Gracepointe Nazarene in Sanford holds an annual “Be the Church” Sunday — and heads to the local laundromat, among other places.
Now that I your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you should also wash one another’s feet. John 13:14 (NIV)
When the “Be the Church” committee began meeting at Gracepointe Nazarene to make plans for the annual event, they started by taking a look at their neighborhood. They discovered three coin-operated laundromats within a few blocks of the church. The laundromats served the low-income neighborhood, including a nearby mobile home park for senior citizens.
Steve Kendall, an event organizer, contacted the laundromat’s manager to get permission. The church printed business cards that simply read, “Just wanted you to know God loves you!” on one side, and contact information on the back.
For weeks before the event, a “Loot for Laundry” treasure chest in the church lobby collected spare change. The church raised over $300, which team members took to the bank to exchange for quarters.
Cathy Thomas headed one of the three teams that went to laundromats on “Be the Church” Sunday, armed with quarters, cards, and water bottles.
“As people came in, we would say, ‘Hello, would you mind if we paid for your laundry today?’”
“Their first question was always, ‘Why??’” The group then explained that this was something they were doing in the name of Jesus, and handed out the cards and water.
“I remember one woman who came in with several children,” says Cathy. “She was just astonished. We even offered to do the laundry for her while she ran other errands, but she declined.”
Another older man came to pay for the laundromat manager to do his laundry, and the church paid for that as well.
According to Cathy, the man kept saying, “I can’t believe you would actually pay for my laundry for me!”
But Cathy especially remembers one elderly gentleman:
”He broke down in tears,” she recalls. “He told us that he only had enough money that day to either do laundry or buy groceries, but not both. He would have been spending the last of his money on laundry if we hadn’t been there.”
Not everyone was able to go out into the community on “Be the Church” Sunday, so a prayer team stayed at the church and lifted up the ministry. Afterward, the various teams met back at the church and shared stories, so everyone could celebrate.
Gracepointe’s stated mission, in part, is “to serve the needs of others as the hands of Jesus.”
The hands of Jesus doing laundry? The folks at Gracepointe church like to think so.
You can visit Gracepointe church at www.gracepointenazarene.org