By Jaclyn Bonner
Isaiah 58 is a call to go beyond cultural religious habits and actively live out faith by restoring justice, sharing food with the hungry, and attending to the homeless. This poignant passage reveals God’s heart, as well as expresses immutable truths and timeless instruction.
When church members learned many families in the community face food insecurity and children in local schools are often hungry over the weekends, they gathered resources to distribute food. Initially, Royal Haven served 12 families, but in two years they have grown to consistently serve 60 families – 238 individuals total.
Many families served by i58 are single mothers with children. Poverty is high in Dallas County, where the U.S. Census Bureau records 19.3 percent of individuals live below the poverty line.
i58 recognizes that poverty is pervasive and ongoing, so their philosophy is that a one-time activity or ministry day will not alleviate hunger. The church is committed to investing in families long-term and tailoring the i58 ministry to meet multiple needs of the community.
Ensuring children continue their education and excel in school is key to addressing generational poverty. To strengthen literacy, i58 partners with Literacy Connexus to distribute books to the children throughout the year. Members of Royal Haven constructed and painted bookshelves to house the books. Each child was given a bookshelf to decorate with stickers.
“Some of the parents had to make two trips to take home the food, the bookshelves, and their children,” said Carol Dorman, Royal Haven Baptist Church mission director.
Each summer i58 gathers school supplies and constructs grade-specific back-to-school backpack packages for children. The ministry also provides school uniforms.
i58 has grown from a food aid ministry to a multi-faceted community service outlet that also provides clothing and household necessities, offers help with utility bills, and assists individuals with job searches.
In February, i58 began offering a Sunday morning English-as-a-Second-Language class. Royal Haven invites families to fellowship each Sunday. Many of the children i58 serves attend Sunday school and are learning about Jesus.
“The most significant facet of i58 is the relationships that have grown out of the ministry,” said Dorman. “We have been able to pray with many people about things in their lives, encourage them, and share Christ.”
The Hunger Offering partners with Texas Baptist churches like Royal Haven to live out the Scriptures by serving Texas communities. Join churches this month by giving at the next 5th Sunday Offering on July 30. Give online anytime here.