Humbled in the Midst of Justice and Kindness: An Update on the Dale PC Micah Center Project
Dale PC is in the middle of a capital campaign to build the Micah Center. Two years ago, we became aware of the hunger issues in our small town. With $1,000 used to prime the pump, so to speak, we began to weekly provide a hot meal and a take home bag of food to anyone who walked into our church on Thursday evenings. What surprised us was the number of volunteers from other churches and organizations who immediately came to join us. Presently, we feed 50-80 people a week, send home about 20 bags of non-perishable foods with the help of over 70 volunteers. Donations of food and money have kept this program going without any further financial support from our church. The social justice piece was obvious, but we didn’t realize how we ourselves would grow to love our neighbors. God truly humbled us in awe.
Realizing the financial and social needs, God opened the door for us to join Purdue University in providing a program called The Benefit Bank. Six volunteers from our church attended the two day training and we were able to set up the necessary technology in our church to help people apply for federal and state programming all at one time and in one place.
Soon, we became very aware of the children in our neighborhood who were wandering the streets, especially during the summer months, with nothing to do. By partnering with the school, we began a Summer Adventure program which targeted the 150+ children on the free and reduced lunch program (50% of the children attending!) Because of our small building, we were only able to enroll 40 children last year. Volunteers came out of the woodwork and gave us courage to host the program again this year. Before registration even opened, 60 children were requesting to be a part of this summer mentoring program which included food, evangelism, tutoring and programming. Though spatially bursting at the seams, all 60 were accepted. Forty-eight percent of our students were Hispanic/Latino.
This ministry opened our eyes to the language challenges of our neighbors. Once again, God provided us the opportunity to house yet another program: The English as Second Language (ESL) classes from Vincennes University. Our church is now the center for learning English.
As these partnerships developed, more followed and continue to pursue us. The local hospital and the YMCA are partnering with us to bring health services to our impoverished county. Local groups continue to supply our needs financially and with human resources. We keep expanding and yet we have not put the first shovel in the ground for our new Micah Center.
With an eye on stewardship, our session and congregation decided we would not begin to build until we had $460,000 in cash. Our goal was not only unbelievable for our small congregation, but the time frame we have set for ourselves seems impossible. Still, the congregation and friends have pledged $375,000 by May 2012!!! We are also writing grant applications to help us with the other monies we will need.
It all started with prayer. We began praying for our neighbors and have been surprised all along the way. We are surprised that from our small loaves and fish, Christ is providing. We are surprised by the unity of the Holy Spirit who continues to draw volunteers from our community who come along side us to help. We are surprised how God is opening door after door of partnerships. As one elder in our church stated, “Being in the midst of what God is doing at our church is like trying to change a tire while the car is driving down the road!” It’s an exciting time to be a part of the Kingdom of God.
Rev. Martha FrizLanger