When Gary Newell and his wife, Cheryl, signed up for Serve Tour Meridian last year, they had no idea it would lead to a church-wide fruitful ministry where hundreds of lives would be dedicated to Christ.
As a member of Northcrest Baptist Church, Newell served on and started many ministry projects before but was looking for something new and engaging to help his community thrive. After discovering Serve Tour, he decided to work the mobile grill at one of the most dangerous apartment complexes in Meridian, knocking on doors and passing out hamburgers while sharing the gospel.
He commented, “It was extremely successful! We prayed with so many folks and had gospel conversations for two straight days. I could feel God telling me, ‘This is what Northcrest needs: to get outside the walls of the church.’ So after that experience, we built our own mobile grill trailer!”
Compelled to use this new service opportunity in more underserved communities, Northcrest teams pursued relationships with tenants at other housing projects notorious for ongoing gang violence.
Newell was on his knees, sharing the gospel with one reclining gang member when he noticed he was being watched. “A man who had been staring at me through a window eventually came up behind me as I shared the Romans Road method, and I honestly thought I was about to get stabbed. But instead, he laid a lighter in the man’s lap and then brought his mother out to listen. She told me her other son needed some encouragement and pointed to a car with blacked-out windows.”
Newell wasn’t sure what to expect as he approached the vehicle, but after knocking on the window, he was able to share his testimony and personal struggles. Both men accepted Christ and were encouraged to get involved in a local church, and by the end of that day, 126 people had come to know the Lord!
As a result of these encouraging interactions, Northcrest teams have started grilling at low-income housing complexes, schools and other large venues across the city, and through a recent partnership with Forgotten Ministries, decided to start a mobile clothing ministry as well.
This clothing trailer offers women one-on-one gospel conversations with ministry team members to not only meet immediate physical needs but spiritual ones as well. The current plan is to take the mobile grill and clothing trailers out at the same time to meet as many physical needs as possible at one time.
Newell commented, “This all stemmed from and is a direct result of partnering with Send Relief! God orchestrated this evolution of ministries, and we’re just trying to be intentional about using these tools to interact with people and share the hope God offers. It makes it easy to meet physical needs as Jesus did, always prioritizing people’s well-being and opening doors to talk about community. This ministry is replicable, and we’re so glad to see Send Relief doing this—it has opened the eyes of our church to see how valuable it is to mobilize and get outside the walls of the church to love on people!”
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Published March 31, 2023