Ryan Johnson, pastor of Agape Baptist Church in Scottsboro, said the church puts a big emphasis on having an outward focus. And he said a big part of that is the influence Max and Mary Ella Croft have had since Max Croft began serving as Agape’s associate pastor on a volunteer basis 15 years ago.
His love for the community has helped “make Agape into what God has called it to be,” Johnson said.
Because of that, the church honored the Crofts recently with the first Spirit of Agape Award, an award that will be given annually in their honor.
“Max and his family have been some of the most generous and faithful people to not just contribute, but to envision … Community Care Village,” Johnson said.
The village has been a goal for Max Croft ever since he traveled to First Baptist Church Leesburg, Florida, during his 10 years serving in the evangelism office of the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions.
For years, FBC Leesburg has run Christian Care Center, a ministry that serves the community through a broad spectrum of resources ranging from a food pantry and job training site to a pregnancy resource center and homeless shelter.
“That’s what we’re modeling [this ministry] after,” Max Croft said of the Community Care Village at Agape, noting that the church has 17 acres adjacent to its campus.
It’s a long-term project, and Agape is in the planning stages now with Max Croft serving as the point person.
“I joined the church because of the property there,” he said. “Being down in Leesburg, I caught the fever.”
Johnson said they’ve already seen God do amazing things, with many more still in progress.
“What we’re living in right now is [the Crofts’] heartbeat joined together, fleshing itself out in a certain trajectory in ministry, which really is, if you think about it, the spirit of Agape … the definition of unconditional love,” he said.
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