January - God does the work

As we approach the closing of January, I have a word to leave with you; God does the work. In my devotional time this month, I have found excitement, comfort, and joy in the life of Joseph. God’s hand was with Joseph wherever he went.

“And Joseph's master took him and put him into the prison, the place where the king's prisoners were confined, and he was there in prison. But the LORD was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. And the keeper of the prison put Joseph in charge of all the prisoners who were in the prison. Whatever was done there, he was the one who did it. The keeper of the prison paid no attention to anything that was in Joseph's charge, because the LORD was with him. And whatever he did, the LORD made it succeed.” - Genesis 39:20-23 (ESV)

Our Nashville economy is booming, the city is both diversifying and growing, and droves of new families are moving here daily. There are no shortages of fresh ministries, churches, movements, partnerships, and strategic decisions to meet the demands of the Greater Nashville area.

We still need God to work. Just as He was clearly with Joseph, so He will be with us. We need not be afraid of any negative forces in our city, limitations, constraints, challenges, and situations that lead us to feel imprisoned. God works through all the impossibilities of our lives to show Himself more glorious.

My prayer for you as we close out January 2019, is that we look to God to work in our lives to broaden the fame of His name in our hearts, households, neighborhood, communities, city, and other spaces in Greater Nashville and abroad. Whatever you do, allow the LORD make it succeed for His eternal Kingdom.


Aaron Johnson

Director of Prayer Network
The Operation Andrew Group

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10th Annual Rodgers Celebration: A New Chapter for Nashville’s OAG

The Operation Andrew Group (OAG) honored three Nashville Leaders for their outstanding service at the 10th Annual Joe & Honey Rodgers Awards, held at Lipscomb University’s Allen Arena, in November 2018.

The evening brought leaders from across our city’s education, business and faith communities. Sandy Bledsoe, Vice President at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Dr. Richard Allen Lewis, Sr. the Treasurer/CFO of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, CEO of Lewis and Wright Funeral Directors, were awarded the Rodgers’ 2018 Christian Civic Leadership Award. Dr. Charles McGowan, Pastor Emeritus of Christ Presbyterian Church, first President of The Operation Andrew Group, founder of McGowan Search was honored with the Rodgers’ 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award. SEE PHOTO GALLERY PAGE

View the 2018 Rodgers’s slideshow by tapping to advance the photos below.

Rhonda Lowry, OAG President, focused the celebration of Nashville’s Christian Civic Leaders on serving our city with heightened capacities in 2019. Marked with humility, each recipient focused on faith as the driving component behind their leadership and service to others. All can be inspired by the good news the gospel brings us in the person of Christ.

Sandy Bledsoe shared, “We need not forget that God has told us to love him and love people. God speaks to us in a whisper rather than a roar, through his scriptures. I put life through the lens of asking God to show us what is good.”

Dr. Richard Allen Lewis, Sr. pointed to Nashville’s churches and schools needing to grow and thrive. “Leaders in Nashville are very blessed because of the many people who serve in our community.”  Lewis offered “you make a life by what you give, and not by what you get. Remember, we must give our time, our talent and our service.”

Dr. Charles McGowan noted “Nashville is a welcoming city. We have a caring attitude toward those who are marginalized and under resourced.” McGowan encourages “leaders who are servants, who will please the heart of God.” McGowan is particularly pleased that The Operation Andrew Group’s United4Hope program has risen to the forefront of serving Nashville’s public schools.

Capping off the 10th Annual Rodgers Celebration a new chapter for OAG was begun by Turney Stevens, Board Chair, announcing OAG’s new incoming President Michael Nolan.  “Michael has a vision of how Operation Andrew can equip congregations to serve our city more effectively through unity in the power of the gospel.”

Michael and Kristen Nolan were thrilled as the largest crowd to attend a Rodgers’ event took part in applauding the growth of The Operation Andrew Group since its founding in 2000, and now are looking ahead with them.

Its time for both churches and communities to focus on serving Nashville and beyond in 2019.

