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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

 

Kenya's Grateful Hearts

Patti Locklear's Story of Meeting the Grateful Hearts of Kenya 

 

It's never too late to go on a mission trip. For Patti Locklear, this year's 2017 summer mission trip to Kenya was her very first mission trip. "I have always had a special place in my heart for kids," Patti said. "Every time I saw the Kenya trip, it tugged at my heart. So, my husband put down the deposit as my Christmas present!" From there, Patti's heart for children and especially the children of Kenya only continued to grow.  

A typical day on the Kenya mission trip was a very busy one. After breakfast, the team would leave the facility and have a morning time of ministry. They then did Vacation Bible School with the kids. "We had crafts, sang songs, and played with them on the playground," Patti said. "After that, we would go do ministry in the community, such as community outreach to the kids of Cornerstone Academy.In the evening, the team would go to the orphanage area and play in the courtyard with the children"After the children went to bed, we would have prayer with them," Patti said. "One of the little girls kept saying, 'Auntie, are you crying?!' It was just so touching and moving to pray over them." 

Patti was and still continues to be blown away by the impact that God continues to leave on the people of Kenya. However, she thinks that God has truly impacted her more. "I would say that their hearts are so grateful to the Lord," Patti said. "American's truly don't know what 'need' really is. I saw their daily lives and they were just so grateful all the time. 

This being her very first mission trip, Patti went with the expectation that God was going to do amazing work. However, she soon realized that when they arrived in Kenya, God was already at work there. "There were several salvations," Patti said. "I was not specifically involved in those, but I did show the gospel a lot."  

The place that impacted Patti the most was a refuge for abused and neglected children. Many children there would come from extremely abusive situations and there, Patti saw the great need the children have.   

"I remember one specific instance when I was sitting with a thirteen-year-old girl doing the bead bracelets with the salvation message," Patti said. "She asked me if she could sing in a song in Swahili to me." Patti could only make one word out of the song: Yahweh. "After she finished singing, I asked the girl what the song meant," Patti said. "She said, 'God hide me from my enemies'. I then started crying because I just thought to myself and wondered how many times has she had to sing that out to the Lord?"  

Patti prays for the children in Kenya constantly. She keeps Jeremiah 29:11 in her mind and prays it over the children. "God has a plan for their lives," Patti said. "It really does change your heart." Patti feels like there should be no hesitation when it comes to joining a mission trip. "Don't be afraid, just go!" Patti said. "A lot of people worried about our accommodations but don't be afraid. After being in Kenya, I really left a part of myself there. The people are so grateful towards us and also to God." Patti learned a lot about the Kenyans' dependence on the Lord. "In America, we really aren't always dependent on God," Patti said. "However, we absolutely should be." 

 

In the Midst of the Storm

Shannon Murphy's Story About Trusting God Throughout Life's Trials

 

Most testimonies are a full story. They have a beginning, a middle, and an end. A storm arises in a person's life, that person has to decide whether or not to stand firm through the storm, then finally the storm clears and life goes on, leaving the person changed and having their eyes opened to something new. But what about the people whose stories are not finished yet? The ones who are still standing in the middle of the storm? Cottonwood Creek's very own teacher of the New Hope Life Group, Shannon Murphy, has been all too familiar with what it is like to go through trials in life. However, seeing how strong his faith is in God is proof that no matter what the outcome of his storm is, he will still make it out stronger than ever before.   

 

Growing up as the son of a pastor, Shannon was surrounded by a Christian family and community. However, he lived by going through the motions of a true believer. He had the mindset that since he grew up in a Christian family, had a pastor for a father, and went to church, he was saved. It wasn't until he was seven years old at a tent revival that he truly made his faith his own and began a genuine and personal relationship with God.   

 

Since then, that genuine faith in the Lord has guided Shannon in overcoming trials in life. “It’s easy to become sure of things," Shannon said. "When you have the mindset that everything is permanent in this world, you stand on shaky ground.” After twenty-four years of marriage, Shannon experienced a very painful divorce. “My divorce shook me," Shannon said. "Not only with the thought of how could this happen but also the perception that I was the only one going through it. My parents, my grandparents, their marriages had lasted. It was an embarrassment, but also an eye opener for me." His divorce showed him that he had not been the spiritual leader of the household that his family had been needing. During his marriage, his focus was not on his relationship with God, but after the divorce, all his focus was on his relationship with God. 

