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Over 2 years ago Joan Valliere went to have her annual mammogram before she left for vacation with her family. A few days later she would get a call from her doctor that changed the course of her life.

Joan grew up in Newmarket, NH with her mom, stepdad and 4 siblings. Her stepdad, an immigrant from Poland during World War II, was a loving but stern father and mom was the type of mother that would do anything for her kids. “Mom was a very strong Christian and dad was a very strong catholic. Mom made sure that we would go to church. I grew up knowing who God was, but was I following him? I thought I was.”

When Joan entered her teenage years she started a rebellious time of partying in her life. “In my mind I kept on saying, ‘I’ll have time for Jesus later’. Thankfully God said, ‘I’ll give you time.’ There were times that I probably shouldn’t be here, ya know, drinking, being with people that were drinking and driving.” In her later teen years she grew out of that rebellious stage and soon began dating her future husband, Mark.

After 7 years of dating, Joan and Mark were married and had two children. “He was a catholic. Not a strong catholic, but a catholic.” Joan’s mom continually professed her faith to both Joan and Mark in a gentle and loving way, but was persistent because she wanted them to know the truth. “She would always be praying for us. She would talk to Mark about God and who Jesus Christ is.”

Two years after their eldest was born, Mark’s mom was in a car accident that left her in a vegetative state. A week after the accident his mom passed. “That was a difficult time. When you lose somebody you start to think about your own destiny. It left Mark wondering about his faith and where he may end up someday.” This began a faith journey for both Mark and Joan that would lead them to attend Durham Evangelical Church some years later.

About two years after Mark’s mom passed, Joan’s mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. “That was so devastating to me and my family because she had always been the rock in our family. She was the kind of person that had such a strong faith I thought I would be saved too! I thought ‘I had such a great mother. God wouldn’t turn me away!’” Joan’s mom fought breast cancer for two years before she passed, but a year after her passing Mark became a Christian. “Both of us really started to grow closer to God during the time she was sick. I would be sitting by her bedside and read her Scripture. I truly wasn’t following Jesus like I should have. He wasn’t my life. I was reading Scripture verses to her, thinking that I’m comforting her, but it was speaking to me.” God gave Joan an incredible peace, when her mom passed, knowing that her mom was in Heaven. This time in Joan’s life made her realize her need for a Savior and she soon became a Christian.

Over 20 years later, Joan was diagnosed with breast cancer. Joan received a phone call from her doctor while on vacation with her husband and two children telling her that she had a malignant, invasive form of breast cancer. “I got off the phone and I dropped to my bed and I just started sobbing. It was like that sobbing when you lose somebody.” Joan was reminded of her mom, whom she had lost to breast cancer, and wondered if she would have the same fate.

As she laid on her bed, her two children came into her room. “They came in and hugged me and said, ‘Mom, it’s going to be okay. You’re going to be okay. Don’t worry.’ I think what was happening was that the Spirit was within me. The Spirit was saying, ‘Remember; God is with you.’ I had claimed all these years that Jesus Christ was my Lord and Savior and that I will not fear. I just remember God saying, ‘I am with you always. I will never leave you or forsake you.’ I just held onto that promise.” She assured her kids that it was going to be okay and realized she had to show her kids she believed what she said she believed.

After vacation, Joan found out she had two cancerous lumps. This led to Joan needing surgery to remove the cancer. She went on to have a successful surgery, but once the surgery was over she had to decide what the treatment would be to prevent the cancer from returning. She did not want to do chemotherapy, but she realized that going through the treatments would save her life. Joan went through four treatments every six weeks. “That was a real test of my faith, just knowing what I would have to go through because of what I saw my mom go through.” Through the chemo Joan did not have severe side effects, but there were many dark days where Joan had to rely on God’s strength. “Through it all God sent so many people into my life, and this is what I’m really thankful for. I knew that I was not alone in this. I had my family, my church family, all my friends and most of all I had Jesus Christ in my life. I got through this through their encouragement and through their prayers. It was so humbling that people were doing this for me. I’m not used to that. To have to sit and be still, because I couldn’t do a lot, I remember thinking I wish everyone could feel this love.”

