Growing And Going


Post By Shelby Moreland

As I was driving my typical route this morning, the Lord brought to my attention the beautiful trees. If you have ever had the opportunity to see the seasons change then you have seen how the colors of the trees change from a beautiful soft pink and white to vibrant red, orange, and yellow. The change of the colors signifies just that - a change in the season. Summer fades and fall erupts with colors.

Oh, the joy that I have because my Heavenly Father has allowed me to change colors over this past year, to turn over a new leaf, if you will. The Lord placed me in South Jersey with five people who have been instrumental to my growth and allowed me to find myself here.

When I think about all that the Lord has allowed me to experience, I am humbled that he gave me this opportunity to be uprooted and shaken up by the gospel. The Gospel, that word carries such weight for me now.

Gospel is a word that I grew up hearing but I didn’t get the reality of what it fully meant. The DNA (Disciple, nurture, accountability) book that we are currently going through as a church describes the gospel as, “shallow enough for a toddler to wade in, but yet so deep an elephant can swim.” At the beginning of this journey I was in the wading pool but now God has moved me over to the other end of the pool and now I am enjoying the freedom of swimming a little closer to the deep end.

God had to move me from my comfortable complacency and set me in New Jersey to not only speak the Good News to everyone who has not heard, but live out the gospel - even in the darkest of places.

God has shown me what the gospel looks like in the most real and radical of ways. I got the opportunity to share His Agape love to the girl who works in the strip club in order to feed her babies at home; to become friends with my 62 year old neighbor Bob, and his partner, and share with them how God has transformed my life, showing the love of Christ to children in our after school tutoring program who are in need of attention; even being able to show the love of Christ to a random girl at the gym.

What I am trying to say is that I did not take Matthew 4:19 seriously until this year. I thought, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men” was only for the super-spiritual and the church leaders. However, praise God that now I can take comfort in the fact that the purpose for my existence is to glorify my Lord, and show people around me the gospel. I have learned how to reorient my life around the gospel, which can be quite difficult at times, but is so very gratifying and humbling.

I have loved this journey, and as I go home to Tampa in late-November I will be returning as a transformed woman who desires to make my God known to my neighbors, friends, future co-workers, and anyone God puts in my path. I wish I could share all that I have learned over this past year

I used to be what I call a “squatting duck,” someone who sits (or squats- whatever you prefer) and does not take action. In church, I was never the first one to raise my hand, and I surely was not one to volunteer for things outside of my comfort zone. I avoided eye contact with the teacher at all costs. I did not feel as though I possessed leadership qualities, so I faded into the person that got comfortable in the same pew every Sunday and Wednesday, and tucked the call to leadership safely away.

However, let me assure you God did not allow me to get away with this for long. Our loving, merciful, all-knowing God wedged me out of my comfortable squatting duck position, and led me out of my complacency to the uncomfortable unknown of Atlantic City, where I came with nothing but the raw gospel and a willingness to be used to make a change in this part of the world for His name.

I have learned that the gospel doesn’t get packed up on Sunday and put on a shelf until Wednesday. The gospel gets up, goes to work with you, goes to the gym with you, goes to the grocery store with you. It’s the times when I don’t have patience with the kids at tutoring, or the times I am too prideful that I realize I am in need of the gospel every second, not just Sunday and Wednesday.

Praise Jesus, I have walked out from behind the shadows and have learned leadership skills over the past year, proving His word true: “Through Him we received both the generous gift of His life and the urgent task of passing it on to others who receive it by entering into obedient trust in Jesus. You are who you are through this gift and call of Jesus Christ!” (Romans 1:6)

For those who know me, have supported me, encouraged me and prayed for me, I cannot say thank you enough. Your prayers gave me the courage to go into Browns Park, the clubs, schools, homes of neighbors, and to plant seeds. Your encouragement has put the wind back in my sails many times. I am so grateful to all my friends and family for being my cheerleaders and rallying around me. Thank you!

I cannot help but to get emotional when thinking about all the love I have experienced while in New Jersey. This has been one of the craziest, most adventure-filled seasons of my life, and it will always be one that I cherish.

