Thursday, August 04, 2005

Mercy Over Mega

In this day and age of mega-churches building mega-sanctuaries or buying former mega–basketball arenas to congregate in, here's a refreshing story, as told by Marvin Olasky in his column today, about how Damascus Wesleyan Church near Washington, D.C., sacrificed a building program in the mid-1990s in order to help those less fortunate in Africa: . . .

The church at that point had a small sanctuary and a growing congregation. It had to divide into two services, and most people didn't like doing that, especially since the sanctuary wasn't even big enough for the second service, which had to meet in a local school. But when church members and associates donated and pledged $287,000 in a special offering one Sunday, it didn't go toward a new building.

Instead, the money went to purchase a 99-year-lease on 10,000 acres here in Senkobo, 15 miles north of Livingstone and the Zimbabwe border. The land came with a beautiful farm house, 2,700 fruit trees, cattle and other animals, four deep wells, three dams, a tobacco-curing barn that could be turned into apartments, and other farm buildings that could become orphanages and classrooms. . . .

It's great to have good worship spaces here in the United States, but some cathedrals are over-the-top -- and what if more churches gave priority to mercy? . . .

Jerry Beall, Damascus Wesleyan's pastor in the 1990s and now the head of the ministry it funded, noted as we scampered up a rise in Zambia that his church never built a new sanctuary. Then he looked around at land being farmed, watched some of the children playing and said, "See how much more we got."

To read Marvin Olasky's entire column, including specific details on how this African region has benefited by this church's generosity, click here.

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