I have been deeply impacted by this fall tour with Pocket Full of Rocks already. We have done two weekends, but one night each week has really devastated me. The other nights were wonderful as well, but these two really challenged me, so I wanted to share them with you.
The second night of the tour we were in Wilmington OH at Joe’s Java. We were walking in expecting a small possibly trendy coffeehouse and were quite surprised to find a full venue actually housing the best sound system we’ve had on the tour so far. But much more surprising was that the coffeehouse is really just the front for a soup kitchen. That is really who they are and what they do. They feed 200 people a day in a town that lost 8,000 jobs last year. And even more impressive is that they can really cook. They don’t just open a Sam’s size can of Campbell’s soup for some homeless people; they actually cook. They treat these people with respect and truly value them, giving them the best they have to offer. I swiped a recipe for Italian chicken soup and couldn’t quite talk my way into the recipe for the meatloaf. Seriously, it was incredible. One of their cooks, Frank, told me a story of a lady who called one day trying to reserve a table, not realizing it was a soup kitchen, because she had seen that it was the 3rd highest rated food in town. Last year Rachael Ray heard about this place, came to town, shut them down for 9 days, and completely renovated their kitchen. I think she should have stolen their meatloaf recipe. And many of the people serving came off the streets through this ministry. They understand the lives of the people they are serving and truly love them.
Then this last weekend we visited Henning TN. Henning is the poorest county in the state of Tennessee and yet they fed us like kings. We drove way out into the country and finally found Victory Baptist Church up on a hill. We pulled around back, and as I got out of the van, I smelled the most wonderful aroma coming from a huge grill. I quickly made friends with Eddie, and got to taste a rib before they were done. He had worked on them for two days. Amazing. My favorite rib place in Memphis has nothing on this guy. It was incredible. But before we could get to that food, they fed us lunch of incredible soups. Then the ribs were for dinner. And banana pudding. But more importantly as I talked to their pastor, he started sharing with me stories of the needs in their community. They believed God had put them their to love and invest in their people but they had no money. So they asked themselves, “What do we have?” And the answer was land. 19 acres of land. So they planted a 7 acre garden. To help feed their community. Incredible. So humbling. We were honored to be a part of their worship that night, just to be a bit of encouragement to them. Not nearly the encouragement they were to us.
I can’t wait until the day when Jesus looks at these people and says, “I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.” And they will answer, saying, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?” And Jesus will say, “Truly I say to you, the meals you prepared, the respect you showed, the food you grew for the least of these, you did it for me.”