A local church at 3829 S. Carrier Parkway drew special attention recently from the Grand Prairie Independent School District. On Sunday, Aug. 18, Abundant Life Assembly of God Church hosted its second annual “Back To School Bash” where church members supplied community children with book bags filled with school supplies.
Everette Pafford, lead pastor of Abundant Life, said, “The event was a huge success; we had the largest Sunday morning service in the church’s 54 year history. ” Nearly 700 people filed into the sanctuary beginning at 9 a.m. With prepared seating for 384 people, church congregants wheeled in towers of chairs to add to the front and back of the sanctuary. Dozens of attendees had to stand in the back and overflowed into the foyer.
Following worship and a dynamic message about “running the race” of life with Christ, 15 attendees stood up to accept Christ as their Lord and Savior. “One of the primary goals of serving the physical needs of the community ” Pafford said, “is to provide an opportunity to serve their spiritual needs also. ” The church provided free lunch, free hair-cuts and free back-to-school physicals for attendees. David Lofreddo, store manager of Best Buy located 10 minutes away in Cedar Hill, said, “Whenever there’s an event like this that is reaching out to the community, we want to be a part. ” Lofreddo supplied Abundant Life with a big-screen TV, Kindle Fire, head phones, book bags and flash drives to give away to attendees.
Pafford said Abundant Life wasn’t prepared for the turnout. “We were expecting 400, maybe 500; certainly not 700. ” As attendees lined up at the end of service to receive their bags, it became evident they hadn’t prepared enough handouts. Some 151 bags filled with elementary supplies and 50 bags for youth were distributed. More than 100 attendees were left without a bag when the church ran out.
Attendee Ivan Camacho, a parent liaison for Grand Prairie High School, was among those who were left “without holding the bag.” When asked about the outcome, Camacho told Pafford, “I can’t tell you how excited I am for your ministry and the ability you have to unite our community. ” He said he would return the following week for the follow-up service. Pafford committed to having a bag for each person who attended if they returned the next week. Some 73 elementary bags and 36 youth bags were expected to be distributed. Camacho said, “I was hoping I could get some direction on how I can go about doing the same thing you guys are doing. ” He planned to “get the whole city involved in a simple gesture of blessing the community like Abundant Life ” did.
The “Back To School Bash” was a success and the GPISD noticed. A follow-up HYPE “Back To School Bash” was planned for Sept. 18. Students in junior high and high school will return to 3829 S. Carrier Pkwy to “bash” a car together. When asked what the GPISD feels about these events, superintendent, Dr. Susan Simpson Hull said, “I think they are a benefit to the community and we commend Abundant Life for doing a fine job. ”