While Joan is thankful for her faith and the support of her church family, her biggest supporter was her husband, Mark. “He truly showed me what love meant and what love was. He was the best nurse! He walked beside me the entire way just loving me. He told me I was beautiful when I was going bald from chemo, and that was the LAST thing I felt. We’ve grown a lot. Our marriage has gone through the fire and it’s survived. Because of that I feel like we can do anything and because God’s with us.”

Joan is now two years recovered from her breast cancer and has retired along with her husband, Mark. Since her retirement she has been able to use her gifts to help those in need in the church and in the community. “I’m thankful that I got through it the way that I did. I’m thankful that my faith grew so strongly. I’m thankful for a lot of things, but mostly I’m just thankful for God being in my life, because without that I’d have nothing to be thankful for.”

November 24th, 2015|Uncategorized|6 Comments

God With Us

Jesus in manger

“God With Us” features familiar Christmas songs and drama that will encourage your hearts this Christmas season. Admission is free and all are welcome to this event. There are no reserved seats or tickets, so please come early if you’d like a good seat. Doors open at 2:30PM and 5:30PM.


If you’re new to DEC there is parking at the lower and upper levels with handicapped parking and accessibility at both entrances.


We would like to bless those who do not have much this Christmas season. Operation Blessing and End 68 Hours of Hunger are two organizations that help feed those in need in our own community. If you are coming to this event we would love for you to bring some non-parishable items. There will be places for you to drop your items at the Worship Center entrance.

November 10th, 2015|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Pastoral Ponderings: November

Some ABC’s for DEC:


Affirmation (or “atta boys”):

            So October is in the rear view mirror, and it was an exhaustingly amazing month. The staff got together last Tuesday and recapped all the wonderful things that God had done in this packed few weeks: an incredible outdoor service at Wagon Hill, some pretty outstanding youth group events, a very heartfelt night of worship, and a Fall festival to close out the month. The best part??? Every one of these had a foundation of the Gospel underneath it. To Jesus be the glory! So many of you gave of your time and very lives to make these things happen, thanks so much.


Budgets and stuff:

            Last month I shared some concerns about the budget and our giving. People respond in the most interesting ways. The most common two responses are these: 1. We need to get the word out so everyone knows, and 2. We need to teach about tithing. Well, through both this blast and from the front we will be making sure all are aware. As far as tithing goes, that isn’t really a New Testament concept. In fact, you won’t see any encouragement to the church to “tithe”. Why is that? Because God wants us free to give according to the guidance the Holy Spirit. That’s why 2 Corinthians 9 tells us to be “cheerful givers” who understand that all we have is truly owned by God. Tithing is OK, but for many, my guess is that God would have you give far beyond a tithe. The NT principle that we should all remember is this: “whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (9:6-7). So however you are led to give, let it be as a cheerful giver.


Community and Christmas:

            Hard to believe, but Christmas is on the way. Once again we are going to put together a very “Jesus centered” concert. The music will be great; the story will be told; and our hope is that the Gospel will be powerful that night. To make this work, we need a number of gifted people to help out, and we need everyone to pray about bringing a friend, co-worker, or family member. Let’s expect God to do great things in and through our community of faith.

November 10th, 2015|Uncategorized|0 Comments



Tim grew up in the Natick area of Massachusetts in a typical American family. Dad worked and mom stayed home with Tim and his five siblings in a house that was just able to fit everyone. His Dad was a devout Catholic and his mom was raised Protestant, but later converted to Catholicism. “It was kind of an idyllic upbringing until my mom died and then it wasn’t.” Tim was eleven when his mom passed away. Dad remarried and a short six months later the marriage was over. “I think my dad was looking more for a mother for his children than a wife for himself.”
This began constant moving in young Tim’s life. At one point they moved in with his Aunt in Quincy and he attended a Boston area junior high school. “Yeah, it was bad. I got beat up in the bathroom. I got beat up on the bus. I got beat up everywhere. It was bad.” Finally after four different moves they ended up in Natick, Massachusetts where Tim’s dad met his future wife in a widow/widower’s group. Once they were married they moved to New Hampshire. “After all of those moves I was done. I moved out.” Tim moved in with another family when he was fifteen. He was finally able to settle down. “I was pretty much out of the church as well. I just walked away and didn’t look back.”

