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on purpose.

A Complete Change

Homes Story

This story can be read in its entirety in the book, “It is Better to Build Boys Than to Mend Men,” by S. Truett Cathy, founder of Chick-fil-A, Inc., and the WinShape Foundation.

Drugs landed Brandon’s father in prison. His mother couldn’t support herself, let alone two sons, so when he was very young, Brandon and his brother entered the Georgia foster care system. Before his eighth birthday, he’d lived in eight different homes and attended seven different schools. That’s who he was when he arrived at WinShape Homes to live with Sonny and Deenie Brooks. It is not who he would remain.

By the time he was twelve, the Brooks’ love and support had led to what Brandon called “a complete change” in his identity. He wanted his name to reflect this new birth, so with help from the Brooks, he went through the process of legally changing his name to David James Cathy.

He took his new first name from David Dollar, a foster dad who had been an important positive role model for him when he was younger; his middle name from David Dollar’s son James, who had looked up to Brandon as a role model himself and reminded him to live a life worth emulating; and his last name from Truett Cathy, who would become his legal guardian.

Mr. Cathy’s story is a powerful reminder that we all have the capacity to love and care for children who come from broken homes or difficult situations. We simply need to be aware and willing to participate in the lives of others.


The Unspoken Power of Community

College Program Story

When Jeremy Marshall’s newborn daughter, Selah, had a clogged tear duct, there was little concern. It’s a common condition that usually clears itself up as a baby grows, and in Selah’s case that’s exactly what happened by the time she was six months old. But then the condition returned three months later. This time, the prognosis was anything but common.

Jeremy and his wife drove their daughter to a specialist in Atlanta who immediately expressed concern about the shape of Selah's head. He referred her to a neurologist. Two hours later, the Marshalls found themselves in a waiting room full of severely disabled children.

There, the neurologist confirmed that Selah had sagittal synostosis--a premature fusing of her soft spot--that would eventually result in severe deformation and potential brain trauma.

Still, said the doctor, there was a light at the end of the tunnel. Because they caught the condition early, there was a good chance the effects could be reversed. Unfortunately, this meant Selah’s small skull would have to be disassembled, cut, and reassembled.

In the days that followed, Jeremy shared the challenging news with several college students who were part of the WinShape College Leadership Development program, for which he is the Assistant Director. The students listened with concern and promised to pray. Neither they nor Jeremy and his wife knew what to expect.

The surgery was a great success and Selah was soon back to crawling around her parents’ house. But the challenge was not yet over. While the Marshalls’ insurance paid for a large portion of the surgery costs, remaining expenses in the thousands became the Marshalls’ responsibility.

The couple chipped away at the expense as best as they could, but at the six month mark, a sizable balance still remained. That is, until word got out to the college students.

A couple of weeks later, Jeremy slipped into his car after spending time in the students’ dorm. On the seat was an envelope that read “Do not open until you get home.”

When he arrived home, Jeremy and his wife followed the instructions. Inside the envelope was a large stack of bills and with some change. They tallied the money and wrote down the total, feeling immense gratitude for the students’ generosity. Then Jeremy retrieved the balance on Selah’s surgery. It was three cents more than what the students had placed into the envelope.

God had provided as only He can. And perhaps just as important, He had reminded the Marshalls and the students Jeremy led just how powerful community can be.


Time and Space to Remember

Retreat Story

Packing and getting the kids to the babysitter was a monumental task after working all day. Now it was raining, they were late, and Shasta Dixon and her husband, Recarsha, were not happy with each other. The truth is that they hadn’t been happy with each other for a long time. Their work schedules, their kids’ schedules, and their roles as spouses and parents had eroded their marriage into something more like two roommates who made do. But they had made a decision. And now they were following through with it like they did with every other responsibility they checked off their lists.

As their car rolled closer to WinShape Retreat, they didn’t feel the stress melt away like they had hoped. Instead, the heavy rain pelting the car served as a reminder of their circumstances: unrelenting, burdensome, and even irritating. Could they even listen to a marriage seminar in their current state?

They finally reached WinShape Retreat, long after they were supposed to arrive. They were met by a soft-spoken gentleman in a golf cart who drove them directly to the dining hall. There the chef noticed that Shasta’s plate wasn’t as full as it should be, and he asked if there was anything he could get her. Shasta politely said no and explained that she had some dietary restrictions. The chef nodded and then left her and her husband to themselves.

Five minutes later, the chef returned. In his hand was a plate, and on that plate was a meal that he’d crafted especially for Shasta. She felt a little weight fall from her shoulders. After their meal, the Dixons were escorted to another building by friendly folks with large umbrellas. There they were handed warm blankets before being shown their seats in the auditorium—comfortable chairs like those you’d find in a living room. The Dixons sat down and let their bodies sink into the soft cushions.

When the evening was through, they walked to their room, where they found their luggage thoughtfully arranged and a bedtime snack placed on their table. It met Shasta’s dietary needs. As they both sat on the bed and enjoyed the snacks, their bodies began to relax for what felt like the first time in forever. The feeling was tangible.

They said little that first night and simply rested together. When the light of the next day peaked through their window, a change had begun that would continue through the weekend. For a few days, the Dixons were given the time and space to breathe, relax and rejuvenate. Soon they remembered the love, admiration and respect that led them to get married in the first place.


