Let's share some stories! Here's one about Celebration Fellowship that appeared in the newsletter of the Great Lakes region of Home Missions:
Celebration Fellowship is a church plant located in the Bellamy Creek Correctional Center in Ionia, Michigan. The "brothers" from Celebration Fellowship wrote a note to Richard DeVos, to thank him for his book, "Ten Powerful Phrases for Positive People" and asked him to come and speak to them. Their letter included these three paragraphs:
As Christians participating in a Bible study structured around the principles advanced in your book, we considered adding "You Are Saved" at the very top of the list—for we believe this adds a spiritual and eternal dimension to the rest. Then, at the very end of the list, we added "You Are Forgiven," for without forgiveness, all else is in vain. For us, these two phrases give your book, as a whole, an even greater purpose as it relates to our study.
You wrote that you are still amazed at how your many God given gifts and blessings are "all connected in His plan." You probably never planned or envisioned Bible studies being conducted …by a group of prisoners, but we believe God did. We believe without question that God inspired you to share with us your positive attitude of faith in a plan and purpose greater than your own. God speaks to His creation through His creations and we PRAISE Him for giving you a gift of amazing and persuasive style of writing and getting your intended message across to even a group of inmates like ourselves.
In many instances, the word "phrases" can even be substituted with "praises." Your book is perhaps even more important to inmates than to your average reader, as living for long periods of time in an environment of negativity and criticism begins to shape a person‘s soul. Many here have yielded to the prison environment and have ultimately become crushed by it; becoming accustomed to bondage of one type or another and eventually accepting it as a way of existence. After years of hearing the message, "you can’t do it" or "you‘re a failure," etc. we begin to think that way so this Bible study was a refreshing change.
Mr. Richard DeVos attended the Bellamy Creek service and addressed the brothers on October 4. Mr. DeVos gave a certificate of achievement to the brothers who attended at least eight of the study/discussion sessions for their "searching out Scripture passages that relate as foundations to the ten phrases of "Ten Powerful Phrases for Positive People." The brothers then presented to Mr. DeVos copies of the ten discussion/manual guides that they developed for the study of the book.
We praise God for the work he is doing through Pastor Richard Rienstra at Celebration Fellowship!