When Calvary Christian Reformed Church in Holland, Mich., paid off its building debt in 2006, it launched a Year of Jubilee to raise money and build buildings for other ministries.
Joyce Johnson, Calvary’s director of community ministries, said church members made pledges and raised $352,000. Throughout the Year of Jubilee, about 350 of Calvary’s members have been part of 18 work teams that have aided in building clinics, schools, and homes. Some of the places they traveled to include the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, South Africa, Palestine, Chicago, and Mississippi.
In June a team from Calvary, led by church member Bart Den Boer, traveled to Palestine and, among other tasks, painted in Bethlehem Bible College and assisted developmentally disabled students at The Al-Basma Center and The House of Joy.
Den Boer spoke of the treatment and way of life for Palestinians. He recalled the team being in line at a checkpoint from Bethlehem to Jerusalem and walking through the electric fences and gates and past the guards. “It’s what they go through every day,” he said.
Melanie Veldman, a member on the team, spoke of the conversations she had with their Palestinian host families. “They talked a lot about how life for them was like living in a prison and how they desire peace.”
Johnson spoke of how the Year of Jubilee has changed the mindset of Calvary members. “It’s always been about growth—numbers and buildings,” she said. “We want to make an impact outside of our church walls—we need to help people around the world.”