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Community Stories: Smithville

Every week until the end of the year we will be sharing stories from each of our six communities. Each of our communities serve anyone who stops by, but we have noticed that at each site similar stories start to pop up. We see God using our volunteers and those that come to grow and build relationships with those in Christ. Here are just a few of the stories from our location in Smithville.

SMITHVILLE serves on average 150+ meals every Sunday at The Neighbor Place at Hart’s Chapel. Because of the division of races, we have come together to unite the body and those we serve. Unity is bringing people together to be able to live safely and to share a meal with neighbors.

 

PHILIP

Philip and his three boys have been attending Feed the Need Smithville for two years. Philip is a quiet single dad who keeps to himself. He works for minimum wage and strives to make ends meet, but life happens and sometimes providing food for his boys means going to several of Feed the Need sites in a week. With pain in his eyes and a slight smile on his face he said “it’s a real blessing. I don’t know what I would do if we didn’t eat at at least two of your locations weekly.”

Having to work full time and care for three children is exhausting. His oldest son is autistic, but Philip still finds the time to attend school events and to help his children with school work. Philip finds his strength in the Lord.

The family would drive by our Smithville site every Thursday, and for a month or two Philip would watch out his van window to try and figure out was happening in his small community. He finally set his pride to the side and stopped one evening to get a hot meal. He asked why we were doing this and we told him to love on people, to give back to the community and to share the gospel. Philip knew he was safe and in the right place.

To know the impact that Feed the Need Missions is making in his life is powerful. Philip and his boys are able to go to other sites when pennies are tight to receive what the need. They now stay for bible study and his kids participate by reading bible verses and praying for Feed the Need. Their lives are being changed, all because of a burger!

“There are people out there that want to help. That care enough to do something like this. It’s a good thing. And a blessing. If I had extra money I would give back. I would want to start a site like this or a soup kitchen in Smithville. You guys have inspired me.”

 

TYRONE

Tyrone has been attending Feed the Need Missions for three years. It brings joy to our hearts to see people, like Tyrone, keep coming back for food every week. When he doesn’t come we always ask him the next time we see him where he was and his response is, “with all these people out here you still think of me and remember me?”

Tyrone was born in Bastrop and moved around in his teen and college-aged years and is now currently back in Smithville. He’s on disability for many health reasons and is living paycheck to paycheck. “The food here helps me get fed for a day out of the week. I don’t have to worry about that day.”

Sitting down and listening to his childhood and struggling questions about if there is there a God, Tyrone is growing and finding peace and unity in his neighborhood. “It’s never been this quiet,” he mentioned. “I come here to enjoy fellowship where I am cared about.”

Building relationships is part of our mission, and Tyrone is experiencing the mission Christ told us to do.

 


This is the kind of difference you are making when you give to support our communities.  With your help, Feed the Need Missions will continue to provide a safe place people like Philip and Tyrone can gather for a hot meal each week, a place where you see the love of Christ in action.

Can you help Feed the Need Missions continue serving each week by making a generous contribution of $25, $50, or $100 today? And if you give by the end of the year, thanks to a generous matching gift, your donation will be DOUBLED—up to $12,000—to make an even larger impact in the lives of so many people in our communities.

So don’t delay, give today so you can DOUBLE your gift and help even more people like Mike experience unconditional love.

 

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Community Stories: Bastrop South

Every week until the end of the year we will be sharing stories from each of our six communities. Each of our communities serve anyone who stops by, but we have noticed that at each site similar stories start to pop up. We see God using our volunteers and those that come to grow and build relationships with those in Christ. Here are just a few of the stories from our oldest location, Bastrop South.

BASTROP SOUTH serves on average 150+ meals every Monday at Primera Baptist Church. We also serve alongside of Hope House, which is an addiction program for women. This site serves a lot of homeless people and addicts. Sharing the love of Christ has helped many that attend get through tough times.

