loren Eric Swanson: Water of Life--Fontana, California

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Water of Life--Fontana, California

Yesterday I met with pastor Danny Carroll of Water of Life Community Church in Fontana (http://wateroflifecc.org/index.html). If you can imagine an externally focused chruch on steroids you have just entered Water of Life! I scribbled a few notes of a few things they are involved in. In early May they sponsored what could best be described as a party for the city--7000 folks in attendence--200 bikes repaired ("Most of the kids don't have dads so they never learn how to repair flats and fix chains") and gave away another 50 bikes. They did make-overs for the women and haircuts for everybody. They hosted "career booths" where kids could put on uniforms of doctors, nurses, police, etc. and then the kids were photographed and prayed over and spoken words of hope--"Always keep believing that you can make it with God's help." Then there was the barbecue...and band and even a message where nearly 650 indicated they made decisions to become Christ-followers. This is an amazing church!

They partnered with the city to rebuild abandoned houses for Katrina victims that arrived in the area. High level city officials have come to faith from a variety of spiritual backgrounds and are now active at WOL. 100 folks are going overseas this summer to Camodia, Thailand and Burma. They have built several churches overseas and have started and sponsored a school with over 600 kids.

In a church where people have "a passion for God and compassion for people" everyone wants to give themselves away--something Danny encourages. One man who was hired for a staff position now spends 60% of his time working in WOL's prison ministry. Last month WOL had 8,000 prisoners in Bible study and correspondance courses. Did I tell you about their medical ministry?

WOL has four physicians, four physician assistants and 14 nurses who take their mobile medical clinic into the underserved areas of the community where they provide vaccinations and basic medical care. The medical ministry is accompanied by the food and spiritual ministry. That brings us to food...

Recently the folks at WOL packed 10,000 boxes of food through "Pray and Pack." After every thousand boxes, they stop, worship and pray. This takes about five hours and costs $25K--just a small portion of the $600K+ given in ministry to the poor every year. They are a generous church although founding pastor (16 years ago) Danny has never taken an offering. They call themselves a 50-50 church. Half of all they take in is given away.

Danny was personal friends with Dr. Bill Bright--founder and president of Campus Crusade for Christ. Crusade's seminary library was housed for many years at WOL and Dr. Bright gave Danny his wathch in appreciation of all they were doing for the kingdom. Danny is probably one of those many folks you don't know. They are under the radar but cutting a huge swath for the kingdom.

As Reggie McNeal and I are starting a new series of Leadership Communities for externally focused, missional churches, pastor Dan and WOL are the kinds of churches we are looking to bring together. This new Leadership Community is called "Missional Renaissance Leadership Community." I'll write about it in the next entry.


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