KEARNEY – Missouri families flocked to the First Baptist Church (FBC) here each December during the church’s Joyful Giveaway, a ministry intended to bless and transform lives during the Christmas season.
One hundred and forty church members served 207 families, roughly 870 people, during their fifth annual event, Dec. 4. Some families traveled to Kearney just for the event—some of them driving more than 60 miles.
“I’m so very proud of my church family,” FBC Pastor Ken Parker, president of the Missouri Baptist Convention, wrote in a Facebook message following the event. “We gave away groceries, health screenings, haircuts, family pictures, toys for kids and gifts for parents, all kinds of clothing, and help with finding employment. We also shared the gospel of Jesus with everyone who came …, and many accepted our offer to pray for them.”
According to Glenna Greer of FBC Kearney, the church gave away 7000 pounds of food. They also distributed free vouchers for a local laundromat owned by an FBC member; as a result, 971 pounds of laundry were washed at the laundromat in one day by people who used their vouchers.
Parker told The Pathway that this ministry was inspired partially by a similar ministry at First Baptist Church, Branson. He also said that, without pressuring people in any way, this event allows the church “to share the love of Jesus in conjunction with helping people.”
“We do all we can to help them feel they have worth and dignity,” Parker said.
In doing so, the church fulfills its mission of transforming lives and communities with the gospel. In the words of one young boy who walked into the Joyful Giveaway, “So this is what a church looks like.”