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Urban Missionaries With a Passion To Impact Lives In Florida

posted on January 17, 2014, under Church, Florida Living by

What if a church translated Proverbs 18:24, “A man who has friends must himself be friendly…” into “a church that has friends must itself be friendly?”

When the Adventist Church becomes involved, members of the community begin to notice. Former prejudices are broken down and people become receptive to the gospel message.

Creativity abounds in outreach methods that members throughout Florida Conference are using to minister in their communities:

Lighthouse Mission Group member Emanuel Depina prays with a homeless man. (Photo: Angela Davies)

Lighthouse Mission Group member Emanuel Depina prays with a homeless man. (Photo: Angela Davies)

Friendship Without an Agenda
The Lighthouse Community Mission Group in Orlando targets the unchurched and the urban community. They have adopted 300 families living in an extended-stay hotel, and, three times a week, they are involved in mentoring the children and helping wherever needed.

One Sabbath a month, mission group members visit the homeless at Lake Eola in downtown Orlando to talk, listen, pray, and give a book to each person before handing them a lunch. Members have found that being friendly matters as much to the homeless as does the food they receive.

These new friendships often bring questions about the Lighthouse ministry and have led to Bible studies, church attendance, and baptisms.

West Palm Beach Spanish Church provides health fairs for the community twice each year. (Photo: Sandra Rivera)

West Palm Beach Spanish Church provides health fairs for the community twice each year. (Photo: Sandra Rivera)

Hispanics in Action for Community Education and Rehabilitation (H.A.C.E.R.)
Founded by individuals from West Palm Beach Spanish Church, this organization meets needs of people in the community in addition to their spiritual needs.

Besides reaching more than 300 families a month through a food pantry, H.A.C.E.R. provides biannual health fairs with a variety of free exams, vaccinations, tests, and ultrasounds. In order to help low-income families cope with the need for affordable housing, H.A.C.E.R. purchased and renovated a four-unit complex in Palm Beach County and named it Nehemiah House.

The Way and StandUp For Kids are headquartered at Jacksonville Mandarin Church’s downtown outreach center. (Photo: Rasa Truitt)

The Way and StandUp For Kids are headquartered at Jacksonville Mandarin Church’s downtown outreach center. (Photo: Rasa Truitt)

J.B. and Angel received help from Jacksonville Mandarin Church young adults. (Photo: David Fischer)

J.B. and Angel received help from Jacksonville Mandarin Church young adults. (Photo: David Fischer)

Jacksonville Outreach Center
Several years ago, Jacksonville Mandarin Church Pastor Juan Rodriguez became co-executive director of StandUp For Kids, a community program that rescues homeless young people. Soon, Mandarin Church young adults joined in searching for needy young people living on the streets.

In addition, leaders at Mandarin wanted to help the adult homeless community, so they opened an outreach center to house The Way, which is the church’s ministry for adults. It also headquarters the Jacksonville branch of the Atlanta-based nonprofit, StandUp For Kids.

One day while middle school students from Jacksonville Adventist Academy were involved in street ministry with Pastor Jonathan Peinado from Jacksonville First Church, they asked a man sitting on a bench eating his lunch if there was anything he would like to have them pray about. The man had just found out his wife had cancer, and he needed prayer at that moment. The young people believe God led them to this man just as He has led the volunteers to many other homeless individuals.

Following lunch, bikers rode for a local charity. (Photo: Olga Bryant)

Following lunch, bikers rode for a local charity. (Photo: Olga Bryant)

Biker Sabbath
“A real game changer in our service to the community came when we invited motorcyclists from the community and Central Florida,” says Dan Forbes, pastor of South Orlando Church. The church filled to capacity, and special provisions were made to accommodate the motorcycles that arrived in the parking lot. Gift bags were presented to each guest.

After the worship service, bikers joined members for a fellowship luncheon and a charity ride that raised $425 to benefit Harbor House in its efforts to end domestic violence.

