Riding With Ray: Part 1

Everything is a series around here…

This summer I am mentoring for seminary with Jim Mellon and the Killeen House Church Association. You can read my “pre-game” mentoring report on my personal blog. One of the things I’ll be doing all summer is riding around with Ray in his van once a week. Ray supplies many of the local ministries with food to serve to the poor and homeless. I’ll be reflecting on my experience and what I learn about food and ministries to the hungry as we go.

Our first stop was Olive Garden. Ray didn’t get food from them the week before so we got about eight boxes of food that was past its expiration or couldn’t be served for some reason, but could be used by ministries to serve the hungry. It was a lot of food. One box of four cheese rigatoni could probably serve 30-40 people. Ray also gets leftover pastries and expired coffee from Starbucks. Something about the poor eating the leftovers of the wealthy and middle class makes me smile. I love thinking about homeless people chowing down on Olive Garden or drinking a $5 pastry and cup of coffee for free.

The next stop was the Mission Soup Kitchen, where I’ll also be working as a volunteer (more on that to come). We squeezed about half of the food into their freezers. Ray showed me around the soup kitchen and then we headed to one of the Hope Pregnancy Centers in town. Ray gave them the pastries from Starbucks. At first I thought this was kind of wrong, giving free food to people who work for a living and can easily buy it themselves. I realized that a) Ray has more food than he knows what to do with and b) it was a way to bless some people who are spending their lives to help other people.

Then we headed out to Starbucks to pickup leftover pastries, a cup of coffee for ourselves and chat for a while. When Hurricane Katrina happened, Ray volunteered with the Mission Soup Kitchen to help with the relief effort. He ended up helping them get food from some of their sources and this ministry sort of fell in his lap. I asked if he went knocking on doors to get restaurants to supply him. He said no. The Lord just led him to different people and places and things fell into place.

Ray’s story reminds me that sometimes we try so hard to find solutions or figure things out, but the answers are all around us. Ray is probably only getting a small percentage of all the food thrown out by restaurants in our area, but he has more food than the ministries can handle.

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