Animal Crackers and Fruit Punch

My first recollections of Vacation Bible School are not the songs or the stories but the food---animal crackers and fruit punch.  Now before you think I was only there for the food, let me explain.  I have learned from many years of teaching children the Bible that what they remember most is what they experienced.  When I went to VBS I remember coming together with a group of children and experiencing fellowship.  Fellowship with others who learn and believe that Jesus is the Savior of the world!  And we ate animal crackers and drank fruit punch, too. 

Super City Hero logo B 20190501.png

This summer at The Chapel we are introducing a Community Vacation Bible School that will create a fellowship experience for children from the four local schools that The Chapel adopted —Leggett, McEbright, Glover and Mason.  Superhero City:  Unleash your Amazing! will help children learn that the world decides what their identity should be, but God has a plan to rescue us and give us an eternal identity through His Son Jesus.

Many of the children who will be attending have not grown up in church and/or do not know that Jesus loves them.  When they come to The Chapel on June 10-13th they will experience God’s love for them and will be surrounded by people who believe that Jesus died on the cross for their sins.  For many, this will be the first time hearing this proclamation and I encourage you to pray for these young ones that they may respond to the gospel.  There will be activities and games, music and fun skits and of course there will be snacks.  All of these things create an experience that they will never forget. 

Photo by  Yannis A  on  Unsplash

Photo by Yannis A on Unsplash

Romans 10:17 teaches that “faith comes by hearing the Word of Christ,” and The Chapel is excited to proclaim this message of hope to these children.  Will you pray that Holy Spirit will fill the church body as they use their gifts and talents for God’s kingdom?  Pray too that the Holy Spirit will speak to these children and that they will respond to the Good News of Jesus Christ and share this same message with their families and neighborhood.  

God can use animal crackers and fruit punch to change a child because He did that with me.  As I got older I participated in communion for the first time and remembered that time at VBS when we ate this snack.  Those cookies and punch were my first introduction to the body and blood of Christ and what HE did for me on the cross.  That is the kind of experience we want to see happen for these children, too.


Lisa Marshall © April 2019



Halleluiah! What a Savior!

Photo by  Steve Halama  on  Unsplash

Photo by Steve Halama on Unsplash

I recently read The Hiding Place, an amazing retelling by Corrie Ten Boom of her heroic actions in hiding and rescuing many Jews in Holland during World War II, and her brutal time spent in a Nazi concentration camp because of it.  I marveled at the faith of Corrie and her sister Betsie, as they withstood the most horrific conditions with little more than one flimsy outfit and some smuggled pages of the New Testament.  Their faith in Jesus was unshakable.

Yet even in her amazing faith and courage, Corrie was still human.  At one point in the story, when they were suffering perhaps the most in the dead of winter, Corrie tells of her discovery that if she maneuvered her way toward the middle of the roll-call formation where they sometimes stood for hours before the guards, she would have a little more protection from the brutal wind.  Corrie admits this was self-centered, as it meant that someone else had to stand on the edge and be subjected to greater cold than she.  Another time, Corrie recounts that new prisoners arrived without a blanket and her sister insisted that they give up theirs to share.  Yet, Corrie was only willing to “lend” her blanket, insisting on holding onto it in her heart.

Even Corrie Ten Boom, like you and me, wrestled with the selfishness of her own human heart.  We all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)  Every one of us.  We need a rescuer.  A redeemer.  A Savior.

