By Chris Moon
Barbara Rendel shows few signs of slowing down.
She served many years in ministry alongside her husband, Wally—former pastor of Southern Acres Christian Church and Jessamine Christian Church in Kentucky—and since 2012 has been leading a multifaceted ministry program that serves families in need in central Kentucky.
ScatterJOY Inc. partners with the public school system in Jessamine County, Ky., to provide food, clothing, and shelter for students and their families. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg for the organization.
The group also holds events to support people coming out of addictions. It does work in the local jail—where 600 people have been baptized during the past four years. And three years ago, ScatterJOY raised all the funds necessary to start a local homeless shelter.
“We’re so thankful that God has blessed us so that we can still do,” said Barbara Rendel, 76, who worked as vice president of advancement at Cincinnati Christian University from 2006 to 2012.
ScatterJOY came into being after Barbara and Wally Rendel moved back to Nicholasville, Ky., after their work with Cincinnati Christian University. Wally had been the director of church relations for CCU and had taken the lead pastor role at Jessamine Christian Church.
Barbara wasn’t ready to stop her own work.
“I certainly was not ready to sit down, and I really love serving people,” she said.
So she met with the superintendent of the local school district and got connected with a school where students had the greatest needs.
ScatterJOY launched by helping 10 families connected to that school. Barbara Rendel gathered mentors to help those families throughout the year.
“It started growing after that,” she said.
She eventually learned that 300 children were displaced or homeless in her county. So she helped raise the funds necessary to convert a building into a homeless shelter. The shelter now operates as an independent organization.
ScatterJOY has hosted Christmas dinners for families in need. Kids are given toys. Parents can have makeovers. Members of each family can have portraits taken.
At a recent ScatterJOY event, scores of volunteers packaged more than 15,000 meals for Haiti and supplied clothing for people in the Appalachia region of Kentucky. Rendel said she views the organization’s mission as reaching local, regional, and international needs—in line with Jesus’ command to take the gospel to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.
Today, ScatterJOY has one church that gives it monthly financial support. It also has received a charitable grant. The rest of its funding comes from individual supporters.
And the requests for help keep coming.
Most recently, Rendel said, she has gotten connected—through the school system—with a family that recently moved to the area that needs help paying deposits for electricity and gas. And the schools also are connecting her with a teacher who has special financial needs.
“That’s just today,” Rendel said.
It’s not uncommon for Rendel to take someone to the grocery store or to go fill up someone’s vehicle with gas.
“By meeting them personally, I have an opportunity to give them Jesus,” she said. “I want it to be more than a handout, and maybe it is more of a hand up. But especially, I want to let them know that these things come because I love Jesus and Jesus loves them.”
In December, ScatterJOY is planning a new event for community leaders—Rendel said she will call it “Salute to Leaders”—that will honor them for their service. She’s inviting the mayor, county officials, sheriff, doctors, nurses, and others who demonstrate selfless service.
“Sometimes we forget those people need encouragement, too,” she said.
Rendel said she hopes other people—wherever they live, and regardless of how old they are—start serving their communities, too.
“If you’ve got an idea, get it going,” she said. “Life is short, and Heaven is sure. Let’s do something that we can help make a difference.”
Chris Moon is a pastor and writer living in Redstone, Colorado.