Last year I came to great clarity that God was calling our church to provide food for the hungry. I realize now that my efforts in my early years as pastor to immerse myself in the culture of the church and community may have prepared the way for this inspiration.
It is not surprising that God would call a church with such food-rich cultural resources to a vision that includes feeding the hungry in body and soul.
Food is all around. As I became acquainted with the people, I ate hamburgers and hot dogs at the annual church picnic, sat down to pancakes at the United Methodist Men’s monthly breakfast, routinely grabbed a handful of cookies at the Sunday morning fellowship hour, shopped at the Safeway across the street along with everyone else in town, and was presented with my own copy of the church’s cookbook called, appropriately, Food We Love. In hindsight, it is not surprising that God would call a church with such food-rich cultural resources to a vision that includes feeding the hungry in body and soul.
We set out to provide food for 100 families. In January I asked a church member for $300 for the hunger project to be used for an experiment with our youth group. The youth used the money to purchase food and prepare a meal for their families. The families came to the dinner served at the church. At the meal they learned more about hunger in our community. We took up a collection at the end of the night and raised $900 to benefit a local food pantry.
I reported on this remarkable generosity the following Sunday, and the congregation responded with another $2,700 in donations for the hungry. The music department subsequently held a benefit concert and raised $1,500 to fight hunger, and one of the women’s circles was inspired to begin a ministry to fill backpacks with food for hungry children at a local elementary school. What began as a $300 gift and a vision to feed a few became over $5,000 and the possibility of feeding many more. A vision that began with an experiment and a single individual’s generosity became a greater reality out of the magnified energy of a multitude.