Name: Joy Kircher
Organization: Plant the Seed Ministry
Town: Lady's Island
Involved for: 3 years
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Position: Ministry leader
Stepping out of our comfort zones. My husband, Allan, is a pastor at Shell Point Baptist. We started a faith-based recovery ministry. We did that for seven years. In the beginning, we would get the masses. But with addiction, it comes and goes. People come for recovery, and they don't come. Near the seven-year mark, we started praying because our numbers were waning and we thought maybe the season of that ministry was over. And God led us to go outside of the walls of the church. ... He sent us out in the community. Oftentimes churches do great work within the walls of the church. But you know, God wants us to get out of our comfort zones and get outside where the people are and try to help meet those people's needs. I kept being led to the homeless ministry.
Reaching the needy. The Bible says the poor you will always have with you. I know that's reality, and in our economy, that's just going to progress. We're all one day away from being homeless at any given moment with the economy. But anyway, God led us out on the street. There's a hotel called The Atlantic Inn, and I spoke to the hotel owner, and told him my burden for God's people and would he have a problem if I came once a week on Saturday to set up a makeshift soup kitchen in his front yard. And he was more than glad to accommodate me.
More than a meal. We have a group of ladies in our church who make bag lunches every Friday. Our numbers vary anywhere from eight people to 45 people on Saturday. In the winter months, we provide soup as well as a bagged lunch so they can sit and eat there. Most of the food products are donated by church members or people in the community. We also do a Christmas meal and a Thanksgiving meal. ... The reason I felt compelled to be out on the street is because that's where the homeless people are and a lot of times they just need somebody to listen. I can't necessarily fix a problem or resolve a problem, but we have an opportunity with the tables and chairs set up for people to sit and eat and then we offer prayer. Most people are very receptive to that, and they'll kind of download on us. Whether it's a health issue or a family issue or a financial issue, we will pray and ask God to make provision for them. We've been there for going on three years, so we have developed quite a relationship with this community. We have people who have been coming every Saturday. And we've seen the ups and downs of their lives. We've seen prayers answered. We've seen children grow in these three years.
A garden for the needy. From all of this, I was inspired to create a garden. I told the hotel owner, "I'm looking for land for a garden" my first year there. Unbeknownst to me, he said, "I have a garden in the back of my hotel. Come look." He offered me land to use, not to have, behind a hotel. So I have a substantial garden. This will be the second garden we've had there, and we're going to have our first fall garden. We have had people from the community working the garden ... and then we use the produce that we've been blessed with and we give out that food as well as the bagged lunches, as well as use some of the vegetables for our soups that we serve in the winter.
Feeding souls. God gave me Scripture a long time ago in the book of Isaiah. It talks about the nation being in disrepair and also through the book of Nehemiah that God sent his people to restore these cities. I feel like we are feeding their bellies as well as their spirits. We're doing both, but ultimately it's about their souls that we're feeding and just loving on them and showing them the love of Christ. It's a tough world today. You don't have to be homeless or be stricken with poverty to struggle. We have people who are well to do financially, and they come by just because they want the prayer.
Follow reporter Amy Coyne Bredeson at twitter.com/IPBG_Amy.