Faith Stories: The Shepherd’s Market’s Second Anniversary
The Shepherd’s Market celebrates its 2nd anniversary today! I want to share some of the ways that we have made an impact during these two years.
When we opened in 2012, the Food Bank estimated that we would serve about 250 families per month. As of the end of June 2014, we have served an average of 366 families per month, and many months we serve more than 400 families. Our demographic information shows that each month we serve 550 adults, 600 children, 35 elderly and 6 homeless people. So far we have served 1,421 families at the Shepherd’s Market. Some of these families have only come once, some come every month … but all of them have an amazing story to tell about what a difference the Shepherd’s Market has made in their lives.
Just last week, I received a compliment from a pantry client that I thought you should hear. When the client came in, we had already served our maximum number of 35 families for that particular shift, but our intake volunteers felt God’s nudge and decided to serve this lady. That happens quite often – our volunteers feel God’s presence and guidance. The client had to wait two hours for her turn. I spoke with her as she was leaving … just after she was told by one of our volunteers that God loved her. By the way, that particular volunteer tells all of the clients that God loves them – and it is such a blessing to hear and witness. The client asked me to add her name to the prayer board because she has a medical condition that was worrying her, and then she asked me about the time of our Sunday services. I told her the times and I invited her to join us. She said she would love to come to our church when she could get a ride. I smiled, because I often hear this from pantry clients. But then she added, “Do you want to know why I want to come to your church? It’s because you people are ‘real’ Christians, and I want to be around people like you.” Isn’t that an amazing compliment?
If you are into statistics, you might like to know that we have distributed more than 430,000 pounds of food since we opened. Our average monthly distribution rate is 18,000 pounds of food per month and St. John’s contributes almost 4,500 pounds of what we give out. Each month we collect approximately 20,000 pounds of food from food drives at schools, businesses, other churches, the Food Bank and St. John’s. Your donations of food and money to purchase food have been so generous. It is humbling, and since I don’t always get a chance to thank you for your donations and your time, I want to tell you now – thank you! We absolutely could not operate this ministry that touches so many lives without you.
If you have not yet served at the pantry, I would like to ask, “WHY NOT?” You are missing out on an amazing opportunity that God has placed right before us. I invite you to come and see what is going on in this place – your church – every Monday night, and Tuesday and Thursday morning. I encourage you to really think about how you might use your God-given gifts to help our neighbors. Don’t worry about what you can do to help – we have something for everyone. You should see the 80-somethings that serve in the pantry! And now we have a new avenue for service in the computer room, where clients can apply for jobs and learn how to use a computer.
I know it’s not always convenient. It’s not always pleasant either – some of the work involves sweeping up, folding plastic bags, pushing grocery carts and washing dishes. Did you know that we now have volunteers who are committed to feeding actual meals to each and every client while they wait to receive their groceries? Sometimes pantry clients come by just to get a meal, even when it’s not their day to receive groceries. Why? Because they are hungry or lonely. Sometimes pantry clients come and help serve, because they want to be a part of something good and it’s a way they can give back for what they have received. Serving in the pantry is always rewarding … I will tell you, the clients are not the only ones fed. Volunteers are fed spiritually each and every time they step foot in the pantry.
We open each pantry shift with prayer – we join hands with clients and volunteers, and we thank God for his presence, mercy and grace. Come and see what it’s all about!
St. John’s, I know that we can’t feed every hungry person in our community – but we can try! And if we continue to depend on God to show us the way, we can’t go wrong. We have been anointed as followers of Jesus to bring good news to the poor … to feed God’s sheep. Thank you for answering the call to feed the hungry in our neighborhood.
“Feed My Sheep”