Thursday, 03 March 2016 10:04

Church at the Barrel

Written by  Laura Bell
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Tuesday at noon, I meandered my way through the streets of west Montgomery to the corner of Rosa Parks and Stone Streets. I noticed a bunch of old stumps and two crosses. Groups of people were hurrying across the street to find their spot and were fellowshipping with one another as they sat down.  Big smiles, pats on the back, Bibles in hand, and a cheerful face passing out papers with Scripture; one could tell it was a place to meet Jesus.  I found my place on a stump and got a major whiff of fried chicken.  People greeted me as I waited, shook my hand and introduced themselves. I noticed that nearby neighbors leaned up against their fences as a service began. 

 

“Why do I come to Church at the Barrel?” the speaker asked as he began.  He was excited and enthusiastic as he shared the point of the Gospel.  He talked from his heart about why he chooses to follow the Lord and why he chooses to participate in a weekly church that meets on Tuesdays at lunch time.  Amidst the crowd “Amens” were hollered and people clapped, the speaker called out “regulars” to answer questions, and all the while it felt like a family that was meeting each other at a reunion.

 

Again, the pastor repeated himself, “Why do we come to Church at the Barrel?”  “For fellowship!” one answered.  “For the Word!” another said.  The pastor continued. “Do we come for food? The free clothes? It’s okay if that’s why you came today, it’s okay if that’s why you brought a friend, because regardless, we are here to share the Gospel through our words and our deeds!”

 

I heard the yelling of “Amen” and “Hallelujah” as the pastor spoke over the rumbling of cars driving down the interstate that ran nearby this street.  He shared the story of the woman at the well, her story of acceptance with Jesus, and shared how all those who participate with Church at the Barrel are an accepted part of the body of Christ.  He shared how any and all have access to being a part of the Kingdom of God.  I watched those who listened. There were no distracted hearts, but rather listening souls.  I felt like I had stumbled upon a safe haven for this community.  I could tell there was a comfort level that this group had with one another and those who were pastoring them.  They were joyful and respectful, kind and openhearted.

 

Bob Bostic, pastor of Church at the Barrel, has one incredible heart for the community that lives off Rosa Parks Avenue in Montgomery, Alabama.  He is going on his 7th year of ministering to this community of people.  Bob and a team of volunteers from various churches around the River Region gather together every Tuesday from 12pm-1pm to talk about the Lord and eat lunch together.  Bob says, “I go to Walmart, get some chicken and then head over to Church! It is such a fun time spent with my brothers and sisters in Christ.  Fellowship, worship, and a meal really brings us all together.”

 

This ministry was originally headed by Jeff and Trudy McFarland who have since gone into full time ministry with India Missions.  Bob Bostic now runs the ministry and is a member of Vaughn Forest Church. Bob has constant help from Heritage Baptist Montgomery and Heritage Baptist Prattville. 

 

As I continued to observe the service, I noticed how engaged the volunteers were, even if some were working behind the scenes making sure everything ran smoothly.  It was a sweet reminder of God’s consistency with our hearts while we serve Him. The service wrapped up with a prayer of blessing for the food and a long receiving line for lunch.  Bob and other volunteers helped pass out food and those receiving were so grateful. 

I spoke to one of the most consistent members of the Church while he was in line. “Hey there! I’m Laura Jean Bell.  What joyful things can you share with me about the ministry and what it has done in your life?” I asked this sweet fellow.  “Well it’s changed my life.  It has changed it forever.  I now know Jesus.  I now can walk forward in life and know that everything is going to be okay! I have a daughter who lives far away from me, and even though I can’t visit her, I now pray for her.  I pray she is living a good life and knows God.” We continued our conversation as he passed through the line. He couldn’t say enough good about what Bob and the team have done for his life. He works hard to be at Church every Tuesday because he knows it is where he can be filled up again, both physically and spiritually. 

 

The ministry as a whole is simple.  A gathering of people sitting on old stumps.  All facing the same direction. Staring at the same cross. Jesus never asked for extravagance, He asked for love. He shared His love by word and deed, he fed the hungry, healed the sick, and shared good news with those who needed it.  Church at the Barrel is a place where people come hungry and are fed the word of the Lord and a little bit of fried chicken.  

 

For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’

 The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even

the least of them, you did it to Me.’

(Matthew 25:35-40)

 

Laura Bell is a freelance writer, born and raised in Montgomery, Alabama.  She enjoys spending time with her husband Cody and finding all reasons to have joy in life!

 

 

Last modified on Thursday, 03 March 2016 10:19
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