On July 18 we entered into a major partnership for the work of justice in Dallas. We partnered with SoupMobile, an organization that feeds 150,000 meals/year to our homeless and impoverished neighbors in Dallas, to host a Neighbors’ Cookout at the Dallas International Street Church in Fair Park / South Dallas.
We fed hundreds of our friends in poverty a nice meal of hamburgers, hotdogs, all the fixings, vitamins, fruit, cookies and drinks. Our neighbors were encouraged to go through the line as many times as they wanted until the food was all gone.
We also put out a bounce house and sprinkler to keep the kiddos entertained.
More than 40 volunteers from six different organizations showed up to make the event a tremendous (and smooth) success: 1) SoupMobile; 2) Dallas Junior Chamber of Commerce; 3) Skillman Church of Christ; 4) Richardson East Church of Christ; 5) Dallas Christian School; and 6) Storyline.
At the end of our Cookout, the SoupMan (David Timothy, director of SoupMobile), got on the bullhorn and we raffled off dozens of backpacks filled with goodies, McDonalds gift cards, a men’s mountain bike, and a women’s mountain bike.
I had the fortune – or misfortune – of drawing tickets for prizes. (Each person was given a raffle ticket as they came through the line.)
I heard the groan in the crowd when the SoupMan introduced me and said, “This is Pastor Charles Kiser of Storyline Christian Community. You can be sure he’s honest because he’s a pastor!” I’m afraid I disappointed a few people with my picks – and many of my new friends had a good time letting me know it. 🙂
But for those who were blessed to win – some of them two or three prizes – I’m not sure I’ve seen bigger smiles. It was a special day for them.
Regardless of winning or not, I believe that our work brought a glimmer of joy and hope to those who are often overlooked and discounted.
I particularly enjoyed meeting an intelligent man named Artis. He’s a musician (bass guitar) and a politician of sorts. We had a fascinating conversation about homelessness and “the system”. Apparently Artis is a spokesperson and consultant of sorts for the big dogs in city government and social services who serve the poor. I’m looking forward to spending more time with him in the future.
What’s also great is that this whole event was organized by Storyliner Deborah McClain, who came to us about nine months ago disconnected from Christian community. Since then she’s become a dear friend and co-worker for the gospel.
The event wouldn’t have happened without her tireless work, delegation and organizational skills. Thank you, Deborah.
Thanks, also, to everyone who volunteered, and to SoupMobile for providing us their experience in feeding the homeless of Dallas.
Our Neighbors’ Cookout was a small, but significant, glimpse into a different world – the new world that began to break into our world in the resurrection of Jesus. It is a foretaste of the social dignity, genuine relationships and provision that will come in fullness when God one day restores the world and makes everything right.
And so we continue to labor with God, because our work for the coming world is not in vain (cf. 1 Cor. 15:50-58).