Faces of Inspiration


One of the most exciting and inspirational parts of mission work is the people you get to encounter. It is amazing to learn about the impact God leaves in their lives, even if they are struggling or living in rough circumstances. Laura Tyler was blessed with the opportunity to travel to Kenya with Cottonwood Creek's mission team this summer and the people she met there truly touched her life.  

Laura first felt the call to ministry through missions when she was young. "I loved it and always wanted to be a part of it," Laura said. "I was involved in high school and early on in my marriage." After she became a mother, Laura kept looking for opportunities but being away for almost two weeks on a trip was something she couldn't do with young children.  

Six years ago was when Laura felt the prompting to go to Africa. She shared her thoughts with her husband, Keith. "At that time, my oldest daughter, McKinley, was in the sixth grade," Laura said. "She came up to me and said, 'Mom, I want to go on a mission trip and I want to go to Africa.' It was fun for me to hear that sweet confirmation that the Lord was doing the same thing in my daughter's heart that He was doing in mine." The fact that a mission trip to Africa was on McKinley's heart as well as her own made Laura want to do it even more.  

Laura began looking for opportunities but nothing felt right. Then, one morning in church, Bob and Julie Mendonsa of Naomi's Village spoke at Cottonwood Creek. "I started crying and knew this is where we needed to start," Laura said. "At that same moment, McKinley leaned over from four chairs away and whispered, 'Mom, we need to go!'"  

Initially, the Tylers were scheduled to go in the fall of 2013, however the trip was cancelled due to unrest and unsafe travel in the country at the time. Instead, they rescheduled for the following June. Since that first trip in 2014, Laura and the rest of her family hold a special place in their heart for Kenya. 

This summer, Laura and the team were blessed to meet many people with inspirational stories. Whether they personally knew God or not, it was evident that He was still working in their lives. "Most of the days, we were just loving, ministering, and meeting people wherever they were," Laura said. 

This year, the team delivered beds, writing desks, and solar lighting to families in need. With every visit to a family in need, Laura was touched by who she encountered. What was even more touching was the fact that she could already see God working within the families.  

One of the inspirational people Laura met was a woman named Grace. "She was a leader in Mwi’ Hangiri," Laura said. "Mwi’ Hangiri was a village whose people were put in an IDP camp after they were forced to leave because of political unrest in 2008. That year, many villages were attacked and abandoned and many lives were lost." The government issued tents for these IDP camps and declared that everyone was taken care of. This specific group of people from Mwi’ Hangiri were so far back off the main roads, nobody knew they were there. "They were discovered four years ago in plastic tattered tents and coverings that had been issued," Laura said. "Grace is a leader and true prayer warrior of that group."  

When Naomi's Village first discovered the people of Mwi’ Hangiri, the people said they needed a place to worship. Naomi's Village helped build a church for them and, over time, homes. "During this past trip, we were able to see that many families share a home or dwelling in a big rectangular concrete home," Laura said. "Grace shared her testimony and stories about God's faithfulness with us." One story Grace shared with the team was about the people not having food and fearing for their lives. "Someone gave them goats to provide, then the goats got stolen," Laura said. "It was story after story of difficulties but they remained so thankful." Grace said to the team, "The people in my own country do not come visit and you have come from across the world in the United States. You care and want to hear our story and show us your love." Laura was extremely moved by Grace's words and truly saw the importance of relationships for everyone, but especially for believers. 

Laura and the team had the chance to meet another incredible woman and hear her story. One particular afternoon, the team broke up into small groups and Laura's group was given the opportunity to visit a woman named Rachel who had four children. One of the children went to Cornerstone Prep, Naomi's Village's school for the community. "The Naomi's Village children go to Cornerstone, but children who show potential in the community can go there as well," Laura said. "Rachel didn't speak much English so we had a translator with us. Ultimately, the goal for us was to show her love and also deliver a bunk bed, writing desk, chair, and solar lighting." When Laura and her team showed up, they realized that Rachel's elderly mother was living with them as well. "The family had just been given a concrete dwelling to live in," Laura said. "Prior to that, they had been sleeping in the goat pen right outside." With no man involved, Rachel would go do day labor all day and leave her elderly mother at home. 

"At one point, I asked Rachel if she knew Jesus," Laura said. "She said she didn't and our hearts just sunk. So, I took a deep breath and at the moment, I heard an audible voice that said 'bracelet, bracelet, bracelet!'" Laura looked down at her wrist and saw that she was wearing her gospel bead bracelet that they had made with the children from Cornerstone four days prior. "I asked if I could share the gospel with Rachel," Laura said. "The translator said I could." Laura asked Rachel if she had seen the bracelet before and she said her daughter had brought one home from school the week before. "I said to Rachel, 'I would love to share a beautiful story with you and the bracelet helps me do that,'" Laura said. "I walked through each bead and at the end, I just left it with the hope we have in Christ. I explained to her that when we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior and trust in Him, we have this hope that surpasses our daily struggles, wants, and needs." Laura didn't necessarily do anything big, she just shared the story.  

