The following article was published on April 25, 2012 in The Tomahawk, Mountain City, TN’s online newspaper.
By Lacy Hilliard
Bright and early on a classic mountain spring morning, church members from various churches in Johnson County gathered together to carry out “Operation Inasmuch.” Named for the New King James verse, Matthew 25:40 “And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me”; founder David Crocker, created Operation Inasmuch in 1995 with the hope that his message will help provide guidance to twenty-first century ministry leaders. Crocker’s vision is to “mobilize believers in hands-on local church missions through one-day ministries that have significant impact both on the community and the church” and judging by the enthusiasm of the Johnson County participants, it’s safe to say Crocker has succeeded.
Thomas Peake, pastor at Mountain City Presbyterian Church, helped to launch the Johnson County division of Operation Inasmuch in 2010. Though Peake pioneered the local movement, many churches led a hand in this noble mission. Regardless of denomination, members of Mountain City Presbyterian Church, First United Methodist, the Methodist Circuit, Victory Chapel Cowboy Church, Bethany Baptist Church, First Assembly of God, The Church of God, and First Christian Church stayed true to the inspiration of the mission by working together to carry out the good work of “Inasmuch.”
The morning began with a cheerful devotional given by evangelist Richard Foster. As Foster joked about sermons beginning in Genesis and ending in Exodus, he led the participants in prayer as they readied themselves for the day’s tasks. The mission was organized on poster board with each task outlined and assigned. The thirty-plus volunteers (both young and old) deployed on missions ranging from construction projects, to light housekeeping, to lawn maintenance, each with a smile and the hope of bringing joy to less fortunate community members. Aunt and niece team Laura and Cora Hayworth was assigned to a local laundromat to hand out quarters to locals. This random act of kindness was well received by laundromat customers, some asking the pair to save the quarters for those in need while others graciously accepting and thanking the pair for this unexpected blessing. The duo also headed out to Ralph Stout Park and handed out bottled water to park-goers while spreading the positive message of Operation Inasmuch through fliers designed to get the word out while another group worked to install a wheelchair ramp for one local resident. Peake, Pastor Phyllis Hankins, and Janice Russell made their way to the Mountain City Care Center to provide communion and fellowship to the nursing homes residents. There were smiles from ear to ear and even a few tears on the faces of the home’s occupants as they sang along with Hankins and Russell to “Amazing Grace.”
Operation Inasmuch is an excellent community based effort. Each participant brought a positive attitude and a willing spirit. There were even many behind-the-scenes volunteers providing a home-cooked lunch to the workers and helping to coordinate project locations and contact information. If you are interested in helping with Operation Inasmuch or any other community oriented charity efforts, please contact Thomas Peake of Mountain City Presbyterian at 727-8801 or Carroll Hayworth of Victory Chapel Cowboy Church at 727-1975.