Saturday was Jesus Loves Memphis day, where members of about fifty evangelical churches came together all over Memphis to spread the love of Jesus to the people of this city. There were thousands spread out all over the community, but we were chosen to carry groceries to the cars of those needing them.
It was a cold, crisp morning, and just a day before it had felt like summer. A cold front had moved in over night and winter temps had set in. We had to search for our winter gear before heading out. John and I went over and collected our two oldest granddaughters, who had been up and dressed before dawn waiting on us, for they were so excited to be going to help today.
The work had already begun by the time we found the church.
The line was already long outside the door and we immediately got to work opening bags to be filled with foodstuff. Even John, who had already put in a full week at his job, was so energetic getting us all excited and ready to minister to all those the Lord brought our way.
Suddenly, Willie drove up to the door, ticket in his hand, and he seemed to know more of what was to transpire next than I. Having done this many times before, he began to instruct me.
Willie would be the only one to drive up in a wheelchair that day. His legs were long and lean and limp… useless. He was quite comfortable driving his wheelchair, so I imagined they had been acquainted for some time. I congratulated him for being our first “customer” of the morning, and that is when Willie explained that he had slept there all night to be first in line.
“All night!” I exclaimed “How did you keep warm, Willie?” I had heard my heat go on several times during the night while I was cuddled under the warm comforters, but Willie had been out all night waiting on one bag of groceries. “One bag! Was it worth all that?” I wondered. To him, I suppose it had been, for he was happy.
Others came who were over-weight; some would be considered obese. Our needy seem well fed in this country. Some came smoking and others smelling of alcohol and I thought, “Surely a carton of cigarettes cost more than this bag of groceries.” But as quickly as the thoughts were formed, I was convicted and felt shame… I am not here to judge my brother, but to HELP, and I quickly asked the Lord’s forgiveness and said, “Give me your eyes, Jesus! Cause me to see these as You see them.”
Suddenly, the need was so large! So much greater than a bag of groceries! All of a sudden these bags of groceries seemed like applying a tiny band-aid on a festering wound. I thought of the words of Mother Teresa, “We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked, and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the GREATEST poverty.” I realized the need was so much greater, and so I began to pray for each one. “God bless each one…Lord meet their needs especially their need to know Your love, the love of a Savior. May they know the love of the One who gave ALL for them.” They were completely unaware of what is being asked for them, but Jesus knows and that’s all that matters, for our God is ABLE!
Little Jenna, just seven years old, stayed by me and followed me in carrying the groceries out to each car. She kept watch over the line and would report when it would go down and when it would grow again.
Kate, already ten years old, took a spot at the table where she could collect each coupon and give each one the groceries due them. Little Kate, who often seemed shy with strangers, had set all her shyness aside and boldly ministered to the needy as Jesus would, making her grandparents proud until finally the needy stopped coming before even the food ran out and our work there was done.
We gathered our things and headed to our van. Katelyn, with a skip in her step, shared how very much she had enjoyed the day and asked several times when we’d be able to do it again, and I thought, “Lord, You are already raising up the next generation to be Your hands and feet. To God be praised!”