Paul Earl Sheppard is the founding pastor of the thriving Church of God congregation in Fremont, California, Destiny Christian Fellowship. Sheppard is an author, as well as the speaker for the radio and online broadcast Destined for Victory.
His testimony of reclamation of what hell had once stolen from his life and church is powerful and poignant.
He and his wife Meredith were married in 1982 and are the proud parents of two adult children, Alicia and Aaron.
Imagine getting through your busy day without hands or legs. Picture your life without the ability to walk, care for your basic needs, or even embrace those you love. Meet Nicholas Vujicic.
Without any medical explanation or warning, Nick was born in 1982 in Melbourne, Australia, without arms and legs. Three sonograms failed to reveal complications. And yet, the Vujicic family was destined to cope with both the challenge and blessing of raising a son who refused to allow his physical condition to limit his lifestyle.
The early days were difficult. Throughout his childhood, Nick not only dealt with the typical challenges of school and adolescence, but he also struggled with depression and loneliness. Nick constantly wondered why he was different than all the other kids. He questioned the purpose of life, or even if he had a purpose.
According to Nick, the victory over his struggles, as well as his strength and passion for life today, can be credited to his faith in God. His family, friends, and the many people he has encountered along the journey have inspired him to carry on, as well.
Since age nineteen, Nick has traveled around the world, sharing his story with millions, speaking to a wide range of diverse groups, such as students, teachers, young people, business professionals, and church congregations of all sizes. Today this dynamic young evangelist has accomplished more than most people achieve in a lifetime. He’s an author, musician, actor, with hobbies that include fishing, painting, and swimming. In 2007, Nick made the long journey from Australia to southern California, where he is now the president of the international nonprofit ministry Life Without Limbs, which was established in 2005.
According to Nick, “If God can use a man without arms and legs to be his hands and feet, then he will certainly use any willing heart!
Sarah Scharbrough McLaughlin is a worship leader, songwriter, and blogger. Through her artistic writing, she articulates mountain and valley experiences of life’s journeys with depth, sincerity, emotion, and humor.
Using her classical and jazz background, she creates a soulful and eclectic sound. Her songs have taken her around the world to jazz festivals, colleges, churches, theaters, conferences, among other places, and her voice can be heard on hundreds of radio/studio projects. Sarah has released five albums of original music; most recently, Sit with Me, which she co-produced with her brother-in-law, Jon McLaughlin.
Sarah is married to her best friend, college sweetheart, and drummer, Jeff McLaughlin. Building on a long legacy of music in their families, she and Jeff continue a foundation of worship, music, and joy in their own home and as worship leaders at their home congregation. You can connect with Sarah online at www.sarahtunes.com. Sarah and Jeff are both graduates of Anderson University and have five precious children under eight years old: Soren, Joseph, Ana, Willow, and Jane. They live in Noblesville, Indiana.
Allan Fuller is thankful for stumbling into the church across the street from the house where he grew up: First Church of God in Edmonton, Canada.
In college, he ended up shifting from an engineering pursuit to a accepting a call into full-time ministry. After graduating from Anderson University School of Theology, Allan enjoyed serving as an associate pastor at Vineyard Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio, for a number of years. Eventually he, along with his wife, Tami, and their three children, headed west to pastor Mountain Park Community Church in Phoenix, Arizona, where he has served for the past eleven years.
Danielle Strickland serves as an officer in the Salvation Army. She loves Jesus…and she loves people. She especially loves the more fragile in communities around the world.
Over the years, this love has led her to back alleys and late night streets to partner with Jesus in rescuing those caught up in drugs, homelessness, prostitution, and despair. It has also led her to the halls of government and corridors of commercial power to see laws changed and practices transformed so people aren’t trafficked and children aren’t enslaved.
The author of multiple books, including A Beautiful Mess: How God Recreates Our Lives and Boundless: Living Life in Overflow, Danielle has sought to cultivate authentic Christian community in deprived neighborhoods on the way to loving the last, the lost, and the least into God’s kingdom. Reclaimed from the clutches of the enemy, generational addiction, and violence, she and her husband are bringing up their three boys in the fear and friendship of the Lord.
