Broken hearted, down cast people often come knocking at the food pantry door of a church or organization in need of food. Job losses, gas prices, health issues, relationship problems, finances, often weigh heavy on the hearts and minds of those hurting and hungry. Yet God has allowed churches and organizations, everywhere in the United States, the capability to offer food through a food pantry ministry to help their neighbors in need. What is so wonderful about a food pantry ministry is people in need of food physically also need spiritual food as well. Once they have entered into a warm, loving, welcoming environment such as your church doors, God's spirit should be allowed to take over. Conversation should be light, encouraging and uplifting as if Christ himself is being served.
God's word, the Bible tells us in Romans 12:13 "Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality." (NIV) Being hospitable sometimes takes practice, especially in a church setting that is busily being pulled in many different directions. But Jesus' walk on earth example to each of us is he always stopped and took time to be with people. People who were lost, hungry or sick always felt as if they had his undivided attention which ultimately led them to a relationship with the Heavenly Father.
Giving physical food to a person who is hurting is just one way of meeting their needs. As Christians and followers of Christ, we should be challenged by Jesus' hospitable example to intentionally lead them to a relationship with God. Offering to pray with them, sharing the gospel or giving them a Bible tangibly allows them the opportunity to sit at the table of Christ for all eternity.
Yes, food pantry ministries are designed to give physical food but let us each be challenged to take this ministry to a higher level that will elevate the kingdom of God. Hospitably serving and sharing Christ with others in such a way that they will know they have been in the presence of Christ.
Marty Girardier is the author of the book "How Shall We Feed Them?" A Practical Guide for Organizing a Food Pantry. Released by Winepress Publications in February 2010, this book is a great resource for any church that would like to begin or revitalize a food pantry ministry to be a blessing to their church body and community.
As a weekly contributing devotional writer for Circle of Friends website, she also has her own blog entitled Pantry of Praise. Written to inspire and encourage those in the food pantry ministry.
Living in Cheseapeake, Virginia and married to her high school sweetheart for thirty-six years, she and her husband John have two grown sons, two daughter-in-laws and two grandsons.