Steve Carlson said “it was a praise God moment” when he learned about a ministry for the homeless at a church in Arizona.

Steve Carlson said "it was a praise God moment" when he learned about a ministry for the homeless at a church in Arizona.

He was so inspired that he began efforts to begin a "Helping Hands" ministry through his home church, First United Methodist in Geneseo.

"When we got back, I began praying about how I could start some similar ministry here," he said. "I wondered if there were homeless in Geneseo."

Carlson approached the men's group he attends at his church with the idea of "doing more."

"My group gave me advice and agreed that there are many needy people in our area and surrounding areas," he said.

He came up with the idea of an appliance ministry where he and team members from the church move appliances for people who are willing to donate them.

"They have to be in working order," he said.

Carlson shared his idea for the "Helping Hands" ministry with church pastor, Dr. Chris Ritter.

"He told me to pray about it and God would put the right people in my life if it is the work He wants me to do," said Carlson.

The ministry is based on the first and second commandments, "You shall love the Lord our God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment, and a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself," said Carlson.

Through what Carlson calls an "amazing chain of events," the "Helping Hands" ministry was born.

"I called the Geneseo Food Pantry, I talked to (Geneseo) mayor Linda Van Der Leest to find out about ongoing ministries," he said. "When I learned about other programs up and running, I came up with the appliance and handyman idea. I have done all kinds of construction and I can help others with small building projects and home repairs."

The "Helping Hands" team will help repair projects for the elderly and others in need, Carlson said.

The group has collected about 20 appliances since August and has found homes for about half of them.

Yvette Biddle, assistant director of congregational care at First United Methodist, said, "It is wonderful to see the Lord at work though this new ministry. One day we'll receive a call from someone needing an appliance, and the next day we'll receive a call from someone wanting to donate just that item. The Lord is so faithful to provide, and we continue to be amazed at how He works."

She said the team members are excited about the new outreach ministry. "They do the work or hook up the appliance and are also able to minister to the recipients by offering prayer, a listening ear or an invitation to worship."

Items accepted for donation are large appliances — stoves both electric and gas, refrigerators, washers, gas and electric dryers. Upholstered furniture or mattresses are not accepted.

"The Central Christian Church in Mesa, Ariz., offers a huge program for the homeless," Carlson said, sharing his testimony of why he so much wanted to begin a ministry in this area.

"We were in Arizona visiting my in-laws," he said. "My brother is homeless and was living in Arizona."

What Carlson didn't know was that his brother was only a few miles from his in-laws.

"He called me and asked me to help him," he said. "We tried to get him in at the church with the program for the homeless, but that didn't work. The ministry for the homeless at that church is huge. They feed them, clothe them and provide dental and physical care."

Even though Carlson's brother did not commit to the program in Arizona, he has since returned to this area and is enrolled in a program through the Salvation Army.

"What I have learned is that there are tons of needy people," he said. "My eyes have been opened to the need. I think God gave me the vision to see that."

For more information, phone First United Methodist Church at 944-2793. Anyone interested in volunteering with the ministry is asked to contact Biddle at the church.