Earlier this year, I was in a job search when the Lord brought to my attention an organization called International Cooperating Ministries (ICM). The vision of this organization is a church within walking distance of every man, woman and child in our lifetime. Over the past 30 years, ICM has partnered with over 200 indigenous mission organizations resulting in over 30,000 church buildings in 85 countries and offers a Mini Bible College in 50 major languages. In addition to Bible studies, worship and other ministries, the churches become community centers, offering classes, vocational training, medical clinics and food distribution to people in need. Every church built by ICM agrees to build five more in the next three years and most of them achieve this.
I started to share the story of ICM with a few friends, but on June 11 things got more interesting. I went forward and received one of the envelopes. During the hymn a number of people came up to show their support and were generous in handing me money to further the assignment. My wife Donna who was first down the aisle immediately said that we should build a church. I had the same idea, but was more reserved in my expectations of what might be possible.
The Lord immediately began to ensure that a church would be built. We were one of the last in church when Wendy Lindh came up to talk with us. She had volunteered and received an envelope and wondered what she was going to do with her assignment. We told her that we had an idea that we needed to investigate and exchanged phone numbers. Our community group was in support of the idea to build a church, so Donna and I met with a representative of ICM and chose the Makedonia church in Tanzania. A church building in Africa can be built for as little as $10,000.
As it turns out, Wendy is a stylist at Simply Swank in Hudson. She and her manager Andrea Haas met with us and immediately let us know that they would join us in this project along with the owner Mary Swank as all three attend Christ Community Chapel and wanted to be involved in the project. They set up a display area that featured the book “The God Who Hung on the Cross” that tells the history of ICM along with a few stories of how it has impacted the world. A number of the salon’s customers supported the project and Mary matched everything donated at the salon.
The providential hand of the Lord was not finished. One day I came to the salon to deliver books for the display table and another CCC member, Susie Ferek, just happened to be there. Susie is good friends with Wendy and had also gone forward for an envelope. She too had received financial and prayer support from generous members of CCC on that Sunday morning. She had already started to add to this by selling things on Ebay. She was praying that the Lord would show her how she should use the money that she was raising. We all met to discuss this and were thrilled when Susie and Dave agreed to join our little team.
The Lord blessed this project, many people were generous in their support and $11,225 has been raised to date. This is enough to build the church in Tanzania and to start a second church. I’m sending with this letter a picture of Pastor Anthony and some of his flock who will be blessed by this church building. If CCC and ICM approve, it will have a plaque that will read, “This church is given in love to our friends in Christ by Christ Community Chapel in Hudson, Ohio.” This has been a faith-building adventure for all of us. Best of all, construction has begun and over 100 of our brothers and sisters in Christ in Tanzania will soon have a place to meet, to worship and to do ministry in their village and beyond. Praise the Lord!
Chris and Donna Zerull | $11,225.00