Standing outside the warehouse for God’s Portion, in Yelm Washington, I see crates of vegetables, Forklifts moving back and forth in the parking lot, people milling around with boxes and general bustle of the day. It’s Saturday morning and Scott May is smiling, coffee cup in hand, welcoming and organizing the activities to get food out to feed people who need it. Today, the general Western Washington region served stretches north and south from Kent to Centralia and east west from Spanaway to Olympia.
Scott attends Emanuel Lutheran church in Yelm and the Lutheran tradition has been a part of Scott’s family heritage. Five years ago, he and his wife and children began volunteering by sorting vegetables. It was all hands on deck and with Scott’s experience; he now serves as a supervisor encourager to many other hands. God’s Portion was serving about 250 people in a Saturday back then and now close to 3000 through the efforts of a variety of churches and organizations. They can always use more volunteer help as the ministry continues to grow.
Some of the recipient churches and organizations not only give the food away, but because of the consistent provision, they also serve meals to the community using the donations. In addition to working Saturday mornings at God’s Portion, Scott also volunteers to help on Tuesday nights at Emmanuel Lutheran Church where around 50 people regularly gather for a Giving Thanks Dinner. This meal service began four and a half years ago when a young teenage girl wanted to use her babysitting money to serve Thanksgiving to the needy in Yelm. She generously funded the first dinner and Scott’s family was part of that beginning. Today, in the meeting hall, volunteers serve not only food, but also friendship to the lonely and those who can use a good meal when resources are thin. No qualifications, no probing questions, just served with the Love of Christ which tears down barriers and builds hope. Pastor Jerry Collell greeted everyone warmly and asked what prayer needs people had to add to our blessing before the meal. It was genuine and comfortable.
As I sat at the table sharing dinner, I met some of the local folks who come often to enjoy this gift. These are people with stories of life not traveling a smooth well-groomed road but one with bumps and potholes, and they not so different from you and I. Part way through the meal a young man sat down next to me and told me his name was Ian. It was so encouraging to see him there. I had met him on Saturday at the warehouse moving food around on a pallet jack, and now I learned that he and his parents volunteer in both God’s Portion and Emmanuel Lutheran Church. They choose to serve. That is the delightful love of God at work.
Today Scott says with passion, ‘My heart has been changed though my service here. When I first started, I was a ‘cradle’ Lutheran. This work has changed how I view Christianity. It isn’t about my identity as a Lutheran as much as it flows out of my identity as a Christian. I believe the church has lost the important focus on Christ first and denominations second.’ Scott says that God is the manager and he is simply the hired help’. I see much more, I met an enthusiastic volunteer who is devoted to loving and serving people in Jesus name. In John 17:21, Jesus said to Peter, Do you love me? … Feed my sheep.”