Loving their neighbors to life

Community Bible Church, a church plant of Maranatha Bible Church, was born in 2015 after Joel and Carrie Stroup ’99 moved to Tuslaw in search of a launch team. 

“We knew the Lord was calling us to plant a church in the Tuslaw community, and it was the most exciting and terrifying feeling, all at the same time,” said Carrie, director of the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program at Malone. 

With a team of 18 and a meeting place at Tuslaw Elementary, the Stroups set out to cast a vision with their team: they wanted to be a church that loves their neighbors to life. 

“We live in a community of kind, friendly people, but we are all spiritually dead without Christ,” Carrie said. “‘Love our neighbors to life’ became our vision statement-- it is meant to help frame the way we think about intentional relationships with others.”   

Community Bible Church's vision and their circumstances encourage intentional community in peoples’ homes during the week. In these ‘community groups,’ members study God’s word, share meals, and walk through life together. 

“As our church has grown, I have been encouraged to see how often Malone connections come up in conversation,” Carrie said. “These were not connections Joel and I brought, but it’s clear that Malone’s vision and heart for the community has been uniquely woven into what we now do.”

Maranatha Bible Church is the sending church for five regional church plants, and it is their goal that the young churches eventually become autonomous, while providing financial support and other resources until the time is right for independence to occur. The Stroups and their team are already looking toward the future and are praying that God will continue to bless their work. 

“Sometimes God wants us to let go of what is safe,” said Joel. “We desire to grow a church that is authentic and sacrificial as it reaches out to those who have no relationship with Jesus. We want to see entire communities changed by living out the second greatest commandment: to love your neighbor as yourself.”