Children without enough food to eat, without shoes on their feet, are sadly still commonplace, and the Hope Worship Center is working to do its best to help these less fortunate. Last December, members of the church in Ashland City, Tenn., traveled four hours to the tiny community of Booneville, Ky., as part of IMPACT Appalachia.
Rev. Rick Walsh, Hope Worship Center’s pastor, said the program started out as a mission trip for church youths but now also includes older members. IMPACT Appalachia brought 400 backpacks, blankets, coats, shoes, bicycles, and food to the town, and put on a Christmas pageant and community party. “The people of Booneville come and take what they need. Then, some are moved to give what they’ve been given to others. When you see those less fortunate folks come by and get their presents and they want to share with their siblings, that’s truly showing there is a real need,” Walsh said.
Doing this mission work helps strengthen the faith of church youth, he added. “It helps them to put things into perspective. You’re not just talking about doing helpful things, you’re doing them. The personal experience of seeing kids who didn’t even have shoes or coats, that really helps the young people see it’s easy to become complacent.”
What’s even more amazing, some might say, is that Hope Worship Center does more than just this yearly trip to one of the most impoverished communities in the nation; they have several other programs. They help the children of incarcerated parents in their Angel Tree ministry.
Last Christmas, Walsh said they served 15 children. “These are children who are often overlooked or left out,” he explained. “One little girl wanted a doll. We put her parents’ names on the present. When she opened it, she looked up and told her grandmother, ‘See, my momma didn’t forget me.’ When we see these children get their gifts, it helps us to see hope. With all the negativity out there, we see we can bring something positive.”
For the last four years at Thanksgiving, Hope Worship Center worked anonymously with the school system to find families in need and made anonymous donations of turkeys and meal fixings. “It’s gratifying to see families take that home and cook it for themselves. We want to be a blessing to these folks,” Walsh said.
To be giving freely “can get overwhelming sometimes,” he added. “We do this on our own as a church. But the Lord always makes provision. To God be the glory.”
To learn more about Hope Worship Center, you can visit them at 136 Elizabeth St., Ashland City, Tenn. Their website is www.hopeworshipcenter.com/ or go to their Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/hopeworshipcenterAC/.