Free dog food & pet vaccinations show love in needy community

by Vanessa Rodriguez |

(Photo provided by Mike Campbell)Mike Campbell picks up a neighbor's Pomeranian, Pablo, after being neutered. Pablo also received vaccines at the free clinic Trinity Family Ministries co-sponsored with Delta Dogs earlier this year.

MOBILE, Ala. (Christian Examiner) -- Doing church differently is just the way things work at Trinity Family Ministries. So when a community organization asked the church to partner for an event to provide care for the pets of area residents in need, the opportunity seemed like another great way to share God's love.

Located in the predominately African-American Trinity Gardens community in the Mobile area, the small 65-member church does not expect to grow too much, but they are in no way a stagnant ministry waiting to shut its doors.

"Our church doesn't fit any kind of mold or pattern of church growth or church planting," Mike Campbell,56, a lead volunteer at the church told Christian Examiner.

The focus for the PCA church plant is instead to reach the community with God's love and demonstrate a long-term commitment to residents, Campbell explained.

"We are in an extremely impoverished neighborhood," he said noting the average household income is less than $20,000 per year. "These people have seen churches come and go. We don't worry about numbers or quantifying things. We are here to be a faithful presence over a very long time."

According to Campbell, the church does not even take up an offering during their weekly meetings and instead relies on the support of their parent church, Grace Community Church and other area congregations.

One way the church is establishing a presence in the community is by providing the area's homeless a warm meal each week. Another is through a partnership the church began with Delta Dogs, a non-profit, community organization that provides healthcare to the pets of individuals who are transient or live with financial need.

In April the two organizations partnered to host a free, one-day clinic that provided vaccinations for roughly 37 dogs. Free dog food and leashes were distributed at the even as well. Additionally, another seven pets were scheduled for spaying or neutering during a follow up visit a few weeks after the event. Delta Dogs offered those services free of charge too.

Though the two groups exist for different purposes, that day, a charitable organization joined efforts with a Christian church to help needy pet owners, Campbell said.

"We think that it was extremely successful," Campbell stated. By growing a rapport with area residents the church hopes to convey they are available to meet "spiritual needs, physical needs and even your pets' needs if we can," he said.

"It's not about Sunday, it's about every day," Campbell told Al.com about the event he hopes to see happen annually. "We're here to have an impact in the neighborhood."

Yet another way church leaders like Campbell, are establishing a presence in Trinity Gardens is by choosing to live in the neighborhood.

Campbell, a practicing dentist, said he could live anywhere, but instead chooses to be in this community "crossing racial and poverty barriers" for the sake of "loving genuinely" with God's love.

Similarly, Scott Moore, the church's pastor moved his family into the neighborhood in June 2013.

A CNN news report recently claimed that data supports owning a pet leads to better health and encourages relationships.

Trinity Family Ministries is proving that pet ownership could help promote spiritual well being as well as they help area residents care for their beloved pets. By demonstrating interest in these four-legged friends, a trust is earned that has already drawn some participants of the vaccination clinic to the church.

"When you move in and you live with people and you take your trash cans out together and you walk your dogs together its just life," Campbell said. "It's common life together in the Gospel."