The Garden City Fellowship Journey
The Garden City Fellowship, a young church plant in Christchurch, New Zealand, has experienced a number of miracles in the five years it has been together. It started with a handful of leaders meeting together a few times a week to pray for their church members and their team. “Then we turned the prayer times into prayer walks through the Christchurch botanical gardens,” says Pastor Benjamin Rea. “We would meet two or three times a week and pray as we walked through the gardens for about half an hour or so.”
Then in October of 2011, Garden City Fellowship discovered fasting, an “overlooked spiritual discipline,” Rea adds. “When we had our first corporate fast as a church,” explains Rea, “we saw an amazing miracle--a family member of a church member was brought back from the brink of death. This non-believer has since attended our church to thank the church for the miracle that saved his life. We prayed with him and he glorified God for what happened. Since then, we have done corporate fasting and prayer time to start each year.
“We have had several additional church-wide fasts as well, and we teach fasting as a part of Christian life. We have seen God's leading and blessing as a result of these times of humbling ourselves and seeking Him.”
But the story doesn’t end there. In addition to prayer and fasting, the congregation has also experienced numerous miracles through giving. When the church was just forming, and struggling just to pay rent, they set a goal to raise $60,000 for evangelism and to support two Bible workers. They had only 60 members at the time, and many people thought this was impossible. After praying about it and claiming God’s promises in 2 Cor. 9:6-9, that “he who sows bountifully, reaps bountifully,” and that “God is able to make all grace abound, having all sufficiency in all things for every good work,” Rea and his wife felt convicted to lead the church in giving. They dipped into their personal house savings and gave the first $10,000 toward their goal.
“That was the most liberating and life-changing feeling,” says Rea. “We felt more secure and more confident than ever, knowing that we were in God’s care.”
Other members stepped out in faith and gave gifts of $10,000, $5,000, $250, and $1,000, until they reached their goal by the end of the year. Rea tells of one family who had been saving their money to buy carpet for their home. After feeling convicted by the Holy Spirit, they, instead, chose to give that amount ($5,000) to the church. Afterward the carpet store where they had been looking, called to inform them that the family had a store credit of $5,000, and to come in and buy carpet! Another family testified that their assets have doubled in the past few years as a result of their faithful giving, and claiming Ps. 37:4, “Delight thyself in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.”
What started as a need to support evangelism, has grown into a faith venture with God. “Giving with God is the best thing we can do,” says Rea. The church, which now has a membership of around 100 people (and is financially sound, by the way), has since planted another satellite congregation, and has plans to grow to 1000 members by 2020. “I don’t know how that will happen,” says Rea, “but God does.”
Benjamin Rea, Pastor,
Garden City Fellowship
Christchurch, New Zealand