Part two of five parts; click here to read part one.

23.Barbara Szewczyk of Zegocina, Poland, faced economic hardship after her husband died in a car accident. Left to care for three children, her paralyzed mother, and her grandfather, Szewczyk received a much-needed boost in income from the gift of a Polish Red cow by Heifer Project International, an ecumenical organization based in Little Rock, Arkansas. Before receiving livestock, hpi beneficiaries worldwide are trained in animal husbandry and agree to share with others in need the offspring of the animals, which include cattle, pigs, goats, sheep, llamas, water buffalo, bees, and rabbits.

24. Following a two-year dental residency, William Gibson plans to become the first oral and maxillofacial surgeon in Perry County, Kentucky—an unlikely dream for someone from a family dependent on public assistance and Social Security disability payments. But Gibson entered Alice Lloyd College in Pippa Passes, Kentucky, a Christian school where students work up to 20 hours weekly as a graduation requirement. In exchange, the college charges only $240 per term to students from 100 counties in five Appalachian states. The college awards additional subsidies for graduate studies to a few students like Gibson.

25. Ernie's drug problem got so bad that his wife asked him to leave. Realizing he had a problem, Ernie turned to Fresh Start Ministry at the Christian Service Center for Central Florida. After undergoing vocational and spiritual counseling, Ernie reconciled with his wife. Robert Stuart, the Orlando-based center's executive director, says the "restorative ministry" provides room and board for 39 employable men for $60 a week for up to six months. Residents are required to work, save earnings to pay debts, and attend Bible studies and job-training workshops.

26. After five years of playing a soldier at Civil War re-enactments, Alan Farley of Appomattox, Virginia, changed his dramatic role to that of a military chaplain. He established Re-enactor's Missions for Jesus Christ, which reprints the text of evangelistic tracts from the nineteenth century. Even when re-enactments are sponsored by government agencies, Farley and 15 fellow chaplains distribute gospel materials and preach tent revivals at the events since they are portraying the activities of actual Civil War chaplains. As a result, more than 700 professions of faith have been recorded and 750,000 tracts distributed.

27. On designated Saturdays, Lonnie Daugherty and Bennie Trout donate the use of their automotive centers to provide single women with low-cost vehicle maintenance. Men from First Baptist Church and Eagle Heights Baptist Church (SBC) in Stillwater, Oklahoma, charge only the mechanics' cost for parts and donate the labor. First Baptist's deacons initiated the ministry after taking a course on biblical principles of financial management.

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28. After three successful years with the Phoenix Suns in the 1980s, Rod Foster's basketball career ended after he was injured in an automobile accident. But Foster joined the exhibition basketball teams of Athletes in Action, the sports ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ. These former college and professional players share the gospel during aia-provided pregame meals with opposing players from such Division I teams as Indiana, Kentucky, UCLA, and Vanderbilt. aia teams have a record of 1,113-630 since the ministry's inception in 1967.

29. Ronnie DeVries, Teen Shepherd
"Mom, Dad, I want to get baptized," 15-year-old Ben announced one evening after a youth-group meeting. This was no knee-jerk response after a We-Are-the-Worl moment at a youth rally. This pastor's kid was fed more Bible stories than Cheerios in his childhood. Yet, until then, he hadn't wanted to be baptized. Despite his dad's frequent invitations, Ben would say he wasn't "ready."

He wasn't ready, that is, until Ronnie DeVries entered his life. Sixteen-year-old Ronnie called Ben one evening and invited him to youth group, a program called HYACKS (High School Youth Advancing Christ's Kingdom [through] Students), sponsored by College Church in Wheaton, Illinois. That wouldn't be unusual except that Ronnie had never met Ben. Ronnie had heard that this pk was looking for a local youth group to attend since the church Ben's dad pastored was too far away. Ronnie came in his car and picked up Ben to take him to HYACKS. At that same meeting, Ronnie encouraged Ben to come on the group's spring break Florida adventure. The deadline was imminent. In a last-minute flurry of paper shuffling, with Ronnie's advocacy and encouragement, Ben went on the trip.

He came back a different kid. The faith he had spent his life hearing about from his father's pulpit took on new meaning when he saw it vigorously and passionately packaged in Ronnie DeVries. He joined Ronnie's small group—called slam (Student Led Accountability Meeting)—and soon announced that he was ready to be baptized.

