Church celebrates 25 years of service

KAPAA — For a quarter century, Crossroads has been reaching out to the community — and beyond.

Since it inception, Crossroads Christian Fellowship has helped more than 100 local outreaches and participated in 25 overseas mission trips.

In 1992, the fledgling fellowship began meeting on Sundays after Pastor Eric Van Deusen had been holding weekly Bible studies at Nawiliwili Park and Kauai High.

“Our church is really big on evangelism, sharing the gospel with others, and discipleship,” said Catherine Pennell, the deaconess since 2006. “We make efforts to teach what it means to be a Christian.”

Steady growth of the congregation created the need for a bigger location. In 2004 the church bought 66 acres on the Kapaa bypass. Members also travel to spread the word outside worship walls at annual events, like the Farm Fair and Coconut Festival.

“We share the gospel with children and their parents by doing face painting,” Pennell said. “We set up a table and use coconuts to share the word. Our church has had so much impact on the community because we’re sharing not just with people who come through our doors. We go out and we share with others we may never see again.”

The fellowship broadened its reach in 1999 by starting the island’s first Christian radio stations — 88.9 FM and 90.1 FM — and later acquired Hawaiian Christian 87.7 FM.

“We have that opportunity to share,” Pennell said. “We’ve had such a big impact on Kauai because we do reach out.”

But there was a lull. When the church could barely keep its doors open in 1996, Pastor Bob Hallman moved back to Hawaii after a 10-year ministry in New York to rebuild the fellowship through evangelism, in addition to fundraising from car washes, Bible surveys and gift wrappings.

“It’s been an exceptional experience for myself and my wife Becky to be a part of Kauai,” Hallman said. “We were given the opportunity to take on a small struggling fellowship that was just about to close its doors. Here we are 25 years later, and there’s so much fruit and so many transformed lives. It’s really just the work of God.”

Now the congregation numbers nearly 300 people.

“We have an amazing pastor that’s leading us, so we can look to him as an example,” Pennell said. “He really encourages us to step up and lead as well. That really creates a strong church when everyone is feeling like they’re a leader and they want to be involved.”

Hallman has ordained 12 pastors and helped plant five new churches to share the word.

“Every time we get up to about 400 people (in the congregation), we send out another 100 people and start up another church somewhere on island,” Hallman said. “Now we’re starting to send them off island.”

Originally part of the Calvary Chapel Association, the fellowship helped plant Calvary Chapel Lihue in 2011, sending a pastor and people to support the new church. It also launched Calvary Chapels on the North and South Shores, and even commissioned a pastor and team for a new church in Portland, Oregon.

“Our church has planted many other churches,” Pennell said. “We train leaders, but we want them to go out and start their own thing. Our pastor sent out a lot of young pastors to start other churches and go on missions.”

To accommodate the church’s modest growth, it began offering limited Bible courses to the community, and in 2007 started the Kauai Bible College campus on its property to educate about discipleship. That beneficial partnership has lasted a decade.

In 2015, the church ordained Josh Cucjen, who became director at Kauai Bible College, an affiliate campus of Calvary Chapel Bible College in Murrieta, California.

“It’s actually a phenomenal relationship,” Cucjen said. “We all participate in ministries the church does and some different community service things that Kauai Bible College and Crossroads have been a part of. We have a community service class that has quite a few different outreaches.”

The team visits with long-term care patients at Samuel Mahelona Memorial Hospital every week to sing and develop friendships. The Bible College volunteers to hand out sack lunches along the bike path and talk with people to provide companionship and minister to the homeless. They also volunteer to help at area soup kitchens.

“The community has been such a blessing to allow us the privilege of doing ministry here,” Hallman said. “We’re just really grateful to be part of the community.”

The church holds sports camps every year and helps the Anahola Community Association leadership team by providing movies, meals and social events at the Anahola Community Center during the summer. Members also offer a feeding program for Lihue’s homeless.

“Our church is really active in touching the lives of the community and caring about the people,” Hallman said. “We’ve been very involved in assisting people with drug problems and coming out of lifestyles that are addictive.”

In 2013, the church established U-Turn for Christ Kauai, a non-denominational ministry to help men suffering from substance abuse.

While helping families deal with their problems, Hallman was diagnosed with a very aggressive cancer that saturated his prostate and spread to his bladder and lymphatic system.

“I absolutely have been blessed by having cancer,” Hallman said. “It’s like a really big scary wave. It can kill you, but if you’re in the right spot at the right time, it can be the barrel of a lifetime. I’m in this really sweet spot in God’s grace. I’m just embracing this thing and having fun with it. It’s opened up more opportunities than ever before.”

During his battle with cancer, Hallman has seen health improvements he attributes to community prayers and his wife’s encouragement to start a vegan diet.

“My cancer seems to be healing, which is quite amazing,” Hallman said. “I’ve got a long way to go. I’m really just enjoying the ride and loving my family, loving the church and loving the community of Kauai. … They are so enjoyable to be with and so sincere and genuine in their faith and such a pleasure to do life together.”

To celebrate 25 years of Crossroads and 10 years of Kauai Bible College, events will be held today as well as Sept. 27, 29 and 30, with food, fun, music and worship.

“The celebration is ultimately about celebrating the work of God here on the island,” Cucjen said. “It’s been quite a ride to see it progress. It’s exciting to be a part of that.”

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