As 85-year-old Emma Wooten's home began to fall apart around her, she turned to God for help.
Her house was in dire need of repair. She had tried to insulate her water-damaged walls with cereal boxes. Ceilings buckled under a leaky roof. Electrical wiring was unsafe.
She jotted down her prayers and placed them in her Bible. She prayed over the list and asked God to provide.
Thanks to Partners in Ministry (PIM), her prayers were answered. A team from Canaan United Methodist Church in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, showed up at her doorstep with the tools and time needed to repair her dilapidated home.
While God answered the octogenarian's prayers, the PIM mission team also benefited. "The team and our coordinators were extremely blessed by Emma's love, thankfulness and faith in God," said the Rev. Anna Troy, outreach coordinator for Partners in Ministry, a Human Relations Day Sunday Grant recipient.
In addition to helping with home repairs for the elderly, disabled and others in need, the ministry sows community gardens, provides after-school programs for at-risk youth and serves as a resource center for families in the Scotland, Robeson and Richmond areas of North Carolina.
"Within each of these ministries, education is a key component," said Troy, "so that the person (or persons) in the programs are better equipped to work their way out of difficult situations."
PIM's after-school program focuses on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) curriculum and offers instruction and activities to enhance learning. As part of the group's YES (Youth Empowered to Succeed) program, at-risk high school students take part in work experiences and classes to help prepare them for full-time jobs, secondary education or the military after graduation, Troy said.
"The assistance the children and youth receive will equip them with necessary skills to improve their lives as well as that of their families and communities," she said.
In 2015-16, PIM mentored more than 300 children, fed over 4,000 families and provided urgent home repairs to more than 40 families.
In addition to meeting physical needs in the community, the ministry also is molding spiritual needs.
"Each person on staff sees their job as a ministry.… With Christ's light showing through each of them, those who come through the doors are immediately engaged in conversation, receiving hope and love in their time of need," Troy said.
"We recognize that while we will not know the exact thoughts and changes that happen within a person and their relationship with God, we are there to help nurture that relationship so that others may see God through them, too."
Troy says the resources that PIM received from Human Relations Day Sunday have helped to sustain the ministry, allowing them to increase services to those in need.
"God's vision is being fulfilled in the lives of those needs in the community. We are here to connect with the people through being disciples of Jesus Christ in spreading God's work throughout our communities."
Julie Dwyer, general church content editor, United Methodist Communications
One of six churchwide Special Sundays with offerings of The United Methodist Church, Human Relations Day calls United Methodists to recognize the right of all God's children in realizing their potential as human beings in relationship with one another. The special offering benefits neighborhood ministries through Community Developers, community advocacy through United Methodist Voluntary Services and work with at-risk teens through the Youth Offender Rehabilitation Program.
When you give generously on Human Relations Day, you encourage ordinary people to have a voice in changing the world. Give now.