Have you ever been really hungry? I don’t mean missing a meal but, rather, not being sure where your next meal was coming from.
I, personally, have never really experienced genuine physical hunger; however, each day I get the chance to meet people who have been, or are now suffering from a lack of food.
Many times it is this hunger and a need for shelter that bring these individuals to the door of Atlanta Mission: women, mothers with children, and men – all in great need.
See, most everyone can remember meal times, sitting around a table with others who care about them. It’s more than food we need, it’s someone to listen, to care, and to provide hope for the troublesome circumstances of life. Now, we all need physical food, of course, but deep inside it’s sometimes the hurt of the hunger for hope and encouragement that is most painful. A hunger that food can’t satisfy.
Each day, we serve nearly 2,500 meals to nourish hungry bodies, but we spend all day working to provide hope – hope that we know only comes through the love of Jesus Christ.
This summer, we have been growing vegetables in our gardens at The Potter’s House and in the Mission gardens in downtown Atlanta. Those working in these gardens will tell you how they love getting in the dirt, watching plants grow and then experiencing the excitement of the harvest – a harvest that provides wonderful food to clients and staff. See, you can’t work in a garden and not feel hope in the miracle of watching things grow.
For some, it is the hope they feel as they work to prepare meals each day. If you visit an Atlanta Mission facility kitchen, you’ll see people preparing meals that are more than just food on a plate. These times are opportunities to feed the bodies and nourish the souls with hope and love. These kitchen workers see meal preparation and serving as a way to combat more than one kind of hunger.
We work hard to serve food in a manner that provides more than just a healthy eating experience. At meal time, we want to demonstrate love, serve others well, and create an atmosphere where clients feel cared for and valued.
I talked with one of our men who had served another man. The man receiving the meal, a new arrival, had the look of someone deep in despair and hopelessness. The server said to me, “How can he even start to have hope when he hasn’t eaten in days? Hope that day was in the food and words I shared with him.”
So, as you can see, God uses food not only to provide sustenance but also to deliver hope to us as we grow food, prepare meals, serve those meals and eat at table together. In John 6:35, Jesus said, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” Our hope is that in every meal served at Atlanta Mission those hungry people will see Jesus.
Thank you for your generosity helping us provide nearly one million meals each year. The food we serve is more than just fuel for weary bodies. It is God using us to provide His hope to desperate individuals. We couldn’t do it without you!