This one has a little more of a story than most of the others. Like a lot of churches in town, we provide free school supplies for many poor children at the start of school. We’ve been doing this for years. We might have been the first in town, but it’s hard to say. No one seems to remember for sure.
Originally, we passed out grocery bags to the members, each labeled with the supplies needed for a given class or grade. We generally supported the children at a school not far from our building.
Then, one Saturday morning, we’d provide a pancake breakfast and distribute supplies. The idea was to be relational, that is, to actually meet those receiving the supplies and to try to make them feel valued. And it was a good experience. But not real good.
It wasn’t real good because we learned that some families were scamming the system, going to more than one charity and piling up supplies to sell. And it was hard to actually build relationships over pancakes one day a year.
And then something happened. We had a couple start visiting us. This couple had moved into a house next door to “the projects” in one area of town just so they could minister to that community. They were looking for others to join them. They’d actually bought a second house to fix up and use to help with their ministry.
The chair of the ladies Bible class approached the elders and asked whether it would be permissible for the school supply drive to held in this couple’s backyard, in support of their ministry? They wanted to have a cookout for the families there and to provide all the supplies for the kids in those projects. They would coordinate with the school to make certain the other churches and charities in town only served others, so no supplies would be wasted.
Well, that was an easy decision. (Elders like easy decisions.) Yes, that would be okay.
And so it happened. And the campus ministry took over the other house to fix it up, and some of the men in that ministry now live there rent free in exchange for serving the children in that community.
Members volunteer to tutor and otherwise serve that community. And this all led to the Connect program … which I’ll explain in the next post.
This is all very new, and only God knows how it’s going to turn out, but it’s a big deal. These projects are a high crime area, and there are just all sorts of social problems there. And we don’t entirely know what will happen when a bunch of Christians move in and just start serving, but we are excited to find out.