The bags of food were packed each week by a group of volunteers. Health information was placed in the bags such as “How to Improve Your Immune System” and Covid GLOW tracts. | Courtesy Madlyn Hamblin

November 12, 2020

With funds low and volunteers few, a Community Services Center steps out in faith

In March, 2020, when Janet Allen, Director of Jackson’s Community Service Center, realized she would need to shut the doors of the Center because of the Covid 19 pandemic, she felt conflicted and worried.

Most of her staff were over the age of 50. There were great needs in the community. Yet she knew she needed her staff safe—as well as the clients they served.

Janet recalled, “I talked to Pastor Raymond Torres (pastor of the Jackson Church in Michigan) and he suggested we begin praying and seeking God’s guidance.” The church elders also began praying. In the meantime, Janet watched what other Community Service Centers were doing, using the food distribution drive-by method.

Miraculously, God began opening doors for serving those in need in the Jackson community. A food bank in Battle Creek called Janet and offered distribution guidelines plus food at a very reduced price. At the time there was little more than $900 in the client food account. Janet met with her staff, and a plan was devised that the Center would open to the public as a food distribution drive-through. When the word went out that volunteers were needed, several young and energetic members of the congregation offered to help. A total of 25 people (young and older) showed up for the first drive through food pantry on May 2, 2020. The drive through lasted for 24 weeks and an average of 74.54 families were served weekly.

Janet and her helpers prayed again for funds as their money had run out. Again, God worked. The Center applied for and was awarded a Federal Government Emerging Food and Shelter Program grant for $2,418.00. The Michigan Conference gave a total of $4,109.00 The Center also received food donations from the Jackson Summit Seventh-day Adventist Church. A “Because it Matters” program in Jackson Country, donated food. Miraculously many individuals and churches in the county (not of our faith) sent money—just out of the blue. When the drive-through ended on September 29, 2020, a total of $44,725.00 (a semi-truckload) worth of food had been given out.

The bags of food were packed each week by a group of volunteers. Health information was placed in the bags such as “How to Improve Your Immune System” and Covid GLOW tracts.

Each person coming through the drive through was asked if there was something specific they would like to have the team pray for. Everyone was assured they were all prayed for each week. A few very stressed folks, for one reason or another, wanted prayer at that moment. Feedback was heard of answered prayers.

The volunteers learned there were very caring neighbors among those going through the long line of cars each Tuesday. One week there were over 80 cars in line. One lady cooked for two needy elderly shut-ins and because she had been using her credit card to pay for food (since her employer had reduced her work hours) she asked if she could get food. She later brought pictures of the people she was ministering to.

One family who were served began attending church. Church members who shared what the Jackson church was doing, were excited to see their neighbors and friends affirming them in this ministry. 

“My faith was very increased,” said Janet Allen. “It was amazing what God did and how He provided when we stepped out in faith.”

Madlyn Hamblin is a member of the Jackson Church, located in Michigan.