Easter mobilizes Converge churches to love their neighbors

Ben Greene

Pastor & writer

  • Evangelism

Riverwalk Church breakfast 

A few years ago, Christ started building up Riverwalk Community Church in Bay City, Michigan, and the difference could be seen this Easter Sunday. 

“We had so many people show up [for breakfast] we had to go to an overflow room,” pastor Steve Roe said. 

That breakfast and the hospitality surrounding it reflects the heart of a family church that eagerly supplies food to the community all year long. Riverwalk’s worship space has the usual chairs arranged beside rows of shelves storing food for their neighbors. 

Every month, 3500 people receive food through Safe Harbor, Riverwalk’s nonprofit food distribution ministry. Last year, Safe Harbor supplied 1.7 million pounds of food to Bay City families. 

The church now has motivated volunteers for the nursery, children’s church and a youth group, which it didn’t have even last year. On Easter, a young man committed his life to Jesus, another sign that the church continues to experience God’s resurrection power in their building and around the city. 

“What God’s done with Riverwalk has been an incredible journey,” Roe said. “It’s been such an amazing, radical change.” 


Valley Brook Easter egg hunt 

Gospel work incorporates cultural relevancy


Caring about neighbors in eternal and earthly ways has been a commitment at Valley Brook Community Church since its first worship service in 2000.  

Pastor Clark Pfaff explained that the Connecticut church has organized an Easter egg hunt for more than 20 years because it’s an outreach with cultural relevancy. They also do a trunk-or-treat in the fall and a live nativity in December. 

“We are trying to reach out to people and connect with them in a way that makes sense to them,” pastor Clark Pfaff said. “It’s a culturally relevant thing to do regardless of where people are spiritually.” 

This year, they hid 18,000 plastic eggs and welcomed hundreds of adults and children. Many of them returned on Easter Sunday.  

Valley Brook also sets up an indoor scavenger hunt at the same time as the Easter egg hunt. That helps more people linger in conversation as they drink coffee and find shelter from cool, windy springs common to New England.  

“One of the things we’ve wanted to do is make people feel comfortable in a church,” Pfaff added. “We’re trying to reach the people who don’t know the Lord.”  


LightWay Church pastor 

People come in the door, yet there’s more work to do


An undeniable spiritual reality influences the 43,000 people who live in the North Carolina zip code of LightWay Church, which held its first worship service Easter Sunday. 

“If everybody wanted to go to church, there’s not enough space,” said pastor Freddie Williams.  

So, before Easter, the church fasted, prayed, prepared, and intentionally pursued the unchurched and unsaved. Seventy-five adults and 12 youth came to LightWay on Easter. 

“We were able to share the gospel of Jesus,” Williams added.  

But LightWay’s not done yet. They believe the Lord wants to use them to reach the unchurched and unsaved people around them. 

“We still have work to do,” Williams said. 


Iglesia Bautista Emanuel baptism 

Easter still sparks spiritual responses


That same spirit and motivation inspire God’s people in Converge churches worldwide. God’s people unify around loving the Lord and loving others so people far from God meet, know and follow Jesus.  

More than 17 years ago, Jessy Padilla met a woman after her daughter came to faith in Christ. Padilla, who pastors Iglesia Evangelica Bautista Emanuel, saw the woman many times over the years at birthday parties, anniversaries and weddings. She repeatedly told Padilla that one day, she would be ready to become a Christian and join the church.  

This year, as Iglesia Evangelica Bautista Emanuel spent 21 days in prayer, her day came; the lady became a believer. Then, on Easter Sunday, she was one of 12 baptized at the church’s two locations in Waukegan, Illinois, and Kenosha, Wisconsin. 

“By God’s grace, that day came,” Padilla said. “That’s hope for many families that have family members who are not Christians and say they’re not ready but one day.” 

Christ’s resurrection power continues to make things new


God’s timing is a natural reflection for Steve Roe as he considers God’s work in individuals and churches over the years. The Michigan pastor said God pruned the church during their difficult last few years.   

However, the Michigan disciples persevered and pursued personal transformation to become more like Jesus. Now, he said, their hearts flow with a great desire. 

“How do we reach people?” Roe asked. “How do we love on them?” 

This year, as they saw double their regular attendance on Easter Sunday, the difference was plain as guest after guest after guest filled up the house of the Lord. 

“We’re seeing a real divine fruit that’s happening,” he said. 

Converge is a movement of churches working to help people meet, know and follow Jesus. We do this by starting and strengthening churches together worldwide. For 170 years we’ve helped churches bring life change to communities in the U.S. and around the world through church planting and multiplication, leadership training and coaching and global missions.

Ben Greene, Pastor & writer

Ben Greene is a freelance writer and pastor currently living in Massachusetts. Along with his ministry experience, he has served as a full-time writer for the Associated Press and in the newspaper industry.

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