God sends many good people who take care of us Lev Kovalyov is nine years old and lives in the city of Berezovka in western…
At Children’s Hunger Fund (CHF), we talk a lot about the role of the local church engaging in mercy ministry to those in need in their community. It is local churches who are being trained and equipped to serve in the communities where they already have a physical and emotional connection. It is the pastors and church volunteers who go out into their communities to bring physical resources and spiritual hope to children and families who are struggling to make ends meet.
Sometimes, members of the CHF staff have the honor and privilege of accompanying these faithful pastors and church volunteers to experience the ministry firsthand. Recently, CHF Founder and President Dave Phillips, Co-Founder Lynn Phillips, and Senior Vice President Michael Richards were able to visit our partners in one of the closed countries where we serve.
Lynn was especially struck by the relationships she witnessed between the church and the community.
“You cannot fake relationship,” she shared. “When we talk about relationship and caring for your community, this is what it looks like.”
After witnessing how the church volunteers are greeted with smiles and hugs from the children and the families, it was very apparent that the church has a powerful presence in the community, and that presence played out in different ways throughout the trip.
On one of their outings, Lynn and her group were invited into a home that the church had never visited before. The women in the family had noticed members of the church in their neighborhood and seen them visiting families and wanted to know more. This unplanned visit resulted in those two women coming to know the Lord and introduced one more family to the church.
Even in a country where there are heavy restrictions on what the church is allowed to do, God continues to create opportunities for the church to make an impact, and the church is eager to do more in their community.
“There’s a tremendous network of churches in [the country] that are ready to go,” shared Michael Richards. “There is a spirit of excitement and a spirit of opportunity.”
Michael had the opportunity to visit the home of a single mother of four. In addition to her small business of buying and reselling items, she also takes in temporary tenants. In a corner of her tiny apartment, a wooden ladder leads up to a second level where families rent the room for a few hours at a time, just to have a place to sleep.
When asked how the church could be praying for her and her family, the mother replied, “what do you mean?” She had no concept of prayer. “It’s really humbling,” Michael shared. “It speaks to the opportunity that the church has with the families.”
Dave Phillips had a unique experience at one of the homes he visited. Our church partner introduced him to Xavier, who was home with his kids while his wife was at work. Xavier and his wife had two young children at home. In addition, they care for his uncle’s children, who are nineteen and twenty-three.
Xavier went on to explain that his aunt and uncle had the opportunity to get out of the country, but they were unable to bring their children, so Xavier and his wife agreed to care for them. That was eight years ago.
Xavier shared with Dave, “I love [my country], but it is a hard place to live. It’s a hard place to raise kids. You can’t get ahead. Everybody just understands that life is hard here.”
For the past nine years, Xavier has been working with friends to get out of the country. A few months ago, some of his friends came to Xavier with an opportunity to get him and his wife out, but they would have to go that night.
He told his friends he needed to think about it. “I prayed to God,” Xavier shared. “I said, ‘God, this just doesn’t feel like it’s of You.’ I understand that my greatest call is to my family, to my marriage, and I’m not supposed to leave my kids.” He went back and told his friends that he was choosing to stay.
“I wouldn’t have said that a year ago,” Xavier said. “But my life is different today because I have a different understanding of God’s plan for my life. And it all started with the delivery of the Food Pak. That’s where my life trajectory changed—through the relationship that the church engaged with us.”
Had a church member not knocked on Xavier’s door one day and asked if he needed food for his family, he likely would have left his children in favor of freedom in another country. Had the church not been active in the community, those two women would not have asked Lynn’s group into their home and come to know Christ. Had a mother not been asked how the church could pray for her, she might never know that God desires a personal relationship with her.
We hear so many stories like these that it’s hard not to be amazed at how God is using our church partners around the world to change lives every day. Thank you for supporting the work of Children’s Hunger Fund and helping to make these stories possible.
Recipients’ names have been changed to protect their privacy.