Meet the Spencer Family


Steve and Marian Spencer serve in Malawi where Steve  teaches at African Bible College and serves as Director and Academic Dean. When Steve, Marion and their then 4-month-old son arrived in Malawi years ago, the college consisted of 50 acres of maize fields and wild animals. Today, ABC is a four-year, liberal arts college with campuses in Malawi, Uganda and Liberia where they train, nurture and develop Africa’s next generation of Christian leaders. Marion serves as hospitality and social coordinator for staff and students.

In a recent newsletter, Steve shared:

We are thankful for the ministry of African Bible Colleges.  This year we have 100 new freshmen students.  Our chapel and classrooms are full of enthusiastic African scholars who are passionate about learning the treasures of God’s truth.  We are offering more B. A. degrees than ever – Biblical Studies, Mass Communication, Business, Community Development and Education.  And currently, I am writing the curriculum for a Master of Arts degree in Education Administration.
We are thankful for the many off-campus ministries we get the privilege to support and encourage.  We are digging boreholes and showing the Jesus film in Muslim areas along the lakeshore.  We are building bread ovens and irrigating crops in the central region.  We are feeding orphans, providing medical assistance, and distributing maize to villages that are suffering because of food shortages.  And we are working in several of the prisons throughout Malawi.  All this for His glory!

Contact the Spencer family at:

Fatalistic Response in Haiti

Within the community we live, on our small street, there is a group of neighborhood youth…some who are now becoming young adults, whom the Lord has graciously allowed us to develop relationship with. We believe they can influence change within their community.

One of the many things we do with them is teach English. Primarily to spend intentional quality time with them each week, while empowering them with a resource to help them find employment.

Over time, we’ve been discovering how to ask questions that allow us to learn more about one another. We often ask them if God spoke to them or if he taught them something over the past week. Recently I had a visitor pose a question to one of our youth that I anticipated a different answer from. She asked, “What’s the one thing you would like to change about yourself?” His response was “That is only for God to know and do.”

I struggled with that response. What I unexpectedly heard from this youth was a fatalistic attitude, common in Haiti’s animistic culture. Fatalism is the belief that all events are predetermined and therefore inevitable. A passive acceptance, a submissive attitude that the outcome of his life has been determined in advance, and there is nothing he can do. What will be, will be.

I sought the Word before we met the next week. I shared that as we grow up, we learn right from wrong. While God does know all things, and He does desire to do a work in us, we have been given a choice to allow Him to do so. God speaks to our hearts, but we must choose how to respond. In Galatians we learn about sowing and reaping…negative and positive consequences. God reveals truth. He clearly defines right and wrong, and His people are expected to do what’s right. However, just as in the Garden of Eden, while Adam was expected to obey, Adam was given freedom to choose. Cain was warned by God the he would be held personally responsible for his choices. Paul was given the responsibility to share the Gospel with the Gentiles, he still had to choose to do so.

We’re continuing to discuss our need to ask God what we need to change, allowing time to listen, and choosing to do what He says.

 By Sharron Mathis

Revival In My Soul

This was my third trip to Malawi, Africa but my first ever “soul-stirring, life-altering revival.”  I’m not sure I can express my feelings entirely, but here are a few things I want to share.


The people who live in Katsekera are some of the hardest working people I have ever met. They wake up and spend the day working just to live another day; but they do it with a thankful heart and a joy-filled spirit. They don’t see what they do not have; instead, they use what they do have to the fullest extent possible. What a lesson there is to be learned here!

During our visit, we were served so well by these hardworking people. I remember seeing Chauncey, coming to prepare food for us before sunlight, her 110 pound frame chopping wood with amazing accuracy and without as much as a sound. Our needs were met with a smile with never a complaint. We never ran out of water to flush the toilet. Oh, did I mention that they built a toilet just for us? We had electricity in a guest house with bunk beds that were also built especially for us. Just thinking about the sacrificial love shown to us makes me cry tears of gratitude.

One of my favorite experiences in Katsekera was the sewing class. From the generosity of others, we were able to provide each woman with a sewing kit that included needles, thread, threader, scissors, pins, pin cushion, buttons, and material. I came prepared to teach basic stitching techniques and how to combine pieces of material to make larger items. God was definitely in this class with us and the women had a ball. They all made infinity scarves while talking and laughing like we would do at a gathering with our girlfriends.

