Mt. Rubidoux Church Partners With AMEN to Provide Services to Local Community

Posted on Jun 15 2017

Close to 300 neighborhood residents took advantage of free dental and vision care, as well as medical and legal advice provided by professional volunteers, on March 23 and 24 at Mt. Rubidoux church in Riverside.

The Adventist Medical Evangelistic Network periodically supports local churches in identifying and training their members, especially physicians and dentists, in order to provide love, support, and services to their immediate communities. Mt. Rubidoux church leaders accepted the challenge of partnering with AMEN for a free health clinic, and members worked together to prepare for a large amount of people from the community.

"Getting everyone on the same page was a challenge," said Mike Kelly, senior pastor. "Preparing for the event and for this influx of people—and getting our facilities physically ready—wasn't the easiest thing. However, we had amazing volunteers."

Event organizer, Sandra Brooks, reminded members of the upcoming event through weekly announcements on the church’s Facebook page and personal communication. She devised a survey that was handed to each member to find out in what capacity they could help. Then she met with the volunteering professionals to ensure their commitment and formulate the plan.

Josie Asencio, the church’s ministry coordinator for congregational and pastoral care, promoted the event to local community meetings attended by agencies such as the police and fire departments, local government, and non-governmental organizations. Additionally, fliers were handed out to radio stations and print news outlets, with an attempt to invite those who do not normally have access to dental, vision, medical, or even legal services.

"Sometimes we think about making sure that everything is perfect in our church before we start reaching out the community," Asencio said. "But I have learned that while we are reaching out, we as a church community are growing stronger."

This was evident during the two-day event when the church members greeted, listened to, and assisted those who attended. One church member remarked that the people who were coming did not necessarily need to know about the health message or “how to dress appropriately” at church. They just needed to come and be loved.

"If you weren't doing this, I don't know what I would have done," said one of the visitors to Kelly. The church became a safe place for many people who may have had nowhere else to go.
Initially, the pastors and event organizers expected close to 1,000 participants. However, both Kelly and Asencio heard from some attendees that attendance was lower because there is a real fear felt by the immigrant community that going to events such as these could endanger their undocumented status. The church leaders will continue in its efforts to redefine what it means to be a church family and embrace those in the community who have often been shunned.

"The church is not four walls," remarked Kelly. "It's not praise and worship, though I really appreciate that aspect. However, church is really about when you are impacting the life of those who may or may not know Jesus, but are facing difficult times."

By Mario A. Munoz