Day: May 7, 2021

Growing up in community at Cottonwood Creek Church

I have gone to Cottonwood Creek for about 18 years. Growing up in a Christian home, I was taught at a young age that Jesus was my savior and that He is my only way to heaven. As I got older, I began asking more questions and started understanding the Gospel better. I was saved at around six years old and baptized shortly after. I did my best to live my life in a “good Christian girl” way. Without a doubt, I knew that I was going to heaven, but I didn’t understand how to completely follow Christ and grow in my relationship with Him. I went to church, read my Bible occasionally, and even served with my parents. I did as I was told and what I knew to be right. It wasn’t until high school that I truly understood what it meant to grow in Christ.

 Through the youth ministry here at Cottonwood Creek, I got heavily involved and found an amazing group of friends that encouraged me in my faith and brought me closer to Christ.

 As I got closer to the Lord, I began to see the sin in my life. One of my biggest struggles was, and still is, control. I do not want to give God control of my life, not because I don’t think He can handle it, but because I want to be the one to take care of everything so that it’s done MY way.

I love the verse Philippians 4:6-7, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

 I do not like the uncertainty of my future. In fact, I pretty much hate it. When things don’t go my way (*cough cough* Covid), I become anxious. This verse points me to the only thing that will genuinely help me, Christ.”

Over the years, I have learned two significant things:

1) God always wins, and I need to stop fighting Him

2) My plans are nothing compared to God’s plans.

God has truly given me the most amazing blessings that I never expected. One of the biggest blessings He has given me is an amazing church with fantastic people.

Cottonwood Creek has given me the tools to help shape my life. From children’s ministry through youth, to working in the preschool ministry, and now this current life stage of being a young adult. I have been so lucky to always find people my age, no matter the season of life.

The Lord has really given me great people to be with, in community. I love being part of a LifeGroup that comes together for the glory of God. Whether it’s meeting on Sundays, collecting items for Operation Christmas Child, buying school supplies for Fun with The Son, or just supporting each other with prayer and meals during hard seasons. I am so glad that I made the effort to stay connected at Cottonwood Creek Church.

-Allie Kester

Walking Through Cancer with Christ – Cottonwood Creek Cancer Care Ministry

Cancer. A word nobody wants to hear and a reality nobody wants to face. When a cancer diagnosis occurs, it’s overwhelming, frightening and many times shocking. Some people will face their cancer battle surrounded with supporters, while others might feel they have to go it alone.  No matter the circumstance, Cancer Care Ministry at Cottonwood Creek is here to lift up those diagnosed with cancer.

After a diagnosis, the patient, as well as their family, is likely wondering what will happen next. Cancer Care Ministry is prepared for this question, and they are happy to provide answers through the book CancerNow What?, by Kenneth Haugk Ph.D. Additionally, they provide each cancer patient with a complimentary care bag filled with a prayer-blessed blanket, inspirational books, an encouraging CD, information on what cancer can’t do and a mask. Care bags are readily available for anyone in need, and they can be picked up at our church, dropped off by a volunteer or mailed in or out of state as needed.

 As patients walk through their journey, the Cancer Care Ministry seeks to continue to provide care and support. For those who are interested, they have the ability to match current cancer patients with survivors, who are able to communicate their faithful walks with cancer over phone, email, Zoom or socially distanced one-on-one meetings.

Over the course of treatment, patients will receive cards of faith, hope, love and encouragement from our Card Ministry volunteers. Additionally, each patient will be specifically prayed for by volunteers.

 For those with little ones, counseling and play & art therapy is available for children with a family member battling cancer. Group support for adult patients is also available at virtual support meetings once monthly.

Around 40% of Americans will experience cancer in their lifetime. If you know somebody who has recently been diagnosed or is currently struggling with cancer, please reach out to the Cancer Care Ministry:

More Than a Craft Fair: Cottonwood Creek Christmas Market Supports Local Businesses

If you weren’t able to attend the Cottonwood Creek Christmas Market this past Saturday, you missed out on quite a treat. This year’s vendor list was one of the best in the history of the event, and all of them brought something special to the table. From handmade soaps to perfectly curated gift baskets, there was something for everyone who attended. Keep reading to hear more about the amazing local businesses at the 2020 Christmas Market.

