A circle of women that I joined about 6 years ago met this last Thursday. The program was based on how God speaks to each of us. Not a one of us had seen a burning bush that talked nor had received a winged angel visit. Yet when asked to share a way we felt God had worked through us almost all had something to share.
Before I go further with the story let it be noted the women ranged in age from mid sixties to early nineties with most 80 As the stories unfolded it was obvious these ladies have engaged in very loving, giving lives. These were beautiful stories of women reaching out to the lonely, sick, dying, abused and strangers.
One lady shared how working at a food pantry posed an unexpected challenge. A family came in needing food but were feeling shame for seeking help from a food pantry. She felt God's guidance as she was, I am sure, just herself, a caring person. The family relaxed and was willing to receive the much needed food.
Today volunteers from across the community gathered in the gym at our church. With a theme of strike out hunger, over 600 men, women, teens and children worked in assembly lines and shifts. By 3:00 PM 187,000 meals were packaged and boxed. Other groups were gathering donations from local stores where the customers were making food donations. Earlier in the week over two tons of food, roughly 3,200 meals had been picked by Ozarks Food Harvest.
An ongoing group worked over the last few weeks installing more ramps in the community. I suspect this group along with other volunteers help have installed 75 to 100 ramps over the last six years. Last year for the focused day of mission outreach, the church constructed the walls of a Habitat for Humanity home. Volunteers had the home completed within two weeks.
With the need for a new floor in the dining room of a local women's shelter, a group of workers spent yesterday prepping the floor. Today the new flooring was installed. Without the use of a dining room, a nearby church allowed folks to come there for two meals. In addition we provided a spa for the women and games for the children. These women were able to select a hand crafted shopping bag that had been made by the women of my church.
The bags did not remain empty. These ladies presented a coupon for a shopping trip through the cosmetic department set up just for them. The 'cosmetics department' had everything from facial cleaners to makeup, nail polish to cosmetic bags, dental care and even hair care products for colored hair. There were smiles galore on those faces. Through the paraffin hand treatments, the lavender scented foot baths and touchless massages, theses women's souls had been fed. And so had the souls of the folks who had served these women and children.
Tonight after months of planning, coordinating, prayers and a whole lot of just plain hard work the shelves of food pantries have been restocked for awhile. Now it is up to some sweet lady to convince a man or woman there is no shame in seeking food for themselves.
For those who would say we are enabling lazy people I answer with this. God calls me to give to those in need. Nowhere do it require me to judge the people on how they receive the gift. That is between them and God.