Co-Written by Pastor Steve Harris
Pastor Steve and Shelli Harris invite the Village of Belgium and surrounding communities to the Grand Opening celebration of Christian Life Church tonight, Friday, April 19th, 2019, at 7:00 pm and Easter Sunday morning at 10:30 am as they unveil their new worship facility located at 309 Lakeview Drive in Belgium. This location formerly housed multiple businesses … Cortni’s TLC Child Care, the Aurora medical clinic and Deano’s Steakhouse.
Now, it will be a place of worship and the preaching of the Gospel. Pastor Harris will tell you quickly that this weekend is a Divine miracle. He often wondered if this day would come. The story actually traces its beginnings back to a prison ministry in Texas. Harris, along with his father, had an active prison ministry and Harris also was a teacher for A.C.T.S. – the Alcohol Chemical Treatment Seriesfor many years in the prison system in Denton County, Texas. One of the inmates he met was Joe Hanthorn, who was serving a 5-year prison sentence. Hanthorn would later turn his life around, be called to ministry, and eventually become the pastor of Christian Life Church in Germantown, Wisconsin, and then its new facility in Mequon.
Harris and Hanthorn continued to stay in touch over the years. Once Harris finished his pastorate in Texas where he served for about 15 years, Hanthorn invited him to preach for CLC in Mequon. Because of the church’s rapid growth, Hanthorn offered Harris to join him on this mission and to serve as Administrative Pastor full-time. After much prayer, Harris felt a release to follow this call and he, along with his wife Shelli and their three daughters, made the 1,000 mile journey from East Texas to Southeastern Wisconsin in August 2014.
After serving a few months, Hanthorn had a desire to begin launching daughter churches in the surrounding area. He approached Harris about the idea who decided to step out by faith to start the first satellite work for CLC. The initial target would be Port Washington. They launched a weekly Thursday night Bible Study on May 26, 2015 at the Senior Adult Community Center in downtown Port Washington with the goal to eventually launch a weekly Sunday worship service.
After building up a small core of faithful members in their Bible Study, they eventually added a Sunday afternoon worship service and start outgrowing the small space they had to use for their services. The search began for alternative locations. However, there was nothing remotely available within their budget. With their few members, Harris decided to launch a stewardship campaign to begin raising the funds they could, with the ultimate goal to find a permanent location. God would use their step of faith to do something even bigger.
Harris decided to write letters sharing his vision and mailing to pastor friends and others he had connected with over the years. One of those letters ended up in the hands of family he formerly pastored in Texas who felt the burden to assist. He didn’t know to what extent but shared with them he had found a possible location that was owned by the bank and had sat empty for 6 years.
Harris’s voice cracks with emotion as he recalls what happened next. They said, “Well, if you feel good about this building then we want to donate this to you and the church’s mission!”
The next thing he knew, Harris was walking into a building that had been paid for in full. With a small loan and the existing building funds that had already been raised, Belgium’s new church had what it needed to begin renovations.
“This building has God’s finger prints all over it. When this family told me what they wanted to do, it touched my heart and I was like, ‘God, you’re doing this,’” said Harris. “This is an unbelievable miracle and I don’t feel like I’m worthy to even be a part of something so big.”
The church now owns the entire building located at 309 Lake Drive. The space that was previously used as an Aurora Healthcare Clinic is for lease until they grow to a place that they will need this additional space. Harris believes it would make great office space for a dentist, chiropractor, masseuse, attorney, or many other possible small businesses, and plans to use the income from that space to help pay their renovation loan.
Christian Life Church officially opens with its first service tonight with a Good Friday service at 7 pm and Easter Sunday morning at 10:30 am. They also will have children’s ministry available Easter Sunday for children ages 3-13. The church will also host a weekly Thursday night Bible studies at 7 pm. Find out more at www.christianlifechurch.us.
Christian Life Church is affiliated with the United Pentecostal Church International in which Harris describes as a spirit-filled church that strong believes in the teaching and preaching of the Word of God. The services will be energetic with powerful praise and worship and the preaching of God’s Word. Harris believes in the power of prayer and fasting and has a strong burden to partner with global and North American missions as well.
Harris, who continues serving at the mother campus in Mequon, also serves weekly as the Ozaukee County Sheriff’s Department Chaplain. He hopes to find more ways to support and serve the community of Belgium. He and his wife are excited to meet new families this weekend.