LIFE 2019 Recap

This July 19 of our First Alliance youth, along with two friends, and four adults, participated in LIFE conference. We spent five days in Orlando with 6,000 other Alliance youth from around the world. Many of you prayed for our travels, our youth, and our time there. It was obvious! Thank you.

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Awaken was the theme of this year's conference. Each day focused on a different aspect for us to Awaken to: Identity, Wonder, Community, Simplicity, and Mission. The seminars, main sessions, service project, and worship time all contributed to the theme of Awakening to God.

It would be hard in this brief space to capture the vibe of the late nights, the energy from thousands of people, volume of the worship, charisma of the speakers, emotions, laughter, and conversations. We packed a lot into just a few days! Through a variety of means; teaching, songs, in depth conversations, and certainly the activity of the Holy Spirit, many of our students heard from God, took steps of obedience, experienced healing, and embraced truth. The particulars aren't my story to tell. I was there as a witness, and a coach of sorts. But their stories are important. I would encourage you to find a student that went to life and ask them what they experienced.

What happened at LIFE conference is important. What's most important, though, is for the work God has been doing, and will continue doing, to be nurtured. Our young people are a vital part of our church body. As we invest in them they draw out of us more experienced disciples the fruit of prayer, faith, love, hope, encouragement, unity, and grace. We become a better body. And as their faith, maturity, and gifting grow our church body is infused with new life and fresh spiritual vitality. It's a win/win!

So, yes, LIFE was an amazing experience! But really it is a launching point. An opportunity for us to continue investing in the lives of the young people God has blessed us with. Here are three ways we can do that:

  • Get to know our young people, all of them, the ones who went to life and the ones who didn't. Ask what God is doing in their lives and how you can pray for them. And certainly ask those who went to life about their experiences and what they learned.

  • Pray for our students. Pray about the things you know God is doing in their lives. Pray they will find their identity in Jesus, they will love God's word, that they will be guided by the Holy Spirit. Pray for endurance, courage, and wisdom for them at school, work, and other activities. It's hard being a young person in our culture today.

  • Last, ask God if he would have you invest directly in the youth of our church body. We have space for volunteers on Wednesday night, in our small group ministry, and for mentors. You can talk to Pastor Chris about next steps if that's something you're interested in.

God is calling this next generation to Awaken to the wonder of knowing Him, to embrace community, and to live on mission with Him. It's an exciting thing to witness and to nurture! Can you see it?


How God Led FACT to a New Lead Pastor

First Alliance Church has a new lead pastor! After being extended a call by the Elder Team of First Alliance, and affirmed by the South Atlantic District Superintendent, Rev. Brian Rockwell, with his wife Jessica, have affirmed God’s call and agreed to come and serve on the pastoral team.


A little over 10 months ago, Dr. Scott Borderud announced to us that he planned to retire within a year. Though his plans changed due to the opportunity to become superintendent of the Southwestern District of the Christian & Missionary Alliance, he still concluded his ministry as senior pastor this past November. His resignation led to the necessity of inaugurating a transition process in order to find the person who could take up the mantle of shepherding us at FACT.

A Search Committee was formed and did research to determine the profile of one who could function as our lead pastor.  With congregational input the profile was constructed, and the committee began to diligently search for the person who would best fulfill our expectations. Throughout the process the committee listened for the still, small voice of the Lord that would confirm to us who His choice would be.

We looked through numerous resumes, examined reference letters, interviewed some by phone or in person. Some fit the profile better than others, but after several months the committee still had no indication from the Lord that we had found the person of His choice.

Around the middle of November, the church leadership called for a special Sunday night of prayer, specifically to seek the leading of the Lord in the candidate process. It was right after that meeting that we received the resume of Rev. Brian Rockwell. He had not been seeking a change from his current pastorate, but after a few people suggested that he consider FACT, God confirmed in his heart the thought that he should submit his resume to FACT as a matter of obedience. This seemed a direct answer to the prayers on that Sunday night.

Brian accepted our invitation to candidate and that Sunday the congregation had the opportunity to meet him and hear him preach. We took a straw vote of the congregation, and 85% were in favor of the Elders extending a call to him. Taking this into consideration, the Search Committee and the Elder Board overwhelmingly approved doing so.

When I notified the District Superintendent about the results of the vote, he was surprised at how great a majority the vote represented. He remarked that most churches the size and complexity of First Alliance would have a much lower vote. The vote being that high was another sign of confirmation from God confirming through the congregation that Brian was His choice to become the lead pastor.

He and Jessica have accepted the call and plan to transition to ministry at First Alliance in the middle of March. We want to do all we can to help them in the transition and welcome them warmly to First Alliance.

Many of us are excited about their coming. But we do want to be sensitive to those who conscientiously expressed a feeling that, for whatever reason, Rev. Rockwell was not the person of God’s choosing. Does that mean that you missed the voice of the Lord?  Not necessarily. Remember the first great decision the early church had to make at the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15?  There were strong opinions on both sides and vigorous debate, but after Peter spoke from his experience, and Paul and Barnabas testified of God’s working in their ministry, and the leader James formulated a decision, the apostles, elders, and the whole church came together in agreeing to move in the same direction. There was unity despite that fact that there was not uniformity in their opinions.

We have an opportunity now to manifest that same kind of unity. Though some of you may not be happy with the decision of the vast majority and the church leadership, we can recognize that God has apparently led us in the choice of Rev. Rockwell. We can agree to support him and move together in the direction of furthering the mission and ministry of First Alliance. We all want to see this church become all that God wants it to be, don’t we? We will see God do that, as we yield our wills to His will, and as we joyfully serve Him together as biblical, loving, Spirit-filed disciples as this local body of believers. 

Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

A Liturgy for the New Year

A liturgy is a pattern used by Christians for worshiping God, declaring His greatness, and focusing on Him. Liturgies have been used in many forms throughout the history of the Church as a means of praising, repenting, asking, and yielding. As a new year begins, we offer this liturgy for your use personally or with your family. What better way to begin a new year than by focusing on the Lord?


Eternal Father, as we come to the end of the year give us grace to reflect on what has passed. Convict us of the sin we have committed, forgive us for the opportunities we have missed, heal us from the wounds we have endured, and comfort us in the loss we have sustained. Thank you for your presence with us in the past year. It is because of your presence that we have endured.

Response: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

Eternal Father, we ask for discernment in the year ahead. Make us hungry to connect with Jesus every day through prayer, your word, and meditation. Help us prioritize our spiritual community and seek opportunities to grow with our church family in faith and love. Give us an urgent desire to engage the world around us with your good news, starting in our neighborhoods and reaching to the very ends of the earth.

Response: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

Eternal Father, we thank you for your goodness to us in the previous year. The blessing of your presence through your Holy Spirit, your word, and our fellow believers has encouraged us. We pray for your continued blessing in the coming year. Bless our homes with peace, our work with good fruit, our community with hope, and our relationships with grace. We acknowledge all of our possessions, relationships, and areas of influence, are gifts from you. Help us steward them in holiness to your eternal glory. Amen.

Response: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

Based on Lamentations 3:22-23. Written by Beck Gambill

Advent: The Worshipers

Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him.” Matthew 2:1-2

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The ancient middle east, when Jesus was born, was just as tumultuous and dangerous as it is today. A trip from a distant land to Jerusalem wouldn’t have been easy and perhaps not even safe. But there were men of influence and knowledge who saw a sign that compelled them to make the journey, regardless of the difficulty.

When they got to the place where Jesus was they acknowledge his authority and worshipped him. Sometimes our journey in life is difficult, even dangerous. The question is - will we recognize Jesus authority and worship him? In sorrow or joy worship has the power to breathe hope into our souls.

How will you respond to Jesus this Christmas? Will you join the wisemen and worship him as king?

Advent: The Good News

“That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!” Luke 2:8-11

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The wait was finally over. The Savior was here! Heaven and earth met in the fields outside of Bethlehem. Sleepy shepherds snapped to attention as the night sky burst with the glory of God’s messenger. Salvation had come!

Sometimes life stretches on with no end in sight, the nightwatch feels like it will never be over. And then good news! Love shows up when we least expect it.

God honored the shepherds with news of his salvation. He set them on mission. He sent them to see the baby with their own eyes. After they recovered from the shock, they left the dark fields and ran to the light of love.

Later on in Luke it says, “After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child.” After such good news the shepherds could never be the same again.

You may be waiting for good news. It’s here. Love has been born to set you free. How has news of God’s love changed you?

Advent: The Birth of Christ

“And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.” Luke 2:6-7


When the first man and woman disobeyed God a wall came between them and their Creator. Sin was insurmountable. Each of us since has faced that same wall of sin separating us from God.

On our own there was nothing we could do to make our way back to God. But he had a plan for rescue. God the Son dressed himself in skin, limited himself to time and space, and submitted himself to the laws of nature to join us on earth. He became a baby.

In Bethlehem Jesus’ young mother birthed him in pain and joy. The twilight was pierced with his wail. What a mysterious night when God became human and drew near to us in the person of Jesus.

Jesus was born into a family. Walked through Israel’s streets. Laughed with fishermen, forgave sinners, died and came alive again to bring us into his kingdom. Emmanuel - God with us, God with skin on. He alone could tear down the wall of sin and bring us back.

The presence of Jesus has the power to bring joy no matter what we’re facing. Will you allow Jesus’ presence with you to be your source of joy this Christmas?

Advent: The Promise

All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet: “Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’” Matthew 1:22-23


The First Week of Advent:

It had been four hundred years since the Jews had heard from God. For generations he had led their judges and kings, had spoken through the prophets. Then, silence. Now, Rome occupied Israel. It seemed as if God had forgotten them. Had forgotten his promises.

And then God spoke. Not to a king or a prophet, but to a young woman. Through the angel Gabriel God renewed his promise to provide a Savior. Mary had found favor with God. Faithful as ever, she was quick to embrace the message the angel delivered. It sounded crazy. She was just a young woman, engaged to be married. But, like every other young woman, she had grown up hearing the prophecies, she knew what Isaiah had spoken. God’s Son would be born to a virgin. He wouldn’t leave his people in darkness.

Mary embraced the words of the angel. She would carry hope for nine months and then deliver him for the world. For every broken heart, for every hungry soul, God would show mercy.

God wrapped himself in flesh and became a baby. Mary believed in the impossible and became an accomplice to salvation. Her Son would be our path to peace.

Will you, like Mary, believe God’s promise? He has not forgotten you. Even now, in the midst of your hardest circumstances, Mary’s child wants to be your peace.

Sundays Morning Adjustments

We’re making a temporary adjustment to the Sunday morning schedule that will begin Sunday, December 2.

