Picture hundreds of people gathered on a summer Sunday afternoon, enjoying snow cones, inflatables, popcorn, music, and fellowship.
This was the scene at Carrington Pavilion in Danville at the end of Engage Danville, a three-day community outreach. On the weekend of June 8–11, 15 churches and more than 300 volunteers worked on service projects around the city. Projects included prayerwalking, distributing food and water, providing lawn care, and delivering appreciation gifts to safety personnel.
The idea began with Pastor Scott Randlett at Dan River Church and quickly gained support from other local SBC of Virginia churches. “Our goal from the beginning was Mark 10:45, ‘For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many,’” Randlett shared. “When we serve and when we give, it opens up the door to share the love of Jesus.”
Dan River Church began hosting monthly prayer and planning meetings last February with area pastors, church leaders, and community leaders. Among those who attended some of the prayer meetings was Danville’s mayor, John Gilstrap.
“I am a Christian and proud of it, and I just think this is marvelous what Engage Danville is doing for our community,” Gilstrap said. “Sometimes change occurs and you do not recognize it immediately, but I think this is a great start to unifying our community. I hope this is the first of many programs that are going to reach out and show people that citizens really care about each other and they care about God, and God has to come first.”
Pastor Randlett explained, “People want to feel engaged. People would rather engage in authentic relationships than be entertained, and so we want to simply engage our city through conversations, missions—and engage with churches in serving and connecting with our community. I think that we saw God move, we saw a number of Gospel conversations, and we had churches standing arm and arm saying, We’re going to stand for what we’re for and not what we’re against, and we’re for the name of Jesus.”
The participating churches were grateful for SBCV’s partnership and support in planning and coordinating an event of this scale. “Having someone like [SBCV regional missionary] Shawn Ames on our side has been a huge support for us,” Randlett emphasized. “The SBCV knows things about this community that we don’t know, and they know where people are hurting. We were able to do prayerwalks in areas of our city that SBCV was able to help us with specifically. It is huge to have the support of our local convention.”
Randlett echoed the sentiment of the mayor—that Engage Danville will continue to be used to engage the city of Danville in the future. “This past summer was the beginning of Engage Danville, and there is no telling what God can do in this community when we simply come together.”