Evangelism USA, under the leadership of Bishop Garry Bryant, has been relentless in “Staying in step with the Holy Spirit” or as John 3:8 puts it, a “Windy Agenda”. In pursuit of this mandate, eighteen men from both shores and scattered across this great nation gathered in the small South Carolina town of Wagener to investigate before we engage upon a journey to assist the local church as ‘Local Church Chaplains for Community Transformation’.
Founder, Pastor Jimmy Jones and Director, Janet Perrigo of Christ Central Ministries loved on these men, poured their heart and soul in our hearts, and challenged us to be the church rather than go to church.
In an effort to assist the church fulfill the role our Lord desired the church to fill, this great ministry which recently celebrated it’s 25th anniversary has found a place to serve “The Least of These”. Joining with all churches, community leaders and businesses, the number one commodity, “HOPE” is given to those in desperate need all around us. The two speakers constantly drove the point home, we are there not to fix all their problems or answer all their questions but simply fulfill the ‘ministry of presence’. Jesus assured us there would be troubles in our life, He has sent us as ‘lambs among wolves’ but always assured us of His presence. Not always do we receive the answers to the ‘why’s’ or the ‘what’s’ but we can be assured He is present, so we go and give that presence to others until they can find it for themselves.
The days were intense, challenging and very fulfilling as the two of these great leaders walked the men through the process of fulfilling the scripture in Matthew 25:31-46. One attendee stated, ‘it felt like a life preserver in an ever-increasing sea of unstable humanity’.
When asked what is the difference in our going and the world’s going to meet the needs of the community, we quickly observed ‘our heart’, or as 1 Corinthians 13:3 states, ‘it is the ‘pure motive of love’ (TPT). Men at times would break and weep as they ‘seen the light’. Pastor Jimmy would be flowing under the anointing and weep as story after story brought this truth to the forefront of our busy and self-absorbed lives.
One attendee stated, ‘the training boldly confronts the number one enemy of the church today, self-centered, and selfish Christianity. If executed correctly it forces us to a place of unity with the larger body of Christ in our community’.
Another attendee, ‘Community Chaplain training was a fresh reminder of the love of Jesus, in action’.
Again, ‘2 Corinthians 3:17-18…to image God is to ‘mirror’ His invisible attributes to the world. Community Chaplains allows His invisible attributes to the world to be seen’.
Another resource overlooked in our current culture are the retired men and women in our church. We were challenged by an eighty-year-old woman who is running outreaches in the community overseeing in access of one hundred volunteers. We know from history, old men (women) lead in times of crisis, we need them to get back in the fight!
As founder and director of Mission M25, it has been my heart’s cry to see the local church more engaged in the needs of the community for the past twenty-three years. Not just feeding the homeless but truly being driven outside the four-walls of the church to let Jesus shine, through our ‘good deeds’ (Matthew 5:17) to a community driven by agendas that are destroying our heritage and children. It is exciting seeing a door open that will take our humble effort and give us a national platform with a structure that can stabilize this command of our Lord.
Plans are being discussed to complete all five levels of training to properly prepare the IPHC to assist the conference in preparing local church. One attendee stated, ‘simple, yet additional levels suggest we could be well equipped for handling many of the impoverished we see at increasing levels everyday’.