By Josie Rabbitt Bingham
ATLANTA—Capped in beanies with hands snug in gloves, around 30 volunteers from Anchor Church raked leaves in the yards of seniors living west of Atlanta, Ga., on a chilly Martin Luther King (MLK) Day.
“We get a list of homes,” senior pastor Steve Hammack said. “We had four home owners on Monday who needed our help. The list we get is very detailed, and it comes from Hope Works ministries. Hope Works provides low income seniors with services they can’t do themselves. They are often widows and widowers who have no family to come rake their yards, clean their gutters, build handicap ramps and fix their roofs. One time, we did an extreme makeover. It was so awesome to be able to do that for someone!”
This year, though, yardwork seemed to be the most popular request.
“Some projects we do, like a handicap ramp, require three to four men working on it,” said Hammack. “But Monday was for families. We had kids, teens and adults working hard to serve their neighbors well.”
At 9 a.m. the group from Anchor Church arrived at their first house. By noon, they had met the requests of seniors living in all four houses and made a few more friends. Afterwards, the group rendezvoused at the Atlanta Varsity for hamburgers and frosted orange shakes.
“This is where we hear what God did through them and for them during the service project,” said Hammack. “It’s always amazing—every year!
One year, Hammack remembered a woman whose house had been a mess. Hammack said they spent a week helping her out, like an extreme makeover. The next Sunday, she came to Anchor Church. He could see her sitting in the service and he knew it had taken effort as she couldn’t drive.
“I think we are always blown away by God’s love and how He impacts hearts through His servants’ hands,” Hammack said. “God did deep work in that woman’s heart. She ended up recommitting her life to Christ.”
For 12 years, Anchor Church has partnered with Hope Works to serve the widows, widowers and seniors on MLK.
Garfield Williams, who is Hope Works’ volunteer coordinator, has known Anchor Church and their attitudes of service for years.
“Steve and our founder, Michael, met 12 years ago when they formed a partnership to serve this particular need in the community,” Garfield said. “I knew Michael and after doing a couple of years of disaster relief in Jamaica. Then I came to Hope Works. It was a different kind of relief work. But it’s good.”
Williams’ job is to find low income seniors who fit the requirements of the programs Hope Works offers. He then creates a list and visits the homes of those requesting services. If Williams sees that the need is truly there, or that a senior has no family around to help, he keeps them on the list.
“Paperwork can tell a lot,” said Williams. “But sometimes people look needier on paper than in real life. Most often, though, 90 percent of them end up on our volunteer list. From then on, we pursue how we can minister to them by meeting their needs first and thus being a light.”
According to Williams, Hope Works goal is to help seniors and encourage their spiritual growth.
“It’s such a cool aspect of the ministry,” Williams said. “We have around 300 plus seniors whom we help overall. Anchor Church is the only church that does a dedicated service day on MLK Day though we do have lots of churches and businesses come volunteer throughout the year.”
MLK Day is special for Anchor Church and for pastor Steve Hammack.
“When I planted the church in 1997, I wanted it to be a vessel of service,” Hammack said. “I wanted the church to make disciples who make disciples. Now, we serve on many days and even have dedicated weeks of service. We tutor and invest in the local schools. But on MLK Day, we stop and celebrate African Americans and the seniors who’ve been through excruciating times. I believe it’s significant to serve African American men and women on MLK day because they’ve fought for so much.”
To find service opportunities near you, visit SendRelief.org.
Josie Rabbitt Bingham writes for Send Relief.
Published January 16, 2018