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After considerable discussion, the Elders believe the following schedule to be best for the health of First Alliance in this season of transition:

  • One Worship Service at 9am with Nursery, Toddlers, and Children’s Church

  • Coffee & Connection at 10:15am

  • Sunday School Communities at 10:45am

  • Evening ministries as scheduled

Some of the factors that have gone into this decision include:

  • we have the capacity to accommodate our current attendance in one service with space for guests

  • we want to emphasize the unity of the church body during this time of transition

  • we want all to experience the vitality and energy of a service where everyone is worshiping, praying, and responding together

  • we recognize it will be a little easier on our guest speakers to only have to do one service instead of two

We recognize and acknowledge this may create a difficulty for a few. For that, we apologize. We weighed different options and decided to stick with the 9am worship service time because it is the service that most currently attend and would make it easier to add a second service back when the time comes.

Moving to one service means the room will be more crowded, yet we are still committed to making sure there is room for guests. You can help with that by not only continuing to build relationships with friends and others in your sphere of influence who don’t have a church home and inviting them, but also by making sure there is room for them.

You can help with this by making sure guests can easily find a seat. Will you fill in the centers of the rows instead of camping out on the aisle seats? We know it’s easy to come in and sit down on the end seats of rows and that it’s asking a lot to change old habits, but the Lord reminds us we should always be seeking to please others and not ourselves. We know that guests (and latecomers) don’t particularly enjoy climbing over someone they don’t know to get to a seat, especially if it’s a family. Let’s do this out of selfless love for others as we love God supremely.

Thanks for your flexibility in this matter. Again, this begins this coming Sunday, Dec. 2 and is temporary. We will continue to evaluate and adjust as we move forward to do what is best for the making of disciples and reaching our community. As we are faithful to connect, grow, and engage as biblical, loving, Spirit-filled disciples, we believe God will multiply ministry and expand His kingdom through First Alliance. If you have any questions, please be sure to speak with a leader.

May the Lord bless us as we live in obedience to Him.

Coming Up at Parc 1000...

There are some upcoming EA Partnership ministry opportunities at Parc 1000. We’re excited about these opportunities and hope you will be part in some way as we work together to be intentionally and incarnationally involved with the nations in our own backyard.

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  1. ESL, or English as a Second Language, is a huge open door. One of the overwhelming things expressed when we did the survey was the desire for help with learning/mastering English. In many cases, it is the kids doing most the communicating because the adults are not yet comfortable with English. One of the ways that the EA team is finding to be incredibly effective is 1-on-1 English as opposed to classes. Many refugees desire an American friend, and meeting with folks in their homes to teach them English means we also gain insight into others areas of ministry and relationship. Training in ESL will be offered at Parc 1000 on Saturday, Nov. 17 from 2:30-5pm. If you’re interested, please let us know for more details.

  2. A Work Day at Parc 1000 is on Saturday, Nov. 17 at 10am. Meet at Apt. 38E. There are many “working-with-your-hands” things that can be done in and around both our apartment (38E) and the apartment that has been given for afterschool ministry. In addition, there may be other maintenance things that can be done for residents or the complex. If you are interested in being part of a Work Day, please let us know.

  3. We will be facilitating a Christmas Party for refuge families on Saturday, Dec. 15 at Parc 1000 from 1-3pm. The Party will involve games, activities, a Christmas program, music, and more. It will be an opportunity to not only introduce refugees to Christmas in America and share the true meaning of Christmas, but also to build relationships with residents. Details are being worked out, but there are 2 ways you can be involved. One will be to participate (families encouraged to do so together) on the day of. The other is to contribute items for Christmas Gift Bags. We are going to provide a Christmas Gift Bag (a simple and practical drawstring bag instead of a shoebox) to each child who comes to the party and registers instead of doing shoeboxes with Operation Christmas Child this year. We are asking each family to provide items from the following list in bulk. Bags will be purchased in bulk via our EA Ministry Fund so they are all the same size. We are looking for the following new items (starred items are highly desired):

  • *Stuffed toy animals

  • *Deflated Soccer ball with manual pump

  • *Winter cap and scarf

  • *Mittens/gloves

  • *Hair bows and barrettes

  • *Socks

  • *School supplies

  • Water color sets

  • Coloring books

  • Necklace/bracelet/earrings

  • Watch

  • Jump rope

  • Puzzles

  • Kickball with manual pump

  • Dress up crown/shoes

  • Small etch-a-sketch

  • Small purse

  • Nail clippers

  • Washable nail polish

  • Small action figures

  • Small Dolls

  • Toothbrush and paste

  • Band-Aids

You can start bringing items immediately. There is a collection station set up outside the sanctuary near the Prayer Room. As more details are worked out, we will let you know.

An organizing meeting for the Christmas Party will be held on Saturday, Dec. 1 from 9-11am in the FACT Fellowship Hall. If you are planning on being part of the party, please make every effort to be part of this meeting.

If you would like to be part of one (or more) of these opportunities, click here and let us know via the form.


There are also ongoing opportunities you can be part of:

  • Prayer Walking at Parc 1000 on Tuesdays

  • Praying for Parc 1000 residents and ministry in general

  • Giving to the FACT Envision Atlanta Ministry Fund that goes to fund the apartment and ministry initiatives. This is a special fund that is not part of the regular General Fund Budget at this time. Above and beyond special gifts can be given online or vision cash/checked marked Envision Atlanta.

  • Helping with the monthly Mobile Thrift Store on the 4th Saturday of each month.

  • ESL Ministry individually or with a group.

More opportunities will be developed in the months to come.

Thank you for being part of ministry together at Parc 1000 with Envision Atlanta. May the Lord bless these efforts and open doors of ministry as we are faithful in reaching our “Samaria.”