Investing in the Future of Niger

International Story

Jason Bilotti didn’t know the extent of a commitment he made in 2006. When he led a team from WinShape International to Niger that year, he knew the numbers: a literacy rate of only 28 percent and less than half of the country’s children enrolled in school. The numbers helped him understand that Niger was a country in desperate need of leaders who would work toward a better future. This understanding showed him how he could help.

Bilotti and his team worked alongside LINK, a Nigerian-based organization that was building two schools. What began as local investment into the communities there grew into something much broader.

The first trip turned into a second trip and then a third. In fact, Bilotti’s commitment deepened each subsequent year to the point that he and his WinShape International team began teaching the LINK school leaders the SERVE Model he used with his staff at his two Chick-fil-A restaurants in Atlanta. The model caught on and has played a role in the schools’ success.

Last year, 980 students in one school tallied a remarkable 100 percent passing rate on their government exams. The personal return on investment was even bigger for Bilotti.

Today, he and his wife have a son whom they adopted from one of the orphanages in Niger.


A Willing Heart. An Open Mind.

College Program Story

When Jenna Sellers visited Berry College, she knew she’d found her university. Soon she learned the ‘story of God’ and how to live in a Christ-centered community. She examined recurring themes in her life and enjoyed intimacy with God. She traveled to China and Washington, D.C., then penned this life-purpose statement: God has breathed life into me so I may joyfully and diligently organize and implement global ministries that foster purposeful, authentic, and intimate Christian communities that will fervently further the kingdom in all nations.

On a trip to Brazil with Frontline Missions, Jenna was floored by the passion for God demonstrated by the Brazilian and Guyanese people. The rest of the trip, she questioned whether she would give her life for Christ, as they said they would. When she returned home, something was pulling her back to Brazil. She not only determined she would give her life for Christ, but she secured an internship with Frontline to go back to Brazil, Guyana, and other places in South America to share Christ’s love.

“God’s plans are greater and more satisfying than anything we could come up with on her own,” Jenna says. “When we release our plans to God, he can do immeasurably more than we could ever dream.”


When Life is a Stretch, Good Things Can Happen

Camps Story

Justin was homesick his first time at camp. Every activity reminded him of his dad and the things they did together at home. He and his counselors learned to celebrate the small victories . . . mountain biking over the hill, making it to the water wheel, arriving back at WinShape Center. His homesickness never let up. He shed a lot of tears. But he made it through.

The next year, counselors kept an eye out for Justin, knowing he would need encouragement if he returned. He did show up, but he wasn’t the same boy. This young man smiled back, waved and exuded happiness. And what a joy he was to watch—playing games, singing camp songs, even reaching out to include boys who were homesick. Camp had stretched him. It had helped him grow—and care.


Road to Restoration

Marriage Story

We’d been married for ten years when he admitted to the affair. It lasted six months and ended a year prior to his confession. He was in his ninth year as a ministry leader at the time, and the affair was with another ministry leader. I was pregnant with our second child.

The confidence I had in our strong marriage was shattered. The foundation beneath me crumbled and I fell into heavy-hearted days and sleepless nights. When I looked at my husband, I saw a shell of the man who had been my rock. He plunged deeper into guilt and shame, unable to smile, barely able to talk without breaking down.

We told no one of the affair, not even our families. The decision led to further isolation and hopelessness. In desperation, we sought professional help but only found counselors whose foundation was not biblical or who skimmed over the trauma as though it were something that happened to everyone. After a year of trying to recover on our own and in secret, we lost all hope.

My husband had quietly resigned from his ministry position and taken a teaching job in a new town. I had given birth. Then a few months after our baby was born, our six-year-old daughter suffered a stroke and was diagnosed with a rare brain disease that required major surgery. We were living at poverty level in a new town with a deathly ill child. We’d lost our calling in ministry and were still avoiding family.

Then I broke down one day. I couldn’t keep masking the pain and confusion and disappointment. I cried out to God that he would either show us the way to recovery or do something to end it all.

That afternoon I stumbled upon the Affair Recovery website. I read the testimonials and signed up for the newsletters. My husband agreed to go through the online class with me if we could get a scholarship, and we did. The online setting was a necessity because we could not afford baby-sitting. I was hopeful about something new but also protecting my heart from another disappointing result. But this road was different.

The videos, weekly calls, homework, and the online group interaction was what we needed to work through the trauma we had let fester for more than a year.

Slowly but surely, we learned to let our guards down to others and let our honest emotions out to each other and ourselves. We learned how to communicate through our pain and disappointment, and break free from the numbness we’d let cloud our spirits. It took time.

We have always loved each other. But we didn’t know how to love each other in the most difficult time of our lives. Had God not shown us this specific road to recovery, we would still be married but it would be a powerless, lonely marriage. Instead, we are now a testimony God’s faithfulness to heal, restore and redeem even our worst offenses and sharpest pain.


An Unexpected Benefit

Retreat Story

Like most leaders, Ted Gocke expected that his corporate team would have some fun on their retreat. It’s hard to go wrong with a campfire, no agenda and S’mores made with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. But like most leaders, Gocke’s expectations didn’t stretch beyond that. Different people with different likes in a foreign place isn’t exactly a recipe for camaraderie. If anything, he simply hoped to avoid a lot of awkward silence. Turns out his sightline was changed when, this past spring, Gocke and his coworkers at the J103 radio station in Chattanooga packed their gear and headed to WinShape Retreat where, he explains, “Every need was anticipated and met.”

