Nativity Lutheran Church in Bethlehem, GA entered into a ministry 3 years ago to provide mentoring, food, clothing and compassion to a group of families living in a mobile home park close to the church. They started providing school supplies for the children in elementary, middle and high school and then Christmas clothing and presents.
When school is out in the summer Nativity folks pick up school lunches from the local high school and deliver them to the "community center" trailer where the mentoring is done during the year. The children get a balanced meal and a chance to sit down with other children/youth and talk, do crafts and "be kids." When the county stops providing the meals in July before school starts back, or on Fall and Spring Break, individuals at Nativity pack lunches with hot dogs or hamburgers, sandwiches, chips, a drink and a cookie or dessert bar.
Over the past three years, relationships have been formed, trust has developed and the Kingdom of God is recognized in this place. One of the coordinators, Jessie Aukes, said that, "While we don't have church with the youth (most of them go to the Catholic church) we do answer their questions about faith and God. We provide a presence that is grace-filled and accepting as these young people navigate life without the extras that many kids they go to school with, have."
We learn as much from them as they do from us. The "Community Center" has a pavilion for eating out on nice days, a play ground, a basketball hoop and a trailer with bathrooms, a "living room" and a tv for watching movies. We make popcorn and let the kids relax with friends their ages. We even planted vegetables this spring that the families could harvest when they come to the food pantry located in the Community center."
-- Pr. Patti Axel, Assistant to the Bishop / Director for Evangelical Mission