Monthly Archives: October 2020

Sisters Speak Godly Truth in a New Unfiltered Television Show

Two pairs of sisters are not holding anything back on their TV show called Outspoken: A Sisterhood of Faith! Ann Barrovecchio, Jeanne Hester, Brittany Hollis, and Lauren Smack are on a mission to let the world know about Jesus through connective and candid conversations with women all over the world.

The Outspoken hosts speak about real, thought-provoking topics. From motherhood, friendship, comparison, politics, and everything in between, these girls talk about the things that MATTER. Every season is full of laughter, stories, meaningful discussions, recipes, and sharing favorite products, tips, and tricks that make life a bit simpler and more enjoyable!

The producers of Outspoken have lined up amazing guests to join the conversation. Recently, the Outspoken girls interviewed Star Parker, Conservative Commentator, and Founder of UrbanCURE. In this particular episode, Star encourages viewers and listeners to vote Christian values and consider the facts before going into the 2020 Presidential Election voting booth. Other guests on the show include Bevelyn Beaty and Edmee Chavannes, Conservative Pro-Life advocates, and Instagram phenoms.

Outspoken is a must-watch for any woman looking for unfiltered, uplifting conversation. So, join the Sisterhood! Outspoken is currently in Season 2. New episodes of Outspoken debut on www.FISM.tv/outspoken every Monday at 8pm ET. (Outspoken also airs on The Dove TV on the United States West Coast and on Shine TV in New Zealand.)

Ann Barrovecchio, Jeanne Hester, Brittany Hollis, and Lauren Smack are available for interviews. For media inquiries, please contact us at outspoken@fism.tv. To learn more about the show, check out the pages linked below.

Trailer: https://youtu.be/HemUdVRjep4

Website: www.FISM.tv/outspoken

Instagram: www.instagram.com/outspoken.tv

Youtube: https://rb.gy/9rpghl

ABOUT OUTSPOKEN: Outspoken hosts Jeanne Hester, Ann Barrovecchio, Lauren Smack, and Brittany Hollis believe that motherhood and sisterhood are best when done together! So, Outspoken was born. Outspoken is a television show and podcast established in 2019 out of a desire to speak Godly truth in love in order to unite women and mothers into a sisterhood of faith. Further, Outspoken aims to normalize and encourage each other throughout the immense joys and difficulties of motherhood. Stay tuned for more!

ABOUT FiSM.TV: FiSM.TV is a Streaming Television Network of new, edgy and informative Christian television programming. In a cable cutting world, we intend to lead the way by providing biblically sound TV content for viewers of all ages. At FISM TV we are striving to expose Jesus for who He is, what He means and what He can do.

FISM TV network influences culture with our 24/7 broadcast of unique Christian television programming. Tune in anytime on Roku and Amazon FireTV.

https://youtu.be/HemUdVRjep4

Virtual Open Mic Event to Help Two Michigan Lifers Obtain Justice After Being Wrongfully Incarcerated for More Than 34 Years

FAITH NEWSWIRE – Saginaw, MI: On Sunday, November 1 at 7pm EST, A Life for A Life Urban Initiative will host a virtual open mic event titled “Poetic Justice” in an effort to use artistic mediums to spotlight the broad scope and impact of police brutality and misconduct against minorities across the nation. In addition, the event will lend special attention to the disturbing narratives of inmates Robert T. Hinds and Alphonso Clark. Jr., both of whom are currently serving life sentences at the Chippewa Correctional Facility in Kincheloe, MI and who have applications pending with the Wayne County Conviction Integrity Unit that allege police misconduct as the cause of their wrongful convictions.

Hinds was charged with first-degree premeditated murder and possession of a felony firearm at the age of 17. He was convicted of both charges and sentenced to life in prison without parole. After maintaining his innocence for years (specifically that he had no involvement with the crimes he was convicted of) and with the assistance of supporters, Hinds discovered a miscellaneous case file maintained by the Detroit Police Department through a FOIA request. This case file contained exculpatory evidence that was wrongfully withheld from his state-appointed defense attorney during his trial in 2001. Within this miscellaneous case file, Hinds discovered the existence of an overwhelming amount of evidence supporting his claims of actual innocence including witness statements, DNA evidence, and usable fingerprints.