Outstanding. Industrious. Leadership.

The Operation Andrew Group honors excellence Christian Civic Leadership in Nashville for the 10th consecutive year.

Celebrating these three outstanding leaders who demonstrate industrious humility, while exhibiting Christian leadership characteristics to all, strengthens our city:

DR. RICHARD ALLEN LEWIS, SR. serves as Treasurer/CFO of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.  He is the owner of Lewis and Wright Funeral Directors, President and CEO of Metrodee Inc./franchise of Captain D’s Restaurant and President and CEO of Transfare, Inc.  He served as Chairman of the Board and President of Citizens Savings Bank and Trust, Nashville.  Dr. Lewis graduated from Tennessee State University with a degree in Business Administration and attained a graduate degree in banking from Louisiana State University. He was also awarded honorary doctorate degrees from Payne Theological Seminary and Shorter College.  Presently he serves on the Board of Trustees for Tennessee State University and Wilberforce University.  He is married to Delorse Askins Lewis and they are the parents of Richard Allen II and Michael Anthony and granddaughter, Kennedi. 

SANDY BLEDSOE serves as Vice President of Risk and Insurance Management for Vanderbilt University Medical Center, recently launched Enterprise Risk Management for the medical center. Bledsoe, with a Mastter’s in Conflict Management from Lipscomb University, has addressed the American Health Law Association, CNA Insurance Company, and the Willis Healthcare forum. Bledsoe has served on the a Boards of Alive Hospice and the Wayne Reed Christian Child Care Center. She is an active member of the Otter Creek Church. Married to Dr. Craig Bledsoe, they are the parents of Scott Bledsoe.

DR. CHARLES McGOWAN has served in both the U.S. Army and the Office of Naval Intelligence as a Special Agent in counterintelligence. A graduate of Columbia Theological Seminary, McGowan has served as a Senior Pastor in Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee. He was awarded a Doctor of Divinity degree by King College, and appointed as the Moderator of the General Assembly for the Presbyterian Church in America. McGowan, a founding member of the Operation Andrew Board of Trustees, assumed the Presidency after retiring as Senior Pastor of Christ Presbyterian Church and Academy. Recently he founded McGowan Search, guiding congregations searching for pastoral leadership. Married for over 50 years, Charles delights in God’s gift of four children, nineteen grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.

Past recipients include:

Miles Ezell Jr., Marty Dickens, Lee Beaman, Sam Bartholomew, Beth Harwell, Lee Barfield, Stuart McWhorter, Howard Gentry, Amy Grant, Don Finto, Bill Carpenter, Dee Anna Smith, and L.H. Hardwick.

Ambassador Joe Rodgers, as one of the initial founders of The Operation Andrew Group, was a servant leader who recognized that by encouraging all people, and honoring them in Christ, unity can be built and maintained though out lifetimes.


“...that all of them may be one,

Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”

John 17: 21

Christianity without discipleship.

In his final hours with his disciples, Jesus challenged them and us to “go an make disciples of all the nations…teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you…”  Matthew 28:19 (NLT)

Discipleship has many facets – from sharing the good news of salvation, to teaching a new believer how to dig into the Word, to mentoring the next generation of leaders in the ways of God.  Jethro mentored Moses. Elizabeth mentored Mary.  Jesus mentored his disciples. 

We are commanded to serve, mentor, and pour into the younger generations.  “You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others.  2 Timothy2:2 (NLT)   When we are obedient, transformation happens in our own lives and the lives of those we disciple. 

Three Oak Project participants share their experiences in mentoring, learning and growing in the ways of God.

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"It is a blessing and a calling to mentor and disciple. The Oak Project serves as an organized catalyst for men and women to be reminded that wisdom is meant to be shepherded and handed down one by one. So many have invested in me in my faith and my profession and I'm grateful that The Oak Project exists to facilitate the same for this current younger generation of Christian professionals."

