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I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.  I will be glad and exult in you;  I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.
Psalm 9:1-2


As a child, I had the wonderful privilege of growing up in a Christian home. My father was and is a faithful pastor and minister of the gospel, which means that my family spent a lot of time in church. I saw God working in the lives of my parents at a very young age and decided to follow Jesus on New Year's Day at the age of 7. It was one of my father’s messages that opened my eyes to the truth of the gospel, and even at a very young age, I realized my need for Jesus. I was baptized at the same church shortly thereafter and have been a faithful follower of Jesus ever since. Over the years, I have grown in my faith in many different ways. As I transitioned into adulthood, the Lord greatly increased my trust and faith in himself. I have learned among other things that the Lord is gracious and slow to anger, and that I can trust and obey him out of a sense of awe and wonder and not out of fear or guilt. I have also become focused on not allowing the opinions and approval of other people to influence my thoughts and actions and distract me from Christ. God has done some amazing things in my life, and I am looking forward to the future as I continue to grow in my faith. I was first introduced to Christ Fellowship Northwest through Christ Fellowship Cherrydale. At the time, I was a student at North Greenville University and began seeking out a church close to campus. I began to attend our church in September 2017 and became a member in 2019. At that time, I came to meet and later married my now husband, Hayden. I am currently serving on the guest services team and the Christ Fellowship Kids team. I am also the prayer leader for our Missional Community group. I love the structure of our church as well as the very tight-knit community feel, and I appreciate the fact that our church feels like a family. I am thankful for the many ways that the people in our church have helped prepare me for marriage and helped me transition from college to career. I feel grateful for our church because it has taught me the importance of the local church and increased my love for God, his word, and his people.

Abi Barrett

For most of my formative childhood years, my parents and I were very involved in a Lutheran church. We attended every Sunday, and I was baptized as an infant. There were times where I enjoyed it and times that I didn’t, but nonetheless we attended very faithfully. I remember going to Sunday school and learning about many of the well-known Bible heroes, but was never really able to connect the stories I was hearing to the gospel of Jesus. I would go on to graduate from the Lutheran confirmation classes and take communion, but looking back I know that my relationship with Christ was not personal. ​When I met my girlfriend Penny, who would later become my wife, she had experienced a very similar upbringing in a Lutheran church. After we met, we knew that we didn’t really have a personal relationship with Christ, and we both decided to go forward at a Billy Graham crusade that we attended. Unfortunately, there was no lasting fruit and heart change from that experience, and we still felt that we didn’t really know Jesus. We got married and had our first child, and moved to a new house next to a Christian family. Thankfully, through many hours of Bible study and prayer, my wife Penny decided to follow Jesus. I resisted at first, even becoming jealous of her newfound faith. We started attending church together, and I sat through many gospel presentations and altar calls before I finally gave my life to Jesus during a pastor visit at our home one evening. I remember the moment that I was saved, but looking back on it my salvation was really a culmination of many hours of Bible study and friends and family praying for me. I also decided to get baptized again after becoming convicted that my infant baptism wasn’t the biblical norm. ​After I got saved, we attended a fundamental Baptist church in upstate NY, and received great biblical teaching and grew in our faith tremendously. We would eventually move several more times and over the years we learned that it was okay for us to be a little more flexible in regards to the worship and preaching styles of the churches we attended. We landed in SC in 2018, and started attending a large Baptist church that unfortunately split soon after. We were a little directionless for a while, but eventually learned that Pastor Daniel was joining the TCBR team. After attending for a while, we felt led to join the church and have been faithfully attending ever since. ​We are now a part of the Capps Missional Community group and I regularly attend my cell group as well. I also serve on the finance team, and currently serve as an editor and proofreader on the writing team. The church has become like a family to us, and we are so thankful to be a part of the CFNW community. This is the first time that we have ever attended a church with a plurality of elders model, and I really appreciate the leadership structure of our body. We are also so grateful for the many prayers that have been raised on our behalf especially as my wife and I have walked through some serious health challenges. We love our church family, and look forward to seeing more churches planted in the future.

Alan Oesterling

I grew up very involved in church. Anytime church was having a service or event, we were there. I was in the children's church and children's choir. I went to AWANA and VBS. I memorized Scripture each week. I was around 7 years old when I began being curious about who Jesus was, so I asked my mom what it meant to be saved. She walked me through the gospel and I prayed to God for salvation. I went through a class with our children's director to understand more clearly what sin was, how it separated us from God, and how we needed Jesus to have a relationship with God. We walked through Jesus' sacrifice on the cross and the significance of his resurrection for us. Afterward, I was baptized at my childhood church home, Lexington Baptist Church. I continued to go to church and live my life trying to obey and understand the Bible as best I could. Throughout my childhood, and into my teenage years, I was very involved in church. It played an important role in who I am and in my upbringing. It helped me through various trials in my life, including my parent's divorce when I was 10. It brought many friendships and relationships that I still have today. I have always been a people-pleaser. I struggled with legalism throughout my middle and high school years. I was always concerned with doing and believing the right thing. As I went into high school, I started hanging out with a group of friends who were not believers and I could feel the toll that it was taking on me and my walk with the Lord. It was at a spring break camp my sophomore year that I felt the Holy Spirit convicting me of not living my life as I had committed to years ago. It was then that I felt the Lord truly reveal to me the truth of His grace and mercy to us through His Son. I started spending more time in the Word and prayer to more clearly understand God and live my life in obedience to Him. I went on my first mission trip the summer after high school. It was also during that summer that my dad was diagnosed as an alcoholic. I spent my 18th birthday visiting him in rehab. I wrestled with many emotions that summer, but through it all, I could see the Lord's faithfulness and goodness throughout. It was through that trial that the Lord molded me. He used that situation to call me closer to Himself and as a way for me to witness to others and glorify His name. Danny and I first came to CFNW (then it was TCBR) in October 2017. We felt the Lord calling us away from our other church to be a part of a church plant and to a congregation that was closer to the community we lived in. We joined TCBR in February of 2018 and have been faithful members since. We have developed many friendships through CFNW and have served in many different capacities. I currently serve on the CF Kids team and the Communications team. We are part of the Thomas MC. CFNW has served us in countless ways. Danny has been shaped by the pastors here and has ultimately been called to be a pastor himself. I have grown in my understanding of Scripture. I am thankful for CFNW because of the way that it has helped shape our spiritual lives, how its people have loved on my kids, and for the community that has surrounded me throughout our years at CFNW.

