We love, because He first loved us. (1 John 4:19)
In response to this scripture, Second Baptist Church of Union City set out to LOVELOUD during the weekend October 23-24. The members sought to reflect God’s love to their community in both tangible and practical ways. “The Lord has blessed our church over the past 64 years in unimaginable ways.” said Pastor Justin Hiens. “Our goal was to love our neighbors and in doing so, share the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Armed with a budget of $10,000 and over 300 volunteers, the church embarked on its mission. The first project was to visit every nursing home resident in Obion County. Members of every age spent time with residents, sharing stories, singing songs and praying. Along with the visit, each resident received a goody bag filled with practical gifts. The blessing of the visit was experienced by the residents and the church members. Mari Smithson counts herself as very fortunate to have been able to participate in this project. Through getting to know the residents she has found a friend that she now visits every week. This sweet lady was in a quartet at one time and I hear she still sings like an angel.
Next, we focused on showing appreciation to our public servants. Every police officer, fireman, deputy, and rescue squad worker received a hand-written thank-you card from a child of the church. While delivering these cards, church members took meals and desserts to each department. After sharing their appreciation and praying over these departments, the church shifted its focus to helping provide food for those in need.
“On Wednesday morning of that week, the Lord pressed upon our heart to buy food and distribute it to families at random,” said Pastor Hiens. The Lord quickly opened a door and in two days the church had groceries for 95 families. Each family received staple items as well as things needed for two or three meals. Members loaded up the food and knocked on doors to offer assistance. As they delivered the meals, members prayed over each family and discussed the love of Jesus. During these deliveries it began to rain. No one was going to let a little damp, cold fall weather get in the way of a good work. Church members donned jackets, rain boots and smiles going down the sidewalks. The cold and wet fade away when you help people who may be in tough situations.
Simultaneously, several construction projects were in full swing. Crews worked to build wheelchair ramps, repair gutters, replace doors, and make other repairs on homes in Hornbeak. A team also worked upgrading the gym lights at the Boys and Girls Club. After replacing the existing lighting with more energy efficient fixtures, the crew turned to painting and updating the bathrooms.
The work at the Boys and Girls Club yielded an amazing transformation. The hallway went from gray and blue to a bright yellow. The restrooms were painted a nice shade of gray. New sinks and vanities were installed, as well as new lighting. A few toilets needed some TLC and that was taken care of as well. The gym went from a dark, cavelike place to a well-lit area that will be able to host some great basketball games. The final projects of the day were to install energy efficient lighting in the gameroom and to hang bulletin boards down the hall.
Tammy Boucher, the director of the Boys and Girls club said the members are so thankful for their ‘new’ gym and all the painting and the lights. It was a great surprise for the kids.
The final project centered on refurbishing the 20,000-square-foot wooden playground at Graham Park. The team began by pressure washing each piece of wood and then began applying 40 gallons of stain. Due to the rain, the staining project has yet to be completed. The final touch for that playground was laying down two tractor trailer loads of mulch. Built 15 years ago, the playground was a community project and is a popular place still for birthday parties and a good place to play. “We wanted to extend the life of that playground and continue the legacy our community started for years to come” said Pastor Hiens.
Amy Burcham, who was instrumental at the Boys and Girls Club and the food distribution, had this to say about loving loud. “You know, for me, I personally hunger to do. And being home all the time with my child I don’t get to GO like I really want to. I like getting dirty. I like messy. And there is nothing in the world that is more fulfilling than showing up at the door of some random brother or sister, who needs a smile and a prayer (just like me!)…it was a day I could just be me. Loving loud had nothing to do with what was purchased. Nothing to do with things painted or built. But everything to do with Jesus. Be blessed so that you may be a blessing.”
In all, over 1,200 volunteer hours were invested into the community over those two days. “We are thankful for the opportunity to serve this community, and we pray that the Lord will continue to use us as we seek to show the love of Christ to every person we encounter.”