"When my mom told me about Ben," says Ronnie, "I realized that my group was struggling in the area of reaching out and evangelism. So I prayed about it for two days and then just called him."

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Student shepherding has become a recent emphasis of the youth ministry program at College Church. "We believe in high school students," says Rod Van Solkema, the youth pastor there. "They are capable of doing ministry, and we want to give them opportunities to lead their peers.

"In fact, Ronnie," he adds, "has so much potential as a leader. He lives in the extremes. He can shine bright, and peers look up to him."

That's why Ronnie was able to reach his friend Ben. "Once, when he drove me to Burger King, he stopped and yelled out the window, 'God is great!' " says Ben. "I thought, That's pretty cool. He was a strong Christian, and I wanted to be like that."

A high school junior, Ronnie says that since third grade he has felt called to ministry. He felt the pull toward missions and, more recently, sees himself serving in youth ministry.

This past summer, when Ronnie wasn't serving as a counselor at hockey camp, SLAM met in his tree house. Neighbors pruning hedges might have caught wind of spirited discussions emanating from that leafy perch—like when one member posed the question, "Do you think God chooses you, or do you choose God?"

The group tossed around, according to Ronnie, "the intellectual side" of it: If you choose God, then he isn't all powerful. If God chooses you, then John 3:16 doesn't mean anything. "We decided that being in relationship with God is what's important, no matter who does the choosing.

"The guys in the group hold each other accountable on the finer points of the faith," he says, "like bad attitudes or holding a grudge. Sometimes we stray from the lesson and it ends up being a half-hour of confession."

Other times, admits another SLAM member, the conversation can move from the lofty heights of the Calvinist/Arminian debate to more earthy "guy talk."

Ronnie was recently drafted to play for the Chicago Young Americans AAA Hockey club, which, he admits, is a source of struggle for him. "Hockey is a very disgusting sport," he says, referring not to the sport itself but to the fact that "for some reason the players feel they have to talk tough and do perverted things in order to be good players." Before leaving for the camp in Michigan where he served as a counselor last summer, he gave letters to his close friends in SLAM asking for "prayer coverage."

"I did feel their prayers, very strongly," he says. "One night I had to take some pornography from some little kids and take it to my room. I knew I'd have to face all these guys—that they'd ask me about it. I just threw it away."

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30.Del Maxfield, executive director of the Denver Rescue Mission, helped forge a partnership with a Colorado firm to help recovering addicts gain work experience. At the DRM's Harvest Farm in Wellington, men in the rehabilitation program live outside the often tempting inner-city environment and are paid to assemble stands for guitars, microphones, and keyboards for a nearby music-equipment company. Maxfield says he has seen recidivism to the farm decline as men learn punctuality, productivity, a sense of accomplishment, and other job skills.

31.Susan Forshey, coordinator of Seattle's Intentional Communities, helps "twentysomethings" learn lifestyle ministry. Sponsored by five Presbyterian (PCUSA) churches, the organization asks young adults, ages 20 to 29, to spend a year working at least ten hours per week with various established ministries that evangelize and meet needs of refugees, youth, or the elderly. Volunteers live in one of five houses, each with six housemates who commit to pray and eat together regularly and share the costs of rent, utilities, and food.

32. The Cooneys, A Rainbow Family
Lunchtime is coming on, and things are starting to fray a bit around the Cooney household. Terri, the mom, is immaculately truned out; a garden-party dress strewn with fuchsia flowers sheathes her petite frame; she wears purple earrings and pink lipstick. Seven-year-old Janée, one of the Cooneys' seven adopted "rainbow" children, is hungry. She bends, sighs, twirls, and stretches in ceaseless contortions blending petulance with charm. "Mom! Moooooooom! I want lunch!" she announces, tugging at the pink glove she's wearing on one hand.

"Janée is going to hang here with us and be absolutely attention seeking," Terri says, leading the way into the kitchen. Intensive negotiations ensue. Janée wants a sandwich with jelly only. Terri counters firmly that peanut butter is mandatory. Two half-sandwiches are prepared, one peanut butter and one jelly. A plaque on the kitchen wall reads, "I'm the Mommy, that's why."