Ashlyn Seay

I was raised to know and believe in God, but we didn’t live our lives for Him. Born in Wisconsin, I was baptized as an infant into a Lutheran church. My mom was a believer and put us through the church’s preschool program. As a middle schooler, I went through catechism and became an acolyte for the Lutheran church. At the end of middle school, we moved across the country to Florida and frequented a non-denominational church. Some evenings we watched tele-ministers, such as Benny Hinn. During my teen years, I attended a legalistic baptist church in Florida. Without my parents' influence, this was my primary experience of church as a more “grown” individual. After that, I began school at North Greenville University (NGU). My church experiences were mostly attending chapel on Mondays and Wednesdays. Being in the theatre department and a part of Act II, I was performing in front of churches most Sundays. This did not allow me to have a home church or a community outside of my college friends. It created a big gap for me in church membership. Upon graduating from NGU, I dabbled in back-seat attendance at Taylor's First Baptist Church but ultimately fell away from the church and Christianity altogether for 5 years of my life. God’s salvation found me over time. I wouldn’t say there was just one definitive moment when I became 100% saved but I can look back over snippets of time when God grew me tremendously. I was raised to believe there was a God. I came to realize I was a sinner and needed a savior as a teenager. I observed what a true believer looked like at NGU as a young adult. I began truly living for God after becoming a mother, and even now I continue to deepen my relationship with my savior. I was 28 years old, attending The Church at Blue Ridge when I heard a familiar passage from Ted Richard. The passage was about the lukewarm life of a Christian - how being lukewarm with your walk is unacceptable, He’d rather spit you out of His mouth. I went home that day and immediately made major life changes, invited the Holy Spirit to help me walk my daily life, and have been on a journey to grow closer to the Lord ever since. In 2016, I was invited to a ladies' night at Christ Fellowship Cherrydale by Lindsay Thomas, who I was suitemates with at NGU. At the time, I had strayed from the church and she, along with their Missional Community, had been praying for me. I enjoyed my night at CF Cherrydale but the drive was too far and I did not attend again. When The Church at Blue Ridge (TCBR) was planted, Lindsay invited me again! I began attending CFNW when it was still TCBR, around March 2017. I’ve attended TCBR at Three Rivers Baptist Association, The Release Time Building, Northwest Middle School Cafeteria & Gymnasium, and now at our current building. 5 years later, my son and I are now members of CFNW! I serve as Copywriter, Occasional Decorator, Prayer Leader for the Moss MC Group, and occasionally serve for CF Kids. The community within the church has made the greatest impact on me in my walk with the Lord. I love how our main aim is to glorify God while walking imperfectly, alongside one another through life’s struggles. The mission of CFNW is to take the gospel from here, to there, to everywhere. I believe the Blue Ridge area is a place that has an abundance of churches that need to be reformed into a church that’s teaching biblical truth and aiming to glorify God instead of making members comfortable and stagnant. I would love to partner with CFNW in planting a church back in the Blue Ridge area!

Becca Van Cleef
Carrie Lee

For most of my childhood, my dad served on a church staff and was heavily involved in ministry. While I was blessed to grow up in a Christian home with a basic understanding of the gospel, this unfortunately also means that there were a lot of opportunities to be hurt by the church. We moved churches several times, making it difficult for me to find a solid community in church that matched my natural community at school. When I reached sixth grade, we finally landed in a church that we stayed at until I graduated high school. I went to a summer camp when I was thirteen years old, and while there, a speaker helped me to better understand my sin and need for a savior. It was at that time that I made a public profession of faith and was baptized. The church my family attended had a youth group and offered mission opportunities, both of which helped to solidify and strengthen my faith. I believe that God continued to bring me to faith from the time I professed faith at thirteen until I reached high school or college. During college, I was blessed with an incredible church called Crosspoint in Clemson, SC. This church opened up doors for discipleship and evangelism training, allowing me to be involved on Clemson's campus and in the community. Through connections at Crosspoint, Micah (my husband) and I learned about a new church plant in Boston called Redemption Hill Church. Redemption Hill Church was planting and launching just as we were set to move there for Micah’s new job in the same city. Our experience helping to launch RHC shaped our passions and family life to consider how God has gifted us in unique ways to serve smaller churches and church plants. Micah and I started attending CF Northwest (then called, The Church at Blue Ridge) in January of 2017. We had originally moved to Taylors and planned to join CF Cherrydale. However, Micah soon met with Ted, a former pastor at CFNW, to learn about a new church plant in Blue Ridge. Because of our experience helping RHC in Boston, we felt led to join The Church at Blue Ridge and continue using our gifts and experience in church planting. For two years, I led the children’s ministry at CFNW, and now I currently focus on raising my own kids and serve on the A/V team once a month. We also host a Missional Community group led by Strib and Mary Crump. I am thankful for the community with CFNW and how they have cared for us while we have fostered, moved, added a baby, and dealt with health emergencies.

I was raised in the home of an associate pastor of a small Independent Baptist church just west of Cleveland, OH. My whole life I have been in church and familiarized myself with the Scriptures. At the young age of five, I made a profession of faith. I remember being aware I had sinned, and out of fear of going to hell, I asked Jesus to forgive me. The church baptized me and affirmed I was saved. I lived out the status quo for pastors' kids for the next decade. I said and did the right things. In my mind and in the minds of all the older men and women, I was on my way to being the next Billy Graham. By my early high school years, my positive view of church, religion, and God had increasingly become negative. The standards and guidelines I thought were just the normal way of life became burdensome and seemingly oppressive. I noticed that many in the church who even lived by rigorous standards seemed joyless and miserable while displaying a fake happiness. I decided that if Christianity was nothing more than miserable obedience to oppressive rules and standards, I wanted nothing to do with it. In an attempt to get away from everything, I spent the summer before my senior year working with my brother-in-law in Florence, SC. God used this time to spark curiosity within my mind and heart by introducing me to a few men and women, including my sister and brother-in-law, who served God with joy. When I returned to Ohio for my senior year, I was committed to discovering the difference between the joyful and joyless Christian. God led me to North Greenville University where I enrolled with intentions to transfer to Clemson University for engineering. However, God had a different course for my life. Sovereignly, God used two people to bring me back to NGU for a second year. The first was my wife, whom I met at freshman orientation, and the second was Mike Landrum, the head of the Youth Ministry program at NGU. God pursued me greatly, and through some painful events, God made clear to me that true joy was found only in Him. God brought me to a place of surrender. I remember kneeling with a broken heart by the bed in my parents' home. That morning, I confessed that not only did I do bad things, but also that I myself was bad. My problem was not just that I had sinned, but I loved sin. God showed me that apart from Him I would continue to sin by seeking satisfaction and joy in things that cannot deliver what I needed. That day I asked God to take control of my life. He led me to turn from myself to seek Him as my source of joy. From there God led me to join and serve at Forestville Baptist Church where I would remain for the next 11 years. Sensing God's direction to pursue some sort of ministry life, I became a Youth Ministry major simply because I respected Mike Landrum. At the end of my sophomore year, I accepted a paid internship at Forestville which turned into a part-time middle school ministry role that gave way to a full-time youth pastor role. My time at Forestville, which ended in March of 2019, was certainly a place of sanctification and transformation. The two greatest modifications God engineered in me are my new understanding and love for Him and His Word. My theology has little in common with the theology I possessed in 2008. He has and is continuing to restore in me a right knowledge of Himself which has increasingly led to a renewed mind and transformed lifestyle. As I grow in knowing Him, I also grow in loving His Word, for it is in His Word I learn of Him and experience His presence. Both He and His Word continue to grow in prominence in my thoughts, desires, conversations, and conduct. He is my joy. He has compelled me to seek Him. By His grace, I have continuedto pursue Him. So far He has been faithful to reward me with Himself, and He has proven Himself worthy of my pursuit (Heb. 11:6). I am grateful to God for His bringing me and my family to Christ Fellowship Northwest in 2019. The people of CFNW are not only church members I have the privilege to help shepherd, but I also know them as my friends and family. I thank God for allowing our family to serve this particular church and I hope and pray that He allows me to continue here for many more years.

