In fact, when we were with you, we instructed you that if anyone was unwilling to work, neither should that one eat. (2 Th 3:10)
“Mr. George,” they called him. Everybody at that old country church knew him, though nobody was sure if he was actually a member of the church or not. Mr. George had been coming there for years, but he had never been known for steady attendance. Nevertheless, he was friendly and was always willing to help someone in need.
When the church started its food pantry two or three years earlier, Mr. George probably did not imagine he’d be in the situation he found himself in the previous Tuesday morning. Over the years, he had donated money and food for the food pantry. But this week, he couldn’t make a donation. That’s because, this week, Mr. George learned that he was out of a job. He had been laid off from his job after ten years of service.
One of his sons mentioned to a deacon that “Daddy’s been laid off.” The word spread quickly. As the word spread, one lady in the church remembered that Mr. George’s wife was disabled. She probably wasn’t working either.
“The family has to be suffering!” the lady told her friends. That’s all it took for the women of the church to mobilize. Two of them visited the George family the very next day.
“We can’t get you a new job,” the lady told Mr. George. Of course, he knew that.
“But we do have food for you and your family. And you can get what your family needs while your husband is looking for a new job,” the other lady said. She looked directly at Mrs. George when she said it as if she knew Mr. George would never accept a hand out no matter what.
Mrs. George seemed relieved, but not Mr. George. He was in a tough situation, but he wasn’t ready for welfare. Not yet.
“I appreciate what y’all are trying to do,” he told the ladies. “I really do. But I’ve worked all my life. I believe in working. That’s just the way I am.”
“That’s the way Jesus was too,” the first lady said to Mr. George. “In the Bible, the Apostle Paul said that a person who isn’t willing to work shouldn’t eat either.” (2 Thes 3:10)
Everyone sat quietly for a couple of seconds, though it seemed much longer to Mr. George. Then the second lady had an idea.
“If I remember right,” she said to Mr. George, “you have a pickup truck, don’t you?”
“Yes,” Mr. George replied, looking at the two ladies with a mix of suspicion and bewilderment. “It’s an old one, but I keep it running really good!” he added.
“Well, we’ve never been able to pick up a full load of food from the food bank because we don’t have any way to get that much food back to our food pantry. If we had access to a pickup truck every now and then, we could probably get a lot more food and feed more people too! And we might even be able to share more food with each family when they come in,” she added, winking at Mrs. George who was also smiling now.
Mr. George asked, “Are you saying that my truck could be useful at your food pantry?”
She added, “Yes, I think so. And it would be even better if we had a driver too.
“I’m talking about someone who could lift heavy boxes,” she continued. “The driver would have to be someone man who wasn’t afraid to work because we would need help unloading the truck when it got the food back to the pantry.”
It was quiet for a few moments as each person considered what was being said. Then the first lady continued.
“We don’t have any money to pay the driver. But we do have food — lots of it for the driver and his family!”
Mr. George didn’t hesitate. “It sounds like a pretty good idea to me.”
“I’m not much on handouts,” he added. “But I love helping people when they need it. And I guess I don’t mind getting a hand either — as long as I can work for my food. Count me in!”
And that’s how Mr. George became a committed volunteer at the food pantry in that old, country church. People say that’s also how he got started attending church regularly too. And yes, eventually Mr. George found another job. He no longer needs food from the food pantry, but he can still be found working there as a volunteer. In fact, it’s become his favorite ministry!
Prayer and work (Prayer@Work)! It’s a combination that was made in heaven. Just ask the Mr. George the next time you see him at church.