Who can rescue us from the depth of our sin and the selfishness of our own hearts?  This Easter we celebrate the fact that only ONE can and has:  Jesus.  The Word says, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)  While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5: 8)  Jesus willingly laid his life down for all of us.  The greatest act of selflessness, for you and for me.  Jesus said:  “I am the living bread that came down from heaven.  If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever.  This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” (John 6:51)     

And as if complete forgiveness of our sins wasn’t enough, he offers us even more:  His JOY.  Jesus promises that for every believer who abides in his love and obeys his commands, His joy will be in us and our joy may be complete. (John 15:9-11) 

In the context of the horrific conditions Corrie Ten Boom endured, just hoping to survive each day, her confessions of selfishness admittedly seem small.  However, her hidden selfishness was affecting her joy.  Finally, Corrie had this epiphany:       

The truth blazed like sunlight in the shadows of Barracks 28.  The real sin I had been committing was not that of inching toward the center of a platoon because I was cold.  The real sin lay in thinking that any power to help and transform came from me.  Of course it was not my wholeness, but Christ’s that made the difference. (The Hiding Place, 35th Anniv. Ed., p. 225, emphasis added)

Once Corrie Ten Boom reminded herself that she had no power to help herself or transform her circumstances—that the power of Christ was all sufficient in her weakness—all of her joy returned. This Easter, let’s lay down our selfishness and tendency to depend on ourselves.  Let’s freely embrace the complete sacrifice of Jesus Christ who willingly laid down his life for us so that we may have eternal life.  Let’s walk in the complete joy and victory he freely gave for us!

Halleluiah!  What a Savior!

-- Ashley Manfull © April 2019



Capture Our Feelings and Replace with God's Truth...

Psalm 32:5
”Then I confessed my sins to you, I did not conceal my wrong doings. I decided to confess them to you, and you forgave all my sins.”
Photo by Aaron Burden on

Photo by Aaron Burden on

Confessing my sins in prayer to the Lord has never been difficult for me.  But trusting the Lord in his word about my sin has been another issue.  Psalm 32:5 says the Lord "forgave all my sins" as my heart cried out in confession.  Then it is done. Finished. They do not need to be confessed again.  But here, Lord, my weakness is revealed, as I journal my feelings.

When I first made Jesus my Lord, I had a habit of dredging up old sins and stewing on them.  I confessed the same past sins over and over.  It was hard to let them go. However, as I continued to read God's word, I heard him over and over impress upon me that I was wrong to hold onto them.

There are many scripture verses to tell me how the Lord deals with my sin. 

  • "As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us (Psalm 103:12) 

  • “Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to your steadfast love remember me, for the sake of your goodness, O LORD!” (Psalm 25:7)

  • “For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.” (Hebrews 8:12) 

  • “I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.” (Isaiah 43:25-26)

  • “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

In my humanness, it was difficult to understand how God could remember my sins no more – indeed, blot them out! I felt incapable of doing this. But this thought process revealed more about my faith and ability to forgive sin than my Lord’s.  Did I harbor bitterness or hold a grudge in my forgiveness to others? What does this say about me? Did I really trust the Lord in his word? 

In His infinite capacity for grace and mercy, his word tells me the truth of all I need to know -- my confessed sins are not remembered by my Lord!  I needed to trust his word completely.  It has been a journey in my growing relationship with the Lord to trust and love his word.  To internalize his word is far different from acknowledging it. It has been a process for me. But the Lord is long suffering and I have grown to depend on his word in all aspects of my life.

When I confess my sins, I know there are consequences, but I feel his grace and mercy,  compassion, steadfast love, complete forgiveness.  A burden lifted! I can model his forgiveness of me as I deal with others. No bitterness, no grudges.  And yet, still every once in a while, something from my past rears its head. At those moments, I stand ready to submit my heart and mind to recall those verses of love and forgiveness.  He is always faithful to forgive.

-- Lorraine Pruitt © March 2019




In February 2019, WOW – Women for Oppressed Women celebrated our eighth anniversary by updating our website! We invite you to check out the new look and streamlined pages!

We also recently had the opportunity to reflect back on our founding with an article on The Worthy Walk, Pastor Tim Armstrong’s website for his radio program. This particular article was used in association with Pastor Armstrong’s sermon series, The Power of One. So, some of it reflects the personal experiences of one WOW sister. As you read it, we hope you not only will share in our joy and praise God with us for the many ways He has blessed this small band of sisters, but that you also will see how He grants all of us invitations and gifts to join Him in His work! You can read about that here.

