Poverty and hunger affect the world’s largest cities as well as its smallest towns. Convoy of Hope’s Rural Initiatives program helps rural leaders address the sometimes overwhelming issues that face their communities. Recently, Convoy held training sessions in the town of Woodstock, Alabama, to equip civil and church leaders to better serve the people around them.
Woodstock is a town of less than 2,000 people with a median income of less than $40,000. “The rate of teen pregnancy is higher than the national average; the rate of drug addiction is higher than the national average,” said Chad Payne, the pastor of a local church. “You may dream of getting out of that, but you don’t see others who have done that, so you don’t know the process. I think maybe I can bring a fresh perspective and say, ‘Look, you can be more than what you are … there’s more to life than this.’”
When serving in the community, Chad sees hopelessness as the main reason why so many are in poverty. But knowing where to start with such a complex problem can be difficult. That’s why Convoy of Hope offers training sessions to community groups interested in meeting local needs.
“When I came across Convoy of Hope, it was a perfect fit,” Pastor Chad said. “The thing I came away [with] from that first training was that this is easy to do. It’s very practical. Convoy of Hope has just simply come alongside us. They’ve encouraged me to believe that good things can happen here.”
In an effort to combat poverty and hunger, Convoy of Hope provides leaders like Pastor Chad with products to help meet urgent needs in their communities.
“They have often made resources available and said, ‘Hey, look, we have this trailer load that we can bring you. And we gave this to another pastor. Here’s what he did with it. You could do that, or you could do something else.”
The partnership is paying off. Already, Pastor Chad is seeing the difference he and his congregation are making.
“We’ve become well-known in the community. When I meet somebody and they find out who I am, they’ll say, ‘Oh! You’re that church that came and helped the school that time, aren’t you?’”
Convoy of Hope believes that living rural doesn’t mean living far from hope. And partners like Pastor Chad and other local leaders in Woodstock prove that every day. With a little bit of knowledge, some support, and a few resources, rural communities all over the world are proving that hopelessness isn’t the norm and compassion can change lives.