by James R. Ellsworth
Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in the power of your hand to do so. Do not say to your neighbor, “Go and come back. And tomorrow I will give it,” when you have it with you.
Proverbs 3:27-28 NKJV
LENDALE, MI – Earlier in 2020 when the Covid-19 came on the scene in Michigan many churches shut the doors and shut down their help ministries and outreach. But Brian Jones, Pastor of Tecumseh Missionary Baptist Church (in Lendale Association), received an email from a non-profit organization out of Blissfield, MI. Hope and Encouragement for Humanity (HEH) was offering free milk on Friday afternoons to other nonprofits. The HEH says that by providing free milk to local food pantries, churches, homeless shelters, senior citizen programs, and individuals in need, God’s love and hope will be spread while providing a valuable resource and outreach to the community.
Later, other Michigan churches heard about the free milk distribution and joined the effort. Pastor Jones stated that, “We are getting a better handle on the distribution.” One of the unexpected ways the milk distribution has helped the church’s ministry during this difficult time is that people within the church have searched for ways to be evangelistic, but were unsure about how to go about it. When people picking up the boxes ask about the free milk/dairy distribution, they are able to say it came from Tecumseh Missionary Baptist Church, and what the church means to them. They are now taking the Gospel message in Word and deed to their neighbors.
HEH allows nonprofit organizations to come and pick up gallons of milk or dairy boxes for free to distribute in their communities. According to Becky Koppell, Hillsdale Baptist Church Food Bank director one church drives to pick up 160 boxes a week to give through community food bank, This is approximately 1 ½ hour drive one way. Koppell states, “The milk helps us give a personal touch to the food boxes every week. We can pray with the folks, and even share a birthday wish with some of them from time to time”. The Hillsdale food bank has increased two times in size over the last year especially since the COVID quarantine when many people lost their jobs.
Central and Lendale Associations of Baptist churches often work together to help each other out. Pastor Elton Spurgeon of Thornhill Baptist Church in Lendale and Pastor Donald Anderson of Jackson, MI, were getting their milk distribution order through another church. Soon they caught the vision of sharing with their communities, and now both churches have to pick up their own orders due to such large orders. Between the two churches they are now passing out 75+ boxes of milk. Each box contains, 2 gallons of 2% milk, 2 bottles of 16 oz chocolate milk, 2 bottles of strawberry milk, 1 container of cottage cheese, 1 container of cream cheese, 1 container of sour cream, and 1 container of French onion chip dip – for an approximate value of $15.00 to $20.00.
Pastor Anderson reports from his church that even through the pandemic. “We have had a few visitors in our church and now at least one of them is signing up for the boxes every week.”
New Day Baptist Church in Adrian is also distributing the milk boxes. This church is a bilingual Spanish/English church without a pastor right now. The head deacon, Jose, and his wife order the milk every week and are using it not only to feed some of the congregation, but also to reach some of their neighbors. Jose said that he put information about the church in the boxes before giving them to the neighbors in case they don’t have a church home.
Joe Taysk, Pastor of Trinity Baptist Church, has had recent surgery on his hand. His wife receives the boxes, and shares them with those in their congregation. Pastor and Mrs. Taysk said, “It has been a big blessing to our folks.”
Chuck Turner, Associational Mission Strategist for Lendale and Central Associations, shared with Harmony Baptist Church Jackson the information of the free milk distribution being a great ministry tool. Chuck was the pastor of Harmony Baptist in 1995 when the Food bank was started. Now the food bank is part of the DNA of the church, and part of the missional mind of the church. Harmony is now ordering 200 boxes a week. But they are going beyond just that. Approximately once a month the church partners with HEH and others in the Jackson, MI area to bring the milk to the people. It cost the church $1,000 for the semi truck fuel to deliver and keep the milk cold during the distribution. In August, they ordered two 2 semi-trucks from HEH to distribute. That’s $2,000 the church is investing to give away milk free (about 4,000 dairy boxes) to their community.
Between the Central and the Lendale Baptist churches, they are distributing to their communities over 500 boxes of milk and dairy products, not including the semi-truck loads. The churches had the vision to partner HEH free milk and dairy distribution project as a great outreach and help to their communities. They say they are sending God’s Message In Loving Kindness.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
James (Jim) Ellsworth is a member of Tecumseh Missionary Baptist Church in Tecumseh Michigan. Jim has been married to Connie Michell for 13 years. He is a member and an endorsed Chaplain with NAMB of the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief.