Friday, Jun. 29, 2012
Mission seeks to help physical, spiritiual need
Grandview resident has heart to serve the hungry
By Bethany Bashioum
A new ministry seeking to help the hurting and hungry has taken birth in Cass County.
The Cass County Rescue Mission served its first hot meal in Harrisonville May 5.
The mission, which uses space provided by the American Legion building, 303 E. Pearl St., Harrisonville, aims to serve as a source of hope through a short church service and a meal on Saturdays at 11 a.m. and 5 p.m.
The gathering, which has already grown to about 50 people during the evening service, begins with a time of worship, followed by a short spiritual message and a meal.
More than 70 volunteers help the mission operate. Volunteers are divided among 20 teams who take turns weekly purchasing and preparing a meal to serve.
If donated groceries are available, they are given to guests to take home.
When the doors are open, trained volunteers are also available to help those interested in seeking help with life issues they’re facing.
Starting the mission was a calling 62-year-old Bernie Simon, Grandview, felt to the need to bring to fruition.
Twenty-five years ago, Simon lost everything he owned as a result of a bad business decision he had made while in the insurance business. Caring for his spouse and 3-year-old son, he cried out for help.
“Without giving my whole testimony, it was just at a time where I said, ‘I can’t do this anymore, Lord. You’re just going to have to take it over,’” Simon said.
God eventually took hold of Simon’s life and gave him hope to get through challenges he was facing.
Then, a year-and-a-half ago, Simon was presented with another mountain in his life when doctors told him he had lung cancer.
“I really didn’t know what I was going to do,” Simon said.
In August, doctors told Simon, who was working at Wal-Mart, that he needed to stop working and take disability. Even in the midst of facing his disease, Simon was willing to seek out the next step of life.
On a Wednesday night, Simon was attending a church service at Heartland Baptist Fellowship when 48-year-old Mark Roach, who had been a volunteer at the City Union Mission in Kansas City, was the speaker.
Pressed by what Roach shared that evening, Simon got a hold of him the next day. Simon had recently started a Christian men’s prayer breakfast at Donna’s Diner in Harrisonville, and after his contact with Roach, the group began praying for an opportunity to serve those in need.
“I thought we were going to go down and work at the City Union Mission. I bet most of us did,” Simon said. “But through that, then, one morning in January at the breakfast, everyone was praying and it just hit me. It was like a voice in the back of my head that said you need to step out of the box and get this done.”
That afternoon, Simon called Roach.
“I called Mark and said we need to start planning,” he said. “I said, ‘let’s have a meeting at my house.’“
Roach, 48, Harrisonville, had also an inkling to do more to serve his community.
“Over the past four or five years, I’ve spent a lot of time in and around Cass County just knocking doors and visiting people,” Roach said. “I’ve seen that there is a great need for physical food, a great need to meet physical needs, and great need to meet spiritual needs. When I started going to City Union Mission, God laid on my heart to not step over my own community and go into another community.”
After more meetings, the plan to start a mission in Cass County was crafted.
Roach was eventually appointed as head chaplain for the mission. Simon took on the position of board president.
“There is a real need for all kinds of assistance (in Cass County),” Roach said. “People need to eat. People who can’t afford to buy the groceries. People who need medical assistance or help with addiction.”
Roach said his primary concern, however, is meeting the spiritual needs of those he meets. He said that it is his belief in order to change Cass County, you first have to change the heart.
“We do that through the preaching of the Word,” Roach said. “That is the main focus here - getting the Gospel of Jesus Christ to people. Everything else is secondary to that.”
In addition to sharing a short sermon at meal times, Roach spends part of his week visiting people who come to the mission, by offering them spiritual support and helping them run errands and doing what he can to help meet their physical needs.
As the Cass County Rescue Mission continues to grow in Harrisonville, it is hoping to expand to offer weekly meals in other communities.
In August, they will begin serving in Garden City on Tuesdays. They also hope to expand into Belton and offer more meals in Harrisonville.
“We’ve done it on all on faith,” Simon said. “Each step of the way, God has provided.”