By Carl Stagner
After a full day at work, she comes home and opens her garage door. That’s when they come. Often in droves. The approach Angela Conti now takes to spreading the gospel may be unconventional, but it’s exactly what God has called her to do. After serving as a missionary to South Africa, God asked her what she was doing to reach the lost back at home. “What was I doing for the children I drove past every day in my subdivision?” she pondered.
Following a three-year mission in South Africa, Angela Conti had a major “aha” moment. While considering expansion of her mission work into another country, she distinctly heard the voice of God. “Angela, you’ve got this all wrong. I said, First, go into Judea and Samaria (your local community), then the uttermost parts of the earth.” While missions work is absolutely essential to the Lord’s Great Commission, Angela believes she inadvertently missed the opportunity for outreach at home in the Atlanta, Georgia, area.
“What about the little boy next door, or to the little girl across the street?” she
thought. “How was I sharing the message of hope, found in Christ Jesus, to boys and girls who are unchurched and may never enter the threshold of a church building? I live in an unchurched community. There are no parks or recreation centers within my subdivision. Most of the children are being raised by a single parent. Children are often left unsupervised and influenced by negative peer pressure. I realized that I was a light, set on the hill of my own subdivision.”
It was a no-brainer for Angela, who matured in the faith under the leadership of many Church of God stalwarts, including Ben Reid and Gregory Dixon. The children were already there. There was no need to round them up and haul them off to a church building. Thus, there was also no grand-opening. There were no marketing gimmicks. Once her nephew finished painting the mural on the inside of the garage, she opened the door, and the children came.
Angela told Bible stories to her new guests. They made crafts together that corresponded to the stories. Every time Angela opened her garage door, the children came, increasing in number each time. “The children became disciples and spread the word [about the ministry],” she explains.
Since Angela first opened her garage as a safe-haven for the children of the neighborhood, more than one hundred children have passed through. They’ve come to know her as “Ms. Anda.” Some come for a Popsicle, some come to play jump rope, some come to sit and chat, while others just need a pencil sharpened. Children know that “Ms. Anda’s Incredible Connection” is a place to go where they can find someone who cares.
“Ms. Anda’s Incredible Connection,” enhanced by the biblical curriculum now written by Angela, was one of several ministries to receive grant funding from the Church of God Change the World initiative. As a result of this funding, she was able to strengthen her annual Vacation Bible School. VBS has enabled Angela to spread the word about her ministry and the hope of Christ beyond her cul-de-sac and into the entire neighborhood. This summer, many attending children accepted Jesus as Savior!
“It is my hope that I will be able to share this garage ministry with other churches and Christians who want to introduce Christ to children in their communities,” Angela concludes. “We are the only church some people will ever see. They may never come to our church buildings, but they will come to our backyards, our basements, and our garages.”
Learn more about the Church of God at www.JesusIsTheSubject.org.