World Vision: “Have Mulch, Will Spread” – Feature Story (Web)

Members of Grace Community Church, Wesley FL

Sample:  Feature Story: “ We Spread Mulch, God Spread Joy” World Vision’s “Faith in Action” Nationwide Campaign
Client:  Outreach/World Vision/Zondervan

Read shorter version online or full story below (text only)

New Florida congregation discovers the benefits of “getting down and dirty” on behalf of their community. May 2007

Want to see your community transformed by the love of God? Invest in their lives by putting in a little sweat equity. Grace Community, a Florida start-up church of 100+, has done just that and now they’re experiencing unexpected growth—with a renewed vision to practice a “pure and undefiled religion.”

Have Mulch. Will Spread.

It’s much easier to spread a little sunshine when there’s sun. Grace Community Church of Wesley Beach, Florida, prayed for it—and got it, despite the dire predictions of dark clouds, cold and rain for their Faith in Action (FIA) Make a Difference Day. As part of spreading God’s neatly provided sunshine, pastor Jeffrey Olson and his then 75-member church found something else they could spread on that day to make a difference in their community—mulch.

On Super Bowl Sunday, Grace Community was bowling over the local elementary school and the rest of the community with purposeful acts of kindness—showing that the church really could be super caring and involved. By willing to get “down and dirty” –spreading mulch over the school grounds, painting picnic tables for a foster home, assembling AIDS caregiver kits and cleaning up yards for seniors—Grace Community sent a clear message that God’s Word is much more than a metaphor for sowing, reaping, and tilling the hard ground of life. If we do it right, loving our neighbor goes hand-in-hand with rakes, hoes, shovels and lot of sweat.

Janet, a middle-aged woman, who by virtue of a disability, found herself “suddenly senior”—unable to perform regular upkeep on her house, was one community member who was grateful to see the Kingdom principal “Love is messy” applied. Though she had served people all her life, she herself had never been served. Yet through the overgrown weeds, strewn-about papers and general chaos in her home that comes about when you simply can’t move around, she found hope. There were people who cared.

Not surprisingly, when Grace Community was first selected to be an FIA Beta church the reaction of the leadership was, “Great, this fits with our vision of what a church should be, but how are we going to pay for it?” Like every other FIA church, Grace Community soon learned there’s provision in the vision. In Grace’s case, that provision came mostly through the gift of one individual. Miraculously, two days before Make a Difference Day they received a financial gift from a person who lived several hundred miles away — and didn’t attend Grace Community.

“The Faith in Action campaign is aptly named because it takes faith that God will provide both the funds and projects to act!” says Olson. “And for us, well we were literally living out Ephesians 2:10: ‘For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.’ We had only one month to prepare those ‘good works’ but what we discovered was that during every step of the way, things were already lined up for us…and we saw through it all that it really was God’s project—all we had to do was respond.”

Today, Make a Difference day is morphing into Make a Difference Week, Make a Difference Month and the rest of their church life. As a result of the church unifying to show practical acts of compassion, seven new families have joined. Some were previously churched, the rest had never been to a church. “For us, FIA was not a one-time thing,” says Olson. “What this campaign really did for our church was give us focus for our existing vision: “Building a better community by God’s grace.” And for our members it was a real inspiration for them to think about how they could continue a life of faith in action—how they should not wait for the church to arrange these types of projects, but how they could go out, like Jesus did, to “seek and save the lost.”—Jenni Keast

Posted story on World Vision web site:

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