Daniel Barta

Raised in a devout Catholic family, I was taught about the trinity, the sufficient sacrifice of Jesus, and the need for sinners to repent. I knew that I was a sinner, that God sent Jesus to die for my sins and that Jesus rose to defeat death, but these truthsdid not sink in until the full message of gospel was shared with me in my late twenties. When I was 26 and dating Mike, three men from a church he and I had visited came to our apartment and shared scriptures that challenged my beliefs about salvation. I had then hoped to be good enough to please God and enter into his kingdom. I learned that Jesus’ sacrifice covered all my sins, those past, present, and future. I also learned that I contributed nothing to this salvation because it was God’s perfect gift. Since the men were less than gentle and did not resolve their delivery of the gospel message, I was left crying and upset after their visit. But God used the men to stir my heart and the conversation continued between Mike and me in the apartment. Mike had been raised in the church and knew Scripture very well but had not yet become a believer. The Holy Spirit used Mike and his biblical knowledge to clarify the gospel message. My eyes were opened to the fact that I had nothing to bring to the cross, and it was only Jesus’ life, death, burial, and resurrection that would save me. My heart was changed from one striving to one repenting and desiring to follow the Lord with all my life. After that, I moved out of the apartment Mike and I shared, and the Lord provided all the finances for me to do so until we were married. I was soon baptized at our church in Maryland. ​I began attending CFNW about three and a half years ago. Mike and I joined because we believed CFNW was a church that taught the scriptures rightly and we felt called and gifted to help with the efforts of the church plant. I currently serve with my husband as Missional Community leaders and help with kids in the nursery. CFNW has served me in deepening my knowledge of biblical truths about God. I am thankful to walk alongside other believers who will wrestle with sometimes-hard truths and bear with one another in love. I am grateful for friendships that are grounded in Christ.

Danielle Webster

My parents are believers. My dad was an associate pastor at an SBC church so I grew up going to church. The only times we weren't at church were if we were sick or on vacation. My parents did their best to raise us in that environment and teach us about God at home. When I was in the 4th grade I attended a church camp, said a prayer, and thought I was a Christian. I was a typical good church kid on the outside doing all the mission trips, camps, and teaching in Sunday School. As I went through my teenage years, I started to have doubts and sin in my personal life. In college, I went on a mission trip doing church construction. While I was there a testimony was shared about someone who had been active in the church for a long-time but realized they had never placed their faith in Christ for salvation. I couldn't get that story out of my mind and it surfaced in many of my own internal doubts about my standing before God. For the next few weeks, I hardly got any sleep as I thought about this. I was reading through John and the message I kept hearing was when Jesus told Nicodemus that he had to be born again. One Sunday at church, when we were about to take Communion, the youth pastor was giving the typical intro for who could take it and if you weren't a believer then it was not for you. At that moment God made it crystal clear to me. I knew I could not take the bread and the cup, something I had done countless times before, because I was a sinner, dead in my trespasses with no hope of saving myself. This crushed me, but then there was hope. I had to be born again. I left the service, found my dad, repented of my sins, and placed my faith in Christ alone for my salvation. I was baptized a few months later. I had a youth pastor in college that really set me on the trajectory I am on today. I appreciate how seriously he took the Word and how his doctrine drove his actions. It caused me to think a lot about my own theological convictions. After college, Mollie and I married and moved to Illinois for my school. We stayed there for 5 years. While we were there we were members of three churches, all SBC church plants, and all reformed in their convictions. While this was the opposite of the type of church I grew up in, after much thinking on my own part, I grew to adopt these convictions as well. It all started with the people. In one of the churches we joined, we left that first Sunday saying " that guy preached for a very long time, but the people were so welcoming”. After moving to Greenville in August 2021, we visited roughly 15 different churches. We were looking for something similar to the type of churches we had come from - an expositional style of preaching, intentional about creating community, and supportive of local to global missions. After a few times visiting, Mark McCoy invited us to the Capps MC, of which we are still a part of today. We're thankful for the community God placed us in as newcomers to the area and appreciate how the church served us when Andy was born.

Daniel Gambrell
Danny Seay
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Growing up, my family and I attended a traditional Southern Baptist Church where we held 3 church services a week. Our church had a choir, we enjoyed potluck gatherings, there was a cemetery in the back, and you could find my family’s home right next door - the church parsonage. I was raised as a pastor’s kid and from a young age I heard and read stories about God and many other bible characters often. I learned about sin, heaven, hell, and Christ’s forgiveness in Sunday school, at VBS, and in many other church services. At the young age of 6, I made a profession of faith in Jesus and was baptized. At the time, I couldn’t verbalize the reason why I needed to make this profession and I certainly did not yet understand the depths of my sin or God’s immeasurable grace until much later in life. The local church was always directly tied to my everyday life. Many of my friends attended the same church as my family and I found myself spending a large amount of time there with them. Although I made a public profession of faith at the age of 6, my faith was not genuine. I spent the next 10 years immersed in church without ever truly experiencing God for myself. I was seemingly righteous on the outside but spiritually dead on the inside. At the age of 16, God confront me in my sin while I was reading my bible one night. God’s conviction settled on me and years of gospel work on my heart clicked into place. I began to feel a call to ministry that continuously became clearer as I spent time working in various churches.  After graduating from high school, I decided to pursue a Christian studies degree at North Greenville University. During my time there, God began to challenge and stretch my understanding of himself. My view of God expanded and my studies at school encouraged me to begin reading my bible differently. I was given opportunities to serve at several different churches during my time as a student at NGU. Many of these churches varied in size and health, however, they each gave me a greater appreciation for what worshipping God should look like. I found a love for orderly and liturgical approaches to worship, and God has continued to deepen this passion over time. While talking to a friend at college, I found that we shared a very similar childhood salvation experience. Neither one of us had taken the steps to be baptized as true born-again believers and we both began to feel convicted about that as we had been serving in a local church. We were later baptized together and are both serving faithfully in our local churches today. After God made the call of pastoral ministry and church planting clear to me, my wife and I began to seek out a new church that could invest their time equipping me for these skills. We soon became connected with CFNW and became members in January of 2018. Over the years, my role here at CFNW has evolved and grown. I am now an elder and serve in a wide variety of ways. The past 5 years at CFNW have been some of my most joyful and fruitful times in ministry. I have learned so much, been strengthened, encouraged, and have built deep and lasting relationships with many of our members. The fellowship, accountability, and unity that we have experienced here has made Ashlyn and I both so thankful for CFNW. I am thankful for our church’s missional heart to take the gospel to the ends of the earth, both by way of church planting here in Greenville, and around the world through our missional partners. I eagerly await what God will do next through the family of CFNW in the days ahead.

