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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Groceries - deadline 8-23-12 10 am NY time (08/16/12)

TITLE: Grace Items
By Lisa Johnson


Grace Items

Some days I feel so sad. Here lately, nothing seems to go right for me. I had a pretty good job, but then I got down in my back and couldn't work anymore. My husband up and left me with four little babies at home. I guess he just got tired of the struggle.

It's so hard, especially at night when I'm putting my babies down to bed, knowing we haven't had anything to eat. I can do without, but it tears my heart right out of my chest to hear my babies crying themselves to sleep, hunger gnawing at their bellies. I'm just about at the end of my rope. All I've got left is my pride, and pride won't fill a hungry child's belly.

I've got a friend . . . she's been telling me about a place called the Ministry Center. She told me there's folks there giving free food and clothes to the needy. I've been sitting and starting at the empty cabinets all morning. I don't really want to go begging . . . but I'll swallow my pride 'cause my babies have got to eat.

~ ~ ~ ~

Land sakes, I've been nervous as a cat all day . . . but now . . . I don't know if I am going to laugh or cry. My friend took me up to that place . . . the Ministry Center. I thought those folks might be a bit high and mighty, you know, “holier than thou,” looking down on someone like me. They were as nice as could be . . . all smiling, and hugging . . . and acting like they really cared . . . like I really mattered.

And I can't believe what all I got to bring home for my babies.

They start off with a sack of staples. We got bags of rice and beans, canned meat, canned vegetables and peanut butter. Let me tell you, rice and beans may not be fancy, but when you've gotten used to being hungry, it's like the best meal you've ever tasted.

Then came the bags of special stuff. They call them “grace items.” You should have seen my babies' faces when I showed them all of the fresh fruit, baked goods, kiddy cereal, and all kinds of nice groceries that I sure can't afford to buy. My sweet babies won't go to bed hungry tonight.

While I was at their place, I saw a homeless man. I know he was homeless, because I've seen him before, living under the Twenty-first Street bridge. They treated him kind and dignified-like. You'd have never thought he was just an old street bum the way they treated him. Those Ministry Center folks gave him a backpack chock full of bottled water and foods that don't need to be cooked or kept in the 'fridge. He was smiling, same as me, when he left that place.

Best I can tell, from talking to some of the others who came in to get groceries, twenty-five to thirty families come through every day that the center is open. I can't imagine the groceries that these people
give away.

They tell everyone who comes in that Jesus is why they do what they do. I never thought about Jesus that much before . . . but they told me that Jesus loves me and my babies, and talked to me about needing to be saved. It's hard to listen to preaching on an empty stomach, but somehow . . . with every bite of food on my table . . . every bite that fills my babies' bellies . . . I'm gonna think about what they told me.

~ ~ ~ ~

It's quiet in my house. No babies crying from empty bellies tonight. My belly is full tonight, too. But, you know, I'm feeling a different kind of hunger. My mind keeps going back to what the folks at the Ministry Center told me about Jesus. They told me if I confess my sin, and ask Jesus to come into my heart, then by the grace of God, I can be saved. Grace . . . I think that's what I'm hungry for now. . .

Dear Jesus . . .

* * * * *

Author's Note:

The Ministry Center is a Christian based ministry located at the Allan Davis Building in West Tulsa.

The Ministry Center provides . . .

Quality clothing
Staple food items
Vouchers for prescription medication
Christian guidance and life counseling
Legal counsel clinics
Summer programs for children

The Ministry Center
312 South 33rd West Avenue
Tulsa, OK 74127

Alice Bones, Director

Scripture References:
Romans 3: 23
Romans 6: 23
Romans 5: 8
Romans 10: 9-10
Romans 10: 13
John 1: 12
John 3: 16

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This article has been read 378 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Leola Ogle 08/23/12
I love stories about ministry. God bless all who work and volunteer for these organizations! God bless!
Verna Cole Mitchell 08/23/12
My heart was touched by this story.
C D Swanson 08/24/12
Beautiful and so touching. Thank you for this piece, it made me smile. God bless~
Karen Pourbabaee 08/24/12
Such am authentic yet sad story... touched by the grace of God through others.
I liked your title!
Laura Manley08/25/12
This story put a HUGE smile on my face. What a wonderful down-to-earth type story that I know happens so often. I love this kind of story because it shows the love of Jesus. I found nothing to point out to you in your writing other than you used the word starting for staring. Other than that, this is truly a delightful story. I like the way you talked in the story. Excellent writing!
Margaret Kearley 08/26/12
This is wonderful. It is beautifully written and really touched my heart. I love your ending - 'I think that's what I am hungry for now.' Thank you for this.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 08/26/12
This is inspirational. So many are embarrassed to ask for help. How blessed we that can help are and even more so are we blessed that Jesus doesn't see us as we really are. Our hearts much like the street bum in your story. But Jesus treats us with respect and love. Now to pass it on. Beautiful story.