Rachel started talking to the translator, smiled big, and said she wanted to accept Jesus. Laura and the team were overjoyed. Laura put the bracelet on Rachel's wrist and they all huddled together and prayed. "It was such a sweet moment and it all just started with showing up and meeting a physical need," Laura said. "We couldn't have planned that."  

Laura also got to reconnect with a little boy she had met on a previous trip. The Tylers had met him before and since that initial meeting, they had been in constant prayer for him. "God brought this boy into our hearts," Laura said. "He prompted our hearts to love this little boy. I can't even begin to explain the relationship established with him just through prayer." Laura felt such a burden and connection for this child, that she really had to talk herself down at first. "He's seen so many people who ultimately mean nothing to him," Laura said. "So, there was a chance that even with our prayers and thoughts of him for the past year, it wouldn't mean anything to him. Walking in, however, and seeing the bond he had with us that God had established through faithful prayer was such a blessing."  

The inspiring people Laura met made a completely lasting impact on her life. Her hope is that more of the Cottonwood Creek family will get to meet people just like the ones she met. Laura encourages everyone to just go. "Whether it's Kenya, Dominican Republic, or Rio Grande Valley, just go," Laura said. "It's easy for us to know God and know of Him here in America where we have so much privilege, freedom and opportunities. However, going elsewhere has opened my eyes wide to the power of God."  

Hope for Houston

An Update On How Cottonwood Creek Has Reached Out to the Houston Area Since Hurricane Harvey


Hurricane Harvey Update from Cottonwood Creek Media on Vimeo.

In late August of 2017, Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Houston, Texas and its surrounding cities. The hurricane caused many deaths and left many homeless. According to the director of FEMA, Harvey is probably the worst disaster that Texas has ever seen.  

Cottonwood Creek Church has eagerly stepped up to help those in the Houston area during these desperate times. So far, two shipments of supplies and materials have been sent to Houston.  

The first shipment was a partnership with Collin Baptist Association and Parkway Hills Baptist Church in Plano. A truck was sent with ten pallets of goods, such as diapers, water bottles, and other items that Cottonwood Creek has been collecting. Those items were then delivered to Second Houston.  

The second truck was sent with six pallets of materials in partnership with Engaged Partners which was sent through Manna Worldwide. Ryan Jones took an 18-wheeler and 4 different churches filled it with supplies. They then went to Houston North West.   

Cottonwood Creek has provided different opportunities to reach out and help those who have been affected by Hurricane Harvey. While the Cottonwood family looks forward to going down to serve, there are other ways for those to help out that are unable to go, through prayer, donating, and giving items 

Text HURRICANE to 77978 for updates on how Cottonwood Creek continues to support the Hurricane Harvey victims, as well as get first word on trips to Houston that will be planned.

Chiapas, Mexico Mission Trip Recap  


This summer, Cottonwood Creek teamed up with Mexico Ministries to assist with construction of a church in Chiapas, Mexico. Cottonwood Creek's team of 14 men had the incredible chance to minister through others through not only helping build the church, but also by interacting with the Mexican people.  

Originally, the team expected easy travel until a storm came through and shut down the entire airport. "As frustrating as it was for us, God used it to bring our group really close, relationship-wise," Missions Pastor Keith Tyler said. "It set us up for the rest of the trip and prepared our hearts for what we were about to experience."  

After 28 hours of waiting at the airport, the team finally caught a flight and headed to the Mayan Indian mountains. They soon arrived in the city of Chenalho 

"We came alongside Mexico Ministries to build this church in the middle of the mountains," Keith said. "It is only through love and support of our church and their giving towards missions that allowed this to happen."  

Much of the work on the church was already completed. Walls were constructed and a roof was already put on. The team's job was to lay foundation and build pews. "The joy of serving with these men bring the gospel to life," Keith said. "We were able to go and share Jesus and serve to those in need by providing a place of worship." The team experienced many obstacles such as delayed flights, rainy season, mud, and more but the joy they experienced in serving their Mayan Indian friends outweighed any difficulties they could have ever experienced.  

On the team's last say, the entire community joined together with the pastor of the church to dedicate the church building. "It was a powerful movement of God," Keith said. "Each of us prayed to the Lord, thanking Him for the blessings of providing this community a place of worship."  

