The Harvest Story
Bishop Aaron & Mary Blake
In 1985, a fatherless-boy-turned-pastor and his humble wife started Greater Faith Community Church in their home neighborhood in the flats of Brownwood, Texas. No paid staff. No budget. Aaron and Mary Blake had a calling to care for others in their under resourced community. Simple as that!
They went door-to-door to invite neighbors to come to church. They knocked on the door of an apartment in the Brownwood Housing Authority a short walk down the street. A small child peaked through the curtains of the front window. The Blakes discovered that the child was home alone with his little sister while Mom went to start a new job at Walmart. The Blakes then went to Walmart to find Mom. When they did, Mom began to plead with the Blakes not to call child welfare. She just got the job and needed to work her way into that first small paycheck before she could even begin to explore childcare options. She didn’t want to lose her children to “the system.” The Blakes assured Mom that they didn’t want to report her; they wanted to babysit.
Greater Faith saw a need and met a need: babysitting. Word got out in the secret spaces among the vulnerable. Other moms and dads in the same situation brought their kids, asking for help with babysitting. Volunteers in the church stepped-up to help families stay together. The ministry grew.
In 2001 the Blakes, with six biological kids of their own, felt called to open their home to foster children. They engrafted a teenage boy, Melvin, into the Blake Family. Five more teenage boys followed. It was a blessing and a battle.
The Blakes discovered the full measure of the foster care crisis in our nation, and in their own home county. One Sunday morning on November 14, 2004, Bishop Blake asked the Greater Faith family whether anyone will stand with him and Mary to care for the orphans in their own community. Nedra Wade stood-up first. Then another. Then another. By the time the standing was done, 12 families stood up. That was the first “Stand Sunday” in the nation.
A ministry was birthed from the altar in a low place in the flats of Brownwood. The Lord spoke to Mary’s spirit about the ministry, telling her heart that there is to be a “Harvest.” The church is to help each child have a Harvest in their lives, where there is nothing broken and nothing missing. The local church called their ministry to the children the “Harvest.”
From that first Stand Sunday in 2004 to today, the humble little church in Brownwood has, indeed, experienced Harvest. They have collectively cared for 450+ children through foster care and adoption. They shared the ministry with other local churches and, together, made Brown County the first county in Texas with more families waiting for children than children waiting for families. The movement has been joined with the Christian Alliance For Orphans. In November of 2018, 1,121 local churches in the United States participated in Stand Sunday.
All of this started from a little church in the flats of Brownwood saying “yes” to babysit a child peeking through some curtains in the housing projects.
The altar of Greater Faith Community Church in Brownwood, Texas, is an unlikely genesis place for The Harvest Fellowship, a church-to-child movement.
We believe all children can embrace who they are,
can define their future, and can change the world.
Our mission is to engage, equip and empower churches to care for children and families in crisis.
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