Going in, Gocke felt pressure to script a perfect environment chock full of meaningful activities. A few minutes into the trip he looked around and let out a big exhale. His shoulders softened and his countenance changed. The staff had polished every detail of the environment he desired, including chasing down random supplies for group building exercises.

The result was something neither Gocke nor the members of his team anticipated. In the glow of the first night’s campfire, the conversation changed. Guards came down. Smiles emerged more easily.

The members of J103 team began opening up to one another about family and friends, challenges and dreams. Suddenly the corporate retreat took on a new backdrop. It was no longer a company function. The faces around the fire were no longer coworkers. Everyone felt inside as though they would be doing this whether or not work was involved. When they returned home, that’s what they did.


At Home in a Hug

Homes Story

This story can be read in its entirety in the book, “It is Better to Build Boys Than to Mend Men,” by S. Truett Cathy, founder of Chick-fil-A, Inc., and the WinShape Foundation.

 

Michael lives at a WinShape children’s home in Brazil. He wasn’t more than three or four years old when I first met him there. I scooped him up and squeezed him against my chest, and he stretched his small arms around my neck and squeezed back.

I didn’t speak Portuguese, and Michael didn’t comprehend English, but we both understood affection. After that first meeting, I always greeted him with a big hug and repeated the words, “I love you, Michael.” He smiled, buried his head into my neck and squeezed me tighter.

We played together often during my stay, and at the end of nearly every day, I rocked him to sleep. I will never forget the feeling of his little body relaxing as we swayed back and forth in the stillness of the evening. How secure he felt in my arms. The day Jeannette and I had to go home was bittersweet. I didn’t want to leave Michael. He ran to me and wrapped his arms around my leg and we both began to cry.
Through my embrace, I had shown Michael the security of a father’s love. He had given me a poignant reminder of what it means to entrust one’s life to another’s hands.

Mr. Cathy’s story is a powerful reminder that we all have the capacity to love and care for children who come from broken homes or difficult situations. We simply need to be aware and willing to participate in the lives of others.


We Get Thirsty. We Drink.

International Story

Not so for the people in a small village tucked in the northeast corner of Honduras. Can you imagine a deep, constant thirst that only subsides when you’re willing to scoop a sip from the one water source available—a muddy, bacteria-infested puddle? Now imagine you’re a mother with a thirsty toddler in your arms.

They are feelings most of us living in the developed world will never have to know. But for Quart Graves, Mark Miller, and a team of volunteers, they are feelings that needed to be resolved nonetheless. The small team recently partnered with Living Water International to dig a well in that dusty corner of the South America.

The entire village gathered around as the team’s drill punched deeper and deeper into the earth. With each thud of the steel bit, eyes widened and bodies leaned in closer. Then, suddenly, something foreign appeared. From the dark hole, water began bubbling to the surface. The villagers erupted in shouts of joy, and the children bounced up and down. A spontaneous celebration ensued that culminated with the installation of a pump and the first of many handfuls of clean water.

To them it was not merely a new alternative to quench their thirst. To them it was a source of health, peace and the alleviation of constant worry that they had never known before. Life, from that moment on, would mean something different and something more.

WinShape International’s team went to Honduras with the mission to serve, equip, and provide clean drinking water. They were received by a gracious and humble people who were eager to learn and help.


Every Couple Needs Adventure

Marriage Story

Dr. Charles Beverly and his wife, Susye, enjoyed a solid marriage, but as Charles said, “Every marriage has its universal blessings and its universal problems.” One of the latter for them has been Charles’ battle with Parkinson’s disease. So, when they were approached by Chick-fil-A’s Scott Mayson to participate in WinShape Marriage’s sailing adventures to the British Virgin Islands, Charles and Susye said yes. It turned out to be a blessing for everyone on board.

The cruise featured exquisite food, teaching, sharing and reflection, snorkeling, marital strategies and more. “Others struggle in their marriages like we do,” Charles said. “Identifying with other men was most helpful.”Susye relished the privacy and interaction with others. “I learned I don’t need to count on Charles to make our marriage fantastic,” she said. “Much of it is simply up to me.”

Scott Mayson observed, “Charles and Susye’s example of dealing with a physical challenge in their marriage was an inspiration and a reminder that we all face challenges in life and marriage. We must choose to handle those things with grace and a positive attitude.”


Providence…Renewed Hope.

International Story

John and Esther, residents of a large city in East Asia, had reached the point of despair. After a failed product launch, the business they’d poured their lives into was sinking, and soon they would be forced to abandon it—and their dreams. But then, an amazing connection was made. A WinShape International partner introduced them to a team of Chick-fil-A Operators and things took a providential turn . . .

Using the vision-building tools and the SERVE leadership model the Operators sent them, John and Esther began rethinking their business. So inspired were they by the Chick-fil-A story that they created a new core purpose to “use the capabilities and resources given them by God to serve their clients and create a positive influence in society.”

