HNAZ Testimonies

Laura Zahm

Operation Christmas Child | 11.01.2023

"My favorite Sunday of the year is coming up quickly…November 19th is the final collection Sunday for Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes and it is my joy! Since the first day that I was introduced to OCC, I have seen the shoeboxes at kids, not boxes. When I count what comes in to HNaz or to the drop off site that HNaz hosts for the county, I count kids! This is because, and it sounds weird, but the truth is that it actually has nothing to do with the shoebox. Of course I want all of the boxes bursting with fun things that will bring huge smiles but the whole point is that when the shoeboxes are handed out, a conversation starts about Jesus - the beautiful name that these kids might never have heard before.

Each box is handed out with The Greatest Gift, a colorful book written in the local language that tells the story of Jesus. Then the kids are invited back for 12 weeks of classes to learn about The Greatest Journey and dive deeper into who Jesus is. The shoebox just opens the door to be able to talk about the life-giving, life-changing, life-sustaining name of Jesus!
This year, for some reason, maybe God re-inspiring me in the OCC ministry, I have felt my own perspective shift just a little bit. What if we look at the shoeboxes as not just kids but entire villages? One box starts a conversation with one child who starts a conversation with one family who start a conversation with one village…and so on and so on. The idea of multiplication from the one gift is mind blowing. So, this year I’m counting villages. And it’s so simple!"

Sign up to help us during collection week here:

Linda Gates

All Saints Day | 11.01.2023

"As I reflect on those of influence who have lived their lives for Jesus, I'm quickly taken to my parents, Fred & Dorcas VanDuyne, both in heaven today rejoicing.  We never had much material things growing up, but it didn't matter, because we had Jesus.  Dad taught Sunday School and seeing him study, in his rocking chair with a bible on his lap, will always be a precious memory.  Mom played piano for church, taught Good News Club, & got me involved in Child Evangelism lessons.  Our love for praise and worship is rooted in her love of music which is a precious gift handed down to generations.  

Then I think of church camp directors & camp counselors who made the next layer of influence.  They were cool!  And they loved Jesus!   My older brothers directed church camps, did summer crusades and camp counseling and I wanted to be just like them!  Those formative years helped me come back to my High School and begin a Fellowship of Christian Athletes chapter, because I wanted to live out loud for Jesus.  

In college, at Anderson University, influence continued through Christian university chapels, Bill & Gloria Gaither (who were my Sunday School teachers one year) and the music of Sandi Patty.  Christian friends, roommates, and professors influenced my walk. I had my first Bible classes and a hunger was beginning to know the Word.  

Moving to Huntington as a young married couple, Kathy Snowden invited us to HNAZ.  I found lifelong friendships in my HNAZ family, but strengthened my walk here through bible studies (Growing Kids God's Way - taught by Chris & Becca Leland), weekly praying for my kids in Mom's in Touch (with Liesl Haupert), and being mentored so richly by our pastoral staff of Kevin & Jan Dunlop, Dane & Teresa Mathews, Scott & Theresa Kelly, and Matt & Katrina Arbuckle.  

Years of leading Women's bible study, deepened my knowledge.  Countless women who studied God's word together, brought influence, fellowship, prayer and accountability.  They are too numerous to name!

Currently, through Bible Study Fellowship in FW, and having many Teaching Leaders (Robin, Angie, Ginny, Shleby) who have modeled Christ-like living and teaching have been another integral influence in my life & walk with the Lord.  They have led well and inspire me to do the same.  

Weekly I meet with my Prayer partners (Deanna, Mandy & Rosanne) who bring our requests to the Lord with friendship and accountability.

Bi-weekly I meet with Liz.  It's my favorite appointment of the week ... to just talk Jesus and how He's working and showing up and showing off in our lives!

And in daily, being married to my best friend, Troy Gates, we love Jesus!  And we serve our church in ministry opportunities, and give of our best to Him!