 

After the initial shock of his impending divorce, Shannon called the Minister of Care, Robert Bennett, who referred him to Pastor John Mark's men's Bible study. The night before the Bible study, Shannon's best friend growing up got in touch with him and asked how he was. Shannon replied with letting him know that many things were on the line, including his marriage. The following morning at the men's Bible study, Pastor John Mark called him out, which led Shannon to pouring everything out to the other men about struggling with his divorce. That same morning, at the exact same time in College Station, his friend and the rest of his very own Bible study class prayed over Shannon's text message towards Shannon.   

 

After visiting the men's Bible study, Shannon began attending Divorce Care at Cottonwood. It was there where he was blessed with new, supportive friendships. From there, it was how the idea of the New Hope Life Group was created.  

 

Shannon and many other people in Divorce Care felt like they needed to create their own Life Group at Cottonwood, one that wasn't labeled as either a singles or couples class. They decided to go forward and create a Life Group that was open to anyone and everyone who needed encouragement and hope in times of trials and struggles. During this time, Pastor Justin Frazier approached Shannon and asked him if he would like to teach the New Hope Life Group. Shannon said he did not feel like the right person for the job. Pastor Frazier's reply? "You were made for such a time as this." Who better to lead a Life Group full of people who were struggling than someone who had his fair share of it as well? It was at that moment that Shannon decided to let God lead him through this new chapter of being the New Hope Life Group teacher.  

 

Throughout teaching the New Hope Life Group, Shannon made many close friendships, most prominently with a woman named Amy Thomas. They became close friends and eventually started dating. However, things changed drastically for both of them when Amy was diagnosed with stage four brain cancer in early 2017. This revelation caused Shannon to have many serious moments of doubt. How could God take something that gave him so much joy away from him after all that he had been through with healing from his divorce? It was in one of those moments of doubt that his friend came to him and said, "Maybe she's not supposed to be here for you. Maybe you're supposed to be here for her." Throughout this season, Shannon said, "I think God is teaching me to lean on Him and to not have any total faith or hope in anything of this world other than Him."   

 

Without the Lordit would be extremely difficult for one to keep moving forward throughout these trials in lifeButShannon knows that the only way to keep moving forward is with the Lord alongside Himfollowing Himand putting his trust in Him. "I will eventually see God’s goodness," Shannon said. "Circumstances don’t determine how big of a God we haveWhether it’s on this side or the other sideHe will bring you out of itI know this will make me strongerIt’s easy to coast in your spiritual life and marriage… but always strive to keep growing.” Shannon holds onto the fact that in the painthere is still promised joy. He said so many people have the mindset of “I serve God as long as 'fill in the blank.'” Whether that be getting a much needed jobletting a marriage work outetcButShannon believes God wants us to turn the things we love the most over to Him. “When everything is stripped away and all you have is you and Godit’s like a child calling out to his daddy,” Shannon said. God's Word has also spoken to Shannon's heart in times of doubtOne specific passage he always turns to is Matthew 16:13-15:  

 

When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippihe asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still othersJeremiah or one of the prophets.” “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”  

 

Shannon feels the Lord ask him time and time again who He isIs He the Healer? Protector? Provider? Shannon knows that God asks him this question to remind him that He is all powerful and loving through all circumstancesShannon also feels blessed with the people that God has put in his life to support himAmy ThomasPastor Justin FrazierMinister of Care Robert Bennetthis fatherand those in the New Hope Life Group. “If you find that you don’t fit inyou fit right in with the New Hope class," Shannon said. "We are not the class of tragedyThere is lots of laughterlots of hopeOur class is growing and we will always grow. This class is the triage on the frontlines of the battleThis Life Group is what cleans and bandages people upthen sends them onto the 'hospitali.e. the church. The church is a hospital for sinners.”   

 

Shannon knows that this story will eventually end, even though he does not know the specific outcome. All he can do is trust that God will provide and carry him through it. He knows there are so many other people in the middle of their own storm. He encourages them to hold onto God's promises. “We have a loving and caring Father," Shannon said. "The joy we seek can be found anywhere with Him. So many of us are in a ‘fix it ourselves’ mindset, yet what we need to do is rest and wait on God.”  

 

For more information on the New Hope Life Group, visit here.
  

 

Cottonwood Creek Church // 1015 Sam Rayburn Tollway, Allen, TX 75013 // 972-359-7777 © 2018