When you think of the formal practice of a faith, it probably involves some special building, a certain change in tone from ordinary life and, probably, an officiant of one type or another.
But, beyond the church walls, our county is filled with non-traditional ministries. These seek to carry their faith to those in need outside the walls of any house of worship.
In this last column of the year, we’ll present five such diverse efforts selected from the Our Faith archive: Galveston Urban Ministry, A Peaceful Place, a video missionary, running for God and holding a blood drive.
In one of our first stories in 2017, Josh Dorrell, the founder and director of this ministry discussed how faith groups could be more selective and effective in working with the poor, disadvantaged and discouraged. His philosophical approach: He’s not a big fan of handouts and largess.
“Relief, rehabilitation and development are what we need now,” Dorrell said in the story. “Relief is the immediate need of shelter, food and so on. Rehabilitation is helping folks rebuild what once was and getting back to a place of security and safety. Development is moving forward and getting to a place where you are investing in yourself and others.
But, before this process can go far, there’s an internal change that clients must make to start heading toward success. They must lose what Dorrell terms, “the poverty mindset.”
Next, the unique furniture outlet, League City’s A Peaceful Place, was printed in March of this year.
To its clients, A Peaceful Place is a beacon of hope. It is a place where one loaned key turns an empty, low-rent apartment into a warm, welcoming space, sheltering from a hostile and otherwise uncaring world.
Robin Leach runs this volunteer non-profit at 202 N. Michigan Ave.
“Our ministry started about six years ago,” Leach said. “Then, two years back, we came out from the umbrella of Clear Creek Community Church, which a lot of us attend,” she said. “Now we’re a non-profit organization that provides home furnishings for people in need.”
More? There was a time when a foreign missionary might need only a jungle hat and a Bible, but today a medical bag or a professional video camera might be closer to the mark.
Shaggy White, a former Houston Police Department video editor, took his family and creative talents to Kenya where he’ll produce and edit videos for reaching those in need.
“In third grade, I had a Bible class in our school, and I remember reading about Jim Elliot, and how he died in Ecuador as a martyr,” White said in a column last May. “I thought, ‘I want that kind of passion.’ Not the whole martyr part, but the going off to reach people in distant lands. I always thought I’d become one after retirement, though.”
In another May column, we covered the launch of a new running/sharing program sponsored by Galveston’s First Lutheran Church. You can move across this page and find the scoop on it in today’s Faith Focus.
Now, you may not cart a pro camera, move furniture freely or run like the wind, but almost everyone can consider donating blood. Any house of worship can call the Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center at 713-791-6670 to offer to host their RV-style donor coach during services.
“We’ve seen an increase in need for blood products in our local hospitals the past year, making the need for regular donations from people in the Gulf Coast area even more important,” said Joshua Buckley, who manages media relations for the center. “During the holidays, people are busy with vacations or other plans and, as a result, donations tend to decline. About 1,000 donations are still required every day to meet the needs of patients in the greater Houston region. There is no substitute for volunteer blood donations and every donation can help save as many as three lives.”
Now, this space is open so that you could see your own story profiled here. If you have an inspirational, colorful or unique ministry, a very special event or if you know of an especially faithful helper whose profile would encourage, please email early in 2018 so that we might be able to share your good news with our good readers.
Next week in Our Faith: A survey of Bible reading plans for 2018.