|Posted on December 10, 2013 at 3:05 PM|
It was Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving 2013. Several folks were gathered in the basement kitchen of the church - as in recent years past - chopping onions and celery, mixing herb dressing, baking pumpkin pies and the sorts.
It was our calling this time of year to prepare cooked Thanksgiving meals packed with freshly cooked turkey, stuffing, hot mashed potatoes and gravy, pumkin pie with whipped topping and more...
We had so much to be thankful for!!!
As freshly cooked turkeys, cooked by local ladies in the church and the community, were being delivered you could hear the clanging of can openers opening cans of green beans and mushroom soup fill the room. The aroma of sizzling onions, celery and butter in the pan for herb turkey stuffing filling not just in the small basement kitchen, but the whole church had been filled with that warm comfort of the holiday season..
Foam trays were being packed full of warm dripping turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie and more. The trays were packed into boxes for delivery to local folks unable to cook Thanksgiving dinner for themselves for various reasons.
As the cooking and packing started to wind down and the delivery stage was gearing up, Pastor Craig pulled everyone together to pray for the food and the people receiving it and they bowed their heads and prayed as a group.
Just before they began to pray, there was the familiar clang of a closing steel door upstairs and we heard foot steps coming down the stairs. There, standing at the bottom of the stairs and through the door, was a young man, maybe in his late thirties, looking in at us. He had on a tan canvas coat, no gloves, a back pack over his shoulders, a knitted hat on his head and a ripped paper bag in his hand.
Walking over to him, excited, thinking he was a volunteer wanting to help, we asked "Hi can we help you?".
In walking to him he said something, but I couldn't hear what he was saying. He was timid coming in, so walking over to meet him in the small basement foyer alone, again I asked "What can we do for you?".
He replied," Do you guys have some sort of food pantry or a clothing store here?"
He was a very soft spoken man, naturally humble and meak in nature. When first walking over to him we were expecting him to say, "I am here to help, what can I do?", but that didn't happen - there was a pause - what do I do?
I stood there looking at him totally stunned - not expecting to hear something like this from him. Knowing full well what he had asked the first time and fumbling around in my head - for what felt like the longest minute - I asked, "I'm sorry I didn't hear - what do you need?". As he repeated himself, a million thoughts ran through my head. What should I do, how could we help him. In my head, I tried to visualize each and every room in the church. What could we get him. I thought about what I might have in my van - was there anything there? Nothing - what do I do?
When he finish repeating himself, I remembered we had some food in our little pantry. Looking at him, we offered "You know we do have some food in our pantry you're more than welcome to." At that moment I remembered the ladies saying we had extra turkey with all the trimmings with pie and all from the prepared meals we were doing. "You know, we have freshly cooked turkey here. Would you like a hot Thanksgiving Dinner?" With a slight hesitation he said, "You know I think I would".
Yelling into the kitchen and interrupting the prayer Craig was praying, "Hey we have a man here looking for one of those famous turkey dinners." . Craig, looking at me strangely, but catching on quickly, reached his hand out to shake his and said "Hey come on in - whats your name?". "Chris" he replied.
All of the workers in the kitchen were staring and stunned as I was in the beginning. One of the ladies quickly caught on and,"I have a dinner on the way let me heat it up!" Taking Chris to the little food pantry in the other room, "Chris let me show you what we have." Opening up the two cabinets, "Chris you're welcome to anything in here. What do you like?"
Chris was very meek and was very humble.There was no sign of any greed in him to grab as much as he could for tomorrow. I handed him a can of Progresso Tomato Soup. I then picked up a can of Progresso Cream of Mushroom Soup - "Do you like this?". A pause, "Let me see that," he said, he grabed it and handed the tomato soup back. "You can have both". Chris replied, "No this will be good - thank you."
At this very moment I looked at this man and I realized - oh my word - I am looking right into the eyes of Jesus. At this very moment I realized I am standing on HOLY GROUND. At this moment I realized as I am holding the can of soup that Jesus held. I didn't know what to do... I was in total awe... I touched the hand of Jesus... I am standing next to Jesus.
There is a song "I Can Only Imagine" - what will I do on that day when I see Him, I can only imagine. I always thought I would fall to my knees face to the ground unworthy to look at Him. Now... on this day...Jesus is in front of me - I could only stand there paralyized, unable to move, unable to speak trembling with awe wanting to speak out to Chris and call out to him - Jesus to see if he would respond - nothing would come out of my mouth.
"Chris are you sure you don't want more - there are stews, vegetables, oatmeal and more. You are welcome to it". "No this is good - Thank You." Chris replied.
As I walked Chris out to the kitchen for the hot dinner, he turned to the foyer and very politly took his coat off and hung it on a hanger, politely removed his hat and placed it into his coat pocket. He gently walked over to the counter with the chair and sat down and proceeded to eat. Ever so gentle and ever so polite, he ate his dinner and pumpkin pie. He was quiet and didn't speak much. He didn't look around much, he politely answered any questions we asked. When he finished, he got up and said thank you. When we asked if he wanted to take a turkey dinner with him he politely said, "No, that's ok. Thank you".
He walked into the foyer and put his coat on and we asked if he wanted to take some small bottles of water with him in his back pack. He said, "No, I should be good" and he then pulled out a small old crumpled plastic Pepsi bottle 2/3rds filled with water. We had to force him to take a couple of the bottles we offered. When he put the bottles in his back pack there were only two packs of Ramin soup and the can of soup he agreed to take from the pantry. He place his hat on his head, said thank you for everything and went on his way.
The next day Pastor Craig and I were talking, "You know Craig I kept looking at his hands the whole time and he didn't have any gloves, It didn't click in then, but he didn't have any gloves and it was cold." Craig said, " Shoot! I wished I noticed we could of given him one of ours".
At that moment we both knew we need to do something. Craig said, "We should fill a room with important needs and call it Chris' Closet".
I sit here and wonder how often we go through our every day lives and just walk past Jesus not reconizing him in our element - at work.. in the grocery store.. in the mall.. or just out to dinner. How many times have I done it just in the last week or two?
During this Thankgiving week God honored us with the privlage of serving well over 60 Thanksgiving dinners. During this week we met many awesome, deserving families. There are many needs right here in our own community.
There is one mother of three children living in the back of a two family home. The home is in forclosure, the front is vacant and locked up by the bank. The heat is controled by the front apartment and the gas is shut off. The young mother with her three kids are in the back with space heaters and no stove keeping warm waiting till the banks come in and pull them out. She had been paying rent prior.
This is only one of many families that we didn't know about - this could be right next door to each and everyone of us.
"Chris' Closet" is looking for donations not just to fill the food pantry, but also collect gently used, clean or new gloves, scarfs, sweat shirts, hoodies, socks and sweaters to help keep warm.
A drop off point is the Hazel Park Community Center at 620 W. Woodward Hgts, MI 48030. Folks needing a bit more to keep warm can choose from the items or they can call CityEdge Church at (248 ) 765-4361. To make an on-line donation click here: http://www.thecityedge.org/visitus.htm
"For the least you do unto my breatren you have also done unto me." -JC