Forest Lake Church in Apopka hosted two Feeding Children Everywhere events in the gymnasium at Forest Lake Academy. A combined total of 90,000 meals were packaged for hungry children and their families in Greater Orlando. (Photo: Delwin Finch)

Forest Lake Church in Apopka hosted two Feeding Children Everywhere events in the gymnasium at Forest Lake Academy. A combined total of 90,000 meals were packaged for hungry children and their families in Greater Orlando. (Photo: Delwin Finch)

Meals Packed With Love Feed Children In Orlando Area
In 2012, Forest Lake Church, Apopka, held the first of two Pack the Forest events to prepare meals for hungry families. In 50 minutes time, 190 members and friends packed 30,000 healthy meals, each with ingredients to serve a family of six. The bulk of the meals went to middle school students in Orlando to share with their families on the weekends. Needed funding of $7,500 was raised from small donations of children emptying their piggy banks to a larger anonymous gift of $1,000.

A second Pack the Forest event in November 2013 saw 300 volunteers pack 60,000 meals after $16,200 was raised in donations. The meals were given to Community Food and Outreach Center for distribution to families throughout Central Florida.

Robin Davis, left, and Schenelle Morrison gave food samples to health fair guests. (Photo: Jeffrey Thompson)

Robin Davis, left, and Schenelle Morrison gave food samples to health fair guests. (Photo: Jeffrey Thompson)

Health Fairs
Fort Lauderdale Church’s Healthy Lifestyle ~ Longer Life partnering event on the Stranahan High School campus is an example of health events held throughout Florida. Attendees take advantage of free medical screenings and handouts from local providers.

Margate Church volunteers team up with LifeNet4Families in feeding the homeless. (Photo: Julia Tedim)

Margate Church volunteers team up with LifeNet4Families in feeding the homeless. (Photo: Julia Tedim)

Ministry To the Elderly and Homeless
On the first and last Sabbath of each month, a team of Margate members and Pathfinders visit an assisted living center for ministry to the elderly through praise, prayer, and the spoken Word. Their reward has come when tearful residents have extended their arms for hugs.

Margate Church members also feed more than 230 homeless men and women on the second Wednesday of each month.

Putting the finishing touches on cupcakes bound for Good Samaritan Mission. (Photo: Allen Rogers)

Putting the finishing touches on cupcakes bound for Good Samaritan Mission. (Photo: Allen Rogers)

1,000 Cupcakes
“Let’s have our own Cupcake Wars and take 1,000 cupcakes to migrant workers,” suggested 13-year-old Allison Rogers from Brandon Church. Four mother/daughter teams met at the church to bake, fill, and frost cupcakes for a meal hosted at a community health services event sponsored by Good Samaritan Mission in Wimauma. Church teens also provided a puppet ministry while children and parents waited for free dental cleaning, immunizations, eye exams, back-to-school supplies, and tickets for food furnished by the Mission.

Florida Living residents donated all the items used to fill Bags of Love, including hand-made quilts, pillows with cases, towels and washcloths, an assortment of personal toiletry items, toys, story books, and stuffed animals. (Photo: Stephen Yost)

Florida Living residents donated all the items used to fill Bags of Love, including hand-made quilts, pillows with cases, towels and washcloths, an assortment of personal toiletry items, toys, story books, and stuffed animals. (Photo: Stephen Yost)

Bags of Love
Florida Living residents in Apopka assembled 15 Bags of Love for children removed from their homes because of abuse or a parent or guardian in trouble with the law. The children are given a bag as they are taken to a safe place by the County Child Protective Services.

Each bag carries the inscription, “It’s My Very Own.” Inside is a handmade quilt, pillow with case, towel and washcloth, a small bag with age-appropriate personal toiletry items, toys, puzzles, coloring books with crayons, story books, and stuffed animals.

Florida Conference’s Vision: To be a 21st-century missionary movement, effectively reaching people of all ages and cultures.

One of our five Values embodies this Vision: We are committed to the empowerment of every member to serve as a 21st-century missionary where they live, work, and play.


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