One of our Christian Presidents, Jonathan Cotten, has a local radio show on Saturday mornings. This week he interviewed our Executive Director, Buddy Childress. They talked about Buddy's time getting to know UVA Men's Basketball Coach, Tony Bennett, and Coach Bennett's five pillars for his successful basketball program (and for life!). In the last segment Jonathan asked Buddy to share his faith story.
In a postmodern era we are inundated with information and opinions. We don’t need to be talked at anymore. We need to explore. Needle's Eye Ministries provided a safe place where everyone could be trusted with their stories, doubts, and questions. For five weeks we met at Hardywood Craft Brewery in Richmond, Virginia to share our personal stories and how that affected our view of God (or no God). We started off the night with speakers to get the conversations around the room started. As the stories were very personal, our own Small Group Coordinator is the only one we recorded.
Date: March 2015
Facilitator: Corey Widmer
Topic: Justice: Hasn't Religion Done More Harm Than Good?
Date: January 2015
Facilitator: Percy Strickland
Topic: Sex: Why are Christians so Prudish & Narrow-Minded About Sex?
Date: September 2014
Facilitator: Corey Widmer
Topic: Sex: Why has the Church Turned Something Beautiful Into a Dirty Little Word?
Date: January 2014
Facilitator: Kevin Germer
Topic: Suffering: How Could a Good God Allow So Much Suffering and Evil?
Date: November 2013
Facilitator: Corey Widmer
Mat Fisher | Senior Vice President of Product Management | Bank of America
What happens when business plans don’t “succeed”? Why am I still alive after a near-death situation? Leading a small business venture, Mat was well-acquainted with stress and pressure. At age 35, his body reacted to this in the form of a major heart attack.
Find out how the answers to Mat's questions led to a strengthened hope in God and a renewed purpose.
Raymond Parker | President | Rental Works
Tractors, Daughters & Snowy Mountains
If you can’t find Raymond Parker leading his team at Rental Works, you will probably find him spending time with his family or extreme snow skiing on the black diamond slopes of Utah. Filled with a quiet passion, Raymond believes life is an adventure through serving Christ.
This May, he will talk about becoming a living witness at work, home, and the places where you find your greatest joy.
Born and raised in Richmond, Raymond graduated from Collegiate Schools in 1977 and attended Virginia Tech.
Raymond and his high school sweetheart, Anne-Huston, have been married for more than 30 years. They have four grown daughters and two sons-in-law. They worship at Hope Church in Short Pump.
Tom Gallagher | President & CEO | Better Business Bureau
Taking Ethics to a Higher Level
Born and raised in the south Jersey suburbs of Philadelphia, Tom Gallagher is a fan of all things Philly, from cheesesteaks to the Philadelphia Eagles. Tom started his career with the United States Air Force and joined the Better Business Bureau in 1969. With the exception of five brief years, he dedicated himself to working with the BBB in five locations across the country.
Armed with a quick wit and a sense of humor, Tom channels his passion for the protection of consumers and businesses by educating the public about ethics and civility. Tom will share about taking ethics to a “higher level” in the marketplace.
Tom and his wife, Gerri, have a full family with four sons, three daughters-in-law, one fiancée, and 12 grandchildren. They worship at St. Edwards Church on Huguenot Road & Mary Mother of the Church Abbey on River Road.
Lara Finnie | Instructional Designer | CarMax
The Heart of an Individual Contributor: Capable and God-Reliant
Lara Finnie graduated from The College of William and Mary in 1991 with a degree in French. She harbored skepticism about church and was not convinced that God was involved in her day-to-day decisions. She witnessed too many Christians make a mess of their own lives. So she took the “safe road” – a teaching job and marriage. Teaching high school was not the career Lara had hoped, and that marriage did not last. Disillusioned with the consequences of her own decisions, Lara took a risk on God and asked Him for help, which came in the form of a training and development opportunity at Circuit City. While in that job, she met Tony Finnie. Lara now has an enjoyable career as an instructional designer at CarMax and a godly husband. Lara and Tony live in Richmond’s Far West End with their son, Paul. They also have two grown daughters and three grandchildren. Lara offers seminars for Christian women’s events through her ministry, Priceless Treasure. Lara will talk about the tools she relies on to keep her heart and mind committed to Christ in an uncertain economy and an ever-changing business world
Robert “Bob” DeLille | Founder & CEO | Creative
Laying a Business Foundation of Rock, Not Sand
In 1992, Bob and Carrie DeLille moved to Connecticut with their three young children for business reasons. There they accepted Jesus as their Savior, and their perspectives on business and their life’s calling changed forever. In 1995, Bob and his family moved to Richmond and founded Creative, an office products company, with a commitment to run the business according to Christian values. This was also the beginning of an adventure which has resulted in the DeLilles adopting seven (and counting) orphans.
