VOLUNTEERS FOR THE FOOD BANK
“If I can help somebody as I pass along, if I can cheer somebody with a word or a song, if I can show somebody he is travelling wrong, then my living shall not be in vain.”
Every Sunday at Rodman Street Missionary Baptist Church, Rev. Dr. Darryl T. Canady begins his sermon with the infamous quote that is proving to be a mission of action at “The Street.”
On the morning of Sept. 14, just as the sparrow opened its eyes, cars were filling up the parking lots and lining the streets surrounding the East Liberty church. God’s eyes were not only on the little bird, but He watched, with pride, the church that is opening her doors to help “the least of these.”
THE CHURCH IN PRAYER (Photos provided by Rodman Street Missionary Baptist Church)
Before the sparrow had a chance to spread its wings, some 400 members arrived like an army of the Lord. Led by Scripture, “…Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (Matthew 25:40), the dedicated congregation came together as one. Following a light breakfast, parishioners gathered in the sanctuary to give thanks to God, assured that His hand was upon Operation Inasmuch.
Chairman Harry Smith and Co-Chair Sonja McLaughlin pulled together a successful community street blitz. Inside the beautiful edifice, every room was filled to capacity. Teams were scrubbing, cleaning and polishing, making “The Street” a sparkling and warm welcome from inside out.
Others walked the streets, picking up dirt and debris from the littered sidewalks and nearby overgrown lots. Inside, an atmosphere of excitement transmitted love from the hands of volunteers to the blankets being delivered to the Eva P. Mitchell Senior Citizen High Rise.
SINGLE MOMS (Photos provided by Rodman Street Missionary Baptist Church)
Smith, a long-time member of Rodman, would like to see the mission continue to grow within the community. The committed deacon states that “The projects undertaken show the community the church cares. I feel privileged to try my best to reach others and would like to see Operation Inasmuch conducted more than once per year.” That sentiment was passionately expressed by McLaughlin, whose continual prayers brought her vision to fruition more than 4 years ago; hence, one of Rodman’s greatest community missions.
Health and wellness of the African-American community is a passion of Mario Brown. The public health professional provided blood screenings, as well as testing for breathing, asthma, blood pressure and BMI’s. “Operation Inasmuch,” states the Rodman coordinator, “gives me the opportunity to reach out to others.” He continues that journey by encouraging the congregation and the community to take “care of our temples.”
UPLIFTING PATIENTS AT NURSING HOME
Brown has also worked with Dr. Marla Johnson in the promotion of HIV/AIDS awareness. Johnson is a well-known advocate and counselor who have combined her knowledge with an indescribable amount of compassion. Her hopes and prayers for others has become an ongoing outreach program throughout the Pittsburgh area.
Shawnel Calloway’s first year of leading a team for Operation Inasmuch proved to be a rewarding experience, as her group prepared gift boxes and baskets filled with fruit, spiritual tracts and toiletries slated for local nursing homes. It was the fourth year for Gwen Watkins and her team. In a full capacity room of the church, the dedicated volunteers made blankets to be distributed to the residents of a local senior citizen high rise. Watkins recalls the sincerity of one elderly lady who was grateful for the “blanket that would keep her warm” throughout the cold winter season.
CLEANING THE STREETS
Visits to a shelter for homeless veterans provided necessary toiletries and listening ears. That undertaking led one man on a personal mission that continues to touch the hearts of service men every week. Self-funded, Veteran Carl Jay prepares breakfast every Monday and Tuesday morning at the home, a ministry he began after becoming involved with Operation Inasmuch.
PRAYER IN THE STREETS
The dedication of service and the work conducted by the massive amount of Rodman volunteers proved too many to list. It was the first year of participation for Brooklyn, New York native and Pittsburgh Theological Seminary student Steven Gallego who recently joined the Rodman family. “Operation Inasmuch,” he says, “gives me the opportunity to do the Lord’s work. People see us doing work in the community and living out what we preach.”
The busy day culminated with a bag lunch and closing remarks by Rev. Dr. Canady, who expressed his desire to return to the days when “…the African-American church was the center of the community. The church,” he emphasizes, “should be the leader. In order for us to be relevant and viable, we need to make contact to make an impact. We must, get off the bench and get into the game of life. Unless we do that, the church will become irrelevant.
“Every year ‘Operation Inasmuch’ occurs, our people are being empowered to make a difference in the lives of someone else. (His vision) is to instill, through Christ Jesus, hope and expectation.”
Operation Inasmuch is one of the ways in which the vision of the Rodman Street Missionary Baptist Church is fulfilling God’s desire for the “least of these.” Empowering the people of Rodman to reach out to others is a positive step that transcends the void between the members of the church and the residents of the community. It was a day of sharing God’s love. And as the sparrow flew off into the skies, God looked down upon the corner of Rodman and Collins Streets…and He smiled!
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