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700 Club

When God says, “You first!”

For years, Kelly Ficarra successfully ran two dance studios outside of New York City. Then the recession hit, and dancing was no longer a priority for many. Kelly’s income drastically went down. Meanwhile, her studios needed major HVAC, flooring, and plumbing repairs. “I was bootstrapping all of this with personal credit,” she recalls. “And month after month, slowly it starts to snowball where the debt starts to build.”

When her debt reached $52,000, she got a second job stocking shelves, as she continued to try and keep her business going. Kelly confesses, “I don't like to fail at things. I was rolling change to pay my rent. I was worried, and I remember one night falling asleep, just praying, ‘God tell me what to do.’ I woke up as if there was a voice in the room that said, ‘Be still.’ I get up, I go to my computer, I open the email and the scripture of the day that day was Psalm 46:10, ‘Be still and know that I am God.’ It's almost like God said to me, ‘Okay, it's just me and you now, what are you going to do?’ And I needed a plan. You know I was praying to God, saying, ‘God, God, I need you to move in my life.’ And He was looking at me going, ‘You first.’”

She decided to trust God and close both studios. She found a cheaper apartment, got rid of her car and cable and began going to church. A friend gave her a book by Kenneth and Gloria Copeland that introduced her to biblical money principals, including giving 10% of her income away. Kelly says, “I thought to myself, ‘These two people who wrote the book have lost their mind.’ And I thought, ‘You know, God, I can't give right now when I don't have anything, when I have more, I'll give more.’ And I feel like the Holy Spirit said to me, ‘You had more at one time. You didn't give me anything then either.’ And it's so funny because I would say, ‘Oh God, I want to submit my life to you. I trust You with my heart and soul. Yeah. But I don't know if I could trust You with 10 cents on every dollar.’ I had to get over that.”

Kelly started tithing. “From that point forward, I never had another late bill. I never seemed to struggle,” she exclaims. The scripture says, ‘If you tithe, I will pour out a blessing that's more than you can contain.’”

A year after, she got a job in sales and her income went up 25%. She gave more and her debt began to go down. “Getting a better job, having opportunities to make more income, I think that is directly related to tithing,” Kelly proclaims. “God, He's the CEO, He's the Chief Eternal Officer. We are the CSO, we're the Chief Stewardship Officer. In the middle of service, I felt that God spoke to my heart and said, double it.”

She didn’t know where the money would come from, but she doubled her offering. The very next day, Kelly heard about a sales contest at work. She entered and won. She explains, “I felt like God's looking at me going, ‘Mm-Hmm.’ I had that special offering back ten times over. But it was my job to be obedient and to trust and to move in faith.”

From then on, she committed to give even more. She started working for a debt counseling company, and within three and a half years of closing her business, all of Kelly’s debt was gone. Since starting to tithe, Kelly has now received five promotions and her income has quadrupled. “It's very clear what God instructs us to do,” she exclaims. “He will never leave us short when we decide to give.” She concludes, “I would encourage anyone who has been struggling with the idea like I was, take that leap of faith.”


700 Club

The Toll of Pain

Durga lives in a small village in India. She has deformed lower jaw caused by a benign tumor. The condition causes her both physical and emotional pain. “I've tried everything to fix it at home, but nothing worked,” she told us. “Now, my lower jaw swelled up, and it's really hard to eat or even drink water."

Durga said she now lives in self-imposed isolation, hiding from the cruelty of the community. “What people say about my face is really hurtful,” she said through her tears. “Their words broke my heart. It even made me question how I could go on living.”   

Finally, she had the courage to remove her face covering during our interview with her. “There have been times when I thought about killing myself.”  

Durga told us her family is poor and cannot afford surgery to repair her face and jaw. So she sits, waits, and hopes. “Whenever I see people who look ‘normal,’ I wish I could be like them too, a pretty woman like anyone else. It's hard to deal with the depression, especially when people bring up marriage. I can’t even think about that. All I want is to have surgery, but my parents do not have money for it,” she said.

Then Durga heard about Operation Blessing. Thanks to your support, we were able to provide multiple free surgeries to remove a benign tumor and repair her face and jaw.  

“Thanks to you,” she said, “I've now started a whole new chapter in my life. I'm thrilled! I keep looking at myself in the mirror because I can't believe how beautiful my face looks now. People who saw me after the surgery don't even recognize me! I've been dressing up and going to the market feeling confident and happy.”

Durga says she now has a happy life, one that she never thought was possible before.  

