October 2002

October 2002


I would like to share our recent First Place Celebration. We had a “Luau” theme and our group mascot is a FROG, because FROG is an acronym meaning, “Fully Rely on God.” We had a carved Watermelon with frogs, Hawaiian music, and Luau themed food. It was great fun.

The picture of the lady and gentleman, Orth and Audrey Rader is the couple that brought the First Place program to the attention of our church and the rest is history. We celebrated our first anniversary on September 17. The group is larger in number than the little group we started with, but much smaller in body size!

We have expanded to two classes this year. We will be offering the evening group and have added a daytime group. First Place is really catching on in our area.

Kathy Geehreng
First Place Leader
Oakdale Emory United Methodist Church
Olney, Maryland


We finished our first session at Towering Oaks Church in Berryville, Arkansas. We had 12 members and lost 127.5 pounds. It was exciting for me to lead these women and one man through their first session. Everyone greatly enjoyed the Bible study. We look forward to our next session starting next week. We have several new members, too. Thanks so much!

Linda Franco
Towering Oaks Church
Berryville, Arkansas


It never ceases to amaze me how and when God answers our prayers. Some answers just seem to tickle you, not meaning any disrespect to Him. I was going into a Christian bookstore to purchase my First Place materials for my upcoming classes. There, standing by the materials and filling her basket, was a lady in her 60’s. I walked up to her and said, “Wow! You’re going to do First Place, what a good choice.” She looked at me and said, “Well, I want to and I have been praying to God to help me find a way. But, I don’t know any place that is doing it.” I asked her where she lived and she said in Candler, North Carolina, which is about one hour drive to Hendersonville.

I told the lady about our classes and where we were located, not thinking she could make that trip at night. She wanted a map and we exchanged names and phone numbers. I tried calling Carolyn all week, and never got an answer. I was about to give up and decided to call the night before orientation. Carolyn answered and I reminded her of orientation and hoped she would make it. She did!

Matthew 21:22, “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” Isn’t God amazing. Carolyn prayed and God used me to answer her prayer. Her heart had desires for His knowledge and He knew it.

Jan Jarrett
First Baptist Church
Hendersonville, North Carolina


I just wanted to pass on an answered prayer! I lead a First Place group at our church and we are just about finished with our first session. I wanted to attend a leader’s meeting to learn more about First Place since I had no prior training or had never taught a class before. All the training classes seemed far away and not possible for me to attend. So, one of the ladies in our First Place class started praying for something to work out for me to go to the First Place Conference in Mississippi. My husband didn’t mind if I went to the conference, but he did not want me to have to travel alone.

A week ago, shortly after I posted our group on the First Place website, I received an e-mail from a woman in a nearby church who wanted to start a First Place group. She wanted to attend the conference and asked if I knew of anyone who was interested in going. We had never met, but I knew that my prayers had been answered when I received the first e-mail from her. We are both so excited about attending the First Place Conference. Praise the Lord for His answer to prayer! He is so faithful!

Karey Lookadoo
Hot Springs Baptist Church
Hot Springs, Arkansas


We are starting our third session and are having tremendous success. God is changing our bodies and our hearts and we are so blessed by what He is doing in our lives. We have already lost a total of 489 pounds in the first two sessions and the momentum is continually building around our church because of what is happening in our group. We are starting two new groups this month because of the response we are getting just within our own church. However, we are actually going to open our groups up to the community now. One lady has already reached her goal and lost 40 pounds. We have several that have lost from 37 to 52 pounds.

We are excited and encouraged with all that is happening in our lives. We also have an aerobics instructor that works with us every Wednesday night before class for 30 to 45 minutes. This definitely isn’t your run of the mill weight loss group or program here at our church.

Carolyn Ellison
Calvary Church of the Nazarene
Cordova, Tennessee


Dear Beverly,

I have read your story over and over, trying to convince myself that I can exercise, too. I am at the 308-pound mark and look toward having my First Place Orientation this Monday. I have tried every diet in the book and until I saw the announcement on our church web site, I didn’t know what I was going to do next. I know I can’t stay at this weight because it’s slowly killing me, but I didn’t know what I was going to do to get it off. I have this dreaded fear of exercise and even more so after spending a summer with an orthopedic boot on my foot. No one has said it out loud, but I KNOW that my weight contributed to the injury. Anyway, I’m rambling on. You gave me inspiration this evening and I don’t need to pray for God to get me thin again. I need to pray for the change of heart, and the rest will fall into place. Thank you for your inspiration.