After losing over 19 years of his life in prison while pursuing every investigative lead to help gather enough evidence to prove his innocence, in April 2020, Hinds was finally able to file an exoneration application with the Wayne County Conviction Integrity Unit (CIU). Although it has been over six months since his application was accepted, and despite the vast amount of evidence from the Detroit Police Departments’ miscellaneous file supporting his claim of actual innocence, according to the CIU, there has still been no work done on his case to date. Clark was wrongfully convicted of first-degree murder in 2005 with no forensic evidence to support the conviction and sentenced to life in prison. He is also awaiting news of his freedom from the Wayne County CIU. Together, both men have served more than 34 years in prison.

Concerned family and friends of Hinds have started a petition on his behalf to urge the Wayne County CIU to expedite the investigation of his exoneration application as a result of the effects of COVID-19 in the MDOC and the high risk of his death if he becomes infected due to his extensive health issues. Hinds has a history of asthma, high blood pressure, thyroid issues, seizure disorder, and an irregular heartbeat. Supporters can sign the petition at www.change.org/freeroberthinds and financial donations to help support his exoneration process can be made at www.gofundme.com/freeroberthinds.

Organizers of the open mic event say they hope that this event, in addition to their previous community town halls highlighting Hinds’ and Clarks’ cases and the urgent need for prison reform in Michigan, will help encourage other social justice advocates to join alongside them in the fight for seeking exoneration for Hinds and Clark. In addition, organizers say that they are hoping that both men will receive relief soon and that their efforts will also bring hope to other wrongfully incarcerated inmates like them.

The featured artist for the open mic night is Collective Verite, a five-person spoken word group from Detroit. Other special guests include Christine A. Pagac, Assistant Defender, Michigan State Appellate Defender Office in Detroit; Ndidi Amadi, J.D., founder of Justice Warriors Academy, Ontario, California; Bryon Poindexter, author and CEO of My Kingdom Priority Clothing Line in Saginaw; Trashina Conner, dancer and teacher at Def Jam Dance Workshop, Brooklyn, NY; Olivia Pribich, Law Student at the University of Michigan Innocence Clinic; Dima Atiya, Law Student at the University of Michigan Innocence Clinic; and Kevin Harrington, exoneree and founder of Justice Group Consulting LLC.

More information about Hinds’ exoneration journey and community service work over the last decade can be found at www.growingboys2men.blogspot.com. Hinds can also be contacted directly at www.jpay.com using the inmate ID 410196.

A Life for A Life Urban Initiative is a grassroots organization founded in Michigan in 2013 to advocate for social justice. The open mic event will be streamed via Facebook Live on A Life for a Life Urban Initiative Facebook page at www.facebook.com/growingboys2men.

Contact information
Erinna McKissick
alalurbaninitiative@gmail.com
989.493.9171

For Christian women contemplating abortion, this woman might make you think twice

FAITH NEWS SERVICE – As abortion is affecting more and more women around the world, the story that is never told is the after effects. We hear so much about women’s rights and why women have the right to do with their bodies what they want, but there is a sinister side to abortion that rarely gets told.

Sharon McFee is well versed to write on the subject of abortion. While many know the theory of abortion, as there is so much information that circulates on the Internet, Sharon experienced her own abortion in her late teens.

As she opened up on her abortion experience, she began to notice that many of the women in her church had also had abortions, stating that she believes “one in four” of them had also experienced this devastating procedure.

“By the time I recognized this trend, I had already written and self-published my first book, Reconciled From Abortion’s Chains,” she told me, “which is a very honest account of my life and the choice I made within days of finding out I was pregnant.

“I had bought into the lie that this was my body and my life and what I did with it was only my concern. I also relate how, after marrying and settling down and having my own family, that God had a miracle in store for me because He loved me, saw me, knew me and heard my heart.

“I realized that abortion is such a big topic, affecting almost all peoples’ lives in one way or another, and I had a story to tell of God’s grace and forgiveness and love.”

While Sharon’s second book, Christians Contemplating Abortion? sounds like a contradiction in terms, she told me that she felt God reveal to her that there were many unmarried Christian women who had found themselves in the predicament of expecting a baby after sleeping with their boyfriend.