“I'm really happy that I can eat and drink without any problems now. I want to express my sincere gratitude to all the people who supported my operations. Thanks to you I have a brand-new life!” she said with a big smile. 

700 Club

Breaking Free from the Prison of Debt

Jerry and Rebecca Kosko, from Apple Valley, California have a comfortable life filled with fun and family. However, life wasn’t always so good. As a second marriage for both, they each brought two kids into the union. The family expenses quickly piled up and credit cards seemed like the best solution.

Fifteen years into their marriage, Jerry and Rebecca found themselves over seventy thousand dollars in debt. Jerry says about debt, “You’re on this hamster wheel. You just go, okay, what else can I do to backfill that hole that I’ve created? I would work a second job on the weekend but the more you, you, you work, the, the, it seems like you'd try to break even or get the even. And it was, it was pretty tough. If I double the payment or triple the payment, it was still gonna take, you know, 10, 15, 20 years to pay this, uh, this balance off.” Rebecca recalls, “The amount of debt was growing and it was seeming overwhelming to how much we really could pay off.”

As Christians, Jerry and Rebecca knew that giving to the church should be a part of their budget however, it usually came after the bills…if at all. Rebecca says, “It was more of an afterthought that if there was money left over, then we probably should do that.” And Jerry recalls, “With the mounting debt, that was being accrued and acquired, you didn't see a light at the end of the tunnel. And it, it created a lot of stress and a lot of, uh, anxiety.” Knowing God wanted them to be free from financial stress, Jerry and Rebecca enrolled in a financial course at their church in 2003. Jerry says, “We were hoping to find some of those nuggets, if you will, or keys to freeing ourself from that, you know, the bonds of being in debt.”

One key they learned was to put God first and tithe before paying anything else. Rebecca says, “It's a trust factor, it's obedience, it's faith, it's all of those things bound up together to know that, okay, I don't have to worry about this. I do my part and then God does the rest.” So, they made tithing first a priority. Right away the Koskos started to see their money go further and soon they were paying extra towards their debt. Rebecca recalls, “The money did materialize and sometimes again, we just had no idea how or why it materialized, but it did.”

Over the next few years they even increased their giving as they saw God’s faithfulness carry them through tough economic times. Jerry says, “It seemed like the more we’d give, the more the Lord would bless.” The Koskos were able to pay off their debt and along the way, they also helped other family members with financial issues. Today, they are semi-retired, yet giving more than they did when they both were working full time. Rebecca says, “It doesn't make sense that we were able to give more being in the retired state than we ever did before when we were making these larger professional wages. It doesn't make sense with any of that, but it still is how God provided.”

Over the years Jerry and Rebecca have enjoyed The 700 Club and in 2018 they became 700 Club partners, excited to see their money go towards helping people in need. Rebecca says, “When there's a disaster and we see the response that CBN has or the opportunity to partner with him financially with that, um, it immediately stirs in my heart. We’re there helping. It's the arms and hands of Christ reaching out in a way that I can't reach.” Jerry says, “It's hard to comprehend, but the more you trust in the Lord, the more you experience His love and blessings.” Rebecca encourages others, “Tithing has always been a challenge because again, it doesn't make sense. Just trust and do it.”

700 Club

Born with a Tail

15-month-old, Angel, was born with a tethered spinal cord, which can appear as a small tail protruding from his lower back. His mom, Maria, said it can be quite painful. “Whenever he tried to stand up, he screamed in pain,” she said with tears in her eyes. “And he cried when I moved the tail it as I changed his diaper."

Doctors said the prognosis for recovery without surgery was grim. “He told me that my child would not be able to walk as he gets older. He said he would lose movement in his legs and arms and the ability to move around.” 

Angel’s dad, Marvin, feared for the worse for his son. “I imagined him in a wheelchair. I imagined the other children playing and he could not.” But paying for the expensive operation to repair the condition was out of reach for the young family. “I remember at a clinic, they told us it would cost about $5000,” he added. 

“My husband's work is not enough to help my son. We can only afford rent and food. We have no other income,” said Maria.   

Then, thanks to YOU, Operation Blessing paid for surgery to repair Angel’s tethered spinal cord. The operation was successful, and a short time later he was walking and learning to run! “I am very grateful to Operation Blessing and to all the staff who helped our son,” said Marvin. “God bless you!” 

“Thank you to the people who support Operation Blessing," said Maria, now with tears of joy in her eyes. “I can hardly speak because of the emotion I am feeling. Thank you.”   


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