Rainy weather led to a lower turnout for this year’s Good Friday Walk for Shelter than in the third-annual event’s previous incarnations.
However, the 75 hardy souls who took on the 4.5-mile walk Friday through downtown in Hinesville were given some grace as the rain held off most of the early afternoon. At worst, a light mist fell on them, but it didn’t dampen their spirits.
Before they departed Victory Assembly of God parking lot, event organizer Jim McIntosh told participants they didn’t have to make the walk in dreary weather, and a few of those who had signed up decided to avoid the risk of being caught in a downpour. They waited in the church parking lot with McIntosh, ready to greet the walkers on their return. They included 2-year-old Jimmie Ketcher, who enjoyed racing through the parking lot, splashing in the puddles.
Prior to the actual walk, Baconton Missionary Baptist Church Pastor Hermon Scott, Victory Assembly of God Pastor Doug Harn and McIntosh spoke to participants in the church sanctuary. Their remarks were part motivational speech, part sermon and part expression of gratitude. In addition to remarks by the organizers, participants watched three videos that included slides of previous walks.
“God wants us to reach out and help the hungry and homeless people,” Scott said, then quoted Matthew 25:40. “The city of Hinesville has been very gracious in taking care of the homeless within the city, but many of the homeless are on the outskirts the city. Your dollars and your efforts — for a lack of a better way to express it — goes an extremely long way in helping them. I want to thank you for doing what you do.”
Harn followed Scott with a mini-sermon. He began by explaining that the Liberty County Homeless Coalition is not simply a group of churches, but also includes government and civic organizations as well as businesses and concerned citizens. He said his support for the coalition and Friday’s walk was as much his role as a preacher as it was being an individual with a compassion for other people.
Harn remembered when he was a boy that not long after his father — the family’s only source of income — died, they lost their home. He said he told the Lord that if He’d only help him and his family, he’d dedicate his life to helping others enduring the same circumstances.
“Do you ever sometimes just think, ‘Where is God?’” Harn said. “I’ve found that whenever I feel this way, and I think God is not there, he sends an individual to help me ... This world is in a real mess, and the fix is not going to come from political powers. It’s going to come from individuals like you and me.”
Harn said he thanks God for Manna House, which gives out tons of food every month, as well as other private and public agencies like Kirk Healing Center for the Homeless and the United Way. He noted, however, that these organizations could not do what they do without the support of individuals. In fact, the walk itself depended on the work of volunteers like Bruce Muncher, Adna Chaffee and Melinda Schneider, who collected registration fees and gave out maps detailing the route.
This year’s route went from Victory Assembly of God on Gen. Stewart Way to North Main Street, then to Memorial Drive to Cause Street to Pafford Street. It continued to Gen. Screven Way, then to Hendry Street and Main Street, Memorial Drive and Bradwell Street before taking Gen. Stewart Way back to the church.
Scott and Harn said the route was changed this year because the previous route included areas with no sidewalks, which was unsafe and more difficult for mothers pushing strollers.
Harn said the money collected for the walk would be distributed among the various organizations in the county that help the homeless and hungry.