Fremont, Michigan, usually doesn’t rise to the top of many people’s “highly influential cities” list. Aside from being the home of Gerber, the well-known baby food company, our central Michigan town rarely rises to the spotlight.
That’s because the demographics can be staggering. Most residents are hard-working, blue-collar factory workers or farmers. Currently, 18 percent of residents live below the poverty line, 26 percent of children live in poverty and 58 percent of elementary, middle and high school students participate in federally funded, free and reduced lunch programs. Forty-one percent of households are below the ALICE threshold. (ALICE stands for “asset limited, income constrained, employed” and defines households that “earn above the federal poverty level but not enough to afford a bare-bones household budget.”)
But as depressing as those statistics sound, they don’t tell the whole story. There’s something more happening in our community that gives us a profound hope.
At Inspire Church (formerly Fremont Wesleyan Church), we are filled with hope because of the possibilities before us. We believe those who are without food are our brothers and sisters to whom we can show Jesus’ love. We see people who make up 71 percent of the surrounding community who are “religiously unaffiliated.” That’s approximately 29,700 people with names, families and stories who are facing eternity without Jesus.
We as the people of God are committed to actively reaching out beyond our walls, believing that those “not yet believers” are incredible “salvation candidates” that we have been called to reach and serve with our ultimate goal being to “inspire them to know, follow and love Jesus.”
Through ministries like Jobs for Life, Love and Logic, Immigrant Connection and community partnerships, we are seeing God work and answer prayer. Jobs for Life is a course that prepares people for a job by linking them into supportive relationships and assisting in the job interview process, all the while celebrating successes. The Jobs for Life experience is all about building relationships to reach out.
Love and Logic provides a variety of simple and effective techniques for parenting children from birth to adulthood. With the loving, yet powerful, tools of Love and Logic, we can help children learn to make good choices and experience happy lives while maintaining their love and respect.
In the past year, 200 additional people have been welcomed into our church family (with over 500 people worshipping each weekend), many of whom without a previous church background. Even our local court system is beginning to refer people to our ministries as part of offenders’ rehabilitation.
But what we are most excited about are the 70 people have come to know Christ this past year — people like Alex, who used to be a part of the “religiously unaffiliated” group. Alex’s life was changed because his friend, Greg, invited him to be a part of our Jobs for Life ministry. Alex began attending Jobs for Life and graduated after completing the program. But that’s not where the story ends.
By meeting Christians who volunteer at Jobs for Life, Alex committed his life to Jesus and was baptized. Then, his wife, Kendra, gave her life to Jesus and was baptized. Soon after, Alex’s daughter, Amelia, gave her life to Jesus.
We are thrilled to see doors open before us and are believing, praying and working hard for the possibility of reaching out to other communities nearby and seeing God continue to undeniably change lives and eternities. We are praying and believing to plant churches in five area communities in the next five years.
Our prayer is that we will be a church filled with wholeheartedly committed, devoted, sold out “inspirations” (the name we’ve coined for those who attend Inspire Church) who do God’s will, take a leap, act in great faith and believe in him for even greater things.
Rev. Keith Schubert serves as pastor of Inspire Church.