by Barry Thomas
In October of 2008 a group of people visited the GCR church plants in the DFW area. One of those church plants was ‘At The Cross Church of Christ’ in Mesquite. Bruce Archer, the church planter, started this church by ministering to and loving on people at a dumpy, old apartment complex. As a result, police calls to this complex have decreased by 30% and over 100 people have been baptized over the last five years.
The GCR group was so inspired by this ministry they begin to dream and brainstorm about what God could do directly through GCR in Midland. Bruce Archer visited GCR and spoke at PowerPoint in December. At that time we invited anyone who was interested in seeing an apartment ministry started at GCR to come to an informational meeting the next morning. The GCR apartment ministry was born.
At the beginning of 2009, we started setting our sights on the Renaissance Apartments. We did not throw darts at a map of Midland. We did not pick a place and ask God to bless the decision. In some very real ways, God led the apartment ministry to Renaissance Apartments. They are right around the corner from the GCR building on the southeast corner of Midland Drive and Neely Drive.
There are a few important guidelines for the ministry. First we want to build relationships between GCR members and residents at the apartments. The ministry is not based on fixing needs with money and tangible resources. It is about getting to know the residents so that we can love on them.
Second, the goal is to be the hands and feet of Jesus at the apartments. Our goal is not to get the residents to attend church at GCR. We are not trying to fill seats on Sunday mornings. We are rolling up our sleeves and entering into their world, on their turf. When I read my bible, I notice that is exactly what Jesus did.
Third, we began the ministry by focusing on the children. Over the last six monts, we have had play times, movie nights, VBS, and a school supply give away. All of these activities were on the Renaissance Apartment property and were geared for the kids. It has been interesting to watch the adults. The first time they stood around the perimeter of the activities. Slowly, some of them have come in closer and have even participated in the activities.
This ministry has just begun. The apartment ministry at GCR is less than one year old and already hundreds of people have been blessed. I have been thrilled with interaction between GCR members and the Renaissance Apartment residents. Seeing the GCR family get outside of our walls and engage with our community is a beautiful sight. GCR will continue to be the hands and feet of Jesus at Renaissance in more ways. Plans include mentoring, tutoring, Bible studies and more. If you are interested in joining the adventure, you can contact Jackye Austin (email@example.com) or Barry Thomas (firstname.lastname@example.org or 262-0815) in the church office.