In 2002 the Willmar E free church began to sense God’s calling to planting a church in the area to reach the lost and disciple believers. Through prayer God led the elders of EFCW to the building blocks of a new church plant. Pastor Jeff Brown was raised up from the Willmar staff as a man of God who desired to reach the lost and was gifted in multiplying disciples. A discussion was started with a group of believers in Olivia who had been praying for a church to help spread the Gospel. After many months of prayer, study of God’s word, and discussion Olivia was chosen as an area for the new plant.
Families at the Willmar church and Olivia area were brought together and a core group of ten families started to meet, first at Willmar, and later at homes in Olivia. For most of a year the core group built Godly relationships, training and mentoring with Pastor Bob, so God could work in us to develop core values and a vision of His work in this community.
Through God’s grace we have been provided with places to worship- CCOC, the high school, and our current location at Plaza West. God worked to form relational ministries like VBS, prayer walks, day of prayer, the jail ministry, club 456, small groups, bible studies, GU (Grace University) and GYM (Grace Youth Ministry). Grace has been blessed with people willing to step forward and follow God’s call to serve in the body and in the community, in big ways and small ways. He called the Greens and Howells as interns, the Greens where led to reach out to the Hispanic community in Willmar and led the Howells to Paraguay as missionaries. The Johnsons stepped out in faith, leaving a job as a deputy to pursue a calling in the ministry. The Seehusens pursued ministry in Texas. God then led Jeff and Sheryl to change ministries from church planting and discipling in Olivia to join the ministry of Reach Global in Africa, moving to Yaounde Cameroon.
As God moved through His people, He closed doors, while opening the door to the ministry of Pastor Rick as an interim pastor for a year as Grace searched for a new Pastor. The time was spent under the direction of Pastors Tom and Dan, learning about God’s direction at Grace and about the special gifts of different pastors and how they could best fit here. God led us to Pastor Henry and his family, who thankfully accepted God’s call to leave their Iowa family to come and join God’s work in Olivia.
We are thankful for the people God has brought into our lives, building relationships, serving one another, worshipping together. We praise the Lord for Grace, for His faithfulness, and all He has accomplished. We pray we may continue His plans here and be blessed to see His work come to fruition in authentic relationships that spread the gospel.