While fear and uncertainty cast a dark shadow over our cities, nation, and the world, communities are coming together in the name of Christ to serve others.
Videos are flooding social media: Christians are congregating in parking lots outside hospitals to pray for the healthcare workers and patients inside, while the doctors, nurses, and other hospital staff pray fervently for patients and each other.
Much of it is happening quietly in prayer closets, in apartment complexes and subdivisions – neighbors helping neighbors in ways no one knows except those directly impacted. These hidden gems of service are perhaps the most beautiful of all.
And others are more visible – the type that God uses to inspire others. That’s our prayer for the partnership between AFA and Eight Days of Hope (EDOH) in a project called Feed Tupelo. (More information here.)
“We are better together,” said Steve Tybor, president of disaster relief ministry Eight Days of Hope (EDOH). When it comes to the body of Christ, that statement is especially true. It’s the way God intended it to work.
A few days ago, I visited the Eight Days of Hope national headquarters where about 2,000 meals daily are being prepared for local residents in need of food during this pandemic. The circumstances have quickly become dire for many in our own communities, leaving many homebound, jobless, and without income. For some, their situation was already dismal before this disaster hit.
Often, we are unaware of those in need. We don’t know how to find them. And perhaps more often, the comfort and busyness of our lives have a numbing, blinding effect that keeps us from thinking beyond ourselves much at all.
I decided to volunteer for each aspect of the outreach in order to get a solid grasp on the project from several angles.
I met Richard Alred, the head cook for the operation. Imagine preparing that many meals every day. Though Covid-19 is new to all of us, coming to the rescue after disasters is what he does. He’s accustomed to leading a team, preparing meals in bulk for those devastated by a disaster – whether by flood, tornado, or hurricane … or a global pandemic.
And I learned that someone writes a three-word Scripture-based sentence about the character of God on hundreds and hundreds of disposable meal containers every day. I asked a few of the volunteers, but no one seemed to know her name. Now that’s one of those quiet, behind-the-scenes difference makers I was talking about! [See main graphic above]
In just a couple of hours, thousands of hot meals are dished up. It is amazing to watch and be a participant. My job in the assembly line was to bag the meals to facilitate transport.
Speaking of transport, I was amazed when I walked outside and saw the line of cars with drivers and passengers waiting to deliver meals. Meanwhile, a crew of volunteers was busy loading vehicles and providing a preprinted list with delivery details to each driver.
But I think I learned the most from actually making deliveries and answering the phone for those requesting meals. That was when I actually spoke to people. I saw them. I saw where they lived. I heard bits of their stories.
And I cannot wait to talk to others on our team who did as well. And when I do, I will be sharing some of the stories with you.
So be watching.