Family and Friends,

Thank you for your willingness to read this letter and to hear about the exciting things we have happening at Trailside Church in Travelers Rest! The Gospel of Christ is at work in this city, and I’m grateful to have this opportunity to tell you about how it has directly impacted my own life and that of my family – not just my wife, but of our daughter Leona and her twin siblings who will be joining us in August of this year.

Three years ago, I met Sean Gajda, our lead pastor, at 13 Stripes Brewery in Taylors. At that time of my life, I was content with ignoring God after having found my mother a victim of homicide years prior, and the fallout from it. As I pushed through the years following this, I was convinced that a sovereign, loving God of didn't exist; how could he let such pain and suffering affect my family? I was determined to follow other spiritual paths that would allow me to take control of my life, instead. My wife and I talked with Sean for a few hours that night about where we were at in life, and after having Sean disciple to us and discuss the Gospel, I decided to give God, and church, a final chance.

A few weeks after that initial meeting, I came to Trailside. Months after, I began volunteering running the soundboard for Sunday services, which I still find amazing. It just so happened that Trailside had a need that I was able to fill using gifts that God saw fit to give me; I’ve been writing and playing music for years and knew how to do sound mixing. My wife began to join me after seeing the change in my life, initially at a community group and then following with attendance at Sunday services. Soon after, my wife herself gave a profession of faith. The feelings that I felt after this is impossible for me to put to words, but the peace in knowing that she was growing both spiritually and mentally with Jesus brought me nothing but joy – and still does. On January 26, 2020, I was ordained into the Gospel ministry while my wife, father, my newborn daughter, and some of my best friends were there to witness it all. I now serve at Trailside as the Care Pastor, working on finishing my Masters of Divinity in Pastoral Counseling from Liberty University. After this, it is my goal to become a licensed professional counselor in the state of South Carolina with the goal of offering professional counseling services at Trailside.

My story is but one of few here at our church. One of the most assuring things to me is that God is using me to change the entire fabric of my family’s story. Leona will be growing in a home with parents who love Jesus and she will grow up knowing that she is purposed in Christ’s eyes as well. My father is seeing a son redeemed and made whole; my sister seeing a brother freed from suffering. The testimony of how the Gospel impacted me is one of redemption of pain; for my family it is indeed, as God has revealed, a generational shifting, chain-breaking, life changer. This is what the Gospel has been doing, and will continue to do, for our city. It has been an absolute joy to be a part of and witness it for others. However, our work continues.

That challenge is why I am reaching out to you. I had originally planned on finding a second full-time job and work bivocationally, but in total honesty after launching the Care Ministry here at Trailside including the Emotionally Healthy Discipleship courses, I feel called to continue my work fully invested in ministry so that they would continue to grow and be fruitful. After much prayer and conversation with my family and wise counsel, I felt led to reach out to our network of support and ask for a chance to meet with you to share the vision of the church and future plans with you, and that you would prayerfully considering partnering with us for the remainder of 2021.

Our goal is to find 50 families who will commit to 50 dollars a month for the remainder of this year ONLY. If you wish to partner but cannot commit to 50 dollars, we are thankful for anything you can do to help us accomplish this calling. We wanted to place a hard timeline because we believe that with the current growth of our church during COVID and even now that a timeline like this will keep us focused on our goals while allowing me to continue to give 100% of my time to ministry.

Ultimately, this investment is more than helping us as missionaries in our city and joining with us in that supportive call; this is an investment in the lives and eternities of people such as myself and others who are going to be taking one last chance on God and visit our church; in the mental health and well being of our community. All partnerships are fully tax deductible, and you’ll also get regular updates on the church and our ministry as we share some of the exciting stories of redemption happening at Trailside.

If you are open to a 15-minute phone call or meeting in person once COVID-19 is more under control to hear more about what we are asking for you to consider, please email me at Marcus@Trailside.church or text/call me at 864-901-1357 at your earliest convenience. It would be my joy to share more of the last 3 years with you, our plans for the future, and how your partnership will allow my family to continue forth.

To give you a preview of what is coming, I invite you to first look at our website http://www.trailside.church to learn more about our church, its mission, and vision. As Care pastor, it is my mission to grow local outreach ministries to better care for our community. In the most direct way, I am leading classes through the church aimed at the unifying mental health and faith called the Emotionally Healthy Discipleship course. This course consists of two parts – the Emotionally Healthy Spirituality and Emotionally Healthy Relationships courses. Each of these courses is an 8 week journey, 16 in total, that aims to get to the core of who an individual is in God in order to empower them to grow in a deep, transformational relationship with Him. People also learn skills to better know themselves, interact with others in an emotionally healthy manner, and learn to give to others from the Spirit in them rather than of themselves – to name a few. I have also begun counseling members of our congregation and community throughout the week in a God-centered way. As COVID is starting to get under control, our other outreach ministries such as our Parent’s Night Out events and 3rd Saturday Serve days will be making a return. Finally, I am continuing my Masters of Divinity and advocating for mental health by keeping relationships with local 501.c3 counseling centers such as Still Wind Ministries.

No matter what you may be able to do, one thing we would humbly ask from you are for your consistent prayers. Being a part of a young church plant and growing ministry has been an incredible and also challenging experience. Here are a few things you can pray specifically alongside with us: for our church leadership, that God would guide us well; for our body, that God would continue to grow us spiritually and numerically; for our city, that there would be a reawakening of the Gospel and its power over brokenness; lastly, for our vision, that it would be God honoring and unrelenting as we seek to reach out city with the truth of the Gospel of Jesus. Thank you for loving us and for taking the time to consider this. I cannot wait to update you more on what God is doing at Trailside, and how your partnership and love for us is making redemption more common than brokenness.

If you feel called to give, click the following words and change the giving to drop-down to Jones Family Support (it defaults to Tithing). Thank you so much for reading this letter and considering walking with our family.

I love and appreciate all of you.

Humbly,

Marcus, Jaycee, Leona, and the twins (coming August 2021!)