 

TINA

Tina was searching for more. She struggled with alcohol addiction and was at a very low time in her life. She knew she wanted to be involved in ministry to some capacity, but wasn’t sure how to get there because of her alcoholism. While searching for this “more” she found herself drinking more and more and feeling sorry for herself, she knew she was being disobedient to Christ.

Tina made a phone call to Hope House, reaching out for help. She completed their program in six months, and during her time at Hope House she came to serve with Feed the Need Missions. “Serving in the community helped me because it’s a place that I learned how to serve even when serving was hard. I use to be scared to talk about Jesus and now I feel more comfortable sharing the gospel with people. I didn’t feel adequate enough. Drinking messes with your head and doesn’t allow you to do the things you want to do.”

Tina would serve on the line at Feed the Need and was very quiet and shy. She was angry about her situation and embarrassed to be there. She was worried about what others around her would think. Then she realized she wasn’t the only one that felt the way she was. She said, “it’s a great place to come and get out of yourself to be able to love on others. It’s also given me the opportunity to have my kids come down and serve and learn more about Jesus. He can see what others are going through.” Tina’s son is 9 years old.

Through Tina’s struggles she finds peace serving others. It brings healing to her and it’s been helping her stay sober. “People struggle in life. But my struggle isn’t any different than anyone else’s. When I serve I’m reminded I’m not alone and I can serve at a place that allows me to be there.”

 

BRENDA

“I have volunteered for different ministries and food pantries throughout my life. I actually gave up on serving because of the way I was treated. I was a little skeptical about coming to Feed the Need Missions, but I came and you guys are so loving and treat everyone the way you would want to be treated. I come to be served and to serve,” said Brenda from our Bastrop South location.

Brenda can relate to a lot of those who we serve because of the struggles that she endured in her upbringing and the path she chose to head down. She recently graduated from Hope House, a women’s program for addiction. “I’ve made bad choices in my life. But Feed the Need is a good choice. This is a place of healing. And to be mistered to and to minister to others.”

 


This is the kind of difference you are making when you give to support our communities.  With your help, Feed the Need Missions will continue to provide a safe place people like Tina and Brenda can gather for a hot meal each week, a place where you see the love of Christ in action.

Can you help Feed the Need Missions continue serving each week by making a generous contribution of $25, $50, or $100 today? And if you give by the end of the year, thanks to a generous matching gift, your donation will be DOUBLED—up to $12,000—to make an even larger impact in the lives of so many people in our communities.

So don’t delay, give today so you can DOUBLE your gift and help even more people like Mike experience unconditional love.

 

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Mike’s Story

Mike was brought up going to church and accepted Christ at 9 years old. He struggled as a teenager trying to live his life the way his parents wanted him to live. He began to hang out with people who he thought he could trust, but ended up doing drugs and alcohol. Once you start it’s never easy to quit, especially when you have a void in your heart like Mike did.

Mike has been married multiple times and when those didn’t work out, his addictions got even deeper and he became an alcoholic. He lost his wives and children because of his bad choices. He felt defeated, lost and lonely. “I wanted to commit suicide. I felt like a failure in so many ways. I was trapped.”

Mike heard about Feed the Need Missions and finally had enough courage to visit the Bastrop South site. It was a day that he was feeling the lowest in his life, and truly contemplating suicide. He was looking for a place to get connected, to have relationships, to build friendships. “When I arrived at the site I thought no one was going to allow me to serve. I thought I was unworthy to do anything. All I could hear in my head was a bunch of people telling me I was worthless and was never going to be accepted.”

When Mike arrived that evening, he walked up to the table where the food was served with his head down.  A volunteer asked him if he was there for a burger, and while he was, he also explained that he would like to serve. Without hesitation the volunteer accepted him with open arms and showed him the ropes on where he could jump in.

“It was that easy, show up and start serving,” Mike said. He served for the hour and then stayed for the bible study. “It was something I needed.”

Mike kept coming back every week. He would eat a meal and serve anywhere he could. Slowly his confidence started building, he was beginning to find his self-worth again.

