April 13, 2012
By Rev. Terrence Nichols, pastoring New Hope Church Community, Vallejo, California
Paul and Silas. Paul and Barnabas. Paul and Timothy. It’s easy for us to remember these bold biblical partnerships. But how often do we remember partnerships are important in our ministry today? It takes many hands, hearts, and heads to complete the vision that the Lord gives us.
In Vallejo, nestled at the entrance to California’s scenic Napa Valley, New Hope Church Community members have recently experienced victory in Christ through partnerships.
In conjunction with community agencies, they hosted the seventh annual Easter Fest. The day’s activities included games, a BBQ, a tour of the newest Vallejo fire engine, a clothing giveaway, and, of the course, the highly anticipated Easter egg hunt. After three weekends of rain, the weather cooperated for nearly 300 children and adults who participated.
After a year of economic challenges for our ministry, we almost cancelled the Fest. However, after much prayer, we sensed that God wanted us to continue as planned. We don’t always know His plans or who He is going to use to help them materialize; our responsibility is to walk by faith and trust in God.
During the planning of the event, God kept reminding me of a popular gospel song by Rev. Hezekiah Walker in my spirit with the following words:
“I need you. You need me. We’re all a part of God’s Body. Stand with me, agree with me. We’re all a part of God’s Body. It is His will that every need be supplied. You are important to me; I need you to survive.”
Vallejo Fire Department was one of the first partners to join the outreach. The children were invited to climb on and tour the inside of the new emergency truck. As one boy approached the truck, he exclaimed, “I’m too excited!” Parents captured the memories on camera.
Another partnership emerged through one of the city commissioners, who lives in the neighborhood and has been helping New Hope with its food pantry outreach. When she learned that the church needed partners for the Fest, she contacted a couple with a clothing ministry, who also were eager to be a light in the community through this annual event. Their staff set up tents with new, name-brand clothes to offer Easter Fest participants. Smiles were on every face, as the people, most of whom are from low-income families, realized that one of their most basic needs was being met.
City merchants offered discounted services for everything from printing to groceries. This year Smart and Final, FedEx Kinkos, and the Hostess Outlet came alongside the church to make the Fest a success. A church in San Francisco that sponsors a food bank provided hotdog buns for the day.
Being the Body
New Hope Church Community members volunteered to set up, provide security, take pictures, grill hotdogs, oversee games, serve guests and conduct the egg hunt. Our evangelism and prayer team ministries prayed for people and listened to their devastating stories of unemployment, sickness, and homelessness.
One woman said through tears that she was not homeless, but she was one paycheck away from being so. Several wanted to know where the church was located and promised to attend. On Easter Sunday morning, two of the families joined New Hope, and the ministry is following up with hundreds of others who attended the event.
A Matter of Trust
During these days of financial instability for so many homes and ministries, we wanted to be prudent but not proud with our resources. But God said, “Trust me!” I am so glad that our leaders listened to God; He had others waiting to be a blessing and needed us to trust Him by stepping out in faith.
Several of the contacts also are believers. It reminds me of what God’s Word says in in 1 Corinthians 12: 12-14, “Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so, the body is not made up of one part but of many.”
Community outreach in Vallejo has come full circle. Seven years ago, we first met Brian Sepolen and his family at this event. Now he and his wife are the coordinators. Brian recently said, “I am now aware that outreach is so very important. It’s because of this Easter outreach that my family and I were able to find a church home with New Hope. Not only that, but we are able to put our spiritual gifts to work to partner with the church to advance the Kingdom. God’s way is so cool!”
New Hope Church Easter Photo Gallery