Great Moments in Community Transformation

The ZIP-code sized aspiration of Mosaic Church of Central Arkansas

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In the spring of 2006, DeYmaz searches the neighborhood for a new church home. Ironically, his desperation stems from the success of Mosaic’s financial strategy. The church’s presence on the Walmart property had ignited a community rejuvenation—crime rates had decreased, small businesses had returned to empty spaces and the lease had reverted back to the original owner, who sought to rent the remaining space to other merchants.

“Honey,” DeYmaz asks his wife, Linda, “what if the owner calls and says he needs us to leave?”

His wife’s response both stuns and encourages DeYmaz.

“Instead of frantically driving around,” she says, “pray.”

From the start, she reminds him, they shared a sustaining belief that God would provide.

After a few weeks of renewed prayer, DeYmaz calls 72204 business owner Mike Montgomery with interest in the 10-acre piece of property he is selling—an abandoned Kmart with 100,000 square feet at the center of 72204.

The two men meet that same day, April 26. Montgomery puts his arm around DeYmaz and says, “Someday your church is going to own that property and it has nothing to do with money.”

Bipolar and a recovering alcoholic, Montgomery tells DeYmaz how he used to eat out of a Dumpster near Mosaic. Having found sobriety and a new life in Christ, Montgomery praises Mosaic’s ministry in his community.

“I have been watching what your church has been doing,” he tells DeYmaz. “I would be thrilled to see Mosaic here.”

They agree to a contract for Mosaic to buy the property, in stages, for $2 million, ending with a final purchase by December 2012.

Soon after, Mosaic receives two donations—one for $100,000 and a matching grant of $250,000. Together, along with saved church money, they make a contract possible. Montgomery reduces the selling price by $300,000.

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In addition to acquiring 10 acres and a large facility in 72204 at a cost of $20 per square foot, DeYmaz learns the power of prayer and patiently waiting on the Lord.

2008

When Eric Gilmore asks for a July lunch with his pastor, Mark DeYmaz, two dreams intersect.

A month before they meet, Mosaic incorporates as an Arkansas non-profit, awaiting formal federal approval.

At lunch, Gilmore tells DeYmaz of his recent unemployment. While working on a master’s degree in social work, Gilmore’s commission from radio sales had dried up. He needed to find a way to feed his family and pay tuition.

“Don’t you have a dream to start a group home?” DeYmaz asks.

Gilmore lists reasons not to pursue his passion—lack of money, too young, bad timing. DeYmaz insists: “If God is in it, it will happen.”

Operating within the church’s 501c3, Mosaic assists Gilmore and his wife, Kara, in their dream of creating a ministry for children aging out of foster care. That ministry, Immerse Arkansas, comes alive through free office space and a network of loving volunteers. A companion ministry, Vine and Village, provides leadership training to assist immigrants, urban children, teen moms and others with services that mimic the Gilmores’ Immerse Arkansas vision.

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A year or so after becoming a follower of Christ, Georgia Mjartan and her new friend, Kara, camp together at an Arkansas state park.

Around the campfire with their husbands, Georgia and Kara share dreams of ministry. Georgia’s work at Our House and Kara’s dream of beginning Immerse Arkansas with her husband, Eric, form a common and deep bond between the two.

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“We had become really close friends in a short time,” Georgia says. “She is so kind and patient and loving. She is the person I had always pictured as living out the life of Christ.”

But when a political discussion unexpectedly surfaces, neither Georgia nor Kara can believe what her ears are hearing. For the first time, they face each other on the opposite ends of a spectrum. Sparks hiss from the fire. Georgia remembers the Holy Spirit’s finger on her heart.

“When you hear at Mosaic all the time to examine your heart for things closing you off from another person, I was thinking mostly issues like racism and justice,” she says. “At that precise moment, the Holy Spirit convicted of me of my own prejudice.”

Instead of her customary approach of throwing daggers at political opponents, she asks Kara, “How did you come to believe this way?”

The fire dies and they listen to one another.