“Her next decision is, will she continue the pregnancy and keep the baby and everyone will find out, or will she opt for the quick-fix solution to save face?” she said. “Sad to say, I think this is a much bigger issue than the Christian world realizes. The pastor came up to me one day after the church service and prophesied that I was to write another book and my husband Peter said he could see 21 small chapters.

“In the middle of that night, I woke up and it was highlighted to me how I had felt at the time when I was 18 years old: so very young, single, scared and pregnant and all the thoughts that were running through my head. I genuinely believed that falling pregnant when I was single could not possibly happen to me. I was fearful of being rejected by everyone. I had been the goody-two-shoes, compliant child growing up and I especially dreaded my father’s would-be reaction. I didn’t have a clue how I would be able to provide for myself and a baby.”

Like so many women, Sharon felt alone and isolated and so abortion seemed like the right option – for that time of her life. However, as many women who have had abortions come to realize, it is a decision that stays with them for the rest of their lives.

“I never even gave one thought of the life of the unborn child I carried and the future that he or she may have had,” Sharon continued. “The bite-size chapters in the book begin with a scripture where I defend life and use my voice on printed paper as a voice for the voiceless, for those who cannot speak for themselves. The purpose of this book is to clear all the confusion from the mind of the reader and to give them another path to choose.

“Both my books need to get into the hands of young women, even high schoolers, before there is any possibility of them finding themselves in this situation because somewhere along their journey, it is decided beforehand by them what they would do: they would control their own future and they would take matters into their own hands.

“We live in a microwave world, where everything comes to us quick and easy and conveniently and thereby a lot of Christians haven’t developed the characteristics of long-suffering, perseverance and enduring, which the Bible talks about. These are the traits that come with maturity. Unfortunately, organizations like Planned Parenthood, who propose to be there in every way to provide abortion care, are offering the quick fix by ending a child’s life, implying that everything will be resolved then and there. But the truth is that, yes, outwardly, there will now be no evidence of a forthcoming baby, but inwardly, the soul weeps. The soul remembers. The soul grieves. The soul regrets. And to which there can be no denial.

“I have heard of reports of mental distress following an abortion, even to the point of suicide for some, often increased alcohol and drug use, and then there’s the possibility of nightmares, post-natal depression after having a baby, and so on. The ongoing after-effects of a bomb going off. The saddest part is that the instigator of the woman having the abortion is usually the woman herself, ultimately, and she is unknowingly causing grievous bodily harm to herself and her unborn child.

“It goes completely against the grain of our deep inner conviction that life must be saved at all costs. It’s double-minded and it’s a lie. For a woman who believes she’s a Christian and then to seriously consider having an abortion is an oxymoron.”

The argument among many women is that the pregnancy was caused by rape, a one-night stand, or even a short-term relationship. Or the woman is not in a financial position to be able to look after the child. However, one only needs to talk to adoption agencies to see how many couples are crying out for a child. That woman, while she feels helpless in that moment, actually has options available.

In addition, some women feel as though if the baby’s life is ended that they will not have the guilt of wondering where their child is and who is looking after them, but as Sharon has explained, the ongoing implications stay with the mother for life.

What about Christian women? Are there grounds for Christian women to consider abortion when the baby is conceived under difficult circumstances?

“I don’t believe there are any grounds for a Christian woman to consider an abortion, not even if she was raped,” says Sharon. “God is the Author of life and life is sacred and we must not be like our own god in our lives. The unborn baby, once on the way, has a right to be born alive, full-term, because this little one is also precious in His sight. If the Christian woman could absolutely not be able to care for the child due to psychological reasons, or due to financial inability, then adoption is a wonderful alternative, where the child will be well loved and valued.

“I would say to the young Christian woman who may consider abortion, should she find herself in an unplanned pregnancy, please read my book Christians Contemplating Abortion? It’s a quick read, but I encourage you to read it before making your final decision.

“Listen to the older Christian women who have gone before you and to the wisdom God has placed inside them so there will be no regrets for the rest of your life. Learn from their mistakes and pain.”

Sharon hasn’t just written two books on abortion; she is actively involved in helping women to this day. She is involved with Yahweh House, a place on Australia’s Gold Coast which has a vision to see a safe home for babies and pregnant women where women would be supported throughout their pregnancy and after care. A large team of people from all different backgrounds and churches have got behind the vision, which provides an alternative to abortion.

