Stuff We Like: Rural Compassion

RC white 200cRural Compassion is one of those ministries that gets better the closer you look at it.

Founded in 2003 by Steve and Rebecca Donaldson, they are probably most well-known for two things: 1) providing shoes and backpacks for churches to distribute to needy kids and 2) mobilizing churches in rural communities to respond to local disasters, such as the recent tornadoes in Moore, Oklahoma.

Those two efforts would be enough for me to recommend them, but they do so much more.

If you’re pastoring in a rural community, you know the needs of the poor, first-hand. You may be poor yourself. Poverty is not just a theory or a set of statistics to you – and it’s not to Rural Compassion either. It’s about real people and real needs. Needs that Jesus commissioned his church to meet.

If your town has a population of 5,000 or fewer, Rural Compassion will bless you by helping your church bless your community.

Here are some of the strategic programs they can help you implement in your church, to make your congregation stand up and stand out as a friend to the hurting people in your community. No matter what size your church is, they can help you…

  • Become intentional about developing relationships with community leaders
  • Get more involved in your community’s special events
  • Set up a food pantry, clothing distribution and/or thrift store ministry
  • Adopt community service providers like teachers, fire fighters and police to provide them with supplies they need 
  • Become certified as disaster relief providers (CERT)
  • Develop and offer need-based programs like Celebrate Recovery, MOPS, Financial Peace seminars…

… and more.

A project I find especially exciting is a three-year plan they offer that will prepare your church to “become the best friend of the public school system.” The opportunities for ministry that come from relationships like that are immeasurable.


Rural Compassion’s Secret Weapon – The Small Rural Church

As a member of the Convoy of Hope team, Rural Compassion draws upon Convoy’s resources, enabling them to consolidate massive amounts of help when disasters strike. But their real secret weapon in times of crisis isn’t the materials they gather – as important as that is – it’s the relationships they build with the Small Churches of these communities. The members of those congregations are the ones who help assure that the supplies get to the people who need them the most.

According to Steve Donaldson, most of their ideas can be done for $100 or less.

Here’s a document Steve Donaldson sent to me with a more thorough explanation of what they’re about.


Rural Compassion

Coaching – Mentoring – Training

Rural Compassion comes alongside pastors, empowering them to dream big dreams for their communities. We encourage and counsel the pastor and their church in vital community projects as well as offering ideas and tips we have learned.

Inspire Community Outreach

With the assistance of Rural Compassion, churches give away school supplies and hygiene kits, feed the hungry, distribute shoes, and hand out bibles to law enforcement, firefighters and teachers. We encourage pastors to be friends with their local schools, fire and law enforcement departments and other service leaders in their community.

Partner with Churches

We partner with churches to strengthen their small communities by responding to the needs with resources. We help the church to become the center of their community by becoming a spiritually-based serving center for the benefit of the community.

Poverty & Disaster Response

Rural Compassion has responded to thousands of requests regarding hunger, hygiene, school supplies, cleanup projects and even fence repair. With the strong supporters of Rural Compassion we can answer the call and take action in disaster response and poverty relief aid in hopes to break the bondage of hardship for destitute families living without proper necessities of life.

We encourage pastors to become certified members of CERT (Community Emergency Response Team), a program that educates people about disaster preparedness.

There are approximately 250 consistently poor counties in the United States. 244 of those are rural. The child poverty rates in these jurisdictions often exceed 35%.

One in six children (2.5 million) living in rural regions of the United States are trapped in deep poverty, suffering from poor education and health care.


The Mission

Rural Compassion is a national initiative dedicated to encouraging, strengthening, and empowering small and rural churches to work outside their four walls to address the needs of their surrounding communities. We provide inspiration and action to help the pastor and congregation to be Christ’s hand extended by meeting the concerns of poverty and restoring self-respect in the hearts and minds of rural communities.

“I have seen the worries of the father who cannot provide a decent shelter for his kids or the mother who is embarrassed because lately meals are few and her kids clothes don’t fit right or the hand-me-downs are out of style. I think of the 5th grade boy being made fun of because he is wearing his older sister’s jeans that don’t fit. I think of what the little girl said who received a new toothbrush then clutched it to her chest with tears running down her cheeks; ‘now me and my sisters can each have our own toothbrush.’”

“One of my greatest concern is for the rural pastors. I have seen their sacrifice and commitment and I have seen their suffering and pain for the lack of income and resources.”

Steve Donaldson

I know Steve Donaldson and other members of Rural Compassion personally and can vouch for their integrity, compassion, resources and skill.

If you minister in a town of 5,000 or smaller, do yourself, your church, your community and the kingdom of God a favor. Click this link for and start partnering with them today.

Click here for more in the Stuff We Like series

So what do you think? Does your church, or a church you know need to partner with Rural Compassion?

We want to hear from you. Yes, you!
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4 thoughts on “Stuff We Like: Rural Compassion”

  1. This was a good one. We are very small town.our church has an out reach called One Way ministry that reaches out to the homeless.We currently have three different programs being run there. !-3 day emergency shelter, a discipleship for people with life challenging issues, Short term housing for people who are just getting out of Jail, prison or rehab.
    We operate out of an old motel that had a restaurant attached.
    take a peek you might get some ideas for your town.

  2. Keith, I checked out your website for One Way. That looks awesome! Thanks for letting me know. I will let others know about it, because it can give other churches some wonderful out-of-the-box ideas for themselves.

    This is one of the things I love most about doing this ministry – finding great ministries like yours that otherwise are mostly unknown. We can learn from each other. And others can definitely learn from what you’re doing. Thanks so much.

  3. Thanks Karl. I just sent them a message to see how we could begin a partnership with our church.
    Our town, Jackson, KY, has a population of 2,231…we’ve decreased by 10% since the last census was taken. Our median income in our area is $20,210/household.

    There are churches in our area that do outreaches…all the time…they’re “known” for outreaches…but they certainly don’t do it by their own abiltiy. They have big churches from out of state helping them (thank the Lord…we’ve been recipients of that help) The churches act as a funnel by which other bigger churches pour in their help.

    I often wondered how we could set up such a ministry…but honestly…didn’t know of any ‘big’ churches to ask for help. We have had bigger churches, on their own, give love gifts to us – which has SO blessed us and helped to pay some bills! When you work so hard to just keep the lights on, outreaches get pushed down the line on the priority list.

    Rural Compassion just might be our answer…we’ll see!

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