There is Power in the Names of Jesus

Lord, where are you?

Have you ever asked that question? I sure have. In fact, I cried out those words just yesterday. A relationship trial reared its head in the ugliest of manners – again – and I was left with an aching heart, bruised feelings and a deep sense of isolation… Lord, where ARE you?

Moments like that make me so very grateful for some advice given to me long ago. A dear Christian mentor handed me an ordinary, spiral bound notebook and a pen and said,

“Linda, I want you to read the Bible, and I want you to record in this notebook everything you learn about God – Who He is and what He does.”

Photo by  Ana Tavares  on  Unsplash

Photo by Ana Tavares on Unsplash

My friend was encouraging me to become intimately acquainted with my Creator. She knew that life would deal me blows like yesterday’s and that I would need a lifeline. Indeed, a line to Life Himself. It’s a truth the psalmist of chapter 148 also understood. Throughout the 14 verses of his song, he admonishes everything and everyone to praise the Name of God. From the highest of heavens to the smallest of children, he implores us to praise the Lord!

Why? Because the psalmist and my friend understood that “His majesty is above earth and heaven.” (Psalm 148:13b) In other words, He is in charge.

God is Creator of All and King over all. When we lift up His Names, as described throughout His word, we learn the character of our Almighty God. As we understand His character, we realize important truths about Him. For instance, just this morning I was reminded that:

·       He is sovereign – Psalm 115:3 reminds us that “He does all that He pleases,” but we also learn

·       He works all things for the good – Romans 8:28 shows us that He doesn’t do what He pleases to suit a whim. No, in His love and grace, He works in the lives of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. He is not unaware of our trials, but rather,

·       He is sympathetic – Hebrews 4:15-16 tells us that he “has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” Therefore, we can “draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” And we can trust that – even when we feel alone –

·       He is our Shepherd – Wherever we are on life’s pathways, Revelation 7:17 reminds us that Christ “will be (our) shepherd, and he will guide (us) to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from (our) eyes.”

Friend, at the very moment I was feeling isolated and afraid, God reminded me of these strong promises. I had His word to fall back on because years ago a sweet friend encouraged me to truly know my God. And this month, WOW is joining in that encouragement with our journal prompt. Throughout 2019, WOW and our friends are praying through our pens by journaling prayers from the Psalms. In March, we are journaling our praise to God as described in Psalm 148:13:

“Let them praise the name of the LORD, for His name alone is exalted; His majesty is above earth and heaven.”

Healer, Provider, Deliverer, Savior. The Lord our God has given Himself many names. Won’t you join us this month in focusing on those names? Then, praise Him for Who He is and for what He does. Over time, none of us will need to ask, “Lord, where are You?” He will show us through His word.

-- Linda R. Maynard © February 2019




Giving Way to God's Greatness

“Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised,
    and his greatness is unsearchable.” – Psalm 145:3

Photo by  Brigitte Tohm  on  Unsplash

February in Ohio is traditionally a little bit of a challenge for me.  I am one of those people who depends a little too much on the sun and daylight for a “pick-me-up” in life.  In fact, I’ve noticed that the longer the winter drags on, the more I have the annoying habit of waking up during the night to worry over situations and people that I care about.

When I start traveling down the muddy road of “my concerns” about loved ones and circumstances of life that are out of my control – especially during the night -- I have to literally recite verses to myself to drive out of the ruts that I feel myself creating.  One such verse is “Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and His greatness is unsearchable” (Psalm 145:3).  I remind myself that He cares for me and His ability to handle all things “me” is beyond my understanding.  Another verse that tracks well with this idea is Isaiah 55:9. 

“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.” 

