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Micro-grants Extend Church’s Outreach to Members’ Neighborhoods

Veronica (l) and Hannah Gross with their Love2Go bags.
Veronica (l) and Hannah Gross with their Love2Go bags.

The evangelism committee at Ocean View Christian Reformed Church in Norfolk, Va., wanted to put funds earmarked for outreach to good use. They opted to use the funds in small allotments—$50 at a time—toward projects proposed by church members.

Called “If I had $50,” the program invited church members to apply to bless their neighbors in some way. The desire was to help stimulate the congregation to think about evangelism. Applications came from varied corners of the congregation.

Two young sisters came up with the idea of having ‘Love2Go’ bags with food, water, and tracts they could give to homeless people at major intersections. Another member bought a grocery card for a neighbor in hard times. Another member bought gift cards from a coffee shop in his neighborhood and handed them out to the neighbors on his block, saying that it was a gift from the church.

The micro-grants were awarded in January and February 2017. Hannah Gross, 10, and her sister Veronica, 9, carried out their project in April. They shopped for backpacks at a local thrift store and filled them with useful necessities. “We put things you would need like toothbrushes and water, snacks, shirts, sunglasses, and shoes,” Hannah explained. Veronica shared how she saw God’s love received. “An older man started to look in the bag as he was going away and he found the Bible and turned back and held it up. That’s the part of the story that I really like,” she said. The girls’ father, David Gross, a deacon at Ocean View CRC, helped them come up with the idea. They wanted to reach out to people living on the street because of volunteer work they do at a shelter through their home school association.

Ocean View CRC’s evangelism committee was inspired to create the micro-grants by previous projects at Sherman Street Church, a Christian Reformed congregation in Grand Rapids, Mich., and at LaSalle Street Church in Chicago. The committee was  pleased with how well the micro-grants went and would like to repeat it in the future.

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