By Gladys Deloe
The Happy Church, otherwise known as the Grace Brethren Church of Jackson, Kentucky, is located in the second-poorest county in the US, where the average price of a home is $20,000 and many residents are caught in a poverty trap going back five generations.
When The Happy Church was accepted into the FGBC in 2004, God began to work in and through the people of The Happy Church.
I prayed. I communicated with Happy Church Pastor Mike and Connie Tabor about my burden. I talked to business and industry owners in my church. And I researched Jackson, Kentucky. In March of 2005, I met with a few business people to discuss how to get something started. Nine months later, grace in ACTION (giA) birthed its first business venture in Jackson.
When John Jacobson’s employment as chief meteorologist for Eastern Kentucky took him and his wife, Chris, to Jackson, God planted them where his theological training, missions experience, and business expertise would make an impact.
Along with teaching and preaching, John is the local enterprise director for grace in ACTION in Jackson. Recently, he has sacrificed most of his free time to open The Happy Ship and More store.
Chuck Yeager, giA’s business development officer, had a vision to open an eBay store that would stimulate the economy of Jackson. With Chuck’s help, John has opened the eBay store and expanded on the idea by adding a FedEx Depot.
Until now, residents and business owners had to drive 25 miles to ship via FedEx. Having their own mailing station also means added income when the store ships an item sold on eBay. Each of these services is available in a coffee shop setting, where the people of Jackson can gather for morning coffee, sweet rolls, chat times, or Bible studies.
Jacobson is also planning to open a T-shirt shop which will offer employment to more residents and will be another source of items to sell on eBay.
Two women from The Happy Church, Vickie Fugate and Freda Schnelle, are employed at the store. Personal counselors/mentors from the area chapter of SCORE, a group of retired executives who donate their time to help small business start-ups, will help train them.
Next door to The Happy Ship, The Happy Church meets in a large, two-story storefront that sits empty most of the week. Grace in ACTION’s mission is to help The Happy Church open a Community Life Center which will provide events, classes, and services to the community.
The vision of grace in ACTION is “fully integrated (holistic) Grace Brethren churches engaged in the process of transformation of their communities.”
GiA purposes to do this by equipping Christians to use their skills and resources to establish Community Life Centers where they can encourage those without hope of fiscal independence and enable personal development.
How can you help?
– Donate salable items for the eBay store. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for instructions.
– Share the experience and expertise gained from your career. Volunteer your assistance to giA.
– Start a self-sustaining business venture, providing industry and income for men and women in disadvantaged cities and towns where there’s a Grace Brethren church.
– Pray for giA; contact email@example.com to receive monthly prayer updates.
– Pray for 100 donors who can give $1,000 seed money each. Donations of any amount are gratefully received. Checks may be mailed to grace in ACTION, 1412 Camelot Drive, Winona Lake, IN 46590.
Gladys Deloe is a member of the Winona Lake, Indiana, Grace Brethren Church.