The Gift 2014

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The Gift is a Sunday morning devoted totally to being On Mission @ Cottonwood Creek. We cancel our normal Sunday morning small group Bible Study and dedicate the entire morning to missions.

On Sunday, November 16 over 1,300 people came together to be On Mission. Opportunities included serving with:

  • Operation Christmas Child
    Packing shoe boxes with gifts for children across the world. What goes into the box is fun, but what comes out of it is eternal. By packing a box, participants became a part of changing children's lives all over the world in Jesus' Name. 961 Operation Christmas Child boxes were collected. Learn more about Operation Christmas Child here.
  • Seed Packing 
    Volunteers created vegetable garden packs. They labeled the vegetable envelopes, filled them with seeds, sorted and ended with harvest packs boxed and ready to send. Our efforts will provide 12,000 new farms in Africa. 28,000 seeds were packed!
  • Meal Packing 
    159,000 meals were packed this year. These meals will be taken to the Dominican Republic and mission teams will help distribute this aid next year.
  • Pink Heart Fund
    Pink Heart Fund provides free wigs for children and adults who have lost their hair due to illness or cancer treatment. At least 8 inches of hair was required to donate. 25 pony tails were donated.
  • Give Blood
    Carter Blood Care set up a blood drive and 87 people donated.
  • The Gift Canned Food Drive
    We partnered with Community Food Pantry of McKinney to collect canned food. 1,638 cans of food were donated.
  • Angel Tree
    Over 95 Angels were adopted from the Angel Tree this year.



The Gift Testimonies

The Gift not only touched the lives of those received the food, blood, seeds, gifts and hair, but those who volunteered. Below are some of the testimonies of service from The Gift.

I did experience a “God Moment” last Sunday. Ever since I have accepted Christ, I have always remained open to those in need. Helping homeless or helpless in the inner city with a meal or assisting someone broken down on the side of the road are some things I have always felt compelled to do. But missionary work has been something that I’ve shied away from because of a real fear of displacement. I was not willing to step out of my comfort zone. Sure, serving at home was okay but I never wanted to travel abroad to another country where I wouldn’t know the culture and would probably fear for my family’s safety.

After hearing the testimonies from the various different organizations, God revealed something to me that was very obvious. If He loved me enough to sacrifice His only son so that I could spend eternity with Him, how could I have any fear for my well being? Sure, I could tromp through an African rainforest and be captured and killed by the very people I was trying to disciple but that fear is no longer relevant. Brings to mind Romans 8:35-39:
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

-Kevin Sears

What a joy to fill seeds with a family from Gain. I think the Anderson's. My envelopes were filled by a precious 2 year old little girl named Olive. She had four siblings including a sister that was adopted from Ethiopia. Her name was Elsa!

We talked about where the seeds were going and how they would be used. A precious experience seeing these kids serve and already understand what it means to give of yourself for others.

Thank you CCBC for this opportunity to serve!!

-Denise Fransisco

God used John Wedemeyer’s testimony at a previous deacons meeting and The Gift to call me to “GO” on the DR mission trip this year. So, I’m making plans!!!

-Craig Cravey

I have a touch of arthritis in my hands and wrists. I am in my 85th year but an amazing thing happened...

I started with opening one bag at a time for the tomato seeds to be tossed in by another volunteer sitting opposite me. Another volunteer sitting by me had the same speed until an 'Angel' directed my hand in such a way that I was opening 3:1! In fact the seeds had to linger much less poised in another volunteers hand which, was also aged like mine.

I feel this exercise was a blessing in disguise for both of us. I must tell this to my arthritis class at the Sr. Center. God's ways are hard to understand, perhaps that would be an invitation for some of my class mates to join my beloved Church!

-Nimma Mullens

Our home group signed up to serve by meal packaging together. It was really neat to serve alongside them and continue our fellowship out at lunch together. Every time we get together I am thankful for the Transform Campaign and the ways we are still impacted after it ended. The Gift was just one of those ways I was impacted and I hope we can find more ways through the church and local opportunities to give back.

-Michelle Gallimore


To learn more about how you can take part in The Gift 2015, click here.


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Ron Shrock: Emotional Health Transformed

Ron Shrock lived a double life. On the outside Ron was an easy going, yes-man that was always available. On the inside, Ron was constantly worried about his reputation and exhausted from over committing himself. The emotional despair Ron

“I am a grateful believer in Christ who struggles with co-dependency and people pleasing,” Ron said. “I introduce myself that way because for years I was enslaved to what other people thought of me. That took a tremendous toll on me. I always thought that if people knew the real me they would not want anything to do with me.”

Afraid of rejection, he became a yes-man and people pleaser.  Ron constantly worried about him looked in other people’s eyes. Never wanting to rock the boat or tarnish his reputation, Ron went above and beyond to accommodate everyone. Over time he found that he was over committing himself due to his inability to say no to people’s requests. After committing he would suddenly regret having said yes. The burden of these commitments began wearing him down.