- Dave Schroeder, VP, Marketing, B&H Publishing Group 

“Through the Oak Project, I was able to grow closer with my fellow mentee... sharing many of the same experiences and challenges both personally and professionally... We also grew closer to our mentor, learning as Christ followers in today’s world. I think we all genuinely look forward to our get togethers!”

- Brittany Chase, Adjunct Professor, Blair School of Music, Vanderbilt University

“What has a 100% guaranteed return and a promise of never having a regret? Investing in the lives of others. The Oak Project is a visible portrait of the visible truth that it is more blessed to give than to receive."

- Paul Cleckner, Managing Director, The Human Capital Group, Inc.

Christianity without discipleship is always Christianity without Christ.

~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer




Billy Graham...

Billy Graham blessed the people of Nashville when he selected our city as one of the final locations for his outreach efforts.

Rhonda Lowry | Opinion  The Tennessean

Watch a story of how The Operation Andrew Group has continued to serve Nashville.


In June 2000, Reverend Graham spoke to the world from Nashville, speaking of God’s love and the importance of building relationships with each other.

It was out of this final crusade in Nashville that Operation Andrew was born. A diverse group of Nashville’s faith leaders, encompassing many denominations, worked tirelessly to keep the unity they had experienced in working for the crusade alive after Dr. Graham had left our city.


Reverend Graham’s advance team, named "Operation Andrew," prepared each city to bring people to the crusade.  

This team was named after the apostle Andrew, who brought his brother Peter to Jesus and said, “We have found the Lord!”

After the Nashville crusade ended, this group of influential civic and church leaders asked Reverend Graham if they could use that name for continuing the message of Jesus in Nashville. Reverend Graham gave them his blessing and Operation Andrew was born.

Nearly 20 years later, Operation Andrew Group continues to build unity among Christians in our city with the message of divine hope that Reverend Graham exhibited through his daily walk.

We work to inspire business leaders, to mentor young entrepreneurs, we support Metro schools and their students by partnering them each with a local church to tutor and provide much needed supplies and we support pastors by introducing them to sectors of our city through the LINC program fashioned after Leadership Nashville.  

We strive to bring hearts together to serve a new Nashville.

Reverend Graham’s most important lesson was one of example. He truly lived what he believed — especially pertinent in today’s tumultuous world. He lived a life as exemplary on the inside as it was on the outside.

You’ve heard the phrase “walking the walk and not simply talking the talk?” Rev. Graham was the textbook example. How he conducted relationships, how he presented himself and how he remained authentic through his life are lessons for us all, no matter our faith, our background or our place in life.

Billy Graham was a magnet for others. He had the gift of invitation. He invited people into the story of Jesus. He did not make it about himself but rather invited  everyone into the compelling story of Jesus. 

The barriers among all of God’s people that keep us from simply living God’s story must be eliminated. Until we are working to live authentically and willing to share our challenges of our brokenness, we cannot reach others to share the hope that can be ours as the unified body of Christ. 

Billy Graham in Nashville over the years - photos at The Tennessean

Rhonda Lowry is the president of Operation Andrew, a ministry based in Nashville, Tennessee.  She is a professor of Spiritual Formation at Lipscomb University in Nashville. Having spent 40 years in the field of education, Lowry also serves as a senior fellow at Lipscomb’s Institute for Christian Spirituality. She and her husband Randy Lowry, the President of Lipscomb University, have three married children and eight grandchildren and have called Nashville home since 2005.

Group photo taken with Billy Graham during the June 2000 Crusade, from top back left: Don Finto, Joe Rodgers, L.H. Hardwick, Jimmy Pickle, Enoch Fuzz, Michael W. Smith, Jim Friedman, Charles McGowan, Billy Graham, Sam Bartholomew, Marty Dickens .

Photo of Billy Graham from BGEA

Honoring Momentum in Nashville

The Joe and Honey Rodgers Civic Leadership Award Dinner

on Monday, October 30, is the Ninth Annual Celebrationrecognizing Christian leaders who demonstrate excellence, humility, and enduring commitment as they demonstrate Christian character to the lives and communities in Middle Tennessee.

