Saturday, February 24, 2018


Dear Friends Needing Friends,

Greetings from our birth state, New Jersey, and in the name of our Provisional LORD!
How exciting to think that FNF will be celebrating its 30th Anniversary in June of 2018.

Congratulations! And a very special “thank you” to Dotti Ackerman, Shari Hervold and Mary Lou Tweed who have watched over you with tender loving care.
Welcome to the FNF family all of you who are a part of this marvelous family outside of the United States. So pleased you’re a part of the family. I have spoken for FNF Anniversary nearly every year since its inception. Looking back, I would have to say if there is one message that stands paramount to me it’s THE VALUE OF ENCOURAGEMENT. More people are made and broken by the spoken word than any other way. That’s why I’d like to share these thoughts from my talk on June 25, 2012.

How about we start with a light moment?
Hymns for her: One Sunday a pastor told the congregation that the church needed money and asked the people to prayerfully consider giving a little extra in the offering plate. He said that whoever gave the most would be able to pick out three hymns. After the offering plates were passed, the pastor glanced down and noticed that someone had placed a $1,000 bill in offering. He was so excited that he immediately shared his joy with the congregation and said he’d like to personally thank the person who placed $1,000 bill in the offering plate. A very quiet, elderly and saintly lady, sitting all the way in the back shyly raised her hand. The pastor asked her to come to the front. Slowly she made her way to the pastor. He told her how wonderful it was that she gave so much and in thanksgiving asked her to pick out three hymns. Her eyes brightened as she looked over the congregation, pointed to the three most handsome men in the building and said, “I’ll take him and him and him. (Smile)

As the years creep up on us ever so quickly, we often wonder what we can do when, physically, our bodies have limitations, when our eyes and ears and joints aren’t what they used to be. Granted, we may not be able to do the things we did when we were 30, but there is one thing all of us can do. What do you think that one thing is? HINT! It’s something EVERYONE needs whether they will admit it or not. Encouragement! You can be an encourager.

Phillis Theroux writes, “One of the commodities in life that most people can’t get enough of compliment….Compliments by their very nature are highly bio-degradable and tend to dissolve hours or days after we receive them- which is why we can always use another.” WFYT – April 20, 2006

We should be an encourager because God is an encourager. Note these words to the young Joshua as he takes the helm from Moses: “Be strong for “take courage”) for I am with you. Do not fear.”  These words, in some form or another, are found again and again in the setting of encouraging.

They were said by the LORD to Abraham (Gen. 15:1) after he had rescued Lot and delivered the king of Sodom from defeat and then gave Melchizedek the tithe.
God to Hagar (Gen 21:17) when she, as a single parent, though she and her only son were going to die.

David to Solomon (1 Kings 2:2:  I Chr 28:10 & amp: 20) in building the temple.
Jonathan to David (1 Sam:18) when David was running from Saul for his life, a refugee in the very nation of which he was anointed to be king.

The angel to Mary (Luke 1:30) in having the unfathomable responsibility of carrying,
giving birth, and raising the Son of God.

Paul to Timothy (2 Tim 2:1) in teaching others. The “First and the Last” to the church at Smyrna (Rev 2:10) not to fear what they must suffer – affliction and poverty – for in the end, they will receive “the crown of life.”

There is a lady who has been attending GCCC since we moved into our building in 1996. When she first came to the Church she struggled severely with depression. (I strongly believe her low self-esteem was a result of a poor relationship with her father who NEVER encouraged her.) When she would come to me with questions about life in general – I would encourage her. The transformation was amazing. She began serving in the church, tithe, invest her money somewhere other than low interest bearing cd accounts, conquered an eating disorder – which was actually an image disorder, and no longer sees a counselor. Why? ALL because of a few words of encouragement every-so-often. Amazing!

In a big city cathedral, an altar boy dropped the communion wine. His bishop turned to
him and whispered reassuringly. “it’s  okay, someday you’ll be a great priest.” That boy became Archbishop Fulton Sheen, whose sermons touched the hearts of millions for 30 years. You never know what a graceful word will yield.
So be an encourager!  A kind word spoken with purposeful intent could change lives (not simply a life but lives) for all eternity.

Message by Pastor Bruce Sofia,
 Gloucester County Community Church, Sewell, N.J.

I Will Worship You by Matthew Ward

Because of Who You Are by Vicki Yohe

Saturday, February 3, 2018


James 1:22 says this, But be ye doers of the word and not hearers only,
 deceiving yourselves.

Last month we looked at the acts of Dorcas as recorded in the Bible and what lessons we can learn from the brief account from Acts 9:36-42 where we read the account of a woman who personified this verse beautifully.  She is known by two names: Tabitha (which is Aramaic) and Dorcas which is Greek.  For our purposes here I will be referring to her as Dorcas.

