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FBC Red Bay ministry serves as Christís hands, feet to elderlycomment (0)

September 9, 2010

By Ashley Anderton

Hands and feet were made to move, not stay still.

That’s what Joan Cleveland and Tammy Montgomery discovered when they put their faith into action more than a year ago.

In March 2009, Cleveland and Montgomery decided to share lunch with an elderly member of their church — First Baptist Church, Red Bay — who was recovering from surgery.

Afterward the two women “instantly” knew God was calling them to minister to senior citizens in their Franklin Baptist Association congregation.

So Cleveland and Montgomery asked the Lord to show them specific needs.

Shortly thereafter, He provided an opportunity for them to visit and share a meal with two elderly homebound women, also members of First, Red Bay.

“The ladies were skeptical at first, because no one had come to visit them inside their home for years,” Montgomery recalled.

But they warmed up to the visitors.

“Since then, we’ve adopted them and they have been such a light in our world,” Cleveland said.

At first, Cleveland and Montgomery visited one person a week.

They either took lunch for a home visit or invited the person to dine with them at a restaurant.

Later they began preparing homemade goodies to deliver to anyone known to be in need of encouragement or going through a difficult time.

Week after week, the needs multiplied beyond the church’s elderly members.

“We began to become overwhelmed at all the needs,” Montgomery said.

That’s when she and Cleveland realized more hands and feet were needed to reach every person possible.

On Sept. 13, they hung 10 fliers at First, Red Bay, to publicize a meeting to form a new ministry.

“Our room was so filled that night (of the meeting), we had to get more chairs,” Cleveland said.

Twenty-four people signed up to help with His Hands and Feet that night.

By the next morning, Cleveland and Montgomery had 14 more names of people who wanted to help. The ministry now has about 50 volunteers.

“We have rave reviews from our elderly who receive visits from our team members. Sometimes they receive more than one visit in a week’s time,” Montgomery said.

His Hands and Feet also takes meals provided by the church to every homebound member on Wednesday nights.

Burdened for the homebound to receive even more personal attention, Cleveland started a card ministry to provide them with birthday cards.

However, the card ministry expanded to cover every adult member of First, Red Bay.

And cards aren’t just sent for birthdays anymore.

“Presently we are in the process of sending cards to our college students [to] let them know we are praying for them,” Montgomery said.

Volunteers also provide prospects of the church with a welcome bag.

“We try to deliver something homemade, like cookies or brownies, whenever a team member visits a new prospect,” Montgomery said.

Looking back, she and Cleveland can see God’s provision in creating, manning and expanding His Hands and Feet.

“God sent people to do all kinds of different jobs. People are enlisting others to get involved,” Montgomery said.

Cleveland pointed out that God has used the ministry to help the volunteers grow as well.

“Before we would only see faces in our church,” she said. “Now we know those faces. We know our church family.”

Pastor Larry Hill has witnessed a change in his congregation since His Hands and Feet began.

“It’s brought a fresh, new servant spirit to our church,” he said. “We’ve always been a mission-hearted church, but I think many people felt missions were done elsewhere. We’ve found missions start here right at home.”

Peggy Inman has experienced the joy of serving and finds it energizing.

“I was comfortable doing nothing. I didn’t know if I could do anything to help,” she said. “I thought I would see what the ministry was all about. What I found was that they needed help. I got started and couldn’t stop. I look forward to each visit.”

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