BOLIVAR—Freshwater Church is preparing to celebrate its one-year anniversary Oct. 25 with a peculiar church that has mushroomed into one of the larger flocks in Missouri Baptist life at more than 750 people.
In June 2009, Joshua and Tish Hedger joined the staff of Second Baptist Church, Springfield, as church planters. In August they began meeting with 24 other people in a living room in Bolivar. The following month Second Springfield helped the group secure a place to meet in an old t-shirt factory named Freshwater Apparel, and as they began to retrofit it they came up with the name Freshwater Church.
With church planting high on its priority list, Freshwater already has been a part of two new churches starting in homes. More than 40 people have been baptized at Freshwater, and 28 LifeGroups (which are small groups) have been started in homes all over the community and as far as 45 minutes away. With 30,000 unchurched people in Polk County, the mission field is big.
“One lady began a group in her mobile home the week after hearing the Gospel because her neighbors had to hear this truth,” Joshua Hedger said. “She is meeting with many of those neighbors weekly and sharing the Gospel with them. High school students are leading Bible studies in their homes on their own, and are seeing their friends come to Jesus in those groups. Those friends are then inviting their parents to church and their parents are coming to know Jesus and be baptized.”
Freshwater has also targeted the elect in Africa, which is a strategic continent. Freshwater is an engaging church acting as the missionary to an unreached people group in the Gambia. Another Freshwater partnership through Second Springfield is meant to adopt a city in South Asia for the purpose of church planting.
In a North American missions context, more than 65 youth were commissioned and sent out to Shreveport, La., to work with Rock Solid Camps and inner-city children.
The impact of www.freshwaterbolivar.com is rippling out in waves.
“God truly has done something fresh in Bolivar and He has absolutely done something that only He could do,” Hedger said.