My parents were saved later in life, after having kids. They were never discipled, so they learned as they went what it meant to be a Christian. We attended several Catholic and Pentecostal churches, but never a true Bible-believing church. As my mom grew “closer to God”, she became more legalistic in how we were raised. My dad also abdicated his roll as leader. Though their intentions were what they thought was best, it produced a skewed reality of God and who He was. I wasn’t modeled what a true follower of Christ looked like. As I became an adult, and eventually married, I wanted to go to a more grounded church. We found a good Bible-believing church, but I was still set in my warped view of God and Christ. My theology was wrong. Looking back, I wasn’t sure I was a Christian. I believed that my kingdom was what I should live for. My wife, kids, business, and money were all about me. I was in charge, and not the Lord. As with most controlling and legalistic fathers/husbands, I created a home that was filled with anger, hurt, and emotional abuse. My wife eventually wanted a separation, and then a divorce. My kids were hurt and did not want to be around me. My business suffered, and my finances were drained. Everything I lived for was being stripped away. Sometimes God strips away the idols we make in order to reach our hearts. I am so glad he did. There can’t be two kingdoms. It’s His and His alone. During this time, former pastor Ted Richard befriended me. He listened to my story about what I had done to my family. And even though he didn’t know me and I wasn’t going to his church, he decided to walk alongside me. We began to meet weekly. He discipled me and encouraged me through my separation and divorce. He counseled me to continue to grow in the Lord and reconcile with my ex wife. After meeting with Ted for several months, I finally decided to attend CFNW. I am glad I did. It got me through the most difficult time in my life and helped me to truly become a Christian. I believe I was saved during this time. Though my wife and I didn’t reconcile, God has allowed the relationship with my children to slowly heal. I am continuing to learn and grow in what it means to be a follower of Christ, a good husband, and a good father. I now serve at CFNW on the safety team and CF kids. I currently attend the Thomas’s MC. I am so thankful that God brought me to this church and inspired men to come alongside me and get their hands dirty. I look forward to doing the same for other men.

David Russo
Haley Burton

By the providence of God, I was raised in a family that consistently attended and served at church. My parents actively taught me about God and allowed me to ask questions as my understanding of God increased. There has never been a time in my life when the church has not played a role in my life. I grew up in a Southern Baptist Church, went to an SBC college, and received my Graduate and Doctorate Degrees from an SBC seminary. As would be assumed the church has been vital in my life. My life was saturated with the gospel. God's providence placed countless adults in my life that sought to present the gospel to me from an early age. With this being said, the first experience I recall where I clearly, both emotionally and rationally, came to realize that I was a sinner with no hope, outside of God's grace was when I was 11 years old. In true 90s church culture fashion, this happened during an invitation after a heaven or hell play. My parents and several close family friends were there to verify the confession I made and soon after I was publicly baptized at my home church. My family and I were attending and serving at The Church at Cherrydale when Robert McKinney and Ted Richard were in the early phases of starting a plant in the Blue Ridge area. While I was working at North Greenville University (NGU) and our family living in Tigerville, we felt like we would be positioned well to support the planting efforts. We chose to join the planting group for The Church at Blue Ridge. This was the first time that Lindsay and I had been part of a church plant. Through this experience, we have seen God's sovereignty, providence, and grace throughout. I now have the great honor of being an elder at CFNW. God has indeed grown my family and me at CFNW. We are now very excited to share the responsibility of shepherding the wonderful family we call Christ Fellowship!

Jared Thomas

I was raised in a Christian home with wonderful Christian parents. We attended a traditional Southern Baptist church where I heard the gospel preached often. One Wednesday evening when I was seven years old, I attended a children’s program called AWANA. There, I learned about salvation and went home that night and told my parents I wanted to be saved. They led me through a prayer to ask Jesus to forgive my sins and be the Lord of my life. I understood that I was a sinner and that I needed Jesus to save me, but I didn’t fully understand what salvation would look like moving forward. I was baptized a few weeks later at Bethel Baptist Church. Not much changed in my life at that point, but I saw God grow and shape me as I got older. When I was eight years old, my family joined a larger Southern Baptist church with bigger children’s and youth programs. We went to church at least every Sunday and Wednesday throughout my childhood and were very involved. In my teenage years, I was a part of a great youth group under the leadership of Daniel Barta. I began to serve as a worship leader for my youth group and went to just about every youth activity and church-wide program that was offered. During middle and high school, I really struggled with doubt, but I was afraid to share it with anyone for a long time. In youth small groups, I was challenged to study the Bible daily and share my struggles with the people in my life rather than pretending to be perfect. Eventually, I opened up to my small group and realized that many of them struggled with it too. I began to spend more consistent time in God’s word and in prayer as I went through high school and college, and I have seen God give me assurance of my salvation and teach me to trust him in all circumstances. After I graduated from high school, I attended North Greenville University where I was a part of a traveling music ministry team for three years. That time was full of good memories, but it left me longing for deep, honest community with other believers. I returned to my home church my senior year at NGU, only to see it face a major split months later. Although that season was difficult, the Lord used it to challenge me to search Scripture for truth myself rather than just believing what I had always been taught. I started attending CFNW (which was then TCBR) in the summer of 2019. I could tell that this was a community of believers that truly loved and cared for each other. I was drawn in by the members’ friendliness, the solid biblical teaching, and the emphasis on missional community and cell groups and joined in January 2020. I now serve CFNW on the worship team and as a prayer leader. I am a member of the Capps’ MC. I am thankful for this community of believers that has become family to me. I have grown so much over the past three years through sitting under solid teaching, serving on the worship and prayer teams, and being encouraged by my MC and cell group.


My childhood was a difficult one, marked by poverty, neglect, and abuse. We didn't really talk about God in my house, and we didn't really go to church. Our only relationship with the church was transactional. We went when we didn't have food, hoping the church would help. The churches we went to were Pentecostal and my sister and I were often terrified by the screaming called "speaking in tongues" and the convulsing on the floor we witnessed there. I developed this idea that God existed but after creating everything, He just stepped back to watch. I didn't understand how God could truly care about me when He gave me a family that didn't love me. I thought if God cared about me, he would intervene in my circumstances. My teenage years were spent in dark depression, searching for anywhere to stay that wasn't home and anything to make me feel better. I struggled to develop relationships with other people and generally felt alone and hopeless. My aunt and uncle were intentional about reaching out to me during this time and inviting me to church. I would go on and off and the Lord began to work in my heart to save me. I was saved at 19 after my aunt and uncle began to share the gospel with me and invite me to church. As the Lord worked on my heart, there was a definite moment where the weight of my sin and the mercy and grace of the Lord hit me like a freight train. I immediately felt broken over my sin and simultaneously felt real love for the first time in my life. That very day I began reading the Bible cover to cover, longing to truly know my Savior. It was nearly a year later, in 2008, that I was baptized. Reading God's word, I couldn't reconcile what I read with what I saw in the Pentecostal church. My sister invited me to Newspring Church, and I briefly got involved there before also seeing a lot of incongruity. I became a bit jaded and stopped attending church altogether. A friend called that unacceptable and invited me to Forestville Baptist Church. I became a member and attended regularly, despite the issues I saw there as well. I still loved God and his word but became sure that even the church is corrupt and church people untrustworthy. This was only further cemented in my mind after the church split. CFNW (TCBR at the time) was my last attempt at finding a church to attend. I knew that I needed to point the children in my care to Christ, and that I needed to take them to church. I don't even remember who invited me, but I do remember being greeted and that the next time I visited the greeter remembered my name. I also remember enjoying Pastor Ted's exposition. I decided to join when I continued to want to go back instead of feeling obligated to go. I also realized I would be adopting my son and knew I needed to find a church home. I believe if it weren't for my son, who is such a blessing from God, I would continue to pull away from the church. I still struggle to form relationships with people, and to trust people, but my son loves our church family and loves going to church. After joining, I began serving in the nursery and attending the Bartas’ MC. I'm thankful to have a church family that is focused on the gospel and discipleship. I'm also thankful to have a church that I don't want to run away from or hide from.