Bob will talk about the pragmatic realities and challenges of running a small company based upon a Christian foundation.
Bob and Carrie live in Mechanicsville with six of their ten children.
Jim Schroeder, DDS | Founder & CEO | Leadership by Design
Crowning Achievements: From Fixing Teeth to Training Leaders
Drawing on 30 years of successful dental practice and community leadership, Jim founded Leadership by Design. The consulting firm is based on the guiding principles of servant leadership, the creation of relationship value, and mutual vision.
Jim also serves as part-time faculty at the VCU School of Dentistry and has served as both chairman and member of the Chesterfield School Board for more than 13 years. Additional community involvement includes: co-founder of CrossOver Ministry; on the boards of CrossOver Ministry and SHAB (State Health Advisory Board) for Chesterfield County; chairman of Good Shepherd Child Development Center; and director of the strategic planning process for the VCU School of Dentistry 2018.
Jim and his wife, Jan, have six children and five grandchildren. They have been married 41 years and attend Redeemer Lutheran Church.
Leonard “Butch” Joyce | President and CEO | Joyce Engineering, Inc.
Butch grew up near Martinsville, VA and graduated from Virginia Tech in 1976 with a degree in Civil Engineering. At the age of 41, Butch experienced a significant life transformation when he became a Christian.
Butch founded Joyce Engineering, Inc. in 1983 as a landfill operations management firm. Today, Joyce Engineeing, Inc. has become a 50-person consulting, engineering, and environmental services firm with offices in Richmond, Greensboro and Charlotte, NC, and Charleston, SC.
Butch and his wife, Judy, have been married for 34 years and have three children. Their oldest son, Derrick, is a lawyer in West Virginia. Their daughter, Sarah, is a counselor in California, and their son, Nathan, passed away in 2008 at the age of 26 from cancer. Butch and Judy have also been blessed with two grandchildren.
Butch is a member and elder at Stony Point Reformed Presbyterian Church in Bon Air.
Brenda Burgess | Practice Administrator | Virginia Women’s Center
Brenda Burgess graduated from the College of William and Mary in 1974 with a BBA degree in Business Management. After marrying and moving to Richmond in 1978, she began her career with the four-physician OB-GYN practice that would grow and eventually become Virginia Women’s Center. Today, Virginia Women’s Center is a women’s healthcare practice with six office locations, over 40 health care providers and 160 support staff. On average, the practice cares for 70,000 women per year in Central Virginia. Brenda serves as the Practice Administrator for the group.
In addition, Brenda serves on the board as treasurer for Midwives For Haiti, an organization founded by one of Virginia Women’s Center’s former midwives. The mission of Midwives For Haiti is to educate and train Haitian women to provide prenatal care and skilled birth assistance to the women of Haiti. Also, Brenda and her husband are involved with Church Hill Activities and Tutoring, which provides after-school opportunities to youth in the East End of Richmond.
Brenda and her husband, Andy, attend Third Presbyterian Church. They have two adult children.
Bobby Ukrop | President & CEO | Ukrop’s Homestyle Foods
Bobby began his business career as a courtesy clerk at Ukrop’s Super Markets, Inc. while attending George Wythe High School. A 1969 graduate from the University of Richmond (where he played basketball) and a 1972 graduate of the Darden School at the University of Virginia, Bobby had a 40-year career at Ukrop’s Super Markets. Since 2010, Bobby has served as President and CEO of Ukrop’s Homestyle Foods, continuing the tradition of producing quality homemade prepared foods and baked goods. Bobby is actively involved in the community including: co-founder and currently president of the Richmond Sports Backers; chair of the Greater Richmond Aquatics Partnership; on the boards of Communities in Schools of Virginia, the University of Richmond, and The Richmond First Tee; and is on the Advisory Boards of the Massey Cancer Center and the Salvation Army. Bobby and his wife Jayne attend Second Baptist Church. They have four adult children and 11 grandchildren.
