Original Entry Date: May 6, 2017
Written by: Jonathan Stufft

It would be easy to say that a produce distribution is about giving out food. We have it. People want it. Make the exchange, then get on with your day...

But, as God shows us time and again, that is not what our produce distributions are about. Our produce distributions are about three things: relationships, relationships, and, you guessed it, relationships. Today was no different.

A later-than-usual delivery of food could have raised tensions. The crowd of people gathering to wait for food could have brought anxiousness. The looming clouds and strong winds reminding us of the threat of rain could have given us flashbacks to last week’s downpours and soggy feet.

But, none of that happened. None. Simply because, our call is not about the logistics or the worries. Our call is about relationships. Period.

When you take more than thirty people from various religious affiliations, community organizations, and local businesses and try and get them to buy into a common goal of any kind, you can expect conflict. Yet, that is not the case. We seem to all be ignited by a common vision that, while often unspoken, is well known. Our work is about relationships.

We began with a story about just how nice it was to have the pouring rain to teach us last week. We shared how the rain forced us to play host by running to and from cars with umbrellas. Those same umbrellas brought us into intimate conversation.

It was a lesson. A reminder. A refocus.

We shared that today was a restart for how we do things. We had been hyper-efficient in months prior. Boxes were packed and waiting. People were in and out quickly. We were machines.

Yet, something was lost. There was not time for talking. There was not time to get stories. Today would be going backward in order to continue to move forward with what God has called us to do.

With little more than a minute of sharing, we had reset the tone, and the results were nothing short of amazing.

A large line had formed as word had spread about our distribution. Each one of our volunteers greeted the person, shared an introduction of names, and then walked down the line to gather food, talking all along.

Familiar faces showed. Hugs were exchanged. Stories were shared. Relationships grew. It wasn’t the most efficient movement of food, but it was the most efficient sharing of love. Not one person in line grumbled. In fact, the lines of people were often engaged in small conversations with each other as they waited.

Smiles were bountiful. Laughter was prominent. Sharing was contagious.

What we saw happen this day was that reminder that we needed. It was that underlying reason for the passion about what we do, and why we do it. It was God at work in us, so that we could be His work in others.

What could be laborious hours of work flew by like a night out with old friends that you really didn’t want to end. It’s those three R’s that drive us. It’s those three R’s that keep people coming back. It’s those three R’s that make people open the door and smile when we knock. It’s those three R’s that generate hugs from one stranger to another. It’s those three R’s that spread smiles like wildfire. It’s those three R’s that keep our adrenaline pumping hours after the event ends. It’s those three R’s that make the countdown to next month’s distribution start at the last delivery of this month’s distribution.

It’s those three R’s that define Matthew 25 Outreach Center.

Relationship. Relationship. Relationship.