Beyond Our Walls is a powerful outreach ministry of our church that allows volunteer interaction with our community, providing fun for kids, and meals and fellowship for many of our neighbors.
We have been blessed to see recipients of Beyond Our Walls come to Genesis Church and Central UMC for worship and to have several join as members as a result of our outreaches.
In order to continue to make a difference, we have to be actively involved in the lives of those we are serving. And that can be messy and challenging, especially when the burdens are heavy and the situation heart-breaking.
“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2
We met a single mother’s children at a Beyond Our Walls outreach. They were having a blast in the bouncy pit and playing games with our volunteers. Mom was nowhere to be found and we were told that was usually the case.
The kids were often left for hours on the playground, unsupervised and without an evening meal. They sometimes went around the neighborhood knocking on doors for food.
We went back to the neighborhood to follow up, invite families to church, and to offer any help they might need and that’s when we met mom and was invited into their home.
The apartment had no furnishings, was heaped full of dirty laundry, and the kids were sleeping uncovered on old pillows on the floor. Mom’s first words to us were that she was pregnant again, overwhelmed, and wanted to die. Her plan (which she carried out) was to carry the baby to term and give her away for adoption.
We have since brought the kids to church – and that has allowed us to show them Christ’s love but has also revealed the depth of the problems they are facing. They spoke of being afraid that their mommy would give them away, that they couldn’t control how they were acting out, and even wrote on coloring sheets about themselves: “I am bad and God hates me!.”
With gifts from church members and donations from Sweetser Properties, we were able to fully furnish their apartment. The children now have desks and their own beds! During the October Beyond Our Walls we were able to go in and fully clean the apartment – remember that ministry can be messy! Pastor Jody’s wife, Mary, was our angel, loving on the kids and the family, along with mopping floors and cleaning bathrooms.
Nicole Guenther, Genesis Director of Children’s Ministries, has had compassion for the children, and along with volunteers, they have patiently spent one-on-one time with the children during Sunday school. We have helped the family in countless acts of kindness, provided the children with special attention during story time, and are now involved in working with the school to help determine how we can further assist with the needs of these dearly loved children of God.
The family continues to experience upheaval and it is particularly hard on the children. Our role as the church is simply to continue to offer grace to the family and especially these innocent children in hopes that Christ can offer healing and comfort to them.
As you can see this, is more than a one-time Saturday event and more than just a fun afternoon. It’s actively engaging in the lives of children and families for however long we can be a part of their lives. And, unfortunately, quick fixes are not always possible.
It’s going Beyond Our Walls, and trusting that God is at work when we step into the lives of others.
Lord, we are so thankful that we can share your love and mercy – and lift up all the young people you are bringing to us. Hold them in your loving arms, lead, guide, and protect them. And, help us to remain steadfast in our prayers for them all.
“Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” Ephesians 3:20
Local Mission Coordinator