Editor’s note: The suggested dates for the Week of Prayer for the Golden Offering for Tennessee Missions is Sept. 12-19. The 2021-22 GOTM goal is $2.1 million.
By Ashley Perham
Baptist and Reflector
KNOXVILLE — There’s never a typical day at the Montgomery Village Baptist Center in South Knoxville.
From a clothing room to food giveaways to help with housing applica
tions, the building has a plethora of ways to connect with and meet the needs of the community. Along with weekly meals and scheduled events for kids, people needing help or fellowship drop into the Baptist Center every day.
“We provide physical commodities — food, clothing, household items, things of that nature — and also after-school programs for children, (and it’s) all as an opportunity to share Christ with this community,” said Tom Hodges, who has worked at the Baptist Center for 16 years.
“It’s the cornerstone of the whole neighborhood,” said Sandi Williamson, a community resident. “We know that there’s a food pantry there; there’s where we can go and socialize amongst each other. Everybody appreciates it.”
The apartment complex of Montgomery Village is considered an inner-city housing complex.
Around 1,200 people live in the community, but there are only four married couples. Most families have no male role model in the home.
Almost as long as he’s been working there, Hodges has been praying for this role model: a young black man who could help connect in a community that is almost 50 percent African-American and 50 percent white.
“I have always felt that we could make more inroads, particularly with young black men if we had someone of color on staff,” Hodges said. “And so we have prayed for that almost as long as I’ve been here.”
Last year, God answered that prayer in the form of Sunny Ikojoh.
Ikojoh is from Nigeria. He came to the United States to study at seminary. After graduating in 2019, he worked with refugee families in North Carolina.
Last summer, Ikojoh and Hodges got connected through the Knox County Association. Ever since then, Ikojoh has had a significant impact, specifically in working with teen guys, Hodges said.
“When I walk in here, and I hear stories of families that have been here sometimes two generations, three generations, I feel strongly in my heart that there is a need to dream big and there is a need to maybe, just maybe, inspire a dream in the heart of the younger ones,” Ikojoh said.
For Ikojoh, ministry at the Baptist Center is a way to be Christ’s presence and do ministry the way it was done by Jesus: by living alongside people.
“Are we called to be the individuals of Christ, or the body of Christ?” he asked.
Hodges said that in the past 18 months, the Baptist Center has had to help a different community.
“We are seeing more and more homeless people respond to the ministry here,” Hodges said.
He said that a few weeks ago, the Baptist Center was able to find housing for a woman who was seven months pregnant with twins. She had been living in a tent.
In the near future, the Baptist Center plans to partner with the University of Tennessee BCM and other churches.
The Baptist Center is able to provide for the community through Golden Offering for Tennessee Missions funds that are disbursed through the Knox County Association.
“Because Tennessee Baptists give through the Golden Offering, we are able to provide not only physical commodities, but a spiritual hope and promise through Christ to our community,” Hodges said.
In its 120th year, the Golden Offering for Tennessee Missions has a goal to break $2 million for the first time, to allow even more ministries like the Baptist Center to reach the needs of Tennesseans. B&R