Since then, John taught the SERVE model to his employees along with the book of Nehemiah.  A Bible study was formed.  Four people received Christ . . . and the miracles in East Asia continue to unfold.


Small Moments…Big Changes

Homes Story

This story can be read in its entirety in the book, “It is Better to Build Boys than to Mend Men,” by S. Truett Cathy, founder of Chick-fil-A, Inc., and the WinShape Foundation.
When we share our time with children, the little things often become lifetime memories. My friend Jeff Manley reminded me of such a time. He was a teenager and his father, an alcoholic, had taken his own life. I saw Jeff at camp on the front porch of one of the cabins. I hugged him and we sat in the rocking chairs together.  As Jeff later recalls, “We probably didn’t talk for more than ten minutes, but when I got home from camp, you called to see how I was doing.”

Jeff carried the memory of an arm around his shoulder and a telephone call for years. The call led to a deeper friendship. I don’t remember all we talked about, but Jeff remembers our business discussions. “I had never had a man talk to me about his day at the office,” Jeff recalls. “Sharing with me what he cared about and asking me for my opinion . . . it was really neat.” I genuinely liked Jeff and valued his opinion. Today, Jeff manages The Rock Ranch, where we have two foster homes.


In these Hills…Rejuvenation!

Retreat Story

“I grew up in Rome, Georgia, and my father was a staff member at Berry College. I’ve long been familiar with the Cathy family. I remember when their interest in the Berry property was budding, and I’ve watched in awe as they’ve masterfully developed WinShape. I attended a marriage retreat several years ago at WinShape Retreat and it has become the only such event that I never miss.”

“I can best describe my experiences with the Marriage retreat as soul-soothing. Upon arrival, the beauty is overwhelming. The natural environment gives you a sense of freedom and exploration. The retreat team makes sure everything is perfect, from the scrumptious food to the care, love and compassion you feel. And perhaps most important is the safe environment where I can explore personal issues with privacy.”

 

— Darlene Roth


Growing… Blooming…

College Program Story

To outsiders, Shelby Rhea’s family was perfect. Her father was the pastor of a church, married with three children—all smiles and best behavior. But behind the scenes, there was an obvious gap between her family’s image and their reality. Much of it had been a façade.

Soon, her parents’ marriage dissolved. Shelby Rhea remained with her mother and unfortunately took on the responsibilities of an adult—not to mention several other unthinkable trials. But through it all, Shelby Rhea chose to love unconditionally and forgive radically, believing better days were ahead.

The next chapter of her life would lead her to the WinShape College Program . . .
During her sophomore year of the WinShape College Program, Shelby Rhea wrote a life-purpose statement designed to serve as a guide for her future decisions and actions. She penned these words: “I am anointed to reclaim innocence, nurture healing, and speak bold Truths to the hurting and abused, energizing them to walk intimately with Christ in freedom and grace.”

When Shelby Rhea shared what she’d written with her pastor in Acworth, Ga., he became so excited about it that soon Shelby Rhea was leading a group of women from her church, ages 40 - 60, in writing their life-purpose statements. Next, she was teaching a life-purpose curriculum to the church leaders.

And soon . . . who knows what could be?


Learning to Love…Loving to Give!

Camps Story

“Faith Factory is a time when we provide really cool sessions centered around a Bible story, and teach children about anything from missions to sign language, from archery to digital photography,” says Diane Roberson, Director of Preschool & Children’s Ministry.

“The children earn points for things like memorizing scripture and inviting others to Faith Factory. Their points are converted into ‘dollars,’ which can be spent in our store full of prizes. On the final night of Faith Factory, I told them it would be their last visit to the store, and that they needed to spend all their money. Well, guess what some of them
did . . . ”

“The store clerk informed me when the night was ended that nine children had donated their money toward WinShape Camps scholarships, so other children could enjoy the experience from which they had benefitted so much,” Diane recalls. “They donated $199 in all. “I called each of their parents and told them how proud I was and let them know how significant those gifts would be to other children who might not make it to camp had it not been for their sons’ and daughters’ gifts.”


Come Away…

Retreat Story

It had been a longtime dream of Zach and Jody Gray’s to share with others how they had faced the challenges of keeping their marriage a priority while running a successful photography business together—but they couldn’t figure out when, where or how to pursue their vision. When Jody attended a Christian women’s retreat at the WinShape Retreat in the foothills of the breathtaking Appalachian Mountains, she was convinced she had found the answer she and Zach had been seeking.

They contacted the WinShape Retreat team, scheduled their conference and watched the parts of the puzzle begin falling into place. “The biggest obstacles were the details—those known and unknown,” Jody says. “The planners at WinShape Retreat are the ultimate helpmates. With great passion, they arranged the schedule, filled in scheduling gaps, and handled the audio and video needs.”

The event was flawless. “There were no loose ends, last-minute scrambling or unmet needs,” Jody says. “We originally expected 20 couples, but 41 attended. They told us the retreat was a much needed time of renewal and refreshment.”

Zach and Jody will host the event again next year at WinShape Retreat.


Unraveled and Rekindled…

Marriage Story

Marc and Meredith had been married 15 years. They both worked full time, and their 7- and 9-year-old boys had them running in different directions, from one sporting event to another—away from each other. Their love had grown cold. Their respect was gone. They barely communicated anymore.

