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Pine Barren Association, church meet hunger needscomment (0)

December 2, 2010

By John Evans

We’ve got poverty running out our ears,” said Charles Autery, pastor of Christian Way Baptist Church, Camden.

The statistics back up Autery’s claim. The most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau put the poverty rate in Wilcox County, where his church is located, at more than 30 percent. The Alabama Department of Industrial Relations pegs the county’s unemployment rate at more than 20 percent — the highest in the state.

Along with Pine Barren Baptist Association, Christian Way Baptist is trying to help residents of this poverty-stricken area. On Nov. 20, volunteers from around the community prepared boxes of food and distributed them to 300 needy families. “People’s needs are met through us doing this joint effort in ministry,” Autery said, noting ministries like the food distribution are vital ways for Christians to live out the faith they claim.

Food has been distributed annually since 2006. This year, about 14,000 pounds of food were purchased at a steeply discounted price from the Montgomery Area Food Bank and supplemented by donations and the U.S. Postal Service’s Stamp Out Hunger food drive.

Area families filled out applications and were accepted based on income level. Each family received one box of food per member.

Some of the volunteers were going through hard times themselves.

As Rita Sadler helped prepare the food boxes in a donated warehouse across the street from Christian Way, she mentioned that her husband, Frank, has been unemployed for four years.

But that didn’t stop the couple and their daughter Elizabeth, members of Enon Baptist Church, Camden, from helping those who don’t have enough to eat.

“If you’re a Christian, you’re going to try to help people who are less fortunate and Wilcox County needs help,” Rita Sadler said.

Annie Matthews, a volunteer and member of Christian Way, said she wanted to give back to the community and give thanks to God.

“It’s the Christlike thing to do,” she said. “During this time of the year, we do a lot of giving, but to me, every day is Thanksgiving. This is our way of giving thanks to the good Lord who has given to us, and we’re just trying to do what He would do.”

In addition to adult volunteers, 12 youth helped prepare the boxes. Most are part of the youth ministry at Christian Way.

James Finklea, who with his wife, Andrea, directs the church’s youth ministry, wants to instill in the youth a desire to help others and be responsible members of the community.

“Right now, kids in this area are not taught to have a love for their community or for one another,” he said. “But that’s what these children are learning today.”

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