Haider Sharifi, CFP | Financial Advisor Morgan | Stanley Smith Barney
A Real Hope: A hand that will hold you when you stand at the precipice
In 2008, the global financial system started sliding down a hill that ended in a precipice. In March 2009, we were at that precipice standing on the tips of our toes. When there’s nothing around you to hold on to for support, what do you grab? What will keep you standing? Haider will share his story of conversion from Islam to believing in the God of the Bible and how the knowledge of the true and living God helped him to stay standing at the precipice. Haider Sharifi was born in Lahore, Pakistan. He immigrated with his family to Arlington, VA and graduated from the University of Virginia. In 2003, Haider joined Morgan Stanley Smith Barney and now serves as a Certified Financial Planner™ Professional. In addition to serving as the current President of the UVA Club of Richmond, he also serves on the board of Needle’s Eye Ministries. He is also actively involved in numerous committees with the Greater Richmond Chamber of Commerce and sits on the Richmond Business Council Cabinet. Haider is a 2009 graduate of the Richmond Christian Leadership Institute. He is a member of Kingsway Community Church.
Topic: Sex: Why has the Church Turned Something Beautiful Into a Dirty Little Word?
Date: May 2012
Facilitator: Kevin Germer
Robert “Bob” Fitch, CLU, ChFC | CEO & Chief Servant |James River Wealth Advisors
Ultimate Security: Peace and contentment from a real relationship with Christ
As a businessman whose main goal was to build a financial planning business that would be widely recognized as the “most prestigious in Richmond,” Bob Fitch’s priorities were motivated by his desire for ultimate financial security. But pride, prestige, and “success” did not provide the peace and contentment that he so desired. With the help of a former business partner, Bob found the ultimate source of security and a new direction in his life that gave him hope, peace, and contentment.
Bob is a financial planner and registered investment advisor with a 42-year track record. He is a board member for Veritas Classical Christian School and serves as an elder at St. Giles Presbyterian Church. He has also served as a board member for Needle’s Eye, CrossOver Ministry, and U-Turn Sports Academy. Bob is a native of Richmond, VA, and is an alumnus of Randolph-Macon College and Campbell University. He and his wife, Susie, have been married for more than 41 years, and have been blessed with two children and six grandchildren.
Fred Larmore | Associate Broker | RE/MAX Commonwealth
Out of the Whirlwind: The answer for dealing with life issues that doesn’t come from the drug store or therapist’s couch
Every person has a story worth telling and every story has a beginning, middle, and an end. The main character always experiences trials that produce a wide range of emotions, which can produce a wide range of actions. The biggest trials can take a person down if they are not prepared. But there is a way to prepare for adversity that costs nothing and gets unbelievable results. It is available to everyone, but relatively few know where to look, much less take advantage of it.
Some say God is not real. Some say miracles don’t really happen. Some say the Bible is not true and too hard to understand. Fred’s true story shows that they are all absolutely wrong, and the twist at the end shows how God really is in control of all that we do.
Fred has been a real estate broker in Richmond, his hometown, for over thirty years. He is currently with RE/MAX Commonwealth. Fred is a graduate of Hampden-Sydney College, where he currently serves on the Board of Trustees. He serves on the local Leadership Board of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. He and his wife Peggy are members of Third Presbyterian Church.
Annhorner Truitt | President, Board of Directors | CrossOver Health Care Ministry
Perfect Storm Survivor: Compelled by Gratitude
Is it possible that God actually uses some of the hardest places of our lives to heal and bless us and to provide us with meaningful work to do? Annhorner’s story recounts two life-threatening “perfect storms.” She’ll explain why she believes God actually drove her through one of the storms, and how she knows, without a doubt, that it was God who carried her through both of them. As a result, the course of her life has dramatically changed.
