What happens when three best friends, all under the age of 12, set a goal to share the love of Christ with 100 children from around the world?
God’s Spirit moves mightily.
The idea came to them last year when Lydia (age 10), Hope (age 11) and Emma (age 11) who live in Marion, NC were packing a few Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes, as they had done for many years.
The girls decided that for Christmas 2013, they wanted to pack 100 boxes.
100 boxes! No small feat by any measure.
So the planning began.
They began raising funds for the contents of the boxes early in March.
How did they raise the money?The old-fashioned way, of course…
Yard sales, lemonade stands, showing an outdoor movie on a sheet, making Duct Tape wallets and bows to sell, and going door to door asking for donations.
And then the fun part…time to shop!
Each box contained a stuffed animal, notebook, coloring book, pencils, jump rope, bandana, washcloth, comb, toothbrush, toothpaste, tissues and other fun items they thought the children receiving would enjoy.
On November 22nd, they loaded up the truck and headed to The Cove, one of Operation Christmas Child’s National Collection locations, to drop off their boxes. Hope and Lydia had dropped off their boxes at The Cove last year and said that the experience was wonderful, so they decided to go back this year.
Harold was the volunteer at The Cove the day the girls came by. Harold has witnessed a lot in his days, but seeing these girls with such beautiful hearts for the Lord brought him to tears.Before the girls left, he asked if he could pray over the boxes.He not only prayed for the children who would receive the boxes, but he thanked God for the children who made it all happen.
You may be wondering if the girls have a plan for next year. Yes, they do!They plan to pack another 100 boxes and raise enough money this time to cover the shipping fees for the boxes as well.
Watch hereas the girls tell what they enjoyed most about packing the boxes.
It’s not too early to start thinking about packing your boxes for next year. Visit the Operation Christmas Child website here for more information.
We are excited to introduce you to two of The Cove’s newest employees!
Meet Zeke and Bill E.Goat.
These two, plus 16 other goats, have been hired to eradicate kudzu, an invasive weed, that is taking over a steep hillside at The Cove.
Kudzu will grow over anything in its path (other plants, buildings, road signs) and eventually kill other plants it covers because it blocks out sunlight.
Zeke, our canine employee, is half Kangal and half Great Pyrenees. He is the protector of the goat herd. He is a gentle lad and appears to enjoy his job.
Bill E. Goat and his fellow goat co-workers are a cross between Boer and Kiko. They enjoy eating vegetation such as kudzu, all the while, leaving behind “fertilizer” for the soil. It’s a very eco-friendly way of working.
Curious as to how this all works?
It’s quite an interesting process!
1. Site is prepared during the winter months for containing the goats by fence. — Our goats will graze on 1.2 acres during their term of employment.
2. Goats and their canine protector are delivered to the job site in the summer when the foliage is plentiful, for an agreed upon time. — Our goats are due to complete their first “grazing” after one month.
3. Goats return home or to another job site for a couple of months.
4. Goats return to site for second “grazing” period.
5. Now the site should be manageable enough to plant grass seed and/or let the natural weeds grow.
6. Goats are praised for their good work and sent home, hopefully never to return again.
Another way to eradicate kudzu….make kudzu jelly! We hear it is delicious.
Have you ever met someone and wondered what they are like outside of work or away from the usual setting in which you see them?
When you come to The Cove, you are sure to be greeted by staff members with smiling faces that reflect what is deep inside each of their hearts…a love for the work to which God has called them.They are called to serve you, so that you are free to hear from HIM while at The Cove.
“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” 1 Peter 4:10
A call to serve. Now, that’s a beautiful thing. But, maybe there’s more than meets the eye. Let us introduce one of those smiling faces to you today – Patty Smith.
Patty works in our Housekeeping department. What most people do not know is that she has a passion and a gift for photography…and serving at The Cove. The photographs below are from Patty’s personal collection, captured right here on property.Enjoy!
How long have you worked at The Cove and what brought you here? Patty: “I have worked at The Cove for ten-years. I began as a housekeeper. For the last six-years, I have been a housekeeping supervisor and also help with front desk and other lodging duties. I married right after high school and had my first child a year later. I started college but quit to raise my son and later my daughter, as well. I was blessed to be able to stay at home for many years and homeschool my children. But, there came a day when I thought I should help with the finances. I wasn’t actively looking for a job but was praying and thinking about it. One day a new member of the church I was attending, who knew nothing about me, asked if I needed a job and told me she just started working as a housekeeper at The Cove. I felt good about it so I applied and was hired.”
How did you first start taking photographs? Patty: “I wanted to be a photographer when I was ten-years old. I was not encouraged to become anything in my home growing up. The goal for my stepfather was to get me and my sister to the obligatory age of 18 and out of the house. I never stopped wanting to take photographs, but had very little resources since I was married right after high school and did not have the finances to do very much. In the last few years I have been able to pursue the dream that all but died. I am working on a degree in Fine Art with a concentration on photography right now in my 40s!”
