The grant, from American Baptist Churches USA (ABCUSA) helped to bolster “Our heavily tapped Rainy Days Fund for those in critical need,” explains the Rev. Darren Stroh, who was serving the congregation at the time. “Within the previous eight months we had spent $8,414 of the $9,664.81 set aside for the fund, and as we headed into the winter months we felt the real need would exceed what we had planned for.”
Stroh said $100 of the grant went as “seed money” for a start-up initiative called “Getting a Good Start” envisioned by Abbie Kinnaman, a high school student in the congregation, and her mother. “They had been approached by a single mother who was begging them for money for diapers and formula for her newborn child,” Stroh says. “This touched Abbie’s heart deeply. She felt God’s call to organize a diaper bag giveaway program for first-time single mothers. We gave her $100 from the grant to get her vision off the ground. With the money Abbie purchased some diapers and diaper bags.
Abbie also put the word out in both the congregation and the wider community for additional goods. She was quickly inundated with diapers, clothes, formula, baby clothes, toys and blankets and has been distributing the items as needs arise within Holdrege, a community of about 7,500 residents.
“Abbie continues to reach out to single mothers in need in our community and bless them with what the Matthew 25 generosity began,” Stroh says.
The balance of the grant — $400 – went to Mandy and Marcus Sunblade-Foster, who at the time of the birth of their daughter, Tiara, were experiencing considerable hardship.
“Tiara had a difficult journey into this world,” Stroh explains. The pregnancy was high-risk and full of complications for both Mandy and her new child. In the midst of the pregnancy the family needed to find new housing, and after Tiara was born, Marcus was laid off from work. The problems did not stop there. Tiara was having trouble keeping food down. Local doctors wanted to send Tiara to the Children’s Hospital in Omaha (185 miles away)but because of Marcus’s layoff funds were not available to get the family there. Tiara could be transported on the insurance company’s tab, but Mom and Dad would have had to stay behind had it not been for the Matthew 25 Grant.”
Stroh explained that thanks to the grant the congregation was able to help provide the family with fuel expenses for the drive to and from Omaha, plus some money for them to pay for meals while there. “We also found free housing for them in Omaha,” Stroh says, “and we helped them with some of their essential bills while they were gone –heat and electricity so it would be there when they came home. We used $200 of the grant money for rent assistance for the family while Marcus was unemployed.” Other funds to provide short-term assistance for the family came from “the generosity of the congregation,” Stroh says.
The Sunblade-Fosters are now back on their feet, Stroh says. Doctors discovered milk allergies were inhibiting Tiara’s ability to absorb her nourishment. In the meantime Marcus has found a new job,” and the family is becoming more and more active in the church.
“We are so grateful for the generosity of ABCUSA in furnishing this grant,” Stroh says. “At the time we received the grant we had no idea it would be used for those most vulnerable – infants. To God be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen!”
The Matthew 25 Grant initiative, sponsored by ABCUSA and the Board of General Ministries, is funded by a generous, anonymous donor whose goal is to help meet the needs of “housing, feeding, education and health with regard to the less fortunate.”
The Matthew 25 Grant process is structured to help small ministries with limited staff time. For more information on the grant and application process visit: www.abc-usa.org/matthew25/