Vera Stewart strengthens her outreach ministry
"And though I have the gift of prophecy and understand all mysteries and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains and have not charity, I am nothing." 1 Corinthians 13:2
Vera Stewart, known to many as Sister Cherry, lived in Canada for years, and as thoughts of returning home plagued her, she struggled to find land in the areas in which she wanted to live.
It was divine intervention that led her to the community of Newport, for it was here that she got saved and her ministry through outreach began.
"I got saved 15 years ago at the hospital. I was there with my husband's mother and had slept over. There was a man dying and a lady giving birth, and the Lord spoke to me. He said, 'You are neither dead nor alive because you don't have me', and I stood there, and He said, 'I am knocking another time, are you going to let me in?' and I said yes to the Lord."
From then on, Stewart has been in the church, and her presence has certainly been felt in her church and her community through her selfless acts.
"I serve on the Pastors' Council, school board, the Ladies' Ministries committee [at Newport New Testament Church]. I work as a gardener and contractor for the manse. I am a Jack of all trades and I love the work. I believe it is important what your community thinks about you."
Chief to her acts of kindness is the senior citizens outreach programme she hosts every Thursday, bringing together up to 25 elderly persons, some with disabilities, for a day of games, testimonies, fellowship and dinner.
"There's this lady who I would pass just sitting on her veranda by herself, and I thought something like this would make her and others like her feel good. Since this programme started, she hardly misses a Thursday."
Just recently, Family & Religion joined them for a special post Valentine's Day celebration and dinner.
"Here we have this big space in the church, and I just thought this would be a great idea. I have had some bumps in the road - I wanted to start this a long time ago - but our new pastor, Gossett, and his wife, Parnell Hilton, who is also a pastor, gave me the go-ahead and they have been so excited and so supportive."
THE LORD PROVIDES
With a day of full festivities, it can become expensive, but Stewart said the Lord keeps on providing.
"I do not put the burden on the church. I fund it and get some of my friends overseas to help out, there are volunteers who cook. I only ask that they bring $100 per week. The Lord was setting me up in life for this ministry. I really love people, and it's not just now, even when I was out in the world, it has been embedded in me all these years, so I'm sticking to it."
She continued, "This is something I have dreamed of. It is not easy because right now I need a wheelchair, but God has been good because just last week I got a van fully functional to transport wheelchair-bound individuals when I pick them up."
Stewart is expecting that this group will grow from 25 to at least 35, and she is excited about how the Lord will work through this ministry.
"I told the Lord that if He ever sees me moving away from it, He is to take me because I don't want to miss out. The Lord has put this on me and I am going to do it no matter what. This is not just for our members, but for individuals from all different denominations."
For the individuals who cannot make it out, Stewart packs groceries and has them delivered to each house. She has also made it her duty to help students continue and finish school.
"Sometimes all people need is just a little push, and God has blessed me, and so I do what I can."
One member of the group described Stewart as an angel on earth.
"She is a real blessing. That woman is a godsend from heaven above. I tell you, if it was not for her, I don't know where I would be. I can't tell her thanks enough for what she has done."