For nearly two decades, Operation Andrew has sought to unite the faith community, business
and civic leaders, government officials, agencies, and organizations to influence lives, address needs and demonstrate Christian leadership.

The Operation Andrew Group invites you to join in the recognition of these faithful Christian leaders to express appreciation for their community service, and to help underwrite the programs of OPERATION ANDREW through your sponsorship.

2017 Rodgers Honorees

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William F. Carpenter III is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of LifePoint Health.  He has served as CEO since 2006 and assumed the additional position of Chairman of the Board in 2010.  He is a founding employee of the company, which was established in 1999, having previously served in various roles, including Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Governance Officer.
         Mr. Carpenter is a member of the board of directors of the American Hospital Association and the Federation of American Hospitals (FAH). He is a past board chairman of the FAH and the Nashville Health Care Council, and currently serves on the boards of directors of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, NashvilleHealth, the Center for Medical Interoperability, United Way of Metropolitan Nashville, Avondale’s Advisory Board and Nashville Public Radio.
Additionally, he serves as co-chairman of Partnership 2020, the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce’s economic development initiative. A recognized leader in the healthcare industry, he has appeared on Modern Healthcare’s Annual “100 Most Influential People in Healthcare” list numerous times.  

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Dee Anna Smith is the Chief Executive Officer of Sarah Cannon, The Cancer Institute of HCA Healthcare. Appointed as CEO in 2006, Smith is responsible for carrying out the overall strategic mission and vision for Sarah Cannon which offers cutting-edge clinical research as the foundation to its integrated cancer programs. From diagnosis to recovery, Sarah Cannon provides close-to-home access to world-class cancer care across the United States and United Kingdom. Joining Sarah Cannon Research Institute in 2005, Smith served as chief information officer and president of Sarah Cannon’s Research Services division. Previously, Smith served as founder and chief executive officer of Summit Research Solutions, a multi-specialty organization co-founded in 1996. She received her bachelor’s degree in accounting from Pepperdine University.
        Smith has received recognition for her contributions to the health care industry on a local and national level. She was named a 2013 Health Care Hero by the Nashville Business Journal in the chief executive officer category and she received Lipscomb University’s 2013 Heroes of Business award. Smith is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and American Society of Clinical Oncology. She serves on the Pepperdine University Board of Regents, the board of visitors for the Lipscomb University School of Pharmacy as well as the board of directors for the Nashville Health Care Council.  

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Pastor Emeritus L H Hardwick was a founding Trustee of The Operation Andrew Group and championed the greater purpose to unite the body of Christ in Middle Tennessee. Hardwick was appointed Senior Pastor of Christ Church at just 18 years of age with a small congregation of just eight people. Under his leadership, and in response to the consistent growth of the church through the years, Pastor Hardwick led Christ Church through three location changes and numerous building projects.
        Pastor Hardwick is affiliated with Global Network of Christian Ministries, Inc. and in 1986, was elected to the office of Moderator for that organization, a position he held for 10 years. He was a member of Churches Uniting in Global Missions (CUGM), a national group of pastors, under the leadership of Dr. Robert Schuller, former Founder and Pastor of the Crystal Cathedral in Anaheim, California. In addition, Pastor Hardwick has received honorary doctorate degrees from Moody Theological Seminary and Emmanuel Bible College, and was an honored Guest Speaker at Oxford University in Oxford, England on two occasions. Pastor Hardwick has always been active in community affairs and was appointed by the Governor of Tennessee to serve an eight-year term on the Board of Trustees of the Mental Health Association. The position of “Pastor Emeritus” is bestowed on the former Senior Pastor Hardwick for one who has served it well, and who continues to demonstrate the potential for pastoral care.

Serving churches so that together
we can impact our city.


2017 National Day of Prayer

Reflections from The Chief of Police and City Guests

The Operation Andrew Group (OAG) and The YMCA of Middle Tennessee set about building prayer all around our town this year, specifically on the National Day of Prayer, the first Thursday in May. There were dozens of prayer gatherings, and five that were co-sponsored by OAG and the YMCA, now serving in their 14th year as community partners.

