How One Spark Ignites a Movement of Love

On Saturday, July 14th there was a movement of love across the region at all of our campuses for something we call Serve Day.

Serve Day is a nationwide movement of ARC (Association of Related Churches) where volunteers were mobilized all over the world in their communities to make a difference in the lives of others. Here at Allison Park Church, Serve Day is a project of our non-profit Network of Hope.

Every movement of love in the Kingdom of God is ignited by a spark. The book “Servolution” by Dino Rizzo revolutionized the idea of churches giving back to their communities and beyond. It’s the idea of a revolutionary army igniting hope in a hurting world through practical yet very personal acts of service. “Servolution” acted as a “spark” and ignited something in the hearts of churches all over the world. Serve Day was ignited by the book “Servolution.”

When I reflect on Serve Day at Allison Park Church and the idea that a “spark” can ignite a movement, I can’t help but think of a little girl named Grace Ryan Jamieson.

A few years ago, Grace Ryan attended a meal packaging event at Charter Oaks Church in Greensburg, PA. She was so excited about the idea of serving and making a difference in the world, she invited her Grandfather, Russ to attend with her.  Russ is a member of the Allison Park Church Hampton Campus. When Russ witnessed the passion in his granddaughter serving, it ignited something in him. He couldn’t keep the spark to himself.

Russ brought his “spark” to Allison Park Church and presented the idea to Pastor Jeff Leake and Network of Hope to host a meal packaging event with Rise Against Hunger.

They fell in love with the idea of hosting a meal packaging event for the world’s hungriest on their annual Serve day. The first year, several thousand meals were packaged and sent overseas. Last year, 33,000 meals were sent overseas to Malawi, Africa. This year, we more than tripled our efforts by packaging 100,000 meals. Soon, we will find out which part of the globe our meals have gone. It will be exciting to see our project come full circle!

As you can see, a spark of passion from Grace Ryan (age 7 at the time!) burst into a mighty movement at Allison Park Church, as we have grown this event into something pretty incredible! This year, Grace’s smile was bigger than ever when she served alongside her grandfather to package 100,000 meals with nearly 500 other volunteers.

One tiny spark stirring in the heart of a little girl – that tiny and fiery feeling filled with passion, creativity, love and hope – ignited something in her grandfather, who felt compelled to share it with others. Isn’t it amazing what one spark can do?

So, what is stirring in you? Don’t hide it. Never let anybody dull your spark. Instead, share what’s stirring in your spirit with your friends, family and church. Who knows what movement of love and passion will be ignited? What light will be shown to others and usher in change and hope? All that light needs is a spark.

We learn about this light in Matthew, chapter 5 when Jesus says, “You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine!” (Matthew 14 -16 The Message)

Allison Park Church displayed this light on Serve Day. 101,219 people were or will be impacted by Serve Day by the work of 800 volunteers, staff, leaders and countless others. At our Butler campus alone, nearly 700 people were impacted by the work of volunteers in the community doing beautification projects, building a new roof, and washing cars for strangers. Duffel bags were packed for 500 local children entering the foster care system at our Deer Lakes Campus. In Ambridge, teacher “survival kits” were packaged for high school teachers at the local high school. In Ohio Township, the Mount Nebo Campus launch team worked with volunteer firefighters to bless folks attending the Ohio Township Carnival. What a mighty movement we have on display for the Kingdom of God, Church!

So the question is… are you a “light-bearer?” Is your spark out in the open for all to see? Are you ready to be a difference maker for the Kingdom?  Use your spark to encourage others. Share your passion and hopes for the world. This broken and hurting world needs agents of change, love, and hope. We can’t stay hidden or complacent.

Dino Rizzo wrote in his book Servolution,Serving people is not just something we want to do; it’s something we need to do.” God’s spirit can use a spark, taking a simple passion, idea, thought, to serve many and revolutionize the idea of service. It’s God’s call on our lives. There’s a spark in every single person, it just needs ignited so the whole world can see the light. Just like Grace Ryan, YOU play a vital role in the revolution of serving.

Find your spark! Attend a “Next Steps” class at your Allison Park Church campus and get connected to serving. Here’s some sparks to get you started…

– Get your Life Group to sponsor a project in your community… mow an elderly person’s yard, visit a local nursing home together and spread love, clean up a local park. Serve Day doesn’t have to be once a year.

– Serve at the Summer Feeding Program at the Ambridge Campus, where nearly half of all kids in that church’s community are food insecure.

– Host a food drive or donate needed items to the Network of Hope Food Bank. Diapers, laundry soap and paper products are the top needs at this time. You can donate items the first or third Tuesday of every month between 7am – 1pm.

Now… go ignite something amazing and make a difference in the world!

 

Julie Mikus is the program director of Network of Hope. Beside her in the photo is Grace Ryan Jamieson, the little girl who ignited a movement of love at Allison Park Church.