Giving Gifts Around the World

National Collection Week for Operation Christmas Child is November 16–23. 

Since 1993, Samaritan's Purse has sent 113 million shoeboxes to children in more than 130 countries through their Operation Christmas Child ministry.

The mission of Operation Christmas Child is to demonstrate God’s love in a tangible way to children around the world, and together with the local church worldwide, to share the Good News of Jesus Christ.

"It's so much more than a box. A lot of these children have never received a gift in their life and have never heard of Jesus Christ," said Kelly Hill of Walnut Creek Windsor Heights. "It is such a blessing to be able to share the gospel with millions of children and families through a shoebox."

Loren Pavel, of Walnut Creek Windsor Heights, and Hill coordinate Operation Christmas Child for Walnut Creek. As a team they get the information out to all the locations and order the materials needed to equip people to pack boxes.

Later this month they will collect and deliver the boxes to New Hope Assemblies of God Church in Urbandale, an Iowa collection center. All boxes collected in Iowa will be sent to the processing center in Minneapolis for inspection. From there, boxes are shipped to children all over the world.

Loren and Kelly both serve on the year-round Operation Christmas Child volunteer team with Sarah Johnson, Stephanie Hoch, and Tim and Sara Laehn, all of Walnut Creek Downtown.

At Walnut Creek Downtown's Christmas In July event this summer, volunteers packed over 2,000 shoeboxes.

The deadline to turn in boxes is Sunday, November 22. Boxes can be brought to any Walnut Creek location. For information about how to get involved with the year-round volunteer team, contact Kelly at

Samaritan’s Purse is an international Christian relief and evangelism organization headed by Franklin Graham. To learn more about Operation Christmas Child, visit

By Jackie Wallentin  
Walnut Creek Windsor Heights 

"Tomorrow's Freedom Is Today's Surrender"

Five women perform "Dawn To Dusk" by All Sons and Daughters at the Women's Coffeehouse on November 6.

Before the Women's Coffeehouse even began, all 570 chairs set out were taken. By 7pm, more than 620 women gathered together to hear stories of God's deliverance and rescue through personal testimonies, worship, and fellowship.

The inspiration for this year's coffeehouse came from Galatians 5:1: "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery."

After opening in prayer, the worship band, composed of Cindy Andorf, Hannah Wright, Sara Choi, Jillian Aurelio, and Liz VanderSchel, performed "Dawn To Dusk" by All Sons and Daughters. Throughout the evening, the speakers referenced the lyric, "Tomorrow's freedom is today's surrender" to share their personal experiences of freedom found in Christ.

"The Christian life in essence is a life of surrender," said Shaly Moyal. "This year's Women's Coffeehouse centered around the theme that Christ died to free us, and that freedom is only found through surrender."

The first speaker of the evening, Haley Altmaier of Walnut Creek Downtown, shared the story of her relationship with her now husband. Haley described the desires, emotions, and actions God asked her to surrender during a time of unforeseen pain and confusion. As she surrendered, God showed her His patience, goodness, and faithfulness.

Over 620 women from all locations of Walnut Creek Church attended the coffeehouse.
Following Haley, Carla Richey of Walnut Creek Downtown shared her testimony of how the Lord has helped her to continually surrender her children and their future to Him as she and her husband choose to center their universe around God and His Kingdom, realizing that these children are His. In surrendering her children to God, she has seen the peace that comes in trusting the Lord to lead, guide, and direct her children toward Himself. 

The last speaker of the evening was a video testimony by Christy Jo Hogg of Walnut Creek South. At age 13, Christy was diagnosed with a brain tumor. When she was 18, her brain tumor began growing again, and Christy thought God was punishing her for her rebellious lifestyle.

The day after she found out the cancer had come back, Christy met Jon and Agatha Crane of Walnut Creek South. The Cranes gave her a Gospel tract and invited her to church and their Community Group. Not long after giving her life to Christ, Christy found out she had another tumor, except this time it was inoperable. Doctors gave her 14 months to live. In the video, Christy shares her story of surrendering her entire life to God and how the Lord has helped her understand the pain and suffering of cancer.

The annual Women's Coffeehouse event was held Friday, November 6 at Walnut Creek Downtown.
In two additional videos, various women from each location shared in a sentence or two something they have found freedom in after surrounding to the Lord. Responses ranged from surrender of anger and greed to surrender of pleasing people and broken relationships.

"We wanted women to see that this life, the Christian life, requires continual surrender as we desire to experience more and more freedom that Christ offers," said Shaly. "We tried to demonstrate and share the variety of decisions that women have had to make through various videos and testimonies, hoping and praying that each woman in attendance would be able to relate to at least one of these decisions and decide to make it for herself in an effort to see and experience Christ."

Over 100 local businesses donated door prizes, which were handed out throughout the evening. The annual coffeehouse is a way for women to invite their friends, neighborhoods, coworkers, and family members to join in genuine fellowship and hear about the power of the Lord working in other women's lives. 

By Jackie Wallentin
Walnut Creek Windsor Heights

Walnut Creek Extends Grand Welcome to Karenni Congregation

Karenni 2
Walnut Creek Karenni held their first service at Walnut Creek Downtown on Sunday, November 1.
Photo by: Alex Michl

In 2013, Mike and Jenessa Lock of Walnut Creek Downtown realized that the Karenni refugees they had come to know did not have a church in Des Moines. Through a relationship with a Burmese woman named Pawdeenya, the Locks began to help her reach Karenni with the Gospel through apartment Bible studies. 

About a year and a half ago, the Karenni Christian Fellowship began meeting on Sunday afternoons at Freedom For Youth Ministries. The Locks, as well as Brandon and Ashley Johnson of Walnut Creek Downtown, helped to facilitate the Sunday service including worship, teaching, and children's ministry. About 80-90 Karenni regularly fellowship together each Sunday. 

Over the last year, Walnut Creek has partnered with the Karenni Fellowship in their ministry, and on November 1, Walnut Creek Karenni held their first service at Walnut Creek Downtown. The Grand Welcome Celebration marked the beginning of the Karenni service becoming part of Walnut Creek Church. 

The service included worship in both the Kayah language and English.
Photo by: Alex Michl
The Karenni comprise nine different people groups, who speak different languages and dialects, from their home state of Myanmar (Burma). Many of the Karenni have lived for years in refugee camps in Thailand before coming to Des Moines.

Fourteen Karenni adults were also baptized during the service, sharing their testimonies of lives changed by Christ. "It was beautiful to be a part of the celebration as many of the older believers began to sing out 'There is a Fountain' while those publicly declaring their faith were entering the baptismal waters," said Mike Lock.

Karenni 1
After the Karenni service, a meal catered by HyVee was served.
Photo by: Alex Michl

After the service, adults and children fellowshipped together with a meal and kids' activities, including the popular bouncehouse. "It was a great atmosphere of celebration," said Mike Lock.

Pastor Tim Rude spoke at the service and gave praise to God for all that has been happening within the Karenni people. Tim says Walnut Creek is excited to join arms with the Karenni people as they join the church and begin to have their own service at the Downtown location.

By Jackie Wallentin 
Walnut Creek Windsor Heights