Mercy Station Matthew

Lexington, NC

336-242-6142

Meal, Music, Message

Lexington Church of God

Every Monday Night at  6 pm


A Brief History of Open Hands


The roots of Open Hands run to early 2012 a group of members from Bethany United Methodist Church completed a 32-week Disciple Bible study. A recurring theme that we found in scripture was God’s call to feed those who are hungry. We interpreted this to mean both spiritual and physical hunger. Even as the Bible study was happening we began hosting monthly “Free Meal Mondays” at Bethany, feeding all our neighbors who would come. Through this ministry we forged friendships with people who lived at the Economy Inn of Lexington -ten miles away from Bethany UMC. Despite the distance, we felt a spiritual kinship and closeness. We were assured of a call to be friends and neighbors with our new acquaintances in Lexington. When the weather became warmer we hosted a series of cookouts at the Economy Inn, sharing hot dogs, hamburgers, children’s activities, and God’s love together. At Christmas of 2012 several members of Bethany UMC went Christmas caroling at the Economy Inn, bearing gifts and good will.


With our hearts turned toward our friends, we prayed about a way to have a weekly meal and worship experience together. After much prayer and a season of seeking God’s will, we asked Wesley Heights UMC to partner with us and serve as the host site for Open Hands –the name we gave to the weekly meal, music, and message event. They opened their doors to us. We met for the first time on March 11, 2013 with 14 people in attendance (plus invited guests). From the very beginning, the hallmarks of Open Hands have included: everyone is welcome; everyone matters; the world needs more grace and less judgment. We practice these beliefs in our worship, our decision-making, and our daily living. We are empowered to do so by the love of God experienced in the sacraments of baptism and communion.


The Alive Praise Band of First United Methodist Church in Lexington joined us in the early weeks of Open Hands. They quickly became our house band, and have helped lead worship ever since.

Their service is always uplifting and much appreciated. Friends from churches such as Central UMC in Denton, First UMC in Denton, Canaan UMC, the former St Timothy UMC, and others contributed to the ministry in various ways during those first months.  As we met weekly attendance crept up, going over 100 for the first time when we hosted a Back to School celebration in August 2013. Knowing that we would soon exceed the capacity of the Fellowship Hall at Wesley Heights, we prayed and sought God’s direction about a new place to worship.


God led us to the Lexington Church of God, our current site for the Monday night meal, music, and message. The people of the church graciously joined our effort and we became partners in ministry. The love of God tied us together in mission. We began meeting at LCOG in October of 2013. As we have met there we have seen attendance steadily grow on Monday nights, reaching 255 for our Christmas 2014 celebration.  Currently we host an average of 180 people each Monday. Along with growth in attendance, we have also grown in the number of individuals and churches that have become part of the ministry team. These include: Trinity UMC; Macedonia UMC; God’s Banqueting Table; First Lutheran Church, Mt Carmel UMC, Lexington Church of God, Mount Tabor UCC, Cotton Grove UMC, Wesley Heights UMC, Harvest Worship Center, Bethany UMC, M-6, and other organizations in Davidson County.

Open Hands also includes a clothing ministry, featuring Big MACC (Mobile Accessory and Clothing Closet). Big MACC is a 24’ enclosed trailer fitted to be a self-contained clothing closet. Over 11,000 articles have been distributed through Big MACC since it became one of our tools used to serve our neighbors and share the love of Christ.  This ministry will be up and running again in the very near future as we move it to a more convenient location in town.


We also have an emergency Food Pantry that provides food to some of our community and also a free diaper service through the Piedmont Diaper Bank that will give 10 days to 2 weeks worth of diapers a month to those with small children.

During the coldest nights of February 2015 we opened our office up as a site for an All Night Prayer Service and in conjunction with the Harvest Worship Center hosted those who were living on the streets and needed a safe and warm place to spend the night.  This ministry will expand during the winter of 2015-16.

 

In December 2013 a Board of Directors was formed to advise this growing ministry. We hired Bob Harmon to be our Open Hands Director, overseer of daily operations. On January 27, 2014 we unofficially opened Mercy Station Matthew at 506-C National Blvd in Lexington. This site is open Monday through Friday for the purpose of Bible study, devotions, prayer, connecting neighbors with needed resources, fellowship, and a myriad number of God’s other purposes in Davidson County.


As you can see, so much has happened in this short amount of time. As we celebrate our young age we also appreciate the opportunity that is before us. God’s grace is laced through and among the lives of all the people of Davidson County. God desires an end to cycles of brokenness and despair that have haunted so many for so long. We believe that God is calling Open Hands to be a big part of the word of grace that he speaks to his beloved people. With that in mind we will continue to seek ways to expand opportunities for employment, increase the presence of Mercy Stations and worship sites, pray for new ways to help those in need, and give glory and honor to God in all that we do.


Not one bit of this would be possible without the committed volunteers who give many hours to make Open Hands happen. Some assist with food service; some clean; some drive vans; some play in the band; some greet; some work in the clothing ministry; all are amazing in their love of Christ and neighbor. Beyond hearing the gospel call of sacrifice and servanthood, they are living it out through Open Hands of Davidson County. I salute all of our wonderful volunteers. It is an honor and a privilege to serve Christ alongside each of you.

 

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