Shaping Hearts: Michigan Church’s Spiritual Growth Spills Over into Service
By Carl Stagner
The decision to make a difference rarely comes without a burden. For Anchor Church, a Church of God congregation in Stevensville, Michigan, the burden to serve led to a sustainable means to serve. But such a burden could only come from hearts first shaped by the Spirit to see the mission as their own, to welcome introspection and admonition, and to walk together toward God-given goals. With hearts whole and calling renewed, Anchor Church unveiled the Berrien County Mission earlier this year as spiritual growth spilled over in the form of service to their community.
When Marc Danapilis arrived on the scene six years ago, he’d just concluded a conversation with the Lord in which Danapilis suggested his next church had better be an already-thriving church. After all, relocation was required, and Marc already knew firsthand the challenges of pastoral ministry. But God knew Pastor Marc was the right man for the job of helping prompt a people toward outward expressions of God’s love; ministry within the four walls alone would be insufficient and certainly could not adequately describe a healthy church. Discipleship was the name of the main game they played for several years but, in the background, God was bringing together all the details for the next steps he wanted Anchor Church to take.
The “faithful few” of twenty-nine turned into a consistent hundred. Numerical growth mirrored spiritual growth as the vision of an ongoing outreach ministry became more and more clear. A gentleman by the name of Bob Yack conversed with Pastor Mark on several occasions as the possibilities were considered and plans developed over the course of about two years. When the idea was coherent and the time was right, Pastor Mark presented it to the church.
To Marc’s astonishment, the church’s reply was a “go-big-or-go-home” type of response. It wasn’t long prior to that turning point in the church’s history that such a suggestion may have elicited an immediate no. But when hearts are bound together in love and on purpose, they tend to overflow in Christ’s love. A $60,000 building was purchased for an operation that would provide a thrift-store-style service for donation only; the building was built a year ago, and already over half of the sum has been raised!
More importantly, thousands of people from the community have been served and shown the love of Jesus.
“Every time I step outside my office,” Pastor Marc reflects, “I get the biggest smile on my face as I look that way. It’s not about us, it’s not about me. We’re supposed to be the hands and feet of Jesus, and we’re helping people. We’re on a busy street and it’s the perfect thing we could be doing for our community.”
Some things are completely free. Other items are available by donation. All proceeds go back into the operation to keep it going. All people witness what happens when service comes from the heart.
Watch the inspirational video story about Berrien County Mission, published in a recent newsletter disseminated by the Church of God in Michigan, in the center of this article. Learn more about the Church of God movement at www.JesusIsTheSubject.org.