By David Dawson
Baptist and Reflector
TAZEWELL — The mission statement of Region Education Center Ministries doesn’t mention anything about furniture. But as it turns out, couches, loveseats and footstools have certainly become an important part of what REC Ministries does.
Roger Hansard, a former Tennessee pastor, and his wife, Judy, are the founders of REC Ministries, which provides career job training for individuals by teaching computer skills, GED, adult literacy and other skills. The organization operates with the primary purpose of “winning the lost to Christ” and strives “to educate, elevate, and evangelize the people in our region.”
The Hansards, members of First Baptist Church, New Tazewell, are NAMB missionaries who now are doing ministry work in the Tri-Cities area.
So, how does furniture fit in? Quite nicely, actually.
During the course of their ministry, the Hansards have formed a partnership with a local furniture manufacturer, and they use that connection to meet needs in Tennessee and beyond. REC Ministries is supplied with furniture from the manufacturer’s showroom, and donates those items to families in need.
“We’ve been working with the local manufacturer for about three years,” said Hansard, “and the furniture (branch of the ministry) has really blossomed in that time.”
Hansard recently arranged the transport of a truckload of furniture to be brought to the Nashville area. The furniture was then given to families in the midstate area whose homes were damaged or destroyed by the tornadoes that ripped through the area in March.
Tennessee Baptist Disaster Relief specialist Wes Jones and TBMB compassion ministries specialist Joe Sorah helped coordinate the plans for the arrival and dispersing of the furniture.
“Roger and Judy have been wonderful ministry partners with us for a long time,” said Sorah. “After the storms last month, Roger reached out to me to see if I knew of anyone who was in need of furniture. So, I helped him get connected with Wes, and (REC Ministries) took it from there.”
“It’s a wonderful illustration of the church working together with a local business to bless others in a time of need,” added Sorah. “Such an act sends the message that someone cares at a time when people are tempted to feel forsaken. That’s what compassion ministries can do: Communicate love and pave the path for the gospel to travel over.”
The recent delivery in Nashville was the latest example of how the Lord is working through REC Ministries in a wide variety of ways. The ministry also includes a food pantry in addition to the various career job-training resources and other services.
“We really just try to concentrate on helping wherever God gives the ability and opportunity to help,” said Hansard.
Working in partnership with the SBC, NAMB, TBMB and the National Literacy Missions Partnership, REC Ministries has certified trainers in adult reading and writing and English as a second language. REC Ministries offers certification to individuals who are in interested in sharing the gospel through teaching literacy and also helps churches develop literacy ministries of their own.
Hansard said the COVID-19 pandemic has not negatively impacted their ministry, but has instead opened some new doors. “I think one positive that has developed from this is that it has activated the local churches,” said Hansard, “and I believe it has ignited their passion for helping others.”
Sorah said he hopes the furniture delivery in Nashville will be seen for what it is — an act of love.
“I pray those who receive these couches know they are loved and valued by Christ and His church,” said Sorah. “Acts of generosity can be what the Father uses to draw people unto Himself.”
For more information on REC Ministries, visit the website at www.recministries.net.