Paul Roberts had a vision to make a difference in another part of the world. As the lead pastor of Quest Community Church in Garner, North Carolina, Paul looked for ways that his church could engage locally and globally. Through a personal connection of one of the church’s staff members, Paul found himself on the phone with Food for the Hungry (FH).
“We were searching for the right outlet with our church leadership to make a difference in another part of the world,” Paul said. “We asked [FH staff], ‘Where is it you can’t get other churches to go?’ They started talking about Mentawai.”
In 2004, a severe tsunami hit the Mentawai Islands, which is a region of Indonesia. FH staff work in the region, but finding an American church to partner there was difficult because it is costly and time-consuming to travel to Mentawai. For Paul and his church, concerns about time and money didn’t drown out God’s call.
“For us it was a natural fit,” Paul said. “God spoke to us and told us it was a good fit.”
Pastor Paul Roberts and his family visited Mentawai as part of Quest Community Church’s partnership with FH.
Many members of Quest Fellowship Church sponsor children in Mentawai. But for Paul, sponsorship is personal. He sponsors two children in Mentawai. In February, Paul and his family visited one of their sponsored children.
“His family lives in an 8 foot by 10 foot shack,” Paul recounted. “Our (family’s) picture is mounted on their front porch. They were excited to see us and moved that we cared about them. This helped them realize that they have value. It was a moving time for us as a family to see their struggle and how they live and what an impact our sponsorship is having on their daily life.”
He noted that partnering in Mentawai has changed him personally. “I’ve been transformed,” he said. “I have a renewed perspective on my faith. It’s helped me be more selfless and understanding of others… It has transformed how I live out my faith as a church leader. Sometimes you get caught up in the day to day and you can forget who you are to God. When you take the time to go see the impact that others have and form relationships, it makes your faith come alive. It takes you to a whole different level.”
Paul’s personal passion for ending poverty can be seen in his sermons and, ultimately, in the way his congregation responds to the poor. “The more I studied, the more I realized God is passionate about the poor – he even built into his law how to care for the poor and make sure they’re provided for. Because I was so moved by it, the congregation joined me in that.”
So, what advice does Paul offer other individuals who want to help end poverty? “Figure out how you can get involved personally beyond writing a check,” he said. “Money is needed, but so is involvement. You need to help people see they have value, see them face to face, let them know they are loved.”
Getting your church involved with a community multiplies your personal efforts to end poverty. Watch a video showcasing Quest Community Church’s partnership with Mentawai, or learn more about church partnerships with FH today.