Spotlight on a local ABC church: First Baptist Church of Pontiac, Illinois
For more than twenty years the First Baptist Church of Pontiac, Illinois has offered a food pantry to supplement the nutritional needs of persons within our town and surrounding communities. The food pantry was the vision of one woman who had a passion for feeding the hungry in our city.
In the last two decades this ministry has grown from helping just a few families to serving more than 1,700 families representing more than 5,500 individuals in 2012. In addition to receiving canned and dry foods, recipients also receive meat and bread as well as laundry detergent and limited paper products. Since we are a farming community we are fortunate enough to occasionally add fresh eggs and vegetables to the offerings available.
While the numbers provide a tangible representation of what we do in our community, they only tell a small part of the story. The heart of this ministry is found in the volunteers who staff the food pantry. This group of people demonstrates a passion to be the hands and feet of Jesus Christ through serving those in need. Each person who visits the pantry is given the opportunity to share his or her story. The elderly couple who were displaced by Hurricane Katrina; the mom whose child had brain cancer; the lonely senior adult who only wants someone to listen; each finds a compassionate ear and a generous heart. It is not unusual for work to stop as volunteers gather to pray for those whose needs extend beyond food and laundry detergent.
What started all those years ago with the vision and passion of one woman has grown into a vital ministry not only for our community but also for our church. As we open our doors to minister to the community and feed the hungry, our tight knit group of volunteers also minister to one another. There is always a welcome smile and a warm cup of coffee waiting for anyone who wants to drop by and help out for a day, an hour or even just chat for a minute or two. Concerns are shared and prayers offered as grocery bags are filled and at the end of the day we’ve all been fed by the food pantry. Whether we came hungry or not.