It has been the calling card of soup kitchens and homeless shelters from Kalamazoo to Timbuktu. It is the faith of many Christians who feed the hungry, clothe the naked, make peace, and visit the sick and imprisoned. No matter how gut shot, blind or crazy, to serve another human being is to serve that Jesus they find in the Bible.
Retired Green River Baptist executive Billy Honeycutt quoted that passage from Matthew 25 as he ran the floor sweeper at Rutherfordton's First United Methodist Church during one of its community suppers which happen every Monday afternoon at 5.
"People start showing up here as early as three or 3:30. They enjoy the fellowship; and of course for some this helps stretch a food budget," Honeycutt said.
Also there on Monday nights are the participants in NETworX Rutherford, the nonprofit ministry that looks to eliminate poverty in Rutherford County.
Through a curriculum that puts emphasis on life-changing skills, NETworX teaches people how to overcome poverty. The group's director, Sandra Turner, manages training for volunteers and Monday night classes that teach people how to negotiate everything from dress to job interviews to attitudes dealing with prejudice and motivation.
One of the group's volunteers, Malanie Price, said she came to the work two years ago thinking she would be a rescuer. "Now, I understand I'm the one who needs rescuing." She said middle class people often only know middle class people and therefore have no deep understanding of poverty.
Price has a background in nonprofit work with Hospice and Habitat organizations. She has also had experience with mental health service. She has high praise for NETworX as an opportunity to see poverty and her own life in new light.
The group meets every Monday night at the community meal in the Rutherfordton church. The class follows the meal at First Baptist next door.
Honeycutt said good things about the Baptists and Methodists working together to make the meal happen, also with the help of First Baptist in Forest City and St. Francis Episcopal Church.
NETworX has hired Becky Pendleton to work as a coach in the program and encourage other coaches. Her husband, Rev. Keys Pendleton is on the group's board and serves Sunshine United Methodist Church in retirement. Other volunteers who were on hand recently were: Dan Smith, Bud Deck, Patsy Johnson, and April Williams.
Folks who'd like to know more about the group can talk with Turner at 828-305-8094. Article provided by Pat Jobe at firstname.lastname@example.org.