2009 was a difficult year for Dion Miller. He was facing what felt like overwhelming challenges. He worked, but felt like his experience had been one dead-end job after another. His home life wasn’t much better, as his marriage was struggling, and he was emotionally absent, not just to his wife, but to their three children as well. To cope with the stresses of life, Dion often turned to drugs.
In November of 2009, Dion was driving while under the influence of drugs on I-85 when he was involved in an accident. The accident injured a six-year-old girl and her grandmother who were occupants of the vehicle he hit. Dion was also injured in the accident, and had to be life flighted from the scene. He learned while in the hospital what had happened, and upon realizing the damage he had caused, two things happened: he gave his life to Christ, and he knew there would be legal repercussions.
His first appearance in court was a shock to him. The prosecutor was bringing charges serious enough to warrant a 15-year sentence. Over the next 18 months, Dion awaited trial while his court appointed lawyer attempted to reach a plea agreement. The case was resolved when Dion agreed to a one year prison sentence followed by six months of rehab. That was 2011.
In 2012 Dion was released from prison and checked himself into Atlanta Mission, a mission partner of NAPC that, among other things, has a program to help those who are in recovery from addiction. Three months into his time at Atlanta Mission, Dion was invited to attend a mid-week Bible study at NAPC.
The first day I met Dion, I felt an immediate pull to his earnestness, humor, and self-awareness. He didn’t try to diminish or excuse his behavior, but he was also determined not to succumb to the trap of shame.
Dion soon became a regular at our Bible studies, and upon his graduation from Atlanta Mission, he moved back home to his family with renewed purpose and calling. Fearing the bumpiness of the transition, he asked me if I could get together with him a couple of times a month to provide accountability and friendship.
Fast forward three years to 2016.
Dion and I still met on at least a monthly basis. What started as accountability for him had turned into mutual encouragement and two-way accountability. At one of our coffees, Dion shared that he was grateful that he had better employment—he was now working as a driver for a tire company—but still needed to better understand how to manage his finances. I invited him to attend Faith and Finances with his wife, Renae.
Dion and Renae completed Faith and Finances and walked away with tools to build a budget, but more than that, they felt permission to dream again. Dion dreamed of earning his commercial drivers license, and Renae dreamed of home ownership.
NAPC offers a matched savings program to graduates of Faith and Finances through your generous gifts. In this program, individuals like Dion can receive a 100% match on money saved (up to $1,000 match) if that money is used to help increase the probability of employment, or measurably increases the family’s stability.
Dion approached the church with a unique request. Would we be willing to go above and beyond the program limits to help him obtain his CDL. He had done his homework. He had a provisional offer from a food distribution company who would give him a job that paid $1,000 per month more than he was currently earning and offer full benefits.
We eagerly agreed. That was in June of this year. Last month Dion earned his CDL. On October 1, he began his new job. Today, Dion is actively preparing for his future. His first long term objective is to save up a down-payment so his family can purchase their first home, and Renae can realize her dream.
When you give to ministry and mission at NAPC, you are a part of the fabric of Dion and Renae’s story and other stories like theirs. Without your tithe going to the ministry budget, we would not have the platform to lean into risk-taking mission. Without your above and beyond gifts to missions, we would not be able to meaningfully walk alongside others amid their unfolding, and redemptive stories.
Thank you for your faithful gifts. As you prayerfully discern your pledge to ministry and mission this week, I would ask that you give as generously as you can so all of us collectively can continue to come alongside individuals and families like Dion and Renae’s.
One last thing.
Last week I asked Dion what the biggest lesson in all of this is. The string that he sees going through his story is how God restores the years the locust had eaten. In 2009, his drug use and his license cost him his freedom. In 2017, God is using his commercial driver’s license to provide a new future for Dion. That is what the kingdom looks like, friends.
You can make your pledge to ministry and mission in church services this Sunday, November 5, or you can make your pledge now by following this link.
Matt Seadore, Executive Director of Ministry and Mission
These past few years, our children in our Elementary and Preschool areas have been invited to make a yearly pledge for our “Children’s Tithing Project.” In the past we have bought animals, school supplies, trees, and Bibles to support the different ministries of World Vision. We have also supported the local ministries of “Friends of Refugee.s” This past year our tithe went to Midtown Assistance Center, as we shared the love and hope of Jesus in our North Avenue neighborhood.
Our project this year is to join with our Mission’s vision of engaging the city.
HopeWorks is a local Christian ministry that has been operating in the Atlanta area for over 32 years. Their mission is to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ through improving the living conditions of the elderly poor, mostly widows. They accomplish this by providing these low-income senior homeowners with free home repairs, enabling them to live out their remaining years in their own homes in comfort and safety, thus fulfilling James 1:27 which tells us to “look after widows in their distress."
North Avenue’s children will join their hearts, prayers and resources with the ministry that God is doing through this organization as it empowers the lives of others.
On November 5, we will have a specially made Pledge Card that allows our children to decide how much they would like to pledge for this year in our Elementary program. This is a great opportunity for our families to discuss the ways we can live out our call in our neighborhoods, community and world.
When you give to God through North Avenue, you support all the ways we disciple, nurture, and love our kids. We can't do it without you!
-Roxie Chess, Director of Children & Family Ministries
I don't know if you all remember our Jamaica presentation from the summer of 2016, but we had a couple of team members sharing about the whole trip. Most of our team was up there and present but they were too shy to share. This year, the whole Austria team excitedly shared. Girls who told me "under no circumstance will I ever speak to a crowd," happily chose a day to speak on. Everyone was willing to share because they could not contain what they had seen and experienced. Even through language barriers, our students saw and understood that our presence with the refugees at House of Hope was meaningful to the refugees and to us. Our willingness to come "all the way from America" made these new friends feel loved. For them, the chance to hang out with young people, which many hadn't done since leaving their home countries, was significant. And they saw that Christianity was joyous, and Christ was alive and important in our lives.
The students wanted to share this. They wanted our church family to see what they had seen and to experience a little of the joy that they experienced. It was an exciting time for me because I was seeing the fruitfulness of years of elementary and youth Sunday Xchool, VBS, Youth Group and camps. In the evenings in Austria, some of the youth shared parts of their daily journals, and hearing the depth of their faith and enthusiasm for Christ was impressive. These students are getting ready to go off to college, and it brings great joy and excitement to know that they are going off firmly planted in Christ. They have an identity in Him and their faith is real and is their own. But all of you share some of the credit! Our youth ministry (and all of our ministries) would not be possible without your giving. The years and years of Bible teaching, encouragement, Jesus encounters, laughter, love and support offered to our students is a credit to you (and the Holy Spirit!). Thank you for helping to change the lives of God's children here and around the world!
This Sunday is pledge Sunday. You can bring your pledge card to church or submit your pledge online at www.napc.org/pledge. Thank you for continuing to support our ministries!
-Jessica Dart, Director of Youth Ministries
At first, I was a little hesitant to attend the retreat because I felt I was still relatively new to the young adult community and was not sure what to expect. Everyone kept telling me how much they enjoyed the past retreats, so I decided to give it a chance. I am very glad that I went because I was able to connect with others in the young adult community in a way that is not always possible during church service.
One thing I loved about the experience was the openness of everyone in attendance. It was so refreshing to be in a place where honesty and trust were the norm and where being vulnerable was acceptable. I felt peace and renewal after the retreat, but I also felt challenged to grow deeper in my relationship with God and with others. Overall, I was left with a greater feeling of koinonia after attending the retreat. - T.S.
I consider myself relatively new to the NAPC YA community. I’ve been going to the 5:45 service for about five months now. I had developed relationships with other young adults, but was wanting to get to know them more. So when I heard about the retreat, I was really excited because I saw this as an opportunity to fellowship and get to know the other young adults in the church. Needless to say, I really enjoyed my experience on the retreat! We all got to know each other better and have fun while doing it! I also got to experience Sunday school led by Jimmy Carter, what an amazing experience!
