We are praying for you, your families and your churches during this crisis!
Many churches are still navigating service cancellations due to government restrictions, discipleship efforts due to quarantine and ministry to vulnerable members in the midst of a pandemic. And, I agree that those efforts should be first priority (Matthew 28:16-20; Galatians 6:10).
However, if this crisis stretches into the next few weeks and even months (I pray that does not happen), the economic fallout could and probably will be severe. And, the church should be prepared to meet community as well as church needs (Matthew 5:16). Over the last few days, I have spoken to or heard from government officials, church leaders and other community organizations about community needs and how the church can meet them; and I have compiled a list from those interactions. Here are seven ways your church can serve your community during this time:
Contact, Pray for and Assist Local Officials. Reach out to your mayor, local health officials and school officials to (1) tell them you are praying for them and (2) ask them how you can help. These officials may tell you that all needs are currently being met. But, if this crisis drags on, the need will intensify and your help will be needed.
Call People and Deliver Care Kits. In a recent podcast episode, Jay Height from the Shepherd Community Center in Indianapolis shared with me that some elderly individuals go months without human interaction. This is a tragedy at any point, but it is especially problematic now. Why not put a team together to call shut-ins, other church members and even names in the phone book to offer prayer and help? When you identify a need (especially for an elderly individual), offer to deliver food or other essential items while observing CDC procedures.
Assist Public Schools. Last week, a legislator shared with me that 30% of the students in one of the school districts in his area are on the free and reduced lunch program. In other words, these students rely on their school for daily nutrition. Public schools are scrambling to find ways to safely continue these food services, so ask if your church can assist in some way.
Offer Space. Many churches lack other resources, but space is not one of them. I heard from one pastor that is assisting a local school by allowing the school to use the church parking lot to distribute food to students. And, this pastor also offered space for an emergency medical facility if the local hospital is overwhelmed.
ProvideChild Care. As I am sure you are well aware, schools are closed; and, that means that many parents are scrambling to figure out child care. This is, of course, especially important for workers in the health, safety, and essential service fields during this pandemic. Some churches with existing preschools are expanding their services to meet these needs and others are exploring the launch of such a ministry (you will, of course, need to work with local officials to comply with regulations). By the way, Indiana is already facing a child care shortage; so, perhaps this could be a long-term rather than a short-term strategy for meeting community needs.
Donate Funds or Food to a Food Bank, The Salvation Army or a similar organization. Because kids are out of school and because many workers in the food service, travel and hospitality industries are either being laid off or having their hours cut, food and essentials such as toilet paper are in high demand. So, organize a fundraiser or food drive for a local food bank or similar organization. Make sure you communicate with the food bank or ministry beforehand to ensure compliance with CDC recommendations and to determine which items are most needed.
Provide Resources to Those Experiencing Job Loss or Reduced Hours. The Indiana Department of Workforce Development has announced measures to assist individuals that have been laid off or have had their hours cut due to the pandemic. Point individuals to the designated website so they can sign up for these resources. Also, some churches are specifically raising funds for and distributing assistance to individuals in hard-hit industries.
From the early church to the Ebola outbreak, the church has responded to plague and disease with love, hope and help. Now, it’s our turn.
I hope these ideas help you and your church as you serve your community!
Also, we are in contact with government officials (including the governor’s office) and other ministries, and are working with them to coordinate response efforts. We would love to know what you and your church are doing so we can compare and contrast best practices and let government officials know about the church’s efforts to combat this pandemic and serve people in need.
Will you take a moment and fill out this brief survey so we know how you are serving your community and how we can best coordinate with government officials and equip the church in Indiana?
I’ll close with this quote by George Whitefield, which has been on mind lately, “We are immortal until our work on earth is done.” Let’s gobe the church!
Tuesday, October 15, 2019 | 7–8:30PM First Church of the Nazarene (2734 S. Washington St., Kokomo, IN)
Hope Center in Indianapolis is a residential campus for women survivors of sex trafficking. The nonprofit’s mission is “to transform the lives of women exiting sex trafficking by providing a Christ-centered approach to healing, self-sufficiency, and reintegration into the community.” For more information, see hopecenterindy.org.
Pastor Hubert Nolen, the Executive Director of the Hope Center, and other leaders will share about the lives God is changing through the Hope Center.
Please pre-register by calling the First Church of the Nazarene office at (765) 453-7078.
A love offering will be collected for the Hope Center.
“Hubert Nolen is a Co-Founder of Hope Center Indy and serves as the Executive Director and a Board Member. He is the former Senior Pastor of Brookville Road Community Church in New Palestine, IN, and pastored there for 33 years. Under Pastor Hubert’s leadership, the congregation grew to more than 1,000 members with an annual operating budget of $1.1 million, which has provided millions to world missions and church planting. Pastor Hubert was instrumental in establishing more than 70 churches globally including in India and Brazil. He earned his B.A. in Bible and Pastoral Ministry from Barclay College and completed graduate studies at Asbury Seminary and Trinity Evangelical Seminary.
“In 2015, he took notice of a promotion video featuring a young woman on the verge of taking her own life because of heartache she had lived through from a violent past. Subsequently, she found hope when she discovered an organization where she was given a second chance. Pastor Nolen felt prompted in that instant to launch a center where victims of human trafficking from coast to coast and all walks of life could find a place to heal and recover from the effects of human trafficking. He and his wife, Tonia, have been married 40+ years. They have five children, seven grandchildren, and live on the family farm in Shelbyville, IN.”
In 2018 alone, 85,613 human trafficking victims were identified worldwide.