While Sharon is able to help women who are able to get to Yahweh House, her books allow her to reach women all over this world.

“My heart goes out to Christian women who do not know where to turn when they first discover a positive pregnancy test result,” she said. “I cannot emphasize enough the importance of letting a significant, supportive person know what is happening and to be a listening, yet non-judgmental sounding board at this very vulnerable time. Perhaps a grandmother who is close to her, or an aunt, her mother or sister or a friend… someone who loves this woman and will give strong, clear advice, particularly from the Word of God.

“And, if there isn’t a significant person, look to the Bible or contact pastoral care at church, or perhaps ring a pregnancy helpline like Right to Life in Australia, Priceless Life in Brisbane, or SpeakHope.net in the USA. It can be a very confusing time, with many thoughts running through her head. It is never God’s will to harm, but to bless.

For any woman contemplating abortion, I would like to ask her: what is your perception of life? Our perception is the way in which something is regarded, understood, or interpreted. And I put to you John 10:10 (NKJV): “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”

Sharon’s remarkable books, Christians Contemplating Abortion? and Reconciled from Abortion’s Chains, are now available globally.

The American missionary in Australia and his struggle with bipolar disorder

FAITH NEWS SERVICE – Steve Swartz is an American who left the comforts and familiarity of small-town Ohio to answer the call of God into missionary work. Ending up halfway around the world, Steve and his wife, Bev, landed in Alice Springs, which is about as remote as you can get in Australia’s rugged outback.

His new book, Broken Pot, is a brilliant recount of their remarkable lives.

The call to work as a Bible translator took Steve to the middle of Australia, where he worked translating the Bible for the Warlpiri Aboriginal people of Central Australia as a missionary with Wycliffe Bible Translators.

However, that is just half the story. This missionary has achieved all he has whilst battling daily with bipolar disorder. “I was misdiagnosed from 1980 to about 2017 as suffering from ‘mere’ depression,” Steve told me.  “For many of those years and even after my actual suicide attempt in 1986, I was not placed on a regimen of anti-depressants, but rather, I had to rely on various psychological ‘talking and cognitive’ therapies and the exercise of the spiritual disciplines of Bible reading, meditation, prayer and interpersonal interactions with other to try to maintain some level of sanity, often without much success.

“From 2000 until 2017 and for various periods, I was taking anti-depressants on an on-again-off-again basis.  As time went on, and as I began experiencing periods of extreme manic, though often highly-productive, energy followed by more-extended periods of deep depression, it finally became clinically apparent to my doctors that my mental condition was more-correctly diagnosed as Bipolar Type 2 disorder, which is now treated pharmaceuticaly in a fashion quite different to depression.”

Being asked to sum up his bipolar disorder, Steve used one word: unpredictability. “It was bad enough with me being depressed for months or even years at a time,” Steve told me. “We could make adjustments and accommodations to survive these times, but neither Bev nor I could predict when, in a blink of an eye and without warning, rhyme or reason, my mind would switch from Black Dog to hyper-speed.

“I could be crazily productive during these times or at other times just a gibbering maniac, bubbling over like Mt Etna, erupting with all sorts of wild and wonderful projects. I would feel unbelievably wonderful and marvelous, but more often than not, from Bev’s perspective, I would simply be angry, rude and insufferable.

“Two of these high periods, one in 2007 and another in 2019, resulted in two 30-day periods where, each time, I penned some 60,000 words, which now have turned into this 129,000-word memoir. I didn’t start out 13 years ago to write this memoir – it wrote itself. Was it the bipolar mania, the Holy Spirit or both? I cannot tell the difference.”

With mental health challenges yet to manifest themselves, Steve moved to the other side of the world in obediently following God’s calling. For many of us, we take reading the Bible for granted. In fact, if you read the stats, Bible reading amongst Christians is way down. Yet Steve and his wife gave up their comfortable, American lifestyle to make this possible for a small Australian indigenous tribe – just so they would have access to God’s Word.

“In retrospect, it is fair to say that I did not handle the transition (to Australia’s outback) very well at all,” Steve said. “If I had, then I would not have had much of a memoir to write about.  There was, of course, the initial transition from the USA to Australia, two very different countries and cultures, despite common English origins and a ‘shared’ language.  Cultural-linguistic-historical presuppositions are so different, often in ways initially not apparent.

