Monday, January 23, 2017

A Day at the Food Pantry

Clients who come to us looking for food are struggling with a variety of issues. Some are visible and some are hidden from the casual observer. Mental and emotional disabilities, problems at home, chronic illness or just plain hard times, whatever the struggle, it drove them to seek help.

One young, very petite, woman told me she was being treated for chronic depression. She was a victim of domestic violence who had recently moved out of a shelter and into a subsidized apartment. Last week four teen girls attacked and robbed her, leaving fearful and alienated.

An older woman had been recently widowed. She used her husband's modest life insurance to purchase a mobile home. It turned out to be a bad deal. When she fell through the rotting floor, she had to move out. The San Antonio Housing Authority was able to place her in an apartment but she was left with nothing.

One of our regulars came in and loaded up on cookies and soda. He struggles with addiction and says the sugar helps him with his cravings.

A new client found herself needing help with food after her mother recently suffered a stroke. She heads a household of seven that includes a disabled brother and two disabled children. She is familiar with the help that is available to her and has filled out all the applications but, in the meantime, she lacks food and other needed items. We were able to supply her with groceries and medical equipment.

Along with help for physical needs, we pray with our clients and offer community through free meals, small group Bible studies, recreation and worship. God sent these people to us so we can show His love to them. In a world of hardship and sorrow we can be an oasis of hope and comfort.

It takes a lot of folks doing a lot of things to make it work. We are always looking for new workers.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Baptist Temple Year in Review: 2016


It was another year of blessings for the ministries that share the Baptist Temple Campus. We are blessed to now have six congregations meeting on the BT campus. Community Bible Church of Highland Park joined our family of churches in May. In the Fall, Weapons of Deliverance and Sunny Slope Baptist Church started worshiping at our location. Together we baptized 36 people last year.

VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL involved the four churches on campus at the time and a mission team from Houston; a total of 96 workers. Our enrollment was 153 and 32 decisions were recorded, leading to many of our baptisms.

WORSHIP events this year included an Easter Sunrise service and the musical presentation “Champion of Love.” In May we concluded “BELIEVE,” a 30 week sermon series and Bible study in conjunction with 14 San Antonio Area churches. During Advent we celebrated the Hanging of the Green (with CBC Highland Park and Family Deaf Church), Christmas Eve (with CBC Highland Park) and a memorial service for people in our community who lost a loved one this past year (with Immanuel Motorcycle Ministry).

FELLOWSHIP opportunities abounded for all ages. The children and youth went on a variety of field trips; and our senior adults enjoyed monthly luncheons. There were church-wide fellowships as well, including a Valentine's lunch, and banquets in the Spring and Fall. In June we enjoyed a campus-wide picnic at Roosevelt Park.

COMMUNITY OUTREACH included our annual Fall Fest and National Night Out events. Our first Back to School Health Fair attracted 488 people. A total of 19 churches, businesses and community groups participated to provide food, games, health screenings, vaccines, school supplies and fresh produce.

Another first this year was our community Christmas party. Snacks, make and take crafts, games and Christmas carols made this an event that we look forward to repeating.

FIGHTING HUNGER remains our most visible ministry. We collected and distributed nearly 80,000 lbs of food. (That's 30,000 more than last year.) This includes groceries for 6300 people; 1800 received individual ministry through our client choice food pantry.

We provided 75,469 meals to our community through our Wednesday night dinners, summer feeding and other venues. This included 151 breakfasts, 1628 lunches, 3550 dinners and 9140 snacks.

FACILITY IMPROVEMENTS are a continuing effort on the BT Campus. Some major improvements came as result of a contract between Parent-Child Incorporated and our Early Learning Center. This includes a new freezer, new ovens, playground equipment, classroom furniture and security cameras. Additional security cameras were added by Highland Park Gifted and Talented Academy.

Another big improvement involved boosting our wireless internet capacity to reach more areas of our campus. This was made possible in partnership with CBC Highland Park.

THREE NEW PARTNERS came to the BT campus this year in addition to the three new churches. The Christian Women's Job Corps Job helps us to provide job readiness training. San Antonio Sports brought the Fit Family Challenge to our campus, with an average participation of 58 per week. Immanuel Motorcycle Ministry came alongside to enhance and expand our evangelistic efforts.

We hosted 9 MISSION TEAMS from as far away as Connecticut and South Dakota. They ministered all around San Antonio including the Rosemont Apartments and Habitat for Humanity houses.

Each year God provides the workers, leaders and physical resources to meet the changing needs of the community that surrounds us. Our impact has drawn the notice of local government leaders in 2016 leading to campus visits from state representatives Diego M. Bernal (District 123) and John Lujan III (District 118) and Mayor Ivy Taylor. I believe that there are greater things to come in 2017.

Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God.”
Pioneer Missionary William Carey

Friday, December 23, 2016

Are We Losing the War on Christmas?

There are some who say that society is waging on Christmas. The evidence presented ranges from micro-aggressions such as “Happy Holidays” to the more offensive substitution of X for Christ in Xmas.

Christmas is a time when Christians celebrate the coming of Christ (Advent) and His birth. We don't exactly know when He was born but the early church decided that this season would be a good time to celebrate. Pagans in Europe had celebrations that revolved around the days becoming shorter and colder but the church wanted Christians to focus on God during their merriment. Ancient traditions (e.g. decorating trees, feasts, etc.) were deemed acceptable and new things were added (manger scenes, Advent candles, etc.)

The danger does not lie with the “barbarians at the gate;” those secular folks wishing us a “Happy Holiday.” The real war on Christmas is being waged in the hearts of Christians who lean more towards the commercial than the spiritual side of the season.

As far back as 1965, “A Charlie Brown Christmas” lamented the commercialization of the holiday. Lucy Van Pelt believed it was run by a “big eastern syndicate.” Linus read from the second chapter of Luke to remind us all of the reason for the season. For more than 50 years the Peanuts gang has given this tender reminder.

Today, as in ancient times, we celebrate the coming of Christ with a mixture the secular and the sacred. Since Christmas falls on a Sunday this year, Christian's have the opportunity to keep Christ in Christmas with more that a bumper sticker. Bring your family to worship this Sunday at one of the many churches across the land that didn't take a holiday and will be open to celebrate Jesus' birthday.

Merry Christmas!