PC3 has a special heart for students. With the Wilmington campus located right around the corner from UNCW, a lot of students have become regular attenders. I first began attending PC3 my freshman year of college at UNCW and now here I am, on staff at the church that took me in and made me a part of the family during the course of my college years.
In Grow Zone Wilmington, PC3’s birth through Pre-K ministry, you will find plenty of students serving each Sunday. What a cool opportunity to get plugged into the local church while in college – by pouring into His littlest ones as they take their first steps in learning the basic truths about God’s character. There are four volunteers in GZ who have such a cool story that I want to share. Emily Bailey, Tyler Dangerfield, Madison Lindsey and Becca Workman first became a part of the Grow Zone family the fall of their sophomore years at UNCW. These four girls are college roommates and Overflow attenders who truly love Jesus.
They started out serving with the Overflow crew at Fuse Camp a few summers ago to take the next step of plugging into the community of PC3. Becca said, “I love my roommates so much. We all love the Lord and wanted to get involved. It started with helping at FUSE, the youth camp, two years ago and we just knew we wanted to get involved more. I have a deeper relationship with these three girls because of the passion we all have to serve.”
These girls understand the concept of authentic relationships and pursue intentional friendships with one another based on the picture of unconditional love that Jesus shows us. Tyler said, “After going to PC3 for about a year, us four girls decided we wanted to serve and give back to the church that has been so great to us. We all love kids. With three of us being nursing students, and the other going into pediatric recreational therapy, we thought what better place to serve than Grow Zone!” So they took their next steps to get involved serving more frequently.
The people that Madison met at PC3 had such an impact on her that she wanted to be able to have that impact on someone else. “After being apart of a church that is so invested in volunteering and helping people, I felt the calling to be more involved in the church and went to What’s Next. When shadowing for Grow Zone, it felt like a small family that wanted to get to know me,” Madison said.
College is such an interesting season of life; living away from home for the first time, becoming independent, discovering what you truly believe about God, yourself and your future. The community you surround yourself with in college will have a lasting effect on who you are as a person. For these four roommates, they knew that they wanted to serve Jesus by volunteering at PC3. They decided to jump into serving weekly together in Grow Zone and have served every Sunday ever since. Tyler said, “We love doing things together and are already together 95% of our time, so why not make it another hour together, while serving!”
The girls have taken it a step further and are no longer just involved in one volunteer role. Becca is on the Worship Team in Treasure Island at the Wilmington Campus and is going on the Overflow mission trip to Guatemala in a few weeks; Tyler works one-on-one with a child with special needs through Grow Zone’s Buddy Program; Madison and Emily are involved with Overflow; all four of the girls spend much of their free time investing in PC3 families by babysitting for them and teaching the kids that Jesus loves them!
Since getting involved at PC3, Emily has “learned to invest in the lives of others as that is what builds true fellowship with other believers. Being intentional has been such a conviction and I love being able to see how the Lord works in everyone’s life.” Watching the way Emily interacts with not only her roommates but also the families she invests in through Grow Zone has been such a cool experience and example of how to love others well.
These four students started attending PC3 at the beginning of college because someone invited them. Becca’s sister attended PC3 while she was in school at UNCW and told her about it; Emily’s older friends from high school were already attending PC3 when she moved to Wilmington so they brought her; Becca and Emily invited Tyler and Madison to go to PC3 with them. Now here they are, in their third year at UNCW and their third year attending PC3; the impact of their commitment and service has touched more lives than they probably understand in just three short years.
Tyler said that, “PC3 is one of the biggest reasons my faith has grown so much. From friends, to the services, there is always so much encouragement and knowledge around me.” The story I know of these girls all started with ONE–someone invited these girls to PC3. Now their impact has multiplied greatly. It just takes one person to Be One and make a difference in someone else’s life. These girls are choosing to use their time in college to make an impact for God’s Kingdom through PC3. I am blessed to witness their story.
Attempting to navigate the parking lot at Port City on Sunday is often an exercise of patience and grace. It’s an understatement to say the long lines, people forgetting to use their turn signal and failing to let other drivers out can cause a bit of frustration.
The parking situation has been described in many interesting ways: a zoo, organized chaos or a human version of Tetris. Very few would look at the sea of cars and consider it the ‘Happiest Place on Earth,’ but this is how Rich Whitley views it.
Rich has been a fixture on the Parking Team for the past six years. You might not know his name, but Rich’s antics have probably caused you to smile while you funneled in and out of Vision Drive. He’s best known for being the guy with the Mickey Mouse hands, an idea he got from another parking team volunteer.
