Church reaches out to community

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Shavonne Potts
The vision was easy ó make a difference in the community. It was a task a local church took to heart in a big way.
In one day, hundreds of volunteers from World Hope Worship Center took an idea borrowed from Oprah’s Big Give, and they gave.
Hundreds of volunteers were divided into four teams and went to several locations Saturday to “meet the spiritual and tangible needs” of the community, said Katrina Cowger, wife of Pastor David Cowger.
About 30 church members volunteered to help at a mobile home park at N.C. 150 where the tenants are predominantly Hispanic families. World Hope Worship Center is located just down the street at 2203 Mooresville Road.
The event called “Team Hispano” was a block party/fiesta and also an opportunity for families who may not be able to buy school supplies for their children to receive them.
Volunteers gave away clothing, food and school supplies, and one child won a bicycle.
The idea came when Katrina and David Cowger were watching Oprah’s Big Give, a television show in which participants travel around the U.S. and give money to people in need.
The couple took the concept of the Big Give and moved a step further. The Cowgers presented their idea in April to their ministry leadership teams, whose members all eagerly stepped up to help.
Organizers began planning in mid-May.
Many of the helpers were from the church’s Hispanic, Element Youth and Missions ministries, said Shawn Douglass.
Shawn and Marie Douglass coordinated Saturday’s event. Douglass and his wife preside over the church’s Missions Ministry.
Pastor Cowger said of the events, “We’re letting them know in this community that they’re a part of us. This is a tangible way of doing so.”
“It’s taking something that could be to what it can be,” he said.
Jose Pedro Colocho said he knows the people in that community are grateful for the church’s outreach.
Colocho is pastor over the church’s Hispanic Ministry.
“We’re very happy that we’re able to help the community. The people are very far away from their homeland and far away from their family,” he said. “They need friends and they need to hear that voice that tells them its OK.
“I felt that God has brought us here with a purpose to be an instrument of God,” Colocho said.
Roel Hernandez was happy that the families in the community could gather, he said through interpreter Hilda Najera, a Missions team member.
“I hope we can come out and do this more often. I can only say ‘I thank you very much,’ ” he said.
Blanca Alvardo echoed Hernandez’s sentiments, saying she also hoped this activity won’t be the last.
She attended with her three children and husband.
It was the first time Alejandro Cruz saw an event of this caliber in his community.
“This is very good. It’s good for the kids,” he said.
Najera said volunteers hoped to reach the parents through the children to share Christ with them.
“It’s an opportunity to reach out to people who don’t know Christ,” she said. Jaquelyn Cowger, 20, got right into the swing of things as she painted designs on the faces of child after child at the event.
She just completed Fort Myers Master’s Commission, an intense nine-month discipleship program in Florida.
“It excites me that our church is reaching out to the community,” she said.
Jacob Barger, 16, of Rockwell, also volunteered. He’s a part of the church’s student leadership team.
“It’s awesome to come out to be a part of the community. We try to be a blessing with what God has enabled us to do,” he said.
Keila Colocho, 21, loves children and was “happy to do this,” she said, dressed in pink and wearing clown makeup. She helped usher the children in to play the games. This event was her first time doing outreach outside of the church. She’s previously volunteered in other activities in the church.
The other teams and their projects were:
– “Team Headstart” held a cookout at the Salisbury and Westside/China Grove Headstart at the Westside school. Joe Gminder led the project.
– “Team Nazareth” hosted an evening of fun for the Nazareth Children’s Home, which was held at “Sweet SK8” near the Salisbury Mall. The team provided a pizza party and skating. Each child received a backpack filled with school supplies and a new pair of tennis shoes. This project was coordinated by Mike and Misty Smith and Kaye Pate.
– “Team PlayTime” went door to door in the Dixonville Community seeking signatures in support of the Lincoln Park Pool. Their project began Saturday, but will be ongoing. Pastor Tom Teichroew and Don Neal presided over the project.
Local businesses and residents donated many of the items given away during the events, such as food, clothing and school supplies.