Manna Church's God-Sized Goal: Planting a Church Near EVERY US Military Base in the World
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A church that started in North Carolina is going global with a mission to reach the U.S. military on a worldwide scale. Its goal is to plant a church near every U.S. military base on the planet.
From post-traumatic stress to longer and more frequent deployments away from family, it's clear our military men and women need support. And just like how God miraculously supplied food to Israelites in the wilderness, Manna Church is stepping up to provide spiritual and mental nourishment for those who serve our country while stationed around the world.
"I think it speaks to the power of a promise from God," Pastor Christopher Fletcher of Manna Church in Fayetteville, North Carolina, told CBN News. "I believe that God gave my dad a vision."
"God gave my dad a promise, and I think that it's been my honor to lay my life down, to fulfill the vision that God gave my dad," he continued.
The church pastored by Fletcher is located near Fort Liberty, one of the Army's largest installations.
He says God gave to his father, Michael, a vision of how to reach the military almost a decade ago after the church lost more than 1,100 people to military transfers in just one year.
"And so he kind of sat back in his chair and said, 'This is crazy. Like how are we going to build a church this way? We're sending people that God's beginning a work in, to nobody,'" Fletcher explained, recalling what happened with his dad.
"There are great churches at military bases. I'm not saying that, but he said, 'I'm tired of sending us to nobody.' And so that vision was really birthed in December of 2014," he continued.
"And from that point forward, we've been seeking to plant an expression of Manna Church near every U.S. military installation in the world," Fletcher said.
That would entail church plants near 273 bases that Fletcher calls the "Military Highway".
"The thing I love about 273 is it's not a vision I can accomplish," he shared. "It's not wisdom that is going to be somehow inherent in me that's going to come bubbling to the surface."
"It requires God to move, and that sort of drive gets me up in the morning," the pastor continued. "I think more believers should have God-sized visions that are terrifying when you look at them."
No Church Search Needed
Currently, there are 33 expressions of Manna Church near U.S. military bases as shown in a map on a wall in the church. The greatest concentration is in North Carolina and Virginia, but locations are spread out around the country from Florida to Colorado and even overseas.
Army Reservist 1st Lt. Todd Capen is a "site pastor" in North Carolina, while Air Force Special Operations veteran Riley Halliday is a lead pastor in Virginia.
"So when a military family gets orders to move, we can already set them up," Capen explained to CBN News. "They already have a network of people that they can plug into. They don't have to worry about the church search or finding a church that believes the same things."
"Uncle Sam, who's kind of become our mission-sending organization because he takes great talented people and relocates them, so that's kind of the vision," shared Halliday.
"We have everything from Microsites, which you might think of a house church. They're live streaming, or they're watching one of our City-sites where there's a lead pastor, someone in my role who does preaching, teaching, discipling," he continued. "And then obviously if a church grows to the right scale, a Multi-site where there's multiple campuses in a city."
Continuity and Support
Military personnel get their "orders" to move to another location as often as every two years, so having another Manna Church to walk into provides continuity, community, and support.
Both Executive Pastor Lt. Col. James Lewis and his wife served in the military and know what it's like to pick up and move multiple times.
"So my wife and I were both out in Colorado for about four years, and then we moved here in 2000 to Fort Bragg, then Fort Bragg (now Fort Liberty). And we stayed here for six years," the retired Army veteran explained. "But then we moved to Kansas. So we were in Kansas for two years."
"We moved back here to Fort Bragg for three years to include my second deployment," Lewis continued. "Then after Kansas or after Fort Bragg for that second time, we moved to Baltimore where I taught ROTC at Morgan State University."
"And then I went to Korea and my family moved back here to Fort Bragg," he said. "So we were separated for a full year, and then I came back to Fort Bragg in 2015 and then retired the next year in 2016."
And that's just one example of what life can be like for a military family. So having the same type of church in different locations is definitely welcomed.
"It's amazing. It's a comfort because again, you move, you're away from family, but yet knowing that your church family is going to be there wherever you are is amazing," shared Lewis.
"To be able to transition from one base to another base and just to know that there's a church with that exact culture, there's, like I say, it's a great thing," CW3 Sabrina Bentley-Thompson, a retired Army veteran, told CBN News.
She leads Manna's kids program in Fayetteville. Moving can be especially hard for children, having to make new friends and getting adjusted to new teachers.
"It's probably harder on the kids than it is on the parent, knowing that you're changing stations, you're going somewhere else," acknowledged Bentley-Thompson. "And just to know that, 'Hey, I'm used to this.'"
Familiarity, community, mental and spiritual nourishment – they're all elements of stability that Manna Church provides for military families on a journey full of unknowns.
We invite you to get to know God personally! It will be a decision you will never regret! pic.twitter.com/6i2WZ0sOhq— Manna Church (Newport News VA) (@mannachurchnn) February 13, 2024
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