Florida Church Changing the Story of Injustice in Jesus’ Name
By Kim Ousley
Change the Story continues to provide opportunities for Church of God congregations to offer help in their local communities and neighborhoods, especially in the midst and in the wake of the global pandemic, economic challenges, and racial injustice. People are really suffering in these difficult times, and communities are experiencing a high level of need in a variety of areas. But churches like Solid Rock Community Church in Kissimmee, Florida, received a Change the Story grant last year and is using it to ease the suffering.
“God changed the story,” shared Pastor Matthew Quainoo. “The Lord blessed us to go from ministering 500 members to thousands virtually throughout the pandemic.”
In response to the pandemic, the church opted to hold services online, but also served in another vital capacity.
“Pull Up and Pray” was a more intimate way the church discovered it could provide food for both the stomach and the soul. Solid Rock is now the top food distribution provider in their ZIP code. Showing God’s love, while making sure those struggling to put food on the table, became a way that the congregation could help their neighborhood and community. Not long ago, the church was able to hire a bilingual, Spanish-speaking service leader, Rev. Inocencia Chisolm. This has served well in reaching to the unique blend of cultures within the congregation. Fifteen people gave their lives to Christ at the first service she led.
Pastor Quainoo spoke of holding a town hall where voices could be heard in a safe and timely manner regarding the current events concerning the police and the people. “We gave them an opportunity to express their pain.” He also shared how they advocated for change. Pastor Quainoo stressed that there’s a need to maintain dignity and protect low-income neighborhoods that are being served. By educating their young people on the significance of history of the past, as well as training them to serve and step up, he emphasized that self-affirmations are important. “We can come together unashamedly to maintain that partnership…pulling our resources together to support and strengthen the church,” said Quainoo.
He reinforced the need to make sure they “maintain a sense of ownership over our churches and communities and the sale of our properties,” and make sure they are reinvesting back into the local communities.
Within the congregation of Solid Rock, there are many diverse cultures. Many of its members are in law enforcement, themselves. As the church comes together to bring peace and justice to everyone around them, and serve the underserved, they’re seeing Jesus set people free.
“We shall know the truth and the truth shall set us free,” Quainoo added. “We have the freedom to tell the truth.”
This includes freedom from the bonds of the past. Solid Rock participated last year in voter registration in conjunction with their pantry outreach. Some funds go to pay off court costs of ex-felons so they can vote. Reflecting on the church’s involvement in these and more social issues, Quainoo simply points to their “biblical mandate.”
The Change the Story fund exists to help congregations meet local, critical needs like these, according to their mission. These gifts as little as $10 will provide micro-grants that empower churches to ‘change the story’ in their communities. Over $20,000 has been raised.
To learn more about how Solid Rock Community Church began “changing the story” in their community during the chaos of 2020, click here.
Special note—Pastor Matthew Quainoo expresses great appreciation for his predecessor, Bishop Whitfield Blenman, in setting the bar high for ministry excellence at Solid Rock Community Church.
Solid Rock Community Church is one of several congregations to receive a Change the Story grant. In these dire times communities are experiencing desperate need, and churches are struggling to respond. The Change the Story Fund exists to help congregations meet local, critical needs. Your gift of as little as $10 will provide micro grants that empower churches to Change the Story in their communities. Learn more and invest with your generous gift today at www.jesusisthesubject.org/change-the-story.
Help churches like these respond to urgent needs in their communities as a result of recent crises:
Kim Ousley is a freelance writer from Anderson, Indiana.