Texas Pastor Jimmy Dorrell lived every Fixer Upper fan’s dream when he got an unexpected phone call from Chip Gaines. When Chip and Joanna heard highway renovations would temporarily shut Pastor Jimmy’s doors, the couple came up with the exciting proposition of Magnolia Market hosting the displaced church!
The Church Under the Bridge has been serving the Waco community for 26 years. It started in 1992 when a Christian couple and a Baylor University student spent some time getting to know several of the homeless men sleeping under the Interstate 35 bridge. From there, a regular Bible study held under the bridge blossomed into the church it is today.
Shepherded by Pastor Jimmy Dorrell, the Church Under the Bridge welcomes folks from diverse backgrounds. It especially strikes a chord with Waco’s homeless and underprivileged.
But when the Texas Department of Transportation announced its plans to widen Interstate 35, it spelled trouble for Pastor Jimmy and his flock.
Pastor Jimmy took the news in stride. He even joked with his congregation that the Texas DOT "is remodeling our place at no charge." But the reality remained that the three-to-five-year project would essentially leave this church for the homeless, homeless!
Of course, there’s a reason we’re advised to cast our cares upon the Lord (Psalms 55:22). He was already at work in finding a new home for the Church Under the Bridge. And He revealed His greater plan one day with an unexpected phone call from Chip Gaines!
Divine Agreement — Magnolia Market Hosting Local Church
As Pastor Jimmy tried to figure out the church’s next steps, Chip Gaines sat in his office dreaming. He was familiar with the Church Under the Bridge from when he attended Baylor University. He recalls students heading over on Sunday mornings to worship with the homeless.
So when he read about the I-35 project, God laid something on his heart.
"I admired Jimmy (Dorrell) from afar," Chip Gaines explained. “Then about a month ago, I read about how the I-35 project would impact his church. I was sitting in my office one day, day-dreaming, thinking about making a commitment, and we reached out to Jimmy.”
Answering your phone to find Chip Gaines on the other end is probably surprising enough.
"It was clearly a surprise. I didn't see it coming at all," Pastor Jimmy said.
But it must have been an even bigger shock for Pastor Jimmy when Chip revealed his dream of Magnolia Market hosting his church.
“He came over to the Silos, and we agreed it would make a great fit geographically,” Chip said. “We said, ‘Let's do it,' and shook hands on it."
And just like that, the Church Under the Bridge went from homeless to holding their worship at one of Waco’s biggest tourist attractions, free of charge!
A Match Made In Heaven
The handshake Pastor Jimmy and Chip Gaines shared that day stood as a one-year agreement with Magnolia to use the Silos beginning in March 2019 at no charge. At the end of the term, they’ll see how things are going and possibly extend the deal.
Magnolia Market at the Silos is a huge tourist attraction, drawing about 30,000 people weekly. While the business is closed on Sunday, folks still flock there to take photos.
It creates a unique opportunity for even more to come worship with the homeless.
Despite the new digs, the Church Under the Bridge will remain true to its mission to serve Waco’s underprivileged. Churches from around the state volunteer to serve meals before Sunday services, a tradition Pastor Jimmy doesn’t plan on changing during the church’s relocation.
And the increased traffic from Magnolia Market hosting their service could potentially bless the church with new ways to do God’s work.
"Our offerings run $1,200 to $3,000 a week," Pastor Jimmy said. "If we receive more after moving to the Silos, it just means we will have more to give away. We donate to nonprofits, support programs in Haiti, Mexico, and India, financially support people taking mission trips. It all goes to benefit the poor."
Chip And Joanna Gaines Known For Hospitality
Once the renovations to I-35 are complete, the Church Under the Bridge will return to their original location. But in the meantime, Pastor Jimmy and his congregation will enjoy their new surroundings.
"It was amazingly quiet, with no 18-wheelers above," the Pastor joked after his visit with Chip Gaines.
Of course, some would call Chip and Joanna crazy for taking the risk of having hundreds of people gathering at the Silos on Sunday morning. But the godly couple isn’t worried.
“If Jimmy Dorrell is involved, I have no reservations whatsoever," Chip Gaines said. "I trust him because he does what he says he's going to do."
This act of kindness isn’t all that surprising to fans of Chip and Joanna Gaines. The kind-hearted celebrities are known for going above and beyond every chance they get.
"It's both surprising and not surprising at the same time," Megan Henderson, executive director of City Center Waco said. "It may not be what anyone was anticipating, but it is consistent with the Gaines' ethic of sincere hospitality. I have been in situations when either Chip or Joanna has quietly expressed interest in being helpful, sometimes in small, out-of-the-way ways. I think they have a desire to share their talent for hospitality with Church Under the Bridge, and it's a great gift."
We just love to see celebrities like Chip and Joanna Gaines giving back to their community!
“Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” Matthew 25:40
Featured Image Credit: Facebook/Joanna Gaines
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