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Brentwood-Darlington church's outreach: Cold bottles of water

by: DAVID F. ASHTON - Pastor Gary Russell and intern Christian Hugley-Petrosky pass out bottles of cold water by the handful, as they bless the City with this unique outreach.Churches and faith groups have many ways of reaching out to the community they serve – ranging from providing services to the needy to presenting concerts for the general public.

But East Portland’s Bethel Assembly of God, in the Brentwood-Darlington neighborhood, set off on a different kind of mission Saturday afternoon, August 17. On that hot day hey handed free bottles of cold water to everyone who passed by the busy corner of S.E. 82nd Avenue and Flavel Street.

“We’re all about finding ways to bless our city, and our neighborhood,” explained Pastor Gary Russell.

“Some might look on handing out bottles of water on a hot day as a ‘random act of kindness’,” Russell commented to THE BEE. “But Jesus said if you give a drink of cold water in a prophet’s name, you receive a prophet’s reward. The ‘reward’ we’re looking for is to uplift people here in Southeast Portland, letting them know we love them.”

Many passers-by who looked down-and-out eagerly accepted the gift, as did families in their vehicles who stopped at the intersection.

“The reception has been kind of mixed,” observed Russell. “Some people think we’re selling it; others wonder if there’s a ‘catch’ – and still others seem embarrassed to take it. But, we still have plenty of takers. I think we’ll give away all 700 bottles this afternoon.”

Attached to each bottle was a simple label listing the church’s address and Internet website.

“These days, people don’t need to be preached at, as much as they need a glimmer of hope. Today, we’re succeeding in our mission to ‘bless the city’ without hardly saying a word.”

For more information about the Bethel Assembly of God Church, go online to: portlandbethelchurch.com/