Garnett is a Tulsa Food Bank distribution point. Today we’ll give sacks of groceries to about thirty families from our community.
We pray with each person who walks through the door. We opened up a hallway from the pantry to the prayer center and after inviting each person into the living room of the prayer center, we ask them if they have something specific they’d like to pray for, then we pray for them by name.
Usually more than half who come are Spanish speakers. I’m slowly learning a few words. The Fire Station across the street has asked our Bi-lingual school to staff and teach a Spanish class for 30 firefighters. We’re raising $1,200 to do that. In the meantime, we have Hispanic people come into Garnett food pantry, into our services.
Last night we had a Spanish speaker ask if we teach English classes. One of our shepherds, Dale Brown, did very well to speak what he knew and communicate with Alejandro that we are planning to soon teach English classes, taught by the Union school district here in our facility.
When someone comes to us, we immediately ask how we can help each other. I need to learn Spanish. The more we mingle, the more we’re going to learn from each other. And that’s really the first step. Churches talk about ministering to Hispanics and sometimes it ends up that a Spanish ministry operates on the other side of the building. We do have a Spanish speaking church called Redemptive Word meeting here, but that is not the totality of our interaction with Hispanic people in our neighborhood.
An important principle we operate on, and one of our shepherds, Robert Garland, reminded me of this recently, is that we do not look at the community as “needy” and design handout programs but look at the community as an asset and for the potential God can bring out in people. For example, in a few minutes, I’ll walk over to the pantry and greet our guests and ask if someone can help me translate Spanish. Sometimes it’s a little boy but most often it’s Trinnie Trijillo, a grandmotherly lady who comes to get clothes for her neighbors and grandchildren. She is bilingual and seems very pleased to be called out to serve while she is here on Thursdays.