Knowing that there is a poverty issue in Lewis County is one thing, but the ability to see it in a whole new light through interacting with the very people who are in its grip puts an urgency to the need to solve it.
Bethel Church’s Hub City Mission brings people from several churches together once a month to help distribute food to the hungry in the Centralia community, and this morning the ministry served dozens upon dozens of people with food boxes to last a few weeks. People of all ages and walks of life from Bethel Church, Life Center and more all put their heads and hands together to volunteer, doing everything from carrying boxes and making connections with folks to back-of-house work such as bringing more food out and cleaning up.
Generally the last Saturday of every month, people start lining up outside Bethel’s Downtown Centralia church at 8 a.m. — a full hour before the mission begins handing out the food. Delivery teams bring the food to people who generally can’t make it out of their apartments or homes, bringing a completely different aspect to the ministry and reaching people where they are at.
I have had the opportunity to get to know some of the volunteers, but even more importantly while helping with food boxes I’ve been blessed to get to know those we are helping. I sadly admit that I generally wouldn’t otherwise get to know them, and that’s largely because our lives don’t intersect otherwise. I admit that I need to change that and be more intentional about creating connections and community with those who don’t have much.
There’s one interesting component to the ministry that my friend Dave and I started a few months back, and it’s been a tremendous blessing because it meshes in with an activity that I have grown to love over the past few years.
We noticed several people were riding bicycles to the mission to haul their food boxes home, but their bicycles were in very poor condition and needed tune-ups at the very least. So we decided to start a bicycle repair stand at the mission to coincide with the food box handouts. Dave has the equipment and expertise and I had the willingness to learn, and the combo has worked well.
One month during the summer, we serviced about a dozen bicycles with issues ranging from wheels that needed to be trued to a bicycle that needed a new set of pedals. We’ve even had more people help, including Dave at Willie’s Sport Shop who has joined in on occasion.
Today we had two new guys come out to lend a hand, and although we only serviced three bicycles this morning (it was a frigid 28 degrees, and bare hands working with metal isn’t the best), we were still able to interact with several people. One man stopped through to talk for a few about his BMX bike and show us his rather handy way of creating a bicycle trailer out of cobbled-together components including crutches and refrigerator racks.
It was pretty inventive, and I appreciated it simply because this man needed a trailer and did what he had to do to make it happen.
All of this brings me to a point: There are ways for us to serve our communities by doing things we enjoy. I like working on bicycles because of the challenge it brings and because I love to ride. If I can channel that into something that benefits others such as this, then I pray that the Lord uses it.
The need is going to be very great in the Twin Cities as the weather gets colder. There are a variety of groups helping out with food and other needs, and I can think of a few right off the bat including the Salvation Army, United Way of Lewis County, Rotary and more. Contact any service organization or church in Lewis County to get involved.
If and when you do, you’ll make a connection with the people in need. Putting faces, names and personalities on the poverty issue here in Lewis County brings a greater urgency in quashing it, so let’s all do join in and do our part.
“He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise.” –Luke 3:11