After a few months, Mike went out of town for a couple of weeks. The second week of not being at our weekly community he received a phone call from a volunteer checking in to make sure he was okay.

“Never had I felt what unconditional love was before until that moment. When I hung up the phone letting them know I would be back the following week I started weeping. Someone truly and genuinely cared about me. I threw my hands up in the air, and I said, ‘thank you Jesus, you are real.’”

Mike found a place where he was accepted for who he was, “I now have a new family. Never in my life have I had true transformation and know what Christ’s love truly is. If it wasn’t for Feed the Need Missions and the people serving, I am not sure where I would be. I found purpose again. And now I can share my story with others, as before I couldn’t.”

For Mike, Feed the Need Missions is much more than a burger, it’s about being part of Christ’s family and seeing it’s life-changing transformation.

“Lives will be changed because of what I went through. Just like your story can impact others too.”

 


This is the kind of difference you are making when you give to support our communities.  With your help, Feed the Need Missions will continue to provide a safe place people like Mike can gather for a hot meal each week, a place where you see the love of Christ in action.

Can you help Feed the Need Missions continue serving each week by making a generous contribution of $25, $50, or $100 today? And if you give by the end of the year, thanks to a generous matching gift, your donation will be DOUBLED—up to $12,000—to make an even larger impact in the lives of so many people in our communities.

So don’t delay, give today so you can DOUBLE your gift and help even more people like Mike experience unconditional love.

 

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Extra Help in the Summer

As some of you may already know this familiar face and some may not, this is Cyndi. She lives in Bastrop, Texas and sometimes serves with us at two of our sites.

During the summer the need of food is much greater for this single mom of 3 girls living at home. Cyndi’s girls get fed lunches at school and sometimes breakfast. Now that school is almost out and funds are limited, it gets harder to feed a full meal.

“I’m blessed by Mission U-Too and you guys always being there,” Cyndi recently said. “It’s comforting to know where our next meal will come from. There are weeks that I have to go to two or maybe three of your sites to be able to feed my family.”

Cyndi is one of many families that looks forward to a hot meal. With the summer months approaching and school coming to an end, Mission U-Too increases the amount of meals that are being served, while, many times, giving goes down during the summer months.

We are in need of more funds to be able to support more families, especially on a monthly basis. Can you help and commit to giving monthly and help us be sure to continue serving families like Cyndi’s?

And could you also be in prayer for Cyndi’s family? Cyndi just had her third brain surgery to relieve pressure build up in her spine and brain. She had complications with the surgery and is still on bed rest so she can fully heal. Mission U-Too volunteers have been taking hamburgers to her every Monday to help feed her and her family.

Thank you for making a difference.

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Meet A Volunteer: Larry

Larry White has been a resident of Bastrop since 2001. In Bastrop, Larry served on committees at churches and had gone on short term mission trips. Struggling with his walk in Christ he was searching for more.

On Halloween 2010, a local pastor friend encouraged Larry to visit a Mission U-Too site in Bastrop that we held at the Lumberyard. Larry was hungry physically and spiritually with little money and was looking for food and fellowship. Before his first encounter with Mission U- Too, Larry said, “I saw the free burger signs and was too prideful to come, until someone close to me recommended it.”

Not long after he came, he started serving with Mission U-Too during the 2011 fires. Shortly after that he had a massive heart attack. During his recovery Mission U-Too moved locations to Primera Baptist Church. Today Larry is the Site Coordinator for this location.

“I intended this to be short term mission, and I’m still serving. My end point of serving is when Jesus returns. Mission U-Too has changed my life! It has helped me be more serious about Christianity,” Larry said. Now he doesn’t deny his salvation and he’s growing through the ministry. “Mission U-Too is a part of who I am. It’s helped me become bolder and not scared to talk to people about Christ anymore. It’s not about me or being comfortable, it’s about what Christ wanted me to do.”