When Meredith talked with a counselor from WinShape Marriage, she realized her relationship with Marc was on the brink of failure. The counselor recommended the WinShape Marriage Intensive, four days of intensive group and couples’ therapy with highly skilled counselors. Marc needed no convincing and agreed to attend.

WinShape Marriage offers many retreats for couples in all stages of marriage, but Marriage Intensive was right for Meredith and Marc because their relationship was in crisis. Many of the couples that attend Marriage Intensive are in the middle of divorce proceedings. Even so, 80 percent experience marital healing. The same proved true for Marc and Meredith.

They met other couples whose marriages were in even deeper trouble than theirs. They faced the heartbreaking fact that their relationship was just weeks away from dissolving. They received outstanding counsel and learned they each needed to change. They gained newfound freedom, insights and motivation that have made their marriage whole again.


Mission Accomplished!

Wilderness Story

On a cold and drizzly day in late January, Scott Chatham, owner of Chatham Landscape Services, took a team of 24 managers to WinShape Wilderness. He was on a mission to help his team build trust with one another. Scott knew that to meet his goal he would need to have his team in an environment of trust. That’s why he chose WinShape.

From the beautiful drive to the WinShape Wilderness facility, to the level of instruction and exceptional service they received that day, Scott says, "We were wowed!" After several in-door lessons led by the WinShape Wilderness staff on trust-building, the rainy drizzle stopped and the skies turned blue. Next stop: the high ropes course. "This is where things got really interesting," says Scott.

High ropes can be daunting; where success depends on a trusting cooperation between two people. Scott’s team was allowed to choose their own partners for the course.  He saw opposite personalities partner-up to accomplish the challenging task of crossing the high ropes course.

The WinShape Wilderness course proved that often we need to leave our comfort zone and test ourselves in unusual situations, in order to bring out our inner strengths.
When Scott and his managers returned to the office the next day, they realized that unusual friendships were forged, understanding was gained, and most importantly, trust was built. "Mission accomplished!"


Changing a Child Changes You

Homes Story

The following story can be read in its entirety in the book, “It is Better to Build Boys than to Mend Men,” by S. Truett Cathy, founder of Chick-fil-A, Inc. and the WinShape Foundation.

I was thirteen years old when God worked through Theo Abby, my Sunday School teacher, to change my life

In a real sense, I had been “fatherless.” My father was alive, but he never told me, I love you. When I needed help with something, I knew not to even ask him. He was never available, interested or engaged. As I grew toward manhood, my father and I never discussed the difficult issues of life. I was “on my own” and left to fend for myself more often than not.

Then Theo Abby became my teacher and my friend. 

Occasionally, Mr. Abby visited the federal housing project where I lived, and began real relationships with many of us who had never had such a mentor.

I believe that it was Mr. Abby’s influence in my life that led me to have a passion for young people and trying to provide a safe, caring, nurturing environment where they will feel loved and encouraged. 


God wants to work through you to change the life of a child. He will provide the love, the encouragement, the joy and the hope. All you have to contribute are arms of hugs, a voice to encourage and time for companionship.


Kenya: Day 4

International Story

A page from my journal...

Being in Kenya and seeing where my ancestors are from is a bit overwhelming. I know that color does not matter, but I am not used to seeing so many people with my skin. They know I am different, but they see me as one of their own. I haven’t experienced their hardships, and I do not share the same needs every day, but I am theirs, and they are mine. I know that I am very fortunate, but on many levels, I want to be more like them.
I want to be confident like Patina; humble like Dixon; strong like Dee. She is 80 years old and full of true joy. I trust that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me motivates me to do better even when I feel like giving up. My experiences with these beautiful people affirm that to be true. They are so happy, joyful, hopeful and content.
Lord, help me to be more humble and patient. Help me to be thankful. Thank you for connecting me with these people, and help us all to continue learning from them every day.


Zambian Businessman Leads, Serves Holistically

International Story

“What Africa really needs is Christian engineers and businessmen who will help us live our lives,” Zambian businessman Davis Mwanamoya recently shared with his WinShape International friends.
Davis is an insurance branch manager in Chipata, Eastern Zambia who restructured his entire branch after a WinShape International team introduced him to a new model of business leadership. Last year, his branch posted the highest profit in his organization. Chipata’s marketplace has an economic inner circle that is difficult to break into. Christians in particular, Davis said, need to see that they can be both a Christian and a successful businessperson.
Two years ago, Operators Will Sims and Grant Wells traveled to eastern Zambia with WinShape International to establish a partnership with Kevin Pestke at I AM Ministries. In the process, they led a SERVE workshop, which Davis attended. Davis left with a copy of The Secret by Mark Miller and Ken Blanchard and, after reading it, reorganized his branch. His managing director embraced the concept as well, and the book helped them re-brand and “reinvent continuously” an established company.
Will and Grant led another WSI team to Zambia the following year to teach a SERVE leadership workshop for local businessmen and women in Chipata. Driven by his passion for the future leadership of Zambia, Davis not only attended the event, but hosted it as well.
Davis said his one prayer for his people is that they would have a holistic understanding of the Christian faith — that they would learn how to live, operate a business, and see economics from a Christian perspective. “It is now more important than ever to see how Christians can be a part of the economic growth that is in our country,” Davis shared.
WinShape International’s team accomplished more than presenting the SERVE leadership model. They also answered the prayer of Davis Mwanamoya and others who seek to equip the next generation of leadership in Zambia.


