The Church in Action
By NMC - October 13, 2016
Posted in Partnerships, Stories from NMC
Acts 4 is a beautiful picture of the early Church. “All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.”
Even in its earliest existence, the Church existed to walk alongside others, whether those people were in the Body of Christ or in the community where the Church existed. The Church was a place to gather and learn and grow, but just as importantly, it was a place of going out in order to help and sacrifice for and empower others.
Thousands of years after this passage was written, NMC sits in Nappanee, Indiana, in the middle of fields. Sometimes the ministry and work of this Body mirrors exactly what is found in Acts 4. Other times it looks a little different, but the ideas found in Acts 4 are evident in the ministry that happens here and in this community.
Sometimes this ministry comes in the form of partnerships, of joining hands with those who are already serving our community. This looks like partnering with organizations like Family Christian Development Center in Nappanee and Faith Mission in Elkhart, among other similar organizations. Sometimes it looks like empowering staff and volunteers to go into local schools to mentor students during lunch. Sometimes it looks like sending volunteers to nursing homes in the area to love on a group of people who can sometimes be forgotten. Sometimes it looks like signing up to pray for, serve or make food for law enforcement officers.
For the fourth year, NMC partnered with Chaplain Jim Bontrager for Officer Appreciation Day. Each year, Chaplain Bontrager spearheads this event held in Middlebury. It concludes a day-long conference called Breaching the Barricade where law enforcement officers and their spouses come for a day of teaching and fellowship as they share stories and learn from one another.
Officer Appreciation Day is a time for families to let down their guards and enjoy games and food together. This year, over 200 law enforcement families from 13 states and Canada attended, and over 1,000 plates of food were served. Families participated in crazy competitions, took rides in a helicopter and played on inflatable games together. It was a day where the normal routine took a back seat and these families who live with incredibly high stress simply got to play.
The reach and scope of Officer Appreciation Day is expanding, but like any ministry, numbers don’t matter unless lives are being impacted and changed. At this event, it’s not uncommon to run into an officer who is highly discouraged, especially considering the recent events in the U.S. Some officers come with heavy burdens such as discouragement, PTSD from crime scenes or accidents, marriage and family issues because of the stress of their jobs, or in some cases, they are on the verge of quitting. Officers tend to be a group of people we take for granted until we need them, but despite this, they are a group in our Body and in our community that we need to walk alongside.
This year, through the efforts of many volunteers, officers were blessed beyond imagination. One officer wrote, “The conference on Friday really renewed my spirit, and the PTSD breakout session was much needed. The comedy time Friday night was such a blessing to my family; to be able to have some laughs together was incredible. You [Chaplain Bontrager] even made both of my boys feel like a million bucks on Saturday when you announced their names for the shooting contest. I truly want to express my thanks and gratitude for all you do. You made a difference in our lives, so thank you!”
The church exists for many reasons, but first and foremost, we are given the charge to be the hands and feet of Jesus. We are called to walk alongside others, to share the hope of Jesus Christ with a world that is so desperately discouraged. Sometimes this looks like sharing everything we own. And sometimes it looks like sending volunteers to an event for law enforcement officers and their families. It looks like coming alongside people like Chaplain Bontrager and supporting the ministry he has to people all over the country.
Thank you to all who prayed for, served at and made food for Officer Appreciation Day. You are a beautiful example of the Church in action.