By Emily Faison
One in seven people in Jackson County, Missouri, doesn´t know where his or her next meal will come from. But two Wednesdays each month, 150 families pick out grocery and personal care staples at LifePoint Crossing, a Free Will Baptist church in Blue Springs.
LifePoint spends $600-700 each month on food, buying deeply discounted provisions through a partnership with the Kansas City branch of Harvesters Community Food Network. They also receive donations from local organizations and grocers like Aldi’s, which donated 400 loaves of bread just last week. LifePoint Family Director Kimberly Moore notes, “Sometimes, the shelves seem like they’re about to be empty, but God always supplies the need.” She continues with a smile: “It’s a headache of a ministry sometimes, but it’s an awesome ministry!”
LifePoint members volunteer frequently at the Harvesters warehouse, but they experienced something new Saturday, July 16, when Impact Kansas City volunteers from five churches in Mississippi, Illinois, Tennessee, and Oklahoma joined them to sort and pack nearly 12,000 pounds of food. “I wish you could come back every Saturday!” one Harvesters staff member said, after watching the group at work.
This is just one example of the many ways participants in the annual Impact program partner with local churches in the convention city in reaching the community where the meeting is held.
In 2016, other groups of Impact volunteers were hard at work helping to host carnivals at Victory FWB Church (Kansas City) and Central FWB Church (Grandview). These events promoted local churches in their neighborhoods, helping them build relationships within the community.
At Victory Church, 30 volunteers provided food and fun activities for 120-150 visitors, four of whom returned to the church the following morning. With the help of 30 Impact volunteers, Central Church sponsored a community carnival with inflatables and games. Local police and fire departments provided emergency vehicles for kids to tour, and the church honored first responders. Approximately 200 enthusiastic residents attended the event, and the community took note of the church’s efforts.
“It’s great that race has no boundaries in the love of Christ!” said Rob Stottlemyre, chief of Grandview Fire Department. Police Chief Charley Iseman added his own observation: “It’s been a rough few weeks, and it’s great to see this type of support.”
During the first ten years of the program, more than 3,000 Free Will Baptists from all over the nation have volunteered time, effort, tools, and sweat each July. They have come together for door-to-door evangelism and to canvass neighborhoods with flyers and church information. They have hosted festivals and picnics, repaired homes for the elderly, sorted food and delivered meals, refurbished aging church buildings…and the list could go on and on.
For some participants, Impact has become the highlight of the convention. This is certainly true of Ohioan Marcia McCarty, one of only three people who has taken part in every event. On more than one occasion, she and her husband Mark have traveled all night, even slept in their cars to make it to Impact. But to her, Impact is worth the sacrifice.
When asked about her experience, she bubbles with enthusiasm: “We look forward to coming early to help serve others each year. We pray for the people and churches all year long. This is a way we can serve as the hands and feet of Jesus. It is easy to serve in my ‘Jerusalem,’ but this gives me a way to serve in my ‘Judea’ as well. I encourage every Free Will Baptist to come a day early to help our churches and serve their neighbors. It’s a great feeling to know you are where God wants you to be.”
Why not take Marcia’s challenge and help make an impact in convention cities for another decade?
About the Writer: Emily Faison was a member of the media team for the 2016 convention in Kansas City, Missouri.