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Vermont Church Majors on Ministry to People ‘Homeless, Addicted, and Hungry,’ and the Cooperative Program

Pastor Dan Molind talks with a guest over a meal through Enough Ministries' soup kitchen. Photo by Alison White.

About 8,700 people live in Barre, Vermont, and in the last four years the church known as “Enough Ministries” has baptized eighty-seven of them—1 percent of the town’s population.

The name comes from 2 Corinthians 12:9, in which the Lord says these words to Paul: My grace is sufficient [enough] for you, for My power is perfected in weakness.

Enough Ministries shares Jesus, “especially with the homeless, addicted, and hungry,” says Pastor Dan Molind. It does so with a lavish soup kitchen three days a week, fresh produce nearly every day, transportation, winter clothing, counseling, and a Sunday worship service.

The church started and led by Molind also provides transitional housing for homeless families, provides rides for the addicted to receive withdrawal drugs, and serves as a collection point for discarded drug needles.

“It’s amazing what Dan is doing as far as the physical footprint,” Terry Dorsett told SBC LIFE. Dorsett is executive director of the New England Baptist Convention. “Somehow Dan is ministering to hundreds.

“He’s deeply committed to the Lord, and takes the Great Commission really seriously,” Dorsett continued. “The more broken [people] are, the more determined Dan is to reach them. He’s reaching people most people would be scared of.”

Barre is the fourth-largest city in Vermont, identified as the least religious state in the nation. The town has a convenience store but no full-sized grocery. The school district says fifty-five youngsters in Kindergarten through twelfth grade are homeless. The church looks for ways to minister.

Baptisms

About 75 percent of the baptisms at the church come from people who make professions of faith in Jesus at a midday meal on Tuesdays and Thursdays, which begins with Scripture, devotional, and prayer, and after church services Sunday mornings.

“The real secret isn’t so much the food, but how we treat people,” Molind told SBC LIFE. “I think showing people some respect and honoring them where they’re at opens some opportunities to show God’s love.”

About every two weeks new Christians are baptized in a horse trough in the same space used for the soup kitchen but arranged Sunday mornings into a worship center.

 “I certainly let people know their first act of obedience is to be baptized,” Molind said. “It’s their public profession of faith. We also have them sign the wall of the church with their name, the date, and sometimes include a Scripture verse.”

People who were baptized at Enough Ministries were invited to sign the wall with their name, the date, and sometimes a scripture verse. Photo by Alison White.

The Beginning

Molind started Enough Ministries after returning to his hometown, Barre, following a thirty-two-year career in the US Army. He retired as a colonel, having seen action in Afghanistan and Iraq.

When the newly-retired colonel returned to civilian life in Barre, he volunteered at Faith Community Church, a Southern Baptist congregation, and asked God to show Him what He wanted Molind to do.

“My heart was wrenched over and over again for this section of the community,” Molind said. “Really there wasn’t any church in our area that was specifically geared for them. Most churches are looking at people with jobs who could tithe.

“I saw this whole section of our community that was underserved, and I wondered, ‘How do you get in touch with them? How do you bring them into relationship with the Lord?’ My wife Cathy suggested a soup kitchen, and friends rightly said we needed first a church, and a soup kitchen second.”

The church started with three families sent out in 2014 from Faith Community Church in Barre. Five years later, forty or more would squeeze together for Sunday worship in a thirty-by-fifty-foot building previously owned by Green Mountain Baptist Association. This summer, Enough Ministries merged “with another church that has a much larger building and better facilities,” Molind said, and is now meeting at the new location.

Soup Kitchen

Word-of-mouth has brought increasing numbers of “homeless, addicted and hungry” people to the church’s soup kitchen, which has acquired the name “Garden of feEDEN” because, Molind said, referring also to the original Garden of Eden, “In the garden we have the opportunity to walk with God, and to see and experience His provision for us in a safe-living place.

“This soup kitchen is based on the premise found in Matthew 25, that Christ Himself is being fed here,” the pastor continued. “Even the neglected within our community are loved and cherished by Christ.”

