DECATUR, Ill.—Riverside Baptist Church has been using an outreach in a local park to share the gospel with people.
The idea is “pretty simple,” says Pastor TJ Hahn. “We serve a different meal each Saturday in the park and share a gospel message, testimony, or something in Scripture.” Some of those who visit are homeless; others “are just poor and can use a meal,” TJ says.
About 30 to 60 people visit each Saturday, depending on the day and the weather. “When it’s nasty out, we make it quick. If it is nice, then we tend to hang around and eat with people,” TJ says.
Joining TJ in the park ministry is his friend Rod Wilson, a black pastor of a nearby church. TJ and Rod teaming up “shows our city that the church is not divided like the world,” TJ says.
As a result of this outreach, four people have professed Christ as Savior and four have been baptized. One of those who professed Christ as Savior is a boy whose mom came to know Christ as well but then passed away soon after that. The boy’s dad is homeless. The church has been ministering to this family by assisting the boy’s uncle in getting custody. The boy is doing well and attends the church and its youth program.
Ministering amid COVID-19 has been challenging, TJ says, but even in the face of the challenges, the church has increased its park outreach to meet people’s spiritual and physical hunger.