Despite complaints from nearby residents, Gaston continues to provide free supplies to those in need.
Disciples United for Community Outreach has been providing free food, clothing and assistance to those in need for three years, but has faced resistance based on the location of items on the premises.
According to Troy Bivens, mayor of the town of about 1,600 people, 204 Meadowfield Rd., people complained about the noise and were woken early in the morning by people rummaging through clothes bins.
The ministry’s founder, Tammy Bailey, admitted that the ministry has had problems with people encroaching on trash cans.
When she spoke to Chronicle during the December 21st event, she told Chronicle that she moved boxes when the weather allowed.
“My neighbor came up and said, ‘You have a problem,'” Bailey said. “And this is not your fault.”
“Enemies want to intrude and destroy relationships,” she added. “God wants to restore, renew, and give new hope.”
Bailey said the ministry has helped 51 people recover from drug addiction since its inception. Member Mike Hickman told The Chronicle that offering free food is a catalyst for drawing people into the ministry, and from there he works on talking to them.
“It’s important to build relationships with these people,” Hickman said. “Now share the love of Christ with them and let them know you care.”
“We try to be friends with them, to be the light of the world, and to build relationships with them,” he added.
Bailey said the ministry began by using the church parking lot to provide food and clothing to those in need. At the permanent location, they now see between 150 and 450 people at events, she said.
The ministry is open to those in need three to four times a week, and special events are held when the group can manage.
The latest event, held during the week of Christmas, included free food and clothing, live music, a hot dog bar, and prayers. Bailey told Chronicle that the number of volunteers for the event varies from 10 to 60.
Bailey said it’s his mission as a Christian to help those in need.
“They’re dying of overdoses. And these are my friends’ kids, the kids my daughter went to school with,” she said. I sit here and say I love God, I see the needs and the problems, and although God gave me the tools to be part of the solution, I am not part of the solution. You can’t act like you can’t join the club.
Lexington County Substance Abuse,
Disciples unite for community outreach