For many Christians, going to church on Sunday is non-negotiable. But for some, going to church on Sunday means missing out on work that helps pay the bills and put food on the table. Such is the case for some folks near Longwood, Fla. So Rev. Felix Fernandez, of New Heart Christian Reformed Church, decided to bring church to them.
For almost two years, congregants of New Heart have rented a booth at the local flea market once a month in order to share God’s love with anyone who happens by. “We speak with people and pray with them. We meet them where they are and point them to Christ,” Fernandez explains.
Fernandez got the idea to go to a flea market after talking to a woman who, for 13 years, could never go to church because of her business in the market. When the economy crashed in 2007, the woman had to close her shop. However, she told Fernandez that God provided for all her needs. “She shared with me how ashamed she felt over the fact that for 13 years she did not trust God.”
“I sensed God tugging on my heart,” Fernandez said. “‘If the devil wants to use flea markets to keep people out of church, then I want you to use it to bring people to church.’” So that’s what he did.
Rafael Forestier, who believes New Heart is doing important work, found out about the church one day when he took his kids to the flea market for some shopping. “I love the way New Heart accepted my family,” he says. “I think bringing the church to the people is the gospel in its purest form.”
Another couple, who, for health reasons couldn’t attend a morning service, came to New Heart’s Sunday evening Spanish service. They’d heard about New Heart at the flea market from someone who did business there. “Even when we are not at the flea market, God is still at work,” Fernandez said. He told his congregation that God is confirming their work and telling them, “Keep going back because I have many people in this city!”