On Saturday April 9, The Journey Church had an amazing opportunity to partner with Woodside Elementary School and the Maryland Food Bank to distribute more than 35,000 pounds of food to the Glen Burnie community. Woodside PTA President and Vice President, Don and Tina Williams, are active members at The Journey, and rekindled the relationship between the church and school last fall. Our congregation supported the local school in their Fall Festival by collecting turkeys for their Thanksgiving food distribution and hosting a recent Parent/Teacher event at the church. When the church was contacted in March to see if we would host a community food distribution, partnering with the school and foodbank, we were thrilled. A little coordination, faithful volunteers from the school, our congregation, and Pastor Graylin and his crew from The Dome (a sister church in the New Life network) and a whole lot of God showing up made for an incredible event.
When we scheduled the event for April 9 and enjoyed 80 degree temps the week before, I don’t think any of us anticipated facing freezing temperatures, sleet and snow that day. When asked if we wanted to reschedule what was to be an outdoor event, we rolled up our sleeves, changed our plans, and put a lot of faith in God to work out the details. Our congregation is about 50 people and the logistics of pulling off an indoor change was slightly daunting. Of course, there was also a fear that the bad weather would keep needy families away, and then what would we do with a tractor trailer full of food that was dropped off to us with no way back to the food bank? However, the thought of families going without trumped any concerns and fueled determination.
Dedicated volunteers from both organizations made quick work of turning a parking-lot event into a successful indoor distribution. Drizzle, cold and a few minutes of sleet and hail accompanied setup as we unloaded thousands of pounds of food from pallets outside to create an indoor food warehouse of sorts. God showed up in a way that only He can – 30 minutes prior to our distribution time all the rain and sleet cleared and remained that way for the duration of the event. What a testimony to others as it rained all around us for the entire four hours, while our parking lot and all the families going in and out, as well as our volunteers who were managing traffic and distributing frozen food from pallets outside stayed dry.
I was speechless as I stood in our sound booth watching hundreds of people in need come in and receive not only canned food but frozen meats, fresh fruits, juices, baking goods and more. Many volunteers were “shoppers” for the families, collecting the foods they wanted, carrying them and taking them out to people’s cars and loading them. Others manned a hospitality station, providing coffee, hot chocolate and juice to families. Still others watched children so a parent could make it through the bustling food area, all while school volunteers handled all the official paperwork and check-in for the food bank and plugged into each area helping wherever they could.
It was such a great day for the church and volunteers. There were definitely some personal high notes for me. The first, being able to help out Pastor Lynette Thomas at Emmanuel Wesleyan in Baltimore by filling two of her vehicles full of all kinds of food. Her church is truly serving on the front lines of ministry in the heart of the inner city of Baltimore. Ministering to the least and the lost with a faithful heart is what Pastor Lynette does, and she often uses her own funds to stock the church food pantry, which is emptied daily. That God gave us the opportunity to help out, even just a little, was humbling. The biggest God moment of my day, however, was walking in the door and seeing a family – two women and several children, looking very uncomfortable and out of place – the women were in hijabs and stood out at the most crowded time of our day. I have background in Middle Eastern Studies and speak a little Arabic, but many languages are spoken in Muslim countries. The Holy Spirit prompted me to go and offer them a cup of coffee and I did – and as the daughter turned to the mother and repeated my offer in Arabic, I was able to open up a dialogue with them, speaking in their native tongue and putting them at ease. I became their “shopper” and as we went through was able to point out culturally appropriate foods and have conversation – about juice for their boy, about the cold weather, and more. As they thanked me, I was able to, in their language, express how grateful I was to get to serve them. As they pulled out of the parking lot I stood amazed – who but God could arrange for two Muslim women to come into a Christian church to get food provided by the state government, all while allowing a female Christian pastor, who happened to speak some Arabic offer a cup of coffee, opening the door for conversation, allowing me to be His hands and feet. I intend to become a regular at the 7-Eleven where one of the women works and, I can’t wait to see what God does there.
At the end of the day, the Maryland Food Bank provided 37,000 pounds of food, delivered to our church doors for our community. More than 50 volunteers from the church and local elementary school were able to distribute that food to 546 people, feeding 303 families, in four hours. God held back the rain and snow while it literally fell all around us (within blocks) throughout the day. PTA Officer Amy Twigg said this, “Compassion and empathy filled the church that day. Connections were made and people were not only fed but fulfilled, all through the selfless work of volunteers. The Journey Church has been a catalyst to the improvement and bonding of our community…The Journey Church congregation were a joy to work with side by side to make this event a success. Their actions, for that day and every day, exemplify the phrase, ‘Treat others as you wish to be treated.'” Let me say that our church was blessed to work with such a dedicated group of parents and teachers, committed to make their community better. We will continue to build our relationship as we partner in serving our community.
Our mission at the Journey Church is to reach into our community with the love and hope of Jesus Christ, inviting all to the journey of abundant life in Him. We are grateful God gave us the opportunity to do that in such an incredible way. His favor leaves me in awe and anticipation of what’s next. Written by Pastor Jenn Lagacy, The Journey Church.