How and when do you take photographs at the Cove? Patty: “One of the hardest lessons I have learned as a photographer happened at the Cove one morning. I was coming down the cabin road around 7 a.m. when two very large bucks tumbled down the bank right in front of me and continued the fight that had obviously began up the mountain side. They locked horns and pushed one another furiously for about five-minutes in the road, right in front of me. I sat in my car, headlights on them, and watched; lamenting the fact that I did not have my camera or even my cell phone. That particular moment is recorded only in my mind. So now, except for rare occasions, I keep my camera in my car. Most photos I have taken are spur-of-the-moment. You can’t plan to drive around the curve and find a mama bear and her two cubs playing on a cabin porch. There are other times when I am working and I might see a particular flower, tree, or block of color and patterns that I think I want to capture. I remember those places and when I have a free moment I get my camera and take a picture. I have driven around the Cove property, after work, in the spring and fall or on a rainy day when the colors and the surprises found from just looking a little closer, tug at me. God is an artist. Our grounds maintenance crew also have an artistic vision. I am amazed some days, when I really look, how beautiful The Cove is.”
What is your favorite part of working here? Patty: “The job I have is physically demanding and some days I feel like I just can’t make it another day. But, I am surrounded by very precious ladies in the housekeeping department who pray for me and encourage me. When it gets a little bit hard something tends to happen to remind me that we make a difference, even in our small way. One of those moments happened just recently when a deployed military participant checked in and said he was overwhelmed by the beauty of The Cove. He said he was almost in tears as he drove up the road. In his words, “I have served 2 tours in Iraq and I get to come here.” His attitude and appreciation made my tiredness fade a little. People like this make every hard task a little easier to bear.”
Do you have a favorite Cove story? Patty: “There are many stories that fill the years and I don’t really have one that stands out among them. I have had the privilege of meeting Billy Graham and escorting several speakers to their cabins. I have been blessed when helping Cliff Barrows by his genuine concern for me personally. On that same note, Steve Brown blessed me just recently when I called him to check on a problem with his wireless internet connection in his cabin and he asked if I slept well the night before because he had prayed for me personally. When you feel insignificant and small in the great scheme of things going on and plans being made, these moments are life-affirming and appreciated. I think it is the sum of these small moments that create the big story.”
We all feel blessed to work at such a beautiful place and serve people like you! We hope to see you at The Covesoon.
“There are two gorgeous chapels in eastern America. One is at Duke University and the other is here at The Cove.”Billy Graham
The Chatlos Memorial Chapel and Visitor’s Center is nestled on the 1,200 acre property of The Cove, The Billy Graham Training Center, in the mountains of Asheville, NC. Take a free tour or enjoy a few minutes alone for prayer and reflection in the elegant simplicity of this beautiful place.
The building is constructed using blue granite stone hand hewn by local craftsmen and is furnished with antique pews from the Royal London Society for the Blind, a 400-year old pulpit from the Church of England and handcrafted wrought iron chandeliers.
Our Visitor’s Center includes an “Ambassador for God Around the World—Billy Graham” display and a tour guide will share interesting facts about the ministry.
The Chatlos Memorial Chapel and Visitor’s Center is open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. We are also open on Saturdays in the Fall from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. (October 6 – November 17, 2012). The Cove is closed to visitors during most major holidays and other special occasions.Admission is free. Come see us!
Would you like to meet a few of the wonderful tour guides at The Chatlos Memorial Chapel? Watch hereas Rip, Wanda and Dawne share their experience volunteering at The Cove.
Click herefor more information or to view photos of the Chapel.
Click herefor a schedule of Cove seminar, leadership training, senior adult events, personal spiritual retreat and concert dates.
We are blessed to have over 100 volunteers at The Cove. From helping you find a seat in the auditorium, to guiding you on a tour in our Chapel and Visitor’s Center, to praying over our guest’s and visitor’s prayer requests, these faithful servants play a vital role in our ministry.
Pam is a volunteer at The Cove who helps out in administration and is on the Intercessory Prayer Team. Read on as she gives you a BEHIND THE SCENES look at her role here.
As a volunteer at the Cove one of the things I am involved in is the Intercessory Prayer team. I feel it truly is a privilege and honor to be trusted and asked to pray for the concerns others have on their hearts. As a team we are praying for an average of 900 different prayer cards that are turned in at The Cove each month. These cards are available on site in various locations for the guests and visitors on property. So, how does it work? When guests are here for a seminar or other event, they can fill out a prayer card(s) with requests and concerns that God lays on their hearts.They drop the card(s) in the one of the prayer boxes that are located throughout the property. These cards are collected and given to members of our prayer team who immediately begin praying for them. Each of the cards is prayed over at least 4 times, and then destroyed. There are 20 members on the Prayer Team who sign up for different time slots to be on Cove property praying.My female prayer partner and I come together once per week to meet and pray for the prayer requests.
