February 1st, 2012 at 7:00 am
FORT WORTH –New Creation Bible Church is a little, well, in the words of several of its members, weird. The church has no sign, and when the congregation tries to hang a banner announcing its presence, it’s asked to take it down. The congregation is known as the church with no sign that meets Sundays at 2:30.
People wander in off the streets and into the sanctuary during services asking for food and money. Kids are asked to step outside if they misbehave during worship. People sing off key. The service itself can seem disorganized.
“We don’t do anything well,” said Co-Pastor Fred Kinney. “I’m just being honest with you. If you came to our service, you’d freak out.”
There is one other thing the Baptist General Convention of Texas-sponsored church start does weird, Kinney admits – the transformational way it cares for others, which models Christ’s love for people and has driven the new church to baptize 20 people in the past six months, many of whom were unchurched and experienced dramatic lifestyle changes as a result of embracing the gospel.
Drug addicts have broken free from their chains. Drug dealers are now distributing the hope of Christ. People who may not have much to eat are giving food to those who have none. Church members are providing for homeless people when they can. At least two of them have taken a homeless man into their homes on a cold night.
A church modeled after what its members see in the book of Acts appropriately is seeing God-sized changes take place.
“I preach the same thing every Sunday: missions. Go and make disciples. And I’m not doing it. Ed’s not doing it. They’re doing it. They are making disciples. They are crossing racial barriers. They are not looking at age,” Kinney said.
“We went back to going into people’s homes, hanging with them while they smoke cigarettes and drink beer. We go into their homes, some of them with bugs crawling across your shoulders, and we sit there and spend time with them. That’s it. That’s what Jesus did. He spent time with people. As a matter of fact, He made it His purpose to go up to people who weren’t saved. He didn’t hang around the Pharisees. He went to Zacchaeus’ house. He went to the sinners, the prostitutes, the drunkards.”
Terri Mital might be the most dramatic transformation of them all. A gang member who dropped out in the sixth grade, she met Kinney while walking down the sidewalk. Kinney asked her if she needed any help, which she did. He gave her some food, talked to her about the issues she was facing and invited her to church.
She came, and her life changed, she says. She embraced the hope of Christ, was baptized and her outlook on life shifted. She saw how Christ had blessed her life. She was able to read for the first time. The physical ailments that were troubling her faded.
“This is the best church in the world I’ve ever come to,” she said. “They accept you whoever you are, what you wear, what nationality you are – they don’t care.”
She has become the congregation’s leading evangelist, bringing person after person to church with her.
“I [have] brung one person, to the next to the next to the next to the next to the next,” Mital said. “Now 15 people have been baptized.”
That includes Humberto Espitia who came to Fort Worth to sell drugs. Now he’s been baptized and feels a call to preach. Within three years, the congregation hopes to send him out to start his own congregation.
“My calling is to preach. It’s one thing I didn’t know until I started reading the Bible, understanding it and seeking Him,” he said. “The Holy Spirit started talking to me and telling me ‘This is what you’re here for. This is your purpose in this world.’”
Mital introduced Kinney to Christina Evans. She, her two sisters and two children started coming to the church. Evans started bringing Anita Tate’s children. Now Tate comes as well. Recently, Tate’s husband came.
People are intrigued by what they see church members doing in the community, Evans said. The community witnesses lives changing and wants to know what’s going on. Christ’s love is leading the church to care for others.
“[People] see,” Evans said. “As much as you don’t think they see, they see. If they see you doing something, they’re going to be like hmm and start noticing it and be like ‘Where is that influence coming from?’ And start coming to church.”
Transformation is still taking place, Kinney noted. Members still are facing issues. People still need food. The overwhelming majority of the congregation is unemployed. There are child protective services issues, including a 12-year-old prostitute and a four-year-old boy who drinks beer and smokes cigarettes. Change is difficult, requires determination and the power of God. It’s no different than people in the Bible.
“We wouldn’t have a New Testament if people weren’t screwed up,” he said. “Paul wouldn’t have written any letters, Peter wouldn’t have written any letters, John wouldn’t have written any letters, James wouldn’t have written any letters, if people weren’t screwed up. We forget about that. So it hasn’t changed.”
Like in Scripture, God continues to work in people’s lives, said Co-Pastor Ed Elliot. His followers are bringing others to Him as they were commanded to do in the Bible.
“God has really been blessing the work and what we’re doing. Just like in the books of Acts, people are just bringing more people. All these kids are just coming. We’re really not trying to do any efforts to bring in more people. The people who are here are doing it.”
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