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Seeking the Kingdom

How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news . . . Romans 10:15

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When I decided to go on a short-term missions trip to the Detroit area with members of the C&MA National Office (N.O.), I had already heard about Pastor John Meyers. My friends at the N.O. gave me a clue to his identity. “You’ll recognize him by his footwear,” they said. “He wears orange Crocs everywhere.”

It didn’t take long for me to realize that those orange Crocs are a symbol of his outreach through Acts 29 Fellowship in Hamtramck, Michigan. In such an ethnically diverse community, outreach methods must be creative. John received the atrocious orange shoes as a joke, but when he put them on and walked around the neighborhood, he realized his ugly clogs were a conversation starter—a foot in the door, so to speak.

Seeking Guidance

As the foundation for their ministry, Pastor John and the Acts 29 team identify the needs of the community and then provide for them. The workers at Acts 29 walk completely by faith. Liz McIntire, one of our team members, remarked, “Never before have I encountered such an intensely God-dependent ministry.” We saw this many times during the week as every endeavor was bathed in hours of prayer. Sitting at the feet of Jesus and listening to Him was put before everything else.

Every afternoon our team helped out with a backyard Bible club (BYBC) run by Brenda Hoffman, an Alliance missionary candidate serving at Acts 29. Every day she gathered us to pray that God would bring the children and that they would be receptive to the message. This was the first BYBC in a Bangladeshi neighborhood, and about 30 kids participated. We realized the pressing need to share the gospel of Christ with them when we learned that right after BYBC, they headed to the mosque to learn the Koran!

Every detail of the club was covered in prayer. Brittany Gray, a member of the N.O. team, had prayed before the trip for the perfect craft that would keep the children coming back, and God gave her the idea of creating sock puppets. The children worked on their crafts all week and were excited to return each day for puppet time! Also, we prayed that God would give Brenda the words to explain the gospel message to the children. It was amazing how she engaged them; every day they returned with their Bible verses memorized and their homework sheet completed, signed by their parents.

Brenda asked that we pray for the Lord to help her present the salvation message on Friday, the last day of BYBC. God answered our prayer that morning by giving her an idea for a play. She also believed that there would be intense spiritual warfare that we would need to push back with prayer. After Brenda taught the lesson on salvation, she asked each child to explain what she had said. The children answered that Jesus saves us and wipes our slate clean! No wonder there was such warfare surrounding BYBC that day.

While we were there, Pastor John learned that the ministry’s building had failed inspection and needed to be brought up to code by the end of the week. Our team immediately prepared to drop everything in order to aid in construction. We were all surprised when Pastor John did not cancel any of our activities—a Bible study, prayer meetings and a service project to the community. He put the spiritual needs of the ministry first and trusted the Lord to provide for the physical ones. Against all odds, most of the construction was completed and the building passed inspection easily. I thought of Matthew 6:33: “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

Art Lesson

Although I went to minister to others, God used this trip to teach me a deeply personal lesson. After Bible study the first day, I was prepared to help my team with the urgent construction needs. But the facilities manager asked, “Are any of you artists?”

“I am,” I responded, and he said he had a special assignment for me.

A week before we arrived, the church’s air conditioning/heating unit had been stolen. With temperatures climbing into the 90s, the leaders were searching for an inexpensive way to cool the building. They decided to paint the windows to block out the light, leaving a foot-wide section in the middle on which I was asked to paint a mural.

Compared with the other pressing ministry needs, I felt this task was insignificant. But I began to paint. The building is the length of a city block, so the assignment took all week to complete. Yet it was amazing how the Lord worked through this project, providing me with opportunities to talk to the neighborhood youth, who were curious about the mural. Many people passed by and looked at the windows. Some even stopped to ask the pastor about the ministry.

A staff member explained to me that bringing beauty to Hamtramck was rare. I was told that the Acts 29 leaders had considered hiring a window artist but were unable to afford it! It began to dawn on me that God sent me to that church for the specific task of ministering through the artistic ability He had given me. My previous view of ministry was very traditional—I thought we had to use words to tell people about Jesus—but the Lord showed me that He has given us all special talents that we can use to minister to others. Not everyone is called to be a missionary, but we are all called to use our gifts for the Lord.

Pastor John’s philosophy is that we have only one life, so we should live it to the full for Christ, using whatever gifts He has given us as a gateway to sharing the gospel. The week we spent helping with Acts 29 Fellowship had an enormous impact on our team. We were motivated to get involved in our own community and find creative ways to build relationships and tell people about Jesus! Perhaps all of us will have to invest in a pair of orange Crocs.

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