Jessica Smith
Jessie Barta

I grew up in a Christian home. My dad was a youth pastor for multiple Southern Baptist churches throughout my childhood. From an early age, I learned Bible stories and the basics of the gospel message. Growing up in Christianity, I knew about Jesus all my life. It was all I really knew. God saved me when I was seven. He used the repeated instruction of my parents to teach me the gospel: that Jesus died for my sins so that I might be forgiven. In the fall of 1994, I began asking my parents questions about Jesus and sins and the need to be saved from them. On January 29, 1995, in my family's home, I asked God to forgive and save me. Soon after, I was baptized at Unity Baptist Church in Florence, SC. In 2006, I moved to North Greenville University (NGU) to study Early Childhood Education. Within three days, I met Daniel Barta whom I eventually married in 2010. We visited multiple churches before joining Forestville Baptist Church. We quickly became highly involved as Daniel served on staff from 2008 - 2019. Our time there brought many challenges and great joys, and it was during this decade that God developed my relationship with him in a new way. He used this season, especially the difficulties and wounds, to teach me how to live in a relationship with Him. He went from being a character in a story to being someone on whom I leaned. I learned to talk to Him, trust Him, and obey Him even when it was really difficult. God brought Daniel and me to CFNW in March 2019. We arrived truly wounded, hurt, and weary from a long season of difficulty at our last church. We came in need of healing and rest, and God has used this church to provide it through the loving community and faithful preaching of the gospel. I am thankful for the opportunity to serve alongside Daniel as he serves as one of the pastors. We love serving our MC together and hosting people in our home on a weekly basis. I also regularly serve with CF kids. CFNW, like every other church, is not perfect, but I am incredibly grateful that what we have experienced within the church is genuine community and joy. I am grateful for the deep friendships I have found and I pray that God continues to allow me and my husband to serve and minister here for many more years to come.

Karla Hall

As a music minister’s daughter, I was in church every time the doors were open. During my formative years, we were members of a local Southern Baptist church. At 8 years old, my dad, along with a local pastor, started a non-denominational church. Years later, the church closing its doors left my family with a lot of hurt. After that, we visited many denominations including Pentecostal but did not find a permanent church home. With no consistent church body and a lot of hurts, I continued to bounce around churches in my teen and early adult years. I mostly landed in mega-churches to escape into the crowd. I was a hurt young woman making reckless decisions out of a desire to be seen and applauded by man, not God. God’s work of salvation in my life started at a very young age. At 4 years old, I began asking questions about death, heaven, and sin. Over the next few years, my parents and pastor helped me grow in my understanding. At 8 years old, I had the desire to publicly declare salvation with baptism. I believe this time of my life was a genuine start to my walk with Christ. As a teenager and young adult, I tried to run away from God. In church, I knew how to act like the perfect Christian by doing and saying all the right things. In my heart, I was running. It wasn’t until after college that God got ahold of me. I was convicted of my sin and cried out in repentance. The Lord started a very slow and grueling sanctification process, and I’m so thankful He is still working in me to this day. We were invited to CFNW (The Church at Blue Ridge at the time) by Jared and Lindsay Thomas shortly after moving back to Greenville County in January 2017. I distinctly remember telling my husband, Braden, that I did not want to attend a start-up church. I didn’t want to do the setting up and tearing down that I did in my childhood church. I still held the scars from my small church growing up and I didn’t want that for our family. Fortunately, God laid upon our hearts otherwise. We immediately jumped in and went to the first membership class within a few weeks of visiting. We began serving in CF kids and on the AV team, which we still do. I also serve as the host for our MC with the Bartas. I am very thankful for our church community and their support over the years. CFNW helped us walk through the life and death of our second daughter, Harmony. We were also supported well through our time as foster parents. We are so grateful to have a wonderful group of people who love us well and whom we can love and support in return.

Katelyn Rich

I grew up in the same church throughout most of my childhood. At this church, I witnessed my mother’s salvation and baptism. I remember going to church with my mother and sister every week, as we were rarely allowed to skip a Sunday. When I was eight years old, I was saved at an Easter presentation that dramatized Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. My pastor asked anyone who was interested in coming forward to publicly announce their salvation. I knew what the Lord had done in my heart, and made my way forward in front of the church community. I was baptized shortly after the day of salvation at the same church. Now as an adult, I can still look back and remember the assurance in Christ that the Lord introduced to me that day. Although my view of God, the world, and purpose has significantly changed since 2005, I can see how this assurance and gift of faith have protected and led me through my life experiences. Salvation has been an ongoing process of sanctification in my life. Since I got saved, I have encountered the effects of family brokenness, experienced heartache, and battled with anger and doubt. Although I still experience the effects of the brokenness of the world, I have also experienced the kindness of God. By the truth of God’s word, my mind and heart have changed. Scripture has taught me about the life of Christ, and the characteristics of God, and opened my eyes to grace. If I were to look back on my life as a follower of Christ, I would have to say that the way God has shaped me the most is by growing my love for His word. Through His word, God has changed my heart to believe that God does not need anything from anyone, for He lacks nothing. I love the local church and testify that it is not just a mere building where friends and other familiar faces show up week after week; rather, it is a place of vulnerability, worship, truth, and discipleship. I began attending CFNW in March 2019 when a long-time friend, Danny Seay, invited me and my fiancé at the time to come and visit. I was initially drawn to the teaching at CFNW, and am grateful for the elders’ love of Scripture and care for their people. Even more, I have found a joy-filled community with my fellow members. My husband and I are members of the Thomas family Missional Community Group. I serve the church as one of the preschool class teachers, leading the Guest Services team once a month, and working with a team to plan and coordinate women’s events. I believe that CFNW has become a family. I am grateful to our Missional Community for offering to help move us into a new home, as well as for the other church members who have invited us into their homes to share meals, offer encouraging words, and just enjoy life together. Overall, I thank God that he led me to CFNW because of the community of believers who love scripture and are passionate about the mission of reaching others with the truth of Christ.

Keeley Barrett

As a child, I attended a Pentecostal church with my aunt and uncle. My parents attended when my brothers weren’t playing baseball. During that time of my life, I thought because I attended church that I was a believer. In fourth grade, my family started attending a Baptist church every Sunday and Wednesday. During that time I saw my family’s life start to change. I was learning more about the gospel and started to have a better understanding of it. I was saved when I was 10 years old. Matt and Emily Purviswere instrumental in sharing the gospel with me. As well as watching my brother Hayden's life completely change, I saw first hand that life-changing salvation was true. This encouraged me to ask questions and learn more. Through the next year I began the process of accepting Christ in my life. I was baptized a year later. In middle school, at the same Baptist church, I started attending the youth group. Through those experiences, I began to have a better understanding of the gospel. During 7th grade, our church went through a big split. I lost friends and began to question if I was under false teaching. I didn’t have a clear understanding anymore. Childhood friendships were lost and I was confused on what was true and what was false. My family started attending CFNW in 2019. I attended the church for 4 years before deciding to become a member. The relationships I built with Mary Crump and other girls in my MC are what led me to that decision. I serve on the nursery team at CFNW. I attend the Barrett MC, where my parents are leaders. CFNW has served me in multiple ways with a healthy church environment, opportunities to serve in the community, and opportunities for missions. I am thankful for the people I have built relationships with, who I can trust to hold me accountable and who are willing to meet with me and help me through the challenges I face daily.

