For nearly 18 years men, women, boys, and girls have heard and seen the gospel message lived out through the efforts of the Kathy J. Strange Answer Center in Henderson, KY. In the year 2000 a couple of churches in the Green Valley Baptist Association saw the need for a social ministry in their area, and the Center was started in September of that year as a ministry of the Association.
The Answer Center is named after its founder, Kathy J. Strange, a retired social worker who had a vision and a heart for ministering to the people of Henderson, Union, and Webster counties. She wanted a place where people could come and shop for needed items and have the gospel of Christ shared with them. A place where they could see and feel Christian love. Kathy served as Director of the ministry for a nearly 15 years, before being diagnosed with cancer. She passed away in December 2015.
The Center continued and, according to Director of Missions Bill Patterson, has been a strong ministry for a number of years. “It is like the face of the association now,” said Patterson. “It is the number one social ministry of the association and has a great evangelistic outreach.” Last year (2017) 31 professions of faith were reported as a result of the ministry and so far they have seen 6 professions of faith in 2018. “That is why we do what we do,” said current director Jeff Burke.
Jeff, along with Nancy Brown, a retired school teacher, and nearly 90 volunteers from the Green Valley Baptist Association churches, serve on the average of 105 – 110 persons each week by providing clothing and household items to those who have a need. They are on pace to serve nearly 4200 in 2018.
The Center is open every Saturday (except for the fifth Saturday of the month or holidays) from 9:00 – 10:30 AM. Clothing is laid out just like a department store and the families come in to “shop” every other month. When the family enters the Center they are given one bag for each person in the household, and can fill the bags with as much clothing as they can put in them. Donations have been very generous, which allows them to give out extra bags to the families if needed. The clothing includes coats in the winter months and they are beginning to carry school uniforms for the children.
In addition to clothing, the Center also has household items such as towels, sheets, pots & pans, dishes, etc. Director Jeff Burke shared about a couple who recently had 5-year old foster twins placed in their home. They had gotten help with clothing but did not have beds for the twins. There were no beds at The Answer Center when they came in but, the very next day, Habitat for Humanity called saying they could provide $100 vouchers for families to come and buy anything out of the Habitat store, which “just happened” to include beds. The family got their clothing, the beds they needed, and the family is now regularly attending church.
Another success story was told of a lady and children that came from a local shelter to get clothing. After working with her for about three months, the lady not only got clothing, but found Jesus. She was saved, baptized, and continues to be active in a local church. She moved into her own apartment, and the center helped her with household items, cleaning supplies, hygiene items, and a fan. She got a job at a local fast food restaurant, then went to school to become a Certified Nursing Assistant. She now works full time in a nursing home.
Each year mission teams come to serve at the Center. Recently 160 young people with World Changers came to serve and some of the students said, “we just feel the presence of the Lord in this place.”
The Center has close ties to the Kentucky Baptist Convention and the North American Mission Board. Both Jeff Burke and Nancy Brown are Kentucky Mission Service Corps Missionaries in their roles at the Center. They receive grants from the Eliza Broadus Offering which helps meet the needs of the families they serve. In May 2019 the Center will be hosting a free medical and dental clinic in conjunction with the North American Mission Board dental trailer and the Kentucky Baptist Convention Missions Mobilization Team.
“It is a great blessing to serve at the Center,” says Nancy Brown. “Every day it is amazing to watch God meet the needs. As a teacher I prayed ‘for’ my students. Now, when they come to the Center I can love them, hug them, and can now pray ‘with’ them.” How rewarding. Needs are being met and lives being changed at The Kathy J. Strange Answer Center. Kathy’s vision lives on.
To see how you might volunteer or assist this ministry contact the Green Valley Baptist Association office at 270-827-9867.