Ridge churches venture into communities for Day of Service
Apr 24, 2014
Florida Baptist Witness

MEETING NEEDS Some of the 100-plus families that were fed through the Food Pantry Ministry at Eastside Baptist Church in Auburndale. Courtesy photo
AUBURNDALE (FBW)—East Side Baptist Church in Auburndale is one of 20 churches in the Ridge Association that participated in the association’s Day of Service on April 5 and other Saturdays in April. Director of Missions Mike Hasha said the churches “met people they would not normally get to know” through their projects.

“This was churches getting outside of their own four walls sharing Jesus,” he said.

East Side Baptist volunteers distributed food to more than 100 families who arrived in its parking lot early to sign up to receive a box of 15-20 pounds of canned vegetables, dry goods and frozen meat. Some were in line at 1 a.m. for the 8 a.m. opening.

Sixteen volunteers—about one third of the congregation—boxed food, greeted visitors and loaded boxes in cars. Bob White, interim pastor since November, prayed with each visitor.

“It thrills me to see the love of God demonstrated in such a practical way. God loves hurting people and when a church gets in on this, God blesses the church,” White said.

He said the church has made the distribution an on-going ministry to the residents of its lower middle class neighborhood.

MEETING NEEDS Kendall Brightwell of FBC, Lake Wales, paints at Crystal Lake Park. Courtesy photo
Parkland Baptist Church in Winter Haven “made a list of projects” for its Day of Service by driving through its neighborhood, Hasha said. One of the ministry sites was a home with a wheelchair in the yard. A family member had come home from the hospital that day to a home that needed yard work.

With 65 volunteers from First Baptist Church in Lake Alfred and 12 from Bethel Missionary Baptist Church, teams spread through the community to do yard work for elderly residents and to spruce up local parks. In the effort that was dubbed “Lovin’ LA,” crews delivered gift bags to local businesses and firefighters, ministered to nursing home residents, pressure-washed the fence at the home of a military wife, and picked up trash along a one-mile strip of highway.

A Lake Alfred crew scatted seven pickup-loads of mulch at Mackay Estates and Gardens, where church volunteers had already installed benches. A childcare crew at First Baptist cleaned windows and light switches, picked up trash and sang at a nearby nursing home.  According to Pastor Mike Jones, the April 5 Lovin’ LA was the fourth day in 2014 to send work crews into the community.

First Baptist Church in Lake Wales joined with fellow Southern Baptist churches and congregations of other denominations to accomplish a mammoth-sized task in the city. According to Pastor Scott Markley, a group of 10-12 local pastors, who meet regularly for fellowship and prayer, were trying to find a project for their churches to do together. Markley asked if they could plan it on April 5 to coincide with the Baptists’ Day of Service.

More than 100 volunteers worked to restore a former city recreation area, Crystal Lake Park. The to-do list included clearing brush, painting and landscaping—chores the city workers don’t have time for, Markley said. 

In honor of the churches’ commitment to service, Lake Wales Mayor Gene Fultz proclaimed April 5 Christian Service Day, Hasha said.   

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