Growth for Ambassadors of Christ Fellowship used to mean tearing down walls. Now, it means putting them up.
The church, founded by Pastor Luis Scott after his retirement from the Army in 2007, is currently renovating a former skate center/day care center on Milgen Road.
"Our first home was in a store front," Scott said. "As we grew, we knocked down a wall to make more room. When we grew more, we knocked down another wall. We ran out of walls."
Church member Erika Torres said, "When we started we had a business on each side of us. Every time we outgrew what we had, one of the other businesses had moved allowing us to take over the space. God was leading the way."
Scott said God played a hand in purchasing the building they now have. "We found the building was available because of foreclosure and thought it would be perfect for us but were told someone else had already made an offer. A month later, we got a call saying that deal did not work out. This is where we are meant to be," Scott said.
The church will not likely use up the space in this 24,000-square-foot building anytime soon.
A beautiful sanctuary that currently seats 200 but has room for more is already finished.
On the other side of a new wall a dozen classrooms are being built.
"We'd like to start a school," Scott said.
Behind another new wall will one day be a fellowship hall.
"We will do more construction as we get the money," Scott said. "We don't want to build up a lot of debt."
Currently, the future fellowship hall is filled with used furniture and appliances that the church gives to needy families in the community.
Recently, a family, which had lost its belongings in a fire, came and received items to help it start over, A young newlywed couple stopped by to get help furnishing its home.
The first service at the new location was held Oct. 9, 2011.
About 275 people attend the church which has two congregations, one that attends services conducted in English and one that attends services conducted in Spanish.
The two congregations get together for special events such as picnics and fishing trips.
"We feel we have a healthy mix of young people and old," Scott said.
The services are contemporary. A drum set and other instruments sit upon the stage. The latest technology is present. He said if he was a young pastor people might think the church was being geared to the young but that is not the case.
Scott grew up in a Pentecostal church but Ambassadors of Christ is non-denominational.
Having spent time as an Army chaplain, Scott said he came in contact with chaplains of other faiths. "They all bring something different to the table," he said, and he has taken what he likes from each.
Service is a big part of Ambassadors of Christ. One day, members were outside giving away water to passers-by. On another day, members serviced cars by checking tires, fluids, etc. in the parking lot.
Scott, who is married with four grown children, was born in Puerto Rico.
An experience when he was in the Army helped lead him to his current vocation.
He had dropped out of college after two years and joined the Army. Scott was in Panama doing jungle training when he suffered an injury on an obstacle course. "I fell 14 feet head first," he said. The radius bone in his forearm was shattered. An inch had to be cut off. He spent nine days in the hospital following the surgery. While in the hospital, the only one to visit him and keep him company was a Catholic priest. Scott decided one day he would do for some soldier what the priest had done for him.
He went back to school and got his bachelor's degree in bible theology and his Master of Divinity degree. For 10 years, he worked in churches in Chicago.
In 1991, Scott went back into the Army. He served in several places including Saudi Arabia, Korea, Fort Hood and, finally, Fort Benning.
It was after he needed to get a disc replaced in his back that he was made to leave the service. Scott had an offer to work at a church in Augusta, Ga., but, he said, he was called to begin one in Columbus.
"I'm not ancient but planting churches is young people's work," he said. "I wondered why would
God call on an old guy to start a church."
The church began with bible study groups in his home. He invited people he knew from the Army and who he had met in the community. Many people starting a church these days spend a lot of money marketing and using social media to build a congregation. He went "old school." The church does use Facebook now to help recruit new members.
Scott said he is "pleasantly surprised" at how quickly the church has grown and hopes it will continue to do so at a quick pace.
The first Ambassadors of Christ service that Torres ever attended was the second one ever held. Her husband has just been stationed at Fort Benning.
"I read a newspaper article that Pastor Scott wrote about forgiveness and was impressed," Torres said. "His message was so clear. It's like that when you hear him speak. I understand just what he is saying. I always feel like he is talking directly to me."
As for the growth of the church, she said, "God just keeps opening doors."
And what does she think of the church's new home?
"It is awesome."