Tim went off to college and later joined the Air Force where he served as a fighter pilot. During his service he married his wife Laura and had two kids, but there was still no Jesus in his life. Then after the Air Force he went on to a job with American Airlines as a pilot for 20 years, but his pilot career came to a crashing halt when he began having sinus issues and had to have several operations. Soon after leaving the cockpit, he and his wife decided to move to New Hampshire.

Tim’s wife, Laura, grew up with family who went to church, but when she and her siblings asked why, they had no answer. There came a point where they just stopped attending church altogether. “They were doing it because that’s what you did. She grew up with no upbringing, where as I grew up as an altar boy and was completely submerged in the Catholic culture. So, it was a lot different. It was always in the back of my mind and I never questioned the existence of God, but it was nothing that I was engaged with seriously.”

Soon after their move to New Hampshire, Tim’s life began to fall apart. He quit his job with American Airlines because of his medical issues and his life started unravelling. After experiencing issues with public school they enrolled their two kids at Portsmouth Christian Academy and began attending a local church. “I was going to Catholic Church, we as a family were going to a Community Church and I just had lots and lots of questions.” He began to ask hard questions, but none of them were getting answered. “I remember sitting in one of the classes and the woman teaching the class said, ‘Remember, all stories are true and some of them even actually happened.’ Then she sort of rolled her eyes and at that point I went, ‘I’m done with this.’” Tim never went back to the Catholic Church after that.

During this time there was a Supreme Court case, The Boy Scouts of America v. Dale, where the Supreme Court decided it was the Boy Scouts constitutional right to refuse a homosexual from leadership in their organization. It caused an uproar amongst the people of Durham and the church that was sponsoring Tim’s pack was pushing Tim and the pack out of the church because they did not agree with the Supreme Court decision. “It put me in this place where I didn’t know. I had some feelings about what was right and what was wrong but I had nothing to base them on. It put me in this position where I actually started asking questions. ‘What does the Bible say?’ I started reading Scripture, first time ever, and I’m looking at it and going, ‘Okay. This seems pretty clear to me. I don’t know what I think of it, but at least I understand where the reasoning is coming from.’”

Tim began visiting several churches to get his hard questions answered. “I went into the different churches and I said, ‘Talk to me about this. What does this mean and how does this fit with what’s going on here.’ Every time I did that I got a version of, ‘I know that’s what it says, but if you dim the lights and rotate the book 90 degrees and squint real hard you can make it say something else.’ At that point I went, ‘I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but that’s not what is says! I can read what it says!’” Tim was struggling with the truth of the Bible and the many interpretations that other churches had about what it said. “Here I am going into churches and asking church leadership about what the Bible says and they’re telling me it doesn’t say what is says!”

During this time his church was threatening to pull his Boy Scout pack’s sponsorship, which would force the pack to cease existence. If the sponsor goes away then the unit goes away. So, Tim came to DEC. “It was the first time I had ever stepped foot in the door of the church. The first guy that I met was John Wiswell and I had two questions for him. The first was, ‘Would you be interested in sponsoring the Cub Scout pack?’ He said, ‘Absolutely!’ The second one was, ‘I have questions. What does the Bible say about this?’ And John pulled out a Bible and said, ‘It says right here…’ and he flips, ‘and it says it right here..’ and he flips some more. He showed me like three different places where it spoke very clearly the issue, which was stuff I had looked at, but everyone told me that’s not what it means.” It was a revelation for Tim. He still wasn’t sure about all of it, but he finally came across someone who believed what they said they believed. This started a journey for Tim, leading him to understand what a relationship with Jesus meant and accept Christ as his Lord and Savior.

