The Celebration contemporary worship service at Jasper First UMC features a segment called “The Hands of Christ." During this time, pastor Tex Ergle highlights some ways members can be involved in the mission work of the church and therefore be the hands and feet of Christ as they live their lives. One Sunday school class decided to take "Hands of Christ" seriously.
At Christmas members of this class heard about some children in west Jasper who wouldn’t be receiving any Christmas presents. They decided to be the hands of Christ in this situation, gathering Christmas presents and delivering them to the children.
In the process, class members heard from people in the area that what they really needed was blankets for warmth. So they chose a date, and on a cold Sunday took the blankets to the people in need. That Sunday happened to be one of the coldest days of the year, so the warm blankets were truly a blessing to those in need.
Class members saw another need as they were among these needy families, so they decided to be the hands of Christ by asking other church members to join them in donating non-perishable food items for these families. The class met, bagged food, and chose a Sunday to deliver it. They went into the neighborhoods the week prior to delivery and handed out flyers that they would be coming on Sunday.
“This class has found the true meaning of outreach,” said Rev. Ergle. “They not only help meet the needs of the people, they also take time to pray with them and invite them to church.”
The outreach they have performed has led a new group of visitors to Jasper First. Men from the Walker County Outreach group home, a place for recovering drug addicts, not only are frequent visitors at the Celebration services, they have actually joined the Sunday school class and work with them in their outreach projects.
“I know that each of these projects has been initiated, guided, and provided for by the Holy Spirit,” said Brad Baugh, a member of the class dubbed The Young and Almost Young Adult Class by teacher Bob Bryan. “Many of the families we met desperately needed food, and when we delivered food to them they also pointed out other families in need and asked us to share with them also.”
Having completed a third local mission project, the class has a clear direction for its next outreach project. “As the last bags of groceries were handed out, we happened upon a small Spanish-speaking church of just over 100 members,” said Baugh. “They meet in a little building with holes in the roof and broken windows, huddled around space heaters to keep warm while they receive the Word of God. When asked the name of his church, the pastor replied simply, ‘We’re just a church.’ At our own church, we recently heard a sermon about answering the call of God. God is calling Jasper First UMC to once again serve our neighbors.”
It’s clear that the Holy Spirit has led this amazing group to their next project as they continue to be the hands of Christ in the world.