Sometimes a step of faith is all it takes.
When Linette Manwaring decided to host a community giveaway, she did not realize the project would develop into the Obadiah Thrift Store, a ministry that has impacted the community and, ultimately, the world.
Of course, stepping out in faith does not necessarily mean jumping in head-first. “I was in prayer for 30 days about what to do,” Manwaring said.
The concept started in 2008 when Manwaring felt led to organize a community giveaway and to pray for anyone who came and expressed a need.
After the giveaway, Manwaring sensed there was something more she needed to do and, after much prayer and consideration, she decided to open the store.
Finding a location was not difficult. She approached Robert and Dianne Pilcher, owners of Pilcher’s Shoes in North Webster, about possibly opening the store inside of their building. They agreed.
With help and encouragement from Vineyard Community Church, family and friends, Manwaring opened the Obadiah Thrift Store in 2009.
When it comes to ministry, owning and operating a thrift store is not something Manwaring would have considered. “This is not my forte,” she said. “I don’t know anything about business, but I have a love for the Lord.”
Items for sale include gently-used clothing, shoes, blankets, toys, books and small household items. Everything is sorted and priced, with adult clothing beginning at $3, children’s clothing beginning at $1.50 and infant clothing beginning at $1. The Obadiah store cannot take large appliances.
Making money is not the store’s focus and Manwaring is not hesitant to give things away. If somebody comes to the store who has had a house fire, lost their job or is somehow in need, the store will give them clothing and other items they need.
Obadiah store gives people in the community a chance to support their neighbors in need. All of the funds from shoppers’ purchases go toward furthering the store’s mission, “extending the love of Jesus and sharing through prayer.”
“Since our opening, we have prayed for over 400 prayer requests, we have handed out over 150 Bibles, we have given away over 60 beds to those in need and we give a monthly donation to Vineyard Community Church,” Manwaring said. “We sow back into Vineyard Church and we give a yearly donation to Destiny Rescue.”
Recently, the Obadiah store has partnered with World Mission to help send Bibles to people around the world in their native languages. “They’re taking the word of God into remote villages,” Manwaring said.
World Mission has several thrift stores through which they raise funds to support their projects.
Obadiah store accepts volunteers for things such as sorting, stocking shelves, hanging clothes, organizing and other day-to-day tasks. Beyond that, volunteers have the chance to minister to people in their own community who are in need.
“It might be just an encouraging smile,” Manwaring said. “It may be just encouraging words, but we always pray for them.”
Manwaring and her husband are not strangers to hard times. Prior to opening the store, they went through a major struggle of their own. What they learned from that struggle is what Manwaring wants to convey to all who come across the Obadiah Store threshold.
“Just to say, Jesus Christ loves you and you matter,” she said.
Currently, the Obadiah Store is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. However, beginning Aug. 1, hours will extend to 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday and Friday, noon to 6 p.m. Thursday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.
Anyone wishing to donate gently-used items can do so during Pilcher’s Shoes regular hours, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
“They can just leave their donations outside the door of Obadiah,” Manwaring said. “If they donate during Obadiah hours, we can help carry it in.”
Again, Manwaring stressed the Obadiah store is not a place to leave old, worn-out clothing or items broken or unusable. “We just go through a lot of things that are not gently-used,” she said.
For more information on the Obadiah Thrift Store or to volunteer, call (574) 275-9274.