Reaching Kansas City During a Pandemic

By Dr. Paul Fishell

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18-19).

No one expected the country to be shut down. “Ministry During a Pandemic” was not one of the courses that Pastor Adam Brown took at SUM Bible College and Theological Seminary. So what does one do in ministry during a pandemic? To answer this question, let us look at the ministry of Reach KC.

Standing in line at a gas station, Brown is asked about his “Transformed” shirt by the clerk. “My father died of HIV from drug use when I was three years old. I grew up fatherless and fell into the drug lifestyle. In prison, I cried out to God. My life has been transformed by Jesus. I completed bible college and now I am a pastor.” His 30 second testimony leads to a conversation about his church. People identify with Brown’s story and come to Reach KC to see their own lives transformed.

Upon graduating from SUM in 2017, Brown aligned himself with Reach Missouri to plant a church. City Reach Kansas City was launched September 17, 2017. After one year, the congregation had to move. Through a series of miraculous events, an agreement was reached and the congregation moved to the Blue Valley neighborhood on the Eastside.

Operating as Reach KC, the church has always had a vision to “Reach the One.” The church hosts “Stop the Violence” and “Pray for our Hood” events in the community parks. The church has adopted a local elementary school giving gifts,volunteering, and mentoring. In the summer of 2019, Reach KC joined with the USDA to provide a summer lunch feeding program for school age students. The church uses its Youtube channel and Facebook to maintain presence online. The church promotes HobMob and CABB Musik concerts in Kansas City. Whatever it takes…the mission is to reach Kansas City.

So how does one minister during a pandemic? The same way, with some modifications. Reach KC has to reach Kansas City. In Missouri, “stay at home” orders have made allowances for essential personnel to be out in the community. Reach KC has made itself essential. It immediately started its summer feeding program when schools shut down. Serving Monday through Saturday, lunch sacks are prepared and distributed to the community. Statistics show our neighborhood’s need: 47% of the Blue Valley neighborhood is below the poverty level, 37% of the neighborhood are school aged children, 23% are single mother families, and the average size of a household is 8.7 persons per home. Reach KC is 1 essential in our community. We feed the many children in our neighborhood. At this point, the church has been giving away between 250-300 lunches per day. This practical expression of the love of Jesus and Reach KC has touched the hearts of the community.

The presence in the digital world has expanded. Reach KC began to use Sling Studio to live broadcast entire services on their Youtube channel. Devotions continued on Facebook lives. ZOOM meetings for leadership and small group Bible studies moved to this platform. Reach KC’s internet presence is seen daily.

As talk of opening the country begins, the question shifts to: How do we do ministry after the Covid shut down? We keep reaching. Reach KC is planning to “relaunch” the church.

One real set back of the shut down has been the lack of community. About 90% of Reach KC has struggled with addictions. Shut down has been hard on the congregation of Reach KC. Isolation leads to depression. Depression leads to relapses. Therefore, Reach KC needs to be together. They need to work side by side in outreaches and feeding programs. They need to smile and enjoy good Hip Hop music. Reach KC needs to reach the one and hold them accountable. During this pandemic, too many phone calls and text messages have gone unanswered… Reach KC needs to be called home.

While Brown did not take “Ministry During a Pandemic,” he caught a vision to reach the one. Brown often references Luke 4:18-19 as the ministry of Jesus. “If that is his ministry, it should be ours.” Preach the acceptable year of the Lord. Set captives free. Reach the one!