By Carl Stagner
Fairview The Grace Place is a thriving Church of God congregation nestled in rural Falkville, Alabama. Though not in the heart of any one community, the church is centrally located among several communities. As a result of an emphasis on reaching these communities, The Grace Place now celebrates the fruit of their labor. The congregation gives thanks to God for several victories in recent years, but a few stand out: more than a hundred children have been sponsored in Guatemala, local and foreign missions have been supported by a 5K race at midnight, and a cowboy church has launched.
Falkville, Alabama may seem insignificant on the map, but a multitude of children in Guatemala know the town’s Church of God congregation very well. Through a feeding center, the church provides 120 children one meal every day for an entire year. The mission work of The Grace Place also brings tutoring to the students in Guatemala. “Our motivation is that we would do it to the least of these,” Pastor Milan Dekich explains, citing the teaching of Jesus as recorded in Matthew 25:40. The first-ever Midnight 5K race in Falkville raised funds for the church’s mission work in Guatemala in 2013. This year, the proceeds went to support local missions, specifically the church’s food bank.
“The Falkville schools have 54 percent of the children on free or assisted lunch,” Milan explains. “So around this area, there is a great need for food and for help.” Due to lack of resources, some families struggle to provide their families with healthy food. In one instance, a family got sick after catching a snake and attempting to eat it. The Carpenter’s Cabinet serves to prevent this kind of desperation, helping families provide healthy meals to their children. In addition to the food bank, The Grace Place will begin a backpack ministry to local children. Many local children get their primary nourishment at school on weekdays, but when the weekend comes, they go hungry. This is where The Grace Place is stepping in.
“One of the things that we do,” Milan explains, “is that we don’t say no to anyone. We will help anyone we can to some extent.” So when a young lady in the midst of a struggle with leukemia needed travel assistance to a hospital, The Grace Place did more than offer prayer. Every day for an entire month, the church recruited a volunteer to stay with her at the hospital and provide for her needs.
So how did a cowboy church get started through The Grace Place? “We had a young firefighter from our church who was a real cowboy and did rodeos out West,” Milan recalls. “He loved cowboy culture, and while out West he had attended a cowboy church. He came up with the idea, and after discussion and prayer, we got a plan on how we would start it.” They church plant of The Grace Place found a barn for a meeting place, and had people sit on bleachers instead of pews. The new church started meeting on Sunday nights, but in just two years it grew to 350 people. Today they minister through rodeos and other cultural activities. “They’re reaching a group of people that a normal church just wouldn’t reach,” Milan reflects. “They’re doing very well.”
Whether sharing the hope of Christ through cowboy culture is your passion, or feeding children at home and abroad tugs at your heartstrings, there’s something for everyone in the body of Christ to do. “We are simply being the body of Christ,” Milan concludes, “living out our calling to touch the world with God’s love and compassion, and opening the door to God’s grace.”
To find out how you can partner with the Church of God to change the world, visit www.JesusIsTheSubject.org.