In reflecting on this past year, we have had many challenges as well as many blessings. There have been wonderful opportunities for our congregation to interact with others in our community in ways that we had not imagined possible. As we keep in mind and engage in the mission that Jesus has called us into, I would like to share some of the wonderful experiences God has opened for us even in the midst of this pandemic.
We participated with KC Impact Group, which we joined with another local church in ministering, to families, providing prayer and other resources for members of the community who have had various misfortunes from job loss, family separation, and health difficulties. Unfortunately, activity was halted due to the pandemic, but because of the connections we had already made, it was exciting that we could continue in prayer for these individuals.
Some of our members embarked on a program known as “Center Friends,” where adults are paired with a student so they can get to know each other and mentor those children. We were fingerprinted and prepared for this program when the pandemic broke out, so we have not been able to begin the process.
Many of the opportunities we have came through our connection and relationships made with Center Elementary School, and in particular, through Roslyn Christopher, the school’s Social Worker, who has become a wonderful friend to our church family and shares with us the needs that arise.
We were blessed to receive the opportunity to help two families that had moved into the area and were in difficult situations. We provided resources such as food items to help them get over the hump during their relocation.
Another special opportunity we had was to assist a family with nine children. This family was having difficulty providing enough clothing for all the children prior to the school year. Our church family came together to pour out tremendous love through prayer and donations to provide enough clothing for their four boys. Several of our members had the pleasure of shopping for this family. That was an exciting adventure.
Another amazing opportunity came to light when a teacher at Center Elementary had the misfortune of her family losing most of their possessions due to a fire at their residence. Once again, our church family answered the call of the Holy Spirit into this tragic event and they came through with such outstanding love and concern so that we were able to provide a substantial amount of funds to help them begin to recoup some of their losses.
The school was attempting to provide an incentive program for the students and their families to keep them interested in their virtual education and so began giving out small gift cards ($5 to $10) as rewards for certain achievements and behaviors. We were privileged and blessed with the resources to get involved in this program and provided several of these incentives.
Last year we were able to provide Christmas food boxes for some of the poor families in the community, but because of the pandemic, the school decided they would not have that particular ministry option, so we began brainstorming and came up with a service that would benefit the teachers and staff members who were working hard to continue to provide educational opportunities to the children in the midst of this difficult situation.
We provided gift cards for each of the teachers and staff members so they would be encouraged and have something special for themselves and their families. The teachers and staff collectively created a video thanking our church family for the outpouring of love and well wishes for the new year. It was special to share with the church family a small representation of the fruits of their labor and faithfulness to God’s calling.
As part of our Christmas outreach, we collected Christmas cards from our congregation, and several of our members gathered and wrote special sentiments in these cards and sent them to every member of our community. We also sent them to the Fire and Police Departments, as well as the schools.
Then we put together a fun group, and purchased matching shirts to go caroling in our neighborhood around our meeting place. God provided us with amazing weather that day, which encouraged a wonderful level of participation. We had several incredibly special interactions from individuals as we caroled. Many people came out on their porches and sang with us, and we were thanked for spreading joy. Because we had such a great response and had so much fun, we went out the following week into a different area of the neighborhood and did it again. What joyous and fun events these were.
Since we are changing our name and reinvigorating our mission, we are planning to send out a letter to those in the community with the information and sentiments for the New Year. We are thinking about making magnets with our new name and our new logo. This is in the brainstorming phase. We are also thinking about an event or outreach of some kind for Valentine’s Day.
We have been offered an opportunity to assist in teaching the young children who are less fortunate and have not had access to computers, how to use a computer and help them prepare for their schooling. These would probably be those preparing to enter Kindergarten. Please pray that our amazing Lord will open doors for this to happen.
We are looking forward to a continually active year of service, sharing the love of Jesus with those all around our community.
By Barbara Leatherman
Love Avenue Champion
Grace Communion South Kansas City