“For I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat…”
These are the words of Jesus found in Matthew 25:35a as He explained to His disciples the difference between sheep and goats. His sheep follow Him and do the works He does, which involves feeding those who are hungry. On April 20, a group of sheep came together to feed the hungry of Robertson County with a food distribution hosted by Purpose Life Church in Springfield, TN.
The event included a partnership of various groups who came together to care for people. Purpose Life Church Pastors, Arlin and Kris Smith, joined with Dr. Paul Graden, Executive Director of Mid-Cumberland Community Action Agency and member of Purpose Life Church, school personnel and students, a local employer, and others who care about the community. Approximately 280 families received food boxes that would feed a family of four for three to four days.
Purpose Life Church hosts food distribution days as money is provided. The church received a government grant through Second Harvest Food Bank for this food distribution day, and funding has been provided through United Healthcare in the past. Mid-Cumberland Community Action Agency receives money from the Community Services Block Grant, Low-Income Energy and Housing Assistance Program, Weatherization Assistance Program, and Head Start. Their goal is to empower people and communities toward economic independence. By partnering together, the two organizations were able to identify and assist people who needed food, rent/mortgage assistance, help with energy bills, healthier and more energy efficient homes, affordable child care, and assistance in moving from poverty to self-sufficiency. In effect, the two organizations were able to help the entire individual or family unit – physically, financially, mentally, socially, and spiritually.
Pastor Arlin Smith is Chaplain of the Tennessee Firearms Association, Chaplain of the Robertson County Republican Party, and a school bus driver for Robertson County Schools. His influence in the community has given him the reputation as “Pastor to Robertson County.” People look to him for leadership, wisdom, and spiritual guidance because they know and trust him. His wife, Kris, organizes the food distributions to make sure things flow perfectly. In addition, she leads children’s church and manages the church office.
According to Pastor Kris, the objective in hosting the food distributions is to help feed people in the community. “Many don’t qualify for government programs, but life happens. Sometimes, people who are working need help, too, or they know others who need help and are unable to come. We serve anyone, regardless of income,” explained Pastor Kris. They have found that the food distribution days help build community in two ways – with those who need help and with those who volunteer. Both groups are able to bond through the efforts of a common cause. In fact, several people who volunteered needed food, and Pastor Kris had a group dedicated to preparing food boxes just for them.
Other groups joined to partner for the event, as well. Lisa Cobb, Parent School Homeless and Foster Care Liaison, helped man a table and promoted the event with the families she serves. Electrolux brought flyers advertising job openings within the company. The East Robertson County High FBLA, led by teacher Beverly West, also helped man tables, fill boxes, and clean up after the event.
Ultimately, the Father blesses those who are recognized as sheep, according to Jesus. For sure, a community was blessed through the partnership of organizations who cared enough to truly feed the hungry. Apparently, there are a lot of sheep in Robertson County.