Author - Laura King, Director of Development & Public Relations.
I grew up on a farm in a very rural area of Lonoke County. I remember a trip to Little Rock when I was around the age of 8 with my parents. As we were driving through the downtown area, I was mesmerized by the big buildings. We came to a stop sign and a man was standing there holding a sign. I asked my Dad what the man was doing and I still remember his response to this day..."He's begging! He's got two legs and He's too lazy to work!"
Those words stuck with me through my formative years and into adult hood. I grew up thinking that homeless people were lazy and bad. It took an encounter with Jesus and homeless man on the streets of Memphis in 2012 to challenge my thought processes and the stereotypes I held of people that were different than myself. For the next three years I kept having these "chance" encounters with different homeless people where Jesus would show up and challenge the things that I grew up thinking were "right". Then one day early in 2016, I realized God had called me to this beautiful community of citizens.
Fast forward to a few weeks ago. I had the privilege of spending the day at a local VBS and got to speak with each class of kids for about 20 minutes. The church had asked me to speak about homelessness, how Jesus loves us all and how we can do things to help others. (Thank you to the church who let me come speak...it has really impacted me in multiple ways).
Kids will quickly and with no inhibition tell you what they think about things, which I love by the way. As I was talking with the groups of children and asking questions, some of their answers took me back to things I heard as a child...a child that was impressionable and held those words as absolute truths.
Jesus has spent years working on me...undoing the words I heard back then. He's still working on me, breaking down barriers and stereotypes accrued over years of hearing people talk. As an adult I've made many of those same mistakes. As a matter of fact, I still get it wrong sometimes. Jesus continues to show up in my encounters with people and it makes me question why I think the way I do. Are my thoughts and actions life giving or life crushing?
I am so thankful for the CMC, not only for the help and love they give to hurting people but also for the love and patience they have for me. They love me through all of my questions about humanity as Jesus teaches me about His love for all of His creation. He is teaching me that people are just people. We are all broken no matter what background and walk of life we come from. He is teaching me how to interact with people that I think I have nothing in common with...like 400 grade school kids at VBS and a homeless man on the streets of Memphis. We all have commonality we just have to be willing to search it out and get a little uncomfoartable.
BTW...just in case you are thinking ill of my Dad at this point....God has been transforming his heart and thinking too :)
Author Mike Rush - Storehouse Director
The other day, we had a brand-new volunteer helping in the Storehouse on a Wednesday morning, a day when we’re not in operation and other volunteers aren’t around. Her help was needed because on Wednesday, we pick up donated food items at one of the city’s local gas stations, and we’d been given almost 30 half gallons of milk that morning.
She was putting them in the refrigerator, preparing them for distribution the next day. I was bringing in and weighing the rest of the donation of sandwiches, corndogs, and eggrolls.
During one of those trips, she sought me out, frantic. "I’ve dropped one of the half gallons and there’s milk all over the floor", she said.
I helped her get a couple of rags from the kitchen, far too little for a half-gallon sized spill. She was desperate to clean it all up, but I explained it could wait, and I’d come back with a mop and bucket to do a thorough cleaning.
After the milk was in the fridge and were leaving, I could tell she was a bit despondent over what had happened. In the parking lot I said, "let me tell you something about spilled milk."
"There’s spilled milk here at the CMC every day. Each one of us takes our turn, occasionally, spilling the metaphorical milk. And I think it happens so that Jesus can use it to keep our faces on the ground before him, as a daily reminder that he didn’t bring us here because there was something special in us that he needed here, but that he wanted us here so that he could do something special through us."
And then I prayed for us both, thanking Jesus for the opportunity to serve together at the CMC.
Author - Mike Rush - Director of Operations
Each week, after our pantry closes and our volunteers have departed, we share the story of what happened that day. It almost always centers around our clients, and how Jesus revealed himself in moments throughout the day during encounters with those He has brought to the Storehouse.
However, He sometimes shows up in our encounters with donors, like He did just the other week.
I was outside the facility when a car I didn’t recognize pulled up to the curb. A young man, who could have been a teenager, got out and asked if this place was still collecting food. I blurted my response that we were, with a little more excitement than intended, as a young female got out of the other side of the car.
He quickly had a case of canned food in his hands and I said I’d get a buggy as the girl removed her own case from the car. When I returned with the buggy, we filled it with several cases of canned goods. "We wanted to help; I think we got what y’all were asking for", he said.
We like to get to know our donors, so I asked where these two were from. "Greenbrier", they said. They’d heard about Feed the Need and had made an effort to donate what was on our list. I was puzzled in their presence; they were so young yet seemed so independent and autonomous. I struggled for a question that would invite them to share themselves without my assuming too much. "Are y’all a couple?" I finally asked. "We’re engaged", he said, "as of last week", while she simultaneously lifted her left hand, fingers splayed to reveal her new gift of jewelry. They were beaming. Glowing, and then Jesus showed up.
"Look what I’m doing here", He seemed to say. These two are just starting, and He's led them to become ministry-minded donors. This is no chance happening. He's in this.
In fact, He's in every donation here.
She filled out a donor record slip, while I offered our thanks and then they were gone.
I watched them go, thanking Jesus for the people He brings here, brings into this ministry and our lives. And on this day, I thanked Him, especially, for donors.