You know how some people you meet you just hit it off immediately? That is how today was when I had to meet my new friend, Kim! We had no idea who each other were but within a minute we did not take a breath. She was fun, outgoing and joyful - the kind of people I like to be around! I tell you that to tell you it was hard to believe the beginning of this story.
Kim had been a graphic designer and loved what she did. However, she was laid off on two different times by the same company. After the second lay off she decided she was not that good at what she did. Eventually she felt like she could not do anything. Finally she had dug herself in a hole that she could not get out of. After a year and a half not working, she was depressed. She “knew in her brain that she had to turn her focus on something else to make her situation better.” But she just could not feel it in her heart. Until….God spoke to her and told her, “get up and go help someone less fortunate!”
She was aware of Nourish NC at a middle school behind her neighborhood. She knew it was a backpack program that provides weekend meals to over 200 children in New Hanover County who would otherwise not get a nutritious meal outside of school. She decided to walk over there and help them pack bags of food for children to have on the weekends. At the same time she was in a small group at church and they were trying to figure out what project their group could do. They decided on Nourish NC which entails inventory, picking up the food and packing the food. After a while they decided they could partner with Nourish NC and have their own group. She became excited and even used her graphic design knowledge to brand Courage To Nourish. As I talked to Kim, I could feel her compassion for this ministry.
672 children in New Hanover County are classified as “homeless.” 5,155 children live in poverty. 1 in 4 children go hungry each day. “When a child suffers from lack of nutrition, it creates a ripple effect in the child’s life, classroom, and neighborhood community. It doesn’t just weaken the child, it weakens us as a nation. It’s not ‘just their problem’, it’s ours.” Matthew 25:35, “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.”
Pine Valley United Methodist Church funds Courage to Nourish through the monies from the virtual lilies at Easter and the help of the United Methodist Women. In the beginning, 20 students were fed each weekend, and now they feed 38 each weekend. I shared with Kim that I remember at the end of a school year I would be excited for my kids to get to go on vacation, go to the beach, and have a fun summer like I enjoyed as a child. After getting involved in my daughter’s kindergarten class, I began to become sad and pray at the end of school for those kids who school was their safe haven. They had food and were safe at school.
Every Friday the kids at Alderman Elementary get their bags of food. While Kim does not get to see or know who the kids are, she has heard some heart warming things through the years. She said one little boy got his bag of food, rubbed his tummy and said, “my tummy’s going to be so full!” I thought of how most kids would have found something in the bag they did not like! Kim also shared how some kids, who do not need to receive food from this ministry, help their parents realize that not all kids have a refrigerator or cabinet full of their favorite things. They just want something to eat! Kim says she feels that so many seeds are planted in those bags of foods. I think so many seeds are planted for the givers and the takers!
Why does God require us to plant a seed? Because planting is an act of faith. You share your gift with someone else. It brings glory to God and blesses you. Kim says this is what lifted her spirits and got her out of depression. It did not change her circumstances but it changed her focus. Our love put into action is like a mustard seed planted in the ground. It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of all garden plants!
While we may not ever know all the stories of the children who are fed through Courage to Nourish, we do know how Kim’s story ended. She found a passion in feeding children who would have no food on the weekends. She has planted the seed and she has been rewarded by the blessings it brought her. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 3:6-8, “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor.”
Footnote: Kim now has a new job, so she needs help with Courage to Nourish! If you would like to plant seeds for God through this ministry please contact Mark Edquid at the church office.