Keith and the rest of his team are so thankful that the Chiapas community now has a place for preaching, discipleship, weddings, and a true beacon of light. "If it were not for the ministry of Pastor Carlos, Pastor Alex, and Mexico Ministries, this tremendous work wouldn't be possible," Keith said. "Thank you, Cottonwood, for your love and support and we look forward to seeing you in Chiapas next year." 

If you would like to get involved with serving alongside Cottonwood Creek, visit us online


Intern Story: Brady Tucker

Brady Tucker: Young Adult/College Intern



What did your life use to look like that would relate most to the non-Christian? 

For me, before Christ, there was not a whole lot of purpose and I didn't have any meaning in my day to day. I had a "let's just get through today and get through tomorrow" mindsetI didn't have a sense of purpose, and had a lot of unhappiness and sadness. I didn't see the point in each day and each moment and in my existence in general. I found myself in a lot of situations that I shouldn't have been in.  

What did you rely on the most before accepting Christ? Where did your security and happiness come from? 

I'm not sure what I relied on the most, but probably just the confidence in my culture. I just relied on our collective intelligence and our understanding of life. There wasn't a whole lot of security or happiness in that though. I was very insecure and really unhappy. Nothing filled that void for me in my life before Christ.  

When was the first time you heard the gospel and was exposed to dynamic Christianity? What were your initial reactions? 

I've been going to church since I was a kid, so a young age. The first time it really made sense to me was in high school at camp. I just realized that there is a lot more than just going to church on Sunday. I had a lot of different feelings. 

When did you feel the Lord reveal Himself to you and begin to turn your attitude around? 

It happened in my early years of college. I was in a discipleship program at my university and it was just daily and weekly conversations about Christ. It was in those moments that I allowed God to start working in and transforming me. 

What are some specific changes that Christ has made in your life? 

My general outlook on life has changed. I used to be very pessimistic on life and it's now really changed with Christ giving me value and purpose. He's infinite and He's good and that has given me value. Life changes as well, such as addictions and a lot of the ways that I used to live my lifestyle. I have more discipline.  

Is there a Bible verse that you hold near to your heart that encourages you of Christ’s impact in your life? 

"He must become greater; I must become less." John 3:30. It's been very consistent. That always needs to be on my mind in following Christ. It's given me purpose. 

In what parts of your life do you pray for the Lord to continue to work in? 

Consistently, it's been selfishness. Seeing what Christ has done in my life has shown me what humility is. 

If you could go back and talk to your former self before accepting Christ, what would you tell yourself? 

Stick with it. Following Christ has been incredibly difficult in different seasons but in all those good and bad seasons, just continue to stick with it and be obedient.  

How do you go about approaching non-Christians and telling them about the Lord? 

My professor from a class used, "Seek first to understand before you earn the right to be understood." I do minimal talking in the beginning and just hear where they're at and just listen to their complaints with God and struggles in faith. I then earn their respect and become friends. Then they value my response more and I can have a conversation with them.  

Who are three people connected with your testimony? Why have they been such an influence in your life connecting to your testimony? 

My youth pastor. He always was quick to show grace and love to me in seasons I didn't see any good in myself. He had a great source of wisdom and he was always able to work through the challenges of the faith I had. 

Francis ChanI listened to him on the drive from Dallas to Houston. He specifically opened my mind and my imagination to the infiniteness of God and how there's more to following Christ than what we often hear preached. He's very blunt, honest, and challenging and showed me a God that I wanted to know. 

My current mentor. He's one of the most interesting guys I've met. His intentionality on meeting with me, checking in on me, and he has joy like I haven't seen before. He's taken me under his wing.  

Since accepting Christ, how have you been an influence on others around you? 

Working with this internship has been a big thing. YesterdayHunter called me and encouraged me for partnering with him and stepping in. Working alongside him has been really great and beneficial for both of us. That's from seeing in how we interact with college age and other young adults.  

What initially called you to serve at Cottonwood Creek? 

I met Hunter Ballew at DBU four years ago. Our friendship continued and I was approaching graduation and wanted to get more involved in ministry. I was trying to figure out where God wanted me and Hunter told me about his need for the young adult ministry.  

What called you to serve in the specific ministry that you're currently in? 

It helps that I am a young adult. Most people I work with are my ageIt's a perfect fit in my mind because I’m learning just as much from everyone as I'm supposed to be teaching. I'm just enjoying this age group because people are quick to be friends and I enjoy the moments together.  

What have you learned so far from this internship? What do you hope to gain out of it? 

I've learned that you have to be patient in ministry. Just where our ministry is at currently, there is a lot of waiting and change and moments where you could be quick to give up or get frustrated, but you keep trusting the Lord that it'll work out in His time.  

I would hope to better figure out what God's plan is for me in ministry, whether that's stay in this age group, work in another part of the church, or even outside of the church.  

How have you been able to express your spiritual gifts during this internship? 

