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Praying For The Community

Today was a food pantry distribution day and today wrecked me in holy ways. Three of us walked the line of waiting cars and prayed with those waiting for food. We try to “keep the prayers short” so as not to cause unnecessary delays in keeping the line moving. Today, though, today delays were necessary. Today, people needed to talk. Today people needed to share their burdens and they just couldn’t hold them in any longer. 

Praying with those who come for food distribution is always beautiful and powerful. Today was…more. Many we prayed with were weepy, teary, and tired. Many are sick/injured and need physical healing. Many talk about the brokenness of their families. I asked one woman if there was something specific she wanted prayer for and she said, “no.” So I put my hand on her shoulder and prayed that she’d know in a real way how much God loves her. When I started to move away, she grabbed my hand and pulled me back, tears flowing down her cheeks, as she told me about her son dying just a few days ago. Another shared about her daughter having had a miscarriage recently. One of the men asked for prayers for healing as he showed me his arm. It was covered in lines of stitches, 49 stitches from a dog attack. He’s unable to work and is worried his employer won’t hold his job. Several widowed, elderly men and women whose children have long moved away from the Valley. They ask for prayers for their kids to have full, wonderful lives, even though they are lonely with no help here in the valley. Some come and sit in the line multiple times because they have sick parents, disabled siblings, neighbors who couldn’t come, or shared a ride with a few other families but we only give one bag per car at a time. 

Every car represents at least one family and many stories of, at best, difficult circumstances, and at worst, the most heartbreaking of tragedy. It’s easy to look at the car, the people inside, and tell ourselves, let ourselves think, “they have a nice car, they don’t look like they really ‘need’ this help. They’ve come through the line at least twice, when is enough?” If you aren’t lucky enough to be praying with people, hearing their stories, its easy to allow our minds to distance ourselves from the deeper needs and the overwhelming reality that they need our compassion as desperately as they need groceries. Any one of us could be in their place next month. Some of us have been in their place before.

We had a few cars come after we had stopped distributing food. Fortunately, I had some of the Walmart gift cards handy to offer them. One woman pulled up and I walked toward her, starting to explain we didn’t have groceries, but we could offer a gift card. She looked at me and said, “I knew we would have missed the food, but what we need more is prayer. Will you pray for us?” My heart filled and broke from being too full at the good thing God was doing and from the understanding that the people in our community are really hurting. 

We need more people to help pray on food pantry distribution days. Will you help? We need Spanish speakers to help pray. Will you help? We need men to help us pray. Will you help? 

Will you be a witness to the stories of the people in our community? Will you help tell the stories of God at work in our community? 

Praying for YOU 

Pastor Michelle 

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