When the pandemic hit suddenly in March, John Teevan, Director of Next Steps at Grace Church in Ashland, Ohio, and a few of his friends were looking for a way to be salt and light in a dark situation. They asked the question, “What is the biggest need and how can we meet it?”
After brainstorming together, John reached out to the assistant superintendent of the local Ashland City Schools and asked how they could help. The superintendent quickly put John and his friend Josh in charge of food handouts at two elementary schools. Many of the students that attended those school received breakfast and lunch daily prior to closing, and the school was looking to continue to provide those meals during the quarantine.
In addition to handing out food at the school, John delivered meals to students’ homes three days a week. He quickly got to know the students and their families and built a rapport with them as he became known as “The Delivery Guy.” As John would pass through the neighborhoods, he would pray for the students and families by name. One particular family impacted John, where he saw the trust two young students had that their school would come through for them; he was struck by the idea that the church should be just as known for coming through for people during hard times.
John and his friends started another outreach at local laundromats, which they nicknamed Loads of Love. The group would place $4-5 in quarters into envelopes and hand them out to people who were doing their laundry. They started their conversations with something simple, such as “I know you’re going through a lot and I just wanted to help out.” Many people were grateful for the help, and many others asked if their envelope could be given to someone who needed it more. While they did not set out to evangelize, doors were often opened through their kindness that allowed them to share Jesus’ teaching about loving their neighbors and about their faith in Him.
The group also partnered with The Ashland Salvation Army Ray & Joan Kroc Corps Community Center in distributing food. They served at the center by passing out boxes of food containing fresh produce and other essential food items. They also delivered packages of shelf stable and nonperishable to local families in need.
John and his friends’ willingness to serve back in March has continued to open doors for them to serve today. The schools invited them to participate in their back to school party, where they handed out backpacks full of school supplies and offered students free haircuts. They also continue to serve at the Kroc Center handing out food and continue to pass out envelopes of quarters at local laundromats.
John and his friends hope that building relationships and connections within their community will ultimately point people to Jesus. John says they want to “live like Jesus has actually transformed our lives” and to be known by what they are for, not what they are against. And they are for the people of Ashland.
[Connect:] Pray for John as he continues to look for opportunities to serve in the Ashland, Ohio, community. Send him an encouraging message or reach out to see how you could get involved here.