In Acts chapter eight, Luke writes:
“4 Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went. 5 Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah there. 6 When the crowds heard Philip and saw the signs he performed, they all paid close attention to what he said. 7 For with shrieks, impure spirits came out of many, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. 8 So there was great joy in that city” (NIV).
The main thrust of Mercy Hill’s passion is to bring the gospel to Greensboro in order that joy may abound in the city. A key part of gospel proclamation is providing tangible signs of the gospel message. We see this all throughout the life and ministry of Jesus. Jesus healed a blind man and then preached about spiritual blindness. He fed a multitude and then announced that he himself is the bread of life. Where there was brokenness Jesus poured out his compassion upon the people as signs of his kingdom and the hope that is found in him alone.
The same picture is played out in the work that Philip undertook in the city of Samaria. Philip went with the message of Christ’s death and resurrection on his lips and the power of the Holy Spirit in his hands. It does not say that the people paid close attention simply because his message was articulate. Rather it says that Philip’s message coupled with the miraculous signs created a captivated audience. The gospel message was much more credible and much more joyous when put on display through the casting out of evil spirits and the healing of the lame.
Our hope as a church is to see that type of response from Greensboro and the surrounding area. We desire to bring the gospel message in word but to also find areas of brokenness to demonstrate the gospel in deed. One such area has surfaced in the past couple years and has considerable ramifications for the city of Greensboro. Sex-trafficking is a multi-billion dollar a year industry internationally and it is thriving here in the United States. Greensboro itself is among one of the top cities in the country where sex-trafficking is most prominent.
A recent CNN article reported, “North Carolina’s rich soil makes it an agricultural hub. It produces more sweet potatoes than anywhere else in the country. The state acts as a crossroads for three major interstate highways. The mix of accessibility and low-paying farm jobs make a good working environment for traffickers.”
Over the last few years, North Carolina has seen a 260 percent increase in the number of sex-trafficking victims. Women, created in the image of God, are taken against their will and sold to various bidders for sexual acts. Often times this “business” takes place in truck stops like the one featured in this article right off I-40 in Greensboro. Thankfully, there are steps being taken to eradicate this heinous crime and bring healing to the victims.
“Since 2010, North Carolina has had a statewide coalition to fight human trafficking. Law enforcement officers are now trained in what to look for. The program includes rapid response teams made up of representatives from law enforcement, service providers, hospitals and charities. When a potential victim comes into a hospital or is discovered through an arrest, the team springs into action.”
Mercy Hill is grateful for churches like Westover and organizations like World Relief who have seen the need and stepped in to bring the hope of Jesus. We are excited about the opportunity to partner with many of the ongoing ministries in Greensboro to help bring healing to the brokenness. If you would like to read more, please click on the link here for the full CNN article. Or if you would like to find out more information about partnering with Mercy Hill to help us bring the message of the gospel to Greensboro you can e-mail lead pastor Andrew Hopper at firstname.lastname@example.org