A verse that Larry relies on is “I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13

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Missed Opportunities and Second Chances

A mentor of mine once told me that it is important to document what you are feeling and to take a journal and write down what God is doing in your heart. And then saturate the experience in prayer as you walk alongside God and those with whom you are serving. Then share it. So I am going to share with you a story that has been penetrating in my heart for exactly one year..

A married couple with 4 children needed help. They searched for help in the community and they received some assistance, but was needing more. They heard about Mission U-Too through friends and my boss, at the time, came to me about their needs. They had lost their house in a fire because of an electrical issue with their dryer, right before Christmas in 2015. My heart was broken as how to help.

I journaled February 2016: “I am a servant of Christ, a child of the Most High who is to fulfill a commitment on this earth; to spread the gospel showing Christ love in different ways depending on situations and circumstances. Help was given to this family by providing a week in a hotel, Christmas presents, clothes, and groceries. However, I missed the opportunity to pray with them because I allowed the language barrier to build a wall.”

After help was given I felt my purpose and motive was not pleasing to God. I had the opportunity to pray! I had the opportunity to share the gospel with 6 people. I had the opportunity to be a light in the darkness, and I failed.

Have you ever felt like that?

The Rodriquez family moved in with family after their hotel voucher was over, and started building their house with their own hands. I kept in contact with the family through Facebook and would reach out to them every few months.

Just a few days before Christmas in 2016 I was told by a local Pastor that the Rodriquez’s home was almost finished. I know some of you can relate to losing your home in a fire and the devastation of losing everything and having to rebuild your life again. I then reached out again and asked what I could do to help. Diana, the mother, sent me a list of items that they needed and I started praying through the list.

Within a few days God sent His deliverer. A Bastrop family wanted to bless a family during Christmas, so I mentioned the Rodriquez family and their needs. It was a MATCH! Gifts were given from a local Pastor…pillows, towels and a microwave. Plus money for a washer and dryer, curtains and other household items were given. I gathered all the things and went to visit the family.

I pulled up to their little trailer size home with 3 bedrooms, 1 bath and a kitchen. No living space and they were content, blessed and satisfied with the work that was put into their tiny home. Emotions were expressed by her and I. We cried together, laughed together, and we PRAYED together. I knew just enough Spanglish for her to understand. That was my opportunity friends! I shared the gospel with her and the heart behind Mission U-Too. I spent 3 hours with her unpacking her new gifts and talking, while Jordan, my son, played outside with the children.

God presents opportunities. Sometimes we miss the opportunity and sometimes we don’t. Don’t miss the opportunity that Christ has for you. I almost did, but with His great planning, my journaling, and pursuing the Great Commission, I had another opportunity that God trusted me with. Diana is a believer. Her husband is also a believer, and a few of her children are as well.

2 Corinthians 9:8 “And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” I was blessed abundantly and the Rodriquez family, because of OUR commitment to Christ.

You can do the same. Choosing a service opportunity can be daunting, but if you think about it, you have passions that will help drive this decision. God has blessed you with gifts that will lead your decision and will encourage you along the way. Trust in your passions, gifts and, most of all, God. And He will lead you to an experience that will change your life.

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Meet A Volunteer: Brandon

Brandon Phifer has been leading the Justin site since 2016, but has been a part of Mission U-Too almost since it’s beginning. Check out his story to learn about his heart and vision for Mission U-Too in the Denton area.


Years ago my closest friends started serving burgers and hot dogs in Bastrop, TX under the name Mission U-Too. When they originally started I participated at only a small level, but I was so grateful for their heart’s desire to make much of Jesus. I helped when I could, but mostly observed from a distance. The consistency of meeting weekly prepared them in ways they could not have expected. It was not long after they started that a fire devastated the area and destroyed hundreds of homes, which included at least 20 families from my home church. The work they did, that I had the joy of participating in, to care for the displaced families, first responders, and anyone else in need was tremendous and the city began to recognize their faithful and compassionate hearts.

