About 900 of Life Center’s 4,000 participants involved locally, globally
Amanda Hepper matches volunteers with ministry opportunities.
Amanda Hepper believes that participating in church is more than focusing on life inside the church. It’s about being active in the community and world, even if it’s just serving one hour a month.
For two years, she has been overseeing community outreach and global outreach ministries at Life Center in Spokane, originally developed over the last six years by ministry leader Kristi Burns.
Over that time, the number of community partners has risen from four to 33.
About 900 of the 4,000 people who attend Life Center serve in some way in the community, said Amanda, who is responsible for local partnerships and has helped nurture many of the relationships.
Kristi’s focus now is on global partnerships with ministries in El Salvador, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mexico, Nicaragua and Kaliningrad, Russia.
Expecting to take on the global responsibilities when Kristi retires in 2017, Amanda has visited Nicaragua, and recently spent three weeks in Kenya and three weeks in Ethiopia.
In 2016, Life Center will hold its annual Serve Our City half a day on Saturday, May 21, providing volunteers to local agencies.
“It’s a way to expose members to ministries in the hope they may want to continue to serve,” she said.
Amanda gave an overview of some of the local opportunities.
• In 2015, many helped Greater Spokane Meals on Wheels with meals.
• Every week in February a team from Life Center is going to Deer Park to help Habitat For Humanity build homes.
• Last year for Serve Our City, members framed a Habitat for Humanity house in the church parking lot and took it to the Habitat Deer Park neighborhood.
• Some members helped Hearth Homes in the summer with landscaping and painting, as a way to share in assisting the homeless women and children there who are gaining skills to change their lives.
• After Family Promise, which shelters homeless families temporarily in churches, moved, Life Center helped put up a playground for children at the day center.
• Through Reach Ministries, volunteers are trained to help families affected by HIV/AIDS, mentoring HIV patients.
Other Life Center volunteers participate in programs that reach out to help children who struggle with abuse, poverty and hunger.
• Amanda and two others from Life Center were trained in November in Texas for a new project, the Royal Family KIDS Camp for foster children ages seven to 11. She has arranged for a week at a local campground and will start with 20 foster children.
Royal Family KIDS Camp is a national program with extensive training on how to set up the camp, elicit and train volunteers, work with the state to identify children for camp and provide 12-hour training for camp volunteer staff.
“The goal is to create memorable experiences. Each child leaves with a memory album with photos of themselves having fun outdoors, having a birthday party, experiencing fishing and crafts, and more,” Amanda explained.
The program seeks to give foster children, many of whom have experienced abuse, a camp experience with “life-changing moments.” To address the abuse, church members launch and sustain camps, clubs and mentors to follow up with the children.
Church members who are not on the camp volunteer staff can make such things as quilts and stuffed animals for each child.
• Another program assisting foster children is Embrace Washington, which serves Department of Social and Health Services employees who are “on the front line” working with foster children and to help recruit foster parents. For those who may not be able to be a foster parent, there is the option of helping provide age-appropriate welcome kits of goodies for children awaiting placement.
• About 70 Life Center members volunteer as mentors in 18 schools, many at Sheridan Elementary School, through Communities In Schools. That program surrounds students with support to empower them to stay in school and succeed in life. Volunteers help struggling students stay on track to complete studies by developing one-to-one relationships.
• With Second Harvest’s Bites2Go, members help provide weekend meals for students who do not have enough food. The program runs on donations and individual sponsorships of $12 a month as a way to fight hunger. Volunteers go to Second Harvest and pick up 72 packs of food for Sheridan students to take home.
•Project i.d., co-founded by Life Center members, provides recreation, social, work and life opportunities for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities so they can support their families. Members go there and “hang out” with those served by that program.
Amanda and her husband volunteer at Union Gospel Mission’s Shelter for Women and Children to help break the cycle of homelessness, abuse and addiction. Others help at the men’s shelter, Anna Ogden Hall or the Union Gospel Mission’s Camp Tshimikain for Sheridan students.
These are a few examples of how Life Center members are involved in the community.
Life Center is starting a 10-week Bible study program, “Rooted,” to help people assimilate into Life Center and begin steps toward discipleship. The program includes both prayer and service experiences, and helping participants understand why they serve.
“It’s important to know that doing good works for others blesses the person doing them and is what Jesus calls us to do,” she said.
“Community Health Evangelism is a Christ-centered educational program that equips communities to identify issues and mobilize resources to achieve positive, sustainable change,” she said. “Lives and communities are transformed as people come to Christ and work together to address local needs. It often includes instruction on hygiene, clean water, safe cooking, latrines, health care, HIV/AIDS prevention and care, and other basic life issues.”
Amanda’s background is in IT (Information Technology) and she worked for Lockheed Martin at Hanford several years, and then at Inland Northwest Health Services, directing the physician services division in Spokane.
She said she “came to the Lord” in 1994 and then started attending Richland Assembly of God.
She began attending Life Center in 2010, and took Pastor Noel Campbell’s discipleship class that communicated to her God’s unconditional love, grace and forgiveness.
“That turned my life around,” said Amanda.
“God wooed me toward Christian community service and in 2014 I came on staff at Life Center, overseeing community engagement,” she said. “This has been a fulfilling experience as I develop relationships with local ministries and shepherd volunteers in their directions.
“People may be shy about volunteering, but it can be as simple as spending time with someone in need, smiling and saying a kind word,” Amanda said.
Life Center also uses Facebook to tell stories of how people are serving and to publicize community volunteer opportunities and mission trips.
“Telling stories helps make experiences real and encourages participation,” Amanda said.
For information, call 327-4422 or email Amanda@lifecenter.net.
Copyright © February 2016 - The Fig Tree