Above: A church offered free Santa photos during last year’s pandemic. Photo by Katherine Tresner.

I know of a church.

I know of a church whose membership is small, with very little in its coffers, but what this church does well is reflect Jesus to its community. It is an eclectic group that consists of people from those who are homeless to businessmen and educators, some single and others married several times. But this church is growing, and the common denominator is that the members have all had an encounter with the living, loving, resurrected Jesus Christ.

I know of a church that ministers to the homeless. This church lets them use the church address as their permanent address so they can get government subsidies and IDs. One by one, they come to the church office, where they receive help filling out an income tax form. Because they have filed their income taxes, they are now eligible for government subsidies. This helps them move from living under a bridge to having a small apartment, getting a job and beginning the journey to self-reliance. I was talking to one of the homeless men the other day when the pastor yelled, “When you see Red, tell him he’s got mail!”

I know of a church that meets each other’s needs. One of the previously homeless ladies had her young granddaughter living with her. She was concerned that if she were to die, her granddaughter would become a ward of the state. A couple in this church had been trying to have children but to no avail. The pastor got these two families together, and recently, the young couple were given legal guardianship of the little girl with plans to adopt. The little girl now has a home, and the grandmother has another family.

I know of a church whose members use their gifts and talents for community outreach. During the pandemic’s worst days, parents couldn’t take their children out to get their annual “sitting on Santa’s lap” photo. One of the members is a photographer and offered her services free of charge. The church hired a Mr. and Mrs. Claus, set up a backdrop and offered parents free pictures for their families. The community came, touched by the kindness of the church.

I know of a church that participated in the Farm to Family food distribution. While the line was a mile long with carloads of people waiting to get food, church members went to each car to tell them they also had clothes and meat to supplement the food being distributed. A group called Hunters for Hunger heard about this church and donated 1,000 pounds of ground venison. One by one, families came to have their needs met. Not only did the church give out food and clothing but staples such as shampoo, toothbrushes, backpacks, towels, washcloths and other necessities.

I know of a church whose building is in bad shape. But because they are out doing Jesus’ ministry, God is blessing them through other people ministering to them. The church received a grant to put all-new, double-paned windows throughout its building. A group from Springfield, Mo., has come twice and repainted the cabinets in the kitchen, repaired the baptistry and painted classrooms. During the pandemic, the church has gone from no Sunday school classes to 10.

I know of a church that has recently baptized 14 new members, ordained elders and ordained one man to the Gospel ministry.

I know of a church who was down to only eight senior adult members and no pastor. They had been faithful and wanted to continue do Jesus’ ministry. They started talking to a church planter and decided to partner with him. They turned over their building and their bank account, pledging to be faithful supporters and prayer partners in a new work.

I want to say something to the eight senior adults at Catoosa, First. I know you held on as long as you could, eight of you in a sanctuary that would seat 300. You could have continued to hold on until the last one of you went to be with Jesus. But you had the guts, the courage and vision to step out of your comfort zone, to open your heart, your wallets and building to allow people from all walks of life to come and find new life in Jesus. Because of you, the word is getting out into your community that the church is there to meet needs, to encourage the hopeless, minister to the sick and meet the needs of family.

As Jesus said to the church in Smyrna, “I know your afflictions and your poverty—yet you are rich!” (Rev. 2:9).

I know of a church that Jesus is proud of …

I know of a church.