When you’re desperate, usually the best news you can receive is food, water, shelter. These provisions communicate God’s presence … They convey ‘God loves you so dearly, He sent people to your rescue’ … Sometimes the best way to bring good news to the poor is to bring actual good news to the poor [Isa. 61:1]. – Jen Hatmaker, Seven
I learned about Tree of Life Ministries (TOL) and its food pantry two and a half years ago and started volunteering with them because I liked the idea of meeting a person’s material needs as a way to build a bridge to meet their spiritual needs.
One of the best examples I have of this is with an older woman named Evelyn who lives in the 16th Street apartments. Earlier this year, during one of the Local Missions outreach opportunities when we conducted spiritual surveys, David Parker and I went over to the apartments. One of the doors we knocked on was Evelyn’s. Her first instinct was to barely open the door and look at us pretty skeptically, but then I said “I know you!” and she realized she knew me too. I had taken food to Evelyn two or three times in the past year and gotten to know her. It was that basis of meeting her material needs that paved the way for David and I that day to be invited into her house, sit in her living room, and talk about the gospel with her for over half an hour. That was such a God-thing, and a great example of the connection between material and spiritual needs.
It energizes me to be a part of meeting someone’s needs, and that’s what volunteering with TOL makes possible.
I have to say though, the reason I keep volunteering with TOL is that it helps me obey God, and I see that I’m changing because of it. It helps me get outside my little circle of “me.” I see God transforming my heart each week when I spend time with people who aren’t like me. I see God transforming me each week when I am forced to confess the pride in my heart that quickly judges others. I see God transforming my perspective on my life and my time.
A number of other people at Blue Ridge have volunteered with TOL, including the Heidorn, Riese, Sraders, Frommack, and Paist families, Rachel Soltis, and EG, Mary, and Rachel Parker. I encourage you to catch up with them soon and ask about their experience, too!
Whether you’re looking for opportunities to share the gospel, or ways you can show tangible compassion to others, or you simply want to grow in your walk with God—come to our informational meeting on Thursday, February 21st at 7:00pm to learn about Tree of Life Ministries and see how you can get involved!
By Brittany Paist
Visit Tree of Life online to see all of the opportunities to minster. They are much more than a food pantry!