Tiny MBC church feeds 1,600
a month in Jesus’ name
By Bob Baysinger
September 16, 2004
HUME – It’s quiet in Hume – most of the time.
The last census count listed the town’s population at 287. There were only 11 in the high school graduating class last year. There’s no grocery store in town and the nearest gas station is 15 miles away.
Twice a month, however, there is a traffic jam in Hume.
Everybody is trying to get to First Baptist Church, Hume, where the average Sunday morning attendance is 24.
On the second Saturday and fourth Saturday each month, the church operates a food pantry, handing out huge amounts of both perishable and non-perishable food items to needy people from both Missouri and Kansas. An average of 1,400 to 1,600 people visit the food pantry each month.
“They come from as far away as Pittsburg, Kan., and Joplin,” said Don Rice, who has pastored the church the last nine years. “Things are really spread out here and people come from a long distance. This is kind of a poor economic area on both sides of the border.”
First Baptist has linked with Harvester, a food bank located in Kansas City. Harvester trucks in the food and the people come. Missourians come on the first Saturday; Kansans on the second. People and companies donate food to Harvester and the food is passed on through churches and other organizations.
“We’re involved in this because it’s a blessing to help other people,” Rice said. “To me, God has to be in this or we wouldn’t have these kinds of numbers.”
Kenny Qualls, Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) associate executive director, has preached at the Hume church more than once. He said the church “is not satisfied to play church.”
“They desire to lift up Jesus,” Qualls said. “Their food pantry is a great expression of giving first a cup of cold water so that the door is opened to give a cup of living water – the Gospel of Jesus. Our Lord desires to use every Southern Baptist church in Missouri to get out His wonderful good news.
“People will believe in our loving Redeemer,” Qualls added, “if they see his church living a loving, redeemed life.”
Reed said the goal is for the pantry to become more of a witnessing tool.
“We’re not starting to have people come (to church) as a result of the food pantry,” Rice said. “I expect people to be saved. So far we’ve had to put all our time and energy into the physical aspect of the pantry. Our plan is to start putting more energy into the spiritual aspect.”
The church is now passing out tracts to pantry visitors. Rice also calls visitors in for a time of orientation.
“We put something evangelical in everybody’s hand,” Rice said.
The MBC played an integral part in helping First Baptist keep the pantry effort alive last year.
“We applied for funds from the Missouri Baptist Convention in 2003 and they gave us $500,” Reed explained. “At the end of the year more funds became available and they sent us another $1,500. We’re very thankful for that. It helped us turn the corner.”
It is through Missouri Baptists support of the Cooperative Program and the Rheuben L. South Missouri Missions Offering that makes ministries like this possible.