The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA), the international humanitarian arm of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, partnered with the North American Division’s Adventist Community Services to help relieve the hunger crisis in the Carolinas due to the impact of the coronavirus.
Back in March, when businesses and schools began closing due to the spread of COVID-19, parents who depended on free school lunches suddenly found themselves without a source of income or means to feed their children. To combat the hunger crisis, some churches in the Carolinas found a way to promote evangelism through food pantries.
“ADRA donated $10,000 to be divided between 10 active food pantries,” said David Graham, community services director of the Carolina Conference. “A box of cereal may be $3 in the grocery store, but food banks can obtain the same box for less than 50 cents. Ten thousand dollars will go a long way in feeding hungry people in the Carolinas.”
The Charlotte Spanish food pantry helps 2,000 families on average each month.
“We started only making small boxes of food,” said Francisco Tadeo, ACS director of the Charlotte Spanish Church. “We did it with the belief that we could make an impact in the community. We let God use us as His vessels to serve the underserved. Ten volunteers became 60. A few pounds of food became 1.4 million pounds, and suddenly we were the largest distributing department in Mecklenburg County. Our ultimate goal is to make a difference in someone’s life, someone who perhaps was laid off due to COVID-19, or someone who was already struggling to make it and has now seen even more difficult times. We do not judge, we serve.”
A few weeks ago, Tadeo says he got an anonymous prayer letter:
“Dear Jesus, You know my necessities and know that I don’t have money, but I ask you that you will bless everyone who helps donate this food. I hope You not only bless me, but all others who need food as well. Please bless every one of the volunteers at this church. Thank you, Jesus, for Your love and mercy. You are holy and majestic. Your word says, ‘Ask and you shall receive,’ and I asked for food, and today You are giving it to me. Please forgive me for not being able to donate money, You know what I’m going through right now. In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Amen.”
Other community services reported similar experiences.
“The funds were a real boost for our crisis ministry,” said Marcella Sampayan, community services director of the Foster Church in Asheville, N.C. We assist the disadvantaged through different programs throughout the year. The pandemic has changed our normal routine, but we are still able to serve the clientele that visit our facility each week.”
Sampayan and her volunteers provide a drive-through food distribution every Tuesday morning, serving a to-go hot breakfast and pre-boxed food items to those in need.
“With tears in their eyes they thank us and tell us what a blessing we are to them,” Sampayan said. “But, what they don’t realize is the blessing they are to us. One lady just happened to be dropping someone off near our facility and saw what we were doing. She asked if she would be able to get a box of food, and said that she had just separated from her husband. She and her small children were living with a friend, and she had no income except the small stipend from taking people to their appointments a few times a week. She was so grateful as she hadn’t known what she was going to do when all this happened.”
Sampayan continues, “Another person who came seemed ashamed that he needed to ask for help with food, but he was reassured that it was okay — sometimes we are in a season of need, and sometimes we are in a season of plenty. He was in a season of need. His words wouldn’t come, but the tears in his eyes spoke his gratitude. A kind word and a smiling, masked face as we greet our clients can make a world of difference — this is God’s ministry to those in need, and we are honored and grateful to be a part of it.”
Graham agreed, “Church pantries are badly needed now. They have become a blessing center and are an avenue to establish relationships for the Kingdom. They are a connection with the people since churches and many ministries are temporarily shut down,” he says.
Read more about the ADRA and ACS partnership at https://bit.ly/aCsFD62420.
Carolina | January 2021