For several years, New Beginnings Christian Fellowship (GCI’s congregation in Big Sandy, Texas), has conducted a Wednesday evening “family activity night” that reaches out to the children and their families in the community. This outreach was recently highlighted in an article by reporter Linda Baggett, published in “The Big Sandy and Hawkins Journal.” The article is reproduced below.
New Beginnings Christian Fellowship is known for being active in the Big Sandy community, sharing their building, their time and their powerful love of God. Last Wednesday night was no different except along with the fifty young folks and thirty adults there were special guests in attendance. New Beginnings is part of the Grace Communion International group of churches. Visiting from their offices in Glendora, CA was Greg Williams, Director of Church Administration and Development for the U.S., Heber Ticas with Church Planting and from Oklahoma City Regional Pastor Mike Rasmussen. These gentlemen came to see for themselves just what was going on in our small town and they were not disappointed.
Speaking with Mr. Williams, he said they were here to celebrate what New Beginnings has been doing for almost twelve years with the family activity night and serving the kids. Sonny Parsons, lead pastor for many years, recently retired and new pastor, Jerome Ellard, is continuing the ministry. Mr. Williams said they had heard so many good stories about God’s work being done here, they wanted to come to family night. He said we shouldn’t have two separate “lives” – our normal, secular life and our church life – and the way we see it is that it’s all God, everything we do. There’s no separation between the sacred and the secular; ministry is not just standing up and preaching a sermon. It’s being out in the community, interacting with neighbors, stepping up during a crisis. It’s opening the doors for the young people, giving them somewhere to go, a hot meal, letting them know they’re loved and letting them experience what the love of Christ is all about. We would like to see all of our churches look like New Beginnings and be a centerpiece in the community. Pastor Sonny has truly been ahead of his time in this ministry. He’s a humble man and has a servant’s heart. If you’re going to be first you need to be willing to be last and be servant to all. They’ve set a high standard and we’re thrilled to be here.
Mr. Ticas said they were also here to support Pastor Jerome and wife, Helen, and the Big Sandy congregation; to see what they could do to better equip them in serving not only the congregation but the community. The inclusive nature of what’s happening here, including the kids as one family, giving them a safe space, letting them develop…that’s Jesus-like. Pastor Jerome is continuing this ministry and is a blessing. Mr. Rasmussen echoed that their visit was to celebrate with New Beginnings how they were helping the young people, bringing families together and working in the community.
Pastor Sonny sat quietly listening, blushing at times, then said, “God did this. We know it wasn’t us. It’s the dynamic of being a team. Years ago Jane shared that the word TEAM stands for “together everyone accomplishes much.” We try to emphasize to all who come that everyone is a minister. A church will have a pastor, but everyone has a chance to minister. The kids who come, all kids, just want someone to listen to them and here they will get God’s answer.”
It was a pleasure visiting with these gentlemen. It’s a shame they couldn’t have stayed longer, a month or two, maybe a year. Then they could have shared in our wonderful community of faith and experienced the recent Good Friday service or Easter Sunrise where eight different congregations came together. Or maybe the “Honor Our Heroes” evening, blessing of the school, the Community-wide Thanksgiving service and Christmas Walk. We may meet in different buildings, at different times and sing different hymns and songs, but no one will deny that we serve the same loving and mighty God!