Oh God is good!  And the Saints that have went before me, and the Saints that are still here now doing this earthly life together are a treasure!  We are designed for community.  We need each other!  It strengthens the body of Christ!  It helps us to be better and represent Him to our world.  I am who I am today because of all of YOU and your investment in the Kingdom!  Thanks be to God!"

Megan Ness

Card Writing Ministry | 10.19.2023

“Card Ministry is a simple way that HNAZ can live up, in and out. By giving Christmas cards to local nursing homes we are reaching out into our community and giving hope to those who may feel hopeless during the Holidays.

We send cards to those within our congregation as well, showing appreciation or letting them know our prayers are with them through recovery or loss. This is an opportunity to show love to those in your life as well.

When I was in college my mother (Robin Ness) would send me a card of encouragement a couple times a month. This meant the world to me, as during this time in my life I was really struggling. I hope we can encourage other college students, or even loved ones who may need some positivity to make it through the work week. It just takes a small amount of time to make a big impact in someone's life.” 

Tiffany Jackson

Zambia Nursing Trip| 10.16.2023

Psalm 103:1-5 “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your inequity, who heals all your disease, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who statisfies you with good so that you youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”

"If you ask my husband, I have had some very random ideas in our short 19 years together dating and married.  Sometimes he goes along with the ideas, other times he denies any affiliation with it (I bought a camper with my mother in law during Covid because of the latter).  This trend remains true to my character today.  As if two bachelor’s degrees and two masters degrees isn’t enough, in the Fall of 2022 I set out to (hopefully) earn my last degree—a doctorate degree in nursing from Indiana Wesleyan University.  This journey has led me on a transcultural experience in September 2023 to Zambia, Africa to learn more about healthcare and education and cultural differences between Zambia and America.  We initially thought this was another one of “those” ideas as anxiety and fear were a part of the preparation.  My husband referred to this as my “African safari trip,” which was partially true.  

However, what I learned throughout the experience was so much more than the transcultural experience required for the course.  The pictures of Victoria Falls and Chobe National Park do nothing in comparison to God’s work.  You see, God is so much bigger than the poverty, homelessness, and other social determinants of health in Zambia.  He is so much bigger than missing my daughter’s 11th birthday (even if she couldn’t find the present I left for her as it was buried in a laundry basket of dirty clothes).  God is good all the time.  

In Zambia, we had the opportunity to see hospitals and clinics with mothers laboring on a bare mattress on the floor, teenagers who were estranged from their families due to repeated death threats, and middle school students who walked side by side with their mothers who could not walk for hours to receive any care.  Infectious diseases like tuberculosis, malaria, and HIV are rampant.  Hospitals were scarcely stocked and the nursing school had a library full of textbooks from the past 20 years—definitely not current evidence based practice.  But, God is good, all the time.  

You see, even in the dry season in Zambia, the flowers were blooming and the birds were chirping.  Baboons, giraffes, lions, zebras, elephants, hippos, and rhinos were active (and at times scary) in their natural habitat.  I mean, who in the world can say they were about 20 feet away in a bus with an elephant looking straight on at you in the middle of a road?  The beauty of the Zambian clinic workers who sang to us in their native tribal language—"Our visitors are here” was impeccable, yet humbling at the same time. We met and stayed with American missionaries who were living out the gospel and sharing the love of Jesus.  Through them we learned of many opportunities to partner to aid the Zambian people.  For $3,000 we can build a house with a toilet and $260 will feed a school of 700 students FOR A MONTH.  I asked what we could send for their nursing students and the reply was basic school supplies like folder, notepad, and pencils.  The faculty at their schools do research, but are not trained how to disseminate the information at conferences and in publications.  Time and time again, God showed us the good work, albeit with scarce resources, the people of Zambia are doing and their yearning for partnerships with us.  Throughout it all, God is good, all the time.  

I challenge you to consider how God is revealing His goodness in your life.  Where are the flowers blooming? The animals roaming?  The falls a flowing?  Even in the moments my husband may not always understand, goodness surrounds each of us.  We are rich in love, patience, kindness.  And, it is in such we should rejoice God is good, all the time."

