Wednesday, August 15, 2018

God’s Storehouse Over the Hill

Elder Minalee Hanchell and Bishop Walter Hanchell
By Hadassah Deleveaux (née Hall)

It’s located on a busy thoroughfare.  Often, traffic is backed up, so there is no missing the queue of people - whether standing in the blistering cold or the sweltering heat.  Some drivers stop at the two-storey building and unload their cargo, ranging from clothes and shoes to food or other basic necessities.  Others glance at the sight of people and turn their heads.  There are those who assume it could never happen to them.  They believe they would never be found waiting for a free meal.


On the inside are volunteers - those who give unselfishly to others in need.  There is a hustle and bustle, particularly during the 1 pm - 2:30 pm slot when lunch is available to whomever is not ashamed to join the line.


Photo: The Nassau Guardian

The volunteers inside are busy pouring drinks, cooking meals, dishing up plates of food to serve the poor who have come from near and far, inclusive of the immediate community - the inner city. And on a daily basis, approximately 300 people are fed; this includes the sick and 40 shut-ins within the over the hill area, whose meals are delivered.

No questions asked.  No need to explain.  Registration is not necessary.  If you are hungry, simply join the line. Come eat and drink.  And come, they do.  The homeless. The elderly. Children. The unemployed.  The troubled. The marginalized of society.

Photo: The Nassau Guardian

Located on Wulff Road in Nassau, Bahamas, Great Commission Ministries (GCM) was born nearly 31 years ago as a non-profit community-based outreach program. It is the vision of Bishop Walter Hanchell and his wife, Minalee Hanchell, who kept meeting people who were in need.  Serving those who are battling substance abuse to those who simply need shelter, Great Commission Ministries’ mission is, “To become a global movement of reconciliation, restoration, and hope for all persons affected by poverty, crime, drug abuse, broken relationships and the bondage of sin.”

Photo: The Bahama Journal

Great Commission Ministries’ services include, but are not limited to:

Food Bank and Feeding Centre
Clothing Centre
Emergency Shelter
Children’s Ministry
Teen Ministry
Empowerment Classes
Conflict avoidance and resolution therapy

According to Ms. Hanchell, it takes between $50,000 and $60,000 monthly to run the organization inclusive of food, operational expenses, electricity and rent among other things.

Photo: The Bahamas Weekly

“The greatest need is finances for operational expenses, food, especially meat. We need five cases of meat per day. There are times we have to say, ‘Come tomorrow.’ If there are no grocery packets, we give them a hot meal, or the emergency shelter might be full, but we contact someone else to help. We’ve also seen many lives turn around from drugs,” stated Ms. Hanchell.

“This is a lifestyle for us – helping others. Quitting is not an option. It is a passion of ours,” she added.

In fact, Bishop Hanchell was betowed with the 2018 Bahamian Icon Award for Humanitarianism. It was also announced by the Office of the Governor General that he is a  2018 National Honours Awardee and will become a Member of the Order of Merit as of October when the honour will be conferred.

Ms. Hanchell noted that some people may be surprised of who find themselves asking for a helping hand at the ministry.

“People from all over come, but some want a job after losing a job and do not want a hand out. Life has dealt them a blow,” said Ms. Hanchell.

“It’s a serious economic situation going on and the ministry feels the pinch. Some people who could contribute can’t do so anymore,” she added.

Despite the difficulties however, the husband and wife duo continue to press on as a place with open doors.

“While doing this, we try to preserve the dignity of those who come.  But for the grace of God, it could be more people,” she stated.

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