Chicago | “What can we do?”
After Starting Point Community Church had to scrap more than one plan to help their community due to COVID-19 restrictions, Pastor Jonathan de la O said his congregation started back at square one with that simple question.
The answer: Fill as many boxes as possible with purchased and donated items. Then, invite the neighbors to drive by and pick up the boxes full of groceries, toiletry items, and art supplies for kids. Within half an hour, the pastor said, the boxes were gone.
A major part of Starting Point’s identity is being part of the community on Chicago’s northwest side, de la O said. “Even before this, we’ve had a heart to serve our neighbors.”
Many of their neighbors have been directly affected by COVID-19. The church’s ZIP code has the second-highest number of Coronavirus cases in the state. The Chicago Tribune recently reported Chicago’s Latino communities are reporting higher infection rates, likely due to close living quarters for families, and many working in essential jobs.
The economic fallout has been hard on his community, de la O said, with residents already under-resourced and many ineligible for aid through the CARES Act. “We’ve got to find ways to serve them” has become his church’s mission.
That mission has extended to Starting Point’s online ministry. Sunday morning worship services are streamed on Facebook Live, and de la O recently started preaching two separate sermons—Spanish at 10:45, English at 11:30. The new offering is designed to reach their first-generation Hispanic neighbors.
The dual sermon approach was something he and associate pastor Marvin Del Rios had decided to do before COVID-19, de la O said, planning for a pre-launch of their Spanish ministry on Easter. Despite the unusual circumstances, they decided to go ahead with the launch online.
Starting Point is also awaiting its next box giveaway. When de la O posted a video about the first outreach, the church raised $1,000 toward the next project in a matter of hours. One neighbor dropped groceries off on de la O’s porch to be included. The church plans to distribute the boxes one Saturday a month through August at least.
“We are a small church with a big heart and an even bigger God,” de la O said. “We believe that God is orchestrating everything, and that he can and will use us to share Christ with others.”