Hungry for Hope

By Peggy Norton

Did you know that Texas ranks second in the country in the total number of food-insecure individuals and seventh in terms of child hunger? According to Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, “Dallas is the poorest rich city in the United States. Poverty is concentrated in this city in deep pockets, and it’s growing denser in those pockets.”

One of those pockets of hunger is Irving. It’s hard to believe when you look at the neighborhoods surrounding IBC but take a little drive south and the landscape begins to change. Over 16% of Irving residents live in poverty and that doesn’t even include those who live on fixed and limited incomes. The face of hunger doesn’t look much different from you or me. The majority of people in the U.S. can’t deal with a $500 emergency, according to a recent survey by Bankrate. While you may not be in that situation now, according to statistics, you may find yourself in that very situation someday. The day you too become a statistic.

This is what happened to Mr. Ray (not his real name), a client at Crises Ministries in Irving.

Crisis Ministries is a little pocket of hope in downtown Irving that exists to meet the physical and spiritual hunger of those in need while providing them with a sense of self-respect.

Ruby Sevcik serves as the Director of Crises Ministries. “The first time Mr. Ray arrived at our door, he was a rude and bitter young man who had no interest in talking or much else for that matter, he just wanted his food and he certainly didn’t want to engage or answer any questions.” Over the next several months, Mr. Ray would show up on a regular basis—which is not the typical client at Crises Ministries.

According to Ruby, 70% of the people they see only come once a year. “Many people are surprised by this number,” Ruby said, “they just assume people are looking for handouts but generally that’s not the case, these are people in crisis, in more ways than one.” But Mr. Ray was a regular. And as the months passed, Ruby noticed a change in his demeanor.

“We always treat people with respect,” Ruby explains. “I never called him by his first name and always addressed him formally, I think he noticed.”

Crises Ministries not only feeds the body but also the soul. Most people in crises are suffering from more than just a physical need, many need encouragement and reassurance of the hope that can be found in the Lord.

“We offer more than just a bag of food, we offer hope and spiritual encouragement,” Ruby says. The volunteers spend time forming relationships with people like Mr. Ray. Every time a person walks through the door, they are met with compassion and an offer of prayer.

One day, Ruby recalls, one of the volunteers told a story of a nice young man who helped unload the donation truck, the volunteer went on to say how friendly and kind the man was. Much to Ruby’s surprise and delight, the nice young man turned out to be Mr. Ray!

“The more he got to know us, the more comfortable he felt sharing what was on his heart and we could all see a change in him,” Ruby says. You see, people had written off Mr. Ray years ago and that was the bitter, ungrateful man who walked in the door a year-and-a-half ago, but that’s not the same man who showed up today. Shortly thereafter, Mr. Ray walked in and handed Ruby a donation. He told Ruby thank you and he said, “I know the good you do here, I experienced it myself.” Ruby gave him a big hug.

The best part—when Mr. Ray told Ruby he had found the Lord.

“That’s why we do it,” Ruby said. “This is the work of the body of Christ and we are all part of it.”

Crises Ministries is as diverse as the community it serves. People from all walks of life and every faith enter through the doors. Ruby tells of one gentlemen from a nearby mosque who comes by on a regular basis with a donation. He tells Ruby that he knows she feeds his people and he appreciates that. At Crises Ministries, everyone is treated equally. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat. (Matthew 25: 35)

Ruby explains that it’s important to find common ground. There’s always something that connects us, we just need to be willing to spend the time to listen and care. Crises Ministries is part of the neighborhood, they live with the people they serve. This is one of the reasons IBC decided to make them a local partner.

According to Tricia Kinsman, IBC’s Director of Local Missions, it was the spiritual component of this organization that led IBC to get involved. “Many times when people come to IBC to get food, we may never see them again or if they come back, they will see a different person,” Tricia explains. “But at Crises Ministries, there are volunteers there who can take the time to pray and find out what else is going on in these people’s lives that led them to crisis in the first place.”

If you want to get involved, there are many ways to do it. You can donate food, toiletry items or volunteer onsite. IBC is also looking for someone to be a liaison between IBC and Crises Ministries, contact Tricia Kinsman for more information.

Let’s not ignore the needs in our own neighborhoods, we are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus.

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