New Life Community Church in Wayland, Michigan, stands behind its self-proclaimed “weirdness!” Our four-year old church plant determined that “normal” wasn’t going to work here to reach people for Jesus.

When a new casino was built in our town, New Life ran to the casino with loving arms of ministry and made it a part of our mission field. I’ll never forget what a waitress told me, “I don’t get it. You’re a pastor in a casino? Do you think if I came to your church I would be accepted?” My heart broke when I heard this.

People in our community are spiritually dying, and many people have given up on church. We live in a community where only 17% of people attend church and only 38% of people have any religious affiliation. I praise God because he is using New Life to be the change our community desperately needs. Listen to what people are saying about being “made new:”

“New Life has given my entire life purpose. I now have something to live for and that’s Christ.” —Scott

“I didn’t think forgiveness was possible. It started with myself and I’ve now forgiven others.” —Renae

“I was hurt really bad. I gave up on relationships. I gave up on God. But God changed my heart at one Saturday evening service. I’ve learned to trust God in all of my relationships.” —Terri

God has used New Life to give people faith, hope, and love in Christ. At the time of this writing, 58 people have been baptized and 158 people have placed their faith in Christ. We are reaching our community in so many different ways. Sometimes our most exciting stories come in the most unexpected ways.

One day I received a call from Jason who had recently made the decision to follow Jesus. He wanted my wife, Kim, and me to join him at the tattoo parlor to see him get a new cross tattoo to cover up the skull, smoke, and crossbones tattoo that he already had. Hearing Jason witness to friends who knew him before he became a Christian is amazing. Watching him lead his family to follow Jesus has been pure joy. Jason and his wife, Sara, now help lead our youth ministry and they are sharing Christ’s love with teens.

Last year the church began taking “miracle offerings” to buy 40 acres of land to be the launching point for New Life’s ministries. Generous offerings are allowing the church to construct the necessary driveway and shelter to be able to eventually use our land for ministry and reach even more people.

Rev. Michael Hewitt serves as pastor at New Life Community Church.