By Analiz G. Schremmer, Contributing Writer
The Impact Center at Christian Family Baptist Church in San Antonio ministers to local military members and their families each month through a feeding center.
“We work with veterans and active duty military - those are our primary clients,” said Christian Family Baptist Church Pastor Rob Johnson, a retired military veteran. “That’s always been the DNA of our ministry going on 15 years.”
"from the beginning, the key focus was to meet the needs in the community and make disciples"
The Impact Center, which is a Texas Baptist Hunger Offering ministry recipient, aims to feed clients and share the Gospel with them, he explained. They distribute approximately 20,000 lbs. of food per month, purchased through the San Antonio Food Bank, which feeds about 400-500 people.
“It’s more than just a food pantry,” he said, adding that his wife, Victoria shares the same conviction. “What we do is help families. We equip families to share Jesus Christ and we teach them to use their Bibles. We are mentors to them and we are developing people into Christ-centered followers.”
Johnson said that when he returned from military service in Korea, he felt the Lord telling him to get involved in the community.
“My wife and I started working with ex-convicts and their families and inviting them out to our home. We would try to show them how to use the Bible, and help them know Christ. We started to invite them over for Bible studies and we would also feed them, so that turned into what is our church now.”
Johnson said that from the beginning, the key focus was to meet the needs in the community and make disciples. While the Impact Center does not currently have a building for operations, the church has improvised to meet needs.
“We currently do a drive-through process,” Johnson said. “We have stations set up and recipients fill out vouchers. They don’t even get out of their cars. They pull out by the pavilion and we load their cars up with food. I have a trained minister who collects prayer requests.”
Johnson receives the prayer requests, and at the end of the day, a team of senior adults call and ask if their prayers have been answered.
“It also allows us to build relationships with the people,” Johnson said.
One day, he hopes to have a facility where food can be stored and refrigerated.
“This will allow for a more dignified process and give people a chance to sit down and receive training from a dietician. We could also offer family therapy and ministry for people in crisis situations.”
Johnson said that members of his church and the community make a lot of personal sacrifices to serve in the Impact Center.
“They take off from work,” he said. “They take vacation. They make the sacrifices to make themselves available to do the ministry.”
Johnson shared the story of an 80-something retired preacher from Colorado who doesn’t let sickness stop him from serving in the Impact Center.
“He was given two-to-seven years to live and now he’s passed the seven-year mark. Even when he was on an oxygen tank, he was still trying to come out here. His objective is to build relationships with the people that he’s meeting at the food distribution and he just continues volunteering.”
Johnson also recalled the testimony of a woman who was going through major conflict in her family.
“There were gangs involved and jail time involved,” he said. “I told her in James 1, the Bible tells us to consider it pure joy when we face trials because trials help us persevere. So, she began to trust God’s word in the midst of her trials.
“She decided that instead of sitting around feeling sorry for herself, she should pour into the lives of other people, so she began serving in the Impact Center. She started to see the struggles of other people and that she wasn’t the only one going through challenging times. God helped her get through this by leading her to focus on helping others. Now, her family is united and everyone is a professing Christian. It was a real blessing to see that turn around for them.”
Johnson said so many testimonies have come through this ministry that it was hard for him to narrow them all down and share just a few.
“I want to emphasize that we are hoping to inspire other churches to become Impact Centers. Faith is an action word. We have to listen to God and let him guide us on how to reach his people in the community and this is how he gave it to us. This is not a program. It’s a revelation from God on how to reach his people and fulfill the Great Commission and the Great Commandment.”