This story from a breakout session this morning reminded me what God can do if we allow Him to move in our lives. What a powerful testimony.
Don and Diana Lane found themselves new to Amarillo, with few possessions after Don’s liver transplant left them with few resources. Still, the family felt the call to reach out in ministry, and placed their trust in God to show them how this could possibly happen, given their situation.
The family rented an old warehouse in an extremely depressed section of Amarillo, and built a home on the second floor with any scrap materials they could find. Eventually, they covered windows, so the pigeons no longer laid eggs on Diana’s mattress, and found they had a safe living space. Seeing the neighborhood kids interested in a family working on rooms in an old building, Don took his last $16 dollars and bought candy for the kids. They devoured the candy and asked for more. Don realized there was real hunger in this community; both physical and spiritual.
The next week, Don and Diana cooked hot dogs for 60 kids and saw children hiding food to take home for later. Hunger was clearly the issue here. Immediately after, the couple started the City Kid Café, one of the most innovative outreach programs of it’s kind. Not knowing where the food would come from, God sent resources in most unlikely ways. The very first day a Bluebell Ice Cream truck drove up to the door and told Don his refrigeration unit was broken and he wanted to donate his inventory to the café. Food appeared in this manner frequently until hunger assistance groups, like Feed the Kids, came on line with help.
The ministry grew until the Lane’s could no longer feed all the children in their building; so they began delivering food to over 1,400 kids every week. They put together volunteer groups of 75 youth and young adults who made the deliveries. The volunteers came from Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana for weeks at a time to serve; and the ministry is now booked with volunteers for years.
As the children received nourishment, the Lanes developed Bible study for the children, and visited a new section of the city each week until they’d worked with over1,500 youth. The ministry grew and now produces a television show, with time bought by local businesses, documenting their efforts.
The ministry doesn’t feed homeless adults, or give cash to adults. Too often the money will buy drugs or the food will be traded for drugs; the Lanes want to make sure they kids are fed.
Today the ministry is thriving and even expanding. New Sunday School classrooms will be added with a recent expansion. The ministry has built a park, and taken back a section of the city. Kids come to participate in activities, including a climbing wall and climbing competitions.
The Lane’s know they’ve made a difference and have seen groups from other communities come to Amarillo to copy their outreach model. But the best piece of advice Diana has for anyone contemplating an outreach ministry is the advice that worked so well for them, “Start with what you have and don’t wait until you have what you think you need to start.”