I have recently journaled about my need to defer to God’s viewpoint because there are no boundaries to His greatness.  This has to be a choice on my part because in my sinful heart, I rail against any doors that keep me from understanding how or why things don’t go the way I want them to go.  I’m apparently into railing against many things that are good for me!  Just today when my husband was genuinely, lovingly, repeatedly asking me to take the better slice of food because he really wanted me to have it… I pretended I didn’t hear him and took what I “thought” I should take.  Though it wasn’t a big deal he exasperatingly said, “I think you enjoy ignoring me when I’m trying to give you a better choice!”  I looked at him and laughed because he was right. In a much more serious and similar way, my natural tendency is to ignore God, pretending that His greatness has boundaries and I can certainly work out a better scenario if I just spend more time worrying about it during the night.  

Don’t get me wrong. I believe in the science of what the sun does for mental health, and this month I will turn my face as often as possible to the sun God created for us. But, I also plan to make a conscious choice to turn my face and praise to God and His Son even more during the month when our society focuses on Love.  I invite you to join me in choosing to trust in the Love of our Heavenly Father who not only gave His Son for our redemption, but who also has unsearchable greatness that we cannot begin to understand.  If we renew ourselves daily with this perspective of our loving Father’s greatness – in the same way we put on fresh clothes each day -- we will change the way we see the seemingly unending winter in Ohio and the way we see everything in our lives! 

-- Shelly Mountjoy, © January 2019



Thriving in All of Life’s Landscapes

“Oh come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker! Psalm 95:6 

God recently gave me an up close and personal message on Psalm 1. The object lesson unfurled while I visited the Cleveland Botanical Gardens. While the crisp, gray air rustled the barren branches outside, I walked through a lush canopy of verdant trees and flowing waterfalls dotted by glimpses of vibrant butterflies and the songs of cooing creatures. As I took in the sights, the juxtaposition of the external bleakness and this fertile interior triggered a recollection of Psalm 1:1-3 --

“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on His law he meditates day and night.

“He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.”

Cle Botanical Garden pic 20181223.jpg

Prior to my Garden visit, I had been doing my best – in the middle of a very busy holiday season -- to focus on God’s creation. I was trying hard to implement a little advance test-run of the journal prompts found in WOW’s 2019 Calendar: Praying through our Pens. WOW’s hope is not only to share the 2019 prompts on our blog and Facebook page, but also to record our personal experiences as we follow the prompts ourselves. January is my month to contribute a post, and while I was excited about what God would unveil, I also questioned whether holiday festivities might distract me from my mission. I should have known that our faithful God would work in and around me to show me His genius in the middle of an afternoon excursion.

At first, I simply was mesmerized by the lush greenery and lively colors of the butterflies dancing around me. As I continued to wander down the botanical paths, however, I sensed a whisper in my soul.

“This is the picture of life with God,” my soul resonated. “No matter how bleak one’s surroundings may be, a soul that delights in Him will be lush with life. Though the earth is iced over, your heart will overflow with Living Water. Though the trees and vines are barren, you will bear fruit in its season. Though the leaves are withered and falling, your life will be ripe with resiliency.”

Friend, it is amazing enough that God stopped me in my tracks to give me a Bible lesson in the Botanical Gardens. But He gave me far more than an object lesson that day. Indeed, He gave me a testimony. You see, over the past several years, life dealt me some struggles that left me parched and dry at times. Yet, rather than allowing me to stumble toward fleeting fixes, God continued to draw my gaze back to Him and the truth of His word. The more I delighted in Him, the deeper my faith roots grew. And the deeper the roots burrowed, the more His fruit flourished in and around me – no matter how the landscape looked.

So, yes! As Psalm 95:6 encourages, I will worship and bow down! I will kneel before my Maker! For God is good and true and worthy to be praised. And He reminded me of that during a visit to an indoor garden. Oh, come! Let us continue to adore Him!

-- Linda R. Maynard © December 2018






A Peek Through the Window: Vietnam Outreach

The fields of Vietnam are ripe for a gospel harvest! Although only the 65th largest country in the world by area, this south China country has the 14th largest population – nearly 94 million people. Yet, only 1.8 percent of the Vietnamese know the love and grace of Jesus Christ.

