Texas is known for its long, hot summers. But this year, the heat has been extreme, with temperature highs exceeding 100 degrees Fahrenheit more days than not since early June. Air conditioning is most peoples’ refuge against the extreme heat, but for some families, that is not an option. In 2018, a study by Zillow showed that roughly 10% of homes sold in Dallas-Fort Worth lacked air conditioning. During warm months, this can be uncomfortable, but during these extremely hot days, it can be dangerous.
Those facts led Community Missionary Baptist Church (CMBC) to hold a “Beat the Heat” event on the weekend of July 16. During the event, CMBC members gave out approximately 160 box fans to families and individuals in their community. They also delivered and installed air conditioning units in homes of high-risk individuals. The fans and units were distributed at both of CMBC’s two campuses; one in DeSoto and one in Cedar Hill.
Pastor Oscar Epps explained that, at first glance, the campuses are located in comfortable, middle-class neighborhoods full of families who seem to be doing fine. But, he said, looks can be deceiving and he encouraged people to check on their neighbors, who may be struggling.
“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 for the past four and a half years, said that moments like that make his job so wonderful. “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.”
Though the Beat the Heat event is over, CMBC is still distributing fans and ac units at their food pantry. The food pantry, which distributes items at both church campuses, was another response to an immediate need during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Meeting the immediate, pressing needs of their community is at the heart of CMBC’s outreach and ministry. In addition to the food pantry and Beat the Heat, CMBC also distributed gift cards to gas stations to families struggling to afford recent surges in gas prices, which reached their peak in mid-June.
“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.”
Next month, CMBC will host a “2nd Chance Job and Resource Fair,” which aims to help job seekers of all backgrounds get a job. In addition to on-site hiring opportunities, there will also be 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. “We want to be the move, taking care of our community.”