Here is the next part of our story.
It gets a little crazy. Follow as best you can.
Sometime around April/May last year, we started talking about what it would look like to have a mobile congregation. A congregation that would draw people into relationship with a yummy meal. Maybe a little something that operated out of a food truck.
Well, those initial conversations were interesting. As in, there was some excitement and energy in this idea. Other churches and community members thought it was worth trying.
I was approached by a person who knew a food truck inspector. An inspector willing to answer questions regarding rules and regulations that would need to be followed. The inspector was willing to visit with us. In June we had a meeting with the community. We were able to visit with the inspector at that time. We got more buy in. And so, on we went with plans.
I was asked to be a representative from the St Paul Area Synod to the ELCA World Hunger Gathering. A group of faithful folks wanting to learn about ways to eradicate hunger in their communities. World Hunger gives out grants to communities engaged in this work. During the time I was in Iowa for this gathering, I was able to share our idea with people. More excitement built. And it turns out, the ELCA wants to encourage ministries among people in poverty to have social enterprise programs. Programs that have workforce development and financial sustainability built in. Exactly what we are talking about.
I quickly completed a grant requesting assistance from World Hunger to help us pay for food for this food truck vision.
The week after this gathering, I was sent to a training in Baltimore, MD along with members of Shobi’s Table. We were there to be trained on mission development. The building of a new worshipping community. The staff from the ELCA’s new congregations division was very encouraging of this vision. They were excited to try something and offered to give me a 3 year call to get this going.
Are you following?
In a couple of months we were given resources to pay for food, build infrastructure and get a legal food truck.
Shobi’s Table is being led by the Holy Spirit in ways we can’t even imagine. We simply asked and God has provided. God is good.
It was time to apply for funding. I went and visited the folks at St Andrew’s Lutheran Church in Mahtomehdi, MN. They have resources that they like to share through a grant program. I told our story and our vision.
This is where it really gets wild.
There is a member of St Andrew’s who runs a food truck. And not just runs a food truck, but serves meals with his friends down at the Dorothy Day Center every Saturday.
I called this guy up. He liked our vision and sent me to visit with the executive director of their organization. This conversation was incredible. These wonderfully faithful people had purchased a mobile kitchen and licensed it. They are not yet able to operate it as much as they would like. They believe in sharing resources with like minded people. This part of the story sounds suspiciously biblical. I should have known that we were in trouble. The best kind of trouble we could be in.
We were offered the use of a truck. For free. No strings attached. We just needed to find the food.
We applied to St Andrew’s and the ELCA for food funding.
Then it was time to wait. Resources were applied for. Now, to see if they came through.
Valentine’s Day was a good day. We received $10,000 for food that day. $5,000 from the good people of St Andrew’s Lutheran Church and $5,000 from the ELCA Domestic Hunger Grant. Way more money than we initially asked for.
We have connected with social service providers in the community to find a suitable location to park the truck.
This is not ours, but it is the Holy Spirit’s. God has given us these incredible gifts.
But remember this, God is not good because we got $10,000 for food or a truck that is paid for. God was good when we weren’t sure how to do ministry together. God was good when we struggled to have a vision. God is good in the midst of this abundance. God will be good when we aren’t sure what the next step is or how to find the next resource.
God is always good. And always surprising.
And keep hope alive, the story of God’s people is alive and well.