It is due to a combination of new members joining our church with new ideas and the help of our current members that this has taken place.
Last year, we started the “Stop and Pray” in front of our church. We held signs inviting cars to stop if they would like members to pray with them. We gave out literature, muffins, fruit, and prayed with many people.
The card ministry has been going on for several years. We send out cards for birthdays, anniversaries, illnesses, bereavement, and the holiday’s. Last year, we sent cards for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Valentine’s Day. This initiative lets people know we are thinking of them, as many are not able to come due to COVID-19, and some are in nursing homes. Some have responded by thanking the church for the cards of inspiration and indicating they feel comfortable enough to reach out to ask for help from the church. One member just called to ask for a special prayer because of receiving a card. Other members, a mother and son, have returned to the church and been coming on a regular basis because of the cards.
We have partnered with Neighbor-to-Neighbor and received clothes with which we have done several clothing drives. It has been successful because people were made aware through Facebook posts and the sign outside the church. A local television station came out and interviewed several people, including John Nichols, the personal ministries leader, and Suzie W., a lady who was helped by the clothing. She got items for her clients, as she is a nurse that does in-home care. Many people went home and brought their family and neighbors back the next day.
Our church continues to host the American Red Cross blood drive, which is every three to four months. We had 38 units of blood donated on March 9. The Red Cross has told us our location is great for them to serve the Southwest Michigan community and they want to continue to use our church for future blood drives.
We have a couple dedicated members who go to Elkhart every Sunday to pick up commodities for Redbud Area Ministry (RAM), since their staff is in church on Sunday. This is used to serve those in need in Buchanan. A couple of our members are serving on their board as well. Our church, as well as other local churches, help RAM with giving out clothes, food, and money to help those in need.
A new ministry we just started on March 6 is giving packages of food, toiletries, and clothes to the homeless in Buchanan and Niles. It has been successful, and the Lord has directed in getting these items from local businesses. An Adventist dentist who has his office in Niles donated toothpaste and toothbrushes; Quality Inn in Niles donated a case of toilet paper, lotion, and bars of soap; and Fifth Third Bank staff went on a shopping spree and donated snacks, sweaters, scarves, socks, etc.
In July, there are plans to have an addiction class at our church; it will be modeled much the same as one was at another local church in Berrien Springs. We hope to have a group of 12–15 people that we can help and with whom we can continue contact, even after the meetings have ended. They will need this to keep from slipping back into their old habits.
The Lord has blessed this church with dedicated members who are on fire for Him. There are many retirees who have the time and are willing to pursue these ministries. We are also considering a building that would be made to help the community with different programs, such as cooking schools, recreation activities, and other events to help the community.