Churches Helping Churches: Fresh Light on Difficult Circumstances

by Rev. Bill Snodgrass, Pastor, Grace Fellowship OPC, Philadelphia, PA (October 2012)


Grace Fellowship OPC, in the Germantown section of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, has been hit hard in the past two years.  We have endured a flood, multiple moves, family hardships of many kinds, economic difficulties, and much more.  Discouragement had begun to show on people’s faces.  Their steps were slower.  Some came to worship less often.  Others left.

Then, we had a wind blow in from the North – our Spirit-filled short-term crew!

Where there was mildew, they brought water and paint.

Where there were holes in the walls, they sealed them.

Where there was discouragement, the crew brought encouragement and fellowship (especially to the pastor and his family!)

Where saints felt isolated and alone, the lingering impact of this crew’s presence brought an increase of traffic that made it clear that we had a new and more visible presence in the community.  This made our saints take notice that something new was happening.

They opened the doors and the place began to dry out.  People looked inside and asked questions.  People stopped to watch the painting being done in front of the building.  They took scrap metal away from our building and thanked us for it!

You see, it was not the technical skills of the workers on our short-term crews that had the greatest impact. Instead, what really made the difference were their songs, their joy, their prayers, the sweet fellowship and their witness of the love of Christ.  They brought the love of Christ and distributed it freely.  And that is precisely what you can give to a church in need.

The saints at Grace Fellowship OPC stand a little straighter these days.  They sing a little louder.  There are more smiles.

Even more importantly, our saints are serving in new ways.  Visitors are coming to us.  They are asking serious questions, sharing important needs and seeking spiritual help.

Several times recently I have been asked, "Is this a new church?"  Others in our fellowship have fielded the same question.   Grace Fellowship OPC has been in the Germantown section of Philadelphia for 28 years and at her current location for 12 years!  Why are we being asked this question?  A large part of the answer is the presence of this short-term missions crew from Living Water United Reformed Church of Ontario, Canada!!

But what is most encouraging to me as a pastor has been the impact of this crew on the work of the church in our community.

Yes, we are a new church. The Holy Spirit has uplifted us and is stirring hearts in our community. He did not do it through the newest tools or technical skills, but through good, old-fashioned Christ-centered love!

"Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word that you have heard. At the same time, it is a new commandment that I am writing to you, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining."  1 John 2:7-8



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