Bloomington | Three years ago, members of Vale Church in Bloomington showed up one Sunday morning expecting their regular weekly service. But when lead pastor Ted Max got on stage and said he wouldn’t be preaching, they realized that Sunday was going to be anything but normal.
Instead, attendees were instructed to leave, go to the nearest grocery store, and purchase needed items for Home Sweet Home Ministries—a local mission that meets the needs of children and families through shelter services, a fully stocked food pantry, and the good news of Jesus Christ.
That day was coined “Big Give” Sunday. Now in its third year, the most recent outreach included multiple churches in the Bloomington-Normal area that joined forces to help supply as much of the ministry’s annual needs as possible. Together, they provided more than 20 tons of food and goods for Home Sweet Home’s ongoing ministry.
“The impact of an initiative like Big Give is almost immeasurable; 40,000 pounds of food will allow a ministry like Home Sweet Home to provide services to those who are homeless and under-resourced for over six months,” said Mark Weaver, Vale’s pastor of connections.
On September 18, Weaver’s church and seven others partnered with Hy-Vee grocery store for the big day. Hy-Vee made many of the food items accessible just outside the store, and even set up a separate cash register so people could buy their goods and get back to the church as soon as possible.
After people in each of Vale’s three services returned, participants took what they bought to the altar and the congregation prayed over the items and the people who will receive them. They asked God to bless those who will receive the gifts, and that individuals and families will come to know Jesus Christ as a result of Home Sweet Home and their mission to spread the gospel to the people of Bloomington-Normal.
By the end of the morning, over 40,000 pounds of food and personal care items spilled on to the stage and surrounding area, enough to fill up three truckloads.
Because of Big Give, Weaver said, “our community gets to see the capital ‘C’ church take a step together to give those less fortunate a hand-up in their life. Our community doesn’t see divided churches arguing about doctrine or theology, but the Church being united in being the hands and feet of Jesus.”