Author Archives: river

Testimony – Ben Heddy-Kennedy

Back to Reach • Testimony #7
Ben Heddy-Kennedy | Operations Staff

I was raised in a close-knit family. Growing up we did a lot together, but the church was not one of those things. My uncle is a music director at a church, so we attended his church on special holidays, but that was about it. Things changed when I started middle school. A friend invited my sisters, a couple of other friends, and me to The River Church (Goodrich) all-nighter. It sounded like fun, so we all went. Sometime in the middle of all the craziness, the youth director got up and spoke about Hell, Heaven, and Jesus. I raised my hand, met with him, and repeated a prayer he said. I do not think it sunk in at that point. I believe that was a turning point for our family. My parents rededicated their lives, our whole family started going to church together, and I attended both Sunday and Thursday youth group times.

Ninth grade is a transition time for all kids, but it was a real tough time for me. I felt alone and even depressed. I got serious about reading the Bible and prayer. It was then that I got serious about following Christ. I tend to be on the shy side and hang out behind the scenes, but I knew I was not alone. The youth core group Bible studies and 5th quarter became part of my routine. That middle school prayer now made more sense.

My favorite verses are 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12, “And to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.” I recently saw these verses and felt they dictated my view on life. We need to be people known for working hard. It is important to get down to it and get it done. I take a healthy pride in being part of the Operations Staff at Church. Recently, when I was setting up chairs for a concert, I thought about how I was doing something important and all the people that would now have a place to sit comfortably. I must admit, bathrooms are not my favorite, but I make sure people can trust they are clean. I know what I do makes a difference for others and eventually even the Gospel.

We are all part of the Body of Christ, and each one of us needs to be diligent in what the Lord has for us.

Testimony – James Mann

Back to Reach • Testimony #5
James Mann | Children’s Director

I was born into a Christian home and lived a cookie-cutter Christian childhood. I was saved at the age of five, and I was baptized, at Faith Baptist, later that year. I was the child that could tell you everything about the Bible and recite countless verses that were learned in Awana. When I was nine years old, my life flipped upside down. My parents got a divorce. My dad ended up moving to Florida to work with my Grandpa. I was bitter and angry, not only with my parents but with God as well. How could God do this to me? Was I not doing everything He told me to do? This began my downward spiral away from Him.


My parents only stayed separated for one year. They ended up remarrying each other, and my mom and I moved to Florida to join him. Florida was the furthest I have ever felt from God in my entire life. We tried to find a church that we could call home, but after many attempts, we just gave up. This was when I started living completely in the world. I was not doing anything too crazy, but it was not what God intended for my life. Florida was the most difficult six years of my life. My Grandpa ended up passing away, and our family realized there was nothing left for us in Florida. We packed everything up and headed home to Michigan.


Once we got here, we began to attend church almost immediately. We went to The River Church. I was hesitant from the beginning. I fought with my parents for six months. They wanted me to join the youth group, and I did everything possible to get out of it. Finally, the Student Pastor at the time contacted my mom and said they were going on a leadership retreat. My mom just mentioned it to me but did not say anymore. I did not know what it was, but something inside me told me to go. So, I asked my mom if I could go. That was my first time doing something with the church in nine years. My life changed at that moment. At the age of 17, I decided that I was done living the way I was, and it was time to get back on track. It was not an easy transition. God challenged me in many ways and forced me to lean on Him. He performed many miracles in my life. I realized that if He was not in control that I would have died before the age of 18. It was at this point that I decided to jump completely into this new lifestyle. I wanted to join the ministry field. That is when I fell in love with children’s ministry. He made it clear to me that I am meant to be a Children’s Pastor someday, so that is the path I decided to follow and I love every second of it.

Testimony – Michelle Moshier

Back to Reach • Testimony #3
Michelle Moshier | Nursery & Pre-K Director

All it took was seed:

I remember as a little girl having neighbors up the road who introduced church into my life. My neighbors who have become my “second parents” took me in as if I was theirs. I did not live with them, but I did spend most of my days there. I just wanted to be away from the people in my home that made me feel unloved and unwanted. My childhood home remained broken as I grew up. Something was missing! However, God had a much bigger plan in mind.

Jeremiah 29:11 says,‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord ‘plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” It is my belief God put that neighbor in my life to sow a seed of God’s love in my heart. Unfortunately, it became buried for years as I felt alone. I thought I was not good enough for love. Something was missing! I did not feel God’s presence, nor knew His best interest for me. My broken family led me toward making poor choices as I became a teenager. Such a mess! I would not change a thing. I heard the phrase, “God will never give you more than you can handle” many times not quite knowing what it meant. In 2005, my husband and I were blessed with our third son. By age two, he was diagnosed with Classic Autism. We struggled with our emotions then and still do now. God did not give us more than we can handle with His help.

