This article was written by Langley Leverett. Leverett is a senior at Ouachita Baptist University. She is a double major in English and Mass Communications; she loves to journal, read and hike in the Ozarks.
HOPE, Ark. – Multi-colored bags full of winter clothing line the playground fences. People — young and old — are trickling through the gymnasium doors, hoping for a hot plate of food and a warm place to sleep.
First Baptist Church, located at 315 S. Main St. in Hope, Arkansas, transformed their gymnasium into a shelter for those who lacked winter provisions, beginning with preparations made on February 14. Over a hundred volunteers are giving their time to ensure the shelter stays in operation night and day until February 19.
The church calls the winter bags “Blessing Bags of Warmth.” Each bag has an assortment of socks, scarves, jackets, hats, mittens and other clothing articles. Nearly 300 bags were gathered and dispersed from the fence line.
Other parts of the Hope community have also contributed to these efforts, including the Chamber of Commerce, the emergency ambulance services and eight other local churches. Meals have been donated, and a mobile hospital has been set up inside the gymnasium.
Despite the worries of handling historic weather, FBC Hope is also tackling the issue of COVID-19. Rapid testing is being offered, with negative test results and masks being required upon entry.
Pastor Daniel Bramlett said that sharing the Gospel with their community is the ultimate goal during these unpredictable times. To make this happen, volunteers have been broken up into different teams: from direct ministry to logistical operations. These teams include prayer, worship, stocking supplies, cooking and food delivery; as well as a team for leisurely fun.
In a Facebook post on February 14, FBC Hope asked specifically for prayers of unity and peace for those who are working, and that God’s presence would be known to the participants throughout the week.
“The best part has been seeing the Lord work. We prayed for peace, that God would show up. It was a tremendous undertaking,” Bramlett said.