Forgive me. Our weekly Storehouse blog is late. It’s my fault. I’ve had a bad case of the grandkids this the second half of the week. Well, it was actually a good case.
If our pantry was a human, it would be a junior high kid. Probably eighth grade. If you’ve got one in your house right now, you have a front row seat to the characteristics: wide swings in mood, capable of powerful affection, petty, insecure, creative, angry, and trying to figure out an identity….
And our pantry, through the broken places in my heart, is all those things, at least behind the scenes. It’s our volunteers, the heartbeat of Jesus, who make sense of the madness each week.
In our pre-serve team meeting, we stressed again that our pantry does not deliver food to clients, and we don’t offer rides to clients, either to or from our pantry.
“We don’t do these things…until we just have to,” I told them. “And when that happens please come and let me know.”
There are times in the pantry when the Holy Spirit urges us to serve a client in a way that goes beyond the established parameters. So we talked about guidelines for when that happens. Females never leave alone with anyone. Take a man with you. Guys don’t ever leave alone with females.
Then we stand to pray and Ross asks Jesus to show us when those moments come and to help us comprehend when His Spirit is moving and when we’re called to do something that makes no sense at all in our reality, but which makes perfect sense in His Kingdom.
And then a couple hours later, a female volunteer is standing in front of me saying she’s going to take this lady client home because she’s walking but doesn’t live very far from here and the heat is already bad.
How does a Storehouse develop an identity when it’s following the leading and urgency of the Holy Spirit? How does anyone?
I don’t know if the Greek language had a word for “identity” when the apostle Paul wrote, “I have been crucified with Christ.” Is it possible that’s what he meant? Let’s try it out:
I have been identified with Christ, it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
And in the struggle to be identified, and have an identity, the notion of nutrition has come into the picture. I attended a Cooking Matters workshop here in Conway, sponsored by the Arkansas Food Bank. Reps from four pantries attended. We learned about tips for good nutrition, how to read product nutrition labels, and made a recipe together.
I was the only man. And I diced the red onion.
But mostly we learned about being nutrition minded in our pantry. So bulletin boards with good information are going up. We might possibly include a live recipe demonstration in our waiting room. So, maybe we’ll influence our clientele to better eating.
And I completely don’t get that. How do we encourage people who don’t know if they are going to eat today, to eat better?
“Hey, all you folks with no diet! Let us show you how to have a better diet!”
Some things which we struggle to make sense of in our reality make perfect sense in the Kingdom.
We registered 99 and served 97. And we track both of those numbers not just because my feelings get hurt when people come and don’t stay to shop. Registration indicates the weight of our guests on administration, and the difference between those numbers may indicate areas of possible growth in our process.
And not only do I feel insecure when people come and leave, I feel a bit of pride when people come and stay. And with numbers this large, it’s just amazing to me that we were able to serve all but two. And the pace of the day was just beautiful. We rarely had folks waiting in either line for shopping. One reason might be that almost half our guests, 40, had one or two in their family. Their shopping usually goes a little quicker.
On Monday of last week, we received the Food Bank order we purchased for the month. I had ordered 500 pounds of assorted produce. At least half of that was mangos. We must have had 700 mangos in the house. I called the mayor’s office to see if Mayor Castleberry would declare June 17 “Mango Monday” in Conway. Well, I thought about it.
On Thursday, we explained what mangos are, how they are eaten, how the pith in the middle can’t be seen, but is detectable with the knife. We talked about how mangos are prepared and mango recipes; it was mango madness.
We distributed 635 hygiene items and 3154 pounds of food. We have not had two consecutive 90 plus days since our first two serves in 2019. With a week to go in June, our numbers indicate we will easily set a monthly record for distributed pounds of food, and that in a four-week month. Hygiene too. In the first six months of the year, we will top 72 thousand pounds of food. Our distribution is on track to eclipse 150 thousand pounds of food for the year.
These are numbers we could never had imagined when this ministry began with a single fridge and freezer, half the space we use now, and half of that dedicated to clothing.
We knew about the many hurting people in our city when we opened three years ago.
What we didn't know is how many.
Then the families in the 110 mobile homes in the Brookside Park had to find new homes.
Then flood waters displaced and disoriented families in our county and beyond. This week, we registered clients from Morrilton, Jacksonville, and Cabot.
We can see clearly what is in front of us. But we cannot clearly see what is behind this operation. Of course, Jesus is there. We see Him in our volunteers, and in our interactions with clients. And He is clearly seen in our prayers over our clients, before we open the door, and again with each one who will let us pray individually for them.
And occasionally we get a glimpse of Him in all of our supporters. But not nearly all. We are constantly in the prayers of people and churches who know and love us. We are the continual recipients of food and financial donations.
We are Elisha. God has arrayed an army for us on the surrounding hills.
Thank you so much for being in the army of folks who feed, and love on, and share Jesus, with the hurting in our community.
I am the Storehouse Director and get the privilege of writing about the people that Jesus loves.
Contact Mike Rush at firstname.lastname@example.org for all things "Volunteer".
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