Showing Kindness Through Coats
Each winter, volunteers from South Carolina, North Carolina, Alabama, and New York distribute coats in New York City to those in need.
This year, over 500 volunteers distributed 9,000 coats, and at least 17 lives were changed by the Gospel. For Bryant Sims, SCBaptist Chief Operations Officer, Coats for the City is a reminder that “there’s always hope where there is Jesus.”
Sims explained that, in a world that can feel divisive, it’s easy to get discouraged. However, seeing “young people who are so passionately in love with Jesus Christ and committed to his Great Commission,” he felt encouraged, watching believers “be the hands and feet of Jesus to the least of these.”
Serving in NYC
Leah Bush, a member of Willow Ridge Church in Lexington, said, “It was a no-brainer for me to come to Coats for the City because I love helping people.” Originally from the Caribbean, Bush understands the expense and difficulty of adjusting to a colder climate and the blessing that a warm coat can be. But she also believes this trip is about more than providing coats. “You get an initial temporary warmth from the coat, but when you know Jesus, you have a relationship with God, you have that forever warmth,” she said.
As pastor of Open Arms Fellowship, James Porter believes that Coats for the City is a chance for the members of his church to experience hands-on ministry. “It’s a great opportunity to get our people exposed to serving in the name of Jesus to different people,” he said.
Ministry in Action
In addition to church groups, students from Coastal Carolina University’s Baptist Collegiate Ministry (BCM) have been serving Coats for the City for five years. BCM Director David Neace said, “It’s been incredible for our students to see the church in different ways.” Several students spoke about the impact that serving in New York has had on them. For Zoe Hamilton, serving in NYC has shown her what church in a metropolitan city is like. “New York is just such an influential city all over the world. So doing ministry here is just really special,” Hamilton said.
While some volunteers travel for the mission trip, others get the opportunity to serve those they interact with daily. Danny Torres is the lead pastor and planter of Swerve Church in Bushwick, Brooklyn, his hometown. Swerve Church has participated for over seven years in Coats for the City.
“A big part of what we do is serve our neighbors and show God’s love in tangible ways, and Coats for the City gives us an opportunity to do just that,” Torres said. He is grateful to those who provided to help make the mission happen. “I would love to encourage you to be a part of Coats for the City. Be a part of what God is doing here in New York and help show God’s love in tangible ways,” he said.
A Simple Act of Kindness
“It’s a simple thing to get on planes, trains, and automobiles to come to this city and to be able to lock arms with your brothers and sisters in Christ here,” Kevin Cabe, Partnership Coordinator for Metropolitan New York Baptist Association, said. Cabe expressed his gratefulness to SCBaptists for collecting coats and for serving on the trip. “You give a coat, but the impact that we have already seen is that people have already made professions of faith just by that simple act of kindness.”