Last year I spent time with J.P. Dyer and James Melvin from the First Baptist Church of Madras. J.P. and his partner J.C. (who were not available during the interview) led the outreach to the needy called Open Door. Because it is a small church in a small community lack of resources was their most pressing and consistent obstacle. But the three men had a strong desire to make a difference in the lives of the impoverished within the local community. But the congregation could not allocate funds to Open Door, so the expense was shouldered primarily by a handful of members.
(Closed doors are never as inviting as doors that are open: unless you have a welcome sign.)
Last winter Open Door housed 51 homeless people. J.P., J.C., and James supplied most of the meals out of their own pocket. But the congregation did average 1-2 special meals per month in the large dining room for anyone who desired a free meal. Plus the church continues to have a room set aside for food, clothing, and toy donations that are given to people in need. And some congregation members often participate in a Secret Santa type program where food and gifts are dropped off to poor families during the holidays.
Unfortunately, the Open Door program had to be discontinued. As is often the case, poor choices by a few eventually affect many. And who was right or wrong seems rather childish when you compare it to the 51 homeless people that had to seek shelter elsewhere during this cold winter. Thank God, the rest of the programs were continued.
Additionally, the church partners with other churches and organizations to tackle different concerns. For instance, a group called Sacred Road is housed at the church once a year while they spend several weeks working down on the Warm Springs Reservation. They build, remodel, landscape, do clean-up, and anything else that needs to be done.
The aforementioned examples confirm my belief that people with a desire can get things done, even with limited resources: especially when they work together. And smaller groups like this (for the most part) do it with love, compassion, and respect. But the demise of Open Door also reminds us that the decisions we make can have long-lasting consequences. Having God’s guidance during the holidays, and throughout the year, is always the best way to proceed.
[* This post is a year late as a result of illness and the prior website having unresolved issues.]