Replacing What the Locusts Ate in 2020

Apr 7, 2021

When this pastor got arrested for having a worship service in March 2020, he became the first pastor in the world arrested over COVID restrictions. I attended his church on Easter, and I have an incredible report to share. Read on. — Mat

Concerts and speeches can be delivered via prerecorded podcast, but CHURCH is much more than a podcast. Let me explain, using just one of the ministries we represent in our church freedom cases. Anita and I spent Easter Sunday at The River at Tampa Bay Church. WOW! WHAT A CHURCH!

As you may recall, The River’s lead pastor, Dr. Rodney Howard-Browne, was the first pastor in the world arrested for opening his church during COVID. Liberty Counsel succeeded in getting those charges dropped, and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis declared that attendance at churches and places of worship is “essential activity,” thus freeing churches from all restrictions.

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The River church is a hospital for the body and soul. It is a school, a mission, a place of transformation and so much more.

COVID closures emptied bellies. But this church feeds 900 people a week with fresh organic food. To receive the free food, the people must attend the worship service.

Beautiful as it is, the Tampa Bay area has a dark side. Poverty levels in some sections of the city exceed national averages. As part of its mission to minister to ALL of God’s people, the church built a full-scale aquaponic garden center and tilapia fish farm on site several years ago.

This center grows fresh organic fruits and vegetables and raises tilapia. Church members harvest and package the food, then deliver the boxes to needy families throughout the worst parts of Hillsborough County. The county sheriff has credited the church for lowering crime rates.

Pastor Rodney was NOT going to allow those families to go hungry or bankrupt just because misguided bureaucrats wanted his church closed.

COVID closures robbed jobs. But this church provides job training. In addition to providing much-needed food to area families, the outreach also provides highly sought-after job skills training.

  • Aquaponics—Church members who participate in this ministry get hands-on education in one of the world’s fastest-growing sectors—sustainable agriculture and fish farming. Experts with real-world experience in aquaponics and hydroponics are in increasing demand.
  • Automotive—The River has a full mechanics’ garage on site. Not only does this ministry provide automotive repair to the area’s needy residents, but church members who participate in this ministry receive an automotive apprenticeship, learning valuable mechanical skills.
  • Culinary Arts—The River not only grows fresh food but also has a staff of chefs and a cooking school.

COVID closures emptied bank accounts. But this church teaches financial management.

Many people lack budgeting skills and struggle under crushing debt, just one paycheck away from bankruptcy. Financial troubles are a leading cause of marital strife and divorce.

So, The River offers basic finance and advanced business management classes. Better fiscal management leads to stronger families and a body of Christ better prepared for whatever may come their way.

And this church does so much more . . .

The church also has Bible, missions and soul-winning schools and more.

After Pastor Rodney was arrested, he laid Astroturf on part of the parking lot the size of nearly two football fields. “The Stand” revival has continued in that location nonstop, 3 1/2 hours a day for 298 days. This is in addition to a four-hour Sunday morning worship service.

COVID closures brought curses, but God brought blessings . . .

Attendance at The River at Tampa Bay has grown so rapidly that the church has decided to permanently cover the portion of the parking lot used for “The Stand” meetings.

On Easter Sunday, as Anita and I sat and watched, at least 20 people gave their witness and testimonies ... some from their mission trip to Honduras, some from the local soul-winning ministry and one from a man who recently gave his life to the Lord as a result of people walking his neighborhood.

In one week, this ministry led more than 2,000 people to the Lord!

Help us FREE THE CHURCHES and have YOUR IMPACT DOUBLED by the Challenge Grant! Select here or the button below.

The churches we represent are seeing revival. There is a new fire in these pastors and hunger among people for the spiritual food that has been removed or rationed this past year.

God is busy replacing what the locusts ate in 2020.

Make no mistake, this fight is not over. We are working with a church that has been fined more than 3 million dollars, and a large group of churches that face incredible opposition in Hawaii. We still have multiple church freedom cases to win, including our Maine case pending before the Supreme Court, not to mention our churches in California and elsewhere.

This is a critical time in history. You can DOUBLE your gift through our Challenge Grant! Select here to fund the fight for religious freedom!


Thank you for standing with us!

Mat Staver
Founder & Chairman
Liberty Counsel

P.S. We have a Challenge Grant that will effectively DOUBLE the impact of your donation! Select here to fund the fight for religious freedom!

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