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Stanley Horton
12.20.09

Wes Bartel
12.13.09

Jason Roy
11.29.09

Steve Donaldson
11.22.09

Norma Champion
11.15.09

Byron Klaus
10.25.09

Alton Garrison
10.18.09

Ed Stetzer
9.27.09

Aaron Boyd
9.20.09

Eric Treuil
9.13.09

Lynn Krogstad
8.30.09

Lew Shelton
8.23.09

Todd Starnes
8.16.09

Gary Smalley
8.9.09

Rick Cole and Dary Northrop
8.2.09

George O. Wood
7.26.09

Sarah Reeves
7.19.09

Mercy Me
7.12.09

Chuck Bengochea
7.5.09

Jeremy Camp
6.21.09

Kary Kingsland
6.7.09

Doug Clay
5.31.09

Owen C. Carr
5.24.09

James T. Bradford
5.17.09

Marlo Schalesky
5.10.09

Wally Nelson
4.26.09

Leeland and Jack Mooring
4.19.09

Mark Trammell
4.12.09

Chris Sligh
3.29.09

Scott Krippayne
3.29.09

David and Marie Works
3.22.09

Paul Baloche
3.15.09

Ellie Kay
3.8.09

Deborah Burke
2.22.09

Max Lucado
2.15.09

Sy Rogers
2.8.09

Duke Preston
1.25.09

Kenny Luck
1.18.09

Todd Tiahrt
1.11.09


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Connections: Steve Donaldson

Rural Compassion

Of the 250 consistently poor counties in the United States, 240 are rural. Child poverty rates in these jurisdictions often exceed 35 percent. One in six children living in rural regions (2.5 million) is trapped in deep poverty. Rural Compassion, an interdenominational ministry partnering with the Assemblies of God, seeks to strengthen small communities by utilizing and building on indigenous resources and maximizing those resources through the local church. Steve Donaldson, Rural Compassion founder and president, recently spoke with Editor Ken Horn.

evangel: How did your early ministry lay the groundwork for your vision to serve rural America?

DONALDSON: I pioneered a church in a rural community, and I was shocked by the needs around me. But I was excited about the opportunity for ministry. From the pastorate, I worked with Convoy of Hope for nine years serving the poor in the United States and internationally. It was so encouraging to see the innovative ways our AG missionaries and national churches were serving the needs of their communities. But I could never get away from God’s prompting towards rural America. The need there is the most overlooked part of poverty, largely because of the isolation.

evangel: Describe the mission of Rural Compassion.

DONALDSON: We work alongside the local rural pastor and local rural church to serve the public school system, partner with community leaders and also look for gaps in service and identify needs in the community no one is meeting. We believe God gives the local church a responsibility to meet local needs. We’re seeing churches really get excited about the relationships they’re building in the community, and it’s really increased their influence.

On a recent weekend, for example, we did five different literacy fairs. God cares that kids know how to read. And when the church engages with the school to reach those goals, it’s refreshing to the schools, and it builds rapport with the church.

evangel: Talk about some of the critical needs in rural communities.

DONALDSON: A lot of people are surprised at the drug problem in rural communities. That is largely attributable to how methamphetamine is made. It’s much easier to manufacture in isolation, and it’s somewhat inexpensive to make. For years, alcohol has been an enormous problem. And all that substance abuse just leads to other kinds of abuse.

The downturn in the economy and the outsourcing of U.S. jobs to other countries severely impacts rural America. In southeast Georgia recently, several companies were outsourced, and 300 people stood in line to apply for minimum-wage jobs when a local dollar store opened.

Local poverty filters down to our pastors. I believe our rural pastors are the most sacrificial ministers we have.

evangel: What are some current projects for Rural Compassion?

DONALDSON: We’ve been training churches for outreach. One of our seminars presents 10 outreach ideas for under $100. These churches can’t afford large-scale projects, but they can do something. And we find that as we get them out in the community and they’re doing different types of small outreaches, it gets into the heart of the people, and the church starts prioritizing more and more efforts.

For example, we’ve been partnering with Light for the Lost to distribute personalized Bibles to firemen and law enforcement. These Bibles have a badge right in the middle, and on the bottom we’ll put the name of the officer and then the badge number. Churches follow up with a celebration day — it could be a barbeque in a local park — to say thank you to their public servants. We’ve seen God really bless that effort.

evangel: What ministry opportunities do you anticipate for rural AG churches?

DONALDSON: I have no doubt that God wants to do a great work in our small communities. The majority of AG churches are in small towns, and that’s been the backbone of our Movement. I believe that God wants those churches to thrive and impact their communities for Christ. But it takes everybody pitching in.

Watch a video of this interview

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