As thousands of public schools face huge budget cuts, many are looking to alternate sources of funding, from bake sales to corporate sponsors. But Combee Elementary School in Polk County, Fla., has found an unlikely source in First Baptist Church at the Mall, a local megachurch that has “sponsored” the public school.

The church has donated $5,000 in school supplies, caters spaghetti dinners at school events, provides sneakers for poor students and sends in math and English tutors. It is also finding new opportunities for evangelism.

"We have inroads into public schools that we had not had before," pastor Dave McClamma told the Wall Street Journal. "By befriending the students, we have the opportunity to visit homes to talk to parents about Jesus Christ."

McClamma, the senior associate pastor of evangelism and missions for the 9,000-member church, heard about the school’s plight through from a school staffer who worships at the church. McClamma offered to fund a “resource room” for Combee, and principal Steve Comparato said “Amen.”

At Christmas, the school provided First Baptist with a list of parents who said they wouldn’t mind being visited by church members. Of the 30 families that First Baptist visited, “13 came to the Lord,” McClamma said.

Comparato said that he would welcome sponsors from any faith-based congregation, but said “My personal conviction is that I hope through this they'll know Jesus and they'll get saved." [, 6/14/10]

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