This time of year, we are all usually reflective and thankful for everything that we’ve been given. Whether it’s our family, friends, health or wealth, we are always glad to be living the life God gave us.
During this time of year, at the Hope Center, we overwhelmingly see the best in people. The generous giving of food, service and money helps us to remember to be thankful for the caring community that assists us in reaching people in need. And our neighbors help us reach people all year long without any government assistance or handouts. That makes us very thankful.
But during this time of year, you come across people in the community who want to help specific families or individuals in need. From people offering to help serve food or baking treats for our residents to families desiring to sponsor gifts for families in need, this wonderful time of year brings out the best in Americans.
This year, an anonymous donor wanted to do something special for a family. This donor wanted to go grocery shopping for any family, couple or person that we felt could use the groceries. As you know, the price of food has continually risen month-after-month. Just buying the basic items can be tough on families with fixed incomes.
So, we thought about all the different families that we know could use some assistance. Little did we know that God already had a family in mind. We tried to reach a couple different families to offer the groceries to but we absolutely couldn’t get in touch with these people. It seemed a little discouraging at the time. Again, God knew what was up. He had a family that He wanted to give the groceries to.
After failed attempts to take the groceries to the families that we thought should have them, God showed us the exact couple He had in mind. The special couple that God had selected is a young couple who have been good friends of the Hope Center for quite a while. In fact, they met at the Hope Center!
A few years ago, God brought two people, Wayne and Phyllis, separately to the Hope Center. Each one was dealing with a form of brokenness. Both were searching for help. Neither one realized what God had in store!
Phyllis was battling a drug addiction that started as a way to ease the pain of an abusive relationship. As the drugs failed to relieve her pain, she began considering suicide as her only permanent escape. Lost in fear and depression, Phyllis wandered into the chapel service at the Hope Center one evening. While listening to the message that night, Phyllis discovered the hope that she’d been missing in her life. She began attending the service regularly, eager to learn about this God who loved her when it seemed that no one else could. One evening at the conclusion of the nightly chapel, Phyllis made a decision that would not only change her life, but her eternity as well. She went to the altar and accepted Jesus as her Savior. From that night on, the Lord began to work miracles in her life, changing her from the inside out.
During the time that Phyllis was gaining her life back, Wayne seemed to be losing his. From his health, his work, his home – even his family, Wayne’s addiction to drugs and alcohol was destroying him and everything that was important to him. Eventually Wayne hit the bottom. He was reduced to living in his car, being hounded by drug pushers. At that point, Wayne cried out to God for help. God’s intervention came through a young man who encouraged Wayne to call local agencies for assistance. Wayne called the Hope Center and found out that there was a place for him. The caring young man filled Wayne’s car with gas and sent him on his way. The day after arriving, Wayne talked and then prayed with staff member Carl Black. Like Phyllis, Wayne accepted Christ into his life.
It wasn’t long before Phyllis and Wayne met at a Hope Center chapel service. They began dating within a few months and eventually were married.
Today, the couple still attends church, are involved in small groups and Bible studies and are actively learning more about God and working to reach their families for Christ.
But life isn’t always easy. Wayne and Phyllis have both been struggling with health issues and work stress. Wayne, dealing with a disease that caused a disability, has struggled to work to support his wife. And as his health allows, he does small repair or painting jobs for people. Phyllis, too, is dealing with some health issues but that doesn’t stop her from working hard. Both of these people are inspirations of the power of Jesus to totally change lives and give hope to handle any situation that comes.
When we were figuring out what family to give the food to, God had already worked it out for us…He just hadn’t made it known instantly. But we knew it was meant to be all over a pack of Oreos. Included in the bags upon bags of groceries, the donor had purchased a pack of peanut butter Oreos. While shopping, the donor felt the urge to buy Oreos, specifically the peanut butter flavor. The donor debated whether to buy the original Oreos or the peanut butter flavor. After all, everyone has individual tastes, not everyone likes peanut butter, and it’s usually safe to buy the original flavor of something. But the donor just felt that the peanut butter ones just HAD to be purchased. So, going against the donor’s own judgment, the peanut butter Oreo’s were purchased.
The thing is, God knew who was to get the groceries. And God knew that Phyllis’ favorite cookies were peanut butter Oreos. When the groceries were delivered, some jokes were made from a Hope Center staff person about wanting to take some of the Oreos. At that point, Wayne quickly spoke up and said that the peanut butter Oreos were Phyllis’ favorites. Little did any of us know, God had specifically picked those out that day in the grocery store. Just for Phyllis!
Phyllis and Wayne are two incredibly kind and generous people who were already talking about sharing their groceries with neighbors who are struggling. This is how God wants us to be with each other. To care for each other. To help each other in need.
We want to thank the generous donor for the groceries. It was a large amount of food purchased. The donor, wanting to stay anonymous, said that they just wanted a way to thank God for His blessings and to help someone else in need or to be an encouragement to a family.