Feature

Wildest Dreams

Congratulations to the Dream Incentive Grant’s first recipients!

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At Alliance Council 2015, President John Stumbo announced the establishment of the Dream Incentive Grant. This $150,000 grant seeks to encourage U.S. Alliance churches to pursue a God-given ministry dream that could not otherwise be funded through the annual church budget.

Out of 51 Alliance churches that applied last year, 14 were granted awards ranging from $1,880 to $30,000. Since then, these small to mid-size churches (up to 300 in attendance) have purchased vehicles, hired staff, launched classes, loved refugees, upgraded equipment, reached unchurched teens, and more.

Keep reading for eight short stories of Alliance churches’ ministry dreams coming true.

Community Garden

A community garden is where the people of Cornerstone Christian Fellowship (Hilliard, Ohio) work together to grow produce for hunger relief and human development organizations. Since the garden’s start, we have delivered about 30 tons of fresh produce.

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Several years ago, we began to develop deeper relationships with some of our community’s refugees who received organic produce from the garden. Through starting an English conversation class, God gave us an opportunity to reach the nations He brought to our own backyard. We always needed more volunteers in the garden, and our English students needed more opportunities for English conversations. People gardening together can’t help but chat, so friendships became well rooted.

We changed our crop selection to grow more produce our international friends enjoyed in their homelands. They invited their friends, and we as a church began to understand more of what it means to love our neighbors as ourselves.

Through the Dream Incentive Grant, we are building upon the good work God began for His Kingdom here at Cornerstone. We now offer cooking classes where we teach each other different ways to cook what we grow. We also teach canning and other ways to preserve the harvest. Through the generous grant, we are purchasing additional appliances and supplies needed for the cooking classes.

The Kingdom of God is getting closer as we continue to share His love with each person we meet. The food we provide through the garden is great for many of the financially strapped families we serve but not nearly as great as the fellowship. It’s hard to describe the joy we all experience.

—Irma Chon of Cornerstone Christian Fellowship

Events for Kids

To bless their local school and neighborhood, Grace Church—Old Brooklyn (Cleveland, Ohio) hosted a neighborhood Easter egg hunt, which included free photos with the Easter bunny, crafts, and snacks. Families who attended had the opportunity to pray with someone and to hear the gospel.

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This summer Grace Church will provide a kids’ music, art, and sports camp.

“We are excited about the opportunities we now have to bless our community and share God’s love through the C&MA Dream [Incentive] Grant,” says Pastor Charlie Collier.

Multicultural Ministry

Madison Community Church (Everett, Wash.) has hired a retired C&MA international worker part time to help cast vision and equip young people for its new discipleship/multicultural ministry. The church’s goal is to reach the many peoples from other countries moving into the area.

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“God already brought a family of Indonesians into our midst with whom we celebrated—in true Indonesian style—their 50th wedding anniversary with a meal prepared by 15 of their friends,” says Pastor Peter Vincent.

Madison Community is preparing to provide a TESOL program (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages) and to give visa paperwork support in addition to continuing other community outreach programs. The Dream Incentive Grant will aid the ministry’s training, certification, and set-up, which is costly, time consuming, and sometimes filled with risks. “But,” Peter says, “imagine the privilege of being a part of a church family where those from the tribes and tongues of the nations are present.

“We are a small church family, but the need is great, and our God is even greater. So we are praying to be people of great faith, for open doors into the multicultural community, for miracles in our midst, for continued church growth, and for space to do whatever God leads us to do.”

Immigration Legal Services

We thank God for the C&MA for granting us the Dream Incentive Grant that is building up Ministerios Nuevo Amanecer (Harbor City, Calif.) in ways we never dreamed possible. We are overjoyed for what Christ is doing and how He will use this ministry to transform the lives of people serving and those being served.

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While we await recognition from the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) to help people with immigration legal services, we have visited and ministered to people in immigration detentions and their families. Dedicated volunteers make one- to two-hour trips to visit with men and women, believers and nonbelievers, being held in immigration detentions. We offer our friendship, prayers, and emotional support to those who find themselves with little hope. Being there for people in circumstances they see as their greatest challenge is a blessing because we proclaim hope and grace found only in Jesus Christ.