The all-volunteer staff create “wonderful home-cooked meals, a friendly welcoming environment, and encouragement to those who are most affected by the corruption of sin in this fallen world,” Molind said. “Those preparing and those partaking in the meal sit down and share life together, earning an opportunity to share the difference accepting Christ into your life makes.”

Guests and the volunteers who prepare the meal and serve them sit together at linen-covered tables, and eat a healthy, large-portion meal on dinnerware and with silverware: No plastic in sight.

“Every effort is made to reduce any obstacle to the acceptance of the life-changing Gospel truth,” the pastor said. Often questioned about the rules, “My answer is always simple: Love God; Love others.

“In a population often hounded by rules governing where they can and can’t be, and what they must do and not do, this is a refreshing change,” Molind continued. “It’s a change that starts to make them feel different about themselves and others, and ultimately about the relationship they have with Christ.”

Pastor Dan Molind joins guests for a meal through Enough Ministries' soup kitchen. Volunteers who prepare and serve the meal sit with the guests to share life together. Photo by Alison White.

Transitional Housing

Enough Ministries grew from its initial soup kitchen ministry to providing winter clothing—boots and outerwear—and then was given a building near the church that with donations and volunteer labor was renovated into two three-bedroom apartments for transitional housing for homeless families with children.

“We’ve had ten families so far that we’ve helped with the issues that caused their homelessness,” Molind said. “We have a matrix with twenty-five areas where we assess where families are, to help them determine their strengths and weaknesses. We ask them, ‘Which ones do you think you’d like help with? If you could fix something, what would that be?’ That’s been a very effective style of coming alongside people.

“We’ve worked with addiction issues, domestic violence, job search/retention issues, cleanliness in their apartments, child-rearing, and there’s more, but these tend to be the bigger issues, and there’s also mental health,” Molind said. “At the end of the day, it’s all lostness. It’s all brokenness. Coming alongside them is our way to show the restorative power of Christ.”

“Something Supernatural”

Prayer is a major component of Enough Ministries. Those who come to the soup kitchen are invited to give their prayer requests, which Molind passes out to the congregation on Sundays. One couple who had been homeless for three years asked for prayer that they find a place to live before their baby was born, and by Wednesday, they had found one.

Similar stories have led to a belief among the homeless, addicted, and hungry that “something supernatural” goes on at Enough Ministries, and the numbers at the Sunday morning worship service have risen to reflect that belief.

Additional Ministries

A vibrant produce ministry and partnership with local vendors has resulted in the distribution of nearly two hundred thousand pounds of produce and food items over the last four years, offsetting the lack of a local grocery store.

An active winter clothing ministry flourishes, with coats, hats, mittens, socks, boots, and the like distributed all season long to those who cannot afford the warm clothing needed to offset the harsh winters in Vermont, which receives an average of ninety-four inches of snow a year.

City buses don’t run on Sundays, but addicts need daily doses of withdrawal drugs, so Enough Ministries provides a pre-ride snack and coffee, and transportation to and from the clinic in nearby Berlin, Vermont, before church Sunday mornings.

So many used syringes were scattered around town that the City of Barre put out twenty collection boxes last fall for discarded drug needles. One is at Enough Ministries.

Last November, Enough Ministries started its first missional congregation—Journey Fellowship—in Plainfield, Vermont, some eleven miles north of Barre, with former associate pastor Sean Odom as planter.

“God has done a work here for sure,” Molind said.

Cooperation

The church models tithing by allocating 10 percent of undesignated offerings to missions through the Cooperative Program. “We want to partner with Southern Baptists to follow Jesus’s command in Matthew 18:19 to Go therefore and make disciples of all nations,” Molind said.

“My experience overseas says there’s much more lostness especially in the Middle East than there is locally,” Molind said. “The people in Barre have access to the Bible and can walk into church, and many other countries don’t have that. The effort to reach people with the Gospel needs to go on locally, but it also needs to go on globally.

“Being in the military I know there’s an advantage to putting your best-trained people forward,” Molind added. “I think the money given to missions through the Cooperative Program is well spent and is focused on the objective of reaching the lost.”


Karen L. Willoughby is a national correspondent for SBC LIFE and Baptist Press and is a member of First Baptist Church in Pleasant Grove, Utah.

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