No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of another. —Charles Dickens

Because God calls His people to show purposeful and compassionate generosity towards others, the members at New Haven Church in Overland Park, Kansas wanted to develop ways of serving the needs in the community around them.

In 2012, member Faye Martin and former associate pastor Chanda Nunes began a small food pantry for low-income families called ReNewed Hope Pantry. The pantry has grown since its inception and last year provided 140,000 pounds of food, serving over 3,000 homes.

While clients wait their turn, associate pastor Ruth Rivera and member Doug Ludwig spend time visiting with the patrons, hoping to learn how to serve them in other ways. Pastor Rivera shares, “The pantry is not only a blessing to our community but also to our church. The volunteers get to see and experience the gift of reaching out to others in love as they bring others hope when they need it most, as Jesus did when He was on the earth.”

Seeing a greater dietary need emerge, a second pantry was opened in 2015 named ReNewed Health Pantry. This pantry focuses on foods for people with Celiac disease and other food allergies. This pantry is only the second in the nation to offer food for individuals with these allergies.

Eighteen months ago, several New Haven members got together to discuss the best way to provide fresh produce to ReNewed Hope Pantry. They also wanted to find a way to get to know their neighbors better. Greg Murphy, who leads the ReNewed Hope Community Garden says, “We believed that God challenged us to consider a community garden and felt this was the time to move ahead.” The church board agreed, and a 50’ x 100’ area was tilled and converted into 24 individual garden plots. Half the plots are rented to neighbors and the other half are used to raise produce for the pantry. Approximately 1,600 pounds of produce was donated to the food pantry last year and they are hoping to increase that amount to 2,000 pounds this season.

Apparently, service to the community is contagious. A community member who lives next to the church has a passion for gardening and spends time training new gardeners and helps get the plots ready for winter and spring. A beautician who heard about the food pantry comes several times a month to offer free haircuts to clients. She gave 10 haircuts her first day.

Over 60 members volunteer each week with the various ministries, and if they can’t contribute time they give money or donate items to the garage sales that support Community Services. Spiritual service is also offered as prayer warriors take on each request placed in the pantry’s prayer box and rejoice with clients who report back the answers to their prayers.