"Kite Strings" Help Rural Pastor Connect with His Communty, Region
A kite string by itself isn't very strong, but as Paul Hesch, pastor of Victory Life Church, has learned, a single kite string can lead to strong connections.A real-life parable is what Paul Hesch, pastor of Victory Life Church in Las Vegas, New Mexico, says is what helped him connect with his community and beyond.
Hesch says Kim and Laurel Harvey, AG U.S. missionaries serving with Convoy of Hope’s Rural Initiatives, were sharing ways how small-church and rural pastors can thrive in difficult settings.
“They shared the story of how it was a single kite string that ultimately enabled the first suspension bridge over the Niagara River (home to Niagara Falls) to be built,” Hesch says. “They had to establish a line of communication from the U.S. to Canada over the river, so a kite was flown across the river. Once they had the kite string, they tied a cord to it and pulled that across, then a heavier cord, followed by a rope, and finally a wire cable.”
Hesch says the Harveys, who are a part of U.S. Missions Chaplaincy window, then applied that true story to ministry. The kite string, they explained, were simple acts of kindness and in meeting small needs in the community. By itself, the kite string was frail, but over time, over multiple acts of kindness, that frail string would be strengthened with additional strands until a once weak link becomes a dependable “cable of connection.”
“Our offer to help was initially rejected by many in our community – they didn’t know who we were or what we were about,” Hesch explains. “So, we started connecting with ‘kite strings.’”
When the Heschs became pastors of Victory Life Church in 2010, on good days, 20 people entered the doors. Today, 60 to 70 attend, with Hesch noting that if everyone who calls Victory Life their church home showed up on a single Sunday, it would probably more than triple the attendance.
Hesch says they started delivering boxes of goodies and cases of sports drink and water to seven different first responder organizations. Then they adopted three schools in the area (two elementary and one middle school) and began delivering goodie bags of treats to the school and custodial staffs, letting them know that if they became aware of a child in need of shoes or a coat, the church would supply it.
Then for the past six years, the church has been offering an annual free steak dinner for first responders.
“It started out with about 65 or so attending,” Hesch says. “But this September, we had 145 come!”
To encourage those attending to stay and visit — providing additional opportunities for God moments — Hesch asked each chief (police, fire, warden, etc.) to select an outstanding officer/employee. Those individuals are then recognized at the meal and presented with a Bible with their name and badge number (when appropriate) engraved on it along with gifts certificates from local businesses.
EXPANDING THE IMPACT
In addition to the church budgeting 25% of its tithes and offerings to missions and local ministry efforts, Hesch says that for the past seven years the church has partnered with Convoy of Hope’s Rural Initiatives to bring in truckloads of goods.
“We obviously can’t use it all (Las Vegas is a community of about 13,000), so we have around 15 churches in our region and up into southern Colorado that we connect with and let them know when the Convoy of Hope truck will arrive,” Hesch says. “Then they come with their vans and trucks and we pack them full of whatever they need for strengthening ‘kite strings’ in their communities.”
“We believe God designed the Church to be the No.1 influencer and stakeholder in a community,” says Laurel Harvey, “so when the community is in need or has a problem, the local church is the first place it turns to for help.”
TIME OF NEED
The Harveys point out that last year New Mexico experienced a massive fire that destroyed hundreds of homes and impacted thousands of lives in the Las Vegas region.
“Who did the town ask to be on the team to help work through this?” Laurel Harvey asks. “Paul. Everybody knows who he is, and the church has been positioned so everyone knows who they are.”
Matt Wilkie, senior director for Convoy of Hope Field Teams, says he’s met with the Heschs and has sent four teams to work with Paul and Diane over the past several months.
“The community leaders I’ve seen interact with Paul have great respect, admiration, and gratitude for him and the church,” Wilkie says. “That speaks of his dedication to the community and his love for the people in the community.”
“They’re just selfless people,” Harvey says of the Heschs. “Diane is an amazing woman – they just take care of everybody.”
Wilkie, who took his 12-year-old son on his first missions trip to assist the Heschs, said that it was a impacting experience for both of them.
“It’s always a joy to partner with people like Paul and Diane,” Wilkie says. “They’re just fantastic people and I so appreciated their tenderness, tears, compassion, and love for Jesus and people — all those things are just so very, very evident within just a few moments with them.”