A Summer Staffer Reflects

Camps Story

Every summer WinShape Camps Summer Staff pour their hearts and energy into their role as leader, teacher, and mentor. One summer staffer, Jerica, tells us about her experience working for WinShape Camp for Girls at Young Harris.

Before coming to camp, my prayers were focused on how the Lord would use me in the camper’s lives.  I was constantly asking God to prepare me for whatever he needed me to do in these girls’ lives. I guess the bottom line is that I was focused on what I would give this summer- my time, my past experiences, myself, but what I never thought of or expected was what I would receive this summer.I received love in a way that I never before experienced, not necessarily from the girls, but from the Lord through the girls. The Lord has always been present in my life, but this summer I really SAW God in each and every thing I did. All in all, I learned and received more than I ever thought possible.  I came to camp to teach kids, to love them, and to grow them, but I could have never prepared myself to learn from them, experience the love I felt, and to grow in ways I didn’t even know possible.


Home for the First Time…

Homes Story

Will was 10 years old when he went home for the first time. On June 6, 1999, he and his 8-year-old sister began their lives in a WinShape Home. The children’s father was a substance abuser who spent most of his life in jail or in halfway houses, and their mother is a long-time sufferer of bi-polar disorder.
At the age of five, their father left the family and their mother had a mental breakdown. Will and his sister were sent to live with various family members over the next few years until God intervened and opened a door at WinShape Homes with the Frierson family.
During his first few years with the Friersons, Will was angry and violent. “I was mad at the world,” Will says, “and I blamed everyone around me for bad things that happened to me up until that point. With the Frierson’s help, I was finally able to turn to God for strength and He began to reveal Himself to me in wonderful ways.”
Will became a model teenager, student, and citizen. He graduated from Berry College with a degree in Philosophy and is currently a second-year law student at the University of the Pacific, McGeorge Law School. While Will and his sister still keep in close contact with their immediate family, Will says, “the Frierson’s are my true family and WinShape is my true home. I will be forever grateful for the influence they had on our lives.”


Will’s story is a beautiful, powerful reminder of God’s grace in our lives. The ministry of WinShape Homes impacts and influences the lives of hundreds of young people each and every day. 


The Summer of a Lifetime

Camps Story

It was just a short conversation, but this little girl changed the way I think about my life and the lives of those I serve…
Last summer at WinShape Camps, I noticed a young girl sitting alone and I decided to take the opportunity to chat with her.  Within a matter of seconds she was telling me her story: abandoned by her father; abused by her mother; ran away from home; arrested; then placed in foster home with house parents who loved her well.
She said she has a good relationship with her foster mom, but that those parents were leaving. She lowered her head and said that they would be stepping down from their foster parenting role.  Then she looked up at me and said, “all of us without real parents really need them…”
My heart broke to hear this sweet girl express her need for someone’s love. It was then that I realized how the WinShape Camps experience really can be more than a fun way to spend a week or two in the summer – it can be the highlight of a young person’s year. It can be the summer of a lifetime. It is the place where they can forget, if just for a moment, all of their worries. It’s a place where they can laugh, have fun, learn new skills, and most importantly get a greater understanding of who God is and just how much He loves them.
I will keep this girl in my thoughts and prayers until I see her again next summer at camp, and I hope that you will join me as so many young people long for the love they so richly deserve, but oftentimes do not receive.
- Trudy Cathy White, Director, WinShape Camps for Girls


Everything will be Okay.

International Story

My name is Krista Bell. My husband, Jeff, and our 14 year old twin boys, Trace and Taylor, went on a mission trip to London, England, last year during the 2012 Summer Olympics. We volunteered with 7 local churches to host a Holiday Club (Vacation Bible School) in the morning and outreach in the afternoon and evening.
My most memorable experience took place during the Holiday Club. I was asked if I would be willing to do Story-Time in a large group one day.  I thought to myself, “Of course I can teach a Bible story to 5-7 year olds. I won’t be nervous speaking to about 30 kids…no big deal.”  After the first day my husband told me there were 150 kids at the Holiday Club!!!  Now, I’m a little nervous.  It wasn’t going to be a quiet, little group where I sat amongst them on the floor telling the story.  I was going to be on STAGE and have a microphone in front of 150 people! I prayed for God to give me calmness and confidence.
I told the Bible story of Jesus and Peter walking on water and everything went well. The kids stayed focused with me while I made the story interactive with them. I got a thumbs-up afterwards from Jeff, but that wasn’t my memorable moment.
After we finished Holiday Club for the day, Jeff and I were talking and he said he had a little boy in his group that had special needs. He mostly kept to himself, was quiet, and really hadn’t been involved with his group too much during the week. Jeff asked the group, “What did you learn today from Story-Time?” The quiet, little boy turned and said, “I know, I know!” He said, “If you always keep Jesus in your life and make Him the most important thing, everything will be okay.”


A Mountaintop Experience.

