We started searching for a church earlier this year and soon found the church that we now call home. Justin was saved our second Sunday there and a few weeks later, he was baptized (the same week we found our we were expecting Brynlee) and our family joined the church. Since then, we’ve loved learning about Christ, deepening that relationship, and getting involved with our church. We began attending Sunday school, taught the preschool class at VBS this summer, fellowshipped at picnics, but my favorite has been volunteering at our local soup kitchen.
Our first Saturday to volunteer at The Bread of Life (great name, huh?), I was only a few months pregnant and in the worst of my morning sickness. Justin cooked a huge pot of green beans and well, let’s just say that while the green beans made their way to the soup kitchen- my lunch did not. I found myself well acquainted with a convenient store toilet. Thankfully, after that, I felt much better and we were able to serve at the soup kitchen with no more sickness.
When the first few families poured through the door with their little ones in tow, kids around the age of my own children, the tears were unstoppable. I didn’t expect that. I’m not sure what I did expect from the experience, but I walked away that day humbled. Justin and I stopped at the local Cracker Barrel (a little ironic maybe) on the way home that afternoon to talk through our feelings. It was an eyeopening experience. Call me naive, but I had no idea there were people living in tents and going without food in our local community.
Once my eyes had been opened, there was no closing them. After seeing those tiny, hungry faces, I understood for the first time a little about what it meant to be the hands and feet of Jesus. For me, serving these people, looking into their eyes, seeing their need and being a part of meeting that need was unlike anything I had ever done before. It felt different. While heartbreaking, it felt good to help. Not that there is anything wrong with donating money or clothing, but donating my time and using my hands and feet to serve others while serving Christ was an amazing experience. I love programs like Operation Christmas Child and Compassion International and I’ll continue supporting those causes, but meeting needs in my own backyard is where I feel like I need to be right now.
Saturday’s menu consisted of fresh from the garden vegetables, smoked chicken, macaroni & cheese, green beans, corn, peas, bread, and a variety of desserts. I suited up in my gloves, pulled my hair back, and made my way to the “frontline”- something I wouldn’t normally do. I prefer to hide back in the shadows rather than chance being uncomfortable. But Saturday, something was different. I wanted to be up front, so I took my spot dipping macaroni & cheese and corn on plates for the hungry. After the rush slowed, I stood back and admired His work. A room full of families, eating what could possibly be their only hot meal that day, and there was a sense of calm. As their hunger was eased through a hot meal, my hunger to serve our local community grew. I don’t want to be superficially satisfied by throwing money in an envelope when there is a need here at home. I want to do both.
To be honest, I had no idea where this was going when I began typing. I’m still not entirely sure. I think I just want to encourage you to look around your hometown, open your eyes and search for ways to help out in your local community, get out there and be His hands and His feet. Serve others. Serve those in your home, serve your family and your friends, and take the time to help meet the needs of strangers. Don’t wait for the opportunity to find you- keep looking until you find it.