Check out the stories below to learn how God is moving in the lives and ministries of several people serving in New England.
Spilling Out for the Community
When God called Eric Wood to start a church in Maine after nearly 20 years in ministry, he determined to devote more time to serving people than preparing for Sunday morning services. The result is Neighbors Church, a “small missionary venture” which launched about a year ago in the greater Portland area.
“We get together Sunday, and then we go spill our lives out in the city throughout the week,” Wood said.
One of Neighbors Church’s main goals is to equip new and maturing Christians for community ministry, whether it’s helping a neighbor or co-worker, feeding the homeless, leading home repair workdays, serving immigrants or connecting with others at the non-profit gym, Recon. And bit by bit, God’s love expressed through the church is changing the city – one person at a time.
“We’re learning to treasure Jesus,” Wood said. “The simple fruit of abiding in Jesus is seen in how I love my brother and sister in the Lord and how I love my neighbor as myself.”
Being a Christ-Follower
Emily Frischembruder was in sixth grade when she began attending YEC, the BCNE’s winter youth retreat, with a neighboring church’s youth group.
“It was actually my first time really understanding what it meant to be a Christ-follower. It wasn’t just, ‘Oh, my parents go to church,’” Frischembruder said.
Since then she has been involved in multiple youth leadership development events from CrossWalk to Quest. In high school Frischembruder began leading a small group of teens in a Sunday afternoon Bible study at her own church, First Brazilian Baptist Church of Greater Boston (The Lovely Church) in Peabody, Mass. She’s now been serving as a volunteer youth leader for five years.
“It’s so hard for youth to stand up for their faith and to be in an area [like New England] where there is oppression and it’s kind of looked down upon to be a Christian,” Frischembruder said. “I think that all these different programs encourage them. They can see that they’re not the only ones.”
Prepared to Minister
The day Laurie Hurdle came across a flipped van in a ditch near the road, she knew just what to do, thanks to her years in nursing and her Disaster Relief chaplaincy training. After calling for emergency services, Hurdle cut the driver’s seat belt and helped him calm down.
“I told him I do these things because Jesus loves me, and Jesus protected him for a reason,” Hurdle said. “He seemed genuinely pleased when I asked him if I could pray.”
Hurdle and her husband, Charlie, serve as Disaster Relief coordinators for Vermont. In the last decade, she has been involved in at least ten local and national disaster relief efforts in locations from New Hampshire to Louisiana, while also using her skills to meet physical and spiritual needs in everyday situations.
“It’s a different kind of mission field than I ever envisioned,” Hurdle said. “It’s all about compassion … being God’s presence to them, being Jesus to them.”
Growing Leaders for Others
“Our entire heart is the next generation,” said pastor Chris James, who also serves as the BCNE’s Greater Boston collegiate coordinator. “But we’re all about multiplying out.”
From the beginning, Mill City planned on being a church that would invest in new leaders then send them out to other communities, particularly college ministries. And God has used this desire to multiply Gospel workers. Mill City alumni serve as missionaries in college ministries in Worcester, Framingham and Boston, as well as around the world in locations like India, China and Scotland.
“The key to changing an unchurched culture like New England is investing in the next generation,” James said. “We have the opportunity to shape world views with a Gospel-centered mindset.”
God Moving & Gospel Living
When Kevin Scott left his church in California to become a bi-vocational church planter in Boston, he found himself in the eclectic neighborhood of East Boston. “There was no strategy to it – it was the cheapest place we could find to live,” Scott said.
But God was at work, and He quickly brought together people and provided a meeting place. So Church at the Well put down roots in East Boston, where it has grown into a diverse congregation that is breaking down barriers.
“For most people in Boston, church is pretty irrelevant,” Scott said. But as Church at the Well has become known in the community for service projects, as well as their nonprofit coffee house in Boston’s South Station, people have become interested in this church that both speaks truth and shows love.
“That kind of balance between those two things is what is drawing people,” Scott said. “To us it’s just Gospel living.”
Evangelism Is Everybody's Business
From spring through fall, you can find Emmanuel Fontaine at the train station or the supermarket, meeting people and sharing the Gospel.
“Evangelism is everybody’s business,” said Fontaine, pastor of Grace and Faith Christian Church in Melrose, Mass. “Every believer is a missionary.”
Fontaine has been involved in evangelism ministry for 30 years, and since 2010, he has been instrumental in organizing an annual Haitian evangelism conference in cooperation with the BCNE. Representatives from more than 40 Haitian churches attend to receive theological training and learn evangelism methods in English and Creole.
People often tell Fontaine they feel “more confident” after attending a conference, and he has seen even new believers boldly apply what they have learned in witnessing conversations. “There are a lot of people who have the desire to share the Gospel, but they’re not sure about the best approach,” Fontaine said. “We want to equip people.”