Shortly after Tim became a Christian he had a vision. He wasn’t flying anymore because of his health issues and he was in between jobs. He was getting ready for a Cub Scout meeting when God spoke to him. God gave him a vision telling Tim that God had orchestrated his life from the moment he was conceived to bring him to the point where he was going to go teach at Portsmouth Christian Academy. “It was the most terrifying thing I have ever experienced. Coming from someone who has had multiple near death experiences, nothing even came close to that moment.” It was a moment that made Tim realize there was a being that had that type of power, and that being was God.

Soon after this vision Tim became a teacher at PCA. “I went from a non-believer, to a believer, to a small group member, to a student teacher, to a full time teacher in less than twelve months. It was the intensity of the vision that got me through that process. There were many days where I thought, ‘I can’t do this. I can’t do this. No. I know what I saw.’”

Tim is now serving with Intervarsity, a Christian ministry at UNH, teaching college students the truth of God’s Word. “There’s life in the Word. There’s just no question. I find that my decision making is better, I love people better, I worry less about myself, I’m not as concerned about what the future holds, and when I pull back from that commitment to study God’s word I spend a lot of time with me and it’s not a pretty place. That inpouring of the word, it’s just really clear to me, that’s life. That’s the source of life. The more you’re digging into it the more alive you will feel and the less you dig into it the more you feel like death. There’s nothing arbitrary about what’s in this book. Everything has a purpose in there, you just got to dig.”

October 20th, 2015|Uncategorized|5 Comments

Pastoral Ponderings: October

Empty paper with cup of coffee on wooden table, top view

We had a Community Gathering a couple months ago (we once called them “annual meetings”, but now we do them every few months), and after it was over, one of our dear sisters said, “that was great information, but it was way too much. Is there a way to get this out in smaller bites?” So we decided that I could write a monthly blurb about what’s going on behind the scenes with our leaders—both elders and staff. Hopefully this will help keep everyone “in the loop.” This month we’ll talk about the 2 C’s: community and cash.


Community: How often do you hear somebody say, “I don’t feel connected” or “I don’t know where I fit anymore”? One of the hardest things to maintain in the body of Christ is that sense of WE. Multiple services, people moving, new folks coming in, etc…… it is difficult to have a strong sense of community. Yet Jesus’ design for His church is that it would be a visible community knit together with a common mission and deep relationships. The staff has been talking about this for months—how do we grow and maintain such a community? Some of the answers are simple: create and promote ways that people can intersect relationally. I’ve been so blessed by the response over the last two weeks of people coming down to the function hall after first hour, and folks hanging out in the foyer after second. We have that moment on Sundays when we are all together…..let’s make sure we reach out (especially to our guests) and make folks feel welcomed. This is exactly why we are doing a joint service up at Wagon Hill on the 18th. It is a celebration of community, and a way to invite others to come and experience what life in Christ is really about.


Cash: This is really another community discussion, but a little more focused. To be blunt, our giving right now is very concerning. Usually we endure the summer (low giving season), and then bounce out of it in the fall. September was definitely not a bounce, and if something doesn’t change quickly, we are going to have to make some hard decisions. Right now our giving is on a pace that will come up about 20% short of the budget. Though we have some savings, it can’t cover that shortfall for long. Our budget has very little discretionary stuff in it. Cuts will primarily come out of the people part of the budget. We’d really like to not do that, but we need your help. If you are a faithful giver, see if God would provide for you to increase your support. If you are someone who isn’t a giver, it is time to join the community and be a part. I’ve always believed that is never an issue of whether or not the funds are there—it is a matter of unleashing them for the kingdom. Let’s do what 1 Corinthians 9 calls us to: “ Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” Let’s cheerfully give.


So friends, in the end, let’s all carry both the joy and responsibility of being part of this incredible community called the church, the body of Christ. It’s the only thing on this earth that will last forever.


In Christ,


October 6th, 2015|Uncategorized|1 Comment


pete copy

Pete Collins, a 26-year-old 4th year Physical Education Major at UNH talks about his story.

Pete grew up in Danville, NH, a small town of about 4,000 people. He loved playing in the woods around his house as a kid and always had a love for fitness. Sunday mornings in Danville were spent in church with his parents who were both Christians. “My mom was a teacher and my dad was a self-employed contractor. So, I grew up going to church with them. It was Sunday school and youth group, when I was old enough, but that was pretty much it for me. There wasn’t a relationship with Jesus. I would go to church on Sunday then I would just go live the rest of my life. My biggest desires in high school were hanging out with friends, playing video games and seeing if I could get a girlfriend.”

