Story by Kaye Cagle
The hot dogs chips and beans sat on my plate. I wasn’t interested in the food because I was taking in the personalities sitting around the table… some quiet, some talkative, all polite and interested in why I was there. “I work here at MUST Ministries,” I told them. ”I come to the Loaves and Fishes Community Kitchen every once in awhile to talk to the people we serve.” They looked at me, trying to read my face and see if there was an ulterior motive I wasn’t revealing. “No, something’s up,” one said. “Where’s the survey?”
“No survey. No notebook. No pen. I’m just here to listen,” I reassured them. “Every day, I work as part of a team trying to raise money to help this ministry carry on. Our little group has to raise $3.2 million – the rest of the budget comes from grants – to be sure we’re able to serve people who need us. We want to be sure you have someplace to eat, someplace to get clothing, someplace to help you find a job.”
The crowd around the table slowly let down their guard and took me in. “I can tell you really care,” said one man named James. “I can hear it in your voice.” My eyes glistened with tears. If he only knew the depth of the commitment of our MUST staff.
The group talked about their tent city. “We’re neighbors,” James stated. “We live right by the railroad track near your office.” He was bright and articulate. He told me his story. He had a great job that he loved, but was hurt and couldn’t return to his job. He wants to find something else he loves. In the meantime, MUST is taking care of him, providing a daily hot meal, clothes and encouragement. He’s grateful. He hopes MUST will put in a washer and dryer for those who live in the woods (we’re working on it) and he needs some new boxers and jeans. But he’s appreciative of all MUST does for him – and his friends.
“I have a quarter,” he said suddenly and stood up. He pulled his hand out of his pocket, but only had a dime. “This is all I have, but take it,” he said, literally thrusting his last dime toward my place across the table. I hesitated, feeling unworthy to take it and thinking he needed it more. “Put that toward your $3.2 million,” he said with a smile, “but don’t spend it all in one place.”
“I’m not going to spend it at all,” I told him, picking up the tiny coin and looking at it intently, knowing the meaning it held. “I’m going to leave it on my desk to remind me of who I serve and why I do what I do. This will inspire me.”
I was fighting tears again. I retold the story of the widow’s mite from Bible. She gave all she had and was blessed for it. James had done the same thing.
“You just gave me a higher percentage of your income than anyone else because you gave all you have,” I told him.
“The Lord loves a cheerful giver,” James reminded me.
Yes He does, James. Yes He does.