They’re a small group with a big vision.
A group of local community-minded activists is launching a network to recruit volunteers to conduct one-on-one and group educational sessions to spread English and Spanish literacy, communication skills and healthy habits.
The Cass Miami Christian Institute is focused on recruiting professing Christians to “seek justice, mercy and faith for the people” by volunteering in ways that improve residents’ quality of life, according to documents provided by Institute President Boone Sumantri.
While churches are doing “a great job” taking care of their members, Christians need to expand their care for area residents who are not members of a particular church, Sumantri said.
“There are deep human needs which need to be addressed, physical, mental and emotional besides the spiritual needs the churches generally focus on,” Sumantri said, like functional illiteracy, obesity and drug addiction.
Referring to a biblical command to Christians to love God completely and love their neighbors like they do themselves, Sumantri said neighbors are “the people we meet on our daily life,” such as cashiers at a grocery store or the wait staff at a restaurant.
“We need to develop the habit of caring for and loving them,” he explained, noting that the biblical command “is not an option ... It should be our lifestyle.”
Another board member suggested the area’s smaller churches may be ideal partners with the organization, since individually many are too small to run their own community service programs.
“Sometimes we kind of stay in our churches … I think it’s time that the church got out into the community,” board member Eunice Rush said.
The organization is still in its formative stages, though a pidgin sign language class taught by Sumantri has grown to three different series of sessions meeting weekly or bi-weekly.