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'Put Your Hands to the Worship'

Clockwise from left, Audrey King, Claire Morris, Joy Barlow and Wayne Morris fill bags with food destined for Haiti. Photo by Patrick McAbee. (click for larger version)
April 18, 2012 - Ortonville- Using hands to pray is common during church services, but at Hillside Bible Church last Sunday, 500 hands were used for a different purpose.

Instead of parishioners seated in rows listening to a sermon by Pastor Kevin Shorkey, chairs were removed from the sanctuary at the church, 173 N. Church St., and during the April 15 service, dubbed "Put Your Hands to the Worship," 250 people of all ages worked in an assembly line, putting together packets of food that will be sent to families in Haiti.

"The congregation loved this," Shorkey said. " Everyone was enthusiastic, laughing, talking, having fun, rejoicing the whole time. We all got to be productive and do something worshipful."

The Caribbean nation of Haiti has been devastated in recent years by disasters including a 2010 earthquake which killed an estimated 230,000 people, a subsequent cholera outbreak, and flooding from hurricanes.

"The Lord has put Haiti on my heart for quite awhile," said Shorkey. "Haiti has a lot of people living in extreme poverty. It struck a chord in my heart. They are in deep, serious need of help."

While the Hillside congregation prays for the people of Haiti, Shorkey said they wanted to do more. He learned about an organization known as "Kids Around the World," a faith-based 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization. According to, the organization based in Rockford, Ill. is "dedicated to helping children and families who have been affected by war, poverty, illness, and natural disasters."

"Kids Around the World" builds playgrounds in underdeveloped countries. These playgrounds, constructed near churches and schools, become a gathering place where food is distributed. For just 25 cents, a meal can be provided for someone in Haiti.

Shorkey's initial goal was to have his congregation raise $2,500 in order to make 10,000 meals. He announced the goal March 18 and just three weeks later, on Easter, the church had raised $4,000, enough to provide 16,000 meals for a community in Haiti.

Last Sunday, April 15, Kids Around the World arrived with a truck full of raw rice, vegetables, vitamin packs, and soy meal and the people of Hillside got to work, putting their hands to the worship.

Wearing hair nets and starting around 10 a.m., volunteers used scales to weigh the food for each meal, funneling it into bags that were sealed and placed in boxes on which messages were written to encourage the Haitian people. By noon, the meals were packed and ready to be sent to the people who need them.

Shorkey quotes from the Bible, "Jesus said in Matthew 25, verse 40, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.' It's all about taking care of people in need, that's why we call it 'Putting Your Hands to the Worship.' It's more than singing songs on Sunday morning and going to Sunday school. Worship is a lifestyle."

While this is the first worship service of this kind Hillside's had, it won't be the last, Shorkey promises. He plans to do something next year to involve the whole community.

"Ortonville is a really good place," he said. "Now we are all fired up, we want to do more. Look what we did in three weeks. Imagine what we could do if we took a whole year."

Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville
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