God's Lighthouse brightens night for community heroes
April 3 2003 by Laura Rich , BR Graphics Editor

God's Lighthouse brightens night for community heroes | Friday, April 4, 2003

Friday, April 4, 2003

God's Lighthouse brightens night for community heroes

By Laura Rich BR Graphics Editor

The terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 gave many Americans a new awareness and appreciation for those who work in communities protecting their neighbors.

Firefighters, police officers and other emergency personnel have been honored across the nation for their bravery and sacrifice.

While preparing for a service on the anniversary of the attack, Ron Bushey, administrative pastor at Young Memorial Baptist Church in Concord, recognized an opportunity for ministry to these individuals.

In preparing for the service, Bushey rode with Concord city police officers. God inspired him to find a way to give back, he said.

"As I worked on (the service) the Lord led me and put a burden on my heart that we too often overlook all that these public servants do for us," he said.

Bushey recognized the intense pressure that officers work under each day and sought to give them a place to relax. The ministry that resulted is called "God's Lighthouse" and seeks to "provide a Christian atmosphere for (officers) to meet, fellowship and have a good meal during the hours of the night when there is nowhere for them to go," Bushey said.

On Jan. 10, the kitchen at Young Memorial opened from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. offering a hot meal and a place for fellowship to law enforcement, fire and EMS personnel. The program has continued each Friday night.

That evening, 35 police and emergency personnel enjoyed a meal of hearty chili and hot coffee. There was no sermon, just a safe place to relax during a long night.

"What we have at Young Memorial would not have happened if it had not been God's plan," Bushey said, noting the cost and hours of the project.

The kitchen is staffed entirely by volunteers from Young Memorial. They work in teams that plan each night's menu, and prepare and serve food.

"When Ron asked for volunteers for the program, I wouldn't have missed the opportunity for anything," said church member Jimmy Jarrell. "Just to be able to repay the officers for their service is reward enough."

The food itself is purchased with donations from individuals or is offered by local restaurants. A typical menu may include anything from soups and sandwiches to hamburger steaks and chicken cordon bleu.

Marion Asselin has been a volunteer from the beginning. "It is a wonderful feeling to see smiles on the faces of the men and women who protect us daily," she said, "and to hear how much they appreciate knowing that they are appreciated."

Each month, Bushey honors one officer with an award of a soldier's Bible during the church's Sunday worship service. The gift is a pocket-sized Bible with a steel plate intended to be carried in a shirt pocket.

"This special service draws a lot of attention from the officers and their families," said senior pastor Jeff Smith. "Because of this, we are reaching people who would not otherwise attend our church."

Jarrell, who volunteers as a crew leader, agrees. "It's very rewarding to be able to sit down and to share your faith with some officers that do not attend church and see them in the congregation on the following Sunday," he said.

"God's Lighthouse is our way of showing God's love in a practical way," Smith said. "It is about reaching people where they are."

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4/3/2003 11:00:00 PM by Laura Rich , BR Graphics Editor | with 0 comments
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