“So he got up from supper, laid aside His robe, took a towel, and tied it around Himself. Next He poured water into a basin and began to wash His disciples’ feet and to dry them with a towel tied around Him.…‘For I have given you an example that you also should do just as I have done for you. I assure you: A slave is not greater than his master, and a messenger is not greater than the one who sent him.’” ~John 13:4-5, 15-16
Amy* found herself following the example of Jesus by washing children’s feet as part of The Community Fellowship’s back-to-school outreach in Collinsville, VA. Only a few years earlier as a middle schooler, she had received this kind of sacrificial love from the same outreach.
More than 700 volunteers from 36 churches joined Amy in this important project, which touched 55–70 schools, from the southside to the Appalachia region of Virginia. Pastor Michael Harrison reports that more than 18,000 children and families have been served over the 11 years of this project sponsored by the church.
“Not only do we get the chance to give shoes and backpacks to kids,” says Harrison, “we have Gospel conversations by the multitudes. We have seen this reconnect our people with missions. In our congregation alone, 75% of our church is involved. In fact, everybody can get involved in some way.”
During the back-to-school outreach, children receive backpacks filled with school supplies, a new pair of socks, and a pair of durable shoes provided by The Samaritan’s Feet (a national outreach ministry). They receive free haircuts and even have their feet washed while volunteers share the story of Jesus and His love.
This Gospel-centered ministry is a part of The Community Fellowship fulfilling its vision statement: “demonstrating the love of God to our community.” They live out this mission by reaching out to the hungry, hurting, and homeless of their area through acts of kindness. In addition to the back-to-school outreach, the church operates a transitional home for the homeless and a food pantry for the hungry. They also participate in numerous community partnerships. “It would be wonderful,” says Harrison, “if churches in our area serve so generously that we put the Department of Social Services
out of business.”
Thanks to the SBC of Virginia Foundation, The Community Fellowship of Collinsville has been able to begin renovating a local building to house its vast and growing outreach ministries and to expand space for worship and for discipleship classes. Numerous construction volunteers from around the county and state have contributed hundreds of man-hours to the renovation project. More volunteers are needed to help this missions-focused congregation.
The Community Fellowship is demonstrating to the people in its community that they are not alone. Jesus put it this way, “By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). Amy and others who now volunteer have been recipients of God’s love through The Community Fellowship and now serve others in the same way. May this kind of multiplication increase!
*name has been changed
All Scripture references are from the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB).