Beyond sacred grounds

Come the third Sunday of each month, Kauai Bible Church is empty.

You won’t find anyone inside the sanctuary. No pastor at the pulpit, no staff or volunteers handing out bulletins, no parishioners filling seats.

“We’re one of the only churches that locks the church doors on a Sunday,” said  Darlene Walker, wife of Pastor Merv Walker, who leads the nondenominational church.

But it’s not that there isn’t any preaching going on. It’s not that the Walkers aren’t sharing their faith and the good news. They are.

In fact, by closing its doors, Kauai Bible Church is reaching more people than it might, otherwise.

Next Sunday, July 21, the church will celebrate the anniversary of its fifth year of “Church on the Beach” at Salt Pond.

“We want to reach the community in a practical way,” Darlene Walker said. “Jesus set the example for us. Don’t only pray for someone if they’re hungry, give them food. We can’t give the whole island clothes, but there’s a small portion of things we can do.

“We want to be responsible and faithful to do our part,” she said.

 Kauai Bible Church is a small but growing independent Christian church established in 1972. In 2009, the church held its first “Church on the Beach,” an outreach that provides clothing, food, and basic medical care for those in need.

The church closes its doors in Omao every third Sunday to fully staff the outreach, which started as a way to respond to the needs of the homeless living at Salt Pond. It also hosts the event at other parks and beaches on the Westside to reach as many as possible.

 Since, the outreach has grown to sometimes over 300 members and guests, including visits from two Miss Hawaiis.

“This church believes in being relevant,” Darlene Walker said. “We recognize we’re in a horrible economy and everybody is in need.”

Members and volunteers set up tents for registration, refreshments, free clothes for adults and keiki, free medical care, a food pantry and a VIP tent with personal hygiene and basic household items. Each month, four $50 credits for Kauai Island Utility Cooperative are given away as prizes to help people pay electric bills.

There’s music, food, beverages, drawings, prayer, short sermon and worship service, gifts and a hot lunch for everyone at its conclusion.

Next Sunday’s service starts at 9 a.m. The community event is free and open to the public.

“It’s just a hoot,” Walker said. “I can assure you, you would enjoy it.”

The idea is to reach people who likely won’t venture inside a church, but will be receptive to assistance outside.

“Church on the Beach has been a great opportunity for us to be a blessing to the community, providing for the economically needy, as well as for the general public,” Barry Miyasato said. “It’s amazing that four years have already elapsed. Our church has committed to, once a month, go out to the community and bring the message that God is a generous God, and that He wants us who are blessed to give generously to others.”

Church member Florence Teshima has attended Kauai Bible Church about 15 years. When she was first told about Church on the Beach, she believed it was a good idea. Four years later, she is more convinced. Each third Sunday now, you’ll find her at the registration desk or in the VIP tent helping where needed.

“It certainly seems to be reaching a lot of people who need help,” she said.

Masa Emoto, deacon with Kauai Bible Church, believes it’s a good outreach to feed and clothe people, and share Christ’s word with them, too.

“We’ve had people come to church after that,” he said.

Key, said Darlene Walker, is that the atmosphere is upbeat and encouraging, one that leaves people smiling.

“We welcome them,” Walker said. “We reaffirm their value, let them know we’re glad they’re here.”

People leave physically, mentally and spiritually uplifted.

“Our whole message is God is a good God. He loves to bless people in unusual and unique ways.”

During Church on the Beach, Kauai Bible does not take up a collection.

Instead, each person who registers for the service receives a $2 bill, which begs the question, why a $2 bill?

It’s unique, just as each person is made unique by God, Walker said.

“That’s what we believe God will do in your life,” she said. “He will help you in a very unique way.”

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