“Serving,” says Mary Neighbour, “isn’t about what we do. We start with a task, and then it becomes what God wants to do, which is always bigger.”
There’s no question that Mary has a heart and passion for serving others. Her parents and grandparents set the example of serving others in the name of Christ. Mary’s first serving experience was at nine years old, when her family had Thanksgiving dinner at the Detroit Rescue Mission. Touring the facility and meeting the men and women who came for dinner opened her eyes and heart to people in need.
Mary experienced struggles and bullying as a child, which developed in her a tenderness for others in pain. She was working and attending college when she was asked by Ward’s student ministry leaders to volunteer with them, but felt she was too busy. An injury disrupted her ability to do her job, and Ward’s student ministry team challenged her to work with them as an intern. Her passion for children and students has been a motivating force ever since.
Mary’s years of attending and serving at Ward church has given her a long picture of God’s work and faithfulness. “When I was a senior in high school, a friend went through a crisis. I prayed with her and encouraged her. Twenty years later, she walked into a gathering at Ward, and told me that because of me, she had accepted Jesus. What a blessing!”
Besides supporting kids and student ministries, Mary is a faithful volunteer on Monday mornings at Forgotten Harvest food distribution. She’s been known to hold up the line because she is connecting and praying with the families who come through for food.
“Food brings them to us. It is the strong ones and the caregivers who come, so it is an opportunity for us to support them and pray for them,” she says.
Director of Outreach and Guest Services Sue Hanstad says, “Mary is the ultimate cheerleader of our Forgotten Harvest team. She has built relationships with those we serve and will ask about their lives and pray with them as asked. She is wonderful!”
“When we only think about ourselves,” says Mary, “we are going through life with blinders on. When we take off the blinders to look at others, our lives are changed, and we receive so much joy. We get to see God do bigger things.”