God Wrote a Love Letter
In the spring of 2001 God decided to write a love letter to a particular group of people in Southwest Florida. Lehigh Acres is a small town located on the Eastern side of Fort Myers, Florida. At that time the town was known as a quiet place where retirees from the North and Midwest came to enjoy the tropical weather and nearby sandy beaches. Despite this demographic and after visiting on a few occasions, a vision of a changing community with a steady influx of different cultures and young families became more and more real. Following intense time in prayer and fasting, the Lord gave the “green light” to move ahead with a church-planting project.
This vision gave birth to the Christ loving community affectionately known as Agape Christian Fellowship (ACF). The dream of a life-changing ministry began with twelve people on Sunday July 1, 2001. Though small in number, one could never fully quantify the awesome power and presence of God among this passionate group of believers. Months later Agape would begin to experience slow growth as new residents gathered with old residents all in search of a place to connect with the living God. The news spread quickly about what God was doing on a weekly basis. The result of this was curious attendees who were not ready to commit as members but like what they saw and experienced. In spite of a very challenging membership/core group to build on and extremely limited finances the vision never wavered.
25 Members and 10 Acres
A year and a half later, with a database of only 25 affiliated members, Agape stepped out on faith and purchased 10 acres of property. Ignoring the naysayers who worried about the church’s ability to afford the additional financial obligations, the people trusted the Lord to provide for what He ordained. As the church grew, plans to build a ministry campus would vacillate for many years. As with every church the faces at Agape changed for various reasons, but God remained true to His promise. While waiting for the promise to be fulfilled, the leadership remained focused on the task of transforming lives through the power of God’s word. As scores of people made public confession of faith in Jesus Christ and followed in water baptism, the church was fulfilling its mission.
A Place to Call Home
Nine years after its birth, in the midst of a full-blown recession and an historic economic downturn, God decided to take His people on a faith venture once again. Beginning with a miraculous financing arrangement granted by our ministry partner The Cornerstone Fund paired with the sacrificial financial contributions of committed members, generous donations of a few sister churches, Agape broke ground on its first worship facility on May 1, 2011. Armed with the excitement of finally having a place to call home, no one ever dreamed that it would become a spiritual battle to complete this project. In keeping with his reputation, the enemy attempted to use everyone available to stifle what God was doing. Whether it was an uncooperative and mean spirited neighbor, unethical subcontractors, unexpected financial increases throughout the entire process or limited working capitol, the Lord provided His presence and non-stop encouragement.
Broad Horizon Ahead
The lessons learned along the journey are too many to place on this piece of paper. However, the reality that continually permeates the mind of the congregation and its leadership is that God is faithful. As pastor and author Andy Stanley eloquently states, “What God originates, He orchestrates.” Today, Agape continues to reach more than 400 people on a weekly basis with the Gospel. It is a growing multi-ethnic church with services currently in English, Creole and Spanish planned for the future. The stories of life change and dramatic transformation are shared frequently by those who have encountered the power of the Risen Lord. The primary objective of ACF is to see people challenged by the Word of God and transformed into the image of His son, Jesus Christ.