by Bernadette Shinault-Davis
Special to The New Tri-State Defender
Kenneth and Yolanda Rogers joined Believers Unite! Worldwide Church eight months ago. She had no job, he didn't make enough to support his wife and three children and the family desperately needed a place to call home.
Yolanda Rogers said she decided to face life's challenges head on and chose to share her family's story during a Sunday service.
"I was not ashamed of our testimony and I stepped out on faith," she said.
"God has strengthened us through our struggles, God won't put on you more than you can bear," said Kenneth Rogers, reflecting on his personal struggles with a suicide attempt, drugs, depression and infidelity. "We stayed faithful even through my addictions (and) I never left the church."
The Rev. Andrews R. Smith, pastor of Believers Unite! Worldwide Church, chose the next Sunday to tell his congregation of a plan to help the Rogers family.
"Yolanda and Kenneth have felonies. I knew it would be hard for them to finds jobs and a place to stay. Nobody really wants to rent to you or hire you when you are a felon," Smith said.
"Kenneth had a warrant out for his arrest for child support issues. I told him to turn himself in, which he did," said Smith. "I told him he could not move forward with his past hanging around. He must make a new start. Kenneth wanted a better life for his family. He walked up to a police officer and turned himself in. That was courage to me. He is now one of the ministers in our church and is our outreach leader."
The church – along with the help of the community – found Yolanda Rogers a job and located a house for the family.
"When believers come together so much can happen," said Smith. "Our community is invincible when we pool our resources and work together."
Kenneth Rogers, whose wages now have been increased, said the congregation made him feel welcomed and loved. Smith, he said, is "a doer."
Grateful for the roof overhead and anchored by faith, Kenneth and Yolanda Rogers moved forward, fortified with the belief that the future might actually lead to them having furniture of their own one day.
"We have never had our own furniture, we used to rent furniture," said Yolanda Rogers. "We continued to believe and waited on God."
During a recent visit to the Rogers' home, Smith noticed the house was barely furnished.
"They were sleeping on the floor, had no refrigerator and no stove," said Smith. "I went to God after visiting the family and knew what God wanted us to do. So my wife and I put a plan into place."
The plan included assigning rooms in the Rogers house to be furnished by church members.
"This is what the body of Christ is supposed to do," Smith said. "It's part of our church's Operation A.C.T.S. project (taken from the Book of Acts, 4:32-35). "We not only want to help our church family, we want to help anyone in need."
Sarah Watson, one of the church's members, said Yolanda Rogers' testimony touched her.
"I told pastor Smith I wanted to help but I had other financial obligations and little to contribute," said Watson, who was reminded that, "If you don't have money to give, give from your heart, encourage them, and give out of yourself."
Watson took on the responsibility of furnishing the Rogers' dining room and kitchen, drawing upon her family experiences for inspiration. Both of her parents were hearing impaired. Despite the challenges, her father continued to work and help in the community.
"We are going all out like it is a new home," she said of the effort to aid the Rogers family. "I am treating it like my home."
On July 28, the Rogers' home was fully furnished with donations from Believers Unite! Worldwide Church and local businesses in the community.
"I thank God for my church family, pastor and church members....God is truly good," said Yolanda Rogers as she stood next to the family's new car donated by Mark Goodfellow.
"We are here to be a blessing," said Smith. "That is what Operation A.C.T.S is all about. We are ready to do it again."