New appliance ministry applies God's commandments

Posted Online: Dec. 29, 2012, 1:00 am
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By Claudia Loucks,
GENESEO — A Geneseo man applied an Arizona "praise God moment" to create a "Helping Hands" appliance ministry at his church

After Steve Carlson once visited Central Christian Church in Mesa, Ariz., and saw the expansive homeless program it had developed, he came back to Geneseo inspired to begin a project at his home church, First United Methodist. "(I) began praying about how I could start some similar ministry here," he said. "I wondered if there were homeless in Geneseo."

Members of the men's group he belongs to "gave me advice and agreed that there are many needy people in our area and surrounding areas," Mr. Carlson said.

But he and team members decided to focus their efforts on an appliance ministry idea. Basically, they accept and move appliances from people willing to donate such items.

"They have to be in working order," Mr. Carlson said.

Large appliances accepted include electric and gas stoves, refrigerators, washers and gas and electric dryers. Upholstered furniture or mattresses are not accepted.

For more information or to volunteer, call Yvette Biddle, the church's assistant director of congregational care at (309) 944-2793.

The group has collected about 20 appliances since August and has found homes for about one-half of them.

"It is wonderful to see the Lord at work though this new ministry," Ms. Biddle said. "One day we'll receive a call from someone needing an appliance and the next day we'll receive a call from someone wanting to donate just that item. The Lord is so faithful to provide, and we continue to be amazed at how He works."

The new outreach has excited team members, she said.

"They do the work or hook up the appliance and are also able to minister to the recipients by offering prayer, a listening ear or an invitation to worship," Ms. Biddle said.

"Helping Hands" team members also will help do some repair projects for the elderly and others in need, Mr. Carlson said.

He credits the new outreach's creation to "an amazing chain of events," including the trip to Arizona to visit in-laws. His homeless brother also was in Arizona at the time.

"He called me and asked me to help him," Mr. Carlson said, adding that his brother and in-laws were only a few miles apart but didn't know that before visiting Arizona.

After trying to get his brother some help from the Mesa, Ariz., church, Mr. Carlson learned how huge of a program that church had, he said.

His brother has returned to the Quad-Cities area and is enrolled in a Salvation Army program, Mr. Carlson said.

Mr. Carlson also shared his "Helping Hands" ministry idea with his pastor, the Rev. Dr. Chris Ritter, who "told me to pray about it and God would put the right people in my life if it is the work He wants me to do."

Mr. Carlson also had talked to Geneseo Food Pantry representatives and Geneseo Mayor Linda VanDerLeest "to find out about ongoing ministries," he said.

"When I learned about other programs up and running, I came up with the appliance and handyman idea," he said. "I have done all kinds of construction, and I can help others with small building projects and home repairs."

"What I have learned is that there are tons of needy people," Mr. Carlson said. "My eyes have been opened to the need. I think God gave me the vision to see that."

He also said his appliance ministry applies the "great first and second commandments," Mr. Carlson said. Those commandments are: "You shall love the Lord our God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment, and a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself."

Steve Carlson bio box
Birth date: Dec. 28, 1976.
Hometown: Geneseo.
Family: Wife, Julie Carlson; daughters, Hanna and Amelia Carlson, both at home.
Education: Graduated from Geneseo High School and completed EMT training.
Experience:Works as a heavy equipment operator for Riverstone Group, Moline.
Favorite Scripture: Isaiah 40:31 and Ephesians 4:22-24.
Biblical character I'd like to meet: Job.
Peak experience: "A Walk to Emmaus retreat."
Pit experience: "My biggest struggles are between my will and God's will, to let Him work in my life rather than live for myself."
Hobbies and activities: "Being with my kids."
One thing I feel strongly about: "My kids."
I wish I knew how to: "Be more patient."


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