In November 2015 we heard of a young man in immigration detention named Gerardo Corrales who was in a wheelchair and had requested a visitor from Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC). A couple of days later a group of seven brothers and sisters from our church made their first four-hour visit (roundtrip) to the Adelanto Detention Center. A brother in Christ named Rolando visited Gerardo.

Gerardo was surprised to have received a visitor. Rolando shared the gospel with him. Although Gerardo did not accept Christ at that moment, I reassured Rolando that the seed was planted. Rolando said he had a great experience visiting and promised to follow up with Gerardo’s mother, Hidilbertha, who was miles away.

After some weeks, Gerardo was released on bail, and we volunteered to bring him back home to be reunited with his family. Another young brother in Christ named Roberto, who was 14 years old and had recently given his life to Christ, went with me to pick up Gerardo. We used the two-hour trip back to church to again share the message of Christ and encourage Gerardo with our own life-changing testimonies.

Gerardo said that while in immigration detention he was in solitary confinement due to conflicts with other detainees. He felt lonely and depressed at times and had no hope. Gerardo said the visit he received from Rolando brought him hope and peace.

Days after, Gerardo’s sister-in-law Tanya e-mailed us saying, “Thank you so much for all the help and for being there for Gerardo. I support everything you all do for your people. It’s something I would like to do. I love helping my own people, and it gives me a good feeling to help someone else. I don’t have words to thank you all, but keep doing what you all are doing because we need it.”

Today we remain in contact with Gerardo. Please pray for his salvation, his family, and his immigration case.

—Eldaah Arango, young adult leader at Ministerios Nuevo Amanecer

Reliable Transportation

Essie (Ky.) Christian and Missionary Alliance Church, located in one of the poorest counties in the country, dreamed of purchasing a 12-passenger van for ministry. The Dream Incentive Grant made that dream possible.

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“Many parents, while not churchgoers themselves, are open to letting their children attend events. However, due to economic reasons many have no way to transport their children to or from events,” says Pastor Todd Billingsley. “This van has allowed us to increase the size of our youth group and to travel together on outings.”

One ministry event the church has used the van for was to sing Christmas carols at a local hospital. “We entered one lady’s room even after being told they weren’t sure she would be able to hear us. When we started singing ‘Silent Night,’ a smile came on her face, and a tear rolled down her cheek,” Todd says. “This [experience] impacted our youth more effectively than 100 of my lessons.”

Bless Towanda

The news headlines are getting too familiar: another three teenagers found dead from a heroin overdose. While government officials scramble to develop a solution, our small church is already poised to act and make a difference.

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Community Alliance Church (Towanda, Pa.) captured a vision four years ago to take our town by storm by restoring hope, creating community, and shining Christ’s light. After several small group studies and prayer gatherings, we began to attempt something so big that without God it was certain to fail.

Although we had only around 80 people in attendance on Sunday morning when we started this adventure, we mobilized the church family to reach Towanda for Christ. Community Alliance is located about seven miles from town, far enough to make reaching those who would not walk into a church difficult. So, we purchased a building on Main Street, one block from the county courthouse. Teams of volunteers transformed the rundown, old storefront into a community coffee house suited for any urban setting. The goal is to establish Kingdom relationships and create a hub of ministry in the heart of our downtown. Now through God’s blessings, we have completed renovations on the whole building.

Besides the coffee shop on the first floor, we have created four low-income apartments on the second and third floors. These are designed to help offset the rise in rent created by the natural gas industry that came into Pennsylvania seven years ago. In that space we also created a large youth and conference room that houses the bulk of the new ministry initiatives.

