With all the bleak headlines we continue to see, it’s easy to wonder if there’s any good news out there. This week, we head ‘On the Road’ to a corner of the Upper Midwest where we’ll find that real hope is plentiful.
Faith Temple Church is a congregation of around 200 on any given Sunday in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Five years ago, its’ Pastor – a good man named Jeff Hayes – felt he needed to do something to help address the financial difficulties that so many of his neighbors were experiencing in the midst of ‘The Great Recession’. For a growing number across the community, simply putting food on the table was becoming impossible. So Pastor Jeff & his church followed that nudge, and began giving away food each week to those in need.
For the past five years – in partnership with many individuals, businesses, and ministries in the community – those in need in the Sioux Empire have been be blessed each week. On a typical week, around 500 people come to accept free groceries, baked goods, produce and more. Pastor Jeff explains that from humble beginnings with tables of food set out in the church parking lot, the community has come together to support and assist the outreach in really incredible ways.
You can head to the bottom of this post for my full chat with Pastor Jeff Hayes, or check out these highlights from our conversation first.
Pastor Jeff takes us back to how his heart was first nudged toward this need & the unlikely conversation he had with the leadership of the local food bank.
From that starting point, we go along the ride for the remarkable growth that the food giveaway has experienced. Along with an increase in the number of people coming to the giveaway came increased partnerships with community organizations and new locations capable of holding the expanded event.
While the physical food is being given away each week, the folks at Faith Temple make themselves available to those who come. They pray with those who are willing & also share their faith when the opportunity knocks. Pastor Jeff describes this intersection of physical and spiritual, and why it’s so important to him.
With the sheer numbers of people coming to the event, was Pastor Jeff surprised at the people he was seeing? Were their walks of life & even the cars they drove what he would have expected?
Along with the stories of people impacted by receiving food comes the profound impact that this ministry has had upon those who serve as volunteers at the giveaway. Pastor Jeff observed a profound transformation experienced by one of the volunteers when he discovered a new perspective.
And now here’s our full conversation with Pastor Jeff, with much more insight on this tremendous outreach and lessons for those in other communities who may be called to do something similar.
Featured image via Faith Temple Food Giveaway’s Facebook page