Going Out Into the Community to “Be the Church”
By: Roy Maynard
For the Rev. Rahel Lee-Yoo, it started with two verse from Proverbs. “Never walk away from someone who deserves help; your hand is God’s hand for that person. Don’t tell your neighbor “Maybe some other time” or “Try me tomorrow.” -Proverbs 3:27-28 The Message
“In the past, our ‘Be the Church’ event has been a one-day thing,” she explained. “And it was very important, very effective and very fun. But again, it was only one day.”
FUMC, Pearland would take a day in April to assist schools, nonprofits and other organizations that had needs, from hanging drywall to building wheelchair ramps to repairing bicycles. But needs don’t only arise once a year, she said. “I wanted our church to be more intentional about the impact we’re making,” she said.
In a way, the once-a-year model for “Be the Church” was a limiting factor. “It was almost like we were giving ourselves permission to not think about these things except for that one day in April,” she said. “It was like we were checking something off our list. And that’s not how we’re supposed to live.”
So Lee-Yoo began visiting Sunday school classes to gauge support for a different approach—a year-round commitment to the schools and organizations they support. “It’s not just about the breadth of the reach we have as a church, it’s about the depth,” she said. “We want to be in true partnership with the groups we’re working with. When they have a need, we want to be the ones who pick up the phone—and say yes. We want to stand alongside them, and not just one a year.”
One group FUMC Pearland supports is Builders without Borders, a ministry based in nearby Alvin. “Our whole church was involved in that,” she said. “We had the smallest children helping to plant tomato plants—we planted nearly 300 of them—and we had our adults helping to bag more than 2,000 pounds of rice and beans.
And soon, the entire church will take on a new project—learning more about and supporting the foster care system.
“On Sunday, we’ll bring in a speaker to talk about the journey of a foster child,” Lee-Yoo said. “And then we’ll branch out into our Sunday schools, and we’ll make prayer flags—each with a prayer or a Bible verse—in honor of the 6,000 foster children in our area. And later, our quilters’ group will collect those flags and combine them together.”
The church will also build beds for foster children and help assemble suitcases with items many foster children need. But even this project won’t be a one-time thing; we can only “Be the Church” if we have a lasting impact, Lee-Yoo said. “I know some of our families are praying about becoming foster families,” she said. This can also serve as a way to get them some more information. There are a lot of children out there with a lot of needs. We can be there for them.”
In the past, Lee-Yoo has contacted organizations and offering help—but only for one day a year. “I would call organizations and they’d be very excited, asking ‘Can you come out tomorrow?’” she explained. “I had to tell them ‘not yet.’ But now, we can be a better neighbor.”