|HAM LAKE — It’s not every day that you can find the fortune of hope through misfortune, but that’s what Beyond Horizons is bringing into the lives of those in need of a helping hand.
Beyond Horizons is a Christian 501(c)(3) nonprofit ministry of Horizons Community Church of Ham Lake that mobilizes a servant’s heart to meet people’s practical needs in Anoka County.
“When our Senior Pastor Jimmy Jones asked our church the question about four years ago, ‘If Horizons Community Church ceased to exist, would anyone really know or care that we were gone?’ I knew amazing things were going to happen,” Executive Pastor of Horizons Community Church Todd LaVine shared.
LaVine was right, and on July 1 a fast-moving effort to serve the local community was established with a commitment to open a compassion center that would further the church’s presence in an area in great need of compassion services.
Julie Clarke, local compassion director of Horizons Community Church works in a leadership position with Beyond Horizons and its ongoing project with the compassion center.
“Our hopes are as we get in [the] community and as we get more financial resources and things that we can become a resource center for those families out in [the] community,” she said.
The compassion center will house eight ministries under one roof when it opens in mid-September. The 2,387 square foot building is presently undergoing construction at its location on the corner of Hanson and Coon Rapids Blvd. in Coon Rapids—strategically placed near the area’s bus lines.
A thrift store, food shelf and clothing closet will initially operate out of the center. Beyond Horizons’ transportation, auto repair, moving, shelter and furniture ministries will also be headquartered out of the center.
The concept for the compassion center is simple, yet meaningful: that is to generate a reciprocal effect of going beyond the church in order to bring people into the body of Christ.
“Our new compassion center is the next step in the evolution of a church that is passionate about getting outside of its four walls and serving the community,” said LaVine.
Horizons Community Church’s mission is to “Love God. Love People. Serve the World.”
“They are going to know when they walk in [to the compassion center] what our mission is,” said Clarke, “… to be the hands and feet of Jesus.”
Clients of the center will experience a place that feels like home, and they will be treated as special guests.
The food pantry will be “of choice,” meaning clients will have an opportunity to select food options to the tastes of their family. Instead of waiting in an isolated lobby, clients will have access to connection resources.
These resources will provide one-on-one time with clients to check-in with them and ask them about their needs. This will also involve referrals to other organizations in the county who can meet needs that the organization can’t, if necessary.
“This is a big community, and we can’t do it alone,” Clarke said. “We welcome other people to come in or other groups to come and serve alongside of us,” as the compassion center and the ministries of Beyond Horizons rely on volunteer support. “We don’t want to stomp out what other organizations and churches are doing to meet the needs of the community, but rather to come alongside them,” continued Clarke.
Beyond Horizons strives to promote the well-being of people who find themselves in circumstantial situations. That’s why the organization will provide recipients of its resources with an opportunity to earn ongoing support by volunteering at the compassion center.
“If we have a need that is a once in a lifetime type of service, we want to preserve the dignity of the person,” said Clarke. “Giving them something for free doesn’t always do that so maybe the second time they come in they can volunteer for four hours in exchange for food or clothes.”
In a time when many people have lost jobs and struggle with unemployment, being able to contribute to the needs of others while helping to fulfill their own is reassuring.
“People love that because people feel like they are paying for it and they do with their time, and it’s a great way to build self-esteem,” Clarke added.
Beyond Horizons believes that there is a need for people to witness a raw and genuine faith. Seeing faith in action is what the organization says will bring people to explore the Word of God.
“The church is the church body, so that’s why it is important to get that message out and get other churches involved,” said Clarke.
There can never be enough compassion, and Clarke hopes Beyond Horizons will inspire other similar ministries and services to duplicate what it is doing so that the compassion of God will reach throughout Anoka County.
“It would be like a dream that we could set this up and that other churches would [one] partner [with us], come alongside that,” explained Clarke, “[or if] you’re seeing what’s happening, come see us. Let us share with you what we’ve been able to do here.”
LaVine pointed out that the deeds to be done at the compassion center and beyond are a representation of something bigger.
“We’re incredibly excited to be serving the people of Coon Rapids and look forward to making our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ the hero within the community,” he said.
ACTIONPOINT: For more information about the compassion center or how to get involved, visit www.horizonscommunitychurch.com/cc or email firstname.lastname@example.org.