But in practice, Cornerstone Church’s second annual 100 Man Challenge is anything but.
In fact, given the number of congregation members that will be casing the streets in and around Anniston on Saturday, Nov. 2, it might be better to think of it as an army with upward of 300 men and women among its ranks.
The event takes its name and inspiration from a quote by Christian theologian John Wesley: “Give me 100 men who hate nothing but sin and love God with all their hearts, and I will shake the world for Christ.”
Starting at 9 a.m. and running until noon, Cornerstone is aiming to better the lives of those it serves by simply having its members out in the community performing random acts of kindness — largely for strangers they’re apt never to see again.
“It’s a way for us to get outside of ourselves and our own lives to those who can’t help themselves,” says Ashley Robinson, head of marketing for Cornerstone. “We’re not looking for anything in return, just an opportunity to live out God’s word. It’s the job God has given us to do: Love others as we love ourselves.”
Painted across one of the church’s largest walls is a tremendous chalkboard grid, which participating members have used to volunteer for a number of activities over the past month or so, including maintenance and yard work for single moms, elderly, widows and the disabled; cleanup and maintenance at a local men’s group home; and cleaning up local parks. Volunteers have also signed up to deliver baked goods to local police departments; hand out cash and gift cards at local gas stations, restaurants and shopping centers; and give away more than 2,800 gift bags filled with water bottles, snacks and pens.
“I believe many of us are striving to be more like Jesus,” says Cornerstone head pastor Michael Cox. “For most this means being kind, forgiving and generally being a better person.”
There is one aspect of Christ that Cox believes is often over-looked: “How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him” (Acts 10:38).
“He went around doing good, not just being good. He put action to his faith,” says Cox. “We’re just trying to do the same.”
Cornerstone member Angie Morris participated in the challenge last year and plans on doing so again this year.
“We live in a world where it is each man for himself,” she says. “I just want to be a part of bringing something better to the table.”
In addition to being a way to help people in need, Morris sees the 100 Man Challenge as a demonstration of God’s love.
“Sometimes people just need that random act of kindness to help them realize that people still care and that Cornerstone is full of real people with a real passion for a real Jesus and we do care,” she said.
Frankie Upchurch considers the 100 Man Challenge to be the greatest Christian outreach opportunity he’s ever participated in.
“We had over 100 like-minded Christians led by the Holy Spirit doing the work God commanded us as Christians to do, which is to be a witness for him,” Upchurch says. “The experience that I loved the most was the fellowship with other Christians with only one goal in mind and that was serving God.
“I was left with a feeling of joy and happiness to be able to share what God had done for me and what he could do for them.”
Contact Brett Buckner at firstname.lastname@example.org.