One of them is counseling. There's been moments already where I've been able to talk with college students or young adults and hear where they're at and just be able to listen and share with them what the Bible speaks to that.  

A Servant's Heart

Erich McCollom's Story of Serving and Sharing the Gospel at Fun with the Son 


Fun with the Son is Cottonwood Creek’s annual family mission event in east McKinney that provides eye and dental screenings, haircuts, face painting, balloon animals, train rides, and every school-aged child in attendance receives school supplies. Most importantly, children get to hear the gospel. This year marked the 20th anniversary of the event and it was undoubtedly a success. Erich McCollom of Cottonwood Creek was one of the many people who served that day. His experience this year was different than previous years that he had served because of all the unexpected ways God used him. 

Erich accepted Christ at a young age. "I was working to convince my parents that I knew who Jesus was and wanted Him to be my Savior," Erich said. "Their comeback was always 'You're too young', though." Erich remembers finally riding his bike up to his church and going to the pastor's office and telling him they needed to talk. "We talked, prayed, and soon after, I got baptized at First Baptist in Princeton." 

Years later, Erich and his family moved to Allen and were looking for a church closer to home. Erich heard of Cottonwood Creek through a few other guys he knew through other organizations. He and his wife then toured Cottonwood Creek's Life Groups a couple of times until they found one that was right for them. It was at Cottonwood Creek where Erich was introduced to Fun with the Son. 

This year's Fun with the Son in particular was a different experience for Erich than previous years. "This was my third year," Erich said. "The first two years, I viewed it more as us going out to do some good work and share and give to the community. This year was different for me because it felt like a continuation of the Dominican Republic mission trip I went on this summer." Erich felt God working on his heart during his time in the Dominican Republic and he soon came to realize that not only could he serve on a mission trip in a foreign country, but he could serve right at home in his community. "I knew this because God gives you that 'aha' moment and epiphany," Erich said. "I had a good attitude and enjoyed serving in the Dominican and now I had the opportunity to do it at Fun with the Son. We had a place and a time right here." 

Erich had many favorite parts of serving throughout the morning. This year was his first year he volunteered to help set up. "It was fun for me to see us take the blank park and see it all come from the ground up and be built up," Erich said. "It was great to see how many people started showing up as the morning went on and just see the park come alive and have the whole Cottonwood family work together." It also warmed Erich's heart to see a young boy smiling while riding his son's old bike that they had donated. "It just goes to show that whatever you're willing to give or do, it affects people," Erich said. "God will use you."  

One specific way that God used Erich that morning was during an encounter with a homeless man named Frank. As Erich and his team were setting up and unloading things for the day, he noticed a man under the covered area where school supplies were being passed out. "I could tell he had been there all night," Erich said. "Before I had chance to go talk to him, there was a lady who had introduced herself to him. Frank then came over and helped us unload water and started helping." Erich and Frank struck up a conversation and Erich asked him what his story was. Frank replied that it was a long one, but Erich said he had all morning. "As we worked together, he told me how he was in and out of foster care as a kid," Erich said. "He's estranged from his dad and grandfather. He just lived off and on in different houses and unfortunately was finding different places to sleep." 

As the day went on, Erich kept hoping for a chance to share the gospel with Frank. "My time of serving was done, so I went to go see him at his bench," Erich said. "I told him that we didn't get to finish his story." Once again, Frank reminded him that it was a long story, but Erich's reply was that he had all morning. "Frank shared that he has cerebral palsy on his right side," Erich said. "However, he said he doesn't let that get him down because God is watching over him." That was when Erich asked Frank if he knew who God was and had a relationship with Him. Frank said that he knew God was there and he had been baptized.  

"I told Frank that a relationship with Christ goes deeper than that," Erich said. "Baptism is great but what's it supposed to do? I showed him my wedding ring and drew a comparison to it."  

Erich showed Frank how baptism was an outward display of what's going on inside the heart of someone who has given their life to Christ. "We had a chance for me to tell him what a relationship with Christ looks like," Erich said. "I then had the chance to pray with him. For him to be in these circumstances and that he was still so willing to spring into action to serve with us earlier that morning, it spoke big to me." Along with praying for Frank, he also encouraged him and shared the gospel. "It was special because he had such a good attitude even in the circumstances he was in," Erich said. "It was very encouraging." Erich left knowing that Frank had a better understanding of what the gospel meant.  

Erich truly has a servant's heart and always serves to bring glory to the name of God. He always turns to Luke 2:52 to remind himself and others why serving is so important: 

And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man. 

"That's what I aspire to be and instill in my kids," Erich said. "We're going to grow and build and it's important that we're growing in wisdom, as well as the fear of God and in favor with God. When we are in favor with Him, and we are serving, it brings glory to God."

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