I moved away from the area a couple years later, but Mission U-Too continued to grow and I kept in close contact with my friends. They started multiple sites and made disaster relief an important function of what they do. Although I didn’t live nearby any of the locations to serve regularly, I was able to take my son and join them in Moore, OK after a tornado wrecked the lives of so many people. This trip only served to increase my ever growing desire to be part of this ministry. While I had aspirations to start a site in the North Texas area, I had very young children and was at the beginning of a new career. I simply felt the timing was not right.

A couple years passed and Mission U-Too was still on my mind. I thought about the importance of leading my kids into a mission-minded lifestyle. I view my career as a mission field where I can seek to point people to Jesus, but my kids don’t get to see that. My wife and I became more and more convinced that we MUST get them involved in mission so they don’t grow up viewing the Christian life as something you do only on Sunday and Wednesday. We considered many nonprofits, but with a baby, a toddler, and a young boy, most of these seemed a bit impractical.

My wife and I continued to pray for wisdom about how our whole family could be on mission together. I found myself specifically being called to Mission U-Too, but asked God to solidify that I was hearing him correctly by putting it on my wife’s heart as well. My wife already has a great desire to serve the Lord and longed to get the kids on mission too, but if Mission U-Too was the route we should take then I wanted her to hear from God, without my influence, so we could be on the same page.

A short time later my wife approached me and said, “Let’s start a Mission U-Too!” That green light was all I needed and I began to plan and organize and prepare. We immediately began praying that God would stir people’s hearts to want to be involved. There is no question in my mind that Mission U-Too is a good thing to do, but I wanted God to call people to it in ways I could not possibly get the credit for. Over the next ten months God began to bring things together. My wife suggested a location that she felt was great, a park in the center of town. The city manager was excited about the idea and granted approval. I decided to put together a six week study to lead at my church that would encourage people to a missional lifestyle. I did not push Mission U-Too in this class, but offered it as an outlet to put to practice what we had been studying if they felt God calling them to it. I had lunch with many people and presented the vision of Mission U-too to my church life group. After all of this, a training was put together and 20 people showed up to a Friday night and Saturday training session! God was answering our prayer of putting the ministry on people’s hearts and calling them to be involved!

We launched our site in November 2016 and it has been a huge blessing. My children love serving and will often leave the playground to come ask how they can help. One of my boys really doesn’t understand why we cannot do it every single day and the other boy has shed tears when he can’t make it. The joy seen in the eyes of the volunteers is so exciting because just as much as I value feeding those in need, I have a great desire to see the Church, the body of Christ, on mission in the communities God has placed us in. As Christians we must show the love of Christ in words AND actions. We have faced some cold nights and it gets dark while we serve, but there is always a family that comes that really benefits and the smiles on the faces of volunteers never seem to fade.

We serve an awesome God who is already doing wonderful things in Justin, TX…in my family, in my Christian friends, and in the community. God is so incredibly good!

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Blessed Abundantly

Marilyn is a single grandmother raising her four grandchildren: Alex, Brett, Amari and Kaylee. Struggling to make ends meet, her grandchildren started coming to Mission U-Too for a burger.

Quiet and meek they would sneak in the line and wait patiently for their time to be served. Not knowing a soul around them other than others in the community they would walk back home with their food in hand and eat with their grandmother.

Alex, the oldest of the four grandkids attends Bastrop High School and is on the track team. Breaking out of his shell he started finding HOPE and community at Mission U-Too. He began to serve and started building trust with those he was finding peace. “It’s just different,” Alex said in an interview. The ‘different’ Alex was feeling was the love he was experiencing from those who were pouring into him, Christ’s love. Alex’s siblings later followed behind to serve.

Marilyn was seeing positive change in the children. Once her grandchildren were able to find peace and comfort she started coming to be served as well. They even decided to dedicate their lives to Christ in their church and were baptized. Carol, a Mission U-Too volunteer, was invited to join the baptism.