Celebrating New Life

On Easter Sunday, April 1, 2018 in during the services at First Alliance Church, five people were baptized, publicly signifying their identity in Christ and commitment to follow Jesus as a disciple. They are:

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Nikki Bladowski

In the summer of 2016, Sofia asked me to go to Bible School. Two college students came and spoke to us about Zacchaeus, who climbed up a tree just to see Jesus because he was too short. He did whatever he could just to see Jesus. Even though nobody liked Zacchaeus, Jesus still loved him. It says to me that what we look like, what we've said or even what we've done, Jesus still loves us! I want to learn more about Jesus like Zacchaeus. So one of the college girls and I went outside at the end of the week to pray, and I asked God for forgiveness.

Now, I accepted Samatha's invitation to go to Youth Group and eventually to Small Groups and then to Sunday School, too, to get closer to Jesus and learn more about Him and what He's done for us.

Isaac Champion

I was at the high school football stadium, and a man was preaching about Jesus. He asked people to come down to the field if they want to get saved. I felt very nervous, and my chest was pounding. My dad asked me if I want t go down, and I said yes. We walked down to the field, and a man prayed with us. I asked Jesus to save me from my sins. I want to be baptized because I want to show every body that I follow Jesus.

Debbie Forsman

I asked Jesus into my heart as a 5 year old and was raised in a Christian home and a small Alliance church. I have followed Christ my whole life and strive to serve Him. I had always seen baptism as a symbolic conversion for someone that was turning from an old sinful life to a new life in Christ. Since I had not been saved in that way, I didn't think baptism for me was necessary.

In the past few years, God has been pressing upon me the importance of the declaration of my faith.

God has blessed us with a new phase of life here in Toccoa and deepened not only my faith but my children's. I am happy to be baptized alongside them as we publicly declare our faith together.

Byrce Forsman

When I was about 5 or 6, I accepted Jesus into my heart. When I was 10, I remember my pastor talking about it, and I decided that I wanted to be baptized, but I never got to it. Currently, I want to be baptized in front of people to show that I am a follower of Christ Jesus.

Skylar Forsman

I grew up in the church like a lot of other kids, but I had never really felt God speak to me or work directly in my life. I've found that devotions have helped me deepen my faith and I can see how much of a difference praying daily makes. Being baptized will become a reminder to myself that He washed away my old ways and I'm now committed to living with Christ instead of living in the world.

Stories of God's Faithfulness

God is at work all around us. Sometimes in life, we wonder if that is really true. But when we stop and hear the stories of how God has answered prayer, and remember how He has shown His faithfulness, we find the courage and strength to persevere in the faith. May these stories of how God answered prayer in 2017 encourage and inspire in the year to come. Do you have a story of answered prayer? Share your story here to encourage and inspire others.








Until the beginning of this year I was a very proud person and didn't even realize it. I was proud that I was healthy and in need of nothing. Then my annual check up revealed that I had stage four cancer. My liver enzymes revealed I had cancer in my body somewhere. Several tests later revealed it was in my colon. The oncologist said I needed chemo soon. However, I first needed to have a blockage from my bowel removed. After the operation, I was hospitalized for many days, and this was a very dark time for me because I was under the control of some powerful drugs. The only thing I remember about this time is the stupid dreams. At the follow-up session with the surgeon, he was surprised at the high dose of drugs so he prescribed something different and, praise God, I ended up not needing any drugs at all.

As I came out of the darkness, God was showing me the great darkness people are in when addicted to drugs. They are overpowered and need help. Praise God, He helped without further medications.

Chemo finally came, and it was just before the fourth session I received very good news. Of the markers they use to determine the severity of cancer, mine had gone down from nearly 400 to less than 50 -- PRAISE GOD.

Now let me preach a little. Before all this happened God gave me several passages of scripture to memorize. I thought they for me to use in my jail ministry, however, they have been a great blessing to me now as I recover. Let me share them with you.

Psalm 25: 1-7 -- ''. . . let me not be ashamed . . ."
Psalm 34: 1-7 -- " I will bless the LORD at all times . . ."
1 John 1:5-10 -- "If we confess . . . he will forgive . . ."
1 John 1: 15-17 --"Love not the world . . ."
2 Peter 1:4 -- ". . . partaker of the divine nature . . ."
Galatians 5:16-17 ". . . walk in the spirit . . ."
Psalm 103 this psalm gives the benefits of a relation with God.

If these scripture portions are helpful to you let me know by return email, and if there is a request I can pray for you, I will. May the Lord bless you and sustain you all your remaining days.







in 2015 I was diagnosed with breast cancer that had metastasized to the liver, lungs, and several bones. I began chemo treatment after a mastectomy and continued treatment until the fall of 2017. Treatments were often changed because of no improvement. 2017 was a difficult year in that I had a bad reaction in the summer to one of the chemo drugs. After having only one treatment of a new drug I had a painful and debilitating reaction. During all of this time people were praying and I truly felt God walking alongside of me. At the end of October my scans showed significant decrease in the size of the tumors in my liver and lungs. Regaining strength has been slow, but I praise the Lord for His healing power and for the body of Christ. I do not know what tomorrow holds, but I thank the Lord that today holds healing for me. The Lord's presence and comfort are always there for us throughout the bad and good times.

Celebrating New Life: Lawrence Booker

On December 24, 2017, in the 9am service at First Alliance Church, Lawrence Booker was baptized, publicly signifying his identity in Christ and commitment to follow Jesus as a disciple. His story follows.

I came to Christ in an extraordinary way. 

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I attended a Christian summer camp when I was younger. It was there that I was exposed to Christ and met the camp nurse who would later become my mother and one of my biggest supporters along my walk with Christ. 

