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October 19, 2012

Photos, Story: Steelers visit local church to share faith, fight hunger

NEW CASTLE — The location was First Baptist Church, but the atmosphere was more like Heinz Field.

The occasion was First Baptist’s Hunger Blitz to raise money for the Pittsburgh Food Band, to help feed the hungry.

Steelers Ryan Clark and Tunch Ilkin were the guest speakers for the event.

Clark spoke at the adult and children services. He described his relationship with God during his near-death experience resulting from sickle cell anemia.

Even in the operating room to have his spleen removed,  he kept his sense of humor. When the doctor mentioned he would join them in prayer, Clark joked, “I have enough people praying. Shouldn’t you go read a book or something?”

Tunch Ilkin related to the congregation about his battle with God during his wife’s long fight with breast cancer, which finally took her life.

When Pastor Scott Frederick mentioned to Ilkin that he was a Cleveland Browns fan, Ilkin’s response was, “How many Browns does it take to win a Super Bowl?”

Altogether, 875 were in attendance to celebrate the Hunger Blitz.

More than $16,000 was raised for the food ban, and 80 percent of it will be distributed among the 14-plus agencies that deal with hunger issues in Lawrence County. The other 20 percent will be given to First Baptist’s sister churches in Bolivia, the Ukraine and the Philippines to fight hunger there.

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