“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!