However, it wasn't until the Christmas season of 2015 that I had truly surrendered to Christ's calling on me. I attended Walnut Hill Community Church in Bethel, Connecticut. I fell deeper and deeper into the message each week, becoming entranced by the sound and feeling of the spirit during worship, and with new eyes saw how broken I was. The only remedy for that brokenness that had lasting effect came from Jesus and His Gospel. 

As I matured spiritually, I reflected on how an all powerful God took me from the hardships of abuse and neglect that had shaped my understanding of childhood, and how He stayed faithful in listening to my pain. He provided me with a family that would love, encourage, and support a relationship with Him, independent from most everything else.

I am being baptized (12/24/17) as a way to definitely state beyond just words alone, but through my action, that I am in love with the Creator of the universe. I want to demonstrate the love , commitment, and faithfulness of my Abba. I want to be seen as a person that does not pretend to be perfect or better than anyone else because of a label, instead being seen as a person who shares an undeniable and unbreakable relationship with the most powerful King Jesus. 

And from it all, I would like for others to see how He worked in my life, in hope that it would show them how He may work in theirs, despite however far away they believe themselves to be.

*To learn more about baptism, its meaning, and its symbolism, click here.

Advent and "Ugh"

The season of Advent isn't just a few weeks of "pre-Christmas." It's a time when we remember the longing that preceded the Messiah's birth (Christ's first advent) and look forward to His return with longing when Jesus will make all things right (Christ's second advent). Before joy comes mourning. Before hope comes despair. Before peace comes conflict. In Advent, we have the opportunity to "simultaneously see what is broken and hope for what is being made new."


This is what drives our Prayer Focus for December as a congregation praying for those who are hurting or who are without hope. Not to have opportunities to offer merry platitudes, but to be present in their pain and brokenness while knowing that joy comes when the night has passed.

There is heartache around us and among us even in this season of hope, peace, joy, and love. This is the dynamic tension in being a disciple of Jesus Christ - we feel sadness & grief for the broken world we live in at the same time we feel hope & joy for the restored world we anticipate.

How can you be present in the pain of this world? Can you feel the "ugh" of the heartache of people you know? 

Read more here about feeling "ugh" at Christmas. 

Remember that Emmanuel has come. God is with us. Live out the truth of Christmas to all that you come across.

UPDATED: Partnering in Puerto Rico

In October, our Monthly Prayer Focus was on Disaster Recovery, and during the month we mentioned that we were working on connecting with a C&MA church in Puerto Rico to partner with them in recovery. 

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There are 63 C&MA churches in Puerto Rico, as well as an extension campus of Alliance Theological Seminary (ATS). The island of Puerto Rico, their economy, these church properties, the people who make up these churches, and the neighborhoods they are located in were devastated by the hurricane. The road to recovery is long and hard, but there are also many opportunities to offer hope and love in the name of Jesus.

If you’ve ever been to Puerto Rico, the island is much different now because of the destruction. If you want to gain a good overview of the condition of the island, check out the video from C&MA President John Stumbo’s visit to Puerto Rico here

We’ve made contact with the Theopolis C&MA church in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico. They are excited and encouraged about us partnering with them in these days. The church is pastored by William Pacheco. Their facility did not experience much damage, but many homes around them did. They only recently regained electricity in their area. Pastor William shared these 3 prayer requests with us:

  1. For their school, Theopolis Christian Academy, and the teachers and students. They need to maintain enrollment, but many people are leaving the island for the states. This will make it harder for the school to continue functioning.
  2. They have teams that continue to go out to help the people next to them and in other communities. They want to be able to continue doing the work needed around the church and in the neighborhoods.
  3. Please pray for the people that still don’t have electricity or water, who have health problems, who lost their home, etc.

We’ve also made contact with the extension campus of Alliance Theological Seminary in the San Juan area. They are the leading seminary on the island. They have experienced extensive damage to their facility (roof, carpet, windows, etc), but are thankful that there was very little damage to their books and other education materials. That being said, they need to meet an $80,000 deductible before their insurance will kick in, and they are also facing an enrollment crisis after starting the academic year with record enrollment. 

Many of the Alliance districts have already sent money to sustain the district office in Puerto Rico. One of the poorest Alliance churches in Africa has sent $1000 to provide relief to those in need in Puerto Rico. 

Not only are we calling you to partner in prayer, but we also want to rise up in love to bless our brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico financially. To that end, we will be taking a special offering on Sunday, 26 November, in both services to send to Puerto Rico for both the Theopolis Church and the ATS extension campus. Please begin asking God how He would have you participate in an above and beyond way. The people of the C&MA have a long tradition of rising up and giving sacrificially when needs arise. May we embrace that tradition and give to bless these brothers and sisters as they not only work to get back on their feet, but help others get back on their feet in the name of Jesus. Digital giving is available as well (choose Puerto Rico), especially for those of you who will not be in the service that weekend.

Thank you for praying and for giving to bless and love these brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico who have suffered much. 

Pictures of the Theological Seminary in San Juan

Here are a few pictures of some of the damage to the Alliance Theological Seminary Extension in San Juan (STPR).

12/7/17 Update on the Offering:

Thank you for giving so generously. $11,208 has been collected and is on its way to both the seminary and the Theopolis Church in Mayaguez. Thank you for rising up in love.

On December 14, we received a thank you email from the Theopolis Church in Mayaguez regarding our gift. They are very appreciative and are praying for First Alliance as we pray for them. They hope to send us some pictures soon.

12/21/17 Update from the Theopolis Church in Mayaguez

We've received some pictures from the Theopolis Church of some of their damage. It was not extensive, but they continue to have concerns regarding their school and its enrollment as people leave for the states, making its continuing functioning more difficult. They also continue to seek to minister to the needs in the community around them. Check out the pictures, as well as the brief video greeting from the church.

