Health scares and epidemics have been in the news lately, serious flu outbreaks and Ebola to name a few. Many worry because these illnesses are contagoius! While millions have received the flu vaccine in hopes to avoid the contagious flu virus, many will also check the US MAP on the spread of influenza. If you are that person here click here!. But that is not what I am thinking about.
As important as it is to know about influenza and Ebola today I am looking at another kind of activity that is very contagious at this time of year. It is the selfless acts of kindness that many of our alumni are involved in. I know that you may be one of those who volunteer your time to help others in or community that have needs. There is something about serving with others that gives us a good feeling inside. I know that there are many of our alumni that are apart of organizations that serve others as well. Today I want to tell you about a few World Changers that are making a difference in the lives of people. Their selfless acts of kindness are contagious!
One of those is alum, Austin Bonds. He is serving in an organization that seeks to mobilize, empower, restore, and satisfy the need of the oppressed. He is CEO and founder of a relief organization called; Metro Relief. It is located in The Colony, Texas.
Austin is a 2001 ministry graduate who later completed a Masters in Ministry degree in 2010. He grew up in Marion, Indiana knowing the difficulties of being poor. He shared in a recent interview that while his parents loved him, “We were poor because of their choices that were addiction related.” His early life was difficult. In fact, his mother was murdered in 1997. Yet, in spite of this hardship, he was able to attend and graduate from college and launch a ministry that he runs today. He is the CEO and Founder of Metro Relief.
His vision and calling for ministry began with an invitation from IWU faculty, Dr. Wilbur Williams to go to New York City on a mission trip. “Darcy, my wife and I were looking to be in missions of some sort. We looked at places that served people. I spent some time in New York City. But in 1992 Wilbur Williams took a team to New York City.” Austin shared that it was the influence of Dr. Williams that compelled him to study at IWU. In 2011 he launched Metro Relief, following his dream and calling with support from another alum, Daniel Stoltzfus. (I will share more about him later in the article.)
His ministry is unique because he goes to where the needy are. They take their ministry bus to neighborhoods of greatest need. “The bus becomes part of the relationship with the people.” He added, “We build a bridge with the people with the bus.” In a recent effort his team gathered hundreds of socks to help the hurting. View Video Here. From their website;
“Metro Relief is a not-for-profit organization based in the Dallas/Ft. Worth metroplex. Our goal is a simple one: Go to the people, meet the people, and serve the people. At the core of our mission is Christ’s charge: “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”
Austin said that the ministry motto that reads, “These things we do so that others may live” guides him and his volunteers. Austin says about the resources his team brings to people is through a bus. He says that “the bus is part of the relationship with the people in need.” He takes it to some of the roughest parts of south Houston and people welcome he and his voluneers. “The food we bring is the attraction. Once they get to the bus we try to help them. The resources we provide are what bring them to us so that we can care for them”, says Austin.
We can support Austin and his ministry through prayer. Austin told me that, “The main thing is to create a model that we can duplicate this in other cities. We want to get to other cities where there is need. We are trying to grow, so any support will be appreciated.” You can find them on Facebook.
Austin has a passion to help the hurting in his community. I think that this is contagious! Over the next few days I want to challenge my readers to take a look at the ministries of IWU Alumni who are being World Changers in their communities. We can learn from these example of people who are contagious! Consider Jay Height, Executive Director at Shepherd Community. Or even the work of Eric Weidman also serving at Shepherd Community. Check out his story.
You may want to consider the work that is being done at The Bowery Mission in New York City. Hear about the ministry that IWU Alumni Daniel Stoltzfus (1995 graduate) is leading. Daniel is serving as Chief Program Officer at The Bowery Mission that has been serving the poor and needy since 1879. Check out his his story.
Isn’t is contagious? Like a virus I hope that as these alumni demonstrate selfless acts of kindness in the lives of people that you will also join that effort this Christmas and New Year.
I realize that there are hundreds of similar stories I am not sharing at this time. So, I would like to invite you to tell me about some of those unsung IWU alumni heroes you know. Please send me their story and how they are making a difference in their community. Do you know an IWU alum that is serving the poor? Post their story on our IWU Alumni Facebook wall.