Gussy the Goat Milk Soap, run by the Passons Family, is an operation that began in March 2020. After raising chickens on their family farm, they decided to branch out and adopt 18 goats into the family. Although the goats were a wonderful fit, they produced far more milk than the Passons could use. “We asked ourselves, what are we going to do with all this milk?” said Mr. Passons. “So, we started experimenting to see what we could make.” From this dairy excess came Gussy the Goat Milk Soap. Today, this small business provides handmade soaps in varying scents, as well as cedar soap dishes carved by the Passons’ 14-year-old son.

Christmas Trees by Susan began 15 years ago, when Susan McClellan was inspired by a Christmas tree created by a coworker. “The tree that my coworker had made was simple, and I knew that I could make one myself that was decorated better,” said McClellan. With her crafting skills, McClellan was able to add intricate lights and decorations that make the trees a hit at craft fairs. Today, she sells her trees each Christmas season, and she customizes them to match any university, school or other theme her customers would like.

Blue Sonder is a custom portrait and handmade earring business run by Liz Wong. She creates her portraits through a computer program that allows her to make line drawings from the photos her customers send her. Wong is able to create these line drawing portraits in a variety of sizes and colors, depending on the needs of her customers. 

MJ Jumpz, a custom candy jar business run by Kayla May, was created from an out-of-the-blue request from May’s daughter. “My daughter saw these candy jars online, and she really liked them. She came to me and told me that she thought I could make them,” said May. “So really, it was a very random thing that happened.” Founded in 2018, the business recently added seasonal Christmas trees and ornaments, but the candy jars are sold year-round. Although the creations are quite intricate, May professes that she is not a crafter and is surprised she is able to produce such complicated designs.

Candice B. and Lauren G. run the Fox & Honey Box: a gift basket business created only a month ago. “Within a week we started this. We had logos, we had names and we had baskets ready,” said Candice. “It’s a gift to be creative.” The pair decided to start creating gift baskets after realizing that it can be difficult to buy a gift that is both functional and beautiful in presentation. Although the business is currently focused on Christmas gift baskets, it will operate year-round and provide gifts for other holidays, birthdays and everything in between.

In the midst of COVID-19, Joy and Glenn Edwards are still providing hugs – wooden hug tokens that is. Glenn Edwards, an Army veteran, started making wooden art in the mid 1990s, and it’s been a passion ever since. His wife, Joy, bought him his first saw as a gift. “There was a saw at the State Fair that Glenn couldn’t take his eyes off of,” said Joy. “After he’d gone back five or six times just to look at it, I knew I needed to buy it for him.” Today, the pair run Scroll Saw Art by Glenn, and they travel to churches and craft fairs to sell their beautiful pieces. Additionally, as strong believers, the couple donates a portion of their profits to the churches they sell at.

If you’ve ever been interested in buying a custom potholder, Cozy Cardinal is the place for you. Cozy Cardinal, run by Terri Belanger, sells potholders, masks and more. All products are customizable, and Ms. Belanger hand-makes each and every one. This business began when Belanger sought to recreate a potholder sewn by her late mother. After sewing that one potholder, she was hooked, and she never stopped sewing. Today, Belanger will create anything a customer asks for – as long as she can find the fabric!

The Christmas Market was by all means a success and an extremely bright way to end 2020. Cottonwood Creek is so thankful to be able to support local artists and vendors!


Cottonwood Creek Church Hires Jeston Katebe as Interim Pastor

Cottonwood Creek Church, located in Allen, TX announced today that they have hired Jeston Katebe as the new interim campus pastor for their Denison location. He and his wife, Dr. Charity Katebe, have been members of Cottonwood Creek for the past year and are actively involved. 

