By Carl Stagner
When Jason McClendon was a child, there were grown-ups in his life who spent quality time with him. One gave him his first Bible, and said, “Jason, God will do something special in your life.” That moment may have seemed insignificant to the one who said it, but to Jason, it meant the world. Over the years, he’s not forgotten that blessing, he’s learned to love authentically, and he’s developed an especially soft heart toward children. The pastor of Community Church of God in Macon, Georgia, says, “Now, I have the privilege to look into a child’s eyes and say, “God has the ability to take you to places you’ve never been!” It should come as no surprise then, that when the need became clear for a summer feeding program for local children, Community Church of God rose to the occasion.
Community Church of God is no misnomer. They have a great pulse on their community, and the community knows the church is a safe place for adults and kids alike. As the church has continued their GED program, teach computer skills, résumé skills, and tax preparation, they noticed a growing number of children walking the neighborhood streets. A closer look at the demographics reveal that they all qualify for free lunches. Once school lets out for the summer, families that have come to depend on the school for substantive nutrition are left with few options. Community Church of God stepped into the gap last year, starting an annual summer feeding program. As expected, the response has been tremendous.
Every day, nearly a hundred people gather at the church for a hot and cold lunch option. Twelve volunteers from the church tirelessly put heart and soul into the effort to make it all possible. When families walk in, they register both children and parents, indicate where they live, and their ages. Not only is the church then able to give an account to a reduced-rate food distributor, but they’re also able to minister more effectively to their neighbors. Families are given the chance to browse the church’s food bank, as well. Some of the food is donated by the church and locals, in addition to the distributor. No one goes home hungry, as those who ask for more food are given the chance to select items from a food basket, from which they also receive a devotional and an invitation to church. “We’re saying No to hunger!” the church posted on their Facebook page.
It should also come as no surprise that the church’s VBS is a very popular event in Macon. Up to 350 kids participated, and there were 180 in church the following Sunday. “The reality is they’re not putting money in the offering,” Pastor Jason explains. “This is a poverty-stricken area. But that’s not what matters. Several of the children came forward during the altar call for prayer that Sunday. The Lord is at work right now! We’re not a megachurch by any means, but we do what we can. These are the people of our community. These are the people we love and serve and who Jesus died for.”
It’s just that simple for Pastor Jason McClendon and Community Church of God. They’re determined to love like Jesus, even when the odds are stacked against them. They serve a big God and will not be deterred. Their long-held dream to open a “Community Empowerment Center,” featuring a dining hall, commercial kitchen, and a sixteen-exam room medical clinic—with full ambulatory service—hasn’t always been met with much faith. Pastor Jason explains that he’s presented the dream to potential partners in the past to no avail. But God is bigger. Now they’ve partnered with a university and school of medicine, received funds from a very generous donor, and anticipate the grand opening in sixty days! CHOGnews, of course, will cover the developments!
Why is this medical clinic and community center so vital to their neighborhood? Because they actually do not have one within reasonable proximity. The statistics dealing with depression, HIV, lack of adequate insurance, and lack of health care are stunning. In the midst of widespread hopelessness, Community Church of God is providing hope. Though funds are limited and donors are few and far between, God has provided, and they’re taking back what hell has stolen. But they’re nowhere near done yet—they continue to dream, and are looking to bring a charter school to their church campus. In the meantime, Jason McClendon’s asking around for someone who God may be stirring to join their team as executive pastor. Thank you for your prayers regarding these needs!
Reflecting back on the children in the community, Jason adds, “Every child is a potential Moses. Their potential is unlimited. When God changes our lives, he can also change our trajectory.”
Changing people’s trajectories. Putting them on the path to life. That’s exactly what Community Church of God continues to do in the city of Macon, Georgia.
In Georgia, across North America, and around the world, God is on the move in the Church of God. Join the movement. Give life. Donate today at give.jesusisthesubject.org.