By Grace Thornton
The Alabama Baptist
Dicky McAllister says he never stops being surprised at how many people show up right in his backyard with a lot of needs.
“It’s amazing how many people from different states move into Geneva County, and when they do sometimes they only have what’s in the car they came in,” he said.
But McAllister says that’s right where he and other local Christians want to meet them, offer help and share the love of Christ.
For the past 12 years Geneva Baptist Association has run Christ’s Helping Hands Ministry, a resource that offers food, clothes and household goods as well as financial assistance for needs like rent and utilities.
“In the worst of times for people we want to do the best we can for those we reach,” said McAllister, director of missions for Geneva Association. “And we’re meeting spiritual needs through personal counseling, witnessing and encouragement.”
That encouragement comes from the volunteers who keep the ministry running every day and pour into the lives of visitors. They meet people’s basic physical needs and they also sit down to eat lunch with some of the people who come to the center for help.
“Getting them around that table and fellowshipping with them is a big, big plus,” McAllister said. “They just see the depth of Christianity and they want to come back.”
That’s where the witness comes from, he said.
And for those who need counseling, that comes from McAllister, who walks the 30 steps across the parking lot from the associational office to Helping Hands often to sit down with people, listen and share truth.
“We sit down and really discuss some situations going on in their lives,” he said.
Over time, sometimes those relationships last, McAllister said. He’s seen Christ change people’s lives and he’s even gotten to perform weddings along the way.
“You get close and attached to people,” he said. “Sometimes they come in to the ministry a little reluctant, but they meet the people there and it can be a very encouraging experience for them.”
Keeping the ministry running is a full-time job, he said — the needs are great. It has its constant challenges, but it’s “a good experience and a great ministry,” he said.
And it’s well-supported, McAllister said. Helping Hands is held up by “a lot of dedicated servants” and the kind gifts of area Christians.
“We work on donations and people are very, very generous with their donations,” he said. “They flow in like a river.”
The ministry has grown to the point it always needs more volunteers and it desperately needs a building expansion, he said.
“We want to reach people at their point of need and always point them to Christ — that’s what we are here for,” McAllister said.
“God keeps blessing and we keep serving.”
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