I would love to share all that I have learned over the past year, but there’s not enough room to fit everything on these pages. I started this journey to become a part of a missionary team, to plant a church in Atlantic City, but I am returning home with the knowledge that I am a missionary wherever I go.

Shelby - One Of The Sent

10376164_10152581013498825_6531643924491145154_n A missionary is a term we usually give to people who are going to a particular area to serve. We think of the couple who have left their job, family and home and goes to Africa. We think of the single adult who abandons the career for a calling to reach a particular people group.

We think of the person who went on a mission trip and now wants to go on the mission field. We see them usually every couple years or at our annual missions conference. We get their updates and have their magnets on our refrigerator so we don’t forget to pray for them. Yet, the reality is this isn't what a Missionary is all about.

The simple definition and description of a missionary is this… ONE SENT. Here is my question…Isn't that all of us who have been transformed by the Gospel? Isn't that what Jesus was calling us to when He gave us the EVERYDAY COMMISSION…”Therefore GO and MAKE disciples… Do we sometime think that calling was for “those people”?

Let me confess something. I hate to admit it but I have to. I DID. I used to think all of those things that I wrote above when it came to missionaries. I am not sure why I thought that but I did. It hasn't been till I have taken this journey to be a church planter that I have really realized this false belief and how ingrained it was in me.

This shift in thinking and really understanding my identity in Christ has been powerful not only in me but our church. This simple idea of sharing with our church family that you are a missionary is one of the essentials we continually teach and talk about. We want our folks to know that because of the gospel and what it means for us that we are MISSIONARIES who get to serve everyday. Not out of a duty but a simple desire to see His kingdom advance by making Him known. We do this when we serve.

This leads me to this point. Should I serve Jesus today? This isn’t the question we need to be asking. The truth is we will serve a king today…the only question for us is WHAT KING WILL YOU SERVE? This is what I love about Shelby Moreland.

She has embraced this mindset and it has been amazing to see her life transform over the past 15 months. She went from a young girl who was leaving her home, her family, her comfortable position to come and DO MISSIONS. Yet, she like all of us have come to the awakening that missions isn't something we do – its who we are.

We serve like Jesus. He said it best when He said that He came not to be served but to serve. He told those disciples that would one day “turn the world upside down” that he was ready to show them the “FULL EXTENT OF HIS LOVE”. How did He do this? He took the role of a servant and washed their feet. King Jesus washed those disciples feet and then told them to do as He had done to them.

I am excited that Shelby Moreland isn't leaving Grace Falls today. I am excited that we are SENDING Shelby out today. She is a missionary servant sent by God to make disciples. She is only the beginning. Our prayer isn't that we grow to be a big church. Our prayer is that we would be a MATURE group.

A group that raises men and women who are mature enough not to need another message or a meeting put on by us but a group of men and women who know how to feed themselves and are on mission to feed others. This is what I pray we have done with Shelby. Prepared her to BE what God has created her to be. A daughter loved by God and ready to show that love to others.

Will you join me in praying a prayer of thanksgiving and celebration of the Gospel today? A celebration of seeing the Gospel – the good news – at work today; a work that is not confined by a building, city or even a person. A work that is working and continues to work regardless of what you and I think or even do.

God is always at work. All we have to do is take the time to look around and there we will see the activity of God. I see it today as clear as I ever have. The brokenness of a young lady who weeps not because she leaves but because she knows the work isn't done yet.

Shelby, I comfort you with these words today…”Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will RETURN with songs of JOY, carrying the sheaves.” Psalms 126:6.

Worship Always

Worship, its a word we often hear in our church gatherings but do we really fully understand the depths of its meaning? Do we live out a life of worship? Do we apply the TRUTH from Romans when it says to offer ourselves a living sacrifice holy and pleasing to God? What does this is your spiritual act of worship truly mean? At our gathering Sunday morning, WORSHIP was written on a whiteboard and we were asked to list things that we felt exemplified WORSHIP.