Annhorner grew up in Lexington, VA, graduated from William & Mary, and enjoyed fulfilling careers in the automotive and investments industries, before taking a break to enjoy the privilege of being a caregiver for her family.
Today, she loves having this season of her life to serve as a full-time community volunteer. Annhorner is President of the Board of Directors at CrossOver Health Care Ministry. She has enjoyed serving on many other boards, including The Rotary Club of Richmond, the Salvation Army, and Sweet Monday. She is also an elder at her church and is a past Chair of the Board of Directors and current member of the Directors Council at Needle’s Eye. Annhorner and her wonderful husband, Craig, are blessed with four godchildren.
Come hear how God has taught Annhorner to trust in Him and His loving purposes for her life through both answered and unanswered prayers.
Topic: Bible: Can the Bible's Stories about Jesus Be Trusted?
Date: April 2012
Facilitator: Robby Christmas
David & Brenda Mathews
When You Can’t “Fix It” What Do You Do?
“I have your test results.”
An active woman, busy with family and community, receives a devastating diagnosis. Her husband, a successful businessman, finds himself in a situation utterly beyond his control. In recent years, Brenda and David Mathews have learned first-hand the many ways in which a health crisis can impact aspects of daily life – physical and spiritual well-being, marital and family relationships, and attitudes toward work and business.
David, a native of Richmond, is an alumnus of Washington & Lee and received his MBA from UNC-Chapel Hill. He currently serves as Senior Vice President – Investment Officer at Wells Fargo Advisors and is also a CPA. Brenda is a native of Louisville, Kentucky and grew up in Richmond. After graduating from Hollins College, Brenda worked as a math teacher for several years before tackling full-time motherhood.
The Mathews live in Richmond’s West End. Their son, David, a newly-wed who lives in Evanston, Illinois with his wife, Lindsay, is finishing his MBA at Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. Their daughter, Britten, lives and works in Chicago.
Topic: Hell: Isn't the God of Christianity an angry, condemning judge?
Steve Rogers | President & Chief Administrative Officer | Dominion Resources Services
Demons & Deadlines: Controlling the everyday sins of fear, worry, envy and insecurity
Have you ever wanted a “Road to Damascus” experience? Have you ever wondered why it seems so difficult to feel connected to God? After years of faithful church attendance and being “religious”, Steve Rogers started to wonder if there was more to the whole “God thing.”
After some personal digging, Steve joined a Needle’s Eye small group and received advice from a wide range of spiritual mentors. He soon discovered that the most important thing in his life was to “stay in the room” – to keep trying to learn more and build a stronger relationship with God. He also learned that he still had to push through life’s everyday challenges and distractions such as fear and worry. In the end, Steve realized that once he made the commitment, God would reveal Himself through a variety of ways – some big and some small.
“We may not get knocked off a donkey and rendered blind,” Steve says, “but when you look back, things will seem just as dramatic.”
Steve Rogers joined Dominion in 1996 and currently serves as the President and Chief Administrative Officer of Dominion Resources Services. He has been involved with Needle’s Eye for over 10 years and is a Board member and leader of a men’s small group that meets weekly. Steve also serves as Vice Chairman of the Board of CenterStage Foundation. He and his wife, Kathy, live in Richmond and have three children.
Lisa Rattner | Director of Small Group Ministry | Needle’s Eye Ministries
Extreme Makeover: The journey of transformation from emptiness and insecurity to freedom and joy
From the bar at The Anchor Inn to the floor of the commodities exchange, then on to social work and eventually the South, Lisa Rattner knows about extremes – and extreme change.
Born in Hoboken, NJ, Lisa grew up with a single mother and three siblings. At age 18, Lisa was bartending at a tavern near a shipyard and quickly learned how to handle all kinds of crowds and situations. As Lisa tried to survive in and adapt to her surroundings, this “chameleon” quality soon became second-nature. She soon began an eight-year career in commodities exchange, working her way up to Assistant VP of Marketing in an unpredictable and competitive environment. When the corporate world didn’t fulfill her and extreme personal crises loomed, she sought her identity outside of the corporate world. Lisa earned a Master of Social Work degree from New York University and had a long career in social work, eventually becoming VP of Community Services for a local United Way. It was there that she managed a project developing the clinical crisis response team for 168 widows and other victims of the 9/11 tragedy.
