Caring for the poor, needy, suffering and outcasts
A few weeks ago, I taught a Sunday school lesson to the Jr. High students. The lesson was about caring for the poor, needy, suffering and outcasts. The person who wrote the lesson stated that Jesus is drawn toward people who are hurting and suffering because they truly understand their need for him. The author went on to say that they don’t “have it all together,” and they recognize their need for a Savior. Part of our discussion focused on this idea and the questions: “Do those who are hurting and suffering understand their need for a Savior more?” and “Do we as Christians rely more on Jesus when life is challenging as opposed to when everything is going well?”
As I prepared for the lesson, I thought about those I encounter on a weekly basis. The first to come to mind were friends and family followed by the families I see at the food pantry. Many would consider the families I encounter each week at the food pantry to be in the poor, needy or suffering category. While there is truth to this, there is much more to each and every person the advocates meet with. We get to see something more than the need that brings them to the pantry for food. We get to read the section of the form where you can request prayer. Each person can choose to be prayed with during their visit, request prayer over the next month or both. This section often reveals an amazing relationship between the person we are sitting with and our God. On one women’s first visit she wrote, “For God’s will and protection from spiritual attacks. Eyes to see them for exactly what they are when they come.” A very stressed woman the day before a major surgery wrote, “ I know that God has control of every situation that’s present in our lives.” A gentleman who trusted in God while living in his car struggled when diagnosed with terminal cancer. After some serious doubts if there is a God his only request was, “God’s will be done.”
We also have the privilege of participating in some beautiful conversations. One conversation that comes to mind is when one woman shared a prayer God whispered to her to bring her comfort when she found out her daughter had stopped the chemo treatment that was not working and would only be a part of this world for a few more months. She prayed to him for “An ocean of love, a lake of compassion, a mountain of joy and the energy of the wind”. The peace radiating from her as she shared these special words showed an amazing connection and level of trust in her Lord and creator. Months later her daughter miraculously received clear scans and is doing well!
The last glimpse into the families we serve each week is about a woman who, on each visit, would tell the advocate she met with about how Papa was working in her life. When she first came to us she was living in her car but would talk of the lessons Papa was teaching her and how he was providing for her even in her current circumstances. As we continued to walk along side of her during this difficult time we saw Papa provide a roof over her head and continue to answer the prayers lifted up on her behalf until she no longer needed our assistance. To this day she is the only person I have met who feels God’s love in such a deep and profound way to refer to him as Papa. The joy radiating from her each time she spoke of the great love Papa showed for her in all situations spread to all of us who met with her.
I am not sure if those considered by many as poor, needy or suffering truly understand their need for a Savior anymore more than anyone else, but I am sure the verse “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them" holds true at the Come To Me Food Pantry.
Head Food Pantry Advocate