Caleigh Rice

Trunk or Treat | 10.16.2023

“Trunk or Treat is a GREAT way to get involved at HNAZ, especially with your whole family! It’s an amazing opportunity to serve/minister to those in our community AND to connect with those who are a part of our church. It’s so fun to be creative while decorating the trunks and to make others smile as they walk by!"

Christi Bennett

Thursday Morning Prayer Gatherings | 9.27.2023

“Early on Thursday morning, a small group gathers near the altar for prayer. We begin with a psalm or reading that focuses our thoughts. Then, spontaneous prayers break out. We praise God, we confess, and we give thanks. We raise petitions for our church leadership, our youth and children, college students, the sick and struggling, teachers, our community, our families, each other.

As we pray, burdens are laid down and hope and joy are taken up. Where two or three or six of us are gathered together, we sense Jesus in our midst, interceding with and for us and moving among us. After just half an hour praying, we commit ourselves to God and head out into the responsibilities of the day with a strengthened connection to our fellow pray-ers and a renewed sense that God goes with us.”

Join us every Thursday morning for prayer at 7:00am in the HNAZ sanctuary!

Nicole Finton

Ruth| Sermon Series Reflection | 9.25.2023

"The book of Ruth is one of my favorites, because it is the story of admirable faith, loyalty and selflessness. And I love that it shows us in just 4 chapters how God’s Plan for us and His strategies always come together for the good and for a purpose. He will never fail us if we walk the way He has laid out for us. Even if that way is sometimes rocky, filled with tragedy or appears impossible to travel.

Ruth is a book of journeys. As we go with her through her physical journey we also get to experience her and Naomi’s journey of faith. Often a physical journey is necessary to grow in faith. At least it was with me.

Ruth teaches us that steadfast faith and obedience lead to redemption and blessings beyond our imagination or expectations.
We can come out of a dark time in life even stronger and happier than before if we trust God and follow Him. Sometimes, actually often, or more often than we notice, He uses the people around us or close to us to help guide us in the direction He wants us to go. For Ruth this person was her mother in law Naomi.

I relate to Ruth in different aspects. Although living in different times, I too have experienced the rewards of staying faithful in hard times and have been blessed with people in my life who led me on God’s Path and helped me stay on the way.

22 years ago, when I was an exchange student, I believed in “something like a god”, like a higher power. I was also aware of Jesus Christ and His story and I knew of some of the stories in the Bible. I had watched movies about Noah’s Arch and Moses and the life of Jesus, but I had not accepted Him as my Savior nor did I understand all the connections and God’s bigger Plan.

Just like Ruth I had to take a journey physically and spiritually for my life to ‘make sense’ and to fully understand the Gospel.

Summer of 2000 I questioned my choice of coming to the USA as I found myself surrounded by cornfields and dead racoons along the roads. Many times it went through my head “how on earth did I end up HERE?”. Long story short, throughout my exchange year I was placed in a faithful Catholic home. For the first time through observing and questioning my  host sister I started to understand the significance of Jesus’ life and death. I also went to a Christian private school, which was held in a Pentecostal Church. I started to attend their Sunday services regularly. At first because I just liked the company of the people God had placed in my life. But with each service my heart opened and eventually all of this led to my repentance and baptism.

Since then I have faced many heartaches. My father died just as my first marriage had fallen apart and years later after a decade of emotional, mental and verbal abuse my 2nd marriage came to an end. Just like Naomi and Ruth I had suffered loss and grief. But every time I could see my hope dim and my faith crumble God placed someone in my life who would encourage me to keep on praying and keep on thanking and following my Savior. Often I was just observing their faithful actions and followed example, sometimes God spoke to me through them.
It is now two decades after I first set foot on this continent. I could not be happier or more blessed, but yet each day God ignites new joy in me.
Staying faithful has “paid off”. Everything I went through now makes sense. Just like God blessed Ruth and Naomi with new found security, hope and love he has blessed me. I have a wonderful home church which helps me grow spiritually and God has given me an amazing, caring, kind and patient husband. He has provided us with our dream home and surrounded us with loving family and many friends. And now God is using my testimony to help others through similar struggles and to plant seeds of faith.