Tidings of Comfort & Joy?

Facing the Holidays after bereavement...

When you’re grieving the death of a family member or friend, you may dread the holiday season from Thanksgiving through New Year’s. Thoughts of social gatherings, family traditions, and obligations leave you anxious and overwhelmed. Your sadness can seem unbearable. You may wish you could skip these next two months and go straight to the routine of the next year—but you can’t. What can you do to lessen your stress and loneliness?

Holidays trigger tough emotions

You can start by learning what emotions are normal and to be expected when facing the holidays without your loved one. “If you’re feeling overwhelmed as this holiday season approaches, that’s very normal,” advised psychologist Dr. Susan Zonnebelt-Smeenge, whose husband died. “You’re probably wondering how you’re going to handle this and are unsure of what course to take. I want to assure you that you can get through these holidays, and hopefully you can even find moments of joy.”

When you know what to expect, you won’t be rendered helpless as holiday events trigger unexpected emotions. Make a point to spend time talking with people who have experienced a past loss and have already been through a holiday season without their loved one. They can help you have an idea of typical emotions and emotional triggers to expect. These people can also provide much-needed comfort and support.

Creating a holiday plan will help

Another important step in surviving the holidays is to create a healthy plan for the coming season. “Planning does help you to have a little control, even when you feel totally out of control,” said Dr. Zonnebelt-Smeenge. A healthy plan involves making decisions in advance about traditions, meals, time spent with others, holiday decorating, gift-giving, and commitments.

You will likely not have the energy or the interest in doing as much as you have in past years. Decide ahead of time which invitations you’ll accept, and let the host or family member know that you might leave early. Consider whether your decorating will be different this year: perhaps a smaller tree or simpler ornaments. If you cook or bake, cut back.

Make a list of every holiday tradition you can think of, from music to presents to outings. Then decide which traditions will be too difficult without your deceased loved one, which traditions you’d like to maintain, and what new traditions you can start this year.

Communicating with family and friends

What’s also helpful in facing the holidays is to communicate your specific concerns and needs with your family and friends. People in grief are often tempted to put on a mask and pretend things are fine, especially over the holidays. “I didn’t want to put on a damper on anyone else’s joy,” shared Mardie. “So I put on a happy face and tried to be the sister, the daughter, the aunt, that everybody wanted to see. Putting on that happy face was a heavier burden than I was emotionally able to carry at the time.”

Your friends may want you to “cheer up” and “have fun,” when that’s the last thing you want. Others will avoid you because they don’t know what to say and don’t want to make you feel worse. Some family members will give you wrong advice in a misguided attempt to help. All of these people likely mean well, but will only end up hurting you if you don’t communicate what you truly need from them.

As difficult as this may be, it’s important to tell people what they can do to help and what they are doing that isn’t helping. And if you don’t have the energy or inclination to talk to people face-to-face, then write your thoughts, concerns, and needs in a letter or email. What’s important is that you are being honest and gracious in your communication.

In describing the first holiday dinner after she was widowed, Dr. Zonnebelt-Smeenge said, “It seemed like no one wanted to talk about my husband. I kept waiting for somebody to bring up [his name]. After a while I couldn’t stand it anymore. I excused myself and left and bawled all the way home. Later I decided maybe they were waiting for me to decide if it was okay to talk about him; maybe they were afraid if they said anything, they’d make me feel worse. From that time on when I went to an event, I found a way to let people know I wanted to talk about him and I wanted to hear their stories.”

So where can you find out what emotions to expect over the holidays, how to create a healthy plan and how to communicate with family and friends these coming weeks?

“Surviving the Holidays” seminar on Saturday, November 11, 2017.

A GriefShare Surviving the Holidays seminar, held Saturday, November 11, 2017 at First Alliance Church in Toccoa, GA (located at 220 Alliance Drive across from Wal-Mart) from 9:30-11:30 am, offers practical, actionable strategies for making it through the holiday season. At this two-hour seminar, you’ll view a video featuring advice from people in grief who’ve faced the holidays after their loss. You’ll hear insights from respected Christian counselors, pastors, and psychologists. You’ll receive a Holiday Survival Guide with practical strategies, encouraging words, helpful exercises, Q/As, and journaling ideas for daily survival through the holiday season

At GriefShare Surviving the Holidays, you’ll enjoy a holiday brunch as you meet with other grieving people who have an understanding of what you’re going through. They won’t judge you or force you to share, but will accept you where you are and will offer comfort and support. “When I went to GriefShare,” said Marion, “I realized there are different ways to grieve.”

Your holiday season won’t be easy; your emotions may ambush you and suck you under at times. But you can choose to walk through this season in a way that honors your loved one and puts you on the path of health and healing.

To register or find out more about GriefShare Surviving the Holidays, visit or contact First Alliance Church at 706-886-5948 or

Provide Spiritual Nourishment in Toccoa

An opportunity to engage the world...

In Toccoa, there are two great facilities for folks as they enter the later years of life. One is the Wilkinson Center, a 40 unit retirement living facility that provides each resident with their own living space without the normal hassles of home ownership, and the other is the Clary Care Center, a 42 bed assisted living facility for those with physical limitations or that need a little extra help. Both are located next to Stephens County Hospital and Toccoa Falls College.

First Alliance has been given the opportunity to be part of providing spiritual discipleship and teaching as part of the schedule of activities at both facilities. Even though the residents find themselves in a different living situation, it doesn't mean that connecting to Christ, growing with others, and engaging the world isn't still vital. 

