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Of swings and sharing the Gospel

by Norm Miller

CLEVELAND, Ga. (TMNews)--Jim Grayson and a crew of men from Johnson's Ferry Baptist Church in Marietta, Ga., continued a years-long ministry to Truett-McConnell College by refinishing some swing benches and building and installing new ones.

front-lawn-improvements-500Men from Johnson Ferry Baptist Church install benches and swings on the front lawn."They provided everything at no expense to the college – the lumber, the labor, the hardware," said Justin Coalley, interim director of facilities and public safety. "Working with these men has been a gratifying joy."

It all started several years ago when Grayson and others from the church helped tear down a dilapidated building near the college's baseball field. They also planted grass, cut down, and hauled off some dead trees.

"As we were getting ready to leave, a school staffer said, 'You guys are great at tearing up stuff. Can you build anything?'" Grayson recounted.

Grayson said he and others built and installed nine swings in response to the request more than five years ago. And with those swings showing wear, the men returned to refinish them when they were asked to undertake the current project of installing swings and benches around the newly relocated volleyball court on the lawn in front of Miller Hall.

"We'd love to do that," Grayson said, recalling the conversation.

"We love Truett-McConnell, and we have a history with you," he added, noting that his pastor, Bryant Wright, once served as a trustee for the school.

"We're excited about being here," said Grayson, saying the crew is part of Johnson Ferry's mission action team. The crew assists widows in the church with home maintenance, but also has served with the North American Mission Board's Disaster Relief efforts and other missions endeavors at home and around the world.

A veteran of more than 60 overseas mission trips since 1999, Grayson said he sees serving other believers as viable missions and ministry.

Noting that he often gets questions about why he and the crew would serve so often among Christians, e.g., at Truett-McConnell College, Grayson said, "The truth is there is always somebody we can influence by what we do and how we serve so they might ask why we do it."

Having just returned from a mission trip to North Africa, Grayson said it was illegal there for him to even say the word church, much less share the Gospel verbally. But, he said people want to know why we Americans were so joyful in working hard, and so kind to each other. "When people ask us those questions, then it is legal for us to share our faith," he said. "Then I can explain Matthew 28.18-20 to them."

So, whether at home or abroad, Grayson sees such ministry as demonstrative of discipleship and a gateway to Gospel conversations. "I love doing this," he said.

"We are all witnesses, like it or not," he added. "We can be a good witness or bad one."

Often asked to share his call to ministry after retirement from his secular job in 2004, Grayson said, "I tell people that I am not a preacher, a teacher, or a missionary who gets paid to serve. I am just a guy who likes to help others and loves to share the Gospel."

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