“For example, Americans (at least conservative ones such as myself) are much more patriotic than Aussies.  Aussies, in general, are much more patriotic nowadays than they were forty years ago.  At that stage, if the Australian National Anthem was played at a sporting event, many Aussies would not stand and fewer would sing along.  Bev and I thought this very strange and not a little rude.  Aussies had, and to a lesser extent still have, more of a cultural cringe, tug-the-forelock, embarrassed attitude towards the Brits than do Americans.  We found something of an underlying hostility at times to us for simply being American – how could everyone in the world not love the Yanks?  We understand this better now.”

For Steve and Bev, there were the climatic differences they also had to deal with. Ohio and Michigan have four distinct seasons, including ice and snow) in Midwest America. They moved into a two-season, hot, monsoonal climate of stifling proportions.

Then there was the transition into yet another culture. After their first six months in Darwin, the couple moved to Lajamanu in April 1978 to live among the Warlpiri people at Lajamanu in the Northern Territory, a very remote and isolated Aboriginal community. When they arrived in Lajamanu, there were no phones, only a public radiotelephone at the council office. There was only one, poorly-stocked store where everything was expensive. Mail came in by plane twice a week, and there was no TV or up-to-date newspapers or magazines.

“Bev and I came as linguist-translators, as opposed to other job categories within Wycliffe such as literacy workers, school teachers, builders, administrators, pilots, radio techs, computer texts, academic scholars, and so on,” Steve continued. “Our assignment was to work with the Warlpiri people, a group we knew nothing about before our arrival in Darwin in late 1977.

“In the early 90s, I became an international translation consultant, which gave me the opportunity with work with many other translators here in Australia, the Solomon Islands and even Hawaii to ensure quality control of their translation into many different languages.”

Steve’s mental health frailties have been a part of his entire time living in Australia. Suicidal depression was a regular challenge and even now, while those deep emotional (and dangerous) troughs are more of a rarity, it’s one day at a time to maintain an even keel. Many Christians, despite their love for their Creator, also face similar challenges.

A major part of the motivation in writing Broken Pot is to share his experiences with bipolar disorder and to encourage fellow Christians and non-Christians alike. Steve wants it known that God can still use someone amid depression and/or bipolar, even when complete healing is not forthcoming.  “Continuing to be depressed or bipolar does not necessarily indicate that God has rejected you or that you have a lack of faith for full healing,” Steve continued. “He can still use ‘damaged goods’ to achieve His purposes.  It can be argued that He chooses people of certain personality types to engage in certain ministries. For example, I do not have a naturally pastoral or gentle personality, which would lend itself more to a pastor’s heart for his flock, but I do possess a natural determination and hard-headedness, which means that having set my mind and heart on a goal, I persist through hell and high water to achieve that goal.”

“Sometimes the process is not easy, such as is the case with my dear wife Bev, who has suffered much being married to me, witnessing my struggles, worrying, praying for me, and trying to ‘hold me together’. I owe her a debt that I will never pay off in full.

“I am not the same as I was when we first came to Australia, and that is a very good thing.  I was 25 and Bev was 23.  I was, without overstating the case too much, a self-assured, arrogant young man, used to academic achievement, sure that I would make quick work of learning Warlpiri and completing a translation. Nothing proved as easy as I had naively expected once we arrived in Lajamanu.  These early difficulties led quickly to feelings of failure and ineptitude, which then spiraled quickly into depression and eventual suicide attempts.

“My recovery from the 1986 suicide attempt took over two years in the United States—it was a protracted and difficult time. Bev and I returned to active service in 1989, based here in Alice Springs. During the 90s, I struggled amid ongoing mental health struggles to bring the Warlpiri translation (full New Testament and 12% of the Old) to completion and publication in 2001 followed by our retirement from Wycliffe in 2003.” In Broken Pot, this powerful memoir informs, educates, entertains and challenges readers to not give up on what God has started. Moreover, it is sincerely hoped that fellow-sufferers of the Black Dog and other forms of mental illness will come to realize that God has not abandoned them, that He can still use cracked pots to accomplish His purposes and that there is help for them even in the darkness.”

Broken Pot, published by Ark House, is now available globally.