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Hagerstown pastor gives congregation his car fund to spread hope

January 21, 2008|By MARLO BARNHART

HAGERSTOWN - When LifeHouse Church Pastor Patrick Grach announced a plan on a recent Sunday to give $6,000 of his own money to members of his congregation to pass out in the community, he had no idea it would begin to bear fruit that very day.

Grach had been saving the money for some time and when he had $6,000, knew what he would do with the cash - buy a Nissan sport utility vehicle.

"I was excited ... I was finally going to be able to get that Xterra I wanted," Grach said.

Then, two months ago, Grach preached on surrender.

While out running one day, he realized that he wasn't surrendering as he had preached for others to do.

"I felt this in my heart very strongly," he said. "It's not about the money, it's about faith."

So from the pulpit Jan. 13, Grach told his story and showed the congregation a picture of the Nissan Xterra he had planned to buy.

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Then he told his congregation that he had put the money in varying amounts in sealed envelopes and told them he would give them the envelopes, and they were to use the money to promote hope.

The amounts in the envelopes ranged from $5 to $1,000. Members - some as young as 6 - were asked not to keep the money and not to send it overseas, but to personally help other people.

The church, which began holding services that Sunday at Hagerstown Cinema 10 on Leitersburg Pike, set up a Web site so members could report on their experiences with the money.

After receiving her sealed envelope at the service, one congregant slipped it into her purse and headed to Sam's Club to do her weekly shopping, she said in her message on thelifehouse.org/thegiveproject Web site.

While at the store, she came upon a young couple lamenting the fact that they could only afford to get a new coat for one of their twin daughters.

The member opened her envelope and found the exact amount needed for one more coat. She handed it over to the couple along with a smile and a Lifehouse flier she had in her purse.

"I heard the little girls giggling as they tried on their new coats," the member said. "God certainly didn't waste any time putting someone in my path who could use a little generosity."

Grach has been in the ministry for 8 1/2 years. For more than two of those years, he has been leading LifeHouse, which met at Eastern Elementary School until it outgrew the space.

Describing his church as a group of people who love God, Grach said he couldn't think of a better way to show their faith.

Other postings on the Web site included a man who gave his money to an older person who freely gives of his time and talents to others.

Another chose to give her $20 to her school's prayer group leader. Another chose to give the money to help a family with a hospitalized child.

The church holds services every Sunday at 10 a.m. at the theater. Life groups meet through the week in members' homes. Grach described the church as casual, but Bible-based.

"We have a band and show videos, too," Grach said.

More information can be obtained by calling 301-992-8337.

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