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Mark and Heather's Life Change Stories

Mark Penchoff's Life Change Story

My life change story at Fellowship of The Rockies is a story of support and legacy.  20 years ago when my family and I began attending the church, I was 35 and this is only 2 years older than my son Dillon, who many of you know, is now.  Cindy and I are fortunate to have had all three of our sons in the youth group here and my 4 year old grandson Uriah is now in Sunday School and preschool.  Many of the children that I had in my toddler, Pre-K and AWANA classes are now in college.  Our family, through 3 generations, has been supported, nurtured, and loved constantly through our years here.  I have grown in my relationship with Jesus Christ and I consider having FOR as my church home to be a significant part of my life.  

When we started attending FOR, Cindy and I had only been married for 2 years, and our boys were all teenagers.  We were looking for a church home on the south part of town where Jesus Christ was honored, the Scripture was opened and the Gospel was preached.  We had been attending a great church on the north end of the city  but as we had moved south, FOR was where we landed.  At that time Curt Dodd was the Senior Pastor and Stew was a 32 year old associate pastor.  I just can’t believe that so many years have passed!  Also, for those of you who don’t know this… back then the stage area was at the opposite end of the sanctuary.  Needless to say, there have been many changes here during the last 20 years.

Have the last 20 years at FOR all been great and wonderful?  The long answer is yes.  Have there been bumps in the road and rough times?  You bet, but there was never even a moment when we considered attending church anywhere else.  Having the pleasure of knowing Stew personally and seeing his real and profoundly genuine faith has made me fully confident in his leadership as well as being greatly blessed by his teaching.  The pastoral staff here has been faithful and consistent though the years.    

As I look back, I am also incredibly blessed to have met, grown to know and love so many wonderful believers here at FOR.  We have been involved in small groups and this has been a huge blessing as well.  As we go through our lives as Christians, having a solid church home and the support, care and love of other believers is absolutely necessary and I can’t imagine my life, without Fellowship of The Rockies.    

Heather McLeod's Life Change Story

My life change story at Fellowship of the Rockies is a story of hearing from God.     Did you ever wake up on a Sunday and feel a nudge to get out of bed and go to church?  Do you ever regret getting up and going to church? God delivers messages to us in many ways.  One way is through our pastors with their sermons and music.  On July 17, 2016, three days after I discovered I had breast cancer, God had Pastor Stewart deliver a message to me that literally saved my life.

On July 14th, 2016 I was told that I had breast cancer at the age of 35.  Friday, July 15th, I sat in a doctor’s office for two hours learning about my cancer, asking questions, getting answers, and asking more questions.  Saturday, July 16th, I spent the day texting and calling friends and family telling them the news.  So when Sunday morning came around, after three long days and three sleepless nights, you can imagine that all I wanted to do was hide under the covers and disappear.  But I got that nudge.  So I arose out of bed, got my family up and ready, and we went to church.

Now at this point, most of my church family, except for my close friends, did not know of my diagnosis yet.  I cried through most of the songs.  I balled like a baby when the worship pastor started to pray for those who had had a bad week.  And then Pastor Stewart started to give his sermon and I prayed to God to give me something to hold onto.

I have to tell you that I love the way Pastor Stewart preaches.  In most churches that I have attended, the preachers tend to read their sermons to you.  Pastor Stewart delivers his sermons in a way that makes you feel like he is really talking to you.  It’s like you are having more of a conversation than attending a lecture.  That Sunday, July 17th, Pastor Stewart was preaching on John 9.  In John 9, it is where Jesus heals a blind man.  But the verse that stands out the most to me is when the disciples asked, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” (John 9:2 NIV). And his reply was…

“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” (John 9:3-5 NIV)

There it was!  The answer that I needed and the thing that I needed to hold onto.  It was the answer to why I had gotten cancer.  Why God had allowed this to happen to me.  See, my father’s mother had had breast cancer at 28 and died at 38 when it metastasized to other organs.  I needed to know and I needed my parents to know that this was NOT the reason why I had gotten cancer.  I was not my grandmother.  I got cancer to show the glory of God.  To show those close to me and the world what a great and wonderful God we have.  But before I could jump up and tell everyone how wonderful our God is, I needed a testimony to go with it. 

Pastor Stewart’s sermon that Sunday not only gave me an answer but it gave me hope.  It gave me enough strength to take the devil head on.  It gave me reason to choose joy on days that it was hard to find.  It gave me the ability to let go when things got difficult.  It was the start of showing me that I am fearfully and wonderfully made and forever loved.  It gave me reason to surrender everything to God.  It was my first step in a very long journey of learning to trust God. 

At the end, Pastor Stewart said something always good happens but you have start with belief.  Well Pastor Stewart, you made a believer out of me and I have my life to thank you for it because if God hadn’t delivered the message through you to me, I don’t know what deep, dark road I would have traveled down.

Pastor Stewart’s sermons have brought many messages to me.  Many more then he probably knows. God has obviously found a way to get me to listen.  I just encourage you the next time you get the nudge to go to church, get up and go.  When you are there, really listen because God may be trying you to tell you something too and I don’t want you to miss it.