Mission 152 in Los Banos is ministry for those in dire need

By Thaddeus Miller / tmiller@losbanosenterprise.comApril 6, 2013 

The newest church in Los Banos has been getting along without brick and mortar.

Since December, Mission 152 volunteers have gathered at the dirt field on the corner of Eighth and G streets to share food and sermon with those less fortunate.

Mission 152 is the outreach arm of Valley Christian Center, where Mano Ahumada is pastor.

"This is just a joint effort (where) a lot people signed up to volunteer," Ahumada said.

Mission 152 met nearly two dozen residents -- some homeless -- on Easter weekend, the holiday where Christians re-tell the crucifixion story found in the Bible.

Along with the food, volunteers passed out resealable bags filled with toiletries on Saturday.

It's not unique for a church to offer food, clothing and everyday items to those in need, but what makes Mission 152 unusual is it takes the services to the people.

"Most of the time, people who are outside will not go to church because they feel they're not dressed (properly), they're not clean," Ahumada said. "Sometimes there's things that hold people back and will always keep them out, so we got to come out."

Ahumada said he preaches to 80 to 100 churchgoers at Valley Christian Center. He could claim a bigger congregation if he could bring Los Banos' less fortunate into the fold.

In January, volunteers counted 66 men, 12 women and one teenage girl living on the street, for a total of 79, in Los Banos. Twenty-two percent of Los Banos residents live below the government-designated poverty line, compared to the countywide percentage of 23. The Census Bureau says a family of four with income less than $44,700 a year, or $3,725 per month, is impoverished.

Aldus Jackson, a Vietnam veteran who was once homeless, is something of an advocate for those in need of services and a helping hand. Jackson talked Ahumada into holding the weekly service.

"Right now, this is the Eighth Street Mission," he said, standing in the field. "That's what it is."

Jackson said the outreach volunteers ask around and return with the everyday items the congregation might need. He said the outreach is vital to remind the less fortunate that they're not forgotten.

Jackson said he expects the congregation to grow with time.

"It might not be much," Jackson said, "but this is our church."

Enterprise reporter Thaddeus Miller can be reached at (209) 388-6562 or by email at tmiller@losbanos

enterprise.com.

Enterprise reporter Thaddeus Miller can be reached at (209) 388-6562 or by email at tmiller@losbanos enterprise.com.

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