Iowa Dream Center Demonstrates Christ's Compassion

Grimes, who somehow kept (most of) his composure and held back a "happy dance," shared the meeting's outcome with the church body—and their responses weren't quite as controlled.

Since that miraculous meeting in 2009, the hotel has been transformed far beyond the eyesore it was becoming. Although several of the visions given to Grimes are still in progress, many of them are already fulfilled.

In January 2011, after much renovation, the hotel reopened as the Spencer Dream Center. The bar area is now the 2,700-square-foot Terrazzo Coffee House that serves premium coffee along with a selection of soups, salads and sandwiches.

"It is the nicest, coolest place in Spencer," Grimes says. "Also, the coffee house helps offset the cost of the building's utilities and insurance."

In addition, the youth center is complete, where four days a week, 40 to 50 kids come to hang out and play pool, ping pong and other games—and those who are there on Wednesdays find themselves in the church's youth group beginning at 6 p.m. The center includes 11 Living Free small groups—roughly described as "outpatient Teen Challenge"—that offer proven, godly solutions to eating disorders, drug addiction, loss and grief, depression and other issues.

But that's not all. A medical center and a dental center, manned by doctors and staff volunteering their time, are also up and running. The center also gives out about 3,000 pounds of food and 2,000 articles of clothing each month, and a local businessman has offered up to 90 beds to be given to families in need. Also, nearly all the furniture and bedding in the hotel were given away to those experiencing financial hardship.

"We have over 100 volunteers in the building every week doing all kinds of outreaches," Grimes says. "We're about halfway through renovating the building. We're applying for grants and existing through private donations, but we already have the equipment for the fitness area promised to us from a major distributor once we can complete the renovation of the fifth floor."

Perhaps one of the most joy-filled features of the new Dream Center is the "Say Yes to a Dress" area. In this section of the building, formal, wedding and prom-type dresses are collected, complete with shoes, purses and necklaces.

"For a young girl or a bride-to-be without the money for a prom or wedding dress, this room is a place where volunteers can help girls find a beautiful dress and just gush on them," Grimes says. "It's not really about the dress; it's about showing these girls the love of Jesus. We have seen great fruit from this outreach."

One of the biggest challenges that still confronts the Dream Center is getting the building up to code.

"The hotel is about 100 years old," Grimes says. "Before we can begin residential/overnight care for victims of human trafficking, we need to have a sprinkler system installed—which is a huge expense. But we already have plans for helping these women through Living Free recovery groups, our medical clinics, free GED programs and vocational training."

Grimes says that the Dream Center vision didn't come without some bumps in the road. Some church members decided to move on, as the emphasis on outreach was too great. Even the city expressed initial concern that the center would be abused and draw an undesirable element into the community.

However, Grimes says that community leaders are now more than impressed with what's taking place in the Dream Center, and Dayspring Church is now averaging 220 on Sunday mornings—with nearly all the growth being through new converts.

Grimes says that his desire is to one day see all the churches in Spencer coming together to make the Dream Center a ministry to the community.

"We already have volunteers from other churches working at the Dream Center," Grimes says, "but I would like to see many more churches and volunteers join in meeting the needs of hurting people in our community."

Although the Dream Center has become a major focus for Grimes and his church, it isn't the only focus. In addition to regular Wednesday evening discipleship programs and Sunday services, each year for Easter and Christmas the church goes all-out in producing spectacular plays.

"Our church seats 400, and we regularly pack the church out three or four times for each production," Grimes says. "People come from Nebraska, Minnesota and South Dakota to attend these productions, and we've literally seen thousands of souls saved over the past four years."

Grimes, who says it has been a new and enriching experience for both him and the church in blending his big-city ideas with their small-town ideals, believes evangelism and discipleship should be at the heart of everything a church does.

"I believe every community should have a Dream Center," he says. "You don't have to be in a big city to have one. You can do it even in a small town like this and make a big difference."

For more information on Dayspring Church, see its Facebook page.


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