New symbol in town!

This past week in Fusion, our 5th and 6th grade ministry learned about symbols and the significance of symbols in our spiritual walk with Christ. We spoke of baptism being a symbol of our spiritual cleansing and new life with Christ. We spoke of communion being a symbol of Christ’s body and blood given up for us to have a relationship with our spiritual father.

These actions, seemingly meaningless to the unbeliever, are symbols and reminders that point us to the foundations of our faith. As we move through life and circumstances, we are given personal and physical symbols that point us back to our Father’s love. A good friend’s healing of a serious condition still serves for me a symbol and reminder of God’s mercy. However, one specific symbol for the Allendale community was the completion of a new park in a small rural community, but serves as a reminder of hope, a growing church, and a coming Kingdom.

A new park on Main Street in Fairfax might not seem like a monumental addition to the landscape of Allendale County; let alone a quarter-acre plot of grassy space, adjacent to a small (but bustling) church building.  However in Allendale County, this grassy park is a symbol of hope in a small town that has been identified as one of the most economically hopeless part of our country. This grassy park is a symbol of God’s growing church caring for a community. It is a symbol of the Kingdom of God being ushered into a small town where most would travel through rather than to Allendale.

The past month, MSN Money published an article announcing that Allendale County was ranked as the tenth poorest county in the nation, as based off the most recent census data. However small, this grassy park serves as a symbol of hope in an economy that is struggling. The feat was noticed by residents and leaders alike. In fact, you can often catch an onlooker slowing down to take a second look at the main street space that hasn’t seen change in countless years. They slow down because it symbolizes hope; positive change is occurring in this community and there will be more to come. A local business owner, who took noticed the change and decided to donate palm trees to be planted along the street corner. It brings pride and inspiration to the place that many on foot and car often overlook.

Secondly, this park is a symbol that Christ’s bride, the Church, is growing and not only helping to change the physical space, but change lives as they are restored, refreshed, and regenerated. Vision Ministries, the local church body that meets adjacent to the grassy area, is a growing church that had many highs and many lows throughout this year as moved locations, cared for their flock, and made new friends across the state. Vision was able to bring people together from all parts of their town, county, and state to work on this small dream park and to make it a reality. The sign adjacent to the park, installed several weeks ago, is their first street sign since moving last Easter. Interestingly, it was designed in conjunction with the local pastor, Joe Mole, and Greenville Nasha entrepreneur, Tricia, to help with the project. It was built and installed with the hard work and money of the local congregation. Now, many who never even knew a church met in the adjacent building now are welcomed and invited to be apart of what God is doing in the local congregation.

Lastly, this park serves as a symbol of Christ’s coming kingdom in the new Heaven and new Earth. Although racism and segregation may seem like something of the past, it is still very real across our country, Allendale County included. This park, just as the coming Kingdom, symbolized one church of many races coming together for one common goal. People of all colors and from all parts of our state contributed to the materialization of this park. Not only was the local church, Vision Ministries a part of this park, but also the leadership of Radius Church Columbia, the college ministry of Grace Church, and the student ministry of Grace Church. All people working together for one common goal symbolizing the manifestation of God’s coming kingdom, where there is unity and no divisions amongst all God’s children!

As this grassy area continues to be apart of the fabric in this local community, it will also serve as a symbol and reminder of hope in a community that is changing, a growing local church that is leading and shepherding people to Christ, and the physical representation of a coming Kingdom that Christ will return and unite his children.