After high school Pete joined the military and enlisted in the Army with the hopes of becoming a cook. After enlisting he enjoyed his summer as a high school graduate then a couple of short months later he was shipped off to basic training. “There is literally a way to do everything in the military. A way to walk, a way to talk, a way to sit, a way to eat, you name it. I learned, after basic, that they expect certain things of you and when you meet those expectations you can kind of do whatever you want on your free time.” This led to a life of partying and drinking when he was 18. “Part of it was everyone else was doing it, so I wanted to have something in common with them. It was just kind of what you did.”

Pete did well at his job in the Army. He showed up for work on time and worked hard. This gave him opportunities to compete in military competitions that others were not able to do because of their work ethic. But even doing well at his job, getting promotions, getting along with his peers and winning competitions were not enough for him. “Here I am at work doing really well, but outside of work I was kind of doing my own thing. Alcohol wasn’t enough for me so I started using drugs.” Eventually this led to an addiction to marijuana and pain pills. “At some point I stopped caring. I realized my life back home didn’t really exist anymore. I was struggling to find out who I was and my identity.” As he continued to do well at his job his addiction increased and his life in the military was coming to an end. “It had caught up with me. I remember I was smoking weed one night and the next day I had a drug test. I didn’t do anything to try and pass it. I just went and did it.” Soon after he competed in another competition, which he won, and after his return back he was told he did not pass his drug test. “I was just at this high point in my career to going all the way back down to the bottom.”

Pete continued living a double life with success in his job and an addiction to pain pills. He still worked hard at his job, but was unable to compete again because of his former failed drug test. This caused him to become even more consumed by pills. “It was all about getting high and feeding that addiction.”

At one point Pete began listening to Air1 Christian Radio and found a renewed hope in Jesus and thought he would be free from his addiction, but those around him discouraged him and he fell back into the same addiction. “I had this point of realizing where I was. I didn’t have any money. I didn’t have a car anymore. No friends were around. I didn’t really have food to eat. I was going through withdrawals and there weren’t any drugs. I had this point of realizing what I had become and what my life was. It was lonely. It was miserable.” He continued on in the military and during his time serving his addiction continually got worse.

After getting out of the military he felt like there was hope again. He thought that if he got a girlfriend and left North Carolina that would solve all of the problems that he had experienced while in the military. He thought his problems were not about him, but about his situation.

After moving back to New Hampshire Pete soon realized that the military wasn’t the problem. He got a job, got a girlfriend and started attending church again. But church still wasn’t about a relationship with Jesus. Sunday was about going to church, but the rest of the week he still did whatever he wanted to do. “I just lived for myself. I was still smoking marijuana and drinking a lot. I had an inappropriate relationship and…I didn’t really care. Then I discovered pain pills existed in New Hampshire and realized the problem wasn’t really North Carolina.” His addiction continued for the next several months and people started noticing. He couldn’t live the same lie he had been living before. Everyone knew and his addiction started to become real.

Once Pete realized the enormity of his addiction he started finding solutions to stop his addiction. He visited doctors to try and get help. He also tried hiding money so he would not be able to buy drugs, but nothing worked. “Eventually I hit this breaking point. I just wanted it to be over. I looked at my life and realized this wasn’t me.” He didn’t know what to do, so he reached out to a friend. He had called a few of his friends first, but none of them answered. He then called a friend of his, who had been trying to get in touch with him, and told him everything. He even admitted to using pain pills during their phone conversation. This friend helped him make a step that began to change the course of Pete’s story.

A few days later this friend invited Pete to Celebrate Recovery at DEC. “I walked in just kind of terrified.” He spent time in the share group and told everyone about his addiction. It was scary for him, but he knew he wanted to get better. He will never forget the moment when they were singing, “Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)”. He saw a vision that still impacts him today. “I closed my eyes and I had this vision of me being on the ground and there were literal chains wrapped around my feet. Then it must have been Jesus, but he came down and grabbed my hand and pulled me and the chains broke.” That was the start of a drastic change in Pete’s life.

