Mission work - being the hands and feet of Jesus
Helping Hand Ministry has always been busy. However, as things started shutting down in March, it was clear that lending a helping hand would look vastly different in the face of a pandemic. The offices had to close on March 17, but that did not stop the work being accomplished. Quickly, Emma Smith, along with her volunteers, safely organized a drive-through grocery pick up station at the Bernsen Building. The grocery distribution served a total of 948 residents of greater Tulsa by May 26, which translated into 8,532 meals and almost doubles the residents helped before COVID-19 forced
“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the Messenger who announces peace, who brings good news …”
– Isaiah 52:7 (NRSV)
Volunteer Phil Marshall said, “This was an amazing success story that HHM accomplished that really helped residents that were struggling and in desperate need of a helping hand.” On May 26, the offices opened by appointment with new procedures and safety protocols, so volunteers could continue helping those in our community most impacted by the economic hardships brought on by COVID-19.
Across Tulsa, a total of 51 First Church volunteers, led by Allison Biggs, served food with Hunger Free Oklahoma’s Tulsa Kitchen’s Unite Project. Starting on April 15 and ending on June 26, covering eight different Tulsa Public School sites in North, South and East Tulsa, volunteers gave a total of 32 days and approximately 385-man hours to this important ministry. Tulsa Kitchens Unite served a total of 335,000 meals across all their sites. Not only were food insecure families blessed by this provision, but relationships were built between the volunteers working each week.
In May and June, because of the funds allocated by the 8:10 Project Council, the Church was able to encourage and support the healthcare professionals in our community. The Church’s connections to Hillcrest and St. Francis allowed us to bless their ER and ICU workers with quality meals, premium coffee and snacks while also supporting the Tulsa economy by buying locally whenever possible. These small gifts were received with thanks and lifted the spirits of the healthcare heroes hard at work in our community.
Other assistance, mainly in the way of financial support, has continued to be regularly provided by both the 8:10 allocated funds and the Church’s mission budget. In June, mission funds were sent to Petra Kids Ministry and to the Kariobangi South Parish in Nairobi, Kenya. Each gift went towards food for students and families, as livelihoods all over the world have been disrupted by the pandemic. Funds from the 8:10 Building continue to support church members, neighboring churches and the city of Tulsa as a whole.
Relationships with the Lord were also strengthened at Camp Loughridge when the board provided scholarships to Emerson students for a week at camp in June. Sarah Wright, Jenny Hoecker, Marilyn Cox and Patti Richards volunteered to ride with the students on the bus to implement safety and COVID-19 protocols, and the students were transported by Keysto Stotz and backed up by Danny Russell, from Emerson to and from Camp Loughridge
“Your actions will ripple throughout their lives and will make a lasting impression for our Lord.”
– Tom Hillis
Sarah Wright recalled a camper’s reaction after receiving his award at the end of the week. “I am emotional by his words,” she said. “He was looking at his award and reading it over and over and looking at the picture of himself with his tribe. He quietly said, ‘I will treasure this always.’” Tom Hillis put it well in his thanks to the volunteers and camp staff, saying, “For the children you served, I am confident that each was exposed to our Savior at a level they had not yet experienced. Without your selfless actions, we would have missed a spectacular opportunity to minister to these angels. Your actions will ripple throughout their lives and will make a lasting impression for our Lord.”