Serving the Community, One Appliance at a Time

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For more than 20 years, First Christian Reformed Church in Grand Haven, Mich., has been providing household appliances to families in need.

This deacon-led ministry is one of several that allows the congregation to live out its mission to serve a God who is “able to do immeasurably more than we could ask for or imagine” (Eph. 3:20).

The church’s appliance ministry involves collecting gently used household appliances such as washing machines, dryers, stoves, and refrigerators and delivering them to people who can’t afford to buy them.

Ken Van Dyke, the current coordinator of the ministry, said it started when Christian Reformed World Relief Committee (now World Renew) encouraged churches to develop what it called “side-door ministries” to provide practical help in the community. Churches connected with other helping agencies to find out what people in the community needed most, and one of those needs was appliances.

From delivering four or five appliances a month, the program has grown to serve nearly 150 families last year. Van Dyke said even in good times there are families who are overwhelmed, who live without work, or otherwise need a hand up.

Appliances come from a variety of sources: people who are remodeling, upgrading, or simply have an unused appliance. Until a need is presented, all appliances are stored in a rented warehouse space in Grand Haven.

Each request that comes to First CRC’s appliance ministry comes through LOVE, Inc. The church office keeps a list of requests and responds through the appliance ministry.

“This ministry addresses one of our core values—pursuing God’s mission in the community. It is through this hands-on ministry that we become Jesus’ hand and feet,” said Van Dyke. Each appliance comes with a folder with a New Testament and information about the church. “We try to explain that the New Testament is God’s plan of salvation and that we do this ministry because of our calling as Christ followers,” he said.

Bernard and Rosaria are one of the many families who has been blessed by this ministry. “It is very hard to make ends meet as we get older and then to have something as big as a refrigerator break down adds more stress to stressful circumstances,” they said. “Thankfully there are earth angels out there, and we are so grateful for each one of them. It is difficult when you have to ask for help for something like this, but the people involved in the ministry are so gracious and understanding that it makes it a lot easier.”

About the Author

Laura Heming is a freelance writer.

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