by Eric A. Shelhart
The church I serve operates a ministry called The Big Reach Center of Hope. The Center provides food and clothing as well as other assistance and training to people in need. We recently finished a back-to-school campaign that provides new outfits, backpacks full of school supplies and other items to more than 1,000 children for the new school year.
The Center’s mission statement reads: “The Big Reach Center of Hope is dedicated to providing the resources and opportunities to help low income and underserved individuals and families move toward self-sufficiency through education and training, providing them with hope by meeting both tangible and spiritual needs and recognizing the dignity and beauty of every person.” The ministry helps people in ways that protect them from having to feel ashamed for receiving the help they need to keep themselves and their families going.
Boaz had heard about Ruth and all she had done for her mother-in-law. Even though he owed her nothing and had no obligation to help this foreigner, Boaz welcomed Ruth to eat and to gather food. Boaz instructed the others working in the fields, “Let her gather among the sheaves and don’t reprimand her. Even pull out some stalks for her from the bundles and leave them for her to pick up, and don’t rebuke her” (Ruth 2:15, 16). Boaz wanted to provide for Ruth while allowing her to keep her dignity.
The Big Reach Center of Hope helps 1,200-1,500 families each month. By meeting the physical needs of the community around us, it removes an obstacle to allow us to start meeting the spiritual needs of the community. Jesus did the same thing. He met the physical needs of people (healing the sick, feeding the multitudes) to open a door to their heart and soul to talk about their spiritual needs. How can you help remove the obstacles of those in need and show them the love of Jesus?
Eric A. Shelhart is Media Director at Greenford Christian Church in Salem, Ohio. Eric and his wife Rachelle have three sons: Rase 12, Elijah 9, and Ethan 5. Eric is Assistant Editor Sheryl Overstreet’s nephew.