The theme of this retreat was reconciliation, and it really spoke to me. I enjoyed hearing others stories of reconciliation and how it made their faith stronger. God showed me that I chose the right community to fellowship and worship with at North Avenue. What a blessing this time of fellowship and relaxation was for me in this fast paced and stressful world. -Scott
As a newcomer to North Ave, the retreat was a great way for me to meet and share experiences with a lot of different people. The culture that the young adult group fosters instantly made me feel comfortable and willing to be vulnerable during our discussions. I am glad for the opportunity to grow and learn with others as well as participating in various activities so that I might meet and have fellowship with those who have similar interests as I. It was truly and enriching experience, and I am excited at the opportunities for furthering my faith at North Ave. -Leslie
Pasé un buen momento en el retiro. Poder de salir de la ciudad hacia un espacio relajado para compartir con nuestra comunidad nuestros pensamientos y experiencias con respecto a la reconciliación. Nos divertimos mucho jugando, pintando y conociéndonos más.
Fue un placer conocer al presidente Jimmy Carter y presenciar su servicio y reconocimiento de la guía de Dios durante su presidencia. Aprendimos sobre la importancia de dejar que Dios use nuestras vidas confiando en que él proveerá todas las herramientas que necesitamos para tener éxito y cumplir su propósito para nuestras vidas.
El retiro fue un recordatorio de la importancia de permanecer en comunión teniendo en cuenta la necesidad de todos apoyándonos mutuamente a lo largo de este camino hacia la reconciliación.
Debido a nuestra naturaleza humana puede parecer imposible reconciliarnos completamente con nuestros agresores o conflictos que podemos estar enfrentando, pero es a través del amor y la bondad abundante de Dios que nuestras heridas más profundas sanarán, permitiéndonos amarnos más allá de nuestras diferencias y experimentar el reino del cielo que abraza todas razas, supera las barreras idiomáticas, la debilidad humana, los ideales y los prejuicios.
I had a great time at the retreat. Being able to get out of town into a relaxed space to share with our community our thoughts and experiences regarding reconciliation. We had a lot of fun playing games, painting and getting to know each other.
It was nice to meet president Jimmy Carter and witness his service and acknowledgment of God’s guidance during his presidency. We learned about letting God use our lives trusting that he’ll provide all the tools we need to succeed and fulfill his purpose for our lives.
The retreat was a reminder of the importance to stay in communion being mindful of everybody’s need, supporting each other along this journey and path to reconciliation.
Due to our human nature, it might seem impossible to fully reconcile with our aggressors or conflicts we may be facing but, it’s through God’s abundant love and kindness that our deepest wounds will heal, allowing us to love each other beyond our differences and experience the kingdom of heaven that embraces all races, surpasses language barriers, human weakness, ideals and prejudice. -Obed
The young adult retreat is always one of the events I look forward to every year. It is intentional time when I can unplug from the day-to-day business and focus on being with God and with people in NAPC’s young adult community. I loved having the weekend to catch up with people whom I’ve known for years and getting the opportunities to make some new friends and welcome people into our community. I love that our community is so diverse and I really enjoyed getting diverse perspectives from people from different backgrounds who are all seeking to be faithful Christ-followers. There is something wonderful about the opportunity to just be present, connect, and have fun! -Gaan
Seeing your 7 and 9 year old grandchildren join into where God is at work in the city is the greatest joy! This summer my two grandchildren (live in the world of Douglasville suburbia) participated in Mission Plunge with Roxie and crew! Tears came to my eyes when my granddaughter was quoting Rom 12:12 on the way home on the third day and sharing each day with how they were making the text come alive.
Many moments of joy - so these are only a very few!
- My grandson, with great excitement, tells me that his new favorite animal is the Armadillo from the Christian nonprofit Animal Rescue group bringing many unique animal friends.
- Or...when his eyes light up telling about taking the handmade Chex Mix to the firefighters and hear of their heroism in fighting the fire on the I-85 "big hole."
- Now awaiting to hear where the African Elephant picture is being hung at Emory Midtown that the older kids created with children who had family in the hospital after an amazing tour of the hospital including new ICU area.
Words of gratitude for Roxie and her team seem inadequate for the sharing of Jesus' love and joy in a way that not only transformed these children but also for this "Nana!"
"Be joyful in hope. Be patient in tribulation. Be constant in Prayer." Rom 12:12