Over the next hour, as we talk, a stream of children comes in and out of the room. Stephen, 5, asks for a slice of pineapple, but Mom deduces that he means watermelon. Leanna, 11, comes in to show a large dead bee she has found. Nathan, 14, says he's going with friends to the mall. Little smiling Sarah, 8, waltzes through with her puppy clutched in her arms. Joshua, 9, feeling under the weather today, comes in just to lean against his mom for a while. Tiny Isaac, 2, toddles through and collects a snack on his way to the back yard.

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The children's coloring ranges from dark brown to café latte, reflecting the rainbow mixture of their parentage: African, Mexican, Caucasian, unknown. To offer encouragement to families like theirs, Terri and her husband, Jim, founded Rainbow Families, a fellowship and support group for families who have adopted across racial lines. Every other month, about 20 families meet at the Cooneys' church, Mount Zion United Methodist in Bel Air, Maryland, while a sister group unites families from the south of the state in Columbia. Bethany Christian Services, which has facilitated many of the Cooneys' adoptions, recommends them to clients who adopt transracially, so their ministry extends far beyond state lines.

Pastor Craig McLaughlin had been at the church only one week when the Cooneys came in with the news that they wanted to adopt Joshua, but money for the fee was scarce. Terri recalls him saying, "Because of what you're doing, I'd say it's the church's [problem]." Within seven days, members of the congregation had raised the entire $1,500 adoption fee.

Without this support, raising such a brood would have been nearly impossible. Jim is a math and tech ed teacher at a public middle school, and Terri is a full-time mom. And, they're both past 50, when chasing young children can be—stressful.

Their dream of a large biological family came to an end after their first child was born, so they adopted a sister for him. (Andrew and Christine, now 29 and 28, live nearby and are mainstays of support for their parents.) A dozen years later, the sorrow at saying good-bye to a foster child disposed them to consider adoption the next time around. Nathan joined the family, then Leanna, then the rest in a steady stream.

The challenges did not end there. The second "rainbow baby," Leanna, was "the most difficult child I had ever encountered," Terri writes in her self-published book, A Heart for Adoption. Temper tantrums began at four months and were hitting a high when she entered the terrible twos. "Raising Leanna [is] about as easy as driving an 18-wheeler backwards across the country," Terri writes.

About that time the Cooneys adopted Joshua and were relieved that he was a peaceful child. But at five months, they discovered his calm was actually the lethargy of illness, induced by a potentially fatal blood disease. He recovered miraculously and by one year seemed normal, and the Cooneys adopted again —the "Chocolate Princess," Sarah.

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Then disaster struck once more. Joshua began showing some strange behavior. The diagnosis was grim: "Somewhere between 12 and 18 months, Joshua had slipped quietly from our world into the strange world of the autistic."

"He cannot separate what flies through his mind from reality," she explains, and he has auditory hallucinations. Yet, at a recent school program, Joshua took the microphone and recited the Pledge of Allegiance by himself. "You could understand every word he said! I just wept," Terri says. "I remembered all those nights Jim and I would kneel by his bed praying that he would just say anything. He didn't speak till he was four."

Leanna has been diagnosed with bipolar mood disorder (what used to be called manic depression) and obsessive-compulsive disorder. "She's probably also the product of drug use and lacks the capacity for cause-and-effect thinking," Terri says. "She still thinks like a two-year-old—that the world revolves around her. She is a very, very difficult child, and she's very attracted to all the muck of the world."

Home-schooling protects Leanna and the other children a bit, "but I'm not preparing my kids for Harvard," Terri says. "I'm trying to prepare them to live—teaching grocery shopping, laundry, skills they won't absorb otherwise."

The catalog goes on: "Sarah has visual memory problems and is slow to read, but there are no intelligence problems. Janée is bipolar and once had a psychotic break. She is either bouncing off the walls or so depressed she just wants you to hold her."

Stephen's diagnosis sounds the most intimidating: bipolar mood disorder—"lots of aggression"—and something called oppositional defiance disorder. "It means just what it sounds like," Terri says. "It looks like pure rebellion, like a few good spankings could cure it, but part of the brain is damaged, and he just can't help it." Isaac, the youngest, is "energy in motion," and some of his siblings who still live with their biological family have been diagnosed bipolar. "We keep praying, because he is such a jewel, he is so sweet." Terri laughs, "I'm really praying the Lord comes before I have five mood-disordered kids in their teens!"

When asked if she ever doubts that they've done the right thing, the answer is an emphatic no. "We've got to do this! If we're going to say that every life has value, and all were made in the image of God, we must do this. I don't believe that the Lord saved these kids from abortion for them to die in an institution."