“We are so excited to welcome Jeston and see the positive impact he will have on the Denison congregation,” said Dr. John Mark Caton, senior pastor at Cottonwood Creek Church.

Originally from Zambia, Katebe has been sharing the gospel for over 30 years in numerous leadership positions. He spent ten years serving as the associate pastor to Dr. Nevers Mumba, the former Vice President of Zambia, and academic dean of the Bible school for Victory Ministries. He and his wife have served as missionaries in the United Kingdom and the United States. They pastored a church in Garland for seven years and a church in Glasgow, Scotland, for two years. He earned his associate degree at Christ For The Nations Institute, studying practical theology.   

Katebe and his wife recently relocated back to Texas to be closer to their three adult children.  He has been heavily involved through teaching and leadership in his life group at the Allen campus.  He decided to wait a few months before taking on a new ministry position once back in Texas and used the quarantine months to pray for the right opportunity. When asked how he felt about this opportunity, Katebe stated, “Any opportunity to serve God is exciting.”  

“God has given Jeston the incredible gift of leadership and teaching,” explained Dr. Caton. “His experience shows his passion for furthering the gospel, and I can’t wait to see what God is going to do through him.”.  

The Cottonwood Creek Church Denison campus is located at 2501 Sunset St., Denison, TX 75020, with Sunday morning worship at 11 a.m. 

February Ministry Spotlight: Cancer Care Ministry

This month, we recognize and celebrate the amazing work done by the Cottonwood Creek Cancer Care Ministry. From handwritten cards to weekly prayers, the Cancer Care Ministry provides care and support for those fighting against and recovering from a cancer diagnosis.

 Currently, the Cancer Care Team is asking our congregation to come together to make no-sew blankets which will provide warmth and comfort for the patients who receive them. This ongoing project, which amplifies during February, is a testament to the extremely attentive, empathetic nature of the Cancer Care Ministry.

 Each aspect of this ministry is catered specifically to cancer patients, with many ideas stemming from the collaboration of cancer survivors who now serve the same ministry that cared for them post-diagnosis. With an insight and knowledge of what cancer patients experience, the ministry is able to create special guidelines and structures to provide maximum support to those they serve.

 For example, the Cancer Care Ministry provides no-sew blanket instructions for those who wish to make and donate them. Rather than a simple schematic of the blanket, the instructions detail methods to choose non-irritating fabric, remove edges that could cause itchiness or fraying, and ensure that no blankets are made in the presence of possible irritants, like pet hair.

 Outside of this amazing blanket-making program, the Cancer Care Ministry provides many other services:

  • Care Bags filled with information, encouraging books, holdings crosses and blankets, all of which is prayed over by Cottonwood Creek members
  • Care Bag Distribution at local Cancer Treatment Centers
  • Monthly support groups for patients and survivors
  • Prayer warriors who pray weekly for specific patients
  • Care for children affected by a cancer diagnosis
  • A card-writing program sent from members to patients
  • Senior Center support for cancer patients
  • Additional information and resources written and curated by Pastor John Mark

Through outreach programs, even people outside of Cottonwood Creek have been able to feel the love and support of this amazing ministry. One patient’s wife commented, “I truly think you were put in our path at just the right time for my husband. He has been struggling about beginning the next round of chemo, and after hearing your story, he said he will do it and be focused on preventative work for the future. We really appreciate what you and your ministry are doing for people.”

As we move through the month of February, we encourage our church family to get involved in this wonderful opportunity to reach the sick and the hurting, whether that be through making a no-sew blanket or becoming involved in various other opportunities to serve. For more information on getting involved, please visit

When you see our Chapel illuminated in golden lights in honor of the Cancer Care Ministry this month, take a moment to praise God for this impactful ministry and the dedicated survivors who serve, and pray for the patients currently fighting their battle.

The Gift 2020

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace.

What does it mean to give a gift? To some, it may mean wrapping up a perfect present that checks all the boxes on a list. To others, giving a gift means giving up yourself to serve others who need you. This past weekend, the people of Cottonwood Creek exemplified the latter through The Gift Sunday, a day of serving and kindness fueled by the love of God.

