When visitors enter the Warsaw, Ind., Corps during pantry hours each day, many come seeking more than the items they can choose from the shelves. The pantry has become known as a place to receive encouraging words and prayer in addition to food and other necessities.
“We have always offered prayer to our visitors,” said Envoy Ken Locke, corps administrator with his wife, Envoy Sina. “But during the pandemic we noticed that people who were visiting the drive-thru pantry were looking very discouraged and dejected. We wanted to be more purposeful.”
In response to their observations, Envoy Ken and his staff sat down to develop a plan for intentionally engaging clients while also continuing to observe safety protocols during the pandemic. Despite having just a short time to connect through open car windows as visitors drove down the alley beside the corps building to receive a pre-packed food box, they were determined to find a way to offer encouragement and spiritual support.
Using the acronym PRAYER, the staff established guidelines:
• Purposefully connect with others
• Relaxed and welcoming approach
• Assess and discern through the Holy Spirit what might be helpful to people
• Yield to and connect with Christ in prayer
• Evangelize—extend an open invitation to attend worship services with no pressure
• Record contacts for follow-up and visitation
While the office is open again, and people are back in the pantry choosing their food and hygiene items, the prayer initiative has not waned.
“We want to be sure that our outreach is a salvation station,” Envoy Ken continued, indicating that staff members are just as passionate about the mission as he is. Corps administrative assistant Melissa Cunningham has been integral to the effort, creating posters and fliers and devising a way to track prayer requests so that staff can follow up with clients during future visits. Melissa says her motivation in the prayer initiative is to see people connected to God and finding freedom in Christ.