By Sharon Mager
SEAFORD, Del.—In the list of sponsors for “Riverfest,” a hometown fun festival along the Nanticoke River, there are multiple retail businesses, restaurants and service organizations. Then there’s Grace Seaford Church (GSC).
The church was not only a sponsor, but they also rented a table, handed out cold water, snacks, gift bags and they raffled off a television.
“We wanted to invest in the community,” said Pastor Larry Davis. It was a way to make people aware of the church’s presence, and their new logo and branding. But primarily, Davis said, it was a way of showing the community that the church is there, with open arms, seeking to love their neighbors.
Grace Seaford, partnered with Camino de Esperanza Seaford, which meets at the GBC Seaford building. They shared a connected table and ministered together.
On the weekend of July 8-9, one of the first couple of exceptionally hot days of summer, the churches handed out over 1,000 free bottles of cold water and a variety of snacks. Church members from school-aged through senior citizens braved the heat to smile and chat with folks that passed by the tables. Grace members also gave out orange gift bags with the church’s new logo imprinted on the front.
Camino de Esperanza Seaford also had a raffle and gave away a family sized blow-up pool with all the accessories.
The raffles provided opportunities to obtain contact information. It also provided a way to find out what people really want to know about God and Christianity. As people filled out the information on the raffle tickets, they were also asked to answer the question, “If you could ask God one question, what would it be?”
Over half of the participants responded.
Both Josean Nater, pastor of Camino de Esperanza Seaford, and Davis said one of top questions dealt with the problem of sin—“Why does God allow evil?”
Other questions included “How do you have a relationship with God?” “Is my loved one in heaven?” “Does God really heal?” “Does God care about the election?” “Are all religions the same?” “What about end times?” “Is suicide an unpardonable sin?”
Between the two churches they received about 500 raffle entries.
“We got a pretty good idea what’ in people’s hearts,” said Nater.
Both churches are now working on their responses. Nater said he is preparing for a fall conference to answer the questions and Davis said he’d preach a sermon series.
The festival also provided on-the-spot ministry opportunities.
“We were bold. We asked people if they were in need of prayer, and if there was anything we could do for them. Some began crying,” Nater said. Some were refugees, on the run, mourning the loss of loved ones.
Nater said he was pleased to work alongside Davis. The two share the facility.
“Most Hispanics, even though they meet in an American church building, don’t consider themselves part of the English-speaking church. We’re trying to create a new idea of integration,” said Nater.
Davis was thrilled not only at the number of people the churches were able to engage, but also in his church members’ participation and commitment to reach their neighbors for Christ.
Grace Seaford used funds from a Mid-Atlantic Baptist Network “Strengthening Churches” grant to purchase the supplies and prizes for the outreach.