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Terri admits, "Life is not easy." But she says, "It's hard for me to live with these moods, so think what these bipolar kids are living with. Yet God says, 'My grace is sufficient.'

"I was having a cup of tea one day and looking at these huge trees in the back yard, and thinking, I've lived here 30 years, I've seen those trees every day, but I never saw them growing. Yet look what the years have done! It's happening in my kids' lives, too. Little by little, my kids are moving toward okay."

Janée dances in and announces, "I have a song about God." She sings, "Dear Jesus, please help us, one another, sick and good . …"

"Are you making this up?" Terri asks.

"No" Janée says, twirling: "Bop bop bop bop ba bop bop." Janée's arms are over her head, and she's smiling and spinning, spinning.

33. Pauline Hord, Prison Angel
Pauline Hord is no ordinary 90-year-old, and she is no ordinary Christian. For more than a decade, the retired schoolteacher has relentlessly pursued a singular goal: teaching prisoners how to read. Working with Second Chance Ministry (SCM) of Memphis, Tennessee, Hord has conducted literacy training for hundreds of inmates, though she sees the primary benefit of her work as spiritual.

"Our purpose is for inmates to learn to read so they will be able to read the Bible," explains Hord, SCM's literacy director. "When a man goes to prison, his one hope is in God. There is no other; he's a defeated person. When he learns to read, he wants to read the Bible."

Barbara Dycus, SCM's executive director, says Hord's group—including four other teachers, all in their seventies—shows concern for both the minds and the souls of the inmates. "They have taught over 500 men to read and write and have led a large number of them to the Lord," Dycus says.

The literacy ministry began in 1986 when a group of five SCM volunteers visited 64 cells in a lock-down unit in a Mississippi prison. Dycus, one of the five, says, "The last young man I spoke to was 26 years old, and he was very angry and hurt." After 20 minutes, Dycus asked him if he had a Bible. The response was a dropped head and silence.

Dycus asked, "If I gave you a Bible, would you read it?" But the inmate looked up, with tears dripping from his chin, and replied, "I can't read."

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The team returned home, made plans to start a literacy ministry, and began praying for a teacher.

Meanwhile, in the years since her early retirement at age 60, Hord had been training teachers in the Memphis school system in how to teach phonics. But she couldn't shake the feeling that God wanted her to do more.

"In 1929, when I was 22 years old and right out of college, I was placed in a first-grade classroom and learned to love these children," Hord recounts. "I knew God had called me to be a teacher, and this was my ministry."

Somewhere along her spiritual journey, says Hord, "I read what Jesus said about how we should feed the hungry and give water to the thirsty and visit those who are sick and in prison." So years later, when an SCM volunteer called and asked her to teach prison literacy classes, she jumped at the chance.

Hord teaches classes every Wednesday morning at the Marshall County Correctional Facility in Holly Springs, Mississippi. David Helmic, head chaplain for the prison, says, "I've never seen any volunteer who has any more love or compassion for them, or who has the effect on the men like she has; they love her."

The Holly Springs prison—privately owned and managed by the Wackenhut Corporation—offers classes to inmates (in electrical work, horticulture, computers, small-engine repair, and basic life skills), but most of the classes require an inmate to be literate. "The recidivism rate is much lower among inmates who participate in educational programs," Helmic says. "But all of it centers on reading."

Hord is a member of Christ United Methodist Church in Memphis, where she is involved in the congregation's prayer ministry. But her passion for literacy occupies most of her time.

Hord sees her greatest challenge as trying to convince other Christians of the importance of ministry to inmates. The point of Jesus in the Great Commission, she says, "is to bring souls into the kingdom, not to increase the membership of the church. Prisoners aren't going to increase church membership, not until they get out into society—and some never will."

Hord says part of the problem is that most Christians have had no exposure to prison ministry. "When these men are saved, their lives are so changed," Hord says. "They become ministers in prison. And when they get out, they often want to go right back and help the people who are still there."

"At 90 years old, she will outdo most folks half her age and never look winded," Dycus declares. "She is an absolute amazement, and I have never known anyone who has been any more of an inspiration to everyone she comes into contact with.

"It's been wonderful to see the change in these men. Once they begin to learn how to read, their appearances and mannerisms change. Instead of looking at the floor when they talk to you, they look you in the eye."

Part two of five parts; click here to read part three.

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