Summer Sowing in Valley Junction

A Downtown Community Group passed out over 3,000 tracts, 2,000 water bottles, and 1,000 sunglasses this summer at the Valley Junction Farmers Market. 

Every Thursday night, Greg Baker’s Downtown Community Group could be found at the Valley Junction Farmers Market. Partnering with the city of West Des Moines and the Valley Junction Foundation, the group volunteered by picking up trash in exchange for a booth. This summer marks the third year they have volunteered. 

Throughout the summer, they gave out over 3,000 Gospel tracts, 2,000 bottles of water, and 1,000 Walnut Creek sunglasses, in addition to Bibles and invitations to church. The booth space allowed the group to form relationships with people at the market, West Des Moines officials, and fellow vendors. 

Their prayer throughout the summer was to see the Gospel sown and people reached. God answered their prayers. One of their first weeks, they met Marci, who had just moved to Des Moines with her son. The group was then able to help her son move into Des Moines University and introduce them to Walnut Creek Downtown. 

The group also reconnected with Stephen, a young man who they had met and shared the Gospel with a few years earlier. “It turned out one year later he was saved. He is only 16 but well read in the Bible and has a heart to reach the lost,” Greg said. “For the last two weeks at the market, Steven joined us at our booth and went out sharing the Gospel with us.”

Whenever the group had enough volunteers to clean up with trash and be at the booth, people would then go out into the crowd and engage in conversations about Jesus. “The Gospel was sown with many soft hearts this summer,” Greg said. 

Prayers for favor with the city were also answered. Each week different city officials and volunteers would thank them and show appreciation for their work. Greg says they initially planned to work the market through July, but with so much fruit seen and so many relationships formed, they have extended their time to August and possibly September. 

“We will continue to clean up trash, and sow and water God's Word. We look forward to seeing what God makes grow,” Greg said. 

By Jackie Wallentin and Greg Baker  
Walnut Creek Windsor Heights and Downtown  

Over $50,000 Raised for Adoption Through Mustaches That Matter

146 men grew out their mustaches to raise over $50,000 for adoption in three weeks. 

After three weeks of intense facial hair competition, over $50,000 has been raised through Mustaches That Matter to help families bring children home.

Mustaches That Matter is committed to partnering with families in the adoption process to help complete their financial needs. 146 men mustered up the courage to grow out their mustaches, and together, they raised $50,000, meeting our 2015 goal. 

The men passed out business cards and engaged in conversations throughout the month to ask family, friends, and coworkers to financially sponsor their mustaches. Mustaches That Matter t-shirts were also sold at weekend services to raise even more support. Caleb Thompson of Walnut Creek Downtown won the Most Valuable Mustache award for raising $3,235.

With the funds raised last year, Mustaches That Matter was able to help 15 families adopt 17 children internationally and domestically. Families applied for assistance, and throughout the last few months, the Mustaches That Matter board met with the families and determine the assistance amount. 

All people are created equal in God’s image, and God is passionate about His children. Mustaches That Matter is a response to God’s call to care for orphans as we desire to align our heart with His.

Visit to learn more about the campaign. 

2,000 Shoebox Gifts Packed During Christmas in July

Christmas in July participants stopped by several stations as they packed boxes.

Hundreds of people from Walnut Creek Church and the Des Moines community gathered together at Walnut Creek Downtown on July 31 to pack 2,000 shoeboxes with gifts for children in impoverished and war-torn countries. All 2,000 boxes were packed in just over two hours.

For the fifth year in a row, Walnut Creek Church partnered with Operation Christmas Child (OCC), a ministry of Samaritan’s Purse, to host the Christmas in July packing party. For the second year in row, the gift-filled shoeboxes are being sent to special-access countries, which are resistant to the Gospel and OCC’s efforts. The goal is for the boxes to make a way for the Gospel to get to children who would have little to no access to it otherwise.

The event also raised almost $2,000 for OCC through donations and proceeds from a dinner that was served. When combined with previous fundraising efforts – and an anonymous donation of $7,000 – a total of nearly $12,000 has been raised so far to help cover the cost of shipping the boxes overseas.

New this year, the event featured guest speaker Timur Nesbitt, who received an OCC shoebox – the first gift he had ever been given – as a 13-year-old boy living in an orphanage in Central Asia. Inside the shoebox was a yo-yo, Tootsie Roll candy, school supplies, socks, toothpaste and a letter and photo from a boy in Texas who had packed the box.

“Through the shoebox, I felt loved,” Timur said. “Someone took the time to put in those items that became my favorites. I wondered a lot how Christians who didn’t know me were willing to give me a gift.”

Three years later, Timur was adopted by an American missionary family from Iowa. He learned about OCC and excitedly told them he had received a shoebox gift. Timur plans to return to his home country one day to bring the message of God’s healing love to others who are hurting.

Samaritan’s Purse is an international Christian relief and evangelism organization headed by Franklin Graham. Since 1993, Operation Christmas Child has hand-delivered more than 100 million gift-filled shoeboxes to needy children in more than 130 countries. To learn more about Operation Christmas Child, visit

By Tim Laehn 
Walnut Creek Downtown