Pure Religion, the orphan care ministry at First Baptist Church in Whitehouse, has always had a passion for supplying beds for children in need of them.
This summer the ministry even had a fundraiser to support a mission team from their church to go to Moldova to build beds at orphanages.
But when Christi Sowell, a member of the Pure Religion ministry, learned after viewing an orphan care portal that there were children right here in Smith County who had recently been removed from their homes by Child Protective Services and needed beds in order to be placed at their new homes, she knew what the ministry's next project should be.
"So that's when God just kind of laid it on my heart and we decided for Orphan Care Sunday to have our church do a project," Mrs. Sowell said.
The project was Grace Embedded, and in the last four weeks it has helped to supply nine beds to the children that need them, with requests for more beds still coming in.
With a commitment from Southside Furniture, of Tyler, to supplying a mattress for every bed Pure Religion places in a home, and enough funds that were raised through the church and from donors to make 40 beds, on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. at the 801 Center at First Baptist Church in Whitehouse, Pure Religion gathered with fellow church members and various members of the community in hopes of putting the number of beds they have completed building at 50.
During the event participants broke off into teams to build beds. The materials were precut and each group included at least one member who was experienced with building beds.
Tony Black, a member of Pure Religion, has helped build beds and deliver them to homes. He was active in the bed building event and said he thought it was a great way for people to give back and put their faith into action.
"I think it allows people to put hands and feet to what they say they believe," Black said. "It starts to make ministry more tangible to people."
When children are removed from their homes, Child Protective Services prefers to place them into kinship care, according to childwelfare.gov. The site further states that placing these children with relatives is preferred because it maintains their connections with their families.
Mrs. Sowell said that often beds are most needed at the homes of the relatives of children who cannot meet the CPS requirement of supplying each child with their own bed.
"If you got a phone call tonight and you were asked to take in your cousin's five children would you have beds for them?" Mrs. Sowell asked. "Who has five extra beds in their house, or three extra beds, or two extra beds, or even one (for) most people?"
David Burch, a member of Pure Religion, has also helped build and deliver the beds and said that the Grace Embedded Ministry was not only beneficial to the kids but also to him.
"It's a mind-blowing experience when you get to see the kid's faces light up when they know that that's their own bed," Burch said. "It's a blessing to be able to be a part of a ministry like this at our church."
Mrs. Sowell said that Pure Religion hopes to continue this program, and that anyone looking to donate to the cause could find more information at www.firstw.org.
In the meantime, she said the ministry will continue to try to fulfill the needs of the children who need them and may otherwise not have a bed.
"My hope and prayer is that no children will ever have to be removed, (and) we will never have to give another bed again," Mrs. Sowell said. "If that can't happen then we're hoping that this is something that we can keep doing as a ministry going forward."