Royse City First United Methodist took a bold step within their Texas community to provide for very real needs they heard about and successfully exemplify what it means to serve Christ.
The congregation of Royse City First United Methodist Church paid off thousands of dollars worth of lunch debt within the Royse City Independent School District. This act allowed more than 200 students to once again gain access to hot meals at lunchtime. Pastor Chris Everson, of Royse City UMC explained why it was important for their congregation to serve in such a capacity.
“If the church does not impact the community the church is in, then the church isn’t doing it’s job,” he said. “With us having the opportunity to make an impact, then we are doing what Christ has called us to do to — serve the least of these.”
The verse referenced by Pastor Everson in his comment comes from Matthew 25:40 and says, “The King will reply ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mind, you did for me.”
The student’s and families helped by the Royse City UMC congregation are most certainly the least of these. Pastor Everson explains that when a student within the district owes more than $25 of past due payment, they are no longer able to get hot meals at school. They will receive a milk, piece of fruit, and either a ham or turkey sandwich. While the kids still get something to eat, the congregation feels all kids should have the option of getting a hot meal. Another 40% of the district’s student body, around 6,000 kids, receive either reduced or free lunches. This is made possible by the National School Lunch Program.
“It really broke my heart to see there were students who were trying to learn, students who were trying to get through the day,” Everson continued. “Knowing the school did what they could to provide for them, but you need more than just a sandwich and carton of milk to make it through the rest of the school day.”
Once Everson approached his congregation and suggested they help their school district, they wholeheartedly agreed and got to work meeting the need. The end result was more than $10,000 of money raised that was then given to the school district to pay off outstanding student debts. They were able to pay off 226 debts, totaling around $6,000. The extra money raised will go towards assisting students in the future. The money was given at the end of 2018, allowing families to go into the new year with one less debt to worry about, which is a huge blessing for families struggling to make ends meet.
Adi Bryant, the chief communications officer in Royse City Independent School District, said the district was extremely grateful for the help they received.
“We didn’t have to cry out and ask for this help, they saw the families needed support and they stepped in and did it,” she said. “I think it takes a little bit of burden off of them when you feel behind on something and someone takes that away. You have a fresh start and it’s a wonderful feeling.”
The way the congregation of Royse City UMC saw a need within their community and then set out to meet that need is an example to all believers on how Christians should work and act within their communities. Though it might seem a small act to outsiders looking in, the children whom it helps are most certainly thankful as are the families and school district. Their generous offering puts the words of Matthew 25:40 into practical action, which is something every place-of-worship, throughout the nation should want to emulate.
~ 1776 Christian