|Pastor Zailian leading a group in prayer. Source: Baptist Standard|
The difficulties associated with evangelism are not new, and people willing to attempt innovative solutions are still too irregular. However, Set Free Church is a risk taking congregation seeking to do evangelism differently.
When Set Free Church met Bernice, she didn’t have a bed, furniture, or food. Instead, she had a drug-addicted fiancé who was against her becoming more involved in the church.
Unwilling to let her attend worship services, the church started coming to her. Jacob Zailian, pastor of Set Free Church, and some of the other members helped provide food and furniture to stabilize Bernice’s quality of life and had bible study with her.
Seeing the generosity of the church, Bernice’s fiancé became more open to the possibility of her becoming more involved.
The power of evangelism through meeting needs and promoting healthy lifestyles isn’t new for some of the members of Set Free Church, Pastor Zailian attests.
Zailian’s life was transformed when he began to see the church could be more than just a gathering spot for worship on Sunday morning, but an engaged partner in the community.
Zailian grew up Catholic, but after the trauma of finding his father dead, he turned away from God and the church, beginning a downward spiral that would result in his incarceration.
One day during a visit with his girlfriend, she informed him she was leaving and taking the kids with her.
Sorrowful, Zailian started praying.
He said, “I was tired of living my life addicted to drugs and gave up and surrendered everything to Christ.”
Zailian started reading his Bible, got involved with a local church’s prison ministry and started turning his life around. Once out of prison, he reunited with his girlfriend Francine and the two got married.
Feeling called to do more to help those on the margins of society, he helps organize a ministry at his church for addicts and gang members.
He was told repeatedly by members of the community he ministered to that he should start his own church. In April 2019, Zailian did so with the support of the North American Mission Board.
Zailian described his congregation as being composed “pretty much the people that everybody looks at as a lost cause.”
Set Free Church gives out food, serves hot meals multiple times a week, and since the pandemic has partnered with the local farmer’s market to provide fresh fruits and vegetables.
Describing how communities created through that act of compassion creates bridges to conversations about Christ, Zailian said every conversation does not lead to a dramatic conversion experience like the Apostle Paul. However, by persistently loving each person in their unique circumstances, Zailian believes people are coming to see God relatable and interested in a personal relationship with them.
“We want to give them the truth of the gospel,” he said.
That truth is more just words – it’s the actions that Zailian and the members of Set Free Church are engaged in every day.
Source: Baptist Standard