By BEN FRENTZEL
Grace Bible Church, 601 Blue Ridge Road, is putting its theme for this year into action – love one another.
Beginning in January, a small group of members will make regular visits to mobile home communities near the church to hand out canned goods and messages from the church.
“This is a method we could use to break the ice,” said Conrad Hake, one of the ministry’s key organizers. He said there are no strings attached and the purpose is not to be condescending.
“Some will give the cold shoulder,” said Brent Decker, a Grace member who has been involved in outreach to Coyote Hill Children’s Home and in Mission Gate Ministries, a St. Louis prison aftercare program.
“But, I like to catch ’em young before they get to where I am,” he said.
Decker, an ex-Marine, said he finds it easy to relate to some of the people in the communities because he’s been through a lot of hardships. He spent five years in jail for forgery and lived on the streets for a while.
“A lot of people don’t see past their problems,” Decker said.
Blue Ridge Village and Rustic Meadows communities are close to the church and are likely to be among the visited places.
“They’re not far from the church,” Decker said.
“January is when we wanna start making contact and distributing food,” Hake said. He hopes to establish a long term ministry in a community, maybe even plant a church within three years.
“We’ve got to have a location there,” Hake said, “and people that are wanting to lead. We want this to become its own church.”
Hake said he has heard of churches in Mexico with only 50 or 60 members, and they are branching out to other areas. “And here, we’re a church of 600,” he said. “What can we do?”
Hake said the initial plan is to bring in canned goods, but ultimately, the goal is to establish relationships, communication and ministry.
Decker has his plate full with a new job and a baby on the way, but he is still confident about the program.
“I just wish more people would give a hand up, not a handout,” he said.
Canned and dry goods for the program will be accepted for donation at the church. Anyone wanting to get involved in the ministry should contact the office at (573) 449-6794.