Some of the things listed were: singing, praise, through our faith, walking on the beach talking with God. These are things that I would no doubt assume would reflect a worshipful heart. These actions are what I would do at a specific time. A time set apart just to worship my Lord.

But, then there was things like: how I think, my words and my actions. These things hit a chord in me that convicted my every action. How do I truly live? Do I live a life of WORSHIP to the Lord? And what truly is WORSHIP? Is it a time that I set aside to do for the Lord or be with the Lord or is it more?

We have been doing a “DNA” book in our small group that has been tackling one thing in our lives that we feel that God wants to change through the Gospel as it brings life and healing to it. This weeks topic was title, Worship and the Heart. It said:

When we look to something for significance, acceptance, approval, satisfaction, fulfillment, joy, security, that very act is worship. We are ascribing worth to something. We are saying, That thing is what will make me significant!

That person will make me acceptable. That person will give me security. That thing will save me! All life is worship. We are ALWAYS worshiping. Everything we do is an affirmation of who or what we are looking to for significance, security, approval, etc.

The reality is that your life is like a billboard you are advertising the thing that is most important to you. This is what I value! This is what saves me! That constant advertisement is worship. All of life is worship.

Another analogy is that our lives are like a garden hose that is always on. Worship is always flowing out of us like water out of that hose. The question is where are we going to point the hose? Something is going to get wet from our worship. But who or what is it? Its always on! There is no neutral on the worship gearshift of your life.

This drastically changed the way I see WORSHIP. Everything I do, I am worshiping something. The question is what am I worshiping in that moment?

I was reminded of a story in Luke 17 of the 10 lepers that Jesus passed going through Samaria and Galilee. They called out to HIM and asked that HE would have mercy on them. He told them to go the priests and show themselves. As the lepers began on their way they were healed. Only 1 leper turned back and praised God worshiping. He fell to his knees at Jesus feet thanking HIM.

In one moment all 10 were acknowledging Jesus. But then to the 9, their cleansed bodies were the new focus in that moment their WORSHIP was not for the Lord. Only 1 turned his focus back to God with a WORSHIPFUL heart. Not only was he now cleansed he was now made well.

This is a convicting story. How often have I cried out to the Lord to be cleansed and he so graciously and mercifully does and in my next breath that very thing that HE gave or cleansed now becomes my focus, my idol that I begin to WORSHIP.

What if we truly believed that we were always worshiping? How would we live differently? What changes would need to be made?

What Did He Say?

My grandfather was a quiet, reserved man. He had a great sense of humor and what made him funny was the fact that 90% of the time He was this quiet, reserved man but that 10% would get you. He was a cabinetmaker and all of us would spend days working with him in his shop. I can remember many days that we would work all day (10 hours) and maybe hear him speak 10 words. It was important on those days we were working, to make sure that when He gave the instructions that we listened well. He never liked to repeat himself. He would tell us that in the army you didn’t always get the benefit of hearing the instructions twice. So, I would try my best to hear him and more importantly understand what it was that he wanted accomplished.

This brings me to that line we heard in the story this week when the serpent spoke to Eve and said, “Did God really say…” This was an interesting but powerful question. It was used to plant a seed of doubt in the heart of Eve. Satan used an interesting and affective strategy. He got her to doubt what God said hoping the rest of the dominoes would eventually fall.

Gautama Buddha said, “Doubt everything…find your own light.” Go back and read that again. What do you think? Is doubt a good thing? Should we doubt everything, all the time? Can we find our own light and if we can, will it always keep shining?

I don’t know how you would answer that but for me, no way. Just when I think I see the light and think I am moving in the right direction, it gets dim or goes dark. Life is always moving and it’s always changing. I know my ability and my intellect aren’t enough to keep up.

We tend to treat doubt and faith as bitter enemies and total opposites. We think that the goal to understanding is to eliminate all doubt…I see this all the time when people approach things like the Bible, Jesus, His resurrection, the Gospel etc. They work hard to remove all doubt and not be guilty of being caught with a question like, “Did God really say…”

What if we chose to believe that faith and doubt weren’t really opposites? What if doubts were an indicator that you and your faith had a pulse? What if they revealed that you or me were alive and well and we were searching and exploring? Would that belief change anything? Would you be willing to trust more, be open more, see more, experience more?

