Eastridge Mission Center meets multicultural needs in Amarillo

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Pastor Mike Garman of the Eastridge Baptist Church helps deliver frozen turkeys to refugees in the Amarillo area. Many people are quarantined and unable to work.

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The Mission Center and Mission Center in Amarillo provide services for international immigrants and refugees working in the city’s meat processing plant.

Twelve years ago, Pastor Mike Garman recognized the need for multicultural affairs in Northeast Amarillo, which has approximately 10,000 foreign-born residents from 26 linguistic groups.

Garman wants to establish a mission center to serve the community residents, of which only 8% can speak English. But he questioned how the congregation of about 20 elderly people could meet this huge demand.

"I must wait for the Lord," Garman said. "God's plan is better than I thought."

For several years, someone left groceries at the church door for the hungry in the community. No one saw who was delivering the goods, but the person who left the grocery store included a note indicating that the gifts were from "Mr. Eastridge."

After a long time, Garman learned that Bill Hughes was dead and he had left the Eastridge Baptist, a community member he did not know. A few years ago, Hughes was a member of the church and participated in its bus ministry.

When Hughes drafted his will 35 years ago, he left all his property (including several properties) to the church.

When Garman went to the house of the dead Hughes, he sat at a table and opened a drawer. The name written on the card is: Eastridge. "

The bequest is

It will open in 2013. Garman did not accept the salaries of the church pastor, but was appointed as the executive director of the mission center, which has now been merged into an independent non-profit organization.

The Mission Center is adjacent to Eastridge Baptist Church, opposite the largest primary school in Amarillo, and can serve 1,000 students.

Families need to provide after-school care for their children, and Eastridge Mission Center provides them free of charge. Kingdom Children’s extracurricular activities are planned to be provided from 3 pm to 6 pm on weekdays, providing food, supervised games, Bible lessons and prayer time.

Local businesses and civil organizations expressed their gratitude to Eastridge Mission Center and named it an outstanding community service organization in 2020.

The Mission Center provides accommodation for visiting volunteer mission groups. Offers bunk beds, shower and kitchen. Church groups are required to provide their own food.

Amarillo offers multiple mission service opportunities. The Mission Center welcomes church youth groups who organize holiday Bible schools and day camps for refugee children in the school.

Volunteers are required to unload agricultural products, sort items, pack boxes and distribute food to people in the community. Volunteers can also work in the center’s community garden, preparing soil, planting seeds, caring for plants and harvesting vegetables.

Before the pandemic, Eastridge conducted food distribution once a month, providing food to up to 100 families each month, and the mission center served approximately 50 children every day after school.

"During the pandemic, we started to provide food boxes for families," Garman said. "In the summer, we distributed about 3,000 food boxes."

Many of these food boxes were sent to the homes of forced quarantine families. When the mission center was temporarily closed to tourists, the mission center also provided lunch for children every day.

"With the help of...

, Our family delivered about 30,000 meals. "Garman said.

He recalled the home delivery situation last summer.

"A group of children will stand on the street in front of their house, expecting food." It's like a hero's welcome," he said. "Every time I deliver a box, a little girl draws for me. Those smiles are something I will never forget. I miss it now. "

Eastridge Baptist Church has been

, as well as

From the Texas Baptist Church Christian Life Committee and the Texas Women’s Mission League.

Garman said that Amarillo was once a hot spot for COVID-19, but the demand for food is slowly declining. He added that it is still bigger than before the pandemic.

Even if the epidemic continues, other departments have also developed.

Garman said: "Due to the new tutoring program, our attendance rate for after-school programs has increased."

Eastridge provides worship services in English and Burmese cultural and language group Karen, and Lao congregations also gather in its facilities.

"The church attendance rate has rebounded to about 100, which is the previous level. But one of the differences is that there are about 150 online viewings, which were unavailable before the virus outbreak," Garman said.

"There are refugees from many countries who introduce our Facebook page and online services to relatives and friends, and they also pay attention. The message of God's love is being delivered to people all over the world."

Like other ministers, Garman had to adjust ministries during the pandemic, but he is grateful for the new doors that have been opened.

"Someone reminded me that this is not a church. The church is the people," he said. "I was reminded that new ministry opportunities will transcend the crisis."

Garman admitted at the beginning of the pandemic that he prayed for "a better day tomorrow." Then it reminded him of Psalm 118:24. Psalm 118:24 said: "This is the day the Lord has set. Let us be happy for the joy in it."

"Now I realize that all the days are good. They are his days," Garman said. "They are full of opportunities, challenges and blessings. Each gift is a gift in its own way.

"So, anyway, I learned to be grateful. Of course, when we lose people, it's not easy. We have to plan outdoor services and even drive to see the funeral, and I have to tell the refugees that they cannot gather and be in their homes. There are celebrations. But in those days, everyone made us rely on God and believe in him. I am grateful for that."

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