Church pastors commonly get the chance to guest speak at other churches.
But the invitation to speak at a church halfway around the world – one that your home church helped to build?
That’s not your average gig.
Dave York, pastor at Son Rise United Methodist Church in Pueblo West, got that experience in December.
He was invited to speak at the dedication ceremony for the newly built church in Kabala, Sierra Leone, Africa.
“It was really humbling to be invited to a dedication service that you know is such a big thing for the people,” York said.
“I felt like I was a bit of an ambassador from us to them. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
York made the trip with his 14-year-old son, Taylor, a ninth grader at Pueblo West High School, along with the church’s treasurer Don Houtkooper.
The church they helped dedicate was largely made possible by donations from Son Rise.
In 2011, members of the church decided to take $20,000 from their own building expansion fund and use it to create a matching fund to help raise money for a church building in Kabala.
In the first four months of 2013, members of the church put together $50,000 (including the matching funds), which was sent to Kabala for construction.
Sierra Leone is one of the five poorest countries in the world by U.N. standards, a very underdeveloped country.
The United Methodist Church has been involved in Kabala for about a decade, helping to build a health clinic as well as a primary and a secondary school.
Last year the Bishop in Sierra Leone, John Tambasu, visited Son Rise Church.
In his last visit, he reported about the construction, which was completed in about 11 months.
The land it sits on was donated, and other officials in Sierra Leone deemed it to be one of the nicest churches they’ve seen in Africa, York said.
When York was asked to speak at the dedication service – which lasted nearly four hours and included people who had traveled for hours to be there – he said he was excited to be included in something so special.
“They asked me to encourage them and tell a little bit of the story on our end, and then I just let them know that God is at work in their area and that the church is a symbol of that and an asset to the community,” he said.
“Our people (at Son Rise) are very proud that we could be over there to represent them.”
Another thing Son Rise and other community members did to help the new church was a “Bible Blitz” last fall.
The initial goal, York said, was to collect 150 bibles that could be shipped to Sierra Leone.
A whopping total of 450 bibles were collected through various means.
Church members brought them in, community members dropped off bibles, people went door to door and more.
“I see this as people working together for a positive purpose throughout the community,” York said.
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