by Laura Krueger
Have you ever wondered what thoughts were going through Mary’s mind when she went to the tomb on that first Easter morning? Have you wondered what she thought when she realized she was looking into the face of Jesus?
Did she experience hope? Did she know she had seen the fulfillment of the promise made so long ago? Did Mary and the others who shared the story of Jesus see hope in the faces of those they told? What did it look like?
I know what it looks like because I get to see it on the first and third Saturday of each month in the faces of the moms, dads, and grandparents who visit Alleluia Lutheran’s A Better Chance Diaper Closet. It is a ministry that brought our small congregation back to life.
Twice a month, about 20 volunteers in our West Phoenix congregation offer diapers to the parents of more than 150 babies and toddlers. Each child receives a week’s worth of diapers and wipes.
Diapers, rent or groceries?
A mom who wonders if the family will have enough money to pay the rent or buy groceries comes to our door. Stressed, she wonders how she can afford disposable diapers. She needs the diapers to put her children in daycare so that she can go to work.
She had heard there might be a waitlist, but she was desperate. A volunteer asked her where she lived and how many kids she had in diapers.
The volunteer then told the mother she would receive her diapers that day after filling out an application. The mom broke into tears because God answered her prayers. She knew her babies would be safe, and the family would be okay. She saw the face of Jesus in that volunteer.
Alleluia started the diaper ministry in 2015 to have a positive impact on the local community and our congregation. The church is in a diverse community where the average age is 25 to 30, and the median family income hovers around the poverty level.
And the average age of the congregation of 35 to 45 people is well into retirement. It turns out God had a plan for the church full of grandparents. In 2015, we assisted three families. In 2019, we help more than 90 families at each distribution.
The little church that cares
Our marketing plan is word of mouth within the community. Alleluia has become the little church that cares! Diapers and wipes come from various sources:
- Other ELCA churches in our area.
- Our partner, the Central Arizona Diaper Bank that gives us 4,000 diapers every quarter.
- An $8,000 grant from the West Valley Lutheran Thrift Store.
- Small grants from other ELCA churches in our area.
- Church members and friends.
We sometimes live on the edge with having enough diapers and wipes. Yet, God seems to provide when we need it most!
You can see hope in the families who are clients of the ministry. These diapers and baby wipes offer them life with a bit less stress. The children are healthier, and the parents are happier. The volunteers feel blessed, more than the families they help. They are acting as Christ in the community, following Jesus command to take care of his people.
Building relationships, reviving the church
We build relationships, share prayers and hugs, cuddle babies and toddlers on each distribution Saturday. Parents and grandparents leave the building with the hope of making it through another week.
This ministry has revived the members of the congregation. Our most faithful volunteer just turned 85. He only misses a distribution if his kids come to town. We have a lot of stories to tell that have come out of this ministry that has kept Alleluia a vital congregation rather than a dying one!
Laura Krueger is a resident of Avondale, Arizona, and a member of Alleluia Lutheran Church, Phoenix, Arizona. She serves on the churchwide executive board.
Feature photo: Women of the ELCA @ ELCA Youth Gathering | Detroit, Michigan, July 15-19 2015 | Lexy Grenier, 17, St. Mark’s Lutheran, Grand Forks, N.D., places a box of diapers that she and the WELCA group in her church helped to collect.