|A small congregation helps provide a big meal for the needy.|
April 1, 2012
Never Too Small
BY MARGIE MILLER, Coffeyville, Kansas, USA
I am friends with Terry Hatfield, pastor of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), in Independence, Kansas. He and his congregation noticed a couple of homeless men using the wooden cover over their church air-conditioning unit as shelter last winter.
That discovery led to outreach that has included our tiny Coffeyville Crossroads Congregation in Community of Christ. It emphasized to us that a congregation doesn’t have to be big to experience mission or to help Abolish Poverty, End Suffering.
Terry’s church opened its basement to the men, stocked a refrigerator, and let the guests use the kitchen and bathroom. One of the men began attending services at the church.
He smelled really badly and said he’d love a shower and clean clothes. The clean clothes were not a problem. The shower was. Terry’s congregation then installed a shower in the basement and allowed the men to live there until they found work and moved on.
This led the church to buy a house and set it up as a shelter. Neighbors complained because they didn’t want a homeless shelter nearby. So the church sold that property and bought another in a commercial area.
Now they have three levels of ability to stay. Nobody has had to stay the maximum three months before finding a job. Six live in the home, and 10 are on the waiting list.
Terry’s church also serves a free dinner every Tuesday evening to 200 people. That’s where our Coffeyville Crossroads Congregation came in.
Terry asked our church to provide cakes every other week. We do the cakes every other Tuesday now. We are so small we can’t feed 200 people, but we can help another church.
I am proud of our little congregation. And I’m proud of the Christian Church for doing mission. Combining our gifts, we’ve accomplished something we could not do ourselves.
Though small, we also experience mission in other ways. We stock a small food basket in our foyer. We donate monthly to ministries that help low-income families with utilities and rent in Independence and Coffeyville, Kansas. We also give monthly to a health clinic that helps low-income people without health insurance.
In the fall, we buy school supplies for low-income kids in nearby Caney, Kansas.
At Christmas, we participate in a project that sends toys to children in impoverished countries. We also buy gifts and dinner for children of a local low-income family.
For at least 10 years we supported a school in Jamaica, and now we’re doing one in the Dominican Republic.
So it doesn’t matter how tiny we are. We’re never too small for mission.