Generosity shown by four churches and many individuals resulted in a big surprise birthday present this week for the Bluefield Union Mission.
A trailer loaded with approximately 175 canvas shopping bags filled with food donations arrived suddenly this week at the mission. Another 50 bags were on their way.
“Wow, this is fantastic,” Craig Hammond, the mission’s executive director. “What a surprise. What an anniversary present.”
Saturday will be the union mission’s 81st birthday. Hammond said the mission has been asking area residents to help celebrate this anniversary by donating 81 ounces of food. Ashley Copenhaver-Shinault of Princeton, an advertising representative for the Bluefield Daily Telegraph, visited the mission to discuss an anniversary advertisement with Hammond.
“It was three weeks ago,” she recalled. “When I walked into the mission, I could hardly get in the door because there were so many people lined up for food assistance and bills.”
The following Sunday, Copenhaver-Shinault went to Johnstons Chapel Baptist Church and heard a report about missionary activities and thought about what she could do.
“”I knew I couldn’t sing or play a musical instrument for church, so I wondered what my spiritual gift could be. I remembered the Bluefield Union Mission, and I had an overwhelming sense of that’s where I’m needed. I felt called to bring as much food together for people as possible,” she said.
Congregations at Johnstons Chapel Baptist Church, Mount Horeb United Methodist Church, Kegley Baptist Church and Deliverance Temple all contributed to the food drive along with friends and family. Ron Martin of Grant’s Supermarket donated 200 food bags for the project, she said. Susan Belcher of Mount Horeb, Rick Fowler Deliverance Temple and Kevin Nielander of Kegley Baptist Church helped organize the collections.
Copenhaver-Shinault said that she credited inspiration from God for making the donations possible.
“When God speaks to a person, and we are still and listen, then great things can happen,” she said, adding a biblical quote from Matthew 25:40 (NIV). This quote states, “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’”