He used Naomi and Ruth for a greater purpose and blessed their faithfulness. He has used me for His work and blessed me and he will continue to do so with many lives if we trust and allow Him to.

What a wonderful Savior we have! What a great privilege it is to be chosen for His purpose just like Ruth!

On a side note. I am also blessed with a faithful God fearing and knowledgeable mother in law. Just like Ruth stayed with Naomi, I will gladly stay close to her and help take care of her."

Brad Clampitt

Meal Ministry | 9.22.2023

"Almost 20 years ago, a new ministry opened downtown, which served free meals every evening of the year to people who needed it. HNaz got involved and had teams preparing meals and serving four nights each month. When our son Isaiah was five years old, we decided to get involved as a way to put hands and feet to our faith and also introduce Isaiah to service ministry. It’s been a great experience serving as a family over the years.

Almost seventeen years later we are still serving at the Downtown Meal Ministry one night each month, and Isaiah still helps out if he’s home from college. We’ve worked with a lot of wonderful people from HNaz, and it’s been great to getting to know the people we serve over the years. We love our church, and it’s always so rewarding to be part of ministry with church family."

Rebecca Hawley

Graves into Gardens | God's Redeeming Work | 8.25.2023

Isaiah 61: 2b-4
“. . . to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion ~ To bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the  display of His splendor.  They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations.”

This is a very familiar scripture to us, but it became more real to me after Monday, November 20, 2006.  If you lived in Huntington or were in town that evening, you probably remember well the sound of the gas explosion that rocked our city and destroyed our neighbor’s home and set our home on fire.  This began a chapter in our lives that no one could foresee or plan. But, it was no surprise to God and He immediately began turning Graves into Gardens and providing for us.  He gave to me that very night, His peace that passes all understanding (even as we stood  and watched our home being destroyed by fire). God showed us in the days ahead that He is a very Intentional God.

About 80% of everything that we owned was destroyed. But, we witnessed miracles over and over again.  Our bedroom was destroyed, even the shade to the lamp on our night stand was melted down over the base of the lamp, but right beside the lamp ~ our wedding picture was saved and perfect.  Knowing we were homeless, God provided within days, a home on our very own block. Back in the 90’s there were no homes of any kind to rent anywhere. But, He knew we would want to be near our property. Not only did we rent that house that had been for sale for a long time, but all the personal possessions had been left in the house ~ pot & pans in the cupboards, sheets and blankets on the beds, towels in the bathroom. God provided everything we needed to live life again.

After settling in this house for months, we were told one day that it had sold. We would be homeless again.  But as God would have it, the house right next door would be empty   ~ just when we needed it.  The day after it was advertised for rent, I saw people walking around it and my hopes grew dim that we would get it. But, God had already move the heart of a precious neighbor man to call the owner of the house, who lived out of town, to be sure we would get the house to rent and we did!  God is intentional and God provides!

In the meantime, I was busy drawing up plans for a new house to be built on our property and Richard was trying to get me to stop at the All American homesite each time we traveled to visit our daughter at Mt. Vernon Nazarene University in Ohio.  I would have nothing to do with the idea of a pre-made home. You may remember, our church hosted a night of prayer and fellowship for all the families that had been involved in this fire tragedy. The next morning on a Monday, in the western sky, with no rain, there appeared a rainbow.  I didn’t see it, but our neighbor boy did as he left for school and his mother took a picture of it. She thought she had lost it in her computer, but with the help of her daughter they found it weeks later and she brought the picture to me.  The rainbow was centered perfectly over our property. I knew then that God had not forgotten us and that rainbow was His promise to me that He had our future covered.

