Small Church’s ‘House Of Hope’ Helps One of Tennessee’s Poorest Counties

PIKEVILLE, Tenn. (Baptist and Reflector) — A small rural Tennessee Baptist church is doing its best to show the love of Christ in one of the most impoverished areas of the state.

According to statistical data, Bledsoe County is one of the poorest counties in Tennessee. In 2010, Bledsoe County was ranked 94th among 95 counties in the state with a per capita income of $12,907.

In order to aid the community, Lee Station Baptist Church in Pikeville, located in Bledsoe County, has provided its “House of Hope” for the past five years.

Lee Station’s House of Hope offers food, clothing and furniture (when available) year-round not only to residents of Pikeville and Bledsoe County, but approximately seven other surrounding counties as well, said Pastor Bill Wolfe. “We attract poor people,” he acknowledged.

Church member and volunteer Phil Colvard agreed. “Hungry people need to be fed. People don’t realize how many residents in the surrounding area don’t have enough income to get by. That’s why we do what we do,” Colvard said.

The small congregation of about 50 people helps between 700 and 800 families monthly, reaching between two and three thousand people, Wolfe added.

“It’s so awesome to see how God works,” said Wolfe, a bivocational pastor who has been at Lee Station Baptist for 16 years.

Even before the church opened its House of Hope, the congregation sponsored a food bank, the pastor noted.

The ministry is funded by the church and private gifts from individuals, business, other churches and organizations. “We get donations almost every day from people who know about the ministry and want to help,” he said. In addition, the church has received hunger funds from Global Hunger Relief.

“That has been a blessing,” Wolfe stressed. “We put those missions dollars to excellent use,” he added.

Joe Sorah, compassion ministries specialist for the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board, noted that because “Tennessee Baptists give through Global Hunger Relief, we are able to assist churches and ministries with needed funds to buy food to feed hungry people in Tennessee.”

Sorah observed that Tennessee’s poverty rate is 15 percent and 20.9 percent of Tennessee’s children live in poverty. Ten percent of Tennesseans live in extreme poverty, which is below half of the poverty line, he added (source for stats:

“Almost 13 percent (12.9) of Tennesseans live with food deficiency, meaning that at some point in the year they experienced difficulty providing enough food due to a lack of money or resources,” Sorah said. “There is no shortage of people in need in Tennessee. Meeting hunger needs opens the door for gospel sharing. As we help to feed hungry people, the doors open to share the Bread of Life. Hunger ministries do more than give out food. They meet the immediate need in order to address the greatest need.

“Lee Station Baptist Church has seen the need, heeded the call to help and is making an eternal difference in many lives,” Sorah said.

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Source: Baptist Press