Send Network church planting missionary Jason Loewen and his leadership team have a unique, effective approach to ministry. Rather than trying to dip into many avenues of outreach at once, as a young church plant in Flint, Michigan, Union Church has committed to focusing on their immediate community—and that methodology has served them well during the pandemic.
Only a month and a half old, the Union Church family could have easily used COVID restrictions as an excuse to avoid extensive outreach programs, but instead, they pressed in.
Concentrating their attention on a low-income elementary school, most church members have “adopted” one or more teachers, sending them small gifts and notes of encouragement every few weeks and helping out with their students at recess almost daily. It was through these relationships and others built with local hospital staff that Loewen and his team were prompted to create an Easter basket project to raise morale and serve children who may be living in homeless shelters, attending low-income schools or confined to hospitals. For many of these kids, the pandemic only served to worsen already difficult life circumstances.
By partnering with nearly 20 other churches—many of them affiliated with Send Network—Union Church was able to gather 80 volunteers to create kids’ care packages filled with candy, a gospel tract and an encouraging note with a QR code linking them to neighborhood churches available to them, as well as a video of a gospel presentation.
In total, nearly 3,000 Easter baskets containing 3,500 pounds of candy were assembled!
“Originally, we only planned on doing around 1,000 buckets, but we were able to triple that number because of our partnership with Send Relief and the funds provided. We went to Sam’s Club and bought literally every piece of candy in the store—it filled two pickup trucks! We were able to share the reasoning behind this purchase with other customers and the ladies at the checkout counter as well, which was encouraging for them,” Loewen stated.
Additionally, members of Gideons International eventually caught wind of the project and donated 2,000 pocket New Testaments to include in the Easter baskets.
When asked how Union has managed to stay involved and invested in the Flint community since the church started mid-pandemic, Loewen shared, “I believe the pandemic may be one of the biggest hidden blessings to the local church because it is forcing us to kill a lot of sacred cows. In American Christianity, we can be so consumed with Sunday morning and Wednesday night programs that we forget our original call to go and make disciples. If all a church is doing is Sunday service, the community may not even notice if it had to shut down, but the real ministry we’re equipping people for are those moments when a neighbor gets a bad diagnosis—we want to be the first ones they call because we’ve built a relationship and shown real care for them.”
You and your church can start a COVID-safe project just like this one to minister to your community! Browse Send Relief’s ministry guides for ideas on how to get started.
Published April 7, 2021