Jim originally dreamed of a career in politics and found himself representing northwest Seattle in the Washington State House of Representatives in the early 1980s. But ultimately, it was Christian ministry that became his passion.
He served in pastoral ministry in both the Pacific Northwest and the Midwest. From 1991 through 2013, he served as senior pastor at Madison Park Church of God in Anderson, Indiana. In August 2013, he became the General Director of Church of God Ministries. An articulate preacher, teacher, and motivational speaker, Jim has also anchored the ViewPoint broadcast since 1996. Helping people see Jesus at work in their world has become his life’s work; engaging the world for heaven’s sake has become his life’s calling.
Pastor Geremy has served as an associate and now lead pastor for over sixteen years at the Center of Hope (First Church of God) in Inglewood, California. Known for his approachable demeanor and commonsense approach to kingdom living, he has the unique ability to connect with individuals from all walks of life.
Pastor Geremy’s particular blend of humor, inspiration, and sound biblical grounding has opened doors for him to be a guest facilitator and sought-after speaker for churches, conferences, and conventions, both nationally and internationally. Articulate, passionate, and driven, Geremy is one of the emerging voices proclaiming God’s desire to establish the kingdom in the marketplace.
Married to Adrienne Dixon, they have the joy of parenting four wonderful children: Kennedy, Micah, Roman, and Jordyn.
With her unique brand of musical comedy and blend of sass, edge, and slightly offbeat takes on all things female, audiences at her comedy concert tours, viewers of her TV appearances, and the YouTube masses would say she just says what everyone is thinking, but won’t say out loud.
Anita has been featured in the New York Times, Reader’s Digest, Women’s Day, and the Washington Post. She was featured on morning and late-night entertainment and news programs, resulting in her becoming a comedy contributor for Good Morning America.
Anita was with us in Oklahoma City in 2015, and we are thrilled to have her back as part of our 2017 leadership team! Anita Renfroe is wife to John, and mother to three children (but who cares about them?!)—and five grandbabies! They reside in suburban Atlanta.
Born and raised in Moscow, Idaho, George Skramstad grew up in a second-generation Church of God family where the church became his second family. He began playing the piano at the age of 3 and the violin at 11.
A graduate of the University of Idaho and Temple University, he has served congregations in New Jersey, Ohio, Arizona, Oklahoma, and Kansas through a long and continuingly effective and influential ministry vocation.
Today, George serves as worship and music arts pastor at Central Community Church in Wichita, Kansas. He also serves on the ministry board of the spiritual formation expression called Renovaré; over the past twenty-three years, he has led worship for over a hundred of their regional conferences. He and his wife Pat have one son, Maxwell, and a daughter-in-law, Saki, who live in Edmond, Oklahoma.
Ann Smith was born and raised in Alabama—the youngest of five children. A graduate of Anderson University and Scarritt College, she married Nathan in 1950 and served twenty-six years in Japan and South Korea.
After returning to the United States, she served five years on the staff of the Missionary Board of the Church of God and five years as director of church relations for Anderson University.
Ann Smith was born and raised in Alabama—the youngest of five children. A graduate of Anderson University and Scarritt College, she married Nathan in 1950 and served twenty-six years in Japan and South Korea. After returning to the United States, she served five years on the staff of the Missionary Board of the Church of God and five years as director of church relations for Anderson University.
Across the Church of God—more accurately, across Christendom—the names of Bill and Gloria Gaither have become synonymous with the best of gospel music. Nowhere is this influence more evident than the thirty-plus year history of the Gaither Vocal Band. The list of men who have comprised the Gaither Vocal Band over the years reads like a “Who’s-Who” among gospel music’s best-loved voices—Larnelle Harris, Gary McSpadden, Steve Green, Michael English, Guy Penrod, David Phelps, Mark Lowry, and many more.
Today the roster includes five power-packed voices, including Bill Gaither, Wes Hampton, Todd Suttles, Adam Crabb, and Reggie Smith. Tight harmonies, incredibly strong voices, and a humble spirit characterize the Grammy Award-winning group, which regularly tops Christian music charts. These men are not only gifted artists but also, more importantly, men of authentic faith! No matter what your personal preference is in music, the Gaither Vocal Band’s eclectic style offers something for everyone. Don’t miss them in Wichita!