International Story

A team of 4 multi-denominational pastors led Lance Reed and his Chick-fil-A team members high atop a hill in Karogoto, Kenya. As often as possible, these pastors climb to Tumutumu Hill to pray and fast for the Karogoto community below.
As Lance and his team started to pray, God confirmed that this would not be the end of his relationship with this community. Today, through his association with 410Bridge – a ministry that partners with leaders of communities in Kenya and Haiti to help distribute water, educate children, provide healthcare, establish businesses and spread the gospel – Lance hopes to impact the community of Karogoto through his own community of Oxford, Mississippi. “I can’t wait to invite other Chick-fil-A Team Members as well as key community leaders to invest their time, energy and resources into this community. It is such a great blessing to be used by God in this way…”


Sunshine on a Rainy Day

Wilderness Story

On a cold and drizzly day in late January, Scott Chatham, owner of Chatham Landscape Services, took a team of 24 managers to WinShape Wilderness. He was on a mission to help his team build trust with one another. Scott knew that to meet his goal he would need to have his team in an environment of trust. That’s why he chose WinShape Wilderness.
From the beautiful drive to the WinShape Wilderness facility, to the level of instruction and exceptional service they received that day, Scott says, "We were wowed!"
After several in-door lessons led by the WinShape Wilderness staff on trust-building, the rainy drizzle stopped and the skies turned blue. Next stop: the high ropes course. "This is where things got really interesting," says Scott. High ropes can be daunting; where success depends on a trusting cooperation between two people. Scott’s team was allowed to choose their own partners for the course.  He saw opposite personalities partner-up to accomplish the challenging task of crossing the high ropes course.
The WinShape Wilderness course proved that often we need to leave our comfort zone and test ourselves in unusual situations, in order to bring out our inner strengths.
When Scott and his managers returned to the office the next day, they realized that unusual friendships were forged, understanding was gained, and, most importantly, trust was built. "Mission accomplished!"


Character Education…

Wilderness Story

2007 was the year that Rick Johnson thought he was retiring. For the past 20 years, Rick served as Director of WinShape Camps and it was during his final summer that he unknowingly embarked upon another career. The opportunity came from a professor at Shorter College who knew of WinShape Camps and how they emphasize character building. Believing the man that had directed the camp could bring that same emphasis to Shorter, Rick was offered a professorship starting that Fall.
Rick saw this as a door unexpectedly opening for him and accepted a position teaching a Character Education class at Shorter.
The core of Rick’s  teaching is to help students gain an understanding that they have a purpose greater than their chosen careers. How does he get them to realize this greater purpose? By challenging them to get out of their comfort zones, get to know each other, and appreciate each other's differences." That’s where WinShape Wilderness comes in.
Each semester, Rick brings about 35 Shorter University students to the Wilderness ropes course. During a recent visit, he had an unusual group of students that really didn't seem cohesive. They often paired off and didn't show interest in one another. By the end of the day and the end of the ropes course, Rick's students became the supportive group he had hoped for.
Rick proudly beamed about the Wilderness staff, "Your team did a great job! They were very engaging and formed a connection with their groups right off the bat. They also did a great job of getting them to understand how others depend on their best efforts, and how they needed the encouragement from others to accomplish their own goals.”
Rick’s story is a lesson to all of us. Know your principles, know your skills, and be open to doors that might lead you to impact the lives of others in ways you never imagined. 


My First Real Family

Homes Story

At the tender and complicated age of 12, Susan moved into a WinShape Home. Over the next 12 years, she learned what it was like to have a real family. It didn't take long for her "house-parents" to become her real parents, and the other children in her home to become her brothers and sisters. For the first time in her life, she had a family that cared for her, encouraged her, and met her physical, spiritual, and emotional needs.
She had never been on a family vacation before joining her WinShape Homes family, but today recalls those times together as her fondest memories. With the support of her family, she was able to graduate from high school and then college in Alabama.
Today, Susan is married and looks forward to sharing the love and support she received at WinShape Homes with her own family.
Susan's story is a beautiful, powerful reminder of God’s grace in our lives, but it is not altogether unique. The ministry of WinShape Homes influences the lives of hundreds of young people each and every day.


Dream Coming True…

College Program Story

“Congratulations Michaela! We would like to offer you a position in the Winshape College program.” These were the words I had been waiting to hear for many weeks.
Tears streamed down my face. God is good, and He had provided a clear and obvious answer for me: “Yes Michaela. Berry is your home, and the Winshape College Program is where I have you.”
Berry had been a dream school of mine since my elementary class visited in the 5th grade, but my family was not financially prepared to send me. I submitted an application anyway… just to see what would happen. I wanted a community that burned for what I burned for. I wanted a home. I wanted Berry.
I was excited when I received my acceptance letter, but I knew that finances would still keep me from going. That’s when I got the call: “Congratulations Michaela, we would like to offer you a position in the Winshape College program.”
Receiving the Winshape Scholarship not only solidified what I knew would be an incredible group of men and women to ‘do life with,’ it was the final piece of the Lord’s puzzle, because He allowed Berry to become financially available.
And so it began… This beautiful journey surrounded by a community of believers who have become much more than classmates. This program and this place have empowered me and my peers to become biblical leaders in a secular world. Thank you, Berry College. And thank you, WinShape College Program! 