Kelsea Ballew

I grew up going to a small Baptist church my whole life where my family was pretty involved. We hardly ever missed a Sunday. We moved churches in my senior year of high school. My church experience quickly turned into going to sit in a seat on Sunday morning and getting out as soon as I could. I thought I was handling life and my relationship with Christ well enough on my own. It wasn’t until I attended North Greenville University (NGU) that I made my faith my own rather than following so closely what my parents said. I began searching for my own church family as I realized the importance of being plugged into a community of believers. I used to think I didn’t have a testimony because I had only heard of the usual, “Jesus saved me from ___”. I was saved and baptized when I was 7 years old. I never had a “falling off track” or turning from church moment. In my eyes, I was different than those around me. Over time in college, it became clear that just because I wasn’t doing what I saw as bad things, that didn’t mean I was doing all the right things. Sin was made known to me in a new way and I quickly realized I was not as good as I thought. I would say that was the biggest turning point in my life. I saw Jesus for who He is and my sin for what it is. Since then, I’m grateful for relationships and CFNW for continuing to help me grow and learn more about His goodness and grace daily. I came to CFNW with some friends and was grateful to be back in a small church where people were intentional and really cared when you missed a Sunday. I’ve learned the importance of doing life with our community and spending time growing and loving on one another. I joined the church in 2022. I’ve served in CF Kids and helped with events (my favorite was setting up for the Christmas celebration with the network!). I’m a part of the Barta MC and I couldn’t love it more! Those friends are like our family and we are so blessed to be able to walk through these fun seasons of life with them! As Gavin and I prepare for marriage, I’m most grateful for our support team who remind us of the gift of and reason for marriage and who pray for us. Coming from a church that didn’t know I was even walking in every Sunday to this, I am most grateful for the intentionality, accountability, and seeing His love all over everyone at CFNW.

Lindsay Thomas

My parents and I were very involved in our local Baptist church growing up. My father was a deacon and my mother served on the kid's ministry team, and we were there every Wednesday and twice on Sundays. Looking back on my childhood, I am very thankful for the godly example that my parents set for me. They showed me what it looked like to be a faithful follower of Jesus and were very influential in my decision to follow Christ. I became a Christian very young, probably before I understood what it meant to be saved. I may not have fully understood my decision at first, but by age 12 I remember growing in my appreciation of the work of Jesus in my heart and I decided to talk to my youth pastor about making an official commitment of faith. We talked and prayed together, and soon after I decided to get baptized again. As an adult, the exact moment of my salvation has become less important to me than my assurance and knowledge that Jesus did transform my heart and mind, and I have been growing in my relationship with him ever since. As I matured into my college/adult years, I began to visit several different churches but never really settled on one until I married my husband, Jared. We moved to New Orleans where he was attending seminary, joined a church, and had a wonderful experience there. The church loved us so well through life as newlyweds and the birth of our first two children. They would often bring us meals and encourage us in so many different ways, we are so thankful for our time in NOLA. Eventually, we decided to move back to South Carolina, and after several months of searching, we landed at the Church at Cherrydale. We loved our time there as well but felt that the Lord was calling us to join their church plant that was being sent out to the Blue Ridge area. We decided to join the initial planting team, and we still remember the days of just 15-20 of us meeting at Pastor Robert’s house. It has been truly incredible to watch our church grow, and we are so grateful to be a part of the CFNW body. We now lead an MC group, Jared is serving as an elder, and I help with the kid's team. We have been able to form so many special friendships, and the church has loved us so well through the addition of our two youngest children to our family. We love our church family!

Mary Crump

I was raised in a household that was centered around the gospel. I am forever grateful for my parents who loved Christ first and displayed him daily to my brother and me, being loving and caring. My mother was actively involved with children's ministry my whole childhood, and my father has pastored the same Sothern Baptist Church in Florence SC for 24 years. With that being said, I grew up in the same church surrounded by the same constant and familiar community from birth to college. On one Wednesday night at Vacation Bible School, my father had just finished sharing the resurrection story. Though I was only 8 years old, I knew I was a sinner in need of a savior. I am so thankful for Mrs. Gay Cook who sat down with me and answered all the questions I had that night as the Lord called me to himself. After a few weeks, I made my faith public and was baptized by my father at our home church in Florence SC. Leaving home and entering college, I had to go through the "church-hunting" process for the first time. I am thankful that I had great connections to help me find community at a local church, which allowed me to get pulled in and to serve. While attending North Greenville University, I met Strib, who was also attending the same local church, and our relationship began. However, a few months later, we began the church-hunting process again, and I am grateful that God led us here to Christ Fellowship Northwest. We began attending Christ Fellowship Northwest in the summer of 2019. When looking for a church, Christ Fellowship stood out due to the close-knit community and the many opportunities to serve within the church. Now, as I look back on this season of adulthood, I can see that the Lord used that season of finding a church body to grow my trust in Him. He deepened my knowledge of him and his word and instilled in me the importance of finding a community of believers to live life with. I am thankful for the opportunities to serve our church by helping on the Guest Services team as well as teaching and caring for our children in CF Kids. Strib and I are thankful to be leading a Missional Community group within our church. Being a part of a Christ Fellowship has allowed us to create a community that has loved on us through deaths of family members, encouraged and supported us in the first two years of marriage, and been by our side even if we are just simply having a bad day. I am forever grateful for the work the Lord is doing and will continue to do here at Christ Fellowship Northwest.

Morgan Moss

Growing up, I was incredibly blessed to have been raised in the church. I grew up in McDonough, Georgia, and attended Eagles Landing First Baptist Church from birth through college. My uncle was my pastor, and my mother was the preschool children's minister. My grandparents were also faithful servants, and most of what I learned about God and how to be a Christ-follower came from them. Being raised in the church, I was exposed to the gospel from a very young age. My parents told me that I came to know Christ at 5 years old and was baptized then, but I don't really remember that. When I was about 11 years old, in my Sunday-school class, I remember really feeling the weight of my sin and the desire to follow Christ with my life. I continued to grow in the faith throughout my teenage years. It was at North Greenville, when I felt burdened by God to make a public profession of faith in baptism, so I was baptized in 2008 at my home church in GA by my uncle. During my time in college at North Greenville, I regularly attended Greer First Baptist, eventually with Randall as we started dating. That season at North Greenville was one of great spiritual growth, and I am extremely grateful for it. After Randall and I got married, we moved back to GA to attend school and got involved in a very small, traditional Baptist church, which was so different from what I was used to, but I loved it. We are still close friends with our pastor from there. However, we felt like we were in a spiritual rut and that the city we lived in was spiritually dark. Our newlywed life was one of great change for us as I quit medical school and we moved back to South Carolina (with a one-year-old and two-week-old!), so that Randall could teach at NGU. I'm so grateful that God so quickly brought us to CF Northwest, then called The Church at Blue Ridge. We instantly felt spiritually refreshed, and the people here became our family. They have walked with us through very difficult times, including our daughter being diagnosed with ovarian cancer at nine months old. Through it all, God has proven Himself faithful and has always provided for our needs. We have attended CFNW from the beginning. We knew we wanted to attend church in the community we lived in, so when we heard that CF Cherrydale was planting in Blue Ridge, we were all in. CFNW has blessed our family so much by providing gospel-centered teaching and a supportive church family. We love serving as MC leaders in the Blue Ridge area. God even called Randall to be an elder here, and for that we are so grateful. I also love working in CF kids and helping our vast-growing population of children to know and experience God's love and truth in their lives.

