Working Together to Care for Communities in Texas
KEENE, TEX. – One of the first things Bo and Deborah Gendke wanted to do when they became Texas Conference Adventist Community Services (Texas ACS) directors this past fall was figure out ways they could supply items for churches to connect with their communities. Continuing the work, the former directors, Marshall and Julie Gonzales, started made it even easier.
“The Gonzales’ saw the need to continue community service following Hurricane Harvey,” Bo shared. “They had just started a few weeks before they were catapulted into that major disaster relief effort. Afterward, they continued to assist communities and train volunteers.”
A popular Bible verse describes the purpose of Texas ACS, “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for Me,” Matthew 25:40. For some, they see it as God’s calling to help others.
This past February, the Texas ACS team, Bo and Deborah Gendke and Mario Escobar, depot coordinator, organized two Sundays, Feb. 20 and 27, 2022, for 50 churches (25 each day) to come and load up items they could share with their community.
Church leaders pre-registered for 30 minutes to shop. “It was exciting to see how fast they registered,” Deborah shared. “It was like Christmas all over again being able to gift them these items.”
Church members were able to pick up KN95 masks, clothes, blankets, hand sanitizers, personal wipes, lotion, shoes and other items. The first Sunday alone, 120,000 pieces or more than 12 tons of materials were given to churches for them to make an impact in their community.
“Praying with them before they left was such a special time,” Bo added. “Knowing what a difference these items would make to individuals brought goosebumps. We prayed they would no longer stay within the walls of the church but expand their territory.” Having Southwestern Union and Texas Conference administrators as well as local pastors praying with the groups and for their ministries was so affirming to the individuals.
Sharing stories from the day, Bo mentioned one from Geraldo Alonso. Part of the Sommerset Mission Group in San Antonio, Alonso shared how God has blessed their homeless ministry near San Antonio. Approached by another denomination in the area who wanted to learn how they organized their ministry, they decided to host a BBQ lunch. Planning for 150, they soon realized they had fed more than 500 and still had leftovers.
Houston United African Seventh-day Adventist Church members are starting a new ministry for refugees in their area, so they were excited to take advantage of these items they could share.
“Our volunteers were invaluable in making this happen,” Deborah said. Jefferson Christian Academy students and staff came for two days to help sort the material and get it ready for distribution. Jannet Diaz and volunteers from the Alvarado Spanish Seventh-day Adventist Church, were on hand to help churches load the materials, if necessary.
“We are proud to be a resource for our churches,” Bo concluded. “With the warehouse in Keene, Tex., we want to be here to serve them and bolster their ministries.”
Between both Sundays, the Texas ACS team gave 198,076 items or more than 20 tons for churches to share with their communities knowing “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for Me.”
By Tamara Michalenko Terry
Communication & Public Relations Associate Director