Perspectives were shared from 18 guest speakers during the “Diversity Downtown” program, held at Bennett Auditorium, in the Southern Baptist Convention Building. Key among them was Chief Steve Anderson, of the Metro Nashville Police Department, who offered a brief reflection on Nashville, now ranked the nation's 25th largest city, and how we are fairing.

Three times a year Chief Anderson attends a conference of the Major City Chiefs Association (MCC), gathering the 73 largest cities in the US, Canada and Great Britain together. A colleague recently asked the Chief why he primarily just listens when problems are discussed from the other major metropolitan areas. Anderson said that "if I put our problems on the table, we would be laughed at, because they are so small.”

So, we are blessed, and who is responsible? The answer he gave is, “you are”. The people of this community who continually support one another and love our city. The Chief shared that many of his prayers are already answered.

As Nashville's population continues to grow, strategic efforts to build churches, community networks, and cross-cultural support will increase. Ashford Hughes, Senior Advisor of Labor and Workforce, Mayor’s Office asked that we keep all, both “our city's leaders and those that are the least of these, in prayer.”

The 2017 theme National Day of Prayer Task Force centered on “His Great Name” (cf., Dan. 9:19) and identifies “your city” as the focus. This focus encourages every city to stand united in serving one another, strengthening each other’s “hands for the good work” (Neh. 2:18) each day.

OAG Prayer Chair Pastor Aaron Johnson offered that “we need to build bridges across the historical racial divide, to help brothers and sisters live in Music City, ...not messy city, where we don't work together.”

There are open doors all around us: north, south, east and west. People are longing to know the love of Christ and how wide, long, high and deep is this love that surpasses knowledge (cf., Eph. 3:19).

We all can serve together to remind each other of that reality everyday.

2016 Rodgers Celebration: Civic & Lifetime Achievements Honored

THE JOE AND HONEY RODGERS CHRISTIAN LEADERSHIP AWARDS recognize individuals who demonstrate outstanding personal commitment, as well as excellence in leadership, business, and civic service with a lifetime of devotion to Jesus Christ to improve and enhance quality of life for all.  Past recipients include Miles Ezell Jr., Marty Dickens, Lee Beaman, Sam Bartholomew, Beth Harwell, Lee Barfield and Stuart McWhorter. 

Monday, October 17, 2016, 6:30 p.m., Allen Arena, Lipscomb University, Purchase Tickets

2016 Honorees:    Howard Gentry, Civic Leader, Metro Nashville’s Criminal Court Clerk; Amy Grant, Civic Leader, six-time GRAMMY Awards winner; and Lifetime Achievement to Don Finto, pastor, international speaker and respected author.

2016 Honorees:  Howard Gentry, Civic Leader, Metro Nashville’s Criminal Court Clerk; Amy Grant, Civic Leader, six-time GRAMMY Awards winner; and Lifetime Achievement to Don Finto, pastor, international speaker and respected author.

This is the first time that both Civic leadership and Lifetime Achievement awards will be presented. Join in celebrating three highly distinguished, career leaders who are daily speaking into Nashville's future.


Currently serving as Metro Nashville’s Criminal Court Clerk, Howard Gentry’s civic work began as Metro Council member-at-large, followed by his election as Davidson County’s first African-American constitutional officer, as vice mayor. In 2007, Gentry was a candidate for Mayor and missed the run-off by less than 300 votes. He has been elected to countywide office three times. Gentry’s civic contributions are countless, working through both elected office as well as through non-profit organizations which have impacted poverty, homelessness, adult literacy, workforce development and sustainable health care, among a long list of community accomplishments.


Influencing more than three decades of gospel, pop and folk music genres as a leading singer-songwriter, Amy Grant’s talent and quiet wisdom put contemporary Christian music in the national spotlight. A six-time GRAMMY Awards winner, Grant has six No. 1 hits, three multi-platinum albums and total career album sales exceeding thirty million. She is also admired as a leading community philanthropist with multiple organizations and thousands of lives changed through her unselfish and generous contributions of time and money: “Living matters. Celebrating life matters. Faith is the one thing that stands the test of time.”