Let me summarize her story for you:
Dorcas lived in the seaport town called Joppa and was known for her good deeds, especially to widows. She became sick and died. After Dorcas’s body was washed and put in a cool upstairs room, the disciples sent for Peter who was ministering in the
general area. When he arrived back at her house, he found the widows crying and they showed him all the clothing that Dorcas had made for them. Peter sent them all out of the room and knelt down and begin to pray, then he turned to the corpse of Dorcas and told her to get up. She immediately opened her eyes and sat up after which Peter helped her to her feet. He then called all of the believers and the widows and presented the resurrected Dorcas to them. Of course news like this doesn’t remain a secret and it soon spread throughout Joppa what had happened and many believed in Christ as the Lord. In fact, Peter didn’t return to Lydda, but stayed in Joppa at the house of Simon the tanner.

 Dorcas’s legacy to us is that of a woman who knew what talents she possessed and wasted no time in putting them to good use blessing others. Dorcas was good at using a needle to fashion clothing, which she skillfully did for the destitute widows in her community. This month I want us to look at the rest of the story.

The Scripture tells us that at some point Dorcas fell sick and died. It is clear from the reaction to her death of the disciples and the widows that Dorcas was far more to them than just a seamstress who made clothing. They had come to love her as a true servant of Christ, with a heart full of his love that spilled over into their lives.

So, following cultural practices, her body was washed and wrapped in cloth and placed in a cool room in the upstairs of the house. Then, one of the disciples, remembering that Peter was in Lydda, sent two individuals to get him to come to Joppa. Why did they send for Peter? It is most likely that they heard that Peter had prayed for a paralytic resulting in his healing and they were hoping for such a miracle. Since Lydda was about twelve miles away, they lost no time in going to ask him to come. When Peter arrived in Joppa and went to the house of Dorcas, he was greeted by totally heart broken people. One writer described it this way: “The works of Dorcas were recognized in the feeling which the Christian community experienced when Dorcas was gone. They remembered her self-consuming service, her compassion, her faithfulness, her charity. They knew that they had lost their dearest friend. The picture of these people gathered about her in her room weeping does not describe people who are sorry for the things and service they had lost but because they had lost one whom they love.” (Harold J. Ockenga,  Women Who Made Bible History, page 224-225)  The grieving widows didn’t really have to tell Peter what Dorcas had done for them, she had left tangible evidence of her ministry to speak for her.
Peter recognized their great loss and was touched by the scene he was witnessing.
Then, he did something that may seem strange to us. He asked them all to leave the room, leaving him alone with the deceased. However, Peter recognized that only God can raise the dead and he wanted to be alone to talk to God. He couldn’t afford to be distracted by the grief and devastation the widows were feeling. When alone, Peter began to pray and then he looked at the corpse and, speaking her name said, “Dorcas, get up.” Now, that’s putting faith into your prayers. She immediately opened her eyes and sat up. Peter then took her hand and led her downstairs to show those gathered there what God had done. What was the result of this healing? As you can imagine, word soon got out that the woman who had died was now resurrected, and many people believed in Christ as the Lord!

There are lessons “aplenty” in this story. The disciples offered more than just sympathy to the widows who had lost their dearest friend and benefactor, they had faith that God could move into this situation and raise Dorcas back to life. Although Peter was 12 miles away, and that meant the two men had to walk 12 miles to reach him (no smart phones in those days) and then Peter had to walk the 12 miles over to Joppa, they
didn’t doubt that God would “do His thing.” They never once said, “Oh, it’s too late now.” Secondly, no one disputes that Dorcas’s life was lived in total devotion to God and others. Yet, her death and resurrection brought many to the Savior and gave her more years to meet the needs of the poor. While sewing might not seem as glamorous as the great healing ministry Peter had, yet Dorcas was honored by one of the greatest miracles in the New Testament.

The name of this ministry, Friends Needing Friends, was not chosen by its founder, Dotti Ackerman, because she liked the sound of it. It is to remind you that, as a widow, you are the friend that someone needs as she walks the road of widowhood. Likewise, you need others to stand by you, encouraging you through words and actions as you encounter difficulties on your journey. What instrument has God placed in your hand? You might not think that a sewing needle would be an instrument in helping to establish a church in a seaside town. But Dorcas’s life would prove you wrong. 

Dandi Mackall says, “Remember what Jesus told his apostles at the Last Supper? If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.” According to this scripture, the blessing is in the doing.  Dorcas did not miss the blessing. She used her enterprise to help those who were in need. If you follow her example, you too will become a doer.

May 2018 continue to make you a blessing to each other as you journey through widowhood being Friends Needing Friends.

Message by Shari Hervold

Music by: Amy Grant & Sandi Patty - El Shaddai

Music by: Sandi Patty & Larnelle Harris
P.S. These are just a few of my favorite songs and people singing them.  I hope you will enjoy them too.   (Dotti Ackerman)