Saturday morning I woke up early and started preparing the meal for our dinner in the park that afternoon. I figured on serving about fifty or sixty people, our numbers vary and lately we had only needed enough to serve about that amount. As I was fixing my totes with the various things we would need to serve, I grabbed a sleeve of plates and then started to put another in the tote, but then thought I will only need one of these, but then again thought what the heck and threw in the second. Okay at this point you need to understand that each sleeve contains 150 plates. My son and I then loaded up the truck and headed to the park.
As we turned into the park my son says, “My God look at the people.” I looked around and panic rushed through me like you wouldn’t believe. There were people everywhere in the park waiting on us to serve the meal. We don’t have enough food, I don’t know what to do right at this point, “what do I do...what do I do” is all I say. Then I thought well Lord I am giving this one to you, I am not going to panic over this and you let me know what you want me to do.
So we unloaded the truck and shortly afterward the Tonya, Jim and Ashley show up. As Tonya is getting out of the car, part of the salad she brought fell on the ground. So now we have even less food. Rachel then showed up and thankfully brought a pasta salad with her, but it still would not make up for the amount of food it would take to feed this crowd. At this point I thought lets start serving and see what happens.
So we began dishing up plates and didn’t really hold back on the amount, just dished it up. The line never seemed to end. More and more people kept showing up and even had some coming back for seconds, plus those one’s who will take a to go plate for later. As the last person went thru the line, I looked over to the last pan of food and there was still enough in there for another two or three servings. I looked at Tonya; she looked up at me and said, “I think we just a loaves and fishes kind of day.” How those words hit me later on that day. I thought back to what just happened in the park and realized what the Lord just did.
Remember the sleeves of plates; well we went through a whole sleeve (150 plates) and then some. I had taken extra to go plates; about ten or fifteen, we used all that day. By the end of the day we had served up at least 170 servings of food and just to remind you remember I only made enough for about fifty or sixty people. You do the math. After it all sunk in that evening I sat and cried over the goodness of God and was filled with the excitement of being able to see and witness exactly what our Lord did… the story of the loaves and fishes happening before my eyes.
The Lord’s blessings didn’t just end there that day. I picked up Gerald after the park. There is a friend who was formally homeless, but now has a place. Gerald said he just had double bypass surgery and wanted to take some food to him. So we ran by the church and fixed him up a box of food, took it to him and let him know that if he needed more we would bring it by. We don’t have much on our shelves right now as far as a food pantry goes, but it is getting there and we wanted to bless our friend with as much as we could. As I arrived at the church this morning the box we have out to collect food for the pantry was over flowing on to the floor. Once again tears welled up in my eyes and I just stood and stared at that box. A few people said look at all the food today; once again I could only stand in amazement of what the Lord had done. Thinking about all we read about in the bible and the things Jesus did and realizing he is still doing those things today… we just need to have our eyes open to see it!
Just A Nobody
Saturday, September 18, 2010
I want you to meet Rachel. I met Rachel online via my blog. We started corresponding online and she decided to come down and check us out at the park. When I first met her the first thing you notice about Rachel is the amazingly beautiful woman she is, but as you get to know her, you realize the beauty she possess goes beyond her outward appearance.
Rachel and Jessie
From the first day she came down to the park she made a impact on those that she met there. The love she has for people is felt by those she has come in contact with and will make an impact on their lives. Though some may only get to see the outward beauty this wonderful woman has, I feel truly blessed to get to see where her true beauty and love flows from.........Her Heart!
Tony, Jessie and Rachel
What a blessing to have such a compassionate Heart join with us as we reach out to our friends. Looking forward to getting to know Rachel even more in the days to come.
Thank You Rachel for giving of yourself
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
This past month I have been thinking a lot, reflecting on the park ministry and how things have changed and evolved over the years. I remember the day I said, “Yes I will do as you ask” and the Lord sent me to the streets. I had a bag of bologna sandwiches and was scared to death to speak to anyone, but when he sent me, he also showed me the bigger vision as to what he had in store. So I stepped out in faith and believed if I stayed focused on what he wanted, he would stay faithful to what he had shown me.
There have been times that it seemed overwhelming and I have wanted to walk away. Times of doubt of whether I am doing the right thing and to be honest those times of wondering if the Lord was still in the mist of things. I would then have to remind myself that if I continue doing what he has asked of me that he would stay true to the vision he gave me. These past few months have been a reminder of the bigger vision and that he is working, we just don’t always see him lining things up to make them happen.
Part of what he showed me were individuals working together for the sake of others, loving and serving those in need. He showed me beyond the park and what will come out of serving those there, serving not only our street friends, but also others in the community with needs. He also showed me a need for a place for our friends to come together, a place they felt as if they belonged, to worship and fellowship together. There are many other things he showed me, but will wait until another time to share those.
I want to focus on the last few months. It was a time when you don’t see anything happening, but you have that gut feeling like something is going to happen and then God shows you the next step in his plan. We were serving at the church one Saturday (couldn’t use the park) and this lady with four children came to eat. She seemed different than the others there and I watched her from across the room. As things calmed down I went to speak to her and she explained that she was not homeless, but she had lost her job and they only had her husband’s income right now. She had a choice as to pay the bills or put food on the table. She then broke down crying. At that moment I heard God speak to me and he said it is time. He showed me many years ago that we would have a food pantry to help those in the community and back then I did not know how that would be possible. I went to Essential Truth Ministries and explained the need and felt it was time to start such an outreach to help those around us. There was no hesitation and we now have a pantry room at the church and many will be blessed with it as soon as we can get it stocked…. I believe he is already making provisions for this as well.
I see other aspects of his vision coming together as well. He showed me a church that all would come together, no matter their status in life. At the same church that we served at (which is only about three or four blocks from the shelters and not far from the park) I am seeing this happen. Each Sunday I am seeing more and more of our friends from the park and shelters come thru the doors. It’s a place they feel like they can be at home in and it shows on their faces. It’s a place they don’t run out the doors when service is over, instead feel comfortable enough to hangout, get involved and most of all a place where I hope they know they are considered family and they are loved. It brings tears to my eyes to see our friends come thru the doors and feel so blessed that my friends would feel so welcome.
The Lord continues to show me those who are within the church and not within the church, those who have and those who don’t have, but each with a servants heart. He continues bring people from various parts of the community to join together to work as one body, to lay themselves aside and do what it takes to help another in need. I see Jesus moving thru each and everyone of them. I am thankful for their hearts and their willingness to also step out in faith and do what he has asked them to do. Many are and will be blessed by their humbleness and self-sacrifice. I look at them and see an example as how we should work together as one body and pray that others would see their example. What amazing things God could do.
So I reflect back on the first day in the park and my bologna sandwiches. I think back to those who said I was crazy and I can’t do it or leave it up to someone else. Then I think about all the amazing people God has brought thru my life during this time, the wonderful journey he has taken me on, the things he has shown me most of all the incredible faithfulness and love he has poured out. He gave me a vision at the time I thought was impossible to achieve, but I took that first step of faith and said, “Whatever you ask of me.” I see what he has done and I get a sense of excitement as to what is down the road, how this grand vision is going to all come together, the lives that will be touched and the wonderful people who will play a part in it.
Some of you are feeling that tug and you know that he is calling you to take that step of faith. Your afraid and you know it will come at a cost and your life may even be turned upside down, but if you step out, take his hand and let him lead you…. he will take you on a journey like no other.