Located west of Decatur, Bridgeport is a town of 6,500 people. Though it’s small in size, residents like Martha Montejano are working to make a significant difference.
Montejano’s past was marked with difficulties. However, through the Lord’s redemption in her own life, Montejano has allowed her love for Christ and deep understanding of what it’s like to grow up lacking to drive her to be a light in her community.
Ten years ago, as she was going about her normal routine at her hair salon, The Hair Shop, Berniece Landers walked in for her first appointment. She sat down in Montejano’s chair and shared about Pleasant View Baptist Church, where she served as secretary. After multiple haircuts and conversations, Montejano finally decided to visit.
Upon her first visit to the church, Montejano wept and sensed and a strong call from the Lord. Without question, she became a member in the following weeks. Soon after, Montejano began faithfully asking the Lord a simple question - one that would change the lives of many. “God, what I can do to give back to the community?” she asked.
One morning, she turned on the news to see a school district in the Metroplex offering free haircuts for students preparing for the new school year. Her prayer had been answered more clearly than she could have imagined.
As the owner of a local salon, Montejano knew she had the means and resources to offer children in her community a free back-to-school haircut. She decided to prepare her shop for the one-day event, and many of her employees volunteered their time to help. A few companies in the city even donated backpacks for the children. That first year, there were over 100 people lined up around her building.
Every year since, the event has grown little by little. After five years of housing it at the salon, Pleasant View Baptist Church offered Montejano the opportunity to move the event into the church, where even more supplies could be gathered for the growing number of families attending.
We’re all disciples, we’re all fisherman and we’re all here to serve. We all have people to reach.
For this to work, Montejano brought all of her chairs, mirrors, extension cords and supplies from the salon to the church, and church members signed up to volunteer their time.
“I like that the whole church gets involved. We have senior citizens that come and serve, whether that’s sweeping hair or helping with the line. No matter what they’re doing, they feel like it’s an awesome experience,” said Montejano. Church members also donate backpacks, school supplies and shoes for the children. The small membership church, which averages about 160 on a Sunday morning, has a big impact on their community through this annual event.
“It’s grown every year and you see a greater need every year. If it wouldn’t have been for this ministry Martha began, their kids wouldn’t have had school supplies for the year,” said Pastor Gary Demmitt of Pleasant View Baptist Church.
The church uses this event as an opportunity to meet physical needs in the community, but also to share the Gospel and provide spiritual needs.
“We share the Gospel with everyone that’s in line. In fact, multiple people from the back-to-school drive were baptized and now go to the church. People are seeing what we are doing for the community and like what they see. They like our hearts and want more of that,” she said.
And the ministry does not stop on that day each year. “Martha has a continued ministry with many of these families in her hair shop. She’s sees them on a regular basis and pours into them. She has a big heart and is serving the Lord in every possible way she can,” Demmitt said.
This year was the ninth year of the event, and with the largest turnout yet serving 400 families. Of those in attendance, 350 families were supplied with backpacks for their children and 300 children received free shoes for the new school year. Nearly 30 church members, along with Bridgeport community police, Primera Iglesia Bautista of Bridgeport, Emmanuel Baptist Church and Amigos of Wise County, volunteered.
We’re all disciples, we’re all fisherman and we’re all here to serve. We all have people to reach. So, every week I prayed ‘what can I do for you this week? Let me have your eyes so I can know what you have to see for me,” Montejano said.
By partnering with her church through local ministry, Montejano’s Gospel-centered perspective has led to the ongoing transformation of the Bridgeport community.
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