Friday, November 21, 2008

Chris & Sarah Kamienski

Occasionally we get to tell great stories here on the blog about some of the families that God is using to build Access Church.

If you've started to come to Access but have hesitated to join a Community Group, perhaps Chris and Sarah Kamienski can convince you.

Chris and Sarah were married in 2003 and moved to Jacksonville in 2005. They quickly connected with a small group in Jacksonville, but they struggled to plug into a church. After two-and-a-half years, several couples in their small group became involved in other things. The couples remained friends, but most weren’t committed to the group anymore. Chris and Sarah decided it was time to seriously start looking for a church.

A friend of Sarah’s saw an article in the newspaper about Access Church and saw that Andy Stanley is our primary teaching pastor. Sarah had been listening to podcasts of Andy and enjoyed his teaching. Chris was also familiar with Andy, and they decided to give Access a try.

Access had been meeting for about six months when Chris and Sarah first attended in October 2007. “We already knew we liked Andy’s speaking, but we really wanted to learn what Access was all about,” Chris said.

That Sunday, Lead Pastor Rich Barrett was speaking, and laid out the future for Access Church. “It was great to see the heart of Access and to learn where we were headed,” Chris said.

The couple returned to Access and participated in GroupLink, an event at which couples are formed into small groups based on their stage of life. Chris and Sarah found a small group and settled into Access.

That December Chris and Sarah found out that they were expecting triplets. “The triplets are a God-thing,” Sarah said. “We were ready to start a family, but we weren’t using fertility treatments. Suddenly we were pregnant with triplets.”

Ansley, Jack, and Noah were born at 28 weeks, five days, on April 22, 2008. They weighed less than two pounds, 9 ounces each. For the most part, the babies did very well, but on Mother’s Day, doctors discovered that Ansley had a blood infection and meningitis. Soon after, her lung collapsed. “For about four or five days, we didn’t know if she would survive,” Sarah said. “It was very uncertain.”

Ansley pulled through and slowly regained strength, even though she had to stay on oxygen. “It was always one or two steps forward, then a step back,” Chris said. “We were really in the trenches.”

Chris and Sarah welcomed Noah home June 16. “Having one baby was sweet,” Sarah said. “But we longed to have the other two home. And making trips to the NICU was difficult since Noah couldn't return.”

Jack came home July 2. “Having two was incredible,” Sarah said. “It was more manageable than I thought it would be. But we missed Ansley so much, and we had a hard time getting in to see her.”

After 84 days in the NICU, Ansley came home July 15. She had to stay on oxygen and an apnea monitor once she arrived home, but in late August, she was able to start weaning off the oxygen. “We were so thrilled to have her home,” Sarah said. “It was quite overwhelming at first with the oxygen and medications, but it quickly became manageable thanks to my mom staying with us and the prayers of so many people.”

Chris and Sarah relied on their Access small group during the pregnancy and while the babies were in the hospital. Of the six couples in the group, two of the wives are nurses at the hospital. And another wife’s mother works in the NICU. “Having nurses call and offer help were glimpses of God’s provision,” Sarah said.

The small group also helped Chris and Sarah by bringing them meals and holding small-group gatherings in Chris and Sarah’s home so they would be able to care for the babies and still participate in the group. “The prayers and support from the small-group members have been incredible,” Sarah said. “Their prayers were like a blanket wrapped around all of us. The body of Christ is truly amazing.”

Chris and Sarah are anxious to get through this first winter, as even a slight cold could send the babies back into the hospital. But they continue to trust God and take it one day at a time. “God thought of these babies from the beginning of time,” Sarah said. “In fact, He was the only one who wasn't surprised by them. He carried them throughout their gestation, and He will continue to carry them. And us.”

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

What's Your Story?

Recently, we received this story of how God is working in the life of one of our UpStreet volunteers:
I did not grow up in church and have never been an intimate part of a church body. This is the first time I have been truly involved and ingrained in a church. For almost 3 years now, I have lived life alongside other people entrenched in Access and what we're doing in Jacksonville and it has strengthened my daily walk with Christ in ways I never imagined.

During worship on Sunday I looked around at my husband, my closest friends, acquaintances, and strangers in amazement that we were joined in worshipping our Lord and Savior.

Through small group, each time we meet in Upstreet, and during the volunteer trainings, I have experienced the amazing thing God does amongst a group of believers. It has been an immense honor and joy to be involved with Access and I am so grateful that God allows me the opportunity to do life with all these followers! Some times I find myself asking God why He has blessed me with this church.
Isn't that encouraging? Can you imagine how others might be encouraged to hear your story of how God's working in your life?

Share your story today at

Monday, November 17, 2008

Your Economy

How's your economy?

Not the economy—your economy. Has it been pretty rough lately?

A friend of mine saw his net worth dwindle by half in the last 60 days. Perhaps you have, as well.

Here at Access Church we're responding to the economy in two ways:

1. We're immediately reducing our budget by 35%, including significant reductions in staff compensation.

2. We're in the middle of a fantastic Sunday-morning series called, LO$T. It's an amazing perspective on God & money. Bottom line: it's not about what God wants from you, but rather what he wants for you. Petty powerful stuff. Join us at 9:00 or 10:30am.

This is our response—not our retreat! We are not fearful—instead we are tremendously bullish about what God is going to do in our community in the months to come! But, in order to be able to respond to the opportunities God brings our way, we must be financially fit.

If you are fearful about your finances, I have two suggestions. First, come join us for the LO$T series. There are three weeks left, and I guarantee it will change your perspective. Second, start giving a priority percentage of your income back to God. I know, that sounds like a crazy way to talk to people that are already fearful about the economy, but I promise it will eliminate your fear and replace it with faith and peace—much better!

Click here to start giving weekly or monthly today!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Jacksonville Music Project

JohnnySwim at Square One

Join the Access family as we enjoy Abner Ramirez and Amanda Sudano (JohnnySwim) at Square One in San Marco!

They'll be performing familiar covers as well as some of their original music. It'll be a great time to hang out with other people from Access as well as enjoy great music in a lively atmosphere.

JohnnySwim will begin performing at 8:00pm and wrap up around 9:30 or 10:00pm on Thursday, November 13. They will also be leading worship at Access Church that Sunday, November 16.

Abner Ramirez, a Jacksonville original, moved to Nashville several years ago to pursue his career in music. He soon met Amanda Sudano, daughter of disco-queen Donna Summer, and the duo blended their beautiful vocals to form JohnnySwim.

Square One is located at:
1974 San Marco Boulevard
Jacksonville, FL

For more information, visit:
JohnnySwim on iTunes