Ministry Story – OPEN – Ashland Church, Toledo
Transformed by the Spirit – Ministry Story Opportunity
Ashland Ave. Baptist Church of Toledo is a church with a hundred and twenty five year history. Five years ago we sold our historic building and purchased a smaller facility situated in a suburban neighborhood, very near to the city’s urban border. For the first couple of years we tried to do things like we normally did, but found we were not getting any response from our new neighbors. So with the help of a few key volunteers we decided to open our building during non-traditional office hours and gently invite our new neighbors in.
We created the O.P.E.N. Ministry which simply stated is Offering People Encouraging News. We opened our building doors from 4-6:30 Monday Wednesday and Friday for our neighbors to come in. We have a pot of coffee, some hot soup and plenty of warm conversation available. Each day we get visitors from our neighborhood who come in, often times needing food to each. We believe that these people don’t care how much we know until they know how much we care. When we help to meet their daily needs, they willingly welcome our willingness to pray for them and with them.
We have expanded our food ministry as we teamed up with Food For Thought (a church based feeding program) and the Seagate Food Bank (a government based food program) to give away bulk groceries two times each month. Our Youth host a monthly Saturday Luncheon called the Bread of Life meal and Our Deacons have supplemented our food efforts by gathering donations of toiletries for our neighbors, which are not included in the traditional food programs. We regularly serve over a hundred families each month.
Since we started OPEN we have seen several of our neighbors, who originally were recipients of God’s love through our programs, now become givers of God’s love as they have asked to join into our neighborhood program. We have seen people come in just for prayer and a cup of coffee, and we have seen God act in mighty ways, answering those prayers of those seeking his presence in their life. We have added a second tag to our acronym indicating we are OPEN –LATE, recognizing Love Always Transforms Everyone. It is to God’s Glory that we demonstrate his love in our new location.