“You end up telling lies right?” Ron said. “Instead of being truthful and saying what is going on, you only address the positive and make it sound like you have it all together.”

The pressure began taking a toll on a lot of Ron’s relationships and he needed a way out. Ron sought out the help of a counselor and joined Celebrate Recovery at Cottonwood Creek. It was there that he discovered a secret he had been keeping was the root of the issue.

“I had been sexually abused as a child and I had told no one,” Ron said. “I was never willing share or let anyone know because I thought if anyone ever knew about that, that they would reject me and not want anything to do with me. I never realized the connection between that life event and how it shaped my personality. This is what we call a character defect in Celebrate Recovery.”

Ron went through Celebrate Recovery’s 12 step program and transformation took place in his life as he ruled out all of his character defects. He was able to forgive the person who abused him and make amends to the people he hurt by keeping this secret.

“I am now able to say no when people ask me to do something,” Ron said. “I’m not feeling like I always need to say yes. I have much more boldness because I can speak the truth. I can say it in love but without fearing other people.”

The transformation that took place in Ron’s life inspired him to help others. He serves in the Celebrate Recovery ministry and helps other men go through the same process that he did nearly five years ago. Some of the deepest, most meaningful relationships in Ron’s life have been made with other men participating in Celebrate Recovery.

“The biggest change in my life is that God has become big and people have become small,” Ron said. “While I am absolutely sitting here and telling you that I have been transformed, I will also say that I am a work in process.”

Celebrate Recovery meets on Monday nights at 6:40p. For more details on Celebrate Recovery, contact Ryan Koesel.


Jeremiah 6:14:They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. ‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace.


Philippians 3:12-16: Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.



 Watch John Mark's message on Emotional Health Transformed.



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Scott & Linda Elliot: Relational Health Transformed

A brick wall of despair and financial burdens nearly separated Scott and Linda Elliot in the early years of their marriage. Circumstances beyond their control and poor financial decisions left the young couple emotionally, spiritually and financially bankrupt. The Elliot’s found healing in their relationship when and where they least expected it.

“We argued a lot during those years,” Linda said. “Every argument was a brick. Every brick built a wall that eventually drove us a part.”

As leaders in their church, Scott and Linda kept their situation a secret and this put a strain on their marriage. Afraid of how this was affecting their three daughters, Linda began looking for ways to solve their problem. The way of the world said that getting a divorce was the only way to protect their children. Instead of following that path Linda began praying for God’s solution.

“We had too much pride to ask for help,” Linda said. “We had too much pride to admit that we needed help. Of course we had to keep up that facade that we were that perfect family.”

Scott began retreating from the situation by working longer hours. When a group called Life Action Ministries came to their church for a ten day revival, Scott and Linda looked at each other and said there was no way that they were going to go in their current condition. They promised each other that they would go to the first evening just to show everyone how fine they were.

“We turned to each other that night and looked at each other and said ‘Will you forgive me?’” Linda said. “We also went to God and asked for forgiveness for many things, some of which were anger, pride, resentment, and disobedience. He was faithful to forgive us and at that moment, the wall that we had built literally dissolved and we began to heal.”

Even though the forgiveness was instant, the Elliot’s were on a long path of healing and rebuilding. God did not take away the consequences. It took years, but through God’s faithfulness they were able to rebuild their marriage and finances. Scott stepped up and became the spiritual head of our household and it changed the dynamic of the household for good. This was important for the ongoing health of their marriage.

“We didn’t see necessarily a church-wide revival and honestly we don’t know of anyone else that was helped,” Scott said. “It may have been that that entire event was just for one couple in trouble who were short on time and hope.”

Scott and Linda have been married for 31 years and credit God with turning their floundering marriage into a fantastic marriage. When it seemed like there was nowhere to turn and all hope was gone, Scott and Linda cried out for forgiveness and guidance. It was a long road of transformation, but their relational health has been restored.

“Although you may think the problems that you are struggling with are unique and that no one else is facing those problems,” Scott said. “That is absolutely not true. That is a lie straight from Satan meant to isolate you and to destroy your hope. As long as God is on His thrown, there is always hope.”


 Watch John Mark's message on Financial Health Transformed.



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Steve and Lisa Jones: Physical Health Transformed


Lisa Jones’ wake-up call came in the form of a pre-diabetes diagnosis. Her sister had passed away at 59 years old due to complications from the disease. Lisa’s husband, Steve Jones, had a similar experience when he was diagnosed with high blood pressure and his cardiologist said that the party was over. Just a year and a half prior, Steve’s father was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. Even though he is still alive, his heart is only operating at a 25% capacity and Steve did not want to follow in his footstep. These diagnoses and losses led the Jones’ to turn to God to transform their physical health.

Neither of the Jones’ treated their bodies as temples for the Lord. Lisa found that her love of food was blocking her from God. They ate what was convenient and did not watch portion sizes.

“We needed to do something,” Steve said. “I accepted Christ at a young age, but to be honest with you, over the years I don’t I don’t know if I truly accepted that my body was a temple to the Holy Spirit.”

