HOPKINSVILLE, Ky. (KT) – Kentucky Baptist Arlene Miller says she didn’t choose the job of operating Impact Ministry, a clothes and food ministry, in the Christian County area.
It was more that God chose her.
Upon retiring from a career as a nurse, Miller said she was anxiously awaiting her next assignment in life and expected it to be over-the-moon big.
“I was expecting God to give me something exciting to do,” she said. “I didn’t intend to work in clothes and food. I didn’t intend to do it this way, but God did.”
Twenty-four years after starting her work in the food and clothes ministry center near Hopkinsville, she looks back and can’t imagine doing anything else. Her obedience to the work that God had her to do became the real blessing.
Impact Ministry, a ministry of the Christian County Baptist Association, celebrated its silver anniversary of providing for the less fortunate in the Christian County area on Monday with a party. Miller, who is the organization’s director, started a year after it opened and hasn’t stopped working since.
She was finishing her career as a nurse and went on some mission trips trying to find her place. “People were expecting me to wind up volunteering somewhere in
Impact Ministry has impacted hundreds in the Christian County area over the years and the need continues to grow, she said. Low-income families can come every other month and get some groceries and clothes. The clients are on the honor system when filling out a one-page form and asking for needs.
“We don’t make them prove it but we do have them sign a paper saying that they’re being honest,” she said. “If you keep them in conversation long enough, you’ll find out if they’re telling the truth.”
Impact Ministry doesn’t turn down many though, Miller said. They are there to tend to physical and spiritual needs of those they encounter. They have a counselor available who prays with the clients and that often leads to a gospel conversation.
“You don’t have to be a Christian for us to help you but if you’re not a Christian, we want enough of your time to tell you what we believe,” she said. “What you do with it is up to you.”
After finishing in the prayer room, they can shop for clothes while volunteers bag groceries.
Impact Ministry works through the Christian County Baptist Association. Churches in the association also donate to the ministry and members give clothes and sometimes food as well. Local businessman Charles E. Powell has graciously provided the building since 1995.
Miller said they also will help community members who are in a time of crisis because of disasters like flooding or a house fire.
Churches find the ministry as a lighthouse for those who come off the street seeking help, she said.
“I feel so blessed when I go to missionary meetings around the state and hear how so many other ministries have to do fundraiser and speak at churches to get support,” Miller said. “Our churches are aware of what we’re doing and they give to us.”
Miller works with assistant director Linda Tucker, who are both Kentucky Mission Service Corps missionaries, and other volunteers Monday, Wednesday and Friday at the center. They give out food and clothes from 10 a.m. to noon those days and work tirelessly stocking shelves and organizing gently used clothes that have been brought in to give away.
“There’s no telling how many hours we work but everybody loves it,” she said. What amazes us is that almost every day we are open we will have new customers. We gave it the name Impact Ministry because we didn’t want them to be dependent on us (all the time) but want to have on impact on their (current) situation.”
Arlene Miller knows this much: When God does the choosing for you, it’s going to be all good. “God takes care of it because It’s His ministry,” she said.