Bethel’s Family: The hands and feet in Houston
By Chelsea Quackenbush
Photography by Lauren Hollon Sturdy
The Church at Bethel’s Family built itself among the people it serves – and they’ve earned a very positive reputation in its effort to feed and clothe the community.
Their ministry is huge and it’s growing every week.
“Bethel’s Family is the stabilizer for our community,” said Dianne Jones, Bethel’s Place development director and director of global and community ministries for Buckner International. “We have implemented several programs and nonprofits to serve the youth and their families.”
Bethel’s Family and Buckner collaborated in 2010 to provide services and community ministry to the homeless and low-income population of Houston.
One of their largest ministries, Bethel’s Heavenly Hands, provides a drive-through food program, which feeds 6,000 to 7,000 people each month, in addition to a clothing store and counseling. Cars snake around the exterior of the building every Thursday morning as volunteers load bags of groceries into trunks and backseats.
It takes 20 to 30 volunteers to pull off the production. Some days, they serve 100 cars in 45 minutes, Heavenly Hands executive director Clark Booker said.
“Our places are driven by volunteers,” he said. “We have a staff of four. We couldn’t do it without their faithful service.”
Food is stored and served out of their 55,000-square foot Community Empowerment Center, across the street from the church. The stark white and cool blue structure stands out amongst dilapidated apartment complexes and a depressed community in need of hope.
Across the street is The Church at Bethel’s Family, led by Walter August Jr. The church has more than 10,000 members. The members engage in many of 25 ministries Bethel’s Family has to offer. Some of these ministries include: Bethel’s Young Men Development Initiative, which provides recreational activities to men ages 5- to 17-years-old; Bethel’s Global Reach, which sent 90 missionaries to Kenya in 2010 and 35 in 2011; Bethel’s Place Black Chamber of Commerce, an organization formulated from the National Black Chamber of Commerce to assist in empowering small businesses and encouraging entrepreneurs; and Bethel’s Christian Academy, a Christian preschool for youth ages 2 to 5 years of age.
“Buckner and Bethel’s Family have a very similar mission, vision, passion and desire to touch the lives of children and their families all over the world,” Jones said. “My first interaction with Buckner was Founder’s Day 2010. I was blown away then and continue to be blown away with an organization that shares our desire to serve people holistically.”