Casey Joyce, associate pastor of First Baptist Church in Bethany, Mo., is reaping a physical as well as spiritual harvest.
“We knock on doors and have evangelism programs at church, but I wanted to take what the Lord has blessed us with to generate gospel conversations,” he told “The Pathway.” “Oddly enough, he planted us right here in a town full of farmers. We don’t really have anything for families to do around here, lo we began to pray and brainstorm.”
Beginning in 2019, with his wife Sheri and children, the family transformed the plot of land they owned into an oasis of affordable family fun called Gospel Acres in the rural northwest Missouri community. First came the corn maze. “The Lord blessed us with farmers in our church who donate their time and seed, and plant everything,” he said. “I’d never done a corn maze. I’d never even been to a corn maze.”
Soon, the Joyce family added inflatables, and Gospel Farms kept growing. Four seasons later, what began as a plot of land with a strange pattern of corn growing on it became home to a tire pyramid, rock-climbing wall, soccer pool table, ninja warrior course, pedal carts, zip line, paintball shootout and new this fall, 18 holes of mini golf.
True to the farm’s name, every visitor represents an opportunity for a gospel conversation. “If you come to a place called ‘Gospel Farms,’ they know the implications of why we’re here, and if we have that gospel conversation, praise God,” Joyce said.
Joyce said he’s had those conversations by the bushel, whether its praying with guests, explaining the kingdom-minded mission behind the farm, helping decipher the biblical symbols and markings strategically hidden in the corn maze or walking them through the gospel itself.
“We see what we do as a first step,” Joyce said. “It’s amazing how people might come up to get a snow cone or play a round of mini golf, and these conversations happen. People open up, we get to pray with them and we try to plug them into a church home. We keep pointing them to Jesus, and we keep trusting him to do his part.”
–Alan Goforth | Metro Voice