Hope Center: True to its name
By Johanna Willett | Feb 2, 2022
On any given day, the Hope Center at North Phoenix Baptist Church may host refugees learning English, widows receiving comfort or medical professionals providing healthcare.
The ministry at North Phoenix Baptist Church’s central campus opened in September 2020 to provide a range of services for people in need — currently, about 300 per month.
“The Hope Center is really the result of a vision of our pastor, Noe Garcia,” said Lorri Paetz, Hope Center director. “He really has a heart for our city and wanted to help meet physical needs to open the door to share the Gospel and meet spiritual needs.”
A long time coming, the Hope Center is rooted in outreach the church has been doing for years — backpack drives, Thanksgiving meals and toys for kids at Christmastime.
“This has allowed us to be available to our community year-round,” Paetz said, of the Hope Center.
Spread out over 15,000 square feet on the North Phoenix campus, the Hope Center has enabled the church to extend the hours of its existing food pantry and clothing closet, open a barbershop and collaborate with other organizations and ministries serving the community.
“Our thought is we can’t do all of this by ourselves,” said Chuck Stanley, North Phoenix executive pastor of finance and administration. “There are people doing this who are good at it. Let’s bring them into the Hope Center and let them do what they’re good at and partner with them so there is one place people can come for help.”
The partnerships abound as North Phoenix has networked with numerous nonprofits for ministries at the Hope Center.
Arizona Baptist Children’s Services provides foster care and adoption services. Mission of Mercy offers free healthcare. Abounding Service teaches ESL and citizenship classes for refugees. Grand Canyon University and CityServe connect households with home goods. Grace and Mercy Homeless Ministries packs sandwiches for individuals experiencing homelessness. And other organizations provide care for many others, including women who were formerly incarcerated and adults with special needs. Ministries such as Celebrate Recovery, GriefShare and DivorceCare also help hurting people.
Even more partnerships are in the works.
“We recognize in a city this large, there are a number of organizations doing really good, faith-based work,” Paetz said. “We did not have the manpower or energy to start every ministry. But our idea was, let’s just partner and work together. We’re all the body of Christ. … One is the ear and one is the toe and one is the arm and together we can make it work and reach the city for Christ.”
Sister Ministries serves formerly incarcerated women with Bible study, hygiene packs, clothing options and more. The partnership with North Phoenix and the Hope Center frees up the ministry’s resources, while providing women with a safe space, additional services and, hopefully, a church family to join.
“Our goal is for the women to not stay at Sister,” said Juliana McFadden, Sister Ministries founder and president. “We want to shepherd them into the body of believers, the church.”
And at the Hope Center, that’s ultimately the goal: to introduce people to the hope found in Jesus.
“We have seen doors open to share the Gospel,” Paetz said. “We have seen people come to know the Lord through the organizations we partner with. And we have seen God move in the hearts of our people to become volunteers and bring food and donate.”
- Keep the Hope Center and North Phoenix Baptist Church in prayer as they meet needs in the community.
- Consider how your own church can serve the community. Lorri Paetz suggests adopting a school or reaching out to seniors at a nearby assisted living facility.
- Look for networking opportunities that may exist within your own congregation.
Johanna Willett, a freelance writer living in Tucson, is a member of Mountain View Baptist Church, Tucson.