For that reason, The Chapel has partnered with Pastor Minh Dang of the Vietnamese Church in Akron, along with the Evangelical Church of Vietnam, to plant new churches throughout North Vietnam. The first seeds of this effort have been sown through the establishment of five “love homes,” small Bible fellowships that meet in the houses of local pastoral leaders. The hope is that these fellowships will attract more and more people and eventually grow into thriving, Christ-following churches.

While all of the current love homes are located in the Thai Nguyen Province, only one is situated close to Thai Nguyen City. The remaining four homes are found in rural areas of the country, and residents are very open to the gospel there!  Thirty to forty people meet in each rural love home – which actually is a small building attached to the houses of each church planter.

More than 85 percent of the Vietnam’s residents are Vietnamese. However, there are 50 other minority groups that reside in the country, as well. Though statistics show that nearly three-quarters of the population practice folk religion or are not religious, the Hmong people have been very open to the gospel. Another people group, however – the Tay people – have been quite closed. Less than one percent of this group profess belief in Jesus Christ. 

One church planter has a deep desire to reach the Tay people. He and his family not only have built a love home among them, but they also have established a small convenience story right next to the home. Providing groceries and other items to their Tay neighbors has been a great outreach for this church planter and his family.

“This pastor wants to reach into (the Tay) people group by providing some of their humanitarian needs,” says Todd Schreiner, Outreach Pastor for The Chapel. “He hopes to build a bridge and share the love of Christ with them, and supporters of the Vietnam Global Outreach can support him in his great work!”

Another way that we can support these servants for Christ is through the donation of a bull to each of the pastoral families we serve. By raising and selling the cow or bull, the pastoral family not only can provide for its own needs, but also have enough money left to purchase and raise another cow or bull. This type of support allows The Chapel to take the first step with our Vietnamese missionaries, but gives them the charge and freedom to carry it forward.

You can hear additional updates about the growing Church in Vietnam when you attend the Very Special Purse Party V: Windows on the World. This fun, festive, faith-building event will be held on Thursday, October 4, 2018, at Guy’s Party Center in Akron. For ticket information, please contact Kathie Brown at

-- Linda R. Maynard © August 2018

Photo caption:    A Vietnamese pastor’s wife stands next to one of the cows provided to her family through The Chapel. By raising, selling and reinvesting in cows or bulls, the family earns an income on which to live as they carry out God’s work.

Photo caption: A Vietnamese pastor’s wife stands next to one of the cows provided to her family through The Chapel. By raising, selling and reinvesting in cows or bulls, the family earns an income on which to live as they carry out God’s work.




The Spirit is on Me

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim freedom for the captives
    and release from darkness for the prisoners.

                                                                                                Isaiah 61:1

I have always loved these verses.  I read them and think of Jesus first, how he brings good news to the poor and brokenhearted.  He proclaims freedom for the captives.  He gives light to those living in darkness. 

It's also easy to imagine Isaiah proclaiming these words to his people because he is one of the great prophets of the Bible, anointed by God.  Of course he had the power to proclaim good news to the poor and bind up the brokenhearted!


But what about you and me?  When I read these verses more closely, the first sentence catches my eye:  “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me.”  God’s Word repeatedly tells us that if we have put our whole faith and hope in Jesus Christ, we too have the Spirit of the Sovereign Lord in us.  In Ephesians 1:19, Paul reminds the church of the Lord’s “incomparably great power for us who believe.”  Paul explains that this incomparably great power is the same as the mighty strength God exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms. 

The same power that raised Jesus from the dead lives in us!

Therefore, if God’s incomparably great power lives in each of us who are in Christ Jesus, we can proclaim and live out the same words as Isaiah.  The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me to proclaim good news to the poor.  The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me to bind up the brokenhearted.  The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners. 

Of course, we can’t possibly do this in our own power or strength.  But in Him, all things are possible.  I recently read Church of The Small Things, The Million Little Pieces That Make Up A Life (author, Melanie Shankle), a light-hearted read about the importance of living out the many small acts of faithfulness that make up a lifetime of glory to God.  At one point, the author writes:

We can never underestimate the grace and the strength he will give us for whatever he is calling us to do and whatever challenges we’ll face.  What he has planned for us is higher and deeper than anything we could ever hope to achieve on our own.