You see Eve didn’t sin because she doubted alone – she didn’t trust either? What if she would have taken the doubts to God, the one who enjoyed walking with her and Adam everyday? After all God was her creator, her provider, and her protector, the source of all she had or could ever want or desire. What if she had taken those doubts to Him? You would think the One whose very words brought forth life could handle her questions.

So what is the lesson here for us? Is Doubt a good thing or bad thing? Consider this…

“Tell people there’s an invisible man in the sky who created the universe, and the vast majority will believe you. Tell them the paint is wet, and they have to touch it to be sure.” George Carlin

We are all people who on one hand have the capacity and desire to believe in what seems impossible yet, struggle to believe something as simple as a sign that says WET PAINT without touching it. Could it be that the desire we have to know is best met when we ask the painter? Could it be that God wants us to come to Him with ALL THINGS and not just some things?

So as we gather together each week and hear God’s Story, lets continue to bring our questions, doubts, desires to know more without worry or fear. Lets bring them with anticipation of getting to know the PAINTER so that we can enjoy watching Him work. We are better together so thank you for being apart of this amazing journey!

Take That Chocolate… Fruit Wins

A recent Nielsen poll (who is this guy) conducted a global snacking survey and you won’t believe the results! Participants were given 47 different choices and their snack of choice was fruit over chocolate! Last on the list was ice cream/gelato – my wife just screamed when she read that. Yet the study had 30k people in 60 countries and when ask to identify their snack of choice – fruit was the winner.

Jim led us this week and left us with a simple question to consider…What is at least one thing you could do to be more fruitful in your life? So what did you come up with? Does it really matter?

Well, consider this. So far in the story God has commanded His creation to be fruitful a couple times. It sounds like that is a priority? Why so important? Look at a list of synonyms for the word fruitful:

Productive Useful Worthwhile Helpful Beneficial Valuable Effective Rewarding

These were just a few of them but I think these words reveal a lot and explain why it was so important to God.

When I read that list, the word that comes to mind is purpose…God created you and me for a purpose. We have already seen in the story that of all that He created – mankind was the pinnacle. He formed us in HIS IMAGE. To be like Him is what that means.

So think about this for a minute. Lets look at the list again with just a simple addition…

God is productive God is useful God is worthwhile God is helpful God is beneficial God is valuable God is effective God is rewarding

How did they sound when you read it? Did it make it a difference or raise the level of importance for you? It should. Let me tell you why.

You were created in His Image and with His words He gave you purpose…BE FRUITFUL. So if I was writing a job description based on God’s command to be fruitful and our identity in Him, it would read like this:

BECAUSE God is productive…you are to productive to BECAUSE God is useful…you are useful to BECAUSE God is worthwhile…you are worthwhile to BECAUSE God is helpful…you are helpful to BECAUSE God is beneficial…you are beneficial to BECAUSE God is valuable…you are valuable to BECAUSE God is effective…you are effective to BECAUSE God is rewarding…you are rewarding to

So, my challenge to you this week is not TO DO anything. I challenge you TO BE what God created you to be. Take that self doubt – FRUIT WINS!!!!

Strip Church Training


Post by Cissy McNickle

Hello Everyone!!!

There is soooo much to share with you about the Loves Way Out AC and what God has been doing in my heart that I am not sure where to begin!

Over the last few visits to the clubs I have been left wanting more….. discouraged a little. I feel that over the last year we have built credibility, consistency, and good surface level relationships with the staff in the clubs we are reaching.

We have seen little connection outside of the clubs though and have only had a handful of opportunities to pray with the staff. We still haven’t gotten into 2 of the dressing rooms. Because I am not in contact with any other ministry like ours that is a year in, I feel like I don’t have a good barometer of where we should be. I don’t want to push too hard and jeopardize our hard work and what God has done, but I also don’t want to be timid and miss opportunities. So, all of this has been running through my mind the last few months.

