Juanita Suggs, New Castle, IN — Our hot meal program is the largest and oldest program in the city. Within a two-hour period, between 350 and 400 people are fed through our hot meal program on Tuesdays. We fed about 2,000 at our Thanksgiving meal, and 800 were served at our Christmas meal. In December, we gave away 130 Christmas baskets and served 200 children through our Dress a Child program and toy giveaway.
We have a clothing room, and our food pantry serves around 45 families a week. Once a month, we have vendors come in that offer services to veterans. We also make monthly visits to senior citizen complexes.
Last year, our Christian Love Shelter House provided 1,700 night stays. One couple who came through our shelter now serves on our ministerial staff. Some need medical attention, mental health assistance, spiritual and nutritional counseling. There is also support to help them get the funds they need. Another company comes in and offers rent and utility assistance. Other people attend our services as well; one who came through the shelter had recently gotten out of jail.
Our shelter offers temporary housing, and we try to help them get plugged into Section 8 and any mainstream housing programs. If they come in on those programs, we work with them until we find them affordable housing. They then have to meet with their case managers to discuss their updates. We have a male dormitory and facilities for families and single women.
Jon Petoskey, East Hartford, CT — We’ve partnered with our mayor for an annual community spring cleaning day. We’ve also supported a Christmas celebration for Greater Hartford families which is a really tremendous event the city and business community coordinate. Annually, we have a Festival of Thanks, essentially an Appreciation Sunday, where we give thanks for all the public servants in our community. We also hold a Concert of Praise on the Town Green followed by a special Back to School service and backpack give away. We are intentional in not letting service projects trump our primary mission of bringing the gospel to our community. However, we recognize they are practical demonstrations of the love of God. And we’ve found that when we are faithful in sowing we can count on the harvest coming in.
Jason Huckaby, Blue Springs, MO — In the Greater Kansas City area, there is a pastor in charge of the feeding program. They call the church, and we send people to work. Benevolence is probably one of the things that has contributed to the success of our bus route. I feel we are under the mandate to give to the poor. One special service a year, we present salvation. At the end of it, we give out school supplies. About 5-10 new families have shown up just from our school supply drive.
We have helped out in our neighborhood as well. A little girl down the street was in need so we bought her clothes. Then she wanted to be baptized. Her father was moved, and 24 of her family members showed up to watch her get baptized. While I was baptizing her, I talked about baptism. Nine of her family members got baptized. One came out of the water speaking in tongues.
James W. Dillon, Salem, OR — Along with other area churches, we have been involved in a local food and clothing program. We all donate food and goods where everything goes into a huge warehouse. Those who are in need can go there and shop for food and clothing to outfit their family, up to a certain dollar amount per month. In turn, they must volunteer several hours per month in the facility. This local program gives us the opportunity to be involved and where the poor can have their immediate needs met.
Home for Good in Oregon is a program that facilitates former inmates getting back into the mainstream of society. Since it is state-funded, it doesn’t afford us much of an opportunity to minister to them, just to serve them. A member of our church is the appointed director for our area.
The ROM House is our transitional house. Those who have an attitude to succeed and are willing to take a hand up, we offer a place in our house. They pay monthly dues and must submit themselves to the program requirements, one of which is to attend our Sunday morning service. We have leaders that teach job skills, Bible studies and other life skills. Several people have become a part of our church as a result of this outreach.
One of our head ushers came through the ROM House ministry. Now he is being invited to speak at the prison facility he was once incarcerated in. As a result of the Lord’s work in his life, he is one of the most welcoming people on our staff.
We minister to about 120 people a week. Last year, we baptized about 60 and about 12 received the Holy Ghost through these ministries.
Paul Springer, Diberville, MS — As a congregation, we spend $30,000 to $40,000 every year and buy gifts for kids who are less fortunate in our community. On Thursdays we feed about 100 families. We also have a homeless ministry.
A man was lying out on the sands of the Biloxi beach in open air asleep. One brother in our church walked over to him, kicked him on the foot, woke him up and brought him some pizza and something to drink. Little did the brother from our church know that the homeless man had just prayed before he went to sleep, “Lord, send me an angel to get me out of this mess.” They told him about the church. He came and got baptized. Today he’s going to our church and ushering.
Jeroen Van Gorp, Belgium — We have different outreaches where we prepare food bags to bless the homeless. Our bags have hygiene items, i.e. soap, toothbrushes, razor blades, along with warm jackets, clothes and scarves.
The Lord impressed upon me a question: why are you doing this? A voice in me answered, “Well, I want people to come to church.” I felt the Lord saying to me, “Don’t do this to get people to church. Do this to bring Me to them: into their sphere, their world. Don’t use a food bag as a bait to get people to church.” The homeless and the poor can really discern if you are genuinely compassioned about them. The greatest impact it has had on our church is the people themselves. The perspective of “What can I get God to do for me?” changed to “What can I do for others?” I saw people get involved in evangelism that would not have gotten involved otherwise.
At one outreach we went to the train station. A man named Joseph was there. He had cut the tip out of his shoes. He always wore shoes that were too small. We took him a couple pairs of shoes. He said, “I prayed this morning that God would send somebody to give me new shoes.” I wish I could tell you he came to church, but just the tear in his eyes, the smile on his face and the impact we had on his life made that day worth it all.