“When I saw him with the hands I knew that was for me. From there, I just kept being a clown and taking it a little further – high-fives for the kids and adults, being a mime in the street or getting on my knees to wave little cars through. I figure that if people can be in traffic and smiling then I’ve done a good job. Port City has done so much for me. Giving back by going outside to clown around with traffic is my joyful gift in return,” Rich said. “Church could be ordinary, but at PC3 the whole experience is extraordinary so the parking lot should be the same. I figure that you can direct traffic, or you can have FUN directing traffic. I take the fun route.”
Having this positive attitude week after week can be a challenge. Often times, the Parking Team is a thankless job where one can wonder if they are making an impact. But, Rich’s positive attitude has been contagious. Around a month ago, Rich was able to experience firsthand just how big of an impression he’s had on attendees.
In the midst of the short lull between the 9am and 11am services, Rich was in his normal spot directing traffic when a blue Prius stopped and a woman got out of her car. She had a smile on her face and a bag in her hands. The woman handed Rich the bag saying it was present for him. Inside was a colorful pair of Mickey Mouse hands. She explained that while her family was at Disney World they saw the Mickey Mouse hands and thought of the friendly man on the Parking Team and figured he could use a new pair for holidays and special occasions.
“Honestly, I was in shock. I could not believe someone would be in the ‘Happiest Place on Earth,’ see these hands and think of me. I’m just a clown in the parking lot who is having some fun with people and trying to make the traffic tie-ups a little more bearable,” Rich said.
Rich sees his role as fitting perfectly into PC3’s mission of reaching people and helping them walk with God. He realizes that everything starts with an encounter and that people come to church with all different types of stories. As soon as they enter the parking lot, Rich wants to do his part in making sure everyone knows they are loved and important.
“I can make people smile. Do you know how powerful that is? Life is tough and everybody is going through something. If I can give them a smile, even for a minute, then God is using me and that is my joy. When I direct first time visitors into the building with my Mickey hands, they already know this isn’t going to be an ‘average’ church experience – Port City is going to be exceptional,” Rich said. “I also love visitors from out of town. If they take a story back home with them about Wilmington, coming to PC3 and the crazy guy in the parking lot who greeted them, I want that story to be joyful. We are blessed with a beautiful town, a wonderful church and magnificent people. The story they tell at their home should reflect all of that and should be told with a smile. I get back much more than I put in.”
This past Sunday we talked about how important a shared sense of ownership is for our community. People see Christ through us when we serve. But, the call to be ONE goes much deeper than that. When we hesitate to jump in, we minimize the overall effectiveness of our church body. Each part is important. Each part matters.
If we, as a community, got serious about one person investing in the life of another, the impact would be staggering. By being one you become part of this movement. Ownership only comes through involvement. During our BE ONE Sunday, we highlighted Rob Hansen’s experience volunteering here at PC3. Rob put it this way:
“Yes, some times it is not convenient, but that’s not what it is about. It’s about serving Christ and about serving each other. If you told me back then I’d be doing what I am doing now, I would’ve told you “You are crazy…there’s no way.” But, it’s just so rewarding and it builds your faith so much and you become so much closer to Christ. So, start somewhere and you will see where it goes.” Rob Hansen
Take a moment to check out this video.
It takes a lot of amazing people to carry off what we do as a church every week. Many of those people are volunteers who give their time once a week or month to serve the people of PC3. There are a lot of exciting ways you can use your gifts and time to participate in our service, and we encourage you to do so because Matthew 20:28 tells us, “Even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
To learn about volunteer opportunities at PC3 and how you can Become ONE, click here.
- Involvement is the first step towards ownership.
- Jesus didn’t pray for a strategy or resources; He prayed for oneness.
- We all long to belong.
- Convenience is not a value in God’s kingdom.
- We need to live outside ourselves if we are really going to live.
- You will only find your purpose when you begin to arrange your life to serve the needs of others.
- Jesus took on the task no one was willing to do.
- If you don’t get involved, it minimizes our effectiveness.
- Your story matters. Your gifts matter. Your contribution matters. Your part matters. You matter.
- A lack of involvement leads one to be either a consumer, a critic or both.
- You do “a” thing to find “the” thing.
- Servanthood lies at the very center of God’s character and heart.
- If, as a church body, we got serious about one person investing in another person, our impact would be staggering.
- Our heart expands or shrinks depending on the size of our greatest concern.
- The marker that Jesus hoped would define His church was a shared sense of ownership.
- It takes no effort and costs you nothing to be a critic or consumer. A lack of investment equals a lack of a return.
- To know God’s heart is to know servanthood.
- Jesus humbling Himself wasn’t a concession, but rather an expression of His heart.