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SC Church Turns ‘Trash into Cash’ for Missions

SC Church Turns ‘Trash into Cash’ for Missions

SC Church Turns ‘Trash into Cash’ for Missions

The 80-year-old man crawls halfway into the green trash bin, feet barely touching the ground. He rummages through discarded bags. Not hearing the familiar jingle of tin and aluminum cans, Dave Joslin pulls his head out and motions for his dog to move on. 

Some businesses in the Sumter, S.C. community donate their cans to the Salt and Light Church’s Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. Rodney Howard helps Jerry Burke pick up metal cat food cans from one of the local rescue houses. IMB Photo

“I never intended to be a bag lady,” the retired postal worker jokes as he shuffles down the sidewalk in his Sumter, South Carolina, neighborhood. “But when God gives you a mission, like turning trash into cash, you do it.  

“I might not be able to share the gospel in far-off places,” Joslin continues, “but I can make sure someone else can through my Lottie Moon offering.”  

Joslin and his fellow members at Salt and Light Church boost their annual offering to international missions in a unique way — recycling. This year they raised more than $21,000. 

In a congregation where Celebrate Recovery, the 12-step addiction recovery program, and its values are woven into the church’s DNA, the idea of scrapping metal for missions hits at its very core. Turning recyclable scraps into a way to spread the gospel is a picture that parallels the transformation of people as they surrender their lives and wills over to the care and control of Christ.  

Even with this vision, money is something the church never emphasizes. Making ends meet can be difficult when piecing lives back together and working on recovery. Others are retired and live on fixed incomes. This didn’t deter Joslin. He knew they could raise the funds by putting in a little work recycling. 

“I know times are tough, but everyone has trash,” he encouraged. 

Rodney Howard holds out a metal cat food can as Dave Joslin discusses the different types of metals and how to decipher which it could be. Joslin has been recycling for cash for years and can tell by weight how much money it might bring. IMB Photo

Trash to Cash

Ten years later, recycling for missions is instilled deep in the church’s identity. So much so that members joke about their compulsion to stop in the middle of the road to grab a can or cruise neighborhoods looking for discarded appliances. For them, the Lottie offering emphasis is year-round, not just in November and December.  

“Sometimes all the work you put into this for such a small amount doesn’t seem worth it,” Pastor Rodney Howard admits. He holds up an $82 check from the day’s haul and adds, “We did pretty good today, but what can $82 really do?” 

Howard gives a knowing smile as he launches into his favorite points about supporting missions. Though small, today’s haul might purchase 40 Bibles in Ukrainian or buy two audio players for missionaries to use for digital evangelism. It might even be used to print 82 gospel tracts in a different language and transform someone’s life.  

“When we take load after load each week, it adds up over the course of a year,” the pastor explains. “Then, when our $20,000 is added to what other Southern Baptist churches give [to Lottie Moon], we can send missionaries and support a gospel movement.  

“This is how a small church like ours can have a global kingdom impact.” 

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  • International Mission Board

    International Mission Board

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