GALLATIN, Tenn. – March 30, 2012– People began lining up at 1 a.m. By the time the 9 a.m. opening had arrived, the line included more than 150 people who had come for a supply of food from the Sumner County Food Bank.
At the monthly giveaway held at Liberty Baptist Church in Gallatin, Tenn., needy Sumner County residents receive a box of meat, a box of dry goods and a box of bread and pastries – plus apples, oranges and onions.
As people waited outside, volunteers inside prepared for the doors to open. They finished organizing the food – enough for 160 people – and received final instructions in the church’s sanctuary.
“You may be the only Bible some of these people ever read,” one of the organizers told them. Smile. Be nice.
Among the volunteers was a group of Union University students spending the week in nearby Hendersonville as part of a Global Outreach trip. Union sent out 12 such teams during spring break, both domestically and internationally, with about 150 students participating.
The Hendersonville team worked with Redeemer Church, a congregation started by Union University alumnus Jamie Mosley only 18 months ago. Union students helped Mosley and other church members with a variety of outreach efforts during the week, including a cookout at Volunteer State Community College, neighborhood evangelism and handing out water bottles at the YMCA.
“The stuff we’re doing this week, there’s no way we could pull it all off if we didn’t have a team,” Mosley said. “Everything we’re asking the team to do is pushing us as a church toward where we feel like we need to be, and they’re just helping us.”
Samantha Adams, a Union University junior from Glendale, Ky., said the trip taught her the importance of serving alongside other church members.
“I got to see how encouraging each other made a much bigger impact than I expected,” Adams said. “My teammates really did spur one another on to good works for God's glory.”
At the cookout at Vol State, the Union volunteers served hamburgers and hot dogs to about 150 people. By the end of their time that day, a sign-up sheet for students who were interested in participating in a Bible study contained more than 70 names.
During the morning at the Sumner County Food Bank, Union students helped organize and distribute the food, with the women handing out the food to those who had come, and the men loading the boxes on hand trucks and wheeling it out to vehicles.
At other times during the week, the Union students walked through local neighborhoods, talking to residents and handing out flyers inviting them to a cookout that Redeemer Church was holding.
“We’ve had some great opportunities to get out and to serve,” said Union enrollment counselor Matthew Marshall, who led the team. “We were able to give out free food and have a lot of really good conversations about Christ and about the gospel.”
Marshall added that the members of Redeemer Church “have been encouraged by our being here, and it’s kind of emboldened them to get out as well into the community.”
Such an impact on the church members was one of Mosley’s goals. Most churches have ideas for types of ministry, but get busy with other things and never get around to those ideas, he said. By having the Union team on the calendar, it forced him and other church members to pursue the outreach efforts they had been planning to do.
“Everything they’re doing this week feels like a shotgun, but the thread that holds it all together is, these are things that we desire to do as a church,” Mosley said.
For Adams, the week was a reminder of what she and other Union students can do not just on special mission trips, but every week of the year.
“Seeing Redeemer Church members seeking to be bold about the gospel in their neighborhoods challenged me,” she said. “Everything we did in Hendersonville we could also do in a five-minute’s walk off Union’s campus.”