WV Church’s Efforts Meet Needs, Alleviate Anxiety Amid Crisis
By Mykaela Alvey
In this wildly unique season, it has been easy for both non-Christians and Christians alike to spot fear and uncertainty. Worry is etched on many faces across the globe. Thankfully, outreach ministries, like those of First Church of God in New Martinsville, West Virginia, help alleviate the anxiety experienced by so many.
First Church is a community-focused congregation seeking to reach their surrounding area in everything they do. Their ministry, “The Necessities Barn and Breakfast,” has been helping their community for ten years. This ministry offers items not traditionally available through the use of food stamps, like laundry detergent and many toiletries, to families in need. And in this season of fear, they were able to step up and help their community in a different way. Despite the pandemic, Amy Witschey says she noticed that the volunteers were “freer from fear, more [willingly] relying on God, and more focused on helping and reaching others.” This is the mindset that changes lives. Their ministry continued to reach a helping hand to those who needed it as the pandemic set in.
Often forgotten in the midst of this challenging season are the nursing home residents. Amy says that “the activities director, as well as a Church of God pastor (not from our congregation), who ministers there, came up with the idea that people could go to the residents’ windows and sing ‘Jesus Loves Me’ with sign language that she had been teaching to them prior to the quarantine and say ‘The Lord’s Prayer.’” With nursing home doors being shut to keep resident’s safe, this idea has become a blessing to the shut-in residents. Some of the residents even join in and sing along with the volunteers. Amy says that “one man stands right at his window every week and even does the motions with us!” Despite how much these residents are blessed by these interactions, Amy thinks that the men, women, and children giving their time to bless the residents are being blessed far more.
And the blessing continued to spread. Two women who are from Amy’s Sunday school class also recognized the need to encourage nursing home residents. The two women work at a different nursing home, and they encouraged their Sunday school class to make signs of encouragement that could be taped to the resident’s windows.
“Blessings Boxes” have also proven beneficial, especially now. According to Amy, these are “small boxes on posts where people can put things (mostly food) for people in need. We have three in our town.” These boxes have been around for quite some time, having been placed around the town by another local church. They have been a blessing for the community, and they allow anyone in the community to provide a helping hand for those who are struggling to make ends meet.
Despite restrictions, Amy states that she saw her community continue with “a church-based soup kitchen” that uses volunteers from several churches in the area. Through connections and opportunity, Amy was given “twelve weeks’ worth of breakfasts and lunches” one day that she was able to take to the soup kitchen. “I contacted the director and she was happy to give them out. I prepared for the giveaway (bags, cooking instructions, etc.) and they gave away the items to grateful people.”
As we search for a new normal, I pray that we can all learn something from First Church of God and the surrounding churches and community. I hope that we remember to extend our helping hands to those in need. What seems like one small act of kindness can have an impact far larger than you can imagine.
Amy says it best: “I am a firm believer that we need to join with other believers. We can do so much more together!”
Help churches like these respond to urgent needs in their communities as a result of COVID-19:
Anderson University alumna Mykaela Alvey is a funding US missionary based in Greenwood, Indiana. A freelance writer for three years, she loves crafting stories of hope and healing.
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.