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“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” - Galatians 6:2



At a time of year when many of us find ourselves overeating—and even complaining about—the ridiculous amounts of food we have at our disposal (“Ugh. More Christmas cookies? Seriously?”), it’s hard to imagine there are people going hungry not far away. Yet that is exactly the case for many on the near Eastside of Indianapolis. Over Christmas break, while my West Carmel children are at home eating meal after snack after meal, other children—who typically rely on their school cafeteria for breakfast, lunch, and snacks—will go hungry. Fortunately, for kids in the 46201 and 46203 zip codes, there is Shepherd Community Center, a non-profit Christ-centered organization on East Washington Street, whose purpose is to meet this and many other needs of its surrounding community.

I first became familiar with Shepherd Community Center about 14 years ago, when our family of three filled our first “Shepherd Tote” at Christmas. Not too long after, my husband and I, along with a handful of other ZPCers, served breakfast at Shepherd to attendees of its free Saturday morning health clinic. My husband and I were immediately impressed with the way Shepherd was so dedicated to serving the surrounding neighborhood that they took the time to turn the academy into a health clinic four Saturdays per month—then turn it back into a school by Monday morning. Since that time, we’ve continued to be impressed with the way Shepherd does what needs to be done to meet the physical, emotional, spiritual, and academic needs of its community. When the need to get healthier foods into the hands of the community (who rely a lot on gas stations for their “groceries” as there is only one full-service grocery within walking distance of their homes) became apparent, Shepherd started a vegetable garden and chicken co-op whose beneficiaries take care of tending them. When it became apparent that a Saturday health clinic left some without access to care throughout the week, Shepherd partnered with Eskenazi Health, who now provides its Mobile Health Clinic every Tuesday and Wednesday. While many organizations are good at identifying the needs of the people they serve, Shepherd is also excellent at doing what it takes to help solve those needs—and all with a Christ-centered approach.

As our family of three grew over time to a family of six, we found ourselves with much less time to spend at Shepherd. We continued to contribute financially, but wanted to be able to form relationships with the Shepherd kids, and I longed for the day when at least one of us would be able to do so. Just last week, having retired in August and with all of my own kids now in school, I was able to spend my first of hopefully many Wednesdays volunteering at Shepherd. I cannot express to you how much joy I received from working with those kids for just four short hours, but I’ll say this: the first fourth-grade girl I met told me my hair was “soooo” pretty (my own kids would never tell me that), one of the boys begged me to eat lunch with them instead of the adults (I did, of course), and many of them were upset that I wouldn’t be back this week due to Thanksgiving—be still my heart!

So, what does any of this have to do with your busting holiday waistline and the hungry kids at Shepherd? Well, during school breaks, Shepherd passes out boxes of food—donated by ministry partners such as ZPC—to children in its academy, after-school program, church congregation, and various other outreach programs so that children won’t have to go hungry while not in school. This year, Shepherd hopes to provide nearly 1,000 totes—and ZPC is one of three churches who has stepped up to help provide them.

Between and after Sunday services on November 27 and December 4, ZPCers (or anyone else who wants to) can purchase a box in the Gathering Space for $5 and fill it with specific items for a Shepherd child. Filled boxes can be returned to the Gathering Space until December 11. Then, on December 13, Shepherd employees and volunteers will pick up our filled boxes to be distributed before Christmas break. This year, ZPC has committed to filling 250 totes—each of which can be filled for around $100. So, grab a tote and fill it (by yourself, with your family, with your small group, or with friends), and this holiday season—when you feel you can’t possibly partake of another morsel of food—remember you helped fill the tummy of a little one who might otherwise have gone without.

*Don’t have the time or money to fill a tote? You can still help out! Volunteers are needed to sort totes on December 4 and 11 and to load filled totes onto the Shepherd truck on December 13.

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Posted by Jenni Nolan with

ZPC Kentucky Short-Term Mission 2016 - From My Eyes

Never having done “real” mission work in my life, I was excited and nervous at the same time about going to Kentucky. Would I enjoy this work? Would my children understand what we were doing? Would we be welcomed and appreciated? Would I get anything out of this? Would my talents be of use? I feel like the answer to all of these questions is a resounding “yes!

What we were able to accomplish in 2 short days was a miracle. I was part of the group that was at Annie’s trailer (Annie is a single mom involved with a local ministry called Cedaridge.) and I was so happy to hear what was also accomplished from the other work done by the group at the food pantry and Cedaridge headquarters in preparation for the community pig roast.

Seeing the way Annie and her children live was heart breaking for me. Scott Nolan, the leader of the trip, warned us, but until you are on site and see firsthand the condition of this family’s living arrangements, you just don’t understand. Immediately I was overwhelmed with thoughts and emotions about how God can let this happen and what purpose this could possibly serve. We gathered and went inside and said a quick prayer with Annie and her children and the work started. I went outside for quick moment alone and I began to pray, tears streaming down my face. I was truly filled with sorrow and guilt for the things I take for granted on a daily basis, and guilty for all the things in my life I have never thanked God for. God heard my questions and prayers and was quick with an answer to me. “Get in there and use the talents I have provided you to help lift these people up” is what I heard. I collected myself, went inside, and started making job and materials lists with Scott. You could see the determination in the eyes of the men, women, and children from ZPC wanting to help change the living conditions for Annie and her children. Some really amazing things happened this day, not only for Annie and her children, but for me and all of us. We were able to furnish and install a new water heater, something I take for granted on a daily basis as I take a hot shower every morning. We repaired a badly sagging and leaking roof in the bathroom and also removed and installed a new interior ceiling in the bathroom. Still a bit grumpy from two months ago when we spent a large sum of money replacing the roof on our home, I was quickly reminded how blessed we really are. While I was grumpy about spending money to replace our entire roof, Annie and her children were in Kentucky not able to repair a leak, let alone replace the entire roof. We repaired a rotten and sinking kitchen floor so this family is safely able to use that area of the trailer again. I didn’t notice it at first, but Annie didn’t even have a stove. How was Annie providing food for her children without a stove? We were able to give and install a working stove for this family! As we were in the kitchen talking about how to fix the floor, we realized the kitchen cabinets were rotten and had mold growing on them. The decision was made to replace these cabinets. We built and installed new lower cabinets in the kitchen. Big props to Jack Martin, ZPCer and a freshman at Carmel High School, for leading the charge in building new cabinets! Jack and the other younger kids built the cabinets so we could install them, without these young men and women; we wouldn’t have had the time to do all the other work. We painted one bedroom and the hallway; something the children seemed to enjoy, especially when they ALL got fresh paint all over them and the dogs! We brought some life and color in front of the trailer by planting mums. We caulked and sealed the trailer where daylight was coming through, and also repaired broken windows. At the end of this long day, as Scott and I were frantically trying to figure out an electrical panel problem, I couldn’t help but think what we could do over the course 3 or 4 days on site, not just one. My last words to Scott before we loaded up and left were: “we fought the good fight today brother” and I do really know that now after seeing our list of accomplishments!

Something I brought back with me from Kentucky and am personally working on is not taking Gods gifts and blessings for granted. I received such joy and grace by helping Annie and the entire local community those two days. I couldn’t help but think that what I did there was way more of a blessing for me personally than it could have been for Annie. I can’t wait to do more of Gods work in the coming days, weeks, months, and years! Compassion, grace, and love are all things that were very real and evident during this trip. God was most definitely at work here and he is indeed great!

Below is a verse I found that struck a chord with me after the weekend in Kentucky.

Acts 20:35

In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’

Posted by RJ Pollak with 1 Comments

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