God’s Love…

College Program Story

Sometimes we must empty ourselves of the comforts around us in order for God’s love to truly fill our lives. This journey to light can involve sacrifice and commitment on a new path that challenges, but ultimately enriches us.
During the third year of the WinShape College program at Berry College, Juniors are asked to focus their gifts and talents on a community outside the program. This year Junior Kimberly Hawkins, wanted to lead a team to Boa Vista, Brazil with the intention of training other college-aged students from the Amer-Indian tribes of Brazil and Guyana to disciple others.
Kimberly and her team went to work planning, raising funds, and praying. Shortly before they were set to leave her team found themselves with a missing Visa, short of funds, and a team member with a ruptured appendix. Things were certainly not going in their favor. Despite the circumstances, Kimberly and her team knew that God had called them to Brazil and they persevered. Before they left, funds had appeared and health was restored.
Upon returning from her trip, Kimberly had this to say about her experience: " The biggest take-away from this trip for me was not what I heard, but what I saw. I saw the students love one another and love our heavenly Father in a way I had never seen anyone love before. I honestly did not know that the human heart had the capacity to love in that way. And not only was it inspiring, but it was convicting. Those students loved their brothers and sisters with a service-oriented, sacrificial love, and all I could do was think, “Wow! This is just a snippet of what God’s love must be like.” 


Princess Night

College Program Story

They returned from their Community Impact Team (CIT) training with tear-stained faces and overwhelming emotion. "What could have possibly happened to these three young women?" thought Jeremy Marshall, Director of WinShape College. They were supposed to have just received training on how to design their street ministry project for the year from an organization called City of Refuge in Atlanta, Georgia. Jeremy cautiously approached them and gently asked them the reason for their tears.
It seems that during their consultation/training from City of Refuge, they were told about a program called, "Princess Night." This is an evening when City of Refuge goes into the heart of Atlanta to make relationships with women who live on the street. It is the hope that through these relationships, City of Refuge will be able to convince these women to come and live in their Eden Village where they will receive safe housing, job training, and the essential help they need to get back on their feet.
It was during a Princess Night event that these three young college women were able to convince a women to leave her nightmare life on the street and join them at Eden Village. Not only were they overwhelmed with the joy of having helped someone, they were heart-broken by the number of women who thought there was no life for them beyond the streets.
"That story is something that I can point to as a reminder of the fact that we can have the best training, the best teaching, or the best events, but at the end of the day the most impacting element in the lives of our students will be the meaningful personal interactions, the relationships.  As great as our teamwork and project management training is, if I went to all three of those young ladies and asked them what the most influential element of the CIT Initiative was, I am confident that every one of them would share the story of the woman who thought her life was over; the woman they were able to help rescue.  I am very proud of our program, but I am deeply passionate about our people." Jeremy Marshall


Refresh and Renew

Retreat Story

The heavy rain and dense fog made it nearly impossible for Grant Wells to see the road. Slowly and carefully he drove his wife, Monique, down the long, wooded driveway to WinShape Retreat. They were headed to a Pastor's Refresh and Renew Experience. Suddenly, he realized that he didn't bring an umbrella. "What a great way to start our 'refreshing' experience," he thought. "I can't even get my wife out of the car without drenching her." As they pulled into the WinShape Retreat parking lot, a golf cart emerged from the fog carrying just the help they needed; an umbrella and folks to help carry their luggage.

That was the start of their transforming experience at WinShape Retreat. Grant and Monique's experience are simple reminders that we all need to get away sometimes to reconnect with God and those we love. WinShape Retreat serves as a unique and powerful respite for couples, teams, and groups of all sizes.


Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks…

Marriage Story

Even though we have been married for 35 years and have participated and led marriage retreats, God taught me a valuable lesson on a recent WinShape Marriage Retreat to Costa Rica. I have always been encouraged to have a devotional with my wife, but for many years it was more of a miss than a hit. I felt my responsibility was to maintain my own relationship with God.
At one point, I said to my wife, "I can't think of a verse that commands us to have a devotion together." The next day I read my devotion, a verse that I have read many times and know by heart, "husbands love your wives like Christ loved the Church and gave His life for her." I knew that, but the next verse told me why and how, "that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of the water by the word." God has set us apart as believers and cleanses us by washing us with His word.
God told me that not only do I need to set aside time for myself to make me like Him, I need to do the same for my wife to sanctify (set her apart) and make her holy (Christ like) by the washing of the water of the Word. Just like Christ took the lead, I need to take the lead. It's been a few weeks since the trip and we are spending time together in the Word and our relationship is getting better day-by-day.
Thank you God for teaching an old dog new tricks!
Mark Riley


Answering the Call…

Marriage Story

While Grant was a pastor at a church in Orlando, Florida, he and his wife, Monique, sensed God's calling to minister to couples whose marriages were in distress. After a Refresh and Renew Pastor's experience at WinShape Retreat, Grant and Monique knew that this was the kind of atmosphere in which they wanted to minister to couples. They felt WinShape was exactly what they were looking for.
The decision to leave Orlando and move to Rome, Georgia was made easier by the fact that Monique is a trained marriage therapist with the National Institute of Marriage.  So certain were they that this was a call to be answered, it took just six months for Grant and Monique to move and become a part of the 4-day Marriage Intensive at WinShape Retreat.
What made them realize they had truly made the right decision was that in less than year after moving, Grant started working in a local Chick-fil-A and became its franchise Operator!