GraceConnect eNews, No. 164, Week of August 8, 2016


The eNewsletter for the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches
This summer, Grace Church, Powell, Ohio, held three sports camps to elementary age children, garnering over 70 students.

Point of Contact: Grace Powell Sports

“This community speaks the language of sports and fitness. In the same way, a missionary learns the language of the culture they are witnessing to, if we want to reach people where they are with the love of Christ, we need to speak their language.”
Sam Barnhill, sports ministry intern at Grace Church in Powell, Ohio (Rick Nuzum, lead pastor), knows about this necessity to speak the culture’s language intimately – he and his wife Ashley served as missionaries in Madagascar for nine months but were brought home suddenly when serious on-field issues arose.
“God brought us over 9,000 miles back to Columbus,” he recalls. “We were unaware of it at the time, but God placed us back in the States at the same time they were looking for someone to lead Grace Powell Sports.”
Grace Church, Powell, likewise had been actively seeking God’s guidance for almost two years - before deciding to start a sports ministry. This past March, Barnhill came on staff to help support the sports ministry under the oversight of Jeff Stimpson, teaching pastor at Grace Church. Along with his previous ministry experience, Barnhill brought plenty of knowledge in the sports arena as well, including a degree in exercise science and a certification as an exercise physiologist through the American College of Sports Medicine, as well as experience as a personal trainer and coach.
Grace Powell Sports (GPS for short) was specifically designed as an outreach ministry, with hopes to attract an unchurched, unbelieving population. This June, the church ran three elementary school summer camps for their kickoff: soccer, lacrosse, and multi-skills camps. At each of the camps, daily lessons were taught from a specific Scripture verse.
“At the camps we took a theme each day, shared what it means and how it can be applied, and ended by sharing the message of Jesus,” explains Barnhill.
More than 70 children participated this summer, and according to Barnhill, five different families have expressed interest in attending Grace Powell as a result of the introduction through GPS. Barnhill has big plans for expansion in the future of the ministry, which will in coming months offer fitness programs, leagues, personal training, and a broader age range of sports camps, creating multiple points of contact with families. “There will be something for everyone,” Barnhill notes.
In today’s culture, sports are characteristically viewed by Christians as an activity that is unconnected, even diametrically opposed to, a well-lived Christian life. Barnhill hopes to change that:
“We have seen many families torn between their sports and fitness interests and their time with God and their family. We want to end this pattern. We believe God made sports and fitness for the purpose of glorifying Him. Our goal is to redeem people and families through sports. In doing this, we hope to take back the purity that should surround athletics as well.”
“We hope that through our ministry, we will connect our community to Christ through sports. That is our ultimate goal.”
[Connect:] Send Sam Barnhill a letter of encouragement at


[Your Turn]


"How can we step outside our own way of feeling and thinking and see other’s points of view? Yet in the midst of trying to understand others, how do we still be true to how God has wired us and also hold fast to our beliefs? These are questions at the heart of living love when we disagree."

Writer and blogger Melissa Spoelstra, wife of Grace Brethren pastor, Sean Spoelstra (
Encounter Church, Dublin, Ohio), explores the dynamics of relating to those we don't agree with by using the example of Jesus in her latest blog post, "Proposing." Click here to read the rest of the post. 

Watch for Melissa's latest works, First Corinthians: Living Love when we Disagree in August 2016 and her first trade book, The Total Family Makeover, in September 2016.

Dan Cosentino, youth pastor at Grace Community Church in Goshen, Ind., (Jim Brown, lead pastor is moving to Kendallville, Ind., to start a new church. He tells his story of how God led him to the decision and miraculously brought resources and teammates alongside him in his recent blog post. 

Click here to read the post and find out how you can pray for him and his team as he moves forward. 

[Tune In:]

Florent Varak, co-author of the new BMH Books release, The Gospel and the Citizen, will be a guest on Monday's Harvest Show, a live international daily syndicated half-hour Christian television program that is broadcast to millions of homes. Click here to find out where to watch. He will be talking about the book, which was co-authored with Philippe Viguier and provides timely insight for this political season.

Florent will also be signing copies of the book at an afternoon coffee on August 14, 2016, at the Hub at Winona Lake Grace Brethren Church, 1201 College Avenue, Winona Lake, Ind. The event begins at 2 p.m, with a brief program at 2:30 p.m. There is no charge to attend, but so we are sure to save a cup for you, please click here to RSVP if you plan to attend.

Events in the FGBC

August 26-27, 2016   WLS: Principles of Effective Bible Study, Winona Lake, Ind. (WGUSA)
September 9-10, 2016   WLS: Soul Care in Leadership, Eagle River, Alaska (WGUSA)
September 26-28, 2016  ​Central Focus Retreat (FGBC)
September 30-October 2, 2016   Soul Cry: Prayer Summit, Auburn, Ind. (WGUSA)
October 7-8, 2016   WLS: Soul Care in Leadership, New Holland, Pa. (WGUSA)
October 16, 2016   Day Away: North of 55, Dublin, Ohio (WGUSA)
October 17-19, 2016  ​East Focus Retreat (FGBC)
November 11-12, 2016   WLS: Equipping Others for Ministry, Marysville, Ohio (WGUSA)
November 20, 2016   Day Away: North of 55, Duncansville, Pa. (CEN)
CEN – CE National
EWP – Encompass World Partners
FGBC – Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches
GBC – Grace Brethren Canada
WGUSA – Women of Grace USA
GC – Grace College

Send events for the calendar to
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