In the midst of her fast-paced lifestyle, Lisa’s mother and aunt became Christians. After much resistance and the kind of brokenness that often follows crises, she too realized that only the unconditional love of God could bring healing, peace and extreme fulfillment to her hectic life.
In 2002, Lisa, her husband, Bill, and their three children made another extreme jump when they moved from busy New York to Vermont, and then to Richmond, all in three years. With a gamut of experiences, Lisa says she is proof of God’s unfailing mercy. She once poured drinks for sailors and now, she pours her life into helping others grow spiritually, emotionally and professionally.
Jeff Andrews | Executive Vice President | IPC Technologies
Beyond Desperate Highway: Twenty-four years after receiving “the gift”
It’s hard to put a good book down, especially one packed with lots of twists and turns. The life of Jeff Andrews is best described as an action adventure, X-rated story about a criminal enterprise that spanned 15 years. It’s a story told in his memoir, Desperate Highway: The True Story of a Criminal. Jeff spent 10 years of his life as a fugitive on the run with 24 arrests and 7 felony convictions. While serving time in a federal prison, Jeff’s life changed.
But the story doesn’t end there. Through God’s grace and the support of friends, Jeff became a respected member of the business community. Then, in October 2007, Jeff was diagnosed with lieomyosarcoma, a very serious cancer, along with heart disease that blocked 85% of his major heart arteries, all in the same week. So how does the story of a hardened criminal end? Jeff will share about the powerful transformation of his life through God’s love.
Jeff is a native of the San Francisco Bay area and attended the University of San Francisco, Michigan State University and Boston University. He joined IPC Technologies in 1983 and currently serves as its Executive Vice President. He and his wife, Nancy, live in Annapolis, Maryland.
Dave Barrett | President & CEO | Barrett Capital Management
We Have Been Freed: Learning how to live completely forgiven
For David, growing up in Baltimore in the 50s and 60s in a "fun Irish family" came with many challenges. Living in a broken home was both difficult and confusing, and a series of poor choices early in life led to an almost perfect storm of drugs and immorality in the late 60s and early 70s.
But God had different and bigger plans for David. He noticed a series of "coincidences" unfold in his life, leading him to stumble into a twelve-step recovery program at age 26. After successfully completing the program, David was sober and still single when another "coincidence" transferred him to Milwaukee. This is where he met his future wife, and for the first time, heard about the saving grace of a merciful and forgiving God.
Topic: God/Allah: Do Christians and Muslims worship and serve the same God?
Date: December 2011
Facilitator: Nathan Elmore
Martin D. Brown | Commissioner | Virginia Department of Social Services
As an all-conference middle-linebacker and team captain for Howard University, Martin was also president of several clubs and councils and destined for paths of wordly success. “My pursuit was success at all costs, regardless of the impact on others,” he says, noting that this resulted in superficial relationships with his family and a limited number of friends. As his appetite for success grew, so did his desire for “truth.” A series of events and confrontations by two godly men challenged him to seek this “truth” in God. Martin soon realized he was not just pursuing God, but that God had been pursuing him - with unconditional love and acceptance.
Appointed by Governor Bob McDonnell in 2010, Commissioner Brown previously worked in state government, serving two former Virginia Governors. He also served as Vice President of Public Affairs at Johnson Inc. and Executive Director and Director of Church and Community Outreach for the Family Foundation of Virginia. He lives in Richmond with his wife and two children.
Douglas A. Middleton | Chief of Police | Henrico County
Balancing control and order in positions of leadership can be very difficult. In military service, a marriage, at work, or in raising children, control and responsibility can be life-giving or domineering. Doug realized how God used various moments throughout his career to teach him about grace and that the only way to effectively lead is by following Him. Sworn in as a police officer with Henrico County in 1972, Doug has been promoted through the ranks within the Division of Police to his current position as Chief of Police. Chief Middleton previously served in the U.S. Army as a helicopter crew member and radio operator. For his service in Vietnam, he received the permanent award of Flight Wings, two Bronze stars, fourteen awards of the Air Medal for Combat Missions, and the Air Medal with “V” device for Heroism in aerial flight. Doug lives in the Glen Allen area with his wife, Brenda.