Using the C&MA’s Dream Incentive Grant gift, we accomplished three vital phases of our vision:

  1. We upgraded equipment in the coffee shop. Having spent most of our church’s reserve funds to establish the Community Cup, LLC, we were forced to acquire a lot of used equipment. The Dream Grant provided money to help the growing business expand and provide better service.
  2. We furnished the youth room for all of the needs we had for our new community youth outreach. The room also provides a meeting place for small groups and allows the coffee shop to cater business meetings, which expands our outreach through the shop.The goal of the community youth group is to provide a neutral location to reach the unchurched teens in our area. Since the beginning of the 2015–2016 school year, the group has doubled in size. Teens that would never travel to our main campus are walking in Sunday evenings to gather and hear God’s Word. He is building community and His Kingdom by capturing our teens’ hearts.
  3. We started Restored Ministries. This new endeavor is an addiction recovery program with a Christ-centered focus. Partnering with a local Christian rehabilitation center, we now hold weekly small groups that offer hope to those held in bondage by addiction. We pray that in time Community Alliance will help stop those familiar headlines from appearing, and we will see not only lives being saved but also souls.

We are now known in our community as “that church.” We are the church that runs the coffee shop, the one with all of the youth programs, the one that cares, and the one that is making a difference in Towanda.

We give thanks to God even through the challenges we have met in being a small church with a big vision. But in every phase we have seen that we have a big God who provides just what we need. We also thank the Alliance family for their support in seeing that small churches in small towns can still make a big impact.

—Pastor Bill Klees of Community Alliance Church

Immigration Legal Services

In November 2015 Faith Alliance Bible Church (Des Plaines, Ill.) received recognition from the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) to provide low-cost immigration legal services. We have chosen a name that is open for use by other potential sites if desired—Alliance for Immigrant Neighbors. We also received accreditation for two of our volunteer workers: Amy Jackson and myself. Currently, Victoria Dominguez from our staff is working on her accreditation application. The process of receiving the BIA’s recognition and accreditation has been a long one.

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In late summer 2013 a group from our church felt burdened to do something in our town. We began to research the community in depth while also discerning the Spirit’s voice. We asked questions like, “What are this community’s needs and resources? Where is God already present and working? What are our strengths as a team and a church, and how might God lead us to build relationships in the community?”

For about five months we met together—with community leaders and people on the street level—to really understand what was going on. Out of this experience we saw a great need for immigration services in our area (northwest suburbs of Chicago). Most of the immigration resources are in the city and are limited. Those in the suburbs have little access to those resources, and the agencies providing them are so overwhelmed they have little room for new clients. Many of Chicago’s immigrants have now moved out of the city and into the suburbs.

After this community assessment, we started to build a team and gain buy-in from our church leadership and congregation. This has also taken time, but some key people have joined our team and have helped to propel us in getting Alliance for Immigrant Neighbors off the ground at Faith Alliance.

We finally opened our doors after months of preparation. We now have office hours and are taking clients. It is more of a soft launch because we still have work to do in getting the word out; however, in the last week we have had two clients come through our office. Even in this limited experience we see there is a physical need for immigration services, but clearly there are also emotional and spiritual needs.

Please pray for us as a team to grow in our understanding of immigration law. Also pray that as we provide services, we will listen to the Spirit regarding how we can minister to the person sitting in front of us in our office.

We have come a long way and seen God’s faithfulness in this. However, in many ways, it is clear that the work has just begun.

—John M., director of outreach and discipleship at Faith Alliance Church

Room to Grow

The Dream Incentive Grant is helping Christ Vision Ministries Int’l of the C&MA (Aurora, Colo.) acquire new facilities to accommodate the growing number of people being reached with God’s Word.

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New facilities will help with the church’s children’s ministry, youth and young adult centers, a senior care center, and a multipurpose hall. Training facilities will be used to teach basic computer and language skills to the church’s members and the area’s greater West-African community.

“The [Dream] Incentive Grant is certainly being used as motivation to raise more funds to achieve our goal,” says Pastor Simeon Menso.

What’s Your Ministry Dream?

Because of a generous lead gift, The Alliance is able to award $200,000 in 2016 to help churches realize an otherwise unattainable ministry dream. Download the application: www.cmalliance.org/dream-incentive Application deadline: September 15, 2016 More information: Contact Andy Kerr at kerra@cmalliance.org.

Pay it Forward

Your donation can help to extend the availability of future grants. To contribute, make your check payable to the C&MA and indicate “Dream Incentive Grant” on the memo line. Mail it to: Andy Kerr The Alliance 8595 Explorer Dr. Colorado Springs, CO 80920

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