For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen
This past Saturday marked the launch of the RISE Clinic at the Collingswood Campus. This was the realization of many years of dreaming, and praying, and seeking God’s direction and intention.
When we bought this building in West Collingswood we all recognized that there was great potential for community and ministry right here in this neighborhood. We are strategically situated near the densely populated neighborhoods of Camden, Fairview, Woodlynne, Oaklyn, Haddon Twp, and Collingswood. We are literally a “stone’s throw” from the Parkview Towers which account for nearly a quarter of the population of Collingswood.
Our time here has taught us a bit of what works, and what doesn’t, when it comes to outreach. We have a vibrant Food Pantry ministry. We hold an annual Block Party that attracts from all of the neighborhoods mentioned above. We’ve held weeknight Bible Studies proceeded by a warm, family style meal. All have been fruitful efforts, but we still found ourselves unable to break through to the “inside”.
During this time of pandemic, we’ve seen needs increase, while at the same time, by God’s sheer goodness, we have seen our resources also increase. When we put out a plea for help at a “pop-up shelter” to keep the homeless from the cold last winter, the people of FCC – both campuses – responded in what can only be described as “overwhelming”. With that one incident, our reputation in this, and the surrounding neighborhood changed. We are no longer seen as a bunch of people who come here for church, but we are seen now more than ever as a part of this neighborhood, this community.
All of that seems now to be coming together. The idea of a “clinic” – a way to address real, tangible needs in our neighborhood through professional services, and a hot meal shared across a table with people anxious to know about you and how we can help – has been churning in our hearts for a few years. After bouncing many names around, we finally landed on “RISE”. In our “mobilizing beliefs” we state that: “RISE is a verb. RISE will be a place, and an idea, of action and motion and working toward. RISE is relationship. RISE is a community. RISE is a conveyance of hope and newness and life that is found only in Jesus Christ.”
After much prayer and hours of unifying, Spirit-led discussion, and pleas for volunteers, and hope-filled planning, last Saturday was the first of what we intend to be a monthly in-reach to our neighbors. Fifty souls were here on Saturday – more than half of them were not from FCC. Word is already spreading. Some who came for a meal and a conversation on Saturday will return next month to work alongside us. We’ve already been approached by the pharmacist across the street, and a Mobile Pediatric Unit asking if they can be involved. Our Food Pantry ministry is planning to open on Saturdays during clinic hours so that those in need of food do not leave this place emptyhanded. On the giving end, as well as on the receiving, Jesus was here. There was much laughter, and talking, and even tears.
We do not yet fully know what God intends to do with RISE – we may never know. But we do know that this is His. It was born of Him and has been carried along by him to where it is now. That is why we feel as confident, and as fearful, as we do. When He moves, we pray that we will have the wisdom and the courage to move with Him.
We could use your help. If you have any professional service you can provide – doctor, lawyer, nurse, dentist, auto mechanic, counselor, therapist, social workers, notaries public; if you can offer financial counselling, bicycle repairs, if you know how to navigate the system (Medicaid/Medicare, Social Services, etc.), the list goes on and on, we need your help. Please pray and ask God if He would have you be involved. Or maybe you’ve been praying for a long time just how you can be used. This might just be His answer.
Or plan, as of now, is to have our Saturday breakfasts again in July and August with only a few services offered. We hope to have everything ready to hit this in a big way starting with our September clinic. If you are interested at all, or have questions, please reach out to Rebecca Bieber at firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can leave a voicemail at 609-479-RISE(7473) and we’ll get back to you quickly.