“I’m lying in bed in the parsonage, and there are lights in the driveway,” he says. “There’s a motor running, and that’s never good on a Friday night,” he laughs.
He went outside and found some friends of his, a couple from a Pentecostal congregation in town, waiting for him. “(They) said, ‘We just stopped by to give you this,’” Reed remembers. Then his friend handed him a check for $7,000. “They said, ‘Well, we prayed, and God said give it to you.’”
Reed says things like this have been happening a lot lately at Hope. Sometime later the same couple turned up again with another check, this one for $6,000. And then there was the time hundreds of complete strangers volunteered to help build an addition to the church building.
“More than 200 people from our town showed up,” Reed says. “The Roman Catholics put in all the tiling. People from Beaverton put in the heating. A couple of young men built a stone wall and installed the brick.”
When asked why he thinks people are so excited to come help out, Reed talks about the atmosphere Hope has cultivated in Rhodes, a town of only 187 people.
The town is a place “where the farmland has kind of petered out,” says Reed. It’s small, which is why people are so willing to work together. “You can’t buy a job out here,” he says. “Without the help of our friends, we really don’t get very far.”
A message on Hope’s website reads, “We’re so far off the beaten path that you pretty much have to be lost in order to find us. But we think God is up to something exciting here.”
There’s definitely been a lot to get excited about, even for what Reed admittedly calls a pretty “laid back” congregation. In fact, up until recently Reed wasn’t even sure how many members Hope had because things were so casual.
“We’re a little church that keeps the books out of checkbook. We were really kind of loose about who was a member and who wasn’t, so we sent a letter and said if you want to be a member, send this back,” he says. They ended up getting 41 additional requests from people who wanted to join.
“Around here in order to qualify for membership, you have to attend once, take communion once, and give us a dollar,” Reed explains. “If you’re not a member, you get all the services. The grace is there for you. If you want to be a member it means you want to help.”
And people at Hope really like to help. After they finished the addition to their building, they had some money left over in the budget.
Reed, who is a volunteer firefighter, decided they should give back to the community who had shown up to help them. “We didn’t have a place to park the fire trucks, and we’d always wanted to build a fire station,” he says. “We used the money in the budget to build a fire barn.”
They’ll also be using the money their friends at the Pentecostal church gave them to start a training program for pastors. “We really wanted to pass on what we do here. I realized I’m not living forever, and I’ve learned a lot, and we don’t want this to fizzle out,” Reed says.
More importantly, though, Hope is committed to continuing to serve its community. “We understand that as long as we take care of this community, God’s going to bless us,” says Reed.
“We don’t do it because it’s our job,” he says. “If you receive grace, you really have to pass it on.”
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