Pete returned home and began going through withdrawals, but he knew it was the step he needed to take. Later that week he felt like he should visit his brother. Pete visited him 3 times that week and his brother knew what needed to happen next. “He asked me if I wanted to move in. And I thought, ‘What?’ Then he said, ‘Well, Jesus says if your hand is going to cause you to sin cut it off!’ So, me cutting off the metaphorical hand was leaving behind where I was.” The idea scared him, but he knew it was what he needed to do. He knew it would mean leaving behind his home, his friends, his girlfriend and the life he once had to change his life for the better.

The night Pete moved in with his brother they went to a BBQ on the UNH campus that was held by Cru (Campus Crusade for Christ), a campus ministry at UNH. There was something that struck him about people his age having fun and enjoying life without drugs or alcohol and he wanted what they had. From that moment on he began seeking out what it was that they had. He joined a couple of Bible studies, continued going to Celebrate Recovery and began regularly attending DEC. He also began living with Christian guys who were holding him accountable and helping him through his addiction.

A couple of short weeks later he knew he wanted what they all had. He wanted a relationship with Jesus Christ. “I was ready to have a relationship. So, I had some friends come out and pray with me under a tree on campus. That was it. A couple of days later I told everyone about it, that I had this change.” Pete knew that Jesus was his Savior and the only true God and understood the transformation that comes through a relationship with Jesus. He was ready to move on from his old life and move on to a life of change.

Now Pete is finishing his schooling at UNH and has developed a heart for youth. He volunteers with the Grapple, junior high ministry, every Friday and recently spent his summer working at Camp Spofford in Spofford, NH as a Camp Counselor. “Getting involved with some of the ministries here made me realize that there’s genuine faith and genuine people; imperfect, all-be-it ‘cause so am I. I think youth ministry was where I got my life from, apart from Jesus. Friday nights, I was sold. I love it.”

“I’m just amazed at the work God has done. I can look at my life now and say that he’s done a lot. I still have a lifetime of work ahead of me. The Bible says if you lose your life for my sake you will gain it. I’m kind of learning that losing my life isn’t as easy as I want it to be. There are times where I stumble and fall and there are times where I just have so much victory. But, I know my relationship with God is not determined by how well I’m doing and what I’m feeling emotionally. My emotions are kind of like this wave and God is the constant line through all of that.”

September 15th, 2015|Uncategorized|6 Comments

Facilities Team


We are creating a Facilities Team to help with the everyday maintenance of our church building. Everything we do communicates something to newcomers and our facility should show that we care about the people walking through our doors. Our church building is our home. It is a place where we come together to worship our Lord and Savior every week. It should be a place that reflects our service to the Lord and our love and care for His people.


We need your help to make this a reality. 1 Peter 4:10 says, “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” If you are someone who enjoys serving and would like to serve our church body we could use your gifts and service. We need volunteers to help with PC maintenance, landscaping, cleaning and upkeep of the building and fulfilling administrative tasks.


There is no start or end date. These tasks can be completed around your schedule and would greatly help us in keeping up with our facilities. If you would like to help please contact Josiah Zoller:


Colossians 3:17 “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

September 8th, 2015|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Peg Wood

November 11th, 2014|Uncategorized|3 Comments

Why do we worship?

This past week October 26, 2014 we asked questions about worship to three of our members. Did these questions challenge you? Did they bring a new understanding of worship? Answer these questions and reflect on what worship really means.

1. How has congregational worship increased your understanding of who God is?

2. What value is there in congregational worship as opposed to private worship?

3. What encourages you to worship even when life’s circumstances are difficult?

Psalm 66: 1-2; 5, ” Shout for joy to God, all the earth! Sing the glory of his name; make his praise glorious. Come and see what God has done,
his awesome deeds for mankind!”

October 28th, 2014|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Chelsea + Aki

Can you relate to Aki’s story? Did Aki’s story speak to you? Tell us more about your story in the comments below.

October 21st, 2014|Uncategorized|0 Comments