“This is an urgent humanitarian issue. My Administration is committed to leveraging every resource we have to confront this threat, to support the victims and survivors, and to hold traffickers accountable for their heinous crimes.”
Sunday, October 6, 2019 | 2:30-3:30 PM Pick up signs at First Baptist Church (at the intersection of Taylor St. & Washington St.)
Stand with thousands of pro-life individuals throughout the USA and Canada in honor of millions of babies whose lives have been lost to abortion. Pray for people in crisis situations and for our nations. You’ll be a light in a darkened world as you help put an end to abortion through prayer!
Signs will be available for pick-up at 2:00 PM at First Baptist Church of Kokomo at the northwest corner of Taylor St. and Washington St.
The event begins at 2:30 and ends at 3:30 PM.
We will be forming a cross by lining up on the North/South Street Washington Blvd. between Markland & North Streets and the East/West street Jefferson Ave., between Indiana Ave. & Apperson Way.
This year we are inviting church leaders as well as individuals to go to our Facebook page and choose a spot on the cross to stand. Tell us the location you have chosen. We are praying that this will be the year that the city of Kokomo will see the longest LIFE CHAIN ever!
We will stand with our pro-life signs while we pray silently for our country, our leaders, those who drive by, for women and men who have or will in the future be making a “life decision” and for the pro-life cause.
After 3:30PM, please return the signs to the person at First Baptist Church (at Taylor St. & Washington St.), or to Bible Baptist Church, 2635 S. Dixon Road.
If you have any questions, please call (765) 210-9367.
We hope you will establish a sign-up sheet for your parishioners as well as frequently giving out reminders to friends, family members and neighbors to further encourage their involvement in this very important national event. Each year we are encouraged by the increasing number of motorists and pedestrians who honk or show a thumbs up in solidarity with our message. This is a chance for the church of Christ to stand up for those who cannot speak for themselves.
Will you stand with us?
To learn more, visit Howard County Right to Life on Facebook or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can select a designated spot to stand by viewing the cross in our Facebook post. Just select the spot you want for your church/organization/business and reply with a comment telling us your choice. We will post your group on our Facebook page within 24 hours.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to call.
You can make a difference in someone’s life. With every volunteer, someone gets closer to having somewhere to call home. Whether you have never picked up a hammer before or you’ve built many houses, we would love to have you spend a Saturday with us!
Our current build is taking place at 1404 Belvedere St., Kokomo, IN, 46902. We typically start building around 8:30 AM and end by 4:30 PM. Lunch is provided through our wonderful donors in Howard County.
We encourage potential volunteers to please sign-up online (via the link below). This helps us to have an idea of how many to expect for lunch and also for the type of work we might try to get done on a given work day. Click here to access the sign-up for the house build at 1404 Belvedere.
The first things you notice when you get to Narrow Gate Ranch are horses. The large barn is surrounded by gently rolling acres. The horses graze in small groups, some galloping a few yards as the mood takes them, most still and watchful. It’s not far from downtown Kokomo, but the flowing land and calm presence of the horses leaves you feeling far from anything you’d find in the city. It’s a peaceful scene, and one that Susan Zody appreciates.
For the past few years, Susan has been running the Narrow Gate Horse Ranch. Susan wasn’t familiar with horses when she started on this journey. She had been searching for a way to get the kids to continue coming and engaging with a youth outreach program where she volunteered, and remembered an article she’d read about a therapy horse ranch. After raising the funds through donations and researching therapy ranches, Susan was able to take a group to a nearby facility. The funds continued to roll in, and Susan started seeing the impact the visits were making on some of the kids in the program. Grades improved. Behavior improved. The kids started making better decisions. She was impressed, and committed to continue providing this to the children.
“They come here really, to build a relationship with a horse,” says Susan about the draw for the youth she works with at the ranch. These young people have sometimes suffered abuse and neglect, and an adult seeking to mentor these individuals will often face an uphill battle. But a horse, patient and calm and not demanding, can bridge that divide.
As donations continued to come in, Susan had to ask herself if there was more that she could do. Was it just the small group of children that she currently worked with that were meant to benefit? Could something else be done? It was a crossroads for Susan. She knew the need was greater than what could be met by visiting a horse ranch an hour way. She could see the improvements, but her kids, and the kids she knew needed connection in the community, would benefit from a slightly different approach. One that focused on building relationships and making better decisions, and ultimately, one that had its foundation in faith.
This was where Susan found herself in 2016 when she invited a group of people from the community to a discussion. Would the community support an organization like what she envisioned? Were the resources there to make it successful? Her plans were met with enthusiasm and support, and a board was formed. In a short three years, Narrow Gate Horse Ranch has been established and has weekly classes.
Narrow Gate’s target audience is at-risk youth in the community. In Howard County, Indiana alone, over 4,000 children live at or below the poverty level. At the Ranch, these children are able to grow their confidence, leadership skills, and communication skills.
“I want these kids to gain some confidence and to know that if they do things correctly, there will be a good ending.”
When we visited Susan at the ranch, we also met Scott MacDonald, the equine specialist at the Ranch, and Kelsey and Autumn, two sisters who volunteer. Together, Susan and Scott shared stories that more often than not brought tears to the eyes of both speaker and listeners. The horses at Narrow Gate have faced their own challenges, much like the youth that works with them. The kids relate to the horses. They see their own struggles, and they work together to overcome challenges. It’s a rewarding experience for everyone involved, and one the team at Narrow Gate never tires of.
It was an honor to meet with Susan and Scott at Narrow Gate Horse Ranch, to be introduced to the horses, and to meet some of the youth benefitting from this wonderful operation.