“To God be the glory; great things He hath done.”
The blind, American hymn writer Fanny Crosby (1820-1915) is thought to have penned these words around 1870, the year her hymn To God Be the Glory was first published in Britain. But the hymn wasn’t widely sung in the United States until about 80 years later, after it was introduced at a Billy Graham crusade in Nashville, Tennessee, in the 1950s.
This well-loved hymn carries a message that’s been woven into the work of Stonecroft since our founding in 1938. As we mark our 80th Anniversary, we marvel at what God has done through this ministry over the decades and look forward to what He has ahead. Today, we pause to celebrate some recent reflections of God’s glory through Stonecroft volunteers and staff.
Making Him known
Through our flagship ministry of Women’s Connection, more than 17,500 first-time guests have attended outreach events so far this program year, notes Cheryl Lee Davis, Vice President of Women’s Connection. “We’re seeing an increasing, amazing number of women being exposed to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, some for the first time,” she says. “This shows we’re a missionary community, and we’re taking our responsibility seriously. It’s about reflecting God’s glory … and I believe God is glorified when we make Him known.”
We’ve also seen significant growth in the number of Stonecroft Bible Studies (SBS) associated with Women’s Connections. “This means a first-time guest has a place to connect on a more intimate level with other women and to discover the Lord through His Word,” Cheryl says. “He’s glorified through Stonecroft women who are intentional about having Bible studies in their homes, in prisons, in restaurants, or wherever God leads.”
Meanwhile, Stonecroft Regional Administrators and our other Women’s Connection leaders reflect God’s glory through motivating and training of Stonecroft women – “affirming the call to keep the Gospel at the forefront,” Cheryl says. This year leaders across the nation are organizing special 80th Anniversary Vision Events that include training in prayer and evangelism. Your Story, an evangelism training tool developed by our Outreach Department, will be presented at many of these gatherings.
A sense of community
Training has also been an integral part of our Stonecroft hubs, yet another area where Stonecroft women recently have seen God glorified. Currently, we have 26 hubs, more than triple the number we counted a year ago, according to Sarah LeBlanc, Director of Field Ministries.
Primarily led by young women, these hubs are local organizations of Christian women of all ages who together develop in their knowledge of God and learn to share the Gospel in their community. Besides training, women in the hubs gather for prayer, outreach planning, and community building.
“The biggest thing that attracts women to the hubs is the sense of community they find there,” Sarah says. “It’s a place they can step into the calling God has on their lives, a call many of them haven’t found an outlet for yet,” says Sarah. “They’re really excited about doing new outreaches. They feel they’re involved in something innovative and creative. And they’re enjoying building relationships with each other and their DFD (Divisional Field Director).”
A movement of God
As the hubs gain momentum, Sarah and the DFDs have sensed a movement of God across their regions. “Everyone has seen doors open that the only explanation (for) is Jesus,” Sarah says. “We’re seeing young, diverse women catching a vision for the hubs and it’s been exciting to walk through this together.”
She adds: “When God starts opening doors and moving on the hearts of women as we’re seeing Him do, it really has nothing to do with our skills. It’s the Holy Spirit calling people.”
Nontraditional outreaches such as Story Marks and Detox – find your balance are drawing more and more women – from all walks of life – to hear the Gospel message. Follow-up small groups provide them opportunities to further explore a relationship with Jesus.
Stonecroft’s Outreach staff has also trained some of our international partners in how to conduct outreaches like Detox, and they, in turn, have trained local volunteers, says Doris Thompson, Vice President of Outreach. Our partners in Kenya soon will host a Stonecroft Detox.
“We’re really excited about what God is doing through our international partners!” Doris says.
Beyond Detox, our partners in Kenya are also planning outreaches using SBS in Kenya, neighboring Uganda, and Rwanda. One Kenyan partner also hopes to train 1,000 local Christians leaders to share the Gospel, using SBS and Stonecroft Life Publications.
Additionally, Stonecroft’s Outreach staff recently conducted The Story of Now evangelism training in several countries, and volunteers in Europe are translating this resource into French. They plan to use it at a training conference in May. “Hundreds of French-speaking women will attend and learn how to share the story of what God is doing in their lives today,” Doris notes.
Depending on God
On the home front, Military volunteers have seen a number of women begin a relationship with Jesus through Pretty Hurts and Story Marks in recent months. These volunteers have also shared the Gospel and ministered to military families through recent impromptu outreaches such as a Christmas tea for military wives and a dinner for airmen in training. And in March our National Military Team will promote Stonecroft Military among chaplains in training and their spouses.
From our Military ministry to our hubs to our Women’s Connections Groups, God’s glory is being reflected through the nearly 2,000 women who began a relationship with Jesus so far this program year through Stonecroft outreaches in the U.S. All of those outreaches were bathed in prayer, Cheryl points out.
“I believe God is glorified through Stonecroft’s commitment to prayer,” Cheryl adds. “We’re saying to Him, ‘You reign. We’re entrusting this work to You. We’re depending on You, just like our founders did many years ago.’”