Time for us to pay it forward and this week we're passing it on to a former legal secretary turned minister of a small church in Highland Springs. She doesn't get a salary — in fact, she often comes out of her own pocket to pay church bills and help provide for people in her community. A few of her members are showing their appreciation with an Act of Kindness.
"Some would say we're the best kept secret in Richmond."
Pastor Geneva Alston is on a mission to change the culture in Highland Springs.
"Church is about lifestyle changing. That's my main goal in this area. We have a lot of violence in this particular community. We do a big national night out. We work closely with the police department, fire department, our community to have awareness of violence. You just have to make people aware that this is our community and we want to have control over it, not the drug dealers, not all this killing."
Unless it's killing people with kindness. At Broken Bread Ministries, the community gets fed spiritually and physically.
"We have a foodbank here, I think we give the best boxes around town. I think almost everybody in Highland Springs have been to our foodbank, and even if you're not in my area, I'm gone give you a box something."
That caring outreach is what drew Freddie Beal, his son, and his uncle to the church.
"She calls everyday to check up on us, make sure everything ok, she's a phenomenal preacher," said Freddie. "She makes sure that we get to church every Sunday."
"I'm handicapped, I can't walk distance, she'll have a member come pick us up or she'll come pick us up," said Freddie's uncle.
"If she see something she think can help you, she going to try to go out and get it for you. We needed a new dryer, man pulled up a truck and delivered and brought us a dryer, sure did. She said, 'it's yours.'"
The family says there's no payroll for their pastor. Freddie arranged for a special offering.
Sabrina: "Here's one-hundred, two-hundred, three-hundred dollars."
And he shared one more tidbit about his pastor.
Freddie: "She don't like surprises (laughs)."
Hopefully she'll forgive us, because church assistant Shelia arranged a special meeting — she didn't mention a camera crew.
Geneva: "Y'all just totally caught me off guard."
Sabrina: "We heard some good things about you."
Geneva: "Oh amen, what is it?"
Freddie "We just want to say that we love you, that you've done so much and you do so much for us and you do so much for the community and just for different people and this just a little something for you even though you probably gone put back into helping somebody in the church of something, but this is for you and to say that we love you."
Geneva: "Aww, I love you, god bless you."
Sabrina: "Did we surprise you pastor?
Geneva: "Oh yes."
Sabrina: "You're a preacher who doesn't get a salary?"
Geneva: "Yeah, that's true too, this is not a job this is ministry."
She's always been ministering, even when she was on the company payroll.
Geneva: "I started a bible study on the job."
Word spread, people started talking.
Geneva: "They said, 'Well you supposed to be our pastor' and that's how we got started."
Geneva Alston quit the law firm and hasn't looked back.
Geneva: "The lord actually blessed me with these grounds, I paid not one penny for these grounds."
Though her congregation is small, fewer than a hundred people, it's having an impact.
Geneva: "At any time people will drive up in this parking lot, looking for the preacher, 'Can you pray for me?'"
If there's an organization or individual you believe deserves an Act of Kindness, e-mail me. Remember, it cannot be a relative.
Send your nomination to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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