Often called a pastor to pastors, Don Finto is an international speaker and author whose most recent book, released in spring 2015, is Prepare! For the End Time Harvest. Finto began his career in ministry in post-World War II Germany (Ph.D., Vanderbilt, in German Literature). He taught at then David Lipscomb College in the ‘60s and ‘70s and later became senior pastor of Nashville’s Belmont Church. A scholar, pastor and author, he founded The Caleb Company in 1996 whose stated mission is to equip God’s people with His heart and purpose for Israel and the nations.


Joe & Honey Rodgers

Ambassador and Mrs. Joe M. Rodgers were a Nashville “power couple” in their work, their faith and their international reach. Rodgers worked in construction, real estate and finance and was involved in projects for clients that included Hospital Corporation of America, Opryland, Vanderbilt Plaza, the Fifth Third Center, the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Schermerhorn Symphony Hall. President Ronald Reagan appointed Rodgers U.S. ambassador to France, after his service on the Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board. Rodgers was one of the visionaries who founded The Operation Andrew Group in the late ‘90s, serving as a board member and early chairman. His goal was to grow a collaborative group of Nashville’s Christ-centered ministries that together would make a stronger impact for Christ in Middle Tennessee. Joe and “Honey” Rodgers have a daughter, Jan Rodgers Dale (Bob), and a son Mason Rodgers (Kelli). They have eight grandchildren. Joe liked to say “Countries aren’t friends; people are friends.”

THE OPERATION ANDREW GROUP is an organization dear to Ambassador Joe & Honey Rodgers’ hearts. As one of the founders, Rodgers saw the need continually to build unity in Middle Tennessee, encouraging all people regardless of denomination, ethnic background, and economic status to come together, helping to transform their communities spiritually and socially.

Oak Project reaches the nerve center of Nashville

Commentary about the growing impact of this unique mentoring opportunity and the experience gained by those involved:

The Oak Project has the potential to impact this city. Reaching into the nerve center of Nashville we are seeking men and women business leaders, experienced and less experienced, in mentoring situations so they can learn from each other. - Rhonda Lowry

Before the Oak Project I was wandering the corporate world in my own knowledge and experience. I came from a very different background. Small town. Conservative. So, stepping into the Oak Project with Nancy Reese was the first time I could see how you can bring God and His Kingdom into the corporate world. I had never seen that before. Nancy dug in so much deeper. I had never heard anyone talk to me about it before. It was a desperate need that I had. - Rachel Figley

In the young guys today, there is no question about their knowledge, but what they need to know is how to introduce your faith into your work – how to follow the ways of Christ. This is what unlocks the power in a career. It is re-enforcing and encouraging to see them at this stage. Whatever they have gained, I have gained ten times. - Joe Hutts

Joe's knowledge has been a huge rock for me. I've called him up to tell him what's on my mind and he's always able to draw it back to the holy spirit. He encourages me that you don't have to have all the answers to go to God. - Nick Burnett

The leadership that Joe provided, perhaps throughout his career, has been one of love and the peace that looks a lot more like Christ than what we regualrly see in the business world. - Chris Kinney

I completely believe we are shaped by the people that we are in relationship with. - Bill Lee

I've been a believer all my life, but [sometimes] there are moments in life when it just clicks. And it clicked. - Jeremy George

The Oak Project provides an opportunity to gain additional experience to be with others who have common goals and aspirations. - Henry Coles, Jr.

As Nashville grows in complexity and diversity, we need Christians to be walking together, hand in hand, and to know each other well. In that way we can be Jesus to our city and give glory to God in our Christian walk, to Nashville. - Rhonda Lowry

Andrew's Net

A Quarterly Collection of Insights

We all long to be connected to the breadth and depth of our surroundings. God's work and service produces a blood line of understanding and true collaboration.

Be watching for perspectives from people who's hearts have been captured by God.