This is my prayer for the people of Katsekera…Precious Lord, our Heavenly Father, today I give everything I have and everything that I am to You. I joyfully bring my possessions, my gifts and my talents to you to use however You choose. Lord, I want to honor You with every part of my being. Lord, let Your will be done in my life and in the women’s lives in Katsekera. Lord, be with us. Lead, guide and direct our footsteps so that nothing we do is in vain or with the wrong intent. I ask these things in Jesus name. Amen

By Cherilyn Washington

We are Called to Tie Shoes

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After supporting our children’s many mission trips, Gordon and I finally embarked on our own. Nothing could have prepared us for this experience, for the ways we saw God move, or for the ways He continues to work in our hearts since our return.

Through Calvary’s Perspectives class, we gained….well….perspective about God’s heart for all people and learned about ways we could engage in His global purpose. We began by sponsoring a child. Proyecto Manuelito is a haven for Honduran street children--a place of safety, love, support, opportunity and especially a place to learn about Jesus. Maria lives there. Wanting to meet her was part of what led us to take this trip; many things will take us back.

  • Daily hugs from the parade of town children who join the children of Manuelito for schooling otherwise unaffordable.

  • Watching a teammate teach little girls to dance, becoming their earthly father for just a moment.

  • Learning to tie rebar, help with building a new school.

  • Traveling a dirt road to worship alongside a small group of Hondurans, knowing our team’s humble offering would sustain them for a long time.

  • Tandem singing in English and Spanish, This is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it.

  • Hearing from the pulpit that in heaven there will be no language barrier.

  • Touring the project, overwhelmed with, comparatively, how little they have, yet how happy they are.

  • Hearing heartfelt testimonies from young teens of their lives before and since Project Manuelito, their hope for a future, their faith journeys.

  • Seeing the vision come full circle as children from the project grow up and come back as teachers, house parents and workers, to be part of the place that gave them hope.

I learned how to “be,” how to sit beside a child, offer a hug, nod of encouragement, attempt to learn words to communicate, play a game of Connecto Quatro, hold a hand, laugh, and share the love of God with very few words.

As we prepared to leave, Maria pulled our interpreter over to share her parting thoughts. They were simple yet profound: “I will always remember how you tied my shoe.” A seemingly insignificant act, something a mother does without thinking, became a sign of love to a little girl. God used every team member in different ways, each one leaving changed, and He reminded us that though we can’t do everything, we can do something. We are called to tie shoes.

By Kerry Stengel


Praying for Missionaries Widens One’s Horizons

Psychologists and counselors will tell you that perspective is everything. Each of us has our own set of emotional glasses through which we see the world and the behavior of others, unconsciously comparing them to ourselves.

I found this theory to be true as I started attending a small group of people dedicated to praying for Calvary Church missionaries. My western-minded, suburban-raised, little-traveled, but open-to-learning-mindset, would leave each meeting a little bit changed.

Concern for some erosion in my backyard takes on a new perspective hearing about widespread devastation and homeless children following an earthquake in Nepal. Praying for missionaries living daily in hostile settings makes me realize how protected and free I am to speak of my faith, but how often I do not.

I began to examine activities that claimed my time, such as my unnecessary and frequent need to check emails and social media. I found myself wanting to be more mindful on what consumed my time.

I know prayer has eternal value, so I committed myself to being at prayer meetings. It has been two years since I first started attending. God continues to change my heart a little bit each time we hear about the great needs of our missionaries, their struggle with funds, loneliness, discouragement in ministry, and just being far from home and family. All of a sudden the leaky faucet and broken dryer take their rightful place in the scheme of eternity. I’ve learned it’s all a matter of perspective.

By Sharon Young

Join us for prayer the second and fourth Sundays of each month at 10:45 am in Room 152.

A Lesson from Malawi

My daughter, Danielle, and I stepped out in faith last summer and joined a short-term mission team heading to Katsekara, a village in Malawi, Africa.


After our breakfast on our first morning, we walked to the local school yard. Many of the children, even the smallest, did not have warm clothes on that chilly morning. Some had no shoes and wore tattered pants or shorts and-short sleeved shirts. Others wore interesting layers of clothing for warmth. One little girl caught my eye in her green school dress with a dirty white collar. She wore an old hooded baby towel for a coat. You've seen them...a terry cloth towel for infants with the little hood and ears sewn on top. Something we would have long-ago discarded provides precious warmth to this little girl.

