After more than a year of planning and eager awaiting, Beacon Church’s launch date was finally a mere two weeks away. The church scheduled their kick-off Sunday for Jan. 30, 2022, the first Sunday students would be back on campus at Kutztown University of Pennsylvania, where the church would be meeting.
With students moving back, a borrowed box truck filled with materials, and a desire to see souls won for Jesus, everything seemed to be right on track for the mobile church.
Then came the email.
“I had a friend who offered me — because they used to have a mobile church – the box truck that their church has to take stuff back and forth and, really, to use it indefinitely. So, I thought I had the solution [and] I was super excited,” said Paul Mannino, the planting pastor of Beacon Church.
‘My heart sank’
He continued: “Only problem is my buddy had not called his insurance yet. So, on a random Friday morning, I would say maybe two weeks [before the] launch, he emails me and basically says, ‘Paul, I’m so sorry. I would if I could, but my insurance will not allow us to lend the box truck out to you in that way.’ And my heart sank.”
Desperately in need of a form of transportation for his church, Mannino decided to check out Facebook Marketplace.
During his search, he stumbled upon an ad for a 2005 Astro Van that fit his price range. Mannino reached out to the van’s owner, but did not get the response he was expecting.
“His response was really weird. He’s like, ‘Well, here’s the thing, I want to sell it, but I still need it for a couple of weeks. So, you could only have it on like Jan. 29 because I’m taking a job at a mission in Honduras,’” Mannino explained.
Naturally curious about what the van owner meant by “at a mission,” Mannino asked him about his new job.
Much to his surprise, Mannino came to find that the mysterious Facebook Marketplace seller, Justin Hollinger, was a fellow Christian, who was leaving the States to minister to pastors in Honduras.
That same day, Mannino drove to meet Hollinger, the van seller, and learned that he had grown up in a Christian household, his dad worked at a Christian camp, and that he was now serving in youth ministry.
“So, he kind of understood what I was about, and I understood what he was about. It was also kind of nice … knowing that he is a ministry guy and I’m a ministry guy … to just kind of have the trust of like, well, obviously he’s not gonna try and lie or anything, he’s just gonna sell me what he thinks it’s worth and all that,” Mannino said.
On Jan. 28, two days before Beacon Church’s launch date, Mannino and his wife purchased the van and drove it back to Kutztown.
“I just think it’s amazing that God provided something for us,” Mannino said.
“It’s one of those things where even if we never see each other again, we at least had this moment where it’s like … this van never belonged to Justin and it doesn’t belong to me now, it’s always been God, He just passed it around; He’s just passing this van around to people who need it.”
EDITOR’S NOTE — This article was written by Macala Mays and was originally published by the Baptist Resource Network of Pennsylvania/South Jersey.