Oklahoma City, Exchange Avenue recently offered a one-day “Impact OKC” event that offered southside metro residents much needed physical and spiritual help. “Exchange Avenue Baptist Church understands,” a popular post on the church’s Facebook said, “(that) making ends meet is difficult as the cost of goods and services continue to rise. We want to help.”
The 104-year-old congregation hosted the Impact OKC event on June 25, which included a free optometry clinic, free haircuts, offered gently-used clothing, a food pantry as well as prayer, spiritual encouragement and Gospel witnessing. The church reported 10 professions of faith in Christ, and two baptisms have already resulted from the outreach.
“The Lord is moving in a huge way,” Jon Johnston, Exchange Avenue pastor, explained in a recent Messenger Insight podcast. “As we are the hands and feet of Jesus, we can go out and share the Good News. People can not only see what we believe by our works, but they will hear it as well. When you get both of those together, that’s the double-edge sword.”
Johnston said Exchange Avenue is well positioned for reaching the community. In recent years the church has been in decline because of changes in the community, and now those changes seem to be the very things that are drawing people to join with the church.
“We are centered just south of downtown. It is a prime location for ministry to happen,” Johnston observed. “Exchange Avenue is between the Stockyards and the Wheeler District. At the moment, we have a lot of people (in the vicinity of the church) who are underprivileged and homeless.”
While some may view these realities as challenges and obstacles, Johnston said the church sees them as opportunities. Johnston said he believes the opportunities are what has attracted new members and partners to join the church in reaching out to the community.
“As (Oklahoma City) has revitalized, people have started moving back into these areas of the city,” Johnston explained. “Those people have brought extra funding and help. People are more interested in our church because of the ministry opportunity they see, there is the partnership that can be done where they can serve a church or become a member of a church where the Gospel is preached and where they can see tangible needs being met on a weekly basis.”
“Great morning at Exchange Avenue Baptist Church at their Impact OKC event!” Executive Director-Treasurer for Oklahoma Baptists Todd Fisher, posted on his Facebook page after attending the event. “I saw many of the church volunteers encouraging, praying with, and sharing the Gospel with those present. I am grateful for Pastor Jon Johnston and his church’s desire to care for the people in their community!”