In Baker City, Oregon, firewood is the primary method of heating many homes in the area. When members of Baker City Church of the Nazarene and the Northeast Oregon Compassion Center realized that without access to it many homes would go cold in the winter, they sprung into action.
Church members and volunteers from the Compassion Center, a missional extension of the church, helped deliver firewood to 26 families 2 October.
“Wood is harvested from local area, donations, and other connections, but they use volunteer help from throughout the community to help process the firewood throughout the year,” said Troy Teeter, pastor of the Baker City Church. “On this particular serve day, in three hours or so, we distributed what took several hundreds of man hours to store up. It's a very intentional way that we can meet a felt need in our community, and it continues to grow.”
This is the sixth year the compassion center has offered this ministry. Volunteers give hundreds of hours of time through the year to go harvest, cut, split, stack the wood, deliver it, and pray with the recipients, many of whom are elderly.
“It is a community-wide ministry,” Teeter said. “After a lot of work and intentional action, many of the other local churches now support the compassion center through some giving and through volunteer service, and we are continuing to work on these relationships.”
About 200 cords — a pile measuring approximately 4 ft. x 4 ft. x 8 ft. — are delivered to between 80 and 100 families each year.
In addition to delivering firewood during the winter months, the compassion center and Baker City Church are an integral part of restoring broken parts of their community throughout the year.
“Our compassion center works with many of these families throughout the year,” Teeter said. “They provide a small food pantry, clothing, emergency help with housing, and some utilities as they have resources, as well as financial planning, counseling, and they work with helping put other available resources in our community. All of this is provided at no cost, as they do a couple fundraisers and rely on donations that trickle in.”
There are also some community members that are less likely to receive specialized care services that the compassion center intentionally seeks out.
“They also work alongside those in our prison system, veterans, and provide a support group for those that are caregivers for those with Alzheimer’s or dementia,” Teeter said. “They also are working toward working in a program called Safe Families that works through the churches in parental training, mentoring, and support — all in a desire to help families stay out of the child social services and find restoration.”
The compassion center, led by Cliff Cole, provides many additional services to the community.
“Cole does an amazing job and goes over and above in his dedication to helping people, holding them accountable where needed and resourcing them where we can best help meet their needs,” Teeter said. “He always offers them the hope of Christ with dedication and love.”’
Through this firewood delivery ministry and other similar holistic care initiatives, the two organizations are able to provide hope during some of the most difficult times in people’s lives.
“We believe in open doors, and this ministry allows us to offer to pray for the families and gives us an opportunity to speak God's love into their lives,” Teeter said.