Reaching out to Immokalee

The workers wore T-shirts reading: “1st Annual Immokalee Family Outreach,” with the words of John 3:16 written in English, Creole and Spanish.

Saturday, Feb. 21 was a long day for everyone, but in the end 500 people were fed, 92 accepted the Lord, hundreds were prayed over and lasting relationships were formed.

This is what can happen when a church bent on education spends the day with students who are intent on learning. Together, volunteers from New Hope Ministries and the students of New Hope’s School of Ministries staged an event that the community of Immokalee will remember for some time.

Pastor Dwight Powell, who oversees the School of Ministries, felt the Immokalee Family Outreach was a great way to apply what the students have been studying.

“It was a new experience for them,” Powell said, “to openly share their faith. And the community was receptive.”

Gwen Brown, a veteran instructor with the school, explained that the students were in charge of it all. The theme they chose was the love of Christ.

“They’re realizing first-hand what a Life entails,” she says. “What was so beautiful is that each one operated in their gift, but all of them came together for one purpose.”

Inspired by the words of Acts 1:8: “But, you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth,” the class was encouraged to be a witness and chose the migrant community of Immokalee as their personal “Judea.”

Donna Colon, a School of Ministries alumni, was sitting in on a missions class when she felt the Lord was calling her to be a part of the event. Colon, who owns Winn Carriage Company with her husband, decided to bring a “haywagon” and team of horses to the event. While her husband drove the haywagon, Colon helped people in and out of the wagon and shared the Word. 

She says she was able to lead a young bilingual boy to the Lord early on in the event. He stayed at Colon’s side for the rest of the day, translating her words to the Spanish-speaking attendees. Together, they helped lead more than 50 people to the Lord.

In fact, Colon said there was only one young woman who would not accept Jesus.

“But she came to tears, so God was working on her. She felt the power of God,” Donna says.

School of Ministries student Lisa Nuccio was in charge of the food.

“I never did anything of this magnitude,” she says. “God was in control.”

Most of the food was donated, including a couple hogs, a couple hundred pounds of kingfish, hot dogs and sandwiches from Chick-fil-A.

“I was humbled to see how everybody worked together,” Nuccio added. 

Workers from St. Matthews House also brought side dishes, capable hands and experience to the event.

Local Immokalee pastors who spoke Spanish and Creole were also in attendance to help anyone who needed prayer. Pastor Wayne Wood of Immokalee Ministries and his wife Jackie were also present at the event.

“It was quite amazing,” says Jackie. “There was an opportunity to speak with each person and pray for them if they desired. It was a beautiful day.”

The Woods were excited that this event was the “first” annual, and they’re already looking forward to next year’s outreach, says Jackie.

“We know that God is faithful,” she says. “We’ve experienced it many times over.”

The School of Ministries will be hosting a similar event in the Golden Gate area on May 9. For information, call 239-348-0122.

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