Erich McCollom's Story of Serving and Sharing the Gospel at Fun with the Son
Fun with the Son is Cottonwood Creek’s annual family mission event in east McKinney that provides eye and dental screenings, haircuts, face painting, balloon animals, train rides, and every school-aged child in attendance receives school supplies. Most importantly, children get to hear the gospel. This year marked the 20th anniversary of the event and it was undoubtedly a success. Erich McCollom of Cottonwood Creek was one of the many people who served that day. His experience this year was different than previous years that he had served because of all the unexpected ways God used him.
Erich accepted Christ at a young age. "I was working to convince my parents that I knew who Jesus was and wanted Him to be my Savior," Erich said. "Their comeback was always 'You're too young', though." Erich remembers finally riding his bike up to his church and going to the pastor's office and telling him they needed to talk. "We talked, prayed, and soon after, I got baptized at First Baptist in Princeton."
Years later, Erich and his family moved to Allen and were looking for a church closer to home. Erich heard of Cottonwood Creek through a few other guys he knew through other organizations. He and his wife then toured Cottonwood Creek's Life Groups a couple of times until they found one that was right for them. It was at Cottonwood Creek where Erich was introduced to Fun with the Son.
This year's Fun with the Son in particular was a different experience for Erich than previous years. "This was my third year," Erich said. "The first two years, I viewed it more as us going out to do some good work and share and give to the community. This year was different for me because it felt like a continuation of the Dominican Republic mission trip I went on this summer." Erich felt God working on his heart during his time in the Dominican Republic and he soon came to realize that not only could he serve on a mission trip in a foreign country, but he could serve right at home in his community. "I knew this because God gives you that 'aha' moment and epiphany," Erich said. "I had a good attitude and enjoyed serving in the Dominican and now I had the opportunity to do it at Fun with the Son. We had a place and a time right here."
Erich had many favorite parts of serving throughout the morning. This year was his first year he volunteered to help set up. "It was fun for me to see us take the blank park and see it all come from the ground up and be built up," Erich said. "It was great to see how many people started showing up as the morning went on and just see the park come alive and have the whole Cottonwood family work together." It also warmed Erich's heart to see a young boy smiling while riding his son's old bike that they had donated. "It just goes to show that whatever you're willing to give or do, it affects people," Erich said. "God will use you."
One specific way that God used Erich that morning was during an encounter with a homeless man named Frank. As Erich and his team were setting up and unloading things for the day, he noticed a man under the covered area where school supplies were being passed out. "I could tell he had been there all night," Erich said. "Before I had chance to go talk to him, there was a lady who had introduced herself to him. Frank then came over and helped us unload water and started helping." Erich and Frank struck up a conversation and Erich asked him what his story was. Frank replied that it was a long one, but Erich said he had all morning. "As we worked together, he told me how he was in and out of foster care as a kid," Erich said. "He's estranged from his dad and grandfather. He just lived off and on in different houses and unfortunately was finding different places to sleep."
As the day went on, Erich kept hoping for a chance to share the gospel with Frank. "My time of serving was done, so I went to go see him at his bench," Erich said. "I told him that we didn't get to finish his story." Once again, Frank reminded him that it was a long story, but Erich's reply was that he had all morning. "Frank shared that he has cerebral palsy on his right side," Erich said. "However, he said he doesn't let that get him down because God is watching over him." That was when Erich asked Frank if he knew who God was and had a relationship with Him. Frank said that he knew God was there and he had been baptized.
"I told Frank that a relationship with Christ goes deeper than that," Erich said. "Baptism is great but what's it supposed to do? I showed him my wedding ring and drew a comparison to it."
Erich showed Frank how baptism was an outward display of what's going on inside the heart of someone who has given their life to Christ. "We had a chance for me to tell him what a relationship with Christ looks like," Erich said. "I then had the chance to pray with him. For him to be in these circumstances and that he was still so willing to spring into action to serve with us earlier that morning, it spoke big to me." Along with praying for Frank, he also encouraged him and shared the gospel. "It was special because he had such a good attitude even in the circumstances he was in," Erich said. "It was very encouraging." Erich left knowing that Frank had a better understanding of what the gospel meant.
Erich truly has a servant's heart and always serves to bring glory to the name of God. He always turns to Luke 2:52 to remind himself and others why serving is so important:
And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.
"That's what I aspire to be and instill in my kids," Erich said. "We're going to grow and build and it's important that we're growing in wisdom, as well as the fear of God and in favor with God. When we are in favor with Him, and we are serving, it brings glory to God."