Topic: Hypocrisy: How can Christianity be good when so many Christians are not?
Caren Crosby Fields | Independent Sales Director | Mary Kay
Truth, Trust and Transformation: Lessons learned along the way
If life is a test, what’s your truth? If life is a game, who can I trust? If life is a journey, who am I becoming along the way?
Caren’s journey has never been dull. Growing up in Ft. Lauderdale, Fl she was a rebellious teenager – by 23 a struggling single parent – and by 28 she achieved the position of Sales Director with Mary Kay Inc. Join Caren in the game of Truth or Consequences as she examines her assumptions about life, the consequences of her erroneous belief systems, and her ongoing journey of transformation.
Caren lives in Petersburg with her husband Randy. Together they have three grown children and two grandchildren. She celebrates her 31st anniversary with Mary Kay in October.
Chris Withers | D. Chris Withers, Inc.
Marriage on the Rocks: How will YOU answer when God says “Are you through yet?”
Do you love your work so much that you are either at the office or you think about it constantly? You tell yourself that it’s fun…and you are getting lots of strokes there too. Eventually, there are increasing arguments at home. You rarely talk with each other except about the kids. You leave each other notes. There is little or no intimacy. Like a dripping faucet, it begins to take its toll…the divorce lawyers are waiting..and just when you are both ready to bag it all, God shows up!
Chris served at the University of Richmond for 32 years and was responsible for development as its Vice President for Advancment. He has been the Principal of DCW, Inc. for 9 years. Chris and his wife, Sue, have three children and seven grandchildren, including one adopted orphan from China. Their children include a son and his family residing in Japan, a daughter and her family serving as missionaries in Africa, and a son and his family in Richmond.
Topic: Justice: Hasn't religion done more harm in the world than good?
Buddy was a successful businessman with two Fortune 500 companies. His life was all about career and success. His drive to succeed was at the expense of everything else in his life, including his marriage and family. Seeking real purpose and peace in life, he came to the point where he was able to get a “do-over.” In 1977, Buddy founded Needle’s Eye Ministries and still leads the organization as its President and Executive Director. He is married to Laura, and they have four children and six grandchildren.
Doug Rucker | Attorney | Sands Anderson
The Late Bloomer
You know guys like this. Maybe you are one of those guys. Dad was a doctor or lawyer or banker. Went to St. Christopher's or Collegiate or Woodberry Forest, joined a frat, majoring in business or pre-med and minoring in beer-drinking. Came home, got a job as a doctor or lawyer or banker, married a pretty girl, bought a house in the West End, had a couple of kids. Started having some career success and making some money. But years pass, and the day arrives when the marriage is empty and the kids are mostly grown and the doctor is talking surgery and radiation and chemo, and what good is being a Master then? Doug shares his realization that, even after years of personal and professional success, it's never too late for new spiritual growth. Doug is a practicing attorney and partner at Sands Anderson.
Topic: Suffering: How could a good God allow so much suffering and evil?
Linda Hobgood | Director of the Speech Center | University of Richmond
God and The Academy
As Director of the Speech Center at the University of Richmond, Linda Hobgood specializes in business and professional speech, speech writing, and political rhetoric. Having been raised in Washington, D.C., and with family ties and personal experience in politics, Linda’s unique background prepared her for a profession and journey of faith that she never envisioned.
She says, “Ours was a political upbringing. The school bus dropped me off at the local campaign headquarters, family vacations were wherever the national conventions were held, and Halloween was an opportunity for my sister and me to canvass the neighborhood saying: ‘Trick or Treat and please vote for ___!’ We heard speeches, lots of them, on occasions such as joint sessions of congress, presidential inaugurations, from the Lincoln Memorial and Arlington Cemetery. We lived moments my students now call ‘history,’ never questioning that we were a nation under God, but perhaps less sure of all that it implied. College, graduate school, marriage and motherhood each prompted a deeper consideration of what it means to be a person under God, responsive to His voice, rejoicing in His will. In the process, He gave me eyes of faith. God’s plans, infinitely better than my own, extend to our places of work and include the colleges and universities in this blessed land.”