On The Gift Sunday, the Cottonwood Creek campus transforms into a mission field. The event consisted of many stations: meal packing, blood donation, hair donation, angel tree gift registration and winter coat donation to name a few. Some people walked through the doors ready to serve. They pre-planned their morning, registering for certain stations at certain times. Others, however had no idea the opportunity they were walking into.

At the largest station at The Gift, volunteers packed meals to send to those in need. This year, 460 people participated in packing 108,000 meals, which will be delivered to Naomi’s Village – a children’s home in Kenya. This year, one of the most striking volunteers was a young boy, Emerson Daley, who was packing meals with one hand. His other hand, tied up in a sling, was broken from playing football. When asked why he would volunteer with only one arm to use, Daley responded, “I just really like to help people in need and it really makes me happy.”


One of the most exciting stations at the event was Pink Heart Fund Ponytail Donation. 27 girls and women donated their hair to make wigs for cancer patients. Some planned their hair donation, while others decided in a spur-of-the-moment commitment. The women of the Hernandez family, a mother and her three daughters, donated their ponytails to the cause. Each of them had varying levels of nervousness, but all came out the haircut feeling beautiful and excited for the people their hair would go on to help.

Carter Blood Care accepted blood donations for people in need of transfusions. Although needles often evoke fear, 29 brave people stepped up to donate blood. One donor, Julie Cravey, has participated in The Gift since it began. She recounts participating in meal packing and Operation Christmas Child, in addition to giving blood donations each year. “I love that The Gift brings people together to serve,” said Cravey.

At the Operation Care International Coat Collection station, 35 coats were collected for those in need of a warm winter jacket. Manned by Evan Gredes and Hannah LaVoie, the pair agreed that The Gift is a special time at Cottonwood Creek. “I love that the opportunity to serve comes to us,” said LaVoie. “It brings the opportunity to help people, and it makes it so easy to do good.”

Another mainstay of The Gift is Operation Christmas Child, an organization that sends Christmas presents, alongside gospel messages, to children in need all over the world. Operation Christmas Child is a ministry project run by Samaritan’s Purse, a Christian organization that provides physical and/or spiritual aid to those in need all over the world. This year, Cottonwood Creek received over 700 boxes. One generous donor was Pella Windows, who donated 96 boxes filled with

Alongside the yearly Operation Christmas Child donation collections works Sally Loyd, a longtime Cottonwood Creek volunteer. Sally began volunteering at The Gift in 2009, and usually participates in meal packing, blood donations and has helped lead Operation Christmas Child at Cottonwood Creek for the past two years. Sally is described by others as one of the most humble, hardworking people at Cottonwood Creek. 

In an adjacent area, Naomi’s Village set up Christmas card coloring stations, which are sent to children in Kenya. Hundreds of cards were created this year, which will bring the love and wonder of Christmas to every child who receives one.

Children are a definite focal point of The Gift weekend, and that was no different at our Angel Tree registration, where volunteers could sign up to provide Christmas presents to local families in need. This year, 38 Angel Tree families were adopted, and registration remains open online. For the last several years, Jessie Rohlneier has contributed to Angel Tree at The Gift, and she has recently taken on more responsibility. She is involved in preparation work, as well as matching volunteers with Angel Tree families. As an elementary school teacher, Rohlneier recounted her experiences with families in need, stating, “I’ve worked in low-income schools, and I have a heart for those children. This is a way where I can love on those kids.”

The Gift would not be complete without the Evangelism Workshop, which provided methods for sharing the gospel confidently and without fear. Several groups were able to participate throughout The Gift, and the skills learned there will no doubt go on to be invaluable.

Overall, The Gift 2020 was a massive success. The generosity and commitment of volunteers was astounding, and it will be truly amazing to watch the wonders that God performs with the hearts of people all over the world because of the efforts given through The Gift.