Soon after that, my heart was changed to stop at All American.  When we came out of their factory, our hearts and minds were in one accord.  All American was at a slow time in their business and had time to build our custom home ~ the plans God had given to me. You see if we had gone earlier when Richard wanted, they would have been too busy and would have said “no”.   It reminds me of the Scripture, Proverbs 16:9,  “ In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps”.  You don’t ever want to run ahead of God, but when it is His timing, He moves quickly as our house was built in 9 days and ready to set on our property in February of 2008. You see, God is not only intentional, but He works in the twinkling of an eye when it is in His timing.

After we finished and furnished our home, a group of Christian friends gathered with us to praise God and move through our home, praying over every room because, you see, our home belongs to God. So, we have a God who is intentional ~ He was intentional with us every step of the way. We have a God who provides ~ He provided everything as we needed. We have a God who redeems ~ He redeemed my life and our family by His Redeeming Grace.

Judah Schnaars

Made to Lead | 4th & 5th Grade Discipleship | 6.16.2023

Made to Lead is a discipleship ministry that meets with 4th & 5th graders. We learn how to lead others, by first knowing how to follow God.

“It was fun to be in a group that was only my age (no little kids). We hiked on trails, played hide and seek, and even had a banana sword fight! I learned that God is working to keep us safe and loves us and gave us the Armor of God, which protects me from the devil’s attacks. It was a night I looked forward to all month.”

Mandy Snowden

"Run the Race" Sermon Series Reflection | 5.23.2023

"When you think about running your race do you ever say, “I Am! How long do I have to keep running?” Well, God showed me this past year that my run had been more of a speed walk, a lot of time in circles.

When I finally threw off the thoughts and fears that were holding me back and was simply obedient to what I knew God was calling me to do and be, I saw him work in a way I couldn’t have imagined. God showed me that the weight of disobedience is so much heavier than the freedom of obedience. It’s being close to him daily because his obedience requires only his strength that he gives.

What has God been putting on your heart that maybe fear, or inadequacy or past failures has stopped you from being obedient? When we decide to throw off the things that are hindering us, and run the race he is calling us to, we will see God work in a way that is greater than anything we’re hanging on to."

Cindy Geders

We are the proof the the resurrection!| 4.16.2023

"Last week we celebrated the victory of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. How appropriate for us!

Who is leading our congregation? We are shepherded by a faithful God who tells us in Hebrews 13:5, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” Our LORD has been walking with us through the changes we, as a church family, are experiencing.

In Ephesians 1:11 we are told God, “works all things according to the counsel of His will.” This time of transition is not happening outside of the will of God. God is working according to the counsel of his will. So the question is not, “Who is in control?” God is in control. The question is, “Will we rest in him and trust him?”

I love our church family. We fall down, and we lift one another up. I see the LORD everywhere in our church body. I recently had an eye surgery and the Women’s Group brought me a blanket and comforted me. I see Jesus in Marlene when she comes in to update our Food Pantry, in Lynn as she leads Growing Place Preschool, in Tyler as he continues to grow our worship team through music, in Christi and Stephen’s faithfulness in their respective ministries with children and visiting members of our congregation, in Pastor Gary as he guides us through this transition, in our Board, folks who continue meet and pay the bills and make decisions, in our Facebook prayer group. I saw God this week when Ray came in because the large freezer broke down and his assistance was needed. I see the love of Jesus as Glenda helps our youth provide a dinner for us after church today. He’s in our Sunday School, He’s in our Bible studies, He’s in HERE RIGHT NOW. Father, Son and Holy Spirit! We are experiencing a resurrection as a congregation and what a sweet victory that is!

James 1:2-4 says, “Consider it all joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” This morning, let’s praise and worship God together and acknowledge that we are a blessed people who can feel the encouragement and hope of the victory of Christ’s resurrection!"

Liesl Haupert

Women's Bible Studies| 2.24.2023

"In my adult life, Bible studies have probably been the single biggest factor to keeping me accountable and growing in my relationship with God. When life gets tough, being in Scripture, and community with others helps get me out of my own head. Life is not meant to be lived alone, I need accountability as well as support. Bible studies, and the women in them, are key factors to helping me live with hope and a deeper faith."