In 2009, we moved to Michigan. We were searching for something! Then my life started changing. My mother-in-law and I decided to start a Bible study weekly at her home. I took this seriously. I was eagerly searching for other ways to deal with my life. During this time, I started attending church with just my children, even volunteering in the nursery. As my marriage became a struggle, the devil swooped in and stole my joy. My thoughts were that I was not worthy since I was unclean and damaged. How could God love me? I needed a drastic change. Then in October 2009, I got down on my knees in the kitchen and accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior. I was scared at first not quite knowing what it looked like to “be saved.” So I took every opportunity to learn the Word of God and build a personal relationship with Him. My children and I were baptized shortly after that. My marriage was restored. Now we have been married for 14 years and attend church as a family. I did not believe that was possible. I am currently working in the children’s ministry. I have always had my Protector and Comforter right by my side fighting for me. I have found I am worthy of His love. God knew what was best for me all along.

Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him and he will make your paths straight.”

Testimony – Larry Gabbara

Back to Reach • Testimony #2
Larry Gabbara | Accounting Bookkeeper

I was brought up Catholic as a child; I always knew there was a God. I went to a Catholic school through 8th grade, so that meant religious class and mass every day. I felt something missing.

As an adult, I tried to bring up my children to know God, but again still that empty feeling inside me, and I think them too. We only did it out of guilt and habit. There was not any buy in yet.

When I met and married my wife Debbie, I was living in the world. Fortunately for us, she came back to God. She then began praying for me to have an actual relationship with Jesus. This went on for 12 years. I began to go to church service with her and the kids, but still that empty feeling. The Lord was working on me; things slowly began to change. We attended a Carman concert; something happened to me that night. I knew that God was moving me.

Then there was a Power Company demonstration at the church, and I heard what salvation was that night. I still was not all in; I was only interested in a quick way to Heaven. I was not ready to put Jesus first or to build a personal relationship with Him. I was not willing to give God my whole heart. We were attending church regularly, but I was still living in the world.

My wife was still praying for me to be all in, but I was not ready. We had been talking about baptism, but I truly did not understand. Our youngest daughter accepted Jesus as her Savior and then was baptized. I did not understand it.

Proverbs 18:22 says, “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord.”

I was blessed that my wife was praying diligently for my salvation.

I had heard John 3:16 (NIV), “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” I never actually understood the sacrifice that God made for me until that weekend.

The day that I truly was all in was a Sunday in 2002 at a Couples Conference. That weekend the Holy Spirit grabbed me. I was baptized that Sunday in Waterford, and I have been a child of God every day since.

Testimony – Max Sinclair

Back to Reach • Testimony #1
Max Sinclair | Children’s Director

All my life I was told that God had big and great plans for me. I grew up in the church when it was Faith Baptist; I remember the skits put on by the junior church workers. I remember the time I was saved at the age of seven. I remember making my public profession of faith with Pastor Jim and the rest of my family. Being baptized in front of the congregation of believers was something I will never forget. I remember my faith, but it was never real until now. When I graduated in 2011, I was determined not to be part of that statistic which says that most kids leave the church once they graduate high school. I was going to go to the world’s largest Christian university. There is no way I could fail. I got to Liberty, and soon after, I fell. I was lost, I was scared, and I felt alone. As my father drove me home at the start of the summer break I remember seeing his face as my grades were revealed. He was so disappointed that I let him down. When they dropped me off at Liberty, they were so proud. I was the first Sinclair boy, since my grandfather, to go to college, but now I was the first to be not welcomed back. Instead of owning my mistakes and taking responsibility for my actions, I ran away. I ran to something that would make me a man. I ran to something that would give me structure to my life. I ran to the Navy.


Now besides being called to be a light in the world for Jesus, there is no higher calling than serving one’s country. As I stood at attention when I was being yelled at by Recruit Divisional Commanders I remembered my calling. As I ran and endured the rigors of basic training, I remembered who I was and who I am called to be. I was called to be more than a Conqueror, and nothing on this Earth could stop me. I was going to succeed with Christ at the forefront of my life, and nothing would hold me down. Life would be difficult, but with the assurance of God in my life I would succeed because No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us (Romans 8:37). With that, I did my best to be the embodiment of Honor, Courage, and Commitment with a godly mindset. I was not going to fail this time. This time I was going to live the way God calls us to live. Throughout my Naval career, I tried and I failed, but I did not run away. I knew God was calling me to do this. God was calling me to come home, do His ministry here, show His love to all, and never give up.

Office: 8393 E. Holly Rd. Holly, MI 48442 | 248.328.0490 |

Copyright © 2016 The River Church. All Rights Reserved.