$600,000 offering boosts local & international ministries
Feb 26, 2013
Florida Baptist Witness

Courtesy photo
MIAMI (FBW)-Caring for Miami, a ministry arm of Christ Fellowship, helps the “hurting and under-resourced” throughout Miami-Dade County. The varied ministries of Caring for Miami were bolstered Dec. 15-16 when church members gave more than $600,000 to help that ministry and the church’s church planting efforts in India.

According to church spokesperson Aimee Artiles, thousands of families on the church’s six campuses waited in line to contribute to the “Be a Light” campaign whose goal was $337,000. Artiles said people used debit cards, wrote checks and gave cash that totaled $601,000.

“Christ Fellowship is blessed with the capacity to dream big. This December, we challenged everyone, including our own staff, to give big and be a light to their community and the world. The results were astounding,” said Rick Blackwood, senior pastor of Christ Fellowship, in local news reports.

More than half of the offering will stay in Miami, where Caring for Miami offers help through its Family Life Center in Homestead, Counseling Centers in Palmetto Bay and Homestead, and Mobile Health Center. A second Family Life Center will open in Downtown Miami in March.

The Family Life Center ministers to those facing crisis situations including unplanned pregnancies and employment challenges. The center offers free pregnancy tests, ultrasound, mental health counseling and training in life skills and parenting. 

“It is not enough just to say I’m not going to abort my baby, you have to say I want to learn to be a better parent,” Caring for Miami Executive Director Elizabeth Skjoldal told Florida Baptist Witness.

In an update to the church, Skjoldal said the Be a Light offering will enable the new Downtown center to also offer ultrasound by which mothers will be able to see an image of their babies, and to hear their heartbeats. She said more than 90 percent of those considering abortion choose not to abort after seeing and hearing their babies.

HEALTH Free dental care is offered as part of Caring For Miami’s Mobile Dental Unit. Courtesy photo
The new center will also house a permanent dental center, and ministries to children of prison inmates and to women coming out of sex trafficking.

With the funds from the Be a Light offering, Caring for Miami purchased its Mobile Dental Unit and added a third chair and a portable x-ray machine to expand its abilities to treat dental patients. The unit also offers free health screenings for blood pressure and blood glucose. The Mobile Dental Unit partners with local churches and community organizations in providing care for “uninsured and under-resourced” area residents.

The Counseling Centers, with state licensed clinicians and students working under their supervision, offer help in parenting, anxiety and depression, divorce, marriage, addiction behavior, sexual abuse and ADHD. All counseling is offered pro bono, or at a deep discount.

Skjoldal told the church congregations in a video, “Lives are being transformed because of your generosity.”

Skjoldal has been Caring for Miami executive director six months. Her work in the community began in the Miami Mobile Dental Clinic while she was working on a Ph.D. in counseling. The 53-year-old native of Cuba said her work with Caring for Miami is “the culmination of my career.”

“It is thrilling to see God change lives spiritually and physically. My entire career is now caught up in this,” she said.

She said the backbone of the vast ministry is the cadre of volunteers who give many hours each week to the ministries that Christ Fellowship offers. Dentists, doctors, therapists and clinicians are among the hundreds who donate time and expertise to needy Miami residents.

“Being a volunteer requires commitment, and not all our stories have happy endings. Some decide to have abortions, and some marriages end in divorce. Some return to drugs and alcohol. To stay in this ministry is hard,” she said. “In Miami, the needs are overwhelming, but I believe that even ethnic divisions can be breached by our ministries. This generation wants to see if you are real.”

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