30729994_10214083682858590_2712967614946082816_nAs soon as we walked into Victorious Life Christian Church (VLCC) I began to reminisce. Nearly 10 years ago my father had walked me down the very aisle of this sanctuary. My husband attended VLCC for over 15 years and played keyboards on the worship team. It felt good to be “home” and to be in the company of so many of God’s people we hadn’t seen in some time.  There were so many joyful faces, hugs and even a few “holy kisses”.

The service began at 10 am, and we were excited that Pastor Brian Barker was leading worship. This man was the one God had chosen to marry my husband and I. Pastor Brian may not know the great impact he’s had on us, especially my husband in the way of worship and teaching. He has touched countless others through his humility and genuine love for people. This came shining through the worship today even stronger than I remember. The fruit of the spirit was evidenced through every song sung, every word shared from the platform and every personal conversation had. The church building looked the same (other than a few cosmetics), and many aspects of the service had not changed … but spiritually this church continues to grow and is far from stagnant.

Colleen Rhodes, the church secretary (and so much more!), was in seated in front of us. She had a young boy with her who was shaking maracas to the music. His mom was sitting nearby. When Colleen went up to share the church announcements, she brought him up with her to “help her”.   The children who come to VLCC not only have great teaching at Sunday school, they have people like Colleen who have such an amazingly overabundance of love for God’s young ones.  As Colleen prayed and dismissed the kids for children’s church, I knew she meant every single word.   The perfect scripture for this scene would be Matthew 19:14 … “let the little children come to me”.

This church is unique in that there is a team of pastors who alternate responsibilities while all holding professional jobs outside of the church. The preaching and teaching ministry of Victorious Life is shared by the eldership team and able members of the deaconate, as well as respected guest ministers. Today, Pastor Brian was preaching a message entitled, “God Loves a Cheerful Giver”, based on 2 Corinthians 9:6-15. I am confident that this was the BEST message I have ever heard on what giving really means. He began by making these 3 points – Giving is a matter of the heart, a matter of justice and a matter of the gospel. It’s easy to give out of a wealth situation, but it takes more faith to give out of a poor / needful situation. When we are worried, fearful or cynical, we tend to give sparingly. When we are joyful and thankful, we sow more generously. The Gospel of Christ molds and shapes our hearts to be the cheerful givers we are called to be. God is the TRUE cheerful giver. Pastor Brian asked, “What are you investing in?” Let’s examine our hearts and seek the Biblical reasons for cheerful giving. He closed in prayer, asking God to help us all live a generous life to better serve God. He prayed specifically for JOY OF THE LORD, which is key for giving cheerfully.

VLCC does so much for the community because they understand the true meaning of cheerful giving. Arise and Build Community Ministries, a not-for-profit charitable corporation, was established to serve as the local missions arm of the church. Provisions Food Pantry serves thousands of households in the City of Troy and has been in operation for almost 20 years. HIS TABLE Community Meal (Wednesdays, 4-6pm), hosted by Pastor Joe and Donna Flynn and their expert team of chefs and servers, regularly attracts about 100 people each week for a homemade dinner and dessert, prayer, fellowship and gospel encouragement. His Table has been offering this hospitality for nearly 30 years! Women of Valor offers free and confidential help to women in domestic violence situations. Young Women of Valor, a life skills and fellowship for girls ages 5-17, meets twice monthly (Tuesdays, 6:30-8:30pm). The Alight Care Center provides educational and support services including free pregnancy tests, childbirth classes, counseling, educational services and a 24/7 crisis pregnancy hotline.   Their new mobile ultrasound van is now out on the street of our communities, offering free ultrasounds. VLCC also holds Celebrate Recovery meetings on Thursday evenings, 6:30pm-8:30pm in the church fellowship hall. CR is a Christ centered healing ministry where adults can find freedom from their hurts, hang-ups and habits.

Their motto is: “Victorious Life. Loving God. Loving People. Making a Difference.”

VLCC truly is making a difference … sowing generously and reaping an amazing harvest, all for God’s glory!

Church Website –  www.vlcctroy.org

By Donna Hansen Munafo

Below:  Joe Munafo, Donna Munafo and Pastor Brian Barker
Wedding Date:  September 27, 2008