In the summer of 2013 Steve and Lisa began praying for God to use their bodies as temples. They sought nutritional counseling and radically changed what they ate. No more of convenient foods, riddled with white sugars, sodium and preservatives. The Jones’ learned what their bodies truly needed through portion control and treating their bodies as a temple.

“Was it easy?” Steve asked. “Not at all. As a matter of fact it was pretty emotional at times.”

“I don’t think God intended for us to eat all of these things,” Lisa said. “We have learned a lot about what our bodies really need to have.”

People began noticing their transformation at Cottonwood Creek, where the Jones’ have been members for the past six years and serve in the senior adult ministry. When people would ask if they were losing weight, Steve would take the opportunity to share their journey of trusting God and using their bodies as a temple. In January of 2014 Steve and Lisa started the Right Start Program on Sunday evenings to help others who were struggling with getting healthy.

“We found a lot of people in the church would join us in the evenings, looking for different information about nutrition,” Steve said. “We had nutritionists come and talk to us and John Mark came and talked to us. Lisa and I were trying to do some calculations and we think that through that program, over 1,000 pounds has been lost since the beginning of the year.”

By Christmas of 2013 John had reached his goal of dropping 80 pounds. He stuck by Lisa’s side and she reached her goal of dropping 105 pounds in May of 2014. Dedicating their bodies to God, changing how they ate and caring more for their bodies transformed Steve and Lisa’s physical health drastically.

“I think that the thing that we have learned the most in our journey as that it is possible,” Lisa said. “You can do it. There are some simple things that you can start doing today to help you have a healthier life and body.”

“Trust in God,” Steve said. “He will show you the correct way.”


1 Corinthians 6:19: Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own...

Zephaniah 3:17: The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.

 Watch John Mark's message on Physical Health Transformed.



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Ryan Koesel: Spiritual Health Transformed


In his search for happiness, Ryan Koesel turned to chasing after money, glamor and fame. These worldly tokens gave him a temporary yet fleeting happiness. Through biblical community, seeking the Lord and God’s grace, Ryan’s spiritual health was transformed.

“I am now transformed by the renewing of my mind and no longer controlled by the patterns of this world,” Ryan said.

Ryan’s father left when he was eight years old and he began turning to food to fill the void. His mother began taking Ryan and his brother to church in search of God. From then on her life was different. Pastor Harold Meaux took Ryan under his wing, making sure to include him in activities and connecting him with mentors. At 13 years old, Ryan became a Christian.

“I ultimately found healing in knowing my mom now had peace in the Lord and seeing that I wanted it as well,” Ryan said. “I eventually experienced that peace in coming to know Jesus.”

After becoming a Christian the fight began in Ryan’s life. He had one foot in the world and one reluctantly in the kingdom. In 2001 Ryan lived in Nashville, Tennessee and began working in the country music industry. Contracted to work on recording studio design and ambiance, Ryan had an all access pass to movie premiers, meet and greets and the best parties in the industry. Living on a bus for months at a time made partying all the more easy. The rich and famous lifestyle had a hold of Ryan. The more money he made, the more successful he felt.

“I kept chasing after money, partying, glamor and fame,” Ryan said. “The world promised all of these things would make me happy. In turn they did, but eventually they failed me in every way. In God’s grace, He was there all along the way placing Godly people as guideposts and reminders to turn back to Him.”

At the end of the day, Ryan would find himself falling on his face, crying out to God. This emptiness led Ryan back God and he began attending church with his family again. From there he was connected with a young adult home group. His life turned from one rooted in greed, debauchery and pleasure, to one rooted in God’s word, love and grace.

“This is what I like to refer to as the snowball effect in my life,” Ryan said. “Through experiencing true biblical community God grew my appetite in his word and he also showed me how he wanted me to change, how he gifted me in his spirit. This snowball of grace that I was experiencing kept picking up critical mass as God kept showing me what I was gifted in.”

God grew him in this community and Ryan began to see his love for God and His people. Ryan learned of his spiritual gift for teaching and began leading small groups. During a study on Nehemiah, his small group began praying for each other and the vision God had for each of them. It was then that Ryan began to see God’s plan for him to serve vocationally. After seeking counsel, praying and fasting Ryan applied to seminary and moved to Texas to attend Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Now Ryan serves as the Single Adults and Single Parents Minister and leads Celebrate Recovery at Cottonwood Creek.

“While at times seemingly tough and dark, God in turn used my childhood as a product of a single parent home, my divorce and poor lifestyle choices to now relate and minister to where God has me serving,” Ryan said.

While Ryan was trying to turn away from sin, he was still missing something. It wasn’t working for him and he still struggles with it today. Working through Celebrate Recovery, Ryan routinely finds his character defects and replace them with what God has for him.

“Ironically the most painful, whether emotional or physical, moments have led to my spiritual healing,” Ryan said. “It forced me to lean on Him more and grew my faith, rather than trust my own feelings and understanding of what I was suffering through.”


James 1:5-8: If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.


 Watch John Mark's message on Spiritual Health Transformed.


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