Serving the Extended Neighborhood
The women of Christ's Church of the Assemblies of God in Clear Lake City, Texas, know how to answer the question, "Who is my neighbor?"
The answer is, "Whoever is in need."
After a summer retreat to Galveston Island, various youth and adults from the church began praying about needs they had seen on the island: hungry children, families huddled close in collapsing housing projects, drug addicts, gangs, and people unable to break free of poverty.
Within months, attendees from Christ's Church were back on the island, serving meals, providing "dignity bags" with hygiene essentials, and offering prayer to any islander who would accept it.
The first month, 50 people ventured out for a sandwich and a dignity bag. The next month, women from Christ's Church's worked with a local compassion kitchen to serve smoked brisket, potato salad, corn on the cob, beans, and cookies for 150 people -- and 300 showed up. The food stretched and no one left hungry.
Now the established ministry of Christ's Church is named Go! Galveston Outreach. Every fourth weekend of the month, volunteers spend around 14 hours preparing the meal, including over 350 homemade cupcakes. Then they pack cars and vans with food, dignity bags, and clothing to take to the island for Sunday's meal.
The outreach team also provides spiritual counseling, teaching, coaching, prayer, and encouragement to the island people in all areas of life. They talk about financial needs, obtaining jobs, developing parenting skills, and accepting Jesus as Savior.
Between meal days, volunteers shop for clothes at resale shops, sort donated clothes, assemble dignity bags, prepare Bible stories for the children of the island, and pray. That effort is rewarded as each month, on the day of the outreach, homes in the neighborhood empty when the Christ's Church team appears. The outreach draws entire families.
"Crime rates have dropped dramatically in this area, and lives have truly been transformed," says Diane Ott Jones, Christ's Church associate pastor. "We have seen alcoholics, the homeless, and drug addicts be healed, get a roof over their heads, and begin attending church. God is moving noticeably in this community."