Letter to the Editor: Mountain Park Church ministry is a moving experience – as published in Ahwatukee Foothills News
Published in Ahwatukee Foothills News, August 30, 2023
M. Lisa Scinto, African-American Author
“Whatsoever you do to the least of my brethren, that you do unto Me.” (Matthew 25:40)
I am saddened when I see homeless people on the street asking for aid. I usually give them a bottle of water and some cash, but my home church, Mountain Park Church in Ahwatukee, has grown a wonderful ministry called Hope for the Homeless.
On the third Saturday of every month, the church opens its lobby, and as many as 140 people from all over the valley come and pack 2,500 canvas bags with snacks, first aid, personal hygiene items, water, blankets, and numerous other items that provide comfort to people living on the streets.
The operation is so efficient that bags packed in the morning are boxed, loaded in trucks, and shipped to organizations that support destitute people throughout Arizona.
Some of the Hope Bags are in the hands of those in need by the afternoon.
Packing bags is a family affair. Parents are encouraged to bring their young children. I talked to some of their parents, and they felt it was a perfect way to introduce them to volunteerism.
I was asked to interview a 10-year-old boy who comes every month and does everything that he is asked to do, from packing Hope Bags to taking trash to the dumpster, and does so with a cheerful heart and a wonderful work ethic. He testified that he wanted to help people, to make the world a better place.
Also, a group of volunteers cook and prepare a nutritious home-cooked meal in the church kitchen on Saturday.
The meals are taken to Andre House on Sunday. Volunteers from the church routinely serve 200 or more people who live on the streets. No one is turned away.
On Sunday, I went down to Andre House, which is situated in a homeless tent area, to participate in serving the meal.
The conditions that the people are living in are heartbreaking, but I was moved by the respect and kindness the servers showed to people who are in such dire condition that it would cause many Americans to turn their heads and look away.
The meal was beautifully presented and much appreciated. I spoke to Mountain Park Church’s new pastor Charlton Scullard and asked him what he thought about the ministry and why he supported it.
He said, “I want the church to be a light in the darkness.”
The church also supports other ministries in the U.S. and in Honduras, Uganda, Mexico, Lebanon – all over the world.
Hope for the Homeless was founded in 2012 by a lawyer who had previously served the homeless community and a businessman who had his own challenges with homelessness.
Both felt called to make a difference, to serve the least among us. This shows that everyone can do something to make the world a better place for all. The first step is to care.
I feel privileged to be a part of a church community that tries to live the gospel in its day-to-day interactions with the world around them.