By Rachel Dove
CHATTAROY - A drive by the parking lot of the Chattaroy Church of God on Tuesday, providing a view of the number of vehicles there, as well as the large crowd in attendance, to gain an understandng that there is a great need in Mingo County for food and clothing. Thankfully, there are those who choose to step forward and extend a hand to those less fortunate than themselves.
Mike Bostic, pastor of the Church of God had been approached about the church being used as a distribution center by ‘Rhonpaul Ministries” of Clopton, Ala., a husband and wife who have made it their life’s work to provide food to the needy. After visiting a giveaway that was held last month in Martin County, Ky., by the missionaries, Bostic knew it was something he and his congregation would gladly sponsor and volunteer to assist with.
Rhonda and Paul Brasfield teamed up with the Huntington Area Food Bank to transport the boxes of food to Mingo County that had generously been donated by churches in Alabama that support and work with the missionaries. A large variety of food was bagged and ready for distribution to Mingo County residents that included items such as fresh and frozen meat, fruit and vegetables, canned goods, water, juice and soft drinks, boxed dinners, breakfast food, desserts, dry goods and much more.
The difference between this food giveaway and most others that have been held is that all recipients had to do was provide photo identification proving that you lived in Mingo County. There was no income stipulation to qualify. Rhonda Brasfield explained that what makes the rules governing their food ministry different is that their items are all donated; they receive no federal or state subsidies or grants.
“Everything you see here today has been donated by area churches in Alabama that help us fulfill our calling,” said the missionary. “God has blessed us to have supporters that continue to gather in items and make personal contributions and donations, so we don’t have to rely on grants to fund God’s work … people with like minds and kind hearts do that for us.”
During last month’s food distribution at the Warfield Church of God in Martin County, a news reporter from USA Today interviewed the Brasfields as part of their series of articles highlighting the 50th Anniversary of “Feed America,” a program that concentrates on rural communities across the nation that have been affected most by rising unemployment, economic woes and financial hardships. The missionaries see a lot of similar situations as they journey to different locations spreading God’s love through donations of food and clothing, and have seen the looks of desperation on faces that were so thankful to have food to feed their families when all avenues of assistance had been depleted.
“There’s nothing more heartbreaking than thinking of someone being hungry,” Rhonda Brasfield said. “Our main goal is to make sure the people that need the food are those that receive the food, with our primary concern being for children, widows and widowers.”
Meeting the Brasfields in Mingo County were Lee and Lessie Wenden, who transported a large trailer of clothing items, jackets and blankets to Mingo County from their home in Tennessee, where they recently moved to from Alabama to pursue God’s calling on their lives to begin a separate ministry. After those in attendance at Chattaroy on Tuesday went through the food distribution line, they were invited to see if there were any clothing items their family members could wear.
“Gospel ministries are not just held on the inside of a church,” Bostic said. “We are prepared on the inside to do God’s work on the outside - and this food giveaway is only one of the examples that our congregation is involved in.”
“It takes several churches and lots of volunteers to manage most of the food banks in the area; it’s a joint effort,” the pastor said. “All of the volunteers we have here today are affiliated with our church, and I am so humbled to see so many of our members show up to help.”
Bostic explained that anytime his church is approached with the possibility of helping with a project, the two things he looks for are: No. 1, is it do-able, and No. 2, will it benefit the community. While researching what the Rhonpaul Ministries does for people in need, he quickly realized it was definitely something the church would, and could, assist with.
Helping those who need a helping hand while showing them God’s love makes for a win-win situation,” said Bostic. “That’s what God would have us to do.”
Residents of Martin County, Ky., will be able to pick up food donations Thursday at the Turkey Creek Church of the Nazarene, located on Tug River Road, beginning at 10 a.m. Recipients must show proof of residency in that county to qualify.