It’s too much.  It’s too much for us to do in our own strength because we will mess it up, but he knows that and uses us anyway.  It’s never about creating or doing or being something that’s perfect.  It’s not about having all the right answers.  It’s about being his.  It’s knowing that he who has called us is faithful.

(Church of the Small Things, p. 147) 

Just like the Lord’s anointing of Isaiah, I believe He longs to fill us with more and more of his Spirit to proclaim the good news of Jesus to the poor, brokenhearted, and oppressed.  As servants who are filled with the Spirit of the Sovereign Lord, the sisters of WOW seek to be the hands and feet of Christ for the poor and oppressed around the world.  Through many acts, large and small, seen and unseen, using each of our God-given talents and abilities, we can proclaim good news and freedom to the poor and oppressed. 

As the Spirit of the Sovereign Lord leads you, will you consider partnering with us in this work?  There are many ways to partner with us in serving the poor and oppressed, including but not limited to attending the Very Special Purse Party V on October 4th, attending a Journal Jam and Java event, purchasing journals, attending upcoming craft shows, and praying for our mission.   We all have this privilege of joining God in his work as He leads us.  To Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine!  (Ephesians 3:20)   

I love how Isaiah 61 ends:

For as the soil makes the sprout come up and a garden causes seeds to grow,

So the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations.

(Isaiah 61:11)  We plant, He makes it grow.  Keep planting, friends!

-- Ashley Manfull © August 2018



A Peek Through the Window – Designs on Windows on the World

“The LORD has given them special skills as engravers, designers, embroiderers in blue, purple, and scarlet thread on fine linen cloth, and weavers. They excel as craftsmen and as designers.” – Exodus 35:35 NLT

Just as each Very Special Purse Party has its own purpose, each one has a very special theme.  It takes unique talent and qualities to pull together design ideas that not only point to the purpose, but also have a way of uniquely glorifying the Lord. 

Heidi Holbaugh and Linda Lallathin head up the very special team of "craftsmen and designers" who bring the Purse Party décor to life.  Their skill and eye for design brings forth beautiful displays, centerpieces, favors, table settings, tickets and all of the many decorated items required.  They have devoted their time to our many Purse Parties in the past, and this year's event will be no exception to the talent they provide.  We are blessed and grateful to have them serve WOW in this unique way.

This year's logo:  Windows On The World displays windows with images from around the world showing how WOW and our friends love and care for others. WOW wanted to celebrate the fifth purse party and the global impact that God has made through WOW and our friends!

When asked what are the main ideas being used for decorating, Heidi explained, "The centerpieces are lanterns.  They have glass "windows" on each side.  They symbolize the "light" we want to shine through our actions.  The bible verse attached to them reads:

‘Jesus said, "I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’ John 8:12 ESV.

The lanterns will be in various colors and styles...unique, just like the women that WOW loves.  Linda Lallathin further expressed that "lanterns are very popular and they liked the 'farmhouse-destressed' look and they work well with window frames."

Linda chose the colors based on the scrapbook paper she found. The patterns are chic and vintage-inspired country designs in an assortment of somewhat muted colors. The displays at each table will be monochromatic with various patterns used in the same color story.

A special part of the design committee is to provide a favor for the guests. Linda came up with the "purse favor picture holder".  "We wanted the favors to be practical as well as pretty.  The guests can take them home and use them to display a favorite Bible verse, photo or recipe.  The centerpieces will make a nice gift for one of the women at each table too!" Heidi adds.

Below is a peek at some of the work at hand as WOW prepares for this year's Very Special Purse Party V.  Come and experience this special event! See how the Lord is glorified through the "light" of the actions of his designers! We know that your attendance will only magnify the light of God’s love for the poor and oppressed! (For ticket information, contact Kathie Brown at

-- Lorraine Pruitt © August 2018