Pastor Curt Lunsford
New Life Community Church of the Nazarene
(520) 887-8859—church office (leave a message and Curt will return your call)
Faces of the Film—Reaching the Lost at Home and Abroad
When Pastor Curt Lunsford preaches to his congregation of 81 people, he is staring at hundreds of faces.
New Life Community Church of the Nazarene in Tucson, Arizona is aiming to completely cover the back wall of their sanctuary with pictures of faces, representing as many potential decisions for Christ as possible. Lunsford received inspiration to do this fundraiser after JESUS Film Harvest Partners (JFHP) Executive Director Brian Helstrom spoke at the Arizona District Assembly.
“He shared how every $3 given to JFHP leads to a potential decision for Jesus Christ. Where else are you going to have that kind of return on investment?” Lunsford said.
Seeing Faces, Meeting Needs
Lunsford wanted to give his congregation a unique way to visualize the impact they could make with this small investment across the world. On average, they raise enough to add between 20-30 faces every week. Each week, Lunsford goes to Google and searches faces of Argentina, Nepal, and other places the JESUS Film has been shown, and prints off a diverse selection of 5x7 portraits for the wall. Lunsford often reads testimonies to his congregation from the weekly JFHP Prayer & Praise e-newsletter as a reminder of what each $3 can accomplish—transformation of hearts and lives.
“It’s tangible—what I think is so inspiring to the people is connecting the gift to a person. You feel as though this is making a real difference. Because most of these faces don’t look anything like them, it’s connecting them to people around the world,” Lunsford said.
It’s not just adults getting excited to see more faces on the wall. During Vacation Bible School week, the children were challenged to bring their money. Most of these children are in foster care, so they have very little to give. Even though many are displaced, they raised enough for 28 faces ($84). At the end of the service, the kids who gave helped staple the new faces on the wall. The church used children’s faces so the children could see they made it possible for a child like them to accept Jesus.
New Life Community is a small church in an economically struggling area. Many small churches often worry that giving to missions will take away from tithes, but Lunsford reports that isn’t the case.
“The good news is [this missions emphasis] hasn’t negatively impacted our tithes and offerings. Our overall giving is up during the time we’ve been doing this,” Lunsford said.
The faces on the back wall have changed how the church views missions both abroad and at home. Lunsford described how members and visitors alike can’t help but stop and stare at the faces.
“Every time I look at the back wall, I am stunned by what God is doing,” Lunsford said.
Reaching Refugee Neighbors
The congregation’s excitement inspired Lunsford to reach out to the local schools and encourage staff and teachers. In meeting with them, he found there are up to 23 different languages spoken in the schools because their neighborhood has become an official refugee resettlement location. He brought this news to his congregation and they discussed the opportunities.
“I’ve been asking our people now, isn’t it somewhat hypocritical to say we’re willing to reach around the world to bring God’s salvation to people when we’re not willing to walk across the street and share Jesus with the refugees who are here?” Lunsford said. “The world is not just out there, it’s come to us.”
New Life Community members have begun to discuss ways to minister to the refugees in their community. They hope to host several screenings of the JESUS Film in all the different languages spoken in the area. Tucson Refugee Ministry recently hosted an information night and nine New Life Community members attended. Lunsford gives credit to their inspiration and involvement in the JESUS Film fundraiser.
“God is changing hearts and lives—He’s helping people realize they can make a difference,” Lunsford said.
Challenge to Others
New Life Community has used their walls to begin to think outside them. Lunsford hopes others can realize they can make an eternal difference, no matter their circumstances.
“If our small, fairly impoverished church can do this, what can other churches do? That’s my challenge to other churches—to think outside their walls,” Lunsford said.
Just three months into the fundraiser, there are 776 faces on the back wall. This equals $2,328 towards possible decisions for Christ. Lunsford isn’t letting the idea of running out of space concern him. He told his congregation he wouldn’t let filling up the back wall limit them.
Lunsford laughed as he said, “Some of them have taken it as a challenge—they want to see if they can cover more walls.”
Tips from Pastor Lunsford:
Lunsford doesn’t recommend stapling pictures to the wall because it leaves holes—he knew going into it that his church is planning on resurfacing and repainting the back wall after this fundraiser. Alternative ways to attach the photos: double-sided tape and sticky tack.
Lunsford created some photo boxes in a Word document—fills two 5x7 faces per 8.5x11 sheet
[See the VBS kids example in the article] Lunsford feels this could be a good way to do the whole fundraiser: “You’ve given enough for ___ faces; you can put that many on the wall.” You could even use the tagline “buy a face!”
Lunsford said to keep it tangible, “Every week we have an offering jar on the front table. Our weekly goal is to fill the jar. The long-term goal is to cover the back wall.”