Churches unite to spread Help, Healing and Hope across Henry County
By MIKE BROOME
H3 Ministry was formed in spring of 2011 as a ministry of Help, Healing and Hope, seeking to be the hands and feet of Christ by serving the hungry of Henry County.
The missions ministry of McDonough First United Methodist Church sponsors the effort in partnership with Helping In His Name Food Pantry and six local churches: Wesley Chapel UMC, Salem Baptist, SouthPoint Presbyterian PCA, Southern Crescent Baptist, Momentum Church and Tabernacle of Praise.
When our churches first began discussing this ministry, each of us was involved in different efforts, some on the streets of Atlanta and others in our community. We began looking at ways that the Body of Christ could come together and serve those in need right in our own backyard, and H3 was birthed.
Hosted every Friday night at McDonough FUMC, H3 is able to serve a hot, homemade, healthy meal to more than 100 guests. The churches work on a rotational basis with each church partnering with another, for a specified Friday night, to provide both the meal and volunteer help.
We seek to provide a clean and loving environment to receive our guests, serve them, pray for them and offer a devotional message. We partner with the local food pantry, which screens clients and provides tickets to an upcoming meal.
Once the tickets are distributed, the pantry sends us the roster of guests by name and phone number. We then call all guests, remind them of the dinner, and ask to confirm their reservations. Once confirmed, their names are added to the RSVP list that is held at our hostess station. Each guest and their family is treated with radical hospitality, grace and respect.
As they arrive they are greeted by name, welcomed, seated and served. During the course of the meal, we are able to visit and pray with them. The ministry has served more than 2,000 guests since June.
As we continued this ministry, we began identifying a growing need for our truly homeless population living in area motels, behind shopping centers, in vehicles and in the woods. Several months ago, under the leadership of Frankie Hopper, a member of Jodeco Road UMC and a Denman Evangelism Award recipient, we mobilized H3 Outreach, made up of teams trained and passionate about our homeless.
Now every Friday, we not only serve guests in-house, but we also send out several outreach teams, with the exact same meal packaged in to-go boxes, for delivery to our homeless.
Frankie and his teams also deliver New Testaments and host prayer time with this fringe people group. On fifth Fridays, we postpone our regular in-house dinner and all seven churches and volunteers are mobilized for H3 Outreach. In September, more than 50 volunteers served and prayed with more than 140 homeless residents where they were. This was an incredible experience for many of our volunteers. Plans are underway to mobilize neighborhood-based H3 Outreach teams that will begin going out every Friday night and serve within the same community each week.
This ministry has allowed all of our churches to work together, across denominational lines, and to disciple our members into what it truly means to be the hands and feet of Christ.
On any given Friday night, you will find older adults, young adults and even young children and families, serving together. One Friday night in particular, we had several children and youth volunteers present and while the adults worked in the kitchen and “plated” the meals. The children served and prayed with our guests. This has created an incredible atmosphere of compassion, love and hope experienced by all…guests and volunteers alike.
Many of our volunteers have never participated in this type of ministry before and others were fearful or unsure of what to do or say. This has been an incredible ministry growth experience for each of our churches and especially for McDonough First as we have sought to lead the vision in welcoming our community and in collaborating with other Christian faith groups in ministering to the least of these.
Many of our guests do not have the resources to “dine out” and to experience being a guest for dinner, enjoying food and being treated with love and respect. H3 is certainly making a difference in the lives of our community and members, offering hope, healing and help.
If you or your church would like to learn more about H3 or how you can start a similar ministry in your community, call Mike Broome at 770-957-4150 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. While our ministry continues to grow, we rely completely on donations to fund our expenses so any and all donations are tax-deductible and welcome.
Mike Broome is associate pastor of McDonough First United Methodist Church.