As the Coronavirus first hit, Rev. Christian Jones of Franklin Avenue Mission was worried that most of his volunteers would be unable to help. To his surprise, the exact opposite happened and the mission church on Flint’s east side has seen more volunteers pitching in to help the people in need. They are now serving even more meals to their members and community. Where they once served 170-220 meals on a Tuesday or Thursday, they are now feeding 250-275 people.
While that has been a blessing, Pastor Jones still gets disappointed that he can’t sit down and enjoy a meal with his members. Now he catches up with them while they are waiting in line for food or through their car windows. “It’s incredibly frustrating,” Jones admits.
Pat Adams is one of the volunteers who makes sure things are running smoothly at this time. Pat is a member at St. Mark, Flint and has been coming to the mission for the past 5 years. It’s a ministry that is near and dear to her heart. “I had a wagon, no phone and three children and I was a single mom right in this neighborhood, so this is especially special to me,” said Adams.
Because not everyone can make it to Franklin Avenue, the church decided to go out to the community. Volunteer Laura Weiss has been helping members who can’t get to the church by delivering meals directly to them. “I just drop off meals and talk to them and hear about their day,” said Weiss. “It’s nice when you’re trapped just to have somebody come and say, ‘This is your Bible verse for today.’”
Even those inside the church are stepping up at this time. The church now has its first Elder, Michael Spight, who has taken on a leadership role. Spight is looking forward to a return to normalcy from the pandemic. “I can’t wait for this to get over with, so I can get back to the church,” he said.
A former veteran, William Mills is another example of the need. He rides to Franklin Avenue on his electric wheelchair to pick up 2 meals—one for him and another for his wife. His wife is sick and can’t make the trip, but William is also sick. He is fighting stage 4 colon cancer, and he is so thankful to be able to come to the mission for a couple of dinners. Mills said, “I really appreciate this place, because they are really a lot of help to a lot of people.”
The need is still great in this area and people in Flint are hurting. The neighborhood has seen four houses go up in flames in recent months, and the church recently lost a member due to a house fire.
Photos and video by Jeff Heisner/Michigan District, LCMS