Marilyn Bron-Gilmore
Winston Salem, North Carolina

“Each person has a gift from God and if you don’t take a moment to get to know each person, you are denying yourself an opportunity to receive a gift from God.”
~~Author Unknown


Hello Beverly,

I wanted to tell you how moved I was by your article in the First Place newsletter. I too, have asked the Lord to “help me get thin or make me thin.” For the last month I have been listening to a new music CD in my car. I always ask the Lord to take control of the music and a certain song always seems to play first-one that is about having a clean heart. Yesterday, I kind of chuckled when it again played first, but after reading your article today, I see what the Lord is saying to me. I need a change of heart and He is the only one that can do that. Praise God!

I am excited about what the Lord is doing in my life. I am currently 80 pounds to my goal weight, and I have started to put exercise into my daily routine. I have not been consistent, but now I know the source of my struggles. Thank you for your article, it has blessed me and opened my eyes to what the Lord is trying to do in my life.

God Bless You,

Bobette Tolmer
Faith Fellowship Foursquare Church
San Leandro, California



I want to thank you so much for your article in this month’s
e-newsletter. I should say that I am a fellow Mississippian (from Jackson) and have lived in the DC area for 5 years. I am where you were 4 years ago, hating to exercise, and a couch potato, knowing that this is not what God had planned for me. I have been praying the same “broken record” prayer for years, “Lord please make me thin again.”

After I read your article I started crying because you hit the nail on the head; we need to ask for a heart change. That is what I’m going to do. For the first time in a long time, I really feel the inner drive to move my body more. I know that my body is a temple of the Holy Spirit and it is up to me to keep it in top condition for use by God.

Thank you again for your article. It was very timely and God really used your words to speak to my soul.

God Bless!

Paula Lewis
Washington, DCDear



I am a new participant and am looking forward to the memory of 52 scripture verses by the end of my year. One suggestion for people who are hard of hearing-the music accompaniment on the memory cassettes and CD’s drown out the words of the scripture-much to my disappointment.

Rayma Griffith

Hi Rayma,

Thanks so much for your suggestion. There is such a fine line in producing a CD that is useful in more than one area. The CD’s are for use in Scripture memory, exercise & for praise and worship. If the music were too soft, then two of the uses would be eliminated.

What I try to do is listen to the first part over and over until I know the verse. This is the first part of each song that gives the Scripture reference, says the verse and then finishes with the Scripture reference again. I have a little hearing problem, too, so this seals the verse into my mind. I just hit the number I am memorizing over and over again as I break the verse into sections to memorize.

Next, after I have pretty well committed the verse to memory, I begin listening to the song. Already knowing the words then helps me remember the tune as I listen to the words in the song. I have been amazed at how the Lord wakes me in the night with the music going over and over in my mind. I then can say the verse back to the Lord and go right back to sleep.

The combination of words and music are dynamite. Don’t let your hearing problem deter you from using both of these tools in your Scripture memory. God will bless your socks off.

Much love to you,

Carole Lewis
First Place National Director



I just wanted you to know that our God is so good, but I think you know that already. After much prayer, my King has opened doors so I will be able to attend the First Place Conference in Mississippi. The trip from Seattle, Washington to Hattiesburg, Mississippi was going to cost over $1,000, making it financially impossible for me to take.

Without telling me, the First Place group took up a collection for my trip during our Victory Dinner. A gift given by my step-dad and our group collection totaled $500 towards my trip.

Next, I got a call from a Kelly McNeff, a First place leader in Portland, Oregon. She decided to go to the conference and we will be sharing part of the expenses—motel and car.

Today, I added all the expenses for the trip to Hattiesburg. The air, car, hotel and the conference come to a total of $515.00. I was blown away, and just praising God all day! I am so excited, and God is so GOOD! I look forward to meeting you.

Our First Place group has been doing our exercise, three fast walks and two slow walks. These seem to be going really well. For a girl who has never been athletic and was told that I would be doomed to bad knees and operations, I feel like this is a miracle. Who knows, I might get to be a sporty old woman, also. I played your CD for the class at the Victory Dinner this last week and they loved it. From the entire First Place group, thank you for sharing your testimony. See you at the Conference.

Love to you through Christ,

Susan Williams
Port Orchard, Washington