By: Katie Sobiech
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 1 Peter 2:9 (ESV)
Jesus came to shed light and bring freedom to a world living in darkness. He left his followers (you and me) with the words “Greater works will you do…” in John 14:12. So what are these “greater works”?
We are to be lights in a world of darkness, bringing the Good News to those who do not know of it.
God is up to something in Akron, Ohio. The Church is sensing it.
“Many of us feel like Akron is being positioned for some kind of revival that will be duplicable outside of Akron,” Bill Thompson, Founder of Toolbox Ministries, said, “And we feel a key component for that to happen is unity.”
On September 25th, ministers and ministries from all across Akron gathered under one roof for the first annual Ministry Impact Day. The event began bright and early at the Hudson Community Chapel at 7:30 a.m., and ended at 3:00 p.m.
Mark Ford, Founder of Love Akron, opened up the day by announcing, “This is a historic moment,not just in history, but I believe in Heaven. Heaven is taking notice this morning because this is the beginning of a dream…”
The inspirational and educational speakers of the day included Reverend Marshall Brandon of Hudson Community Chapel, Reverend Douglas B. Denton (Open M volunteer), Yvette McMillan (Director of the Women’s Division of Haven of Rest Ministries), Darryl Brake (Associate Director of Because He Cares Ministry), and Daren Brake (Haven of Rest Ministries and Because He Cares Ministry).
Many are working behind the scenes in Akron for the good of its people. Ministries, ministers, and volunteers pour their time and efforts into causes that they believe will benefit the community in a lasting way.
Ministry Impact Day was created specifically for those whose hearts are directed towards local ministry. The question was, how can we connect and work together to transform the city of Akron for the better?
Transformation in Akron
“By God’s grace I was transformed in Akron, Ohio. I’m excited about transformation, and really being able to take that back to others is God’s call to each of us,” Reverend Marshall Brandon, Pastor at Hudson Community Chapel, said. God’s word is gold to Rev. Brandon, who said “I am honored anytime I have the privilege to open God’s word. It’s not something that’s old to me, or that I’m entitled to, but God has chosen me and given me the privilege to be an ambassador for Him to share the Gospel and Good News of Jesus Christ in Akron.”
Rev. Brandon is dedicated to bringing this life changing truth to others.
“I am grateful for all of you because I know you have hearts to do the same thing. The best place to be is right here,” he said.
It’s Time for Good News
Rev. Brandon touched the hearts of the crowd with an inspiring, motivating message.
“When we think about the world today and news, there’s news all over the place… We can barely get away from the news,” Rev. Brandon said.
He said, “We hear of floods, wars and earthquakes”…
Not to mention murders, the economy crashing, loss of jobs and more bad news.
“We begin to think of all the devastating things that are coming at us. Our world is moving so fast, and we see wars and rumors of wars and that tells us that some things are happening, that our world is coming to an end and our Savior is soon to come,” he continued, “We need some good news, and that is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
He reminded everyone of the world’s need for a Savior, and how He is the only true hope.
“The church has the good news, we are the good news, and many times we won’t take it to others,” he said, raising the questions, why won’t we go into the jails? Why won’t we go into the hospitals and nursing homes?
“We have the one and only answer for the world today and that is Jesus Christ,” he said, “Some other folks need to hear that there’s some good news. They need to hear about it down in the jail, they need to hear about it at the Haven of Rest…they all need to hear the Good News, and if the church doesn’t take it, who’s going to?”
He explained the importance of preaching the gospel not only to others, but to ourselves daily; reminding us that the Gospel makes all the difference.
“We’ve been reconciled to God, adopted into his family, empowered to love, and God calls us to a new paradigm and a new perspective,” he said.
Connecting the Dots
“Connecting the dots” was the theme of the day. Who is doing what? How can we work together and help one another out?
“We’re in this together. One of the driving forces in my life comes from the prayer of Jesus where He prays that they all might be one, and we’re here to answer that prayer today,” Reverend Douglas Denton, LSW and volunteer at Open M, said.
“It’s exciting to be with people with different points of view, different ministries, services and experiences,” Rev. Denton continued.
Denton, followed by Yvette McMillan (LSW, MNO, and Director of the Women’s Division of Haven of Rest Ministries), shared about a new, phenomenal program, Bridges out of Poverty.
Bridges out of Poverty is designed to do just as its title suggests. It is a program that brings together those in poverty with those from the middle class and wealth to work together, teaching and training on social norms and how to understand one another better. Through the course of Bridges out of Poverty people are equipped to get their lives in order with the help of others so that they can become independent once and for all.
Darryl Brake, Associate Director of Because He Cares Ministry, spoke about the importance of strategic alliances where two or more organizations come together accomplishing more than they could alone.
“In the last 10 years, 25,000 or more non-profits have come into existence each year. It’s startling,” Brake said, “Funders are now urging and saying ‘You need to start working together and collaborating’.”
Break out sessions of “affinity groups” met, containing different ministries falling under the same category. For example, those in prison ministry, homeless ministry, and neighborhood ministry all met separately.
“It’s about us collaborating together and finding how we can take the redundancy out of some of our ministries,” Thompson said of the groups.
These groups are designed to continue to meet throughout the year.
Helping Without Hurting
The theme of this year’s event was “Helping without Hurting”. Sometimes those in ministry hurt the ones they are ministering to without even knowing it.
“Sometimes you have to help a person where he’s at before you can get them to hear the Gospel,” Darryl Brake said.
Sharing the Gospel with a man who hasn’t eaten, showered, or had a roof over his head in days may not be the best approach. Feeding him, making sure his needs are met and then sharing the Gospel can make a world of difference.
Brake told the crowd, “It’s not by accident that you’re here. You’re an answer to prayer, and it’s not over yet. When you leave this door it won’t be over.”
Brake and the founders of Ministry Impact Day plan to keep in touch with all attendees.
Before the Kent State Gospel Choir sang for the “grand finale”, Brake shared, “I want us to walk out of here and have had a heavenly experience. I want us to be ready to go out and rip the doors off the hinges and save some folks for Christ. Let’s do the ministry God has called us to do in new ways. We need to stay together,” he said.
Exhibitors set up in the lobby with information to share about what they are doing in the city.
“A lot of good came from just being involved with the booth and talking to people. More people are now aware of what we’re trying to accomplish,” Thompson said.
September 25th, 2010 marked a powerful day where a dream of the city coming together in ministry came true. And it will continue to.
We all have the power to change our city, and our world, one life at a time.
Please mark your calendars and get ready for next year’s Ministry Impact Day which will be held on October 1st, 2011.
For more information on this please, or how you can get involved with an affinity group, please contact Darryl Brake at 330.603.0917 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” –Matt. 5:14-16 ESV