Putting A Face On 254,000 Meals

Numerically speaking, yesterday was extraordinary in the life of Good Shepherd United Methodist Church.

2400 people . . .

prepared & packed & loaded . . .

254,232 meals . . .

in just under five hours.

We had a preposterous goal of 250,000 meals and by God’s grace and the goodwill & high energy of this community of faith, we exceeded it.  We call these efforts Radical Impact Projects — and radical it was, both in scope and in spirit.

Except — as is the case with most ministry — I didn’t feel the real impact of the numbers until I saw it in a face.

After we had worked and packaged and boxed and cleaned, I was walking to my car & thinking how good that shower would feel when I got home.  That’s when a young woman — relatively new to Good Shepherd — began walking with me and said, “I am so glad I got to do that work today, because that’s the kind of food that used to be delivered to me.”


It turns out this woman was a native of Liberia (which I knew), had to flee the country’s civil war when she was an adolescent (which I did not know), and spent four years living in a refugee camp in Mali (which I definitely did not know). Mali, in case you’re not up-to-date on the demographics of West Africa, has essentially no infrastructure, no economy, and no natural resources . . . and she had to flee there to escape the carnage in Liberia.

And for four years, she lived in the squalor of a tent city full of fellow refugees, surviving on the kind of Meals Ready to Eat we prepared on Sunday.

By a miraculous series of events, she received asylum from the US government, settled in Charlotte, and landed at Good Shepherd Church.

Where she spent a morning alongside 2599 fellow followers of Christ preparing 254,232 meals for people just like her.

And you wonder why full on, full color is a core value of Good Shepherd?  You wonder why we celebrate that we have this rare privilege of living out Revelation 7:9 in real time?   After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.

Because will it not be marvelous . . . will it not be radical . . . will it not be all people . . . when five or ten years from now a refugee who eats one of the meals we prepared today winds up worshipping at Good Shepherd United Methodist and participating in a future Radical Impact Project?