Local Little Church Gives Big
By Dianne Anderson
Tucked away between the goats and gophers on California street, one little unassuming church has seen a lot of action for the past few years under Pastor Paul Jones, who stepped up to lead the church after his dad died.
He hadn’t planned on taking over that higher gig. His lifelong dream had been to get into the study and production of documentaries.
Being a pastor was not exactly on his to-do list.
“Not at all, the Lord made me take this. Trust me,” said Jones, pastor of COGIC Zion Elect New Generation Ministry.
After all, not everyone is cut out to deal with the high level of need on the Westside, but he’s wholeheartedly working with what he has been given, which he says is always more than enough.
Last month, he held a community resource fair in the high desert for the entire school district of Hesperia, invited back after a successful fair last year that pulled out parents to support the kids at four schools. This year, he handled the event for all 25 schools.
At first, he said the administrators wanted a barbecue.
“I told them a barbecue is not going to bring people out. What you want to do is bring resources and food in, and then they’ll be able to build upon other resources,” he said.
He attributes much of their outreach and help to Patricia Nichols and CAP Food Bank, which provided the hotdogs for the event, and more.
Numerous other vendors also turned out to help local families, including IEHP, United Way, AAA Driving School, US Bank, among several others. And, he beats the bushes wherever he can. He went door knocking for hotdog buns and mustard at a couple of big chain food stores.
“You name it, we ended up getting it. There was nothing whatsoever we were lacking,” he said.
His resource center has ten computers, and hosts a first come, first serve rotating basic computer class that runs every six weeks. Classes are well attended with community and church members from 27 to 73 years old.
For food distribution, he serves about 1,000 community members monthly, distributing to seniors three Fridays monthly. He’s at Perris Hill Park and the senior center there on the third Friday of each month. Through the 211 program, he helps from 10-25 needy families each week.
The Community Action Partnership of San Bernardino County Food Bank has been a huge help, he said.
“I can’t say enough about them. We get about 50% of our food from them. Any time we want to do something special for the seniors, the answer is always is yes,” he said.
His church hosts a clothing program. For the past nine months, about 50 participants have gone through their one-day security guard training with a certificate upon completion. Classes are held in the modulars, and he said that sometimes employers attend looking for employees.
Coming up in June, he is excited to lead their new walking club that will go down California, up Mallory to Macy and Garvey to California and back to the church.
If that’s not enough to keep the church busy, recently Jones was also appointed as the administrative assistant over nine COGIC inland empire churches where he oversees church needs and connects with pastors and their congregations.
Since taking over the Westside church, he feels that he can bring a lot back to the fold.
“I want to strengthen your challenges. If it’s that you don’t have community outreach, I can help you there. Or computers, I can tell you where to go. If you don’t have clothes to help the homeless, whatever it is, I want them to tell me,” he said.
Right now, his church is preparing to plant a large donation of seeds for the fall harvest. A local master gardener visited earlier this month to help with the best approach for a sustainable garden at the church resource center.
Another visitor popped by from Loma Linda to offer resources for the community garden. Jones said he doesn’t know how he got on that list.
“People come knocking at the door like crazy,” he said. “They gave me a lead to a lady from Redlands. Everything in her garden is donated, they told me to call her.”
He already has the soil, and the seeds are in planters germinating. They have requested, and are now praying for wood from Home Depot for the 50×55 feet border.
“The only problem we’re going to have is the gophers. As long as I put the bed two feet above ground, we’re not going to have that problem either. I thank God for that,” he said.
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