Although a variety of government programs in the past decade have helped single moms and young, struggling families make ends meet, one crucial area still has a gap: diapers. According to a study published in Pediatrics, nearly one in three families struggles to afford diapers.
Two small rural churches, Battle Mountain Assembly of God in Nevada and Iberia First Assembly of God in Missouri have stepped up to meet the diaper needs in their communities.
Labeled the fifth most isolated town in the U.S., Battle Mountain, Nevada, a community of 3,635, has an abundance of young single moms who are economically and socially isolated. Jon and Angel Layden, Battle Mountain Assembly pastors, decided to address the need.
The Laydens, with the support of Northern California & Nevada AG Superintendent Bret L. Allen, resolved that any time they heard of a pending birth, Battle Mountain Assembly would give a diaper bag full of supplies to the new mother, including diapers, wipes, baby bottles, an outfit, and a blanket.
“Meeting a tangible need creates a gateway to talking about the spiritual,” says Layden, 33. “That’s why we do what we do.”
Since the conception of the diaper ministry, Battle Mountain Assembly has grown from just a handful when the Laydens arrived in 2014 to a weekly average attendance of 70.
A children’s Bible is included in every diaper bag. As the years pass, the Laydens now are seeing some preschoolers toting those Bibles to children’s church.
Similarly, Chip and Rebekah Sanders of Iberia First Assembly of God in Missouri, are filling the diaper gap in the town of only 740. In 2016, the church, in collaboration with Diaper Bank of the Ozarks, started a nonprofit called the Well, which serves an average of 10 families per month, providing diapers to anyone who walks through the door.
“If someone is struggling, we want to minister to them,” says the 43-year-old Sanders, who has ministered in other ways in the town. “There are no requirements.” The Well has assisted families that had been able to afford only one diaper a day for their infants.
“That broke our heart,” Sanders says. “And if we say we are pro-life, then that means we have got to be a lot more than ‘anti-abortion.’”
In both these small communities, meeting the need has opened doors for other ministry.
“Without Battle Mountain Assembly of God, our community would be suffering much more than it is,” says Becky Linville, who has benefited from the church’s Helping Hands program. “My family has been blessed during difficult times.”
Linville says Battle Mountain Assembly has gained a good reputation in the community because of the compassion shown to so many families.
“There are countless people blessed every month with food they may not be able to get otherwise,” Linville says. “The elderly on fixed incomes, newly retired people struggling to make ends meet until funds come through, single moms, families with small children, and so many other people are able to lessen their stress load because of Helping Hands.”
Photo: Jon and Angel Layden