Multiplying the bounty

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GRANITE SHOALS – What began with two shelves of food at First Baptist Church has blossomed into an effort that feeds more than 4,000 people a month.

Through a series of events that sounds like God’s multiplying the fish and loaves to feed the 5,000, hunger outreach leaders Roy and Mary Lou Guerrero have watched as they say God has brought the congregation resources beyond their wildest dreams.

By partnering with the area food bank and a grocery store as well as working with volunteers from the church, the congregation has received thousands of pounds of food that it distributes within hours of receiving it. Last month, the church served roughly 4,500 people from throughout the Hill Country through its food pantry, called Joseph’s Storehouse. Slightly more than 5,000 people live in Granite Shoals.

The Guerreros say the need for food has increased in recent months as the economy has faltered. Construction jobs in particular have been difficult to attain, leaving families without a way of supporting themselves and adults and children without enough food to eat.

“Hunger is unacceptable,” Roy said. “We have dealt with many challenges during that process. I just have a passion that we feed people that are in need. Right now, the children need us.”

The congregation’s commitment to care for those in need embodies the spirit of Texas Hope 2010, an initiative of Texas Baptists to pray for others, care for those in need and share the gospel with every Texan by Easter 2010. First Baptist Church receives some funding assistance for its food pantry from the convention.

“The hunger ministry outreach by First Baptist has changed not only the lives of the people of the community who are physically hungry it has offered the hope of the gospel message to them. But this effort has also changed the church and their understanding of who God is in their lives, their church, and their community,” said Tomi Grover, director of community care and restorative justice for Texas Baptists.

“God did something special in 2009 through this ministry. They started with 10 volunteers in January of 2009 and in November they had 60 people serving! God honored their commitment to feed the hungry and has grown their faith as if He placed “Miracle Gro” on their efforts.  God’s anointing has expanded their vision and their capacity to do more than they could ever have imagined. He has brought favor from others in the community and multiplied their efforts through those new relationships.”

Mary Lou said the church is following the biblical teaching to reach out to those in need. In recent months, the food pantry has added a limited supply of clothes and basic household necessities to provide families additional assistance.

“The Bible tells us we need to first take care of the widows and orphans,” she said. “Then we need to love each other and our neighbors. The community is our neighbors.”

The outreach blesses the Guerreros as it blesses those it helps. Mary Lou said she doesn’t think she’d “be happy doing anything else.” Through Joseph’s Storehouse, she sees God move to care for His people.

“When I see them, it doesn’t get any better than this,” she said. “I’m seeing God work. I’ve seen God multiply things. Last year for instance, we had 24 turkeys for the distribution for Thanksgiving. It was like OK God, you’re going to have to take care of this …. Sixty-seven families left here with turkeys and we had one turkey left over.”

“What it means to me is God loves us so much, He’s providing in abundance.”

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