Food Pantry Update

Celebrating the one year anniversary of our new client choice pantry called Harvest: A Galley of Grace

Moving Forward in Ministry in 2011

"Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe" (Hebrews 12:28).

Thursday, May 15, 2014

New Life.... New Changes

“April showers bring May flowers.”  New life.  Reminds me of the genius of our creator.  In recent months, I’ve been studying a good bit about God’s purpose for His creation.  Rick Warren (Purpose – Driven Life) wrote extensively about our purpose for being – to bring glory to God.  What, exactly does that look like?  And when doing ministry among those in need, how is He most glorified?

Examine the 6th day of creation.  God said, “Let us create man in our own image..”.  That one statement defines a very unique identity for humans.  We, unlike other aspects of creation, are made soulful beings with the ability to have emotions, reasoning, and decision-making.  As scripture reminds us, we are a little lower than the angels but have dominion over all other aspects of creation.  That alone tells us that we are special.  Yet, even while we have chosen sin, Christ died for us.  Our identity as God’s creation and even more as redeemed by Christ’s blood is extraordinary!

Furthermore, by making us soulful beings with the ability and freedom to make choices, we are created to be in community with God.  He did not create us in His image just to exist; He wants constant communication with us!

Then God said that it was not good for man to be alone.  So woman was created to be in community with man, and they were told to populate the earth.  We humans were created to live in community with each other.

Finally, God told the humans to have dominion over the earth, over the creatures of the sea, the animals, and all that grows, and to cultivate and care for creation.  He gave us the responsibility to be stewards of His creation, our environment and our work world.

So these areas: 1. Our own sense of who we are; 2. Our relationship with the Lord; 3. Our relationship with others; and 4. Our stewardship of the world around us; are all ideally meant to operate at an optimal level.  In the Garden of Eden, that was so.  But we chose to sin.  So we live in a fallen world where each of these areas is out of kilter in some fashion.  A parent cannot provide for his family, so his sense of self is diminished.  He asks for assistance, and though he is grateful for help, he feels worse that he has been dependent on someone else.  A sense of dependency makes assuming responsibilities even more challenging.

How this applies to ministry – at Forest Park Ministry Center, we have for several years sought to increase the level of hospitality and decrease the barriers that would demean others.  From the “shop for your own” concept utilizing gift certificates for clothing, to the annual MBA Ministry Center Christmas Toy Sale, families have the opportunity to experience joy and well-being by taking responsibility for making their own choices for their family.

This summer, guests visiting the ministry center for food assistance will begin to experience yet another opportunity to assume responsibility.  Whereas in the past, food was prebagged and ready for distribution, now each guest will be joined by a shopping buddy who will introduce them to our new Client Choice Pantry.  Guests will shop the pantry for the food that they desire for their families; they will take only what they can and will use.  This will result not only in less waste, but in improved stewardship of our funds as we procure only the food that will be used by our guests – because now we will be able to see what is preferred!  Just as importantly, relationship building will happen, because shopping buddies and shoppers will be able to talk about various ideas of food preparation and specific nutritional needs of a guest’s family.  We are currently training volunteers for the reorganization, and look forward to fully implementing this new model in August.

Please prayerfully consider how you might help during this transition.  The food pantry will need to remain consistently stocked.  Volunteers will have new responsibilities and will need to be faithfully consistent.  You may not be able to work each week, but would you be willing to be trained as a backup for our hardworking volunteers?

In September, the inaugural Rally for the Galley will be held to benefit Forest Park Ministry Center.   Fundraising and food-raising will be the focus, and we look forward to motorcyclists all over the area joining us for a day of fun as we stock the pantry to benefit the thousands of families in need in our area.  Watch for details coming soon!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Blessing from the Unlikeliest Source........

She was upfront when she called me about her bills.  She said that she had a mental illness and needed her meds.  She had been off of them for some time and needed to be back on them but had to use her bill money to pay the copays to get the meds.
So I should not have been surprised when her comments to me the other day were, let’s say, a bit bizarre.  She walked into the center and as soon as she saw me, she said that God had put my face before her.  Two months prior, He had spoken to her, led her to a specific spot in the city, and told her to pray for me – and that He would be pouring out a spiritual blessing on me soon.

Was this God?   Was it her disorder speaking?  No matter.  I listened.  And what unfolded was amazing, beautiful, and odd.  This precious sister in Christ prayed over me in a powerful manner.  Uninhibited.  Certain of God’s provision.  Not as concerned about her own circumstances as she was being obedient to what God had told her to do.  Somehow, God used this guest of the center to speak to me in a strangely wonderful manner.  In the end, it did not matter whether she was “of sound mind” because what she spoke was truth.  It was a humbling experience to witness God’s powerful use of someone that society might consider “the least of these”.  My eyes were opened again to the truth that He uses vessels of all types – and the ones most malleable in His hands are indeed the most useful.  I pray that my faith will be the same childlike faith that can be used – arms wide open – to minister to whoever is put in my path.

Friday, January 31, 2014

What a Ride!

     Wow.  January has been a trip.  Literally.   Week to week food needs.  Increasing families needing assistance.  Weather.  Need I say more?
      This January, we saw 10% more families than last January.  And that was in spite of two holidays falling on normal service days and two other service days being disrupted by weather conditions.  I cannot even imagine how many families would have been served had we been able to be open those additional days.  It really is evidence of an ever-growing need for food security among our neighbors.
      In 2014, we pray that not only will the resources continue to be supplied for helping families in need, but that our methods of interaction and service will become more effective to help families to realize their potential as creations of an Almighty God who "knows the plans He has for us, plans for a future and a hope."  Even as we continue to provide a friendly peer to peer atmosphere to demonstrate God's love, we are keenly aware that for individuals stuck in the mire of poverty, there needs to be an additional encouragement to become aware of God-given potential and how to use it instead of being dependent on others.  Dependency is demeaning - no one wants it.  Even as Christ followers, we constantly struggle with the idea that humility is the virtue that Christ desires.  As we continue to be "providers who seem to have it all together" giving to "those in need" ,the phenomenon of elevating ourselves, however unintentional, and deflating others is perpetuated.  It is when working together, alongside each other, that true change can occur.
      So as we continue in 2014, I pray that the steps we take toward more effective ministry will be God-led, in His time and His way.  Today, a great example occurred.  Four mentors met at Smiley Court Community Center for the 1st m&ms Bible Cafe of 2014.  Initially, even after door to door surveys and weeks of flyers circulating, we had no young moms.  But we prayed.  And within 30 minutes, in walk two young women.  Once we introduced each other and began talking, the openness, honesty and beauty of the Holy Spirit's presence was so evident, we left there "walking on sunshine" and praising God.  And the young women were enthusiastic and promised to bring more friends next week.  To God be the glory!
      I'm praying that everyone experiences God's peace and presence in 2014.


Ways You Can Partner with Forest Park Ministry Center

* Have a food drive in your church
(get list from Donna)There is a dire shortage!
* Hold a Baby Shower for new moms who come to

the center; we need supplies for 12 layettes by October!
* Be a prayer partner and pray for our guests needs
* Need larger sized mens and womens clothing

must be in very good condition
*Hold a Paper supplies shower for the center

*Need a data entry volunteer once a week
*Need a small desk for the receptionist in the waiting area