By LINDA M. LINONIS
Pastor Todd Johnson, organizer of the Invasion of Hope, described the community event as a countermeasure for the depressed neighborhood on the southwest side of the city where the event will take place.
What he said is most impressive is “how the community came together in a white and black partnership.” The pastor said the community outreach event “is a collaborative effort of area churches and organizations.”
Invasion of Hope is scheduled from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday at Agape Assembly Church, 425 Nevada Ave. SW, where Johnson is pastor. This event and others, he said, are intended to “fill the gaps” in addressing some needs. Free clothing will be distributed along with other giveaways. Last year, about 800 people attended.
The focus is on fun with an array of carnival games, free food, live music and a bounce house.
But, Pastor Johnson said, “No matter how convenient you make it, some people won’t come in.”
That’s why a group does prayer walking and knocks on doors in the surrounding neighborhood of Agape Assembly. “We get almost 60 people walking,” Pastor Johnson said. “We knock on doors to see if there’s a need.”
And they’ve discovered some. One residence had no refrigerator, and the group made arrangements to provide one. Many people have a need for clothing, which the group also supplies.
Pastor Johnson said the walks take place mostly in January and February, when needs might be greatest. “We want people to know us and know us as neighbors,” he said. “We want to meet needs and help people.”
The minister said the outreach effort tries to “make people feel comfortable.” But he noted it was more important for “the church to be a church” than be focused on having people go to church.
Pastor Johnson said the outreach effort just completed its summer program that involved 50-60 youths daily. “We provided a safe place,” he said, adding participants also were given lunch.
Another upcoming event will be on Halloween, Oct. 31, when the outreach will offer a free gospel skate at Champion Roller Arena. “It’s safer for the kids. They get candy bags,” Pastor Johnson said. He noted the event offers a supervised activity and may help prevent petty crime and vandalism that night.
He said the reason behind the outreach “is to build a better Christian community” and “offer a spiritual avenue” to people.
For information or to volunteer, call Agape Assembly at 330-394-7516, or visit www.agapeassembly.com.