There are two ways that you can serve our community.

  1. Be part of a rotation that provides a simple worship service on Sundays at the Clary Care Center. The service can be anywhere from 30-60 minutes and can include a 15-20 lesson, singing, prayer for one another and for the nations, and/or times of testimony. There are opportunities on the first and third Sunday of the month, and the service can be at either 10am or 2pm.

    This is a great opportunity for an individual, family, friends, or Discipling Community to do together. There's no need to be a pastor; just have a willingness to share Jesus and the Word of God with the residents. 

    You don't have to do it every time. In fact, it would be great to build a schedule so many can participate a few times each year. If you have questions, contact Pastor Chris, or if you are interested in taking a few turns, complete the form below as a first step.
  2. Lead a weekly Bible Study at the Wilkinson Center. On a particular day of the week, preferably after lunch around 2pm, head over to the Wilkinson Center, gather with a group of residents, and facilitate time in the Word of God. You could start a Discipling Community right there for residents.

    Spend time weekly connecting to Christ through Bible Study, simple acts of worship, and prayer. Grow with others by sharing with one another, praying for one another, and spending time together. Engage the World through prayer for our community, people far from God, and for the unreached people of the world to experience Jesus' love firsthand. Not only would you encourage the residents, but you would probably be just as encouraged from the time spent together.

    If you have questions, contact Pastor Chris, or if you are interested in this ministry opportunity, go ahead and complete the form below as a first step.

Continued contact with other believers and time in God's Word is a great encouragement to people, especially when life is changing rapidly. Can you be part of facilitating these opportunities? Complete the form below so we can get things going.

Ending 2016 and Beginning 2017 at FACT

Greetings, First Alliance!

As we conclude 2016, we are thankful for all that God is doing in our midst. Over the past year we have sought to connect, grow, and engage as disciples of Jesus Christ in love. He is working in and among us to fulfill His purposes both in us, and in our community and our world. May we continue to live in pursuit of Jesus as the people of God. We look forward to 2017 -  the doors God is opening, the paths that He is leading us in, and the new lives that will become part of the kingdom because of our faithful living as holy people of God.

The end of 2016 also means the next steps in Sanctuary Renovation. After our Christmas services, work will begin in earnest. We are excited about the new space we will have to gather to worship the Lord our God and invite others to as well. To make sure we are all on the same page, please make note of the following:

  • Worship Services will be held in the Fellowship Hall beginning 1 January 2017. There will be one service at 10:45am on 1 January, and we will resume our regular 2 service schedule on 8 January 2017. When services are in progress, please do not enter or exit the Fellowship Hall through the doors by the big screen near the library. Please use the doors that go into the Children’s Area Hallway. This will help reduce distractions for others during a worship service.
  • Coffee & Connection will not happen on 1 January 2017 but will resume on 8 January 2017. During the time services are held in the Fellowship Hall, Coffee & Connection will temporarily move to the Family Life Center.
  • The Fellowship Hall Sunday School Community that meets in the Fellowship Hall will be temporarily relocated to the Family Life Center during this period.
  • Weekly Activities normally meeting in the Fellowship Hall will take place in other rooms on our campus. Be sure to check with your group/ministry leader to confirm temporary locations.
  • On-Deck Youth will continue to meet in the Fellowship Hall on Wednesday evenings during this period. They will resume on 4 January 2017.
  • The Front Lobby Area will be closed for a few weeks during renovation work. We will communicate with you when this will be, and will post signs. 
  • Signs will be posted to inform and direct. Please follow them for your safety, the safety of others, and to help things flow as smoothly as possible.
  • The Children’s Area Hallway will be a main route to the Fellowship Hall during this time. If you are not a parent, child, or Children’s Ministry Volunteer, please do not linger in this area.
  • Parking spaces near the Fellowship Hall will be blocked off during this time to allow for safety and easier pedestrian access.

Here’s how you can help make this period a positive one:

  • Be flexible and work together. This is an opportunity for us to grow in grace toward one another during this time of ministry changes/dislocations. Our relationships with one another in the love of Christ is the most important.
  • Consider attending the 10:45am service during this time if you are not part of a Sunday School Community. This would create some space in the 9am service seating. Everyone who currently comes at 9am can fit in the Fellowship Hall, but it will be “cozy."
  • Help with heavy lifting and some demo work on Monday, 26 December 2016 in the sanctuary to prepare it for the actual renovation work. If you are available, please be at the church at 9am.
  • Come and get a pew if you are interested in having one on Monday, 26 December with a way to get it to wherever you would like it to go. We are unable to store pews for later pickup.
  • Grab any bibles, hymnals, Connect Cards, and pens in the area you sit at the end of the Christmas morning service at 10:45am and place them in the designated areas.
  • Follow all posted signs during the renovation period.

Thank you for your cooperation and flexibility during this period. We look forward to returning to the Sanctuary and dedicating this refreshed space to the glory of God. We also thank you for your continued support and prayers in regards to this project. Please continue to pray for the work to be done, for those doing the work, and for God to be glorified. Please also continue to seek the Lord regarding your financial participation in this project. While we are excited to have over 80% of the estimated project cost (which has allowed us to start), we are not quite there yet. We are not borrowing money for this, and desire to finish in a timely fashion which requires us reaching the 100% mark. The Lord has provided, and we are trusting Him to help us cross the finish line.

May the Lord continue to bless First Alliance. Not only in this specific project, but as we continue to seek Him, grow as His disciples, and invite others to surrender their lives to the fullness of Christ in us, the hope of glory.

