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Across the nation: Faith in God, and each other

LUBBOCK, TEXAS — After 70 years of marriage, Lewis and Lola Ritchey remain “soul mates” who share a deep faith in God and a desire to spread the gospel.
The Ritcheys, members of the Sunset church, estimate they have communicated with at least 5,000 students since they began grading Bible correspondence courses from all over the world.
“It takes all the spare time I’ve got when the arthritis isn’t acting up,” Lola, 88, told the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. “I spend anywhere from an hour to all day on the correspondence.”
They were married Dec. 22, 1935.

In a recent 40 days of prayer, the Canyon church prayed for all 10,000 of the community’s households.
A retiree named Jane Tilkey took 800 names to pray for, minister Tom Riley said.
“She lost her voice she prayed so much,” Riley said.


The Yorba Linda church hosted a recent “JAM”event — which stands for Jesus And Me — to help hurricane victims. Teenagersfrom area congregations competed to collect the most toys and canned goods forvictims relocated to southern California.
More than 100 teensrepresenting the Newland Street, Buena Park, Corona, Hesperia, Yucaipa, Chino,South Hills and Magnolia churches participated, organizers Michael and JenniferMazo said.
In all, the teenscollected 4,500 items of food and toys that weighed more than 2 tons, the Mazossaid.


Doyle and BarbaraKee, missionaries in Geneva, Switzerland, recently visited severalFrench-speaking churches in Florida.

Doyle Kee conducted athree-day meeting with the Pine Castle church, whereSerge Vilarson preaches.
In the Fort Lauderdale area,members of the Central Haitian church and other area congregations greeted theKees. Edouard Surin is the Central Haitian minister.
“An interestingdevelopment in French missions is that there are more French-speaking (Haitian)churches in Florida than there are in France,” DoyleKee said. “There is tremendous growth of the churches of Christ in Haiti, and whenthe Haitian Christians immigrate, they are zealous to establish churches whereverthey go.”

With help from formermembers and friends, the Brooklinechurch recently raised enough money to replace the 100-year-old slate roof onits historic building.
The congregationhopes to make other renovations in the near future, minister Kevin S. Wellssaid.


Let the Bible Speak,a television ministry of the Escanaba church, will celebrate its 30thanniversary in March.

The 30-minute Bibleprogram, aired each Sunday on a local station, started in 1976 under thedirection of Leslie W. Grant and the Escanaba church. Grant’s son, Dave, who isthe Escanaba minister, has served as the host since 1976.

The Sunsetcongregation’s second church plant in five years drew 139 people to its firstservice Jan. 1.
The Brookline church will meet temporarily inSunset’s education wing until a building in the neighboring community isfinished this spring. The preacher is Tony Gentry, and the elders are CecilHarris, Art Hudkins and Hillard Story.
The Union Hill churchin nearby Nixa was Sunset’s first church plant in 2000. That congregation,which began with less than 100 members, had a record attendance of 411 on Dec.18.
“Sunset has alreadystarted praying for the third church plant even though the location has notbeen determined,” Sunset preaching minister Joe Bright said, adding, “Both ofthese planted churches plan to be church-planting churches.”

The Manuelito NavajoChildren’s Home, which started not as a children’s home but as a preachingmission to the Navajo people, needs a new director.
Director Mike Grayand his wife, Mary, will end their 15-year tenure with the home this month.
“The need isimmediate,” Mike Gray said. “There are basically no educational requirements.We lean more toward the experiential side of things.”

The home, overseen bymembers of the Gallup church, needs someone who can balance social work, childcare and business, he said.


When wildfiresdestroyed dozens of homes in the area, the Seminole church’s elders encouragedmembers to identify neighbors who needed help.
Then the eldersstarted writing checks — for $250 to each person in need, minister ChrisStinnett said.
By mid-January,members had delivered 32 checks to neighbors who lost homes, Stinnett said.Among those who lost homes was the church secretary.

Churches of ChristDisaster Relief Effort sent a record $16.3 million in emergency food, water andsupplies to storm victims in 15 states during 2005, the ministry reported.
The bulk of that aidwent to hurricane victims in Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas.
More than 50,000family food boxes with about 48 complete meals each were distributed, said JoeL. Dudney, vice president and executive director.
That’s roughly 2.4million meals.
“We plan to continuethe work as long as the need is there and our money holds out,” Dudney said.“You’ve got to realize we spent more than $2 million on appliances alone.”

Missions ResourceNetwork, based in Bedford, recently presented the 2005 Titus Award to RandySteger, president of Healing Hands International.
Bob Waldron,executive director of Missions Resource Network, cited the humanitarian aidministry’s service “in remarkable fashion during the past year of anunprecedented succession of natural disasters around the globe.”

HealingHands is based in Nashville, Tenn.

Filed under: National Staff Reports

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