Nathan Rich

I am the husband of Katelyn Rich and a member of Christ Fellowship Northwest. I grew up knowing that God was important but did not have a relationship with God. I attended a Baptist church twice monthly with my believing mom but did not see my dad attend. At 13, I was brought by a friend to an Easter presentation, where I was saved because of God’s compelling through a visual representation of Jesus’ sacrifice. I had been living a life dishonoring God and understood my need to repent and be forgiven. I know that it was at that moment when I turned from my sins and followed Jesus. My life and heart were changed, and I now continue to grow in the knowledge and love of Jesus. I will admit that the most significant change is my new heart, which once sought personal interest but now is characterized by godly desires. My understanding of the nature and character of God has grown, which has allowed me to see the world through the lens of the gospel because God himself has worked in me. Since being saved, I have a desire to be kingdom-focused, seeing my career as an avenue to advance God’s kingdom and my free time as fitting to serve God, rather than myself. I came to Christ Fellowship at the invitation of Danny Seay. After a long, negative church experience led me to search for a new body of believers, God led my then fiancé, Katelyn, and me to what was known as The Church at Blue Ridge. We began visiting in March ’19 and became members of CFNW at the beginning of 2020. The integrity and work ethic of Christ Fellowship’s leaders, the welcoming atmosphere, and the compelling and biblical teaching from the pulpit are what contributed to our staying. Katelyn and I are in the Thomas Missional Community which we host occasionally, and I meet with Jared and Luke weekly as a Cell Group. I currently serve on both the guest services team and the audio/visual team monthly. CFNW has been supportive through change, rejoicing, and hardship, encouraging Katelyn and me to walk faithfully with and become more like Jesus Christ. I am thankful that God has led me to CFNW because this body of Christ has been a source of joy, encouragement, and peace. We look forward to growing here and serving the church.

Penny Oesterling

I grew up Lutheran, attending Sunday School on my own. I believed God existed and periodically prayed to Him. When I was young, my father was a truck driver who was gone during the week and home on the weekends. Later he drove for a different company so that he was home evenings and weekends. My mother had serious emotional problems while I was growing up and much later was admitted to the psych ward of the hospital. By the grace of God and to the complete surprise of the psychiatrist, my mother was eventually returned to her right mind and was released. As a teen, I sang in the church choir and taught the children’s Sunday School classes. After marrying and moving to another state, my husband and I attended another Lutheran church since both of us had been raised Lutheran. This church wasn’t as traditional as the one I’d grown up in and was more of a social gathering. We made many good friends and enjoyed our time together; however, the Bible was of secondary importance. In my early 20s, we had attended a Billy Graham crusade where I went forward during the invitation but hadn’t truly trusted Christ as my Lord and Savior. After attending the Billy Graham crusade, I realized something was missing in my life. Even though I’d married my childhood sweetheart, there was a void in my life that I couldn’t seem to fill. After our first son was born, I asked God to bring some true Christians into my life so that I could understand what was missing. God moved us next door to a family of six, and the husband and wife were very committed Christians. The wife, Jackie, invited me to her neighborhood Bible Study. We became good friends and Jackie answered all my questions. When she didn’t know the answers, she had me come over when Bob, her husband, was home so that he could answer my questions. They spent three months, day after day, teaching me God’s Word and telling me about Jesus. Finally, I trusted Christ as my Lord and Savior. Alan and I were still attending the same Lutheran church, and I believed I was to stay there to share Christ with my friends. After a while, a new pastor, Pastor Willmann, came to visit me and told me that he knew I had trusted Christ as my Savior and wanted to share that good news with others. However, he told me that he and I were the only believers in our church and that he had been assigned there to gradually help the church grow from a social gathering to one that dealt with spiritual truths. He said that it would be a very slow process, so for my own spiritual health, I needed to go to a different church where God’s Word was preached and taught. Bob and Jackie recommended a Baptist Church nearby. Alan was not yet a believer, but he was willing for us to attend this new church. After sitting under solid preaching, I knew I needed to be baptized as a believer. This church didn’t have a baptistry, so I was baptized at a neighboring church, where I made my faith public. As an aside, when I shared my faith with my mother, she told me that everyone who was born in the United States was a Christian! Later when my dad was alone with me, he told me that he had trusted Christ as a young teen. Apparently, he hadn’t shared the good news with me for fear of what my mentally unstable mother would do. After I was saved, I was given a copy of a letter that my paternal grandmother had written to her husband, children, and grandchildren, sharing the gospel and asking them to trust Christ and one day join her in heaven. She said she had been praying diligently for us all. I had never met her as we were estranged from my dad’s family and she died before my birth. Alan and I started attending CF Northwest (then called The Church at Blue Ridge) in 2019 after the church we had joined had a church split. We became members soon afterward. We are part of the Capps MC, and I have helped with some devotional writing and am serving with the Prayer Leaders Team.

Rachel Forrester

Growing up, I had the great privilege of being raised in a believing home where both of my parents were very active in their local church. I attended North Asheville Baptist Church throughout my childhood, and my family and I were heavy attenders at church, constantly serving in different areas. I was saved and baptized at the age of four, and I still remember the moment that Jesus opened my eyes to the truth of the gospel even at such a young age. My faith became real and personal to me in that moment, and I have been following Jesus ever since. I must credit many of my children’s and youth leaders with helping me learn how to obey all that Jesus commanded us to do. I don’t remember a whole lot about my life before I was saved and following Jesus, but like many of us, my faith journey has been not just a single moment but a lifetime of surrender to Jesus and a continual commitment to follow him. Over the years, I have continued to grow in my love and commitment to Jesus. As a young Christian, I often struggled with trying to earn God’s favor with academic or social achievements. People-pleasing and fear were also some particular hurdles for me as I grew up and faced different challenges in my life. Because of the great mercy and grace of God, I am prayerfully more focused on serving Jesus with my time and talents and learning how to enjoy my relationship with the Lord and glorify him in all things. I have been a member at CF Northwest for over a year now but have been attending for almost two years. I was invited by my now fiancé Samuel Forrester and love getting to worship with many of my friends from NGU as well. I love the fact that Christ is proclaimed so boldly at CFNW, and I enjoy serving regularly on our worship team and helping with our children’s ministry. I meet weekly with my cell group and am a member of the Barta MC group. I am incredibly thankful for all the ways that the people of CFNW have encouraged me, checked in on me, and been so welcoming and hospitable. I have learned so much in my time with our church, and I am excited for God to continue to grow us and shape us as his people!

