Distribution of Hope Feeds Souls through Pandemic in SW Michigan
By Carl Stagner
It all started more than six years ago but, during crisis, residents of Niles, Michigan, couldn’t be more grateful. In another example of how churches don’t need to reinvent the wheel, Hope Community Church partnered with the Feeding America food truck to supply the dietary and nutritional needs of the under-resourced. Every month throughout the year, compassionate men and women of the church and community dedicate time and talent to serve the “least of these.” With the coronavirus pandemic squeezing necessary resources nearly dry, the most recent distribution of hope fed not only hungry appetites, but also hungry souls.
Bob Robison, longtime food distribution ministry leader for Hope, explains that more than a thousand families are reached per year, with an average of three persons in each family. He describes their efforts as “Christ’s love in action,” and says that they try to utilize the help of the church’s youth group as often as possible. In this way, they’re not only helping the hungry but also, as he explains, “We are trying to teach and inspire the next generation.”
The food distribution, currently led by Steve Monroe, is supplied by donations from local supermarkets. Members of the Church of God congregation interact with the locals who come, offering prayer and “spiritual food.” Bob Moss, of Church of God Ministries, pastors the congregation and is quick to credit the church’s previous pastor, Mike Smith, for fueling the fire for outreach among them.
“He had a strong desire to see the church as a transformational element in the city,” Bob explains. “This vision lives on beyond his tenure with the church. The mobilization of Hope members to serve in various expressions of outreach is truly inspiring to me as a pastor.”
In spite of the coronavirus, and as long as related government restrictions allow, Hope Community Church continues to feed hungry souls through the pandemic. Additionally, the church’s deacon ministry is proving a much-needed extension of the senior pastor role. As the pandemic made national and international headlines, these lay leaders met and launched a new ministry: “Operation Ambassador of Mercy.” Through this initiative, “every family associated with the church will receive a ‘wellness-check’ phone call each week.”
Bob Moss, longtime visionary leader in the Church of God movement, is really a shepherd at heart. He encourages Christians everywhere to seize the opportunities God is giving for ministry during this present crisis.
“It’s an opportunity to push the reset button in our lives,” Bob concludes. “We can slow down and focus on the things that really matter in life, like our family members and our circle of acquaintances. As people reach out to check on their neighbors and build relationships that might otherwise not happen, the light of Christ’s love has a new opportunity for expression.”
Learn more about the response of Church of God Ministries to the coronavirus (COVID-19), including resources for you and your church, at www.jesusisthesubject.org/theway. *Photo: Vehicles lined up six rows deep for food distribution the third week in March 2020.