Small, random acts of kindess can make people feel powerfully good and spark interest in a church or Christian community. That’s what Holly Roe, children’s director for Kodak United Methodist Church, is counting on.
"There was a
need for evangelism, for our church to do more,” Roe said. “I wanted
(the projects) to be something families can do together, to get our kids to
understand what evangelism is.”
With “SERVE!,” families can show others simple kindnesses while spending time together. Kodak's $3,700 Change for Children grant will buy Frisbees, bottles of water and Gatorade, ice pops and other give-away items, as well as T-shirts for the participants.
Recently, the Knoxville District church conducted a Summer Fun Club in a nearby mobile home park. The event featured puppets, games, Bible stories, and "Water Night," complete with a huge water slide and watermelon. Roe was assisted by an Illinois youth group who was in town for other mission projects. At least one of the mobile-home families who came to Summer Fun Club later attended worship at Kodak, Roe said.
Roe is already thinking of other projects, including handing out ice pops at a random soccer game; hot chocolate on a winter night in Gatlinburg; and Gatorade, water bottles, and flying discs at Knoxville's Sundown in the City. A card will be attached to each giveaway item, stating: “This act of kindness is done for you because we believe small things done in the name of Christ can change the world." The card will also list the nearest United Methodist church with its phone number and addresss.
On Aug. 20, Kodak hosted a Back-to-School party with some of the grant money. This event featured free cotton candy, snow cones, and inflatables for the neighborhood children.
A “Trunk and Treat” is
also planned for Halloween. Last year, 2,500 children attended Kodak's Halloween event, where church members handed out candy
and toys from 60 decorated car trunks. This year, Roe said they’ll plan for event more
participants by hosting the event at the Tennessee Smokies ballpark in Kodak. Local businesses
will again help sponsor the event.
“We also want to do things such as go to a high school football game wearing our T-shirts, then pick up trash in the bleachers afterward. Or we'll go to one of the hospitals and feed the parking meters as people pull up,” Roe said. Kodak also plans to join with Fairview UMC of Maryville District in handing out bottled water and snacks at hospital emergency rooms.
Whenever church members perform these acts of kindness, Roe said
they will all wear matching T-shirts that say, “The church has left the
building” on the back and “Kodak UMC” on the front.
“I thought it was a good idea to do evangelism as a family,” Roe said. “It is great to see the kids realize how it feels to help others and to do outreach. We have enjoyed it, and it has made a big difference”