Rick Nabors knows what it’s like to have someone meet you at your point of need. About 30 years ago, an evangelism team from Mount Zion Baptist Church, Alexandria, knocked on the door of his home, and his life has never been the same.
“I knew them from the community and knew that they were good people, church people,” Nabors said. “From that visit, my wife and I received that gift of eternal life, and our lives changed.”
These days, Nabors thinks about that every time he walks out to someone’s car at Baptist Service Center North in Anniston. As he talks with them and hears about their family’s need for food, he knows the food he can give them shows them that the volunteers love them and want to help in the name of Jesus.
“When we give this food, it’s giving us an opportunity to present the Gospel,” said Nabors, who served on staff at Mount Zion Baptist for years before retiring and moving to Leatherwood Baptist Church, Anniston.
The center — a ministry of Calhoun Baptist Association — is able to meet the community’s immediate need for food with help from Hunger Offering funds. It’s one of 52 ministry centers around the state that use funds from the Hunger Offering, according to state missionary Kristy Kennedy.
“Ministries that receive funds through the offering help feed people in their community who are food insecure,” Kennedy said. “Ultimately our goal is to meet the physical need people have while meeting their spiritual need for the bread of life.”
For Baptist Service Center North, the need has only intensified during COVID-19, said Janice Scheitlin, who directs the association’s three service centers.
“This year has been such an unusual year,” she observed. “We have seen people we’ve never seen here before.”
They’ve seen many grandparents taking in children and grandchildren who can’t afford food or rent. They’ve also met people looking for food to help them stretch their limited income as far as they can. Those same people are asking for help finding jobs.
Nabors said he remembers one woman in particular who pulled into their parking lot soon after businesses shut down last year.
“She had tears in her eyes,” he said. “I knew her. I knew where she worked. It wasn’t a glamorous job, but she could pay her bills. And that had been taken away.”
She wept, and Nabors assured her they could help.
Scheitlin said that’s what they want to continue to do, but in moments where funds are down and the need is great, the shelves get bare and they can only offer limited help. They want to do more, because not only does it help people who are hungry, it also offers a chance to reach people with the Gospel when they’re more open to listening.
“Oftentimes when things are going well, people have a shield up,” she said. “But when difficulties come, they realize their need for God, and that’s the first time they will allow you to share the Gospel. We need to take every opportunity fully because we don’t know if we’ll see them again.”
That’s what Nabors did that day with the woman he recognized as other volunteers bagged up food for her from inside the service center.
“I said, ‘What we’re going to give you will last you for a few days, but there’s a story that I want to share with you that will last forever. It’s changed my life, and I believe it can change yours as well,’” he said.
Jim Jones, another center volunteer from Leatherwood Baptist, said he’s humbled every time he gets to share that same story through a rolled-down car window in the parking lot.
“Nobody’s here by accident; God leads them here,” he said. “The physical needs have to be met first, and after that, some will receive Christ.”
One day, as Jones was walking one woman through the story of redemption, he got to the part about Jesus’ crucifixion, and a young girl in the back seat rolled down the window and listened intently.
He was able to pray with her and get her a Bible for tween girls.
“Our responsibility is to sow the seeds, and God gives the increase,” he said. “God draws people here.”
The suggested date for the Hunger Offering is Sunday, February 21. For more information and promotional resources to assist you with collecting the Hunger Offering in your church, contact Ministry Assistant Lori Lockett at (334) 613-2304, email@example.com, or visit alsbom.org/hunger.