Planter Anthony Petini of Restoration Church in Curtis Bay, MD is THE man! Talk about living out the image of Christ in a broken and lost community. We had the pleasure of meeting with Anthony in the facility where they hold weekly worship – The Well. Curtis Bay rests just outside the reach of Maryland proper. The streets, once maintained by the city, are broken and rough. The businesses which once thrived along this port town are closed, boarded up and abandoned. Anthony describes the people of the community as feeling the same way about themselves, “They see themselves as broken, forgotten, like no-one even cares.”
As we gathered in a small meeting space at the front of The Well’s facility, beautiful smile after beautiful smile would make her way in the main entrance, tap on the window and duck down, shoulders raised, hand waving with a humble and heart-felt, “Hey Anthony, Great to see you today!” Some were using walkers, some used canes, some spoke clearly, others with stroke clouded rumbles. In the face of each changed life we saw what Anthony saw, Jesus. We watched more genuine love walk past that window in the hour we were together than many of us experience in a year.
When asked to describe Restoration Church this Philly born pastor shared that in the past two months they have seen 19 salvations! NAMB (North American Mission Board) Coach Ron Larson said of Anthony and Restoration, “No one even knew they were here. I don’t think Anthony even knew he was here!” Yet every Friday night Anthony, with a noticeable limp which doesn’t slow him down one bit, leads his people to prayer walk the streets looking for broken smiles to share the Love of God with. He told us about one retired and disabled vet (who just happened to walk in to the warm lobby for a rest). I’ll call him Bill. Bill had previously met some folks from another local church who suggested that before he came to worship with them he would need a bath and fresh clothes. In his clearest voice clouded by a stroke he asked them, “where am I supposed to take that bath or get those fresh clothes?” When Anthony and a prayer team met Bill, they invited him to Restoration. He shared his story with Anthony to which the pastor replied, “Bill, I’m not worried about your outside. I’m concerned about what’s inside!” Bill has been a part of the church every since. A beautiful young lady shared with our group her testimony of what God is doing in her life through Restoration Church. In the three years she has been a part of the ministry, she has left a same-sex relationship, moved out of housing managed by a slumlord and now has her own home with her children. She manages the Well office and helps oversee weekly Bible studies with the church and with The Well.
Anthony sustains his family’s needs right now by managing projects with Apple Computer Company. I asked him about partnerships and financial needs. His answer, “Come experience the community with me. Let’s serve together first, then we’ll talk funding.”
Will you join me as we cover Anthony and his bride Alesia in prayer? May their every need be met both with the church and their personal finances.