Well, here goes the most nervous post I’ve ever written but what happened in the last year is something I still can’t figure out.
I don’t know how to tell this story without it making it look like I was a cool person that made it happen. We all agree this had nothing to do with me being smart or clever. I mean, hey, you know me; I talk to chickens. I can’t be that bright.
Here’s the story:
Y’all know my faith is important to me but after 20 years of talking about my faith as a minister, I decided that once I left the pulpit, I’d rather show my faith than talk about. I do the things I do because of my faith, not to advance my faith.
As Covid was ramping up and society was shutting down, I suggested in a post more than a year ago that we look for miracles. It’s my experience in having traveled to some of the poorest places in the world that in times of duress, miracles happen.
Two miracles happened to me. Remember, I did nothing to make them happen and am still trying to figure out why they happened to me, but here they are.
On April 28 of last year, I started a Facebook group called Shop Kansas Farms that exploded into something no corporation, nonprofit, government agency or clever marketing campaign could ever make it happen. In the last year, more than 147,000 consumers learned they could buy their food straight from Kansas farmers and ranchers. I cannot explain this any other way than by saying it was a miracle.
Most of you know that I’ve been engaged in meal-packaging events since 2009. If you’ve never seen one, imagine a gym filled with 25 assembly lines with 10 volunteers around a line – made of 2, 8′ tables end-to-end, packaging dry ingredients into bags that get boxed and delivered to food banks for the hungry. My son, Isaac, and I work for The Outreach Program which has meal varieties like Mac and Cheese, Cinnamon Apple Oatmeal and other tasty, nutritious meals.
But did you get that part about using volunteers? Yeah, well, when Covid hit, that shut down that kind of model; events were cancelling left and right. We didn’t know what we were going to do.
Then, Katie Stockstill Sawyer connected us to Hutton Construction in McPherson who had several folks they wanted to keep employed and engaged but couldn’t send them out on jobs. They asked if we could design a safe, socially distanced way they could package meals because food banks were in dire need. So, Isaac, who has pulled off the logistics each year for multi-city events engaging thousands of people on 9/11, came up with a safe way to do it. The fancy term is “we pivoted.”
Long story short, on this day, one year ago, we began packaging the first million meals with the Kansas Division of Emergency Management utilizing the Kansas National Guard.
To date, between the Nat’l Guard, Hutton, numerous churches in Kansas, Kansas Electric out of Newton (500,000 meals) and even a brand new machine made just for this, Isaac and I engaged thousands of people in packaging more 13 million meals in one year.
I don’t know what to do with all of this. I don’t know what it means. Other than I believe they were both miracles.
One of the miracles stories in the OT was about a donkey suddenly talking. The donkey just happened to be the one it happened to. I feel like that donkey.
I believe God talks to us. No, I don’t hear a voice but I do watch for the unusual.
I believe God is talking to us through these miracles.
That SKF started on April 28 and I started packaging the first million meals with the Nat’l Guard on April 29 is not a coincidence.
One thing both had in common; the food system broke and people were going hungry or facing fears that the grocery stores might not fill up for a while.
I leave you with this verse from Isaiah. It’s been my why, my guiding verse since a 5-year-old starving girl in Nicaragua crawled in my arms 20 years ago and asked me to feed her.
Isa. 58:10 – and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.