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And then on a summer afternoon Marilyn and her grandchildren were in Houston trying to head back to Bastrop and their car broke down. She was able to get help and a ride back to Bastrop from family, but her car was not repairable. Left alone at home without a vehicle they all began to pray. Little did she know, a family who had just started serving with Mission U-Too had a car that they had been praying about for several months to be able to donate to someone in need.

Carol introduced Marilyn to the family and they found a perfect match. Marilyn was blessed with a car.

Marilyn said in an interview, “I have never met people who cared as much as your volunteers do. My family has been blessed abundantly and my faith is stronger.” And Alex followed with, “I am loved and I have a purpose in life that I never knew I had.” They ended with that Mission U-Too’s impact in the community has made it a better and safer place to live.

God is on the move within Mission U-Too. Actually, it’s not about the name or who we are, it’s about Jesus Christ and making disciples. He uses people within Mission U-Too to reach out with His love.

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Meet a Volunteer: Jane

Jane and Mike first started serving with Mission U-Too in November 2015. We first met them a month earlier when they stopped to get some food from our disaster relief team as they were nervously waiting out the Hidden Pines Fires in Smithville, TX where they lived.


Mike and I began serving with Mission U-Too November 2015. It was our first Sunday evening serving at the Bastrop North location that I noticed a young woman moving down the service line receiving her food and condiments. She maintained no eye contact whatsoever and in fact, had tears rolling down her face, staring downward as if she wished to remain invisible.

I watched as she progressed to the end of the line and took her food to sit alone, with her red plastic cup. I was moved by her obvious sadness and was very uncomfortable that she sat alone, head lowered. I broke away from the line and approached her and in a futile reflective statement I had learned from years of psychotherapy training, I recall saying, “I can see that you’re sad.” I asked her if I could pray with her and she nodded.

Regarding prayer as something intimate and private, I had never done anything like this before, which speaks to God’s stretching us beyond our felt comfort zone to empower us in anything that may be part of His plan.

Disheveled, a bone thin body worn from years of addiction and domestic violence, wearing flannel pajamas, her name was Paula. She revealed she was “dying”, she couldn’t stop drinking, telling of her body failing and succumbing to advanced alcoholism, and held up her cup in almost a question of ‘what are you going to do?’ as she told me it contained her vodka drink.

I listened as she talked and eventually we were joined by two other Mission U-Too ladies who prayed with us and accompanied us across the street where Paula resided to assist her, at her request, in pouring out her bottles of alcohol. She knew drinking was killing her and agreed to allow Mike and me to drive her to an AA meeting that evening. The meeting room was darkened by the time we arrived, so we took her with us to an ice cream shop where other Mission U-Too folks had gathered and once again she could feel acceptance and support from our group.

Weeks later our hearts smiled and our awe of God’s gracious intervention magnified as we watched Paula eventually come back across the street to step into the Mission U-Too service line to help prepare and serve meals for others. She grew in spirit and health in her recovery and was named as a line chief of the serving line, which she manages now with confidence and grace. As Mike and I experienced the calling to serve Mission U-Too after their ministering to us in a time of emotional distress, so Paula had come to serve the very ones among whom she had so many months ago been one of.

Paula’s Life-Changing Transformation

Paula’s life has not been easy. She’s struggled with alcoholism, spending time in prison, serious health issues, abusive relationships, and being estranged from many people in her family. All of these challenges made her feel isolated and depressed, and she truly believed the lie that she was not worth anything.

After her first meal at one of our Mission U-Too sites that all changed. Check out the video above to hear Paula tell her story.

Because of the help from friends like you, this past year Mission U-Too was able to serve thousands of people like Paula a hot meal and share the love of Christ across Central Texas. And we hope to reach even more next year. Will you consider helping to feed the need by giving generously to Mission U-Too today?

For Paula, Mission U-Too is much more than a burger, it’s about seeing the life-changing transformation because of the love of Christ.