A Chronicle of Renewal and Revival

USA: How a church turned into a farm

Michael Spurlock and his wife Aimee firmly believe in the power of prayer and stepping out in faith – even when it doesn’t make sense.

In 2007, the Spurlocks were assigned to All Saints’ Episcopal Church, a struggling church in Smyrna, Tennessee with just a few dozen members and a devastating amount of debt. “I was just out of seminary – I’d never been the pastor of a church before,” Michael told The Gospel Herald during an interview. “I had no idea what I was doing. We were sent down to see what should happen; should we close the church? Should we sell the property? Could we make a go of it? That’s when everything began.”

‘We were on the verge of closing down when the refugees came’

The church was on the verge of closing when a group of Karen refugees forced out of Myanmar unexpectedly joined them. With little resources, growing financial issues, and a language barrier, the congregation was unsure of how to minister to the group’s physical and spiritual needs. “When the refugees showed up, we just turned a radical corner in the life of the parish,” Michael said.

Faced with closure, Michael came up with an unusual solution: he decided to start a farm on church property. However, as they didn’t receive the support of their church officials, the Spurlocks were forced to rely on faith. “Oftentimes, I just didn’t feel equipped to handle the enormity of the problems facing the church,” admitted Michael. “But, God sustained me and saw me through it. He encouraged me when I would get discouraged.”

The people of All Saints, along with the Karen refugees, worked tirelessly on the farm, allowing them to pay the church’s bills and feed all of the people. “We were praying throughout the whole experience,” Michael said. “Sometimes, the provision was so miraculous… you could feel the presence of God there.” Nearly a decade later, All Saints is a thriving church – in fact, it’s more robust than ever.

‘Christian hospitality led to the resurrection of the church’

“Basic Christian hospitality led to the resurrection in that church,” Michael said. “A simple adherence to Jesus’ command to love one another, to welcome the stranger, to not be judging who should and shouldn’t attend your church. Just the openness to those possibilities changed everything, it was so far beyond our imagining what God wound up doing there.”

The Spurlock’s inspiring story of faith and perseverance is the subject of the new faith-based drama, released by AFFIRM Films on August 25, appropriately titled “All Saints”. The real All Saints church and farmland were used as a backdrop for the production. The Spurlocks hope their story inspires others to open their hearts – and their church doors – to the least of these (Matthew 25:40).

Watch the movie trailer

Source: Michael and Aimee Spurlock, Gospel Herald

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