Christianity at work locally

Published 6:30 pm Tuesday, March 26, 2019

By Jeff Brown

The DeCelle Ministry at First Presbyterian Church in LaGrange meets every Wednesday morning from 8:30-10:00 a.m. at the Eric Brown Building on N. Lewis Street, across the street from the rear of our main church building. All are welcome as we sit in a circle and invite those who came to share why they came. During our seven-year history, we have seen over 500 people.

Recently, a woman who has come spasmodically over the years achieved a dream which she had no way of doing in the beginning. She had become homeless, but, thanks to a grant the LaGrange Police Department had received from United Way, she was able to stay at a motel for several days. Then she was able to stay a bit longer due to the generosity of several people/organizations.

It was at this point that several in our ministry worked with her and began to see a changed attitude. She contacted many organizations, used $400 of her own money from her monthly disability payments from Social Security (which are well below the poverty level for a single person) and we gave a small amount of money from our $2,500 annual budget. She was then able to pay a past due utility bill and moved into her own modest apartment.

Please note we seldom give money. When we do, it is given directly to whom money is owed. Furthermore, we are mindful of “Toxic Charity” which is the title of a book written by Bob Lupton. He says giving money can result in “loss of dignity, unhealthy dependency and erosion of work ethic.”

This ministry was named after our former minister Doug DeCelle who started it. He has written an excellent history of it which can be found at

The following are comments from some of our team who have been involved with this client:

• “Hard to describe the sense of satisfaction I feel after all these years of pain and disappointment. What comes to mind is Jesus’ instruction for us to forgive 70X7 times if asked.  A big lesson for me – never give up on people where God may be at work.”

• “I left more thankful than ever for all I so easily take for granted. For the loving, generous, & hard-working father that provided so well for my family—I am forever grateful. In talking about “paying it forward” as I mentioned to (client’s name) this morning, I am really talking about myself!”

• “Just in the short time I’ve been associated with this group, I’ve seen a tremendous transformation in (client’s name). What an inspiration it has been for me to see the way you work with people, accept them as they are, and gently try to steer them into better paths. And then to see the change that this acceptance and active caring can bring in the life of someone is truly awesome.  I’m so grateful for what each of you is doing.”

• “Wow. Reading everyone’s words of faith, truth and wisdom gives me goose bumps, the Holy Spirit is moving and working! We are so blessed to be a part of this ministry and to be a blessing to others. A great team on which to be a member.”

• “I am blessed to come and take part in this ministry. We are called as Christians to go to the nations both locally and globally. This ministry is answering that call and I believe that we all can say that we are more blessed by the opportunity to walk with these individuals than they are by what we are doing with them (I know I am).”

As Jesus said “when you do it to the least of these you do it unto me.”