My favorite location to pray is up in our prayer room on the 3rd floor of The Training Center. I have such a fabulous view of the mountains of the Cove, the changing sky above, the great birds that are soaring, and also a view out of the Cove to the world beyond with its buildings, mountains, valleys, and horizon. Every time I am there the scenery is different, varying with the seasons and weather patterns. What kinds of requests do we get? Here’s a sample: broken marriages, prodigal children, concerns for grandchildren, loss due to death or suicide, salvation for souls, future spouses for Christian children in this world, friends and family who are sick, those close who are dying, struggles in the local churches, court cases and battles, guidance for life, the need of a job, a house that needs to sell, career changes, false accusations, mission outreach projects, fractured relationships between parents & children, pain in ministry, physical pain and suffering, medical tests and treatments, guidance with finances, help with addictions to food, drugs, alcohol, pornography, etc. There is also a place to share praises on the cards. So, even though we see the burdens that are on people’s hearts, we also often get a glimpse of the blessings God is pouring out. What a thrill to praise the Lord for His goodness, grace, love, compassion, sustaining power, faithfulness, protection, provision, guidance, comfort, and peace. We even get some cards that are sharing answers to prayer, and we rejoice in those as well. What a gift to see the hand of God working in the lives of those who come and share with us, as we partner with them in approaching our Father God with the desires of our hearts.
Interested in volunteering at The Cove? Click here to download an application.
We are blessed with all kinds of wildlife here at The Cove, but this one wins the “awwwwww” award. This little fawn visited our administration building here on the property yesterday.Don’t worry, mama is looking on from the nearby woods.
Push past the double red doors of the Billy Graham Training Center into the lobby with the living-room feel, and you might catch a glimpse of petite five-foot-two-inch lead hostess Garlene Johnson.
People have told her she resembles Norma Zimmer of the Lawrence Welk Show. “Not because I sing, but because of my big hair,” she teases.
But Garlene is more than her cute blonde bob. You’ll see her slender hands busy touching up and tidying around the place. Hands reaching out to greet and guide guests toward the dining room or auditorium. Hands clasped in prayer with someone over an illness or death. Or failing marriage. Or job loss.
Across from where she stands hangs a painting of her friend, Ruth Graham. “I like to look across the room at Mrs. Graham’s picture and think that as I greet guests…they feel they are entering the living room in her own home,” Garlene says, adding she always felt warm and comfortable there.
At 77, “and proud of every year”, Garlene is the longest-employed hostess at The Cove, logging in 20 years of service and memories.
“She’s the “quintessential Southern Belle” says Scott Holmquist, Cove executive director. “She’s known for her graciousness and warmth.”
Her touches, big or small, help people unwind so they can rewind with God in the seminars and surroundings ahead.
She’s lady-like, yes, (she doesn’t like to pump her own gas). But fragile, she is not. (She once owned a rifle thinking she could scare off an intruder, but gave it away). Blessed with energy, she’s presently planning 20 weddings for this year at Montreat College and Montreat Presbyterian Church. Through it all, Garlene’s compassion oozes from her life experiences knowing that God loves and leads you through the hard times. Being organized helps, too.
Born in Lincolnton, N.C. in 1935, Garlene was the oldest of three daughters. Her dad died in a car accident when she was 8; he was 39. Ironically, her grandfather also died at that age.
“Over the years I just accepted it as God’s will. Their faith (of her grandmother and mom) gave me the faith to go on,” she reflects.
Garlene moved to Montreat attending college, working, and later marrying Kay N. Stutts. They were blessed with two daughters, Joy and Becky. Garlene soon taught middle and high school English in nearby towns. She also taught Sunday school to two of Billy and Ruth Graham’s children: Anne and Ned.
When Kay suddenly died at age 49, Garlene clung to God, again remembering the faith of her grandmother and mother who were widowed early. Years later, Garlene found love a second time, marrying George L. Johnson, the widowed father of Karlene Shea, who is married to George Beverly Shea.
Sadness struck again when George, a “Christian gentleman of prayer and the Bible” (like her first husband), died after a long illness. “It was still a shock,” she says.
Garlene as a new Cove employee in 1991
In 1991, Garlene ventured into a seminar at the Cove. One of the managers, whom she knew from church, asked if she would like to volunteer as a hostess.
“Oh yes,” she said without hesitation. “I didn’t even have to pray about it. I’ve been there ever since.” She’s found inspiration from those who enter The Cove.
One couple she met several years ago had a daughter suffering with brain cancer for three years. “Each year as they returned, their spirits were uplifted as they waited for the Lord to call her home,” she recalls. “What an inspiration this couple was to me!”
“I also met a young boy in a wheelchair. He was born without legs and had stubs for arms. As he was leaving, he asked if he could give me a hug. What a precious hug that was—one of the best I have ever had!”
Says Garlene: “The years that I have worked at The Cove have been… rewarding. As I enter the property, I feel that I am on ‘holy ground’ where the property has been prayed over by so many, for so long. When I begin work, I am with my Cove family where we like to begin our day with prayer and devotions.
It’s fun to meet guests from all over the world. Some have been to the Cove numerous times; others for the first time. I hear exciting stories about how God has worked in their lives through speakers, worship, and through that ‘still small voice.’”
It’s a voice she’s heard before. And as guests walk through the doors of the Training Center carrying life’s loads, Garlene’s touches for the kingdom continue.
When Garlene prays with guests, she often uses these verses from the NIV:
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
“They [compassions] are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.”
“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”