Pastors from Crossway Church, Greenhouse Church, Metropolitan Baptist, Hope Fellowship, Pioneer Community and Vertical Church (aka Iglesia Vertical) have been getting together to pray month for the last 2-3 years, according to Virgil Sierra, lead pastor of Vertical Church. “There is a group of us that have a great camaraderie, so we got together and asked, ‘What would it look like if we all made an intentional effort to be a blessing in our communities? What if we joined forces in identifying a specific need and worked together to fulfill that need?’ We did different outreaches with our churches, but we also pulled our efforts together on this project because we’re better together and we can accomplish a lot more when we are united.
They decided to focus on serving an under-funded school in need, making an impact on education. “Thanks to a previous relationship that one of the pastors had with an elementary school principal, we identified a Title 1 (under-funded) school in our region: Flamingo Elementary. We scheduled a meeting, sat down with the principal and asked her to share some of the greatest needs the school had because we wanted to come together with our churches and do our best to fulfill some of those needs,” said Sierra.
At Flamingo Elementary their greatest need was computers for the entire 3rd grade class.
Principal Janice Croby explained that the state exams required to pass a student along to the next grade are now all taken online. Many of her students, who come from low-income homes, don’t have computers at home, so unless they have them and are able to work in school, they don’t really know how to use a computer. This makes one more thing students have to think about when taking a crucial exam for these lower-income students. Her dream was that all of her third grade students would have access to technology, which required purchasing about 80 new computers.
During the month of November churches who participated in Church United’s LOVESFL encouraged congregants to donate $39, give three pounds of food and give one hour of service.
Sierra said, “We all got to work during the month of November with the Love SFL initiative, and we planned a night of worship and celebration with all of our churches together. During that night we collected 1500 lbs of food for the Feeding South Florida Food Bank, and we invited Principal Crosby from Flamingo Elementary. She had no idea what to expect, but we had the opportunity to present her with one of those large checks.”
Collectively the six church communities raised $21,200 and presented Principal Crosby with the exact amount they needed to get the computers as well as the carts and extra hardware to go along with them.
“The principal, teachers and students were so encouraged by this that when we went in December to officially take the real check to her, we were surprised to see the large check hanging right in the entrance of the front office,” said Sierra. “They had already put in the order into the school board for everything, and she had a table full of Thank You cards that the students had designed and prepared for us and the Love SFL initiative.
In a letter, Principal Crosby said, “You cannot know how surprised and thrilled I was when you all presented me the check in the amount of $21,200 dollars at the Love South Florida Event at Flanagan High School that special evening. The gift was amazing, a blessing and truly a dream come true!” She went on to explain that the contributions of the church members will directly help enhance the education of the students at Flaming Elementary School.
One of the school administrators said, “You guys are the answer to prayers that we didn’t even pray.”
Sierra concluded, “We can be sure that seeds of love and faith were planted in all of their hearts as a result of the unity, compassion and generosity flowing from our churches.”
“How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity” (Psalm 133:1, NIV).