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A Food Pantry at Judson Baptist Church
Transformed by the Spirit – Ministry Story Opportunity
Judson Baptist Church, Flint, MI
Isaiah 58:6-7 says “Is this not the fast that I choose: … Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,… and not hide yourself from your own flesh” ?
At Judson Baptist we truly believe that providing food for the hungry opens the door for sharing the gospel, praying with and for others, loving them as Christ loves us and leading them to the Lord.
Although many Michiganders will face shortages of food, water and perhaps shelter in the coming year, there will be an even greater need spiritually as individuals realize they are missing a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. We must be there to encourage and support them on a larger scale in both venues. What an opportunity for congregational transformation through mission outreach!
We literally started our food pantry in a closet. The church provided some finances to purchase food from the local food bank to get us started. From time to time someone would ask for help feeding their family and we would give what we had. Humble beginnings indeed!
After a period of time, one of the women from our church was seeking God on how He might use her and her resources. It was then that He directed her to sponsor and oversee the food pantry at Judson Baptist Church. The need for assistance for food for families increased. Soon two freezers and one refrigerator were donated. . Two assistants have recently been added to this team to help meet the increasing needs of this ministry.
We are now serving twenty-four to twenty eight families per month; providing a healthy, substantial food basket that is designed to provide enough food for complete breakfasts, lunches and dinners for two weeks. In addition to food, we also provide paper products, cleaning and laundry products, and personal needs items as available. We put nothing in our monthly baskets that we wouldn’t eat or use ourselves.
At Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter Judson gives each family a special “gift” in their food basket. These gifts are provided by local restaurants and grocery stores, by donations from individuals in the church and from holiday fundraisers. Gas cards, gift cards or specialty foods such as a ham or a turkey are examples of what a family might expect to find in their holiday baskets. This gesture is simply a way to say “You are special” and “We love you”.
Primarily, our foods come from the local food bank and a local grocery store. As we meet with each family to give them their monthly basket, we talk with them, sharing the love of the Lord. We also pray with them personally and direct them to other resources as needed. Several have accepted Christ as their personal Lord and Savior as a result of this ministry.
While we continue to minister in this way we are also preparing for the days ahead. It is the mission of Judson Baptist Church to provide quality monthly food baskets to those, both in and out of our body, that are in need. We further state that we will be prepared to do the same in emergency situations; whether individually or locally, as we reach out to a larger number of families.
Judson works in co-operation with the American Red Cross, using our facility as an emergency shelter during a disaster. In the past year we have partnered with them to provide assistance to residents of a group home when their facility burnt to the ground.
The people we serve have limited incomes, many struggles and lots of need. They don’t have money to prepare emergency kits for their own homes and families. We at Judson would like to help them by providing an emergency kit for each family, in exchange for two hours of their time, volunteering at our food pantry.
The kit will include such things as: a Bible; a flashlight; matches in water proof containers; toilet tissue, paper towel and tissues; a non-electric can opener; paper and ink pens or mechanical pencils; WATER; ready to eat canned foods and juices; tuna, beans and rice; plastic storage containers, aluminum foil, garbage bags; soap, disinfectant and hand sanitizer; and a small first aid kit. Many of the items listed above will be accessed through creative fundraising.
In addition to these emergency kits we will have baby food, diapers, blankets, inexpensive charcoal grills, battery operated radios, extra batteries, pots and pans, utensils, dishes, and silverware available in our food pantry to distribute on an as needed basis. We believe that the friends and members of Judson Baptist Church are being challenged to work out our faith as never before. We must prepare ourselves, God’s Family, to freely use the gifts that God has bestowed upon us. It is imperative that we expand our capacity to respond to the needs of others in our church and in our community. Together, may we celebrate the work of Christ’s church and the leading of the Holy Spirit in the midst of changing times.
The people at Judson Baptist have a strong passion for outreach ministry and we think big! Perhaps our biggest challenge in meeting the needs set before us is where we live and serve. Burton, a suburb of Flint, Michigan, has a very hard economic climate. In fact, it’s one of the worst in the nation.
Although the food pantry is a line item in Judson’s annual budget, we also have various fundraisers during the year. We solicit local businesses in the community for support, and rely on members and friends of our congregation to give as they can. We have found that we still need to be creative in our fundraising efforts.
We need help and more than our current resources. Please keep us in prayer as we trust that God will work to supply our need and reach our community for Christ.
Gregory A. Rowan, Senior Pastor