Alex Rompilla has not been called to what we would term “traditional” ministry. He does not feel called to pastor a church, lead worship, author Christian books, or embark on a speaking circuit. Rather, Alex is uniquely called to evangelism and community outreach, working alongside the body of Christ as the Holy Spirit directs and opens doors. In a crisis such as COVID-19, Alex’s creativity and unwavering obedience are all the more needed.
When Alex entered seminary, his primary interest was outreach and church planting. He graduated from Winebrenner in 2017 with a Master of Arts in Church Development and a passionate desire to build bridges between communities and faith-based services. He works as a tech consultant to meet his living expenses and then in his “free” time, he offers his energies and skills to churches and faith-based organizations.
Just months before the pandemic began, Alex recognized a gap in services for homeless people who are transitioning from one region to another. He gathered basic necessities into backpacks that can be easily gifted to people as they pass through from one city to the next. During a “Revive Ohio” event, Alex met Pastor Bob Warren from Shekinah Temple (St. Marys, Ohio) and as they got to know each other, Pastor Warren learned about the backpack ministry. One thing led to another and Shekinah Temple agreed to partner with Alex and provide resources each month to help with the backpack ministry.
“Feeding the poor and homeless isn’t a ministry, it’s a lifestyle. When we start looking at things in that way, it takes on a whole new meaning of what Christianity is. It goes from what I’m doing to who I am as a Christian.”
A second partnership that has recently developed is with New Life Christian Ministries in Lima, Ohio. There, Alex is working with Pastor Tibbs and Pastor Lewis to develop an outreach ministry into the city of Lima. This summer, church members have begun to physically venture out into the community with much needed nourishment, water, an offer of prayer, and the Christian message of hope. Their purpose is simply to engage, listen, and follow the Spirit’s leading. Alex comments that in addition to serving those with very real physical and spiritual concerns, this initiative has brought about huge spiritual growth for the church’s members. Physically walking the streets of the community has allowed them to see God work and it has enabled them to interact with people who might never set foot in a church building.
Alex embodies compassion for the suffering and this has not wavered during this pandemic. He observes that those who were living pay check to pay check, now find themselves without any income at all. Abuse, suicide and depression are rising and people are anxious, angry, and hurting. When Alex offers to pray, people are asking for the basics: health, protection, and financial stability. When asked how COVID-19 affects his “physically close” ministry efforts, Alex shares that he and other volunteers proceed with wisdom and discernment. They wear masks and keep a distance when praying for example. As much as possible, he will continue to reach out to those who are struggling, all while respecting safety.
When asked how he sees God working during this crisis, Alex remarks that the pandemic has blown open the need for non-traditional ministry, ministry that takes place outside the walls of a church building. He explains that if the only ministry the Church knows depends on our church buildings, how can we minister when churches are forced to shut down and people’s needs are at their peak? He expresses his fear that the Church is missing a God-given opportunity to spread the Gospel: “This pandemic has just opened up this whole new fertile ground and churches are going back to the way they did things before!” Alex urges us to engage with people outside the church, in their environment. He exhorts believers to tackle the issues people are facing right now. Just as he asks himself every day, “How do we be Jesus to these people, today?”