The GCR Church in Midland, Texas is taking the next big step in our Gospel partnership with the MountainView Christian Church in Kalispell, Montana. Nineteen of us are spending this week among the mountains and valleys, lakes and pines, to work side-by-side with our brothers and sisters in reaching their community for Christ.
The partnership between our two churches was formed last October as part of GCR’s “Breakthrough” campaign. A gifted and dynamic young couple, Brad and Melissa Hooley, were planting Mountain View Christian through the Nexus church planting organization, and we were determined to do more in our support of Nexus by upping our game with these courageous church planters. We’re not content to just write checks to Nexus anymore; we are going to own our relationship with these missionaries physically, emotionally, spiritually, financially, and personally.
It started with a live-streamed communion service together between our two churches via Zoom on their second Sunday. It continued in January when Brad and Melissa and their four wonderful kids spent a long weekend with us in Midland. And today, we have put our bodies where our money is by flying to Kalispell and helping their congregation achieve their plans for outreach in their city.
Today, we cleaned up around the city’s public pavilion, cleared brush and dead limbs around a nature trail, sanded and applied water seal to the wood tables and benches, and planted new flowers at the butterfly garden. This is a beautiful area regularly used by families, civic groups, schools, and nature lovers, but it’s been neglected over the years. Now, as part of their commitment to love their neighbors and to be a positive force in their community, MountainView Christian Church is taking care of it.
We also did a lot of work at their brand new preschool, which is scheduled to open September 6. When the Hooleys were doing their homework on Kalispell last year, they identified a lack of daycares and pre-schools as a point of entry into the community. Opening and operating a pre-school will meet a real, tangible need in the name and the manner of our Lord Jesus. Fifty-one percent of the profit will be put in a church benevolence fund to be used for the community while the remaining 49-percent will be placed into a church building fund. Today we shampooed the carpets, pulled weeds, and removed the rotten landscape timbers bordering the playground, replacing them with brand new six-by-sixes and re-doing the mulch.
Once the work day was done, we walked the downtown strip in Kalispell and enjoyed some wonderful ice cream at Norm’s before heading to Brad’s parents’ house for an incredible dinner with the Hooleys and a dozen other members of MountainView Christian. Check out the picture of Mark playing pickleball in Dwight and Sharon’s driveway. Those mountains and lakes provide the backdrop for almost every scene in Kalispell — just breathtaking. What a delight to break bread with our brothers and sisters in Christ in such a gorgeous setting, to pray with these church-planters, to make connections with these good people who live 1,200 miles away from West Texas, and to thank God for what he’s doing in Montana.
We’re cramming a whole lot into these six days. Brad tells me we accomplished much more today than he expected, which means his bar had been set really low or we really killed it. Either way, we exceeded their expectations, so it’s a win for everybody. I’m always a little worried on things like this that we might be more of a burden on these busy people than a blessing. We were assured by all tonight that is not the case.