Danielle and I learned a powerful lesson about contentment that first morning in the village of Katsekara.

by Jill Beckmann

It All Started With One Trip

Steve and Toby Hopper have faithfully served on staff in various churches across the US, including Calvary Church. As a pastor’s wife and mother of three boys, Toby was familiar with saying “yes” to tasks her roles demanded. But she was resistant when asked to join a group going to the Ukraine. Toby knew that loving on orphans and troubled Ukrainian youth would leave her emotionally spent and empty, but she felt God encouraging her to go anyway.


Serving at a prison in the Ukraine, Toby’s heart connected with the young boys she met there. She thought, “What if these were my kids?” She saw the great need and was moved with compassion.

That short-term mission trip to Odessa, Ukraine in 2001 was a stepping stone for Toby. Steve eventually recognized that God was moving them to serve as full-time missionaries. Since then they have helped to train over 4000 pastors and leaders across the globe, most frequently to the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

And it all started with one trip to the Ukrane. Toby says, “If you don’t go on such trips, you might miss touching the lives of the people that only you can touch.”

by Sharon Young

Learn more

Changing Lives and Transforming Communities

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This year CRU partnered with the largest number of churches in Dallas to date, to bring the gospel to neighborhoods all across the city. As students shared their faith, God worked in amazing ways. 

One group of students met a man who expressed that he had been wanting to go back to church, but because of his past was afraid of being judged. In tears he told them, “I know it’s God that brought you guys to my door.”

Another group of students spoke with a man who said, “It’s crazy because I was talking with God earlier today and told Him ‘God if you want me to know You, You’re gonna have to send someone to me, because I am not going to a church’ and now I’m talking to y’all, I know that’s not an accident.”

God worked through the lives of students all across Dallas, and a total of 307 spiritual life changes happened in just those few hours!

by Calvary Missionary Chloe Buckman

We Knew Them Then - Part 2

Interview with Church Planter Justin Grimm, Story Presbyterian Church, Columbus Ohio

 Calvary Church’s youth group has impacted teens for Christ for several generations. Over the years numerous kids have come into a relationship with Christ through our youth ministry and then gone out to serve Him.  Missionaries like Brooke Wong, Chloe Buckmann, Bonnie Thiessen, and Josh Krato are serving the Lord in Africa, Eastern Europe, and the United States.  

 In this two-part article, we are interviewing Justin Grimm and Kyle Hackmann, both former youth, now in their early 30s and planting churches.  

 Kyle is in Toronto, Canada and Justin in Columbus, Ohio.  In Part 1 we interviewed Kyle and below we get to know Justin and his heart to start a church to reach families for Christ.  

Interview - Justin Grimm

Q. What is your ministry?
A. My ministry is planting Story Presbyterian Church in Westerville, Ohio, a suburb in northwest Columbus. We help people know the greatest story ever told.

Q. How are you seeing God at work?
A. I intentionally live my life in the community. People know I am a pastor. I frequently get opportunities to share the gospel.

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In the last month I have spent much time in weekly meetings and phone calls while helping a young man who was on the verge of suicide. Another man recently recommitted his life to Christ after finding his wife was involved in an ongoing affair. There are many others. Our mission is to help people discover how Jesus redeems their stories.

Q. How has your life changed through this experience?
A. It has made me worship more and puts God’s fear in me when it comes to my own sin. I feel blessed to serve him in this way in the community.

Q. What struggles do you face, and how can we pray for you?
A. Some of my biggest struggles revolve around feeling lonely. I also feel the weight of people’s hearts and lives on my shoulders.

Some days I feel no one cares for me as I care for them. But Jesus shows me that I too am broken, and I need Jesus just as much as they. Jesus often appears in the kind word from a friend or a buddy who just knew the right thing to say. 

CLICK HERE to check out what God is doing at Story Presbyterian Church in Westerfield, Ohio.

We Knew Them Then - Part 1

Interview with Church Planter Kyle Hackmann, Christ Church Toronto 

Do young people really grow up to become church planters worldwide? From my first-hand experience with two young men I say, “Yes, they can!”

Youth at Local Church

For almost 15 years my husband and I worked with the youth group at our church. Weekly we had a ton of kids through our home for Bible studies. Summers were filled with pool parties and pranksters, while winters were dominated by ski trips and retreats. We got to know well many of the young faces that came through our front door.

 Fast forward to 2018 and many of those former youth are now in their early 30’s. My husband and I are now involved in supporting our church’s missionaries through prayer and monthly correspondence. That was how we connected again with Kyle Hackman and Justin Grimm, both young pastors now doing church plants far from home. We sat down with them to learn about their families ministries.

Interview - Kyle Hackmann

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Q. Can you tell us about your ministry and what you are up to these days?
A. Well after working for 7 years as an associate pastor in Toronto, I transitioned in January of 2017 to planting a church in the same neighborhood where I was living. The area is mostly young professionals starting their families, with few attending church.

Q. How do you see God at work?
A. I am seeing people grow in their commitment to this start up church by a heavy involvement. Many are taking leadership roles at a higher level than I expected. I see this in the teaching of Bible to children, and even thinking about neighbors and how to pray for them.

Q. How has your life changed through this experience of church planting?
A.  I have spent the last year trying my best to meet more non-Christians. Many believe Christianity is dead. I will never again assume that most people from the West know the basic story of Jesus’ live, death and resurrection. This has caused a new passion in me to pass on my faith well.

Q. What struggles do you face?
A. Discouragement. I wish I could see more fruit in my efforts but God is working to remind me it is His job to melt hearts.

CLICK HERE to check out what God is doing at Christ Church Toronto.

Who in the world would go to the second poorest country in Central America?

Why would anyone intentionally go to live in a poor country? In Central America? Anywhere? Honduras is the second poorest country in Central America with persistent poverty and inequality challenges. The average income per household is $1800 per year. Approximately 6,000 children are homeless and live on the streets. These kids are neglected by society and forced to live a life without security and care.

Abandoned People Reach Out to Those They Understand

Pastor Jorge Pinto felt God touch his heart to make a difference in the lives of these children.   He himself was abandoned as a child so he knew firsthand what difficulties they were facing. In 1999 Pastor Jorge opened the doors of his church for the kids of Tegucigalpa to care for them.  Soon after Project Manuelito was created!

Mission to Take Kids Off of Streets

Today the ministry is located in the city of Talanga with 40 children from the streets are living there, being housed, fed, clothed, educated. The project also provides an education for an additional one hundred kids from the poorest families in Talanga. Many families are not able to afford an education for their children.  In order for a child to attend public school the family must be able to pay for a uniform and books.   

Your Invitation to Join the Church in Reaching Abandoned and Homeless Children

Calvary is grateful for the opportunity to partner with Pastor Jorge and the Manuelito staff.  Calvary sends three to four teams each year to help with construction of classrooms and to love on the children.

CLICK HERE For information on future trips to Honduras and other locations.




Three Birds with One Stone?

Can a local church focus on engaging its members in the missions they support while also increasing the outreach of those missions?

What the Chinese Say about Doing Two Things at a Time

The Chinese may be the originators of the idiom - kill two birds with one stone - yi shi er niao (一石二鳥).  The meaning is clear.  If you are a bird, get out of China.The Chinese also say you can’t stand on two boats. The meaning is clear again. Carry a swimsuit at all times in China.

What is the church to think? Can or should the church do two things at the same time?

What God Thinks about Doing Two Things at a Time

Yes! Thank goodness we serve a God who specializes in the impossible. The church can indeed engage its members in the missions they support while also increasing the outreach of those missions.

More importantly we ask: How can the church do this?

Three-Step Plan to Improve Mission Performance

Step 1 - a website with more content that is focused on the missions they support.The data is clear - if we want more people to come to our site/page/place, we need to give them more good reasons to come.

The more real stories about real people that have been changed by real missionaries that the church can tell about the missions they support, the more people will come to read those stories. We’ll call this sowing seeds.

Step 2 - Invite readers of those stories, the church, in our case the folks here at Calvary, to engage with those posts. Comment on them. Share them. Who doesn’t love to hear or tell a good story? We’ll call that watering those seeds.

Step 3 - There is no step three. At least, not for us. If we sow seeds and keep watering them, God will cause the growth. The Bible says this happens automatically. And it does.

When the Church Talks about Its Missionaries

The bi-product of telling real mission stories on our church website is that the stories we tell are about the missions we support. This will increase the visibility and reach of that mission. People outside the church who care about the work our missions will search and find our missions.

Care => Search => Find. It just works.

We Did Not See That Coming

Did you know young people--think 20-ish to mid 30-ish--really want to serve to and make a make a difference in their world? Millennials are sitting at their computers or looking at their phones, wondering, “Where in the world can I serve? Who will help me make a difference in this world?” They will type similar questions to that effect in a search engine … and come find us here at Calvary.

Care => Search => Find. It just works.  God causes the growth.

God Can Indeed Do the Impossible

Not only is the local church more engaged and the missions we support enjoying increased outreach, we are able to recruit more workers for the kingdom from a group of adults that are abandoning traditional church in droves.

Dare we think three birds with one stone?