Randal Moss
Robert McKinney
Moss Headshot SP22.jpg

Growing up, my childhood was filled with brokenness and sin. My parents divorced when I was very young, and this caused me to feel the weight of sin early on in life. After they separated, they unfortunately continued down a negative path until my dad eventually repented and was saved a few years later; my mom would eventually give her life to Jesus as well. After his surrender to Christ, I started going to church with my dad on a fairly regular basis and began to be exposed to the gospel. I actually enjoyed the safety and security that I felt in our church community, and started to become curious about the stories I was being taught. Although I was interested in the gospel message, I hadn’t yet repented in faith and I continued to wrestle and struggle with my sin until my early teenage years. When I was 12, I received a letter from my uncle who was in prison at the time. In the letter, he had apologized to me and our family for the brokenness that he had caused and the promises that he couldn’t keep. He told me that early on in his sentence he had received the good news of Jesus and repented of his sins. He knew that even if he never got out, his sins were forgiven and his eternal future was secure, and he urged me to consider this reality and do the same. In that moment, I remember very clearly that I repented and believed in the gospel and experienced the regenerating love of Jesus. I began to grow in my faith, read the bible, and was discipled by mature believers in our church. I was also baptized in a river just down the road from our church. As I transitioned into my early adulthood years, I was slightly conflicted about God’s calling on my life. I knew that I wanted to do ministry in some capacity but couldn’t figure out if that was supposed to be full time or maybe bi-vocational part time ministry . I also knew that I was gifted in certain areas outside of Christian ministry, and I eventually decided that I would pursue a career outside the church while also serving in a ministry role part time. I volunteered as a youth pastor for several years and earned a master’s degree in biomedical sciences. Eventually I, along with my wife and children, sold our home in Georgia to pursue an instructor of biology position at North Greenville University. There, I earned my doctorate in educational leadership. We moved to the Greenville area in 2016 and began attending Christ Fellowship Cherrydale. We decided in 2017 to join the core team that would go out and plant Christ Fellowship Northwest, and have been faithfully attending ever since. I am incredibly grateful for the role that our church has played in continuing to grow and mature our faith. Our pastors have shepherded and guided our souls so well, and it has been a wonderful experience to be a part of both a Missional Community and a cell group where we can live life together. God has done an incredible work in our lives through CFNW, and we look forward to what he is going to continue to do in the coming years.

Robert McKinney

My parents adopted me when I was one day old, and took me to church soon thereafter. The joke around my church was that baby Robert was passed around the service more than the offering plate. My church was small, but it was filled with men and women who truly loved Jesus and invested deeply in me. My parents are both believers who did their best to teach me the gospel and make church a priority in our family's life. I can hardly remember a month when we weren't in church three times a week. We spent a lot of time at church, and this came at a cost—yet, I have no regrets. Jesus saved me at 8 years old in Midway Baptist Church in Pickens, SC during vacation bible school. Our lesson that day was John 13, the story of Jesus washing the disciple's feet. My teacher decided to wash all of our feet that day to illustrate the great sacrifice Jesus makes to wash us clean of sin. I was later baptized in the same church. My formative years were spent sitting under the teaching of men and women who worked as mechanics, teachers, stay at home moms and utility workers. They cared deeply for me and worked hard to teach me the bible. Their faithfulness laid the groundwork of salvation and my eventual calling to ministry. These men and women prepared me well for the opportunity to sit under some incredible biblical scholars at NGU and later at The Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. The gospel I had learned as a child took on a new meaning for me when I started college at North Greenville University. At NGU I was introduced to the idea that the Bible is one story, often referred to as the “grand narrative.” This idea fundamentally changed my understanding of the gospel and God's work in the world. I look back on it as a seminal moment in my life as a follower of Jesus. Later at SEBTS, I saw firsthand what a healthy church looks like. God’s people can accomplish incredible things in the world when the Bible's teachings about the church are taken seriously.  I have been at CFNW since the beginning. Not long after graduating seminary, God made it clear to my wife, Julie, and I that he was calling us back to SC to plant a church. In 2013, we were connected with what is now Christ Fellowship Cherrydale to complete a 2-year residency program that would culminate in being sent to plant a church in the Blue Ridge area. Since being sent out,think I have served in almost every position we have with the exception of the band. You should thank God for this. Currently, I am the teaching pastor and oversee member care and guest services. My family and I attend the Webster Missional Community and love those men and women like family. Christ Fellowship has served us in more ways that the word count will allow. This body has given me my first shot at pastoring, a sacrifice for which I'm convinced they all deserve a crown in heaven. They have put up with my preaching, sacrificed to support my family financially, invested in my boys, and humbly followed my and the other pastor's leadership. For those things and so much more, I am forever grateful.


Living with my grandmother as a child, I attended many small churches. We moved churches every few years up until middle school when I began to attend a large church. Throughout my childhood, I learned about the goodness and the wrath of God. I learned how forgiving, kind, and just He is. However, in my second year of high school, I became distant. Worldly desires, such as sports, became more important than worshipping at Wednesday night youth group. This trend continued until I was 22 years old. Through the meeting, dating, and eventually marrying my wife, and through convicting conversations with my brother and pastor, God showed me how I was living my life in sin. He showed me all the idols I had created, and how to turn from them and follow Him. In August of 2021, I began seeking fulfillment in Christ through glorifying Him. Since then, Christ Fellowship Northwest has been an immense help surrounding me in a community of believers that point meto Christ daily. I started to attend CFNW in August of 2021. Shortly after, I joined the Barta MC and met weekly with Hayden Barrett, Samuel Forrester, Isaiah, and Liam Perry for cell group. The small intimategroups have been a blessing in my life since joining CFNW. The in-depth studies of each passage help provide clarity on what can be "hard to understand" scripture. I have had the opportunity to serve on work days at the church building, and on an individual basis providing meals or labor.

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I was raised by a wonderful and loving family. My mother and father are faithful believers. However, growing up, we were not consistent in our church attendance and prioritized baseball over involvement in the local church. When I started high school, my family began to attend a local Church of God. Before long, we went to a Baptist church to grow deeper with community members. In my junior year of high school, the Lord revealed the sin in my heart and my desperate need for a Savior. God put men in my life that poured into me at a young age. In my senior year of high school, God planted the desire to be in the ministry. I did not know what that would look like, but I knew I desired to teach and preach the Word of God. God put a desire in my heart to know Him deeply and share Him with anyone around me. Thinking about the people who shared the gospel with me, four names come to mind. Evans Capps was the one who pursued me during my time in high school. We became close friends, and God used him to bring me to salvation. Matthew Purvis became my youth pastor the summer of my junior year, and he walked alongside me as I sought after my calling to ministry. Daniel Barta was the youth pastor when I came to Forestville, and he was the first person to invite me to a bible study. Daniel met weekly with two hard-headed immature teenagers. His patience with me has been significant in my coming to Christ. My father, Scott Barrett, is a faithful example of the power of Christ to change people. I woke up every morning to him singing hymns and reading scripture. Those memories will forever be in my mind as the example one should be in Christ. I started attending Christ Fellowship Northwest in June 2019. I enjoyed the value of the Word of God and how they would go through a book of the Bible line by line. I believed they would value the local church and seek to build leaders. Right now, I serve in guest services. I am a part of the Barta Missional Community Group. Thinking through my short life, Christ Fellowship Northwest has been one of the greatest gifts the Lord has ever given me. CFNW has been incredibly patient with me as I grow in maturity and knowledge of the Lord. In my time at the church, I have never gone without some form of a faithful mentor. Christ Fellowship is where I went as I started college, where I met my wonderful wife, where I married my wife, and where I am starting my family with the birth of our son. Christ Fellowship Northwest is full of members who love each other well; we are incredibly thankful for this!

Hayden Barrett
Gavin Ballew
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