Church provides families relief from dangerous summer heat

Community Missionary Baptist Church distributes box fans and cooling units to people whose homes lack air conditioning. (Photo courtesy of Community Missionary Baptist Church)

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DESOTO—The summer of 2022 is one of the hottest on record, as families without air conditioning in their homes can testify.

A 2018 study by Zillow revealed about 10 percent of the homes sold in the Dallas-Fort Worth area lacked air conditioning. During warm months, it can be uncomfortable; in extreme heat, it can be dangerous.

In response to that need, Community Missionary Baptist Church, south of Dallas, held a “Beat the Heat” event on a mid-July weekend.

During the event, church members gave out about 160 box fans to families and individuals. They also delivered and installed air conditioning units in homes of high-risk individuals.

The fans and units were distributed at each of the church’s campuses—one in DeSoto and one in Cedar Hill.

At first glance, the campuses are located in comfortable, middle-class neighborhoods full of families who appear to be doing fine, Pastor Oscar Epps observed. But looks can be deceiving, and he encouraged people to check on their neighbors, who may be struggling.

Deacon Stephen Jackson delivers a cooling unit to 97-year-old Frank Medlock. (Photo courtesy of Community Missionary Baptist Church)

“We’re in the suburbs, and because we’re in a nicer area, you would never realize the need that was there. They can be right next door to you, and you could never know,” Epps said.

One of the air conditioning unit recipients was Frank Medlock, a 97-year-old living just north of DeSoto. Church members, including Deacon Stephen Jackson, drove to Medlock’s house to deliver a portable air conditioning unit. Because of his age, Medlock is particularly high-risk during the continued heat of the summer.

Jackson, who has served as the church’s outreach ministry director four and a half years, said moments like that make his job wonderful.

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“The part of my job that I enjoy most is helping people and being a resource wherever I can so that the needs of our congregation and our community are met,” Jackson said.

While the Beat the Heat event is over, the church still is distributing fans and air conditioning units at its food pantry. The food pantry, which distributes groceries at both church campuses, developed as another response to an immediate need during the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Meeting needs at the heart of outreach and ministry

Meeting the immediate, pressing needs of their community is at the heart of Community Missionary Baptist Church’s outreach and ministry. In addition to the food pantry and Beat the Heat, the church also distributed gas station gift cards to families struggling to afford recent surges in gas prices.

“The Bible tells us that we are the hands and feet of Jesus Christ. So, whatever the need is, we are here to provide that need,” Epps said. “If that’s air conditioning, fans or food, our obligation as a church is to operate outside of our four walls.”

In the near future, Community Missionary Baptist Church will host a “2nd Chance Job and Resource Fair,” which aims to help job seekers of all backgrounds get a job.

The event will feature on-site hiring opportunities, interviewing coaches, resume writers, education resources, housing assistance and other resources designed to give people the tools they need to recover from hard times. The program will also have a record expungement with attorneys on-site to assist.

“We believe in outreach ministry and helping those that are less fortunate and those that are ‘stuck between blessings,’” Epps explained, adding the church is committed to “taking care of our community.”

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