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We could have passed the basket. That would have been a simple solution. After all, a replacement for that deteriorating playground equipment on Crossroads’ property was an expense that hadn’t been budgeted.
But could the playground problem be a way to teach us, who are Crossroads Community Church, a biblical principle? And build a playground? And perhaps contribute toward playground construction elsewhere?
Pastor Peppy won’t say he had it all planned out in that much detail—not from the start. He did want more for the church than just a new playground. From prayer and desire for a practical application of Jesus’ parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30 developed a sermon series titled “Project 3T.” The three-part series on faithful use of time, talents and treasure was presented August 14, 21 and 28, and featured a challenge to the congregation to use their time, talents and treasure to fund a playground.
While surfing through the “Book of Google,” Pastor Peppy found Kids Around The World, an international ministry to build and install playgrounds in the U.S. and roll the proceeds into playground installations in developing countries. “We engage children across the globe through the simple strategy of Play-Feed-Train, restoring opportunity to war-ravaged and poverty-stricken communities,” reads the KATW mission. The KATW team’s goal: Help impoverished households discover the freedom of enough food, joyful and thriving children, and the life-altering power of the gospel.
A call to KATW’s Rockford, Illinois, headquarters found president Jim Rosene in the office and eager to share the KATW vision. Armed with more information about how a simple playground can open doors to the gospel both at home and abroad, Pastor Peppy presented the challenge: Follow the principle of Jesus’ parable and multiply your talents. Use your earnings to build our playground and another in Ghana, West Africa. In keeping with the parable, each adult received an envelope with a $10 bill, each youth a $5, and each child a $1. December 11 will be the “day of reckoning,” he said.
Good and faithful servants went to work. “Our people took the challenge seriously, came up with really creative ideas and turned an $8,000 investment into $85,000,” Pastor Peppy said. “I am so proud of our congregation.” He said most of the projects involved people making things—quilts, painting on rocks, doing things with shells. A few people held a crafts fair to sell their wares, while others offered services like child care or yard work. And there were a number of bake sales and lemonade stands.
On December 11 and a couple days following, the tally came in around $83,000, but as stragglers turned in their proceeds, the amount rose to a final $85,000—enough to build the Crossroads playground and not just one, but two playgrounds in Ghana.
“I want to come see you,” Jim Rosene said when Pastor Peppy reported the success of the parable lesson. He visited Crossroads on January 29 and one of his playground builders will be teaching site preparation and installation procedures to equip a Crossroads’ team to build a playground overseas. Seventy Crossroads people expressed interest in the project and a site preparation workday is scheduled Feb. 11.
Kids Around The World playground construction has opened doors to the gospel in places where Christianity would otherwise be shut out, including refugee camps and a number of Muslim countries. As ministry teams install a playground, they introduce children to Jesus and help families with food.
“This has been a win for our people and our church, for the Kids Around The World ministry, and for the fulfillment of the Great Commission to take the gospel of Jesus Christ into all the world,” Pastor Peppy said.