover arrives an hour before class begins so she can ride the bus that picks up middle school children in downtown’s College Hill Courts, then brings them to and from Clear Creek. After she arrives at the building she helps teach the girls’ class, often bringing fun crafts for the girls to do.
Rosalind began volunteering with Inner City two years ago after hearing about the outreach at Clear Creek’s annual Catfish Dinner. She realized at the time that God had given her a gift to love children, which is evident in the way she interacts with the children each Thursday. By committing to spend her time this way each Thursday evening, Rosalind is able to invest countless hours in the lives of these young people who are often in desperate need of consistent love and encouragement. Not only has Rosalind decided to share the love of Jesus with these young people; she has also recruited others to join her. For the last two years, she has arranged for the Chattanooga State Girls Basketball team to come and spend time with the inner-city children. She is sharing God’s blessings with others and is inviting others in to that circle of blessing as well.