May you and your family know the blessed presence of the Lord this Christmas season.

P.S. Please don’t forget about our Christmas services on Christmas Eve at 6pm and Christmas morning at 10:45am. Invite friends and others you know who are not part of a local church to come with you, especially on Christmas Eve. Don’t forget we’re collecting clean coats and blankets on Christmas Eve evening for the Salvation Army to give to those in need in our community. 

FACT Life News...

Greetings, First Alliance!

Trust that you all are having a joyful Advent/Christmas season as we both wait for and celebrate the coming of Christ. May you continue to experience the fullness of Christ in moments of waiting, and may you express kindness and joy to those you cross paths with in the love of Jesus Christ.


Our Christmas Eve Candlelight Community Service this year on December 24 will begin at 6pm. We want you to be aware, but more importantly we want you to be inviting people to come with you to this service. This hour long service is designed for our greater community, especially those who aren’t connected with a local church. Who do you know in your neighborhood, at work, at school, at the gym, etc. that you could invite to come and hear the good news of Jesus Christ this Christmas? More people attend Christmas services than any other time of the year, especially if a friend invites them. Please invite people you know to come with you on Christmas Eve to pause and hear the truth of Christmas. Be praying not only for the people you invite, but also those that others invite that all would clearly hear and respond to the good news of Jesus this Christmas. 

We are also collecting clean coats and blankets for the Salvation Army this Christmas. Bring them on Christmas Eve so we can bless those in need in our area generously.  And be sure to let the people you invite know about this as well. Christmas is a time of giving.

Feel free to share about the Christmas Eve Candlelight Community Service on social media. We also have some flyers that can be distributed around town. If you would like to put some up, please contact Pastor Chris this week.


Also, as we let you know on Sunday, the next phase of Sanctuary Renovation involves us holding our regular worship services in the Fellowship Hall. This begins 1 January 2017, and will involve a bit of flexibility and patience on everyone’s part. Some activities and events that normally happen in the Fellowship Hall will be temporarily moved to other parts of our campus. Things may be a little “challenging” for a number of weeks, but this is also a time for us to draw together, show grace to one another, and see how God works in and through us in these days as a church body. Let’s work together to make this period as joyful as possible. The Elders, Administrative Board, and Pastoral Staff continue to see this project as an important part of the next season of life at First Alliance. Please be praying for the smooth completion of the work, safety for those doing the work, that the remaining funds to complete the project would come in quickly, and that above all God would be glorified both in the work and in our attitudes.


Finally, we hope to see you all on Wednesday evening, 14 December 2016, for the FACT Christmas Banquet. We’re looking forward to being together, and especially looking forward to an evening of Christmas cheer without an annual meeting. If you need a reminder of what to bring, click here.


We’re thankful that you are part of First Alliance. May we continue to connect, grow, and engage as disciples of Jesus Christ for the fulfillment of the Great Commission both in our own backyard and around the world.

Engage the World at Open Arms Clinic

Open Arms Clinic is a non-governmental, not-for-profit medical clinic dedicated to serving Stephens County residents. It is funded by private, individual and public donations. Located directly across the street from the Toccoa Clinic, they focus on providing primary health care with compassion and respect, and provide services on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.

This may be a way that some of us at FACT could Engage the World practically and locally using the gifts, abilities, and/or education that God has given us to be good stewards of as a disciple.

There are two areas of opportunity: 

  1. Provide supplies that Open Arms needs. This allows them to direct more of their funds to actual medical care. Items you could donate include 13 gallon kitchen trash bags, stamps, and coffee & creamer. They are also in urgent needs of bottled water, copier paper, paper towels, and sticky notes. Many of the patients walk or ride their bike to the clinic. Bottled water is an essential items that helps to keep patients healthy and hydrated.
  2. Volunteer time to serve. Potential volunteers should be comfortable with using a computer, and they will train for all positions. The computer program is easy to learn, and help is readily available if needed. Student nurses and community service individuals are welcome, and Open Arms will work with you and sign off on your volunteer hours for clinicals or community service hours. Current opportunities include:
  • 1 position open for a Thursday morning nurse, one Thursday a month.
  • 1 position open for a Tuesday evening nurse, at least one Tuesday every other month.
  • 1 position open for a Thursday morning receptionist, at least one Thursday a month.
  • 1 position open for a computer literate individual who will assist with Patient Assistance Program applications and renewals.
  • Seeking an individual who has organizational skills and (perhaps) a basic knowledge of medications to offer assistance with organization and upkeep of the Pharmacy.
  • Morning and Afternoon receptionists on Wednesdays.

For more information, or to express interest, contact Open Arms Clinic directly at 706-886-0940 or at

A Call to Prayer for Aleppo

On Friday, 9 December 2016, the National Office of the Christian & Missionary Alliance has issued a Call to Prayer for all in The Alliance to pray for Aleppo, Syria in light of the fighting and the continued ministry of the Alliance church in Aleppo.

Syrian government forces’ battle to reclaim all of Aleppo from rebel fighters has gained momentum in the past two weeks. The rebel-held eastern portion of the city is experiencing heavy bombing and incredible damage.
The Alliance church in Aleppo continues to minister in the midst of the fighting. Funds for aid and relief from Compassion and Mercy Associates(CAMA) have been delivered.
Today we call upon Alliance people across the United States to pray for the city.
  • Pray for an end to the terrible fighting.
  • Pray for the opportunity for those under bombardment to regain opportunity to exit and to have access to food and medical supplies.
  • Pray for the Alliance church’s ministry to those in dire need and those who seek the Lord amid such stress and suffering.

Please be in prayer in these days.