Thursday, February 08, 2007

Ben--part 2

I had to ask Ben to leave. You can’t see it from there, but he has quite an inflated ego and we could not get along with each other. I'm guessing that whoever he was with last, got sick of him, and that's why they put him in my mailbox. The only reason I agreed to work with him is because I have a ton of respect for Al. I had to do a lot of editing and rewriting for Ben, but he did better than usual, because most of the time, I find him to be quite flat.

So let’s talk about the multiplication of dollars that go to the food pantry.

Basically, the directors make a purchase from the Northern Illinois Food Bank. Their investment makes a chain reaction that I will loosely describe for you. The food program will, of course, get a good return for each dollar. But they don’t only get the items they purchased. The Northern Illinois Food Bank also makes donations, based on their surplus and how many people each food program serves.

Local restaurants like KFC, Olive Garden and Panera do their share as well. For example, have you visited Panera? Do you remember all those fresh-baked breads and pastries? They can’t keep them overnight, so on Wednesday night, the local Panera empties its shelves and puts all of that good stuff in large plastic bags for our food program. At the end of every business day, they must donate it or toss it out.

A nearby Red Lobster test marketed plateware. They ran their program and when they finished collecting their data, they contacted the food pantry to pick up vanloads of free dishes. The pantry volunteers counted and sorted the dishes, and there were 55 sets of dinner plates (6-each), soup bowls, dessert bowls, saucers, cups, and other things like platters, salt & pepper holders, sugar holders, and more. Mrs. Craver tried to come up with a dollar value for the plateware. She figured that the whole shipment would have retailed at $4,500, at least! ($80 to $100 X 55)

Volunteers come to the church throughout the week to stock shelves, fold clothes (The clothing closet resembles a thrift store with racks and all!) and do a lot of behind the scenes stuff to make it all come together. It has been so cold outside, that For now… and son brought a crockpot of delicious homemade soup for our guests.

My part at the pantry is to make sure that we all get the connection this ministry has with God, our provider. You can’t put a price on what God does when we pray about people’s hurts and especially the presentation of the gospel. At the Christmas meeting, 25 people said they placed saving trust in Jesus Christ!


Llama Momma said...

Maybe this could be your Sermon on the Mount picture. Hot chocolate, pastries, and the poor in spirit.

Just a thought.

Anonymous said...

What a fantastic ministry, Craver! This captures the true spirit of following Jesus on so many levels.

Craver Vii said...

I just heard that Anna Nicole Smith has died. I feel bummed. I’m sad for her, and I’m sad for people who wish they had what she had. The pursuit of the American Dream does not usually end well. The greatest fulfillment we can have in our lifetimes is to be in the center of God’s will—even when we suffer, we have much to rejoice about.

These are my seven cravings: My Bride, Prayer, The Lost, God, His Word, His People, His Service/Ministry. When we relentlessly pursue such goals, and have a sojourner’s mindset rather than a settler’s we find joy in the journey.

The food pantry ministry is a gift from God, because it touches each of my seven passions in some way. I grieve over people who cannot find such a fountain of purpose, meaning and fulfillment. I wish I could tell them that what they need is Jesus.

Anonymous said...

Craver, I'm so glad I read the comments on this one because I was touched by what you said here about the American Dream.

This $100.00 thing is really challenging me. I find that I want it to be something really special and creative--and I almost use that as an excuse to do nothing. Like someone said a few months ago in this project, we bury our talents on accident.

L.L. Barkat said...

[aside] Can For Now bring her traveling crock pot here?

Anonymous said...

Craver...what a blessing for you to be able to give to a ministry so near and dear to your heart!! God is good!!

Oh LL you really wouldn't want that!! I really am not a very good cook. It is by the grace of God (TRULY!!) that the soups I have been bringing to the food pantry have turned out so well.

Craver Vii said...

Yes For now..., you're absolutely right. It is a blessing from God to be able to serve there!

Last night I did some records analyzing and number crunching.

We currently average 45 guests each Thursday. Because of the hard work of our frugal food pantry directors, and the many donations by local restaurants, grocery stores and the Northern Illinois Food Bank, we only spent $200 for one month’s worth of food!!

That means that this particular $100 paid for $40 worth of groceries for 45 people… twice! ($3,600 value)

On top of that, people got hot soup, made by our dear friend (For now…), plus all the regular stuff: coffee, tea and snacks, clothing, Bibles, devotional booklets, clothing… AND, a set of plateware to all who wanted. We had plates left over, so they will be donated to our local Crisis Pregnancy Care center.

Last night, I was so busy carrying plates out for people that I did not get an opportunity to give anyone a clear gospel presentation, but hopefully, this will open a door for us to be heard.

Llama Momma said...

Craver - those numbers are amazing! Do you tend to see the same families over and over, or does it vary week-to-week?

Craver Vii said...

It varies. There are a few faces that I see regularly, but don’t get a chance to talk with. Other times, I’ll sit with a person for the first time, and we have a great talk and maybe even pray together, but some will return sparsely (I love spell-check) or don’t not at all.

As I said before, last night, I didn’t talk much with the guests, but afterwards, I talked with one of our own volunteers who is a fairly new believer. We wrestled with how to make a wise choice in a controversial situation.

Llama Momma said...

You are blessed, Craver, to have found this place of service.

Anonymous said...

Craver, what does it look like when you give "a clear gospel demonstration"? I struggle with being that bold, so I'm curious.

Craver Vii said...

Mark, I would prefer to answer with a post, rather than a comment, if that's okay.

Al Hsu said...

Ben and Craver - I'm so encouraged by all you've been doing and how you've let God use you! I'm particularly tickled by the bonus sets of dishes. That's just cool.