1 Sam. 2:8 “He raises the poor from the dust, He lifts the needy from the ash heap to make them sit with nobles, and inherit a seat of honor; for the pillars of the earth are the LORD’S, and He set the world on them.”
For the past year, we have had the pleasure of seeing God love the poor in our city, and the honor of being the ones He used to show that love. Every 2 weeks, we put together food bags, and distribute them throughout the center of the city to the poor people on the streets. For the first 9 months of this ministry, we took 15 bags, and that was enough to give to all of our regulars and a few new people we would meet…..until one Saturday in September.
On this particular Saturday, we followed our normal routine with 15 food bags, only to get into town and find that a group of 12 new women had heard of us and were waiting at our meeting place for a bag of food! They have continued to come, and we have started taking 25 bags of food each time, and increased our distribution groups from 3 to 4, so that one group can solely focus on this group of women, developing relationships with them.
After we finished distributing food on that Saturday in September, we were in shock by what had just happened. In one day, in one minute, God had almost doubled this ministry! It wasn’t something we were seeking or asking for, but God just did it.
When we started taking 25 food bags every two weeks (and usually having no problem giving them all away), we knew the church would not be able to afford to buy more food bags than they already were. So, we began to take a basket to church and have asked the people to bring non-perishable items to church. The people have been generous and it has eased the financial burden on the church and allowed us to continue making more food bags. Each food bag costs less than $5 to put together, and depending on how many people live with the recipient, it can last the full 2 weeks between distributions!
Please continue to pray for this ministry and the people we are ministering to. We now have 5 people coming to the church from the poor ministry. One of the ladies we have talked about before, Lyusya (she is one in more dire need than others, and chooses to dig through trash bins for bottles to recycle for money, rather than beg on the streets), started coming to church after we had known her almost a year. She is one of our biggest joys. When we first met her, she was very distant, didn’t want us to touch her, and if we talked about God or prayed for her, she would close up even more and look upset. Over the past year, though, she has grown to love us as we love her, tells us we are the most special people in her life, hugs us when she sees us, allows us to pray for her, and now even comes to church! God’s love does incredible things and changes lives! Maria is another lady who comes to church on occasion; she says our church is still a little strange for her (because we aren’t a catholic church), but she does still come. Natalya, one of the ladies who started coming to church, gave her life to Jesus on His Ukrainian birthday (Orthodox Christmas), January 7. Praise God! Please pray that she would grow in her faith and understand God’s truth, being released from many of her cultural, Orthodox beliefs and superstitions. We don’t hide our faith from the people we meet, but they also know that they are under no obligation to come to our church. Many ask us when they receive the food bag if they have to come to our church to receive help, and we make sure they know that God’s love is unconditional – as is the help we give them. But, we let them know they are welcome whenever they want to come! Please pray that each of these precious people would understand the love of the Father, and respond to that love by finding salvation in Him.
This ministry has brought us more joy than we ever thought it would. We are so grateful for the honor and privilege of seeing God ‘raise the poor from the dust and lift the needy from the ash heap‘.
Thank you for your support* the past year and a half, which has enabled us to live here and made it possible for us to serve the poor and see them coming closer to God through the power of His love.
Bria, Lindsay & Krista
*For information on how you can make a financial donation, please go here, to the ‘About’ page.