The sight of children devouring cookies during a community ministries night initiated an unforeseen outreach for a West Michigan congregation.
“We found out these kids did not have supper,” said Robert Beute, ministries coordinator for the 900-member Hillcrest Christian Reformed Church in Hudsonville, Mich. So the church began providing a nutritious meal for the children on Thursdays, when adults attend classes sponsored by Love INC, a church networking agency.
In addition to dinner, church volunteers offer about 60 children a Bible story time, library, and crafts. Parents such as Lourie and Salih Abdalla appreciate a safe place like Hillcrest for their five children, ages 6 to 9, while they learn family budget management with 95 other adults. “I have peace of mind that my kids’ physical, spiritual, and emotional needs are met while I’m learning,” said Lourie, 47.
Three years ago Love INC asked Hillcrest for space to hold budgeting classes and a nursery. Hillcrest members began greeting Love INC clients at the door and offered them prayer request cards. “The church responded as needs surfaced. It’s growing all the time,” Beute said.
A new church-sponsored class covers basic home upkeep, such as repairing window screens. About 300 church members have become involved in various ways.
The children do homework with church mentors, play with Big Sisters and Big Brothers, or even join supervised skateboarding in the parking lot.
Hosting the Love INC program brought the community straight into the arms of Hillcrest members, who found a vitalizing way to serve in Jesus’ name.