March 5, 2019, we at Agape Lynchburg, opened our doors and our hearts, to those not only needing the tangible, but also the emotional and spiritual guidance and support that points them to the unconditional love of God. Offering one on one mentorship, three clothing rooms and three grocery shopping areas, clients are given the opportunity to “unwind” and share their hearts with a loving mentor and then received with open arms and warm hugs by volunteers who are truly happy to see them and assist in shopping for their household needs.
By the end of March, we had the honor of serving 41 families, impacting 129 individuals. We saw our numbers growing each month and by the end of December we had connected with over 146 households and impacted over 400 individuals! God was on the move in a big way as we got to experience Him changing lives, attitudes, living situations, restoration and trust in the God who sees, hears and answers each one of us.
God planned our opening at just the right time to start building trusting relationships in our community so we could be there for each when the pandemic hit almost one year later. We didn’t see it coming, but God did. As places of business had to close down and stay-at-home orders were put into place, Agape was considered as “essential” and we were able to stay open, but with government restrictions. No longer were we able to meet one on one or come through the building to shop. But God still made a way!
March 2020, we transformed the in-take garage area, into an outside pantry and with the help of HealthNut Nutrition, Blue Ridge Area food bank and donations from our community, we were provided with more than enough packing boxes that allowed us to put together food boxes to meet the family sizes for people to drive thru and pick up. Included in each box was a letter of encouragement, scripture verses to focus on, as well as recipes based on what was inside the box. Volunteers would bring boxes to the cars, and as needed or requested, people would be prayed for and encouraged.
We saw God provide in so many ways! When toilet paper was difficult to find on store shelves, Agape was never without, and therefore, we were able to provide toilet paper and paper towels to anyone who came by for a food box. We had one donation of toilet paper that took 2 truck loads amounting to 2,000 rolls!; the food bank stopped all charges on purchased food and delivery, so as not to be a burden on the pantries who choose to stay open, to serve the growing number of people in need; there was, consistently, the right number of people who could serve on any given day we were open, so that His love was shown with excellence!
Then came the riots, right in our hometown...and God encouraged us. This was a time in which we all bonded together in a shared experience. Moving through the chaos and uncertainty by choosing to trust The God of order who sees our needs and hears our cries, and never leaves us. We saw each other outside the walls of Agape,
participating in the outdoor worship services taking place downtown. Praying in unity to the only One who can heal our broken world, starting right here in our hearts and in our community. One black woman who lives very close to where the rioting took place and is a regular client at Agape, told us that she planned to help the owner of Fifth and Federal clean up his place because things were just not handled correctly.
The way we do things right now, does not look like it did just a year ago. Even as we have been given the green light to re-open, we have done so in a way to be sure we are honoring and respecting those who come through our doors as well as each other, by wearing masks, regular use of hand sanitizer, and keeping distance between one another.
The world around us may change on a regular basis, but our God and His love for us, never changes. The main focus of keeping our eyes on Jesus and reminding each and every soul we come in contact with, of where our hope lies.
Psalm 121:1 “I will lift my eyes to the hills, where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth.”