By Carl Stagner
On March 11, the pastor of Accokeek First Church of God in Accokeek, Maryland, represented his congregation during testimony before the Maryland State General Assembly in Annapolis. Kevin Wayne Johnson was humbled to present the church’s plans to help bring about community transformation, even if just for a few minutes. Recently the church was one of three in their entire district to be selected to receive bond bills to enhance the lives of their neighbors. While it was certainly exciting to speak before a gathering of state senators, it was even more exciting to first hear of the funds that would come their way. But for Pastor Kevin, neither experience can compare to the thrill of new opportunities to see lives changed for the cause of Christ.
Accokeek First Church of God had already stepped out in faith to reach their community. They were believing God to supply their needs as they embraced the outward-focused vision Pastor Kevin had been articulating since he accepted the pastorate a little more than three years ago. Seemingly out of the blue, the state senator for their district showed up. Unannounced, he’d stopped by the church during a literacy event for families in the community. While there, he learned of the church’s background and mission, but he was especially captivated by a computer lab the church had just opened to provide free computer training. It wasn’t long before the church heard from the office of Senator C. Anthony Muse.
“It’s just another example of how God answers prayer,” Kevin explains. “The vision I cast for the church has always been bigger than the finances will allow. Here’s God again coming in and saying, ‘We’ll find away, just stay in my will, and we’ll get it done.’”
The “Center of Excellence” at Accokeek First Church of God, made possible by these unexpected funds, will provide a hub of valuable resources for both church members and the community. Ministries of the church borne out of this new chapter of outreach in the church’s history will continue and strengthen as a result. The computer lab, the food pantry, and the adopt-a-school initiative of Accokeek First Church have already made an impact, as has the church’s own Bible and Leadership Institute for developing Christ-centered leaders and ministers. Additionally, the church’s bookstore and visitation ministries will receive a much-needed boost, and the exterior of the church will be improved to provide an even safer and more inviting atmosphere to welcome the community. Now that the church has the means, they plan to host health fairs for the community to engage not only the needs of the physical body, but also the spirit.
Like most inward-focused churches who seek to reclaim their neighborhoods for Christ, the transition isn’t always perfectly smooth. Pastor Kevin is grateful for the church’s flexibility. “We want to be obedient to the Great Commission—to God’s Word,” Kevin explains. “To not do that is the great omission. The second thing is to understand that we will always provide for, and be here for, the current members. But remember where you were before your Christ experience! Think about all the people in your family, neighborhood, school, at the restaurants, who have no relationship with the Lord. We need to go out and bring them in. When we do, we’re doing what Jesus is doing—seeking and saving that which is lost.”