Also, I haven’t been in prayer for the clubs like I need to be. I pray when I take our team out or when I take others interested in the ministry around to pray for the clubs, but on a daily, even weekly, basis, I am not praying. I know that this is the biggest component to my lack of vision and direction.

Well, like He always does, God has moved……again!!! We had the opportunity to go to a Strip Church Training in Edison, NJ. This training is apart of XXX Church which is in ministry to people in the porn/sex trade industry. I can’t even begin to tell you how amazing it was. I went into it pretty skeptical, and left blessed, empowered, and ready for tomorrow night’s visit!!!

First off, we met Allison who is from Clearwater and serves with Miss Barbara in Tampa!! (That was so encouraging for me to be reminded that I am loved, supported, and prayed for in Tampa!) We also met women from all over the US! It is so affirming to know that NO, I am not crazy, that God is calling many women from all over the United States to stand in the gap for those caught up in this lifestyle!!!!

The training was split into 3 parts: 1. How to Get Into the Club!?  2. You’re in, so now what!?  3. How to build and sustain your ministry. Each part was perfect for the team and I! We realized that its not a fluke that we are in these clubs. God is moving all over (LA, Vegas, AC, Tampa, etc) letting His girls enter where Satan is ruling!!

I also learned that in many ministries, older than mine, that it typically can take YEARS to move beyond the surface level. I learned that I had been wanting to take the conversation to Jesus so badly, I was missing opportunities to go deeper with a friendship, to go to the deep places in the these girls’ lives and connect as women. I know God will allow me the opportunity to speak HIS Truth into their lives as they grow in deeper trust with me. AAAHHHHHH, I am crying again!!! :)

I just love this ministry and these girls sooooo much that I want to see God redeem and restore them! I know now, that day will come it just may take a little bit more than a year. :) I was so influenced by the culture I was raised in that said real victory is number of people saved only! And yes! that is a victory but the quote that stuck with me after the training was,  ” victory is walking into hell to reach His children!” time and time again no matter how long it takes! We are doing that!!!

It was also said that to go into these clubs with any expectation of the staff, is to exploit them further. We go to express Christ’s Love with no expectations & no agenda for them to respond or come to church! If that happens, FANTASTIC! but we are not deterred if it doesn’t!!

Thank you sooo much for being a part of this with me. Your support means more than you know!!!

Below is a blog entry from Craig Gross who started XXX Church and Strip Church! It has encouraged my team and I so much and I know it will encourage you as well.

"When people are excited or passionate about something, they usually want to share it with their friends! I want to tell you about one of the ministries here at Fireproof. StripChurch was an idea birthed in 2008 out of a great need to have outreach teams on the ground to visit various strip clubs in major cities around the world. We originally launched with a single team in Las Vegas, Nevada; since then StripChurch has had tremendous God-growth and is currently represented in 4 countries, 30 states and 72 cities! (Loves Way Out AC is soon to be one of these!!)

Recently, two former strippers (Jaime and Meli) attended a StripChurch Training together. While at this training, Meli met and connected with one of our StripChurch speakers, Lisa from Arizona. It turns out that Lisa had been reaching out to a club in Phoenix that Meli had worked at for 10 years. Meli wore a silver bracelet to the training with the verse John 8:12 engraved in it. This was the very bracelet that Meli received from Lisa and her team from their outreach on Easter. Meli found the bracelet the NIGHT before the conference and put it on for the first time.

This was not a coincidence, but God’s ultimate workings! Both Meli and Jaime are now going back into the clubs doing ministry. A seed that was planted years ago has now grown and is planting more seeds in the lives of women just like them. Check out some of the amazing transformations of those doing StripChurch ministry.”

Pray with me that one day, God would allow a girl we are praying for, to be redeemed and restored, and then turn around to reach back!!!! Amazing! Thank you God for calling and equipping your children for work you have already prepared for us to do!! You are good.

Remember to pray for us tomorrow night as we go out!