Long Creek Finds Unique Rural Outreach

How does a church conduct evangelistic outreach to a broad, rural area? How do you reach a community with only a few hundred people? Church members are spread out and live far from each other and from the church. People are reluctant to come out to meetings. How can a church in this setting reach their community for Jesus?

Alita Henslee and Anita Griffith, Long Creek (Ore.) Church members, found a way. They began a ministry to those who have lost loved ones. When someone in the community loses a family member, Henslee calls the family and offers to provide a free funeral dinner at the church fellowship hall.

Then the whole church springs into action. Church members begin cooking and baking, cleaning and setting tables. Other friends from the community help and by the time the funeral is over, the fellowship hall has been turned into a welcoming haven for the bereaved family and friends.

Over the last two years, the Long Creek Church has provided 15 dinners, including three in one six-week period. When bereavement comes, the community has come to count on the Adventists to lovingly provide for their needs.

There is no charge for the dinners, but frequently families respond by making a contribution. These contributions are used to expand the outreach. One family was so grateful, they gave a brand new dishwasher for the fellowship hall.

Additional fellowship ministries that have been added include wedding receptions, a weekly visit from a nurse practitioner, monthly home extension meetings, baby showers and other community family events.

Henslee reflects, “I think Jesus might have chosen a similar outreach in a community like ours.”

January 01, 2004 / Idaho Conference