Try to imagine your child coming to you and asking for something to eat. You look in the cabinet, refrigerator and on the shelves only to find them empty. This isn’t the first time you’ve looked or even the second or third time. There has been no food for a while but you continue to hope. You do manage to find a small jar of sweet pickles and about ten stale crackers. This is the dinner you serve your son that night.
I don’t have to imagine this scenario. I lived it. I call that night the cracker night. The fear and shame of our living situation drove me to a level of hopelessness that made me call social services to tearfully relinquish custody of my child to strangers so he would not starve. God took mercy on us that night and sent us some wonderful people that helped us. Through his Grace I was able to keep my son and begin the long road back to recovery.
We were not in that position because of drugs or alcohol or even mental illness. My husband and I had not made bad choices. Our plight had been caused by a long illness on my part that left me handicapped and wheelchair bound. My husband sadly had died suddenly and unexpectedly several months prior to that night. Our savings was gone. I was alone. I was left penniless and homeless to raise our son.
I told this story one night after service at our church Servants Heart Chapel, while we were discussing a mission task for our small congregation to assume. I explained how difficult it had been to find food when resources were so limited. When asked why I had not gone to the local food bank I explained the difficulties I experienced.
When the food bank is only open on Saturday and it is Tuesday and there is no food, where should I have turned? The local food bank allows you to return only once per month and only distributes enough for a few days. When that food was gone, where should I have turned? When you break a leg you cannot wait until Saturday to call an ambulance. If you have an ongoing health condition you do not see a physician and expect him to give you enough medication for only a few days. When your children are hungry they need fed today. They also need fed tomorrow.
Gratefully most food banks are capable of handling the large volume of those needing assistance. We have elected to work in cooperation with them to assist them with the emergency cases they may not be equipped to handle. Scheduling and distribution are complications that make it difficult to cope with one-on-one emergency cases. We have chosen to fill this gap to insure those in need have access to the basic needs of survival.
At Servants Heart Chapel We have accepted this calling and have created the Hungry Hearts Food Pantry. We are open when we are needed. Hungry Hearts is an emergency food pantry that accepts referrals from other agencies for those unable to wait for normal operating hours. We are open when there is simply nothing left in the cabinet.
We are open when God calls us to act.