When you walk around Annapolis, the things that stick out to you are the nice cars, half-million dollar boats, people with expensive clothes, well-decorated row homes, majestic state house, and expensive fare offered by a plethora of tourist-hungry restaurateurs. What you don’t see are the approximately 9.3% of the population that lives below the poverty level. That’s about 3,253 people just in the city of Annapolis. Almost 1,000 of them are under 18 years old. That’s 14.4% of all the kids who live in Annapolis. (stats)
More than a year ago, my friend and pastor, Josh Burnett, was sitting down with an official from Anne Arundel County Public Schools as part of a Community Needs Assessment he was conducting. The purpose of the interview was to determine the needs of the community, and the recurring themes were housing problems (as in unavailability of affordable housing) and poverty issues. The AACPS official shared some startling stats about the free/reduced lunch program. One statement struck Josh like an arrow, and cut through him. She said, “A lot of these kids rely on the [free/reduced lunch] program for food. Over breaks, they often don’t get enough food.”
Josh left the meeting knowing Revolution could do something about that. Let me restate that. I think his feeling was more that if Revolution didn’t do something about that problem, then Revolution was starting off failing. The launch team at the time consisted of about 10 people, most of whom were not of great means when it came to finances, but Josh cast a vision for Feed 100. Revolution would feed 100 Annapolitan families for a week at a cost of $31 per family of four. The event was a success. Only a few months later, Josh set out to do Feed 200. Same idea, twice as many families, twice as much money, and only a couple more volunteers. Success, again.
About six weeks ago, Josh announced to the church that we’d be feeding 200 families again over the Christmas holiday. This meant, we’d have to get on the ball and raise $6,200 in six weeks. Within one week, we’d raised more than that, and Josh felt God pushing Revolution to act in faith and set a higher bar.
Saturday is distribution day for Feed 400. Yes, 400. That’s 1,600 people in Annapolis fed for a week. That’s the result of the faithfulness of a church. Think about this number. In six weeks, $12,000+ was committed to this cause.
Read that dollar figure again. $12,000 is a seriously large amount of money. Revolution is only two months old, officially, and has an attendance just over 100, including children. I’ve never been a part of something that has had results like this. Every piece of my experience screams that this goal was too lofty. It was only a set up for disappointment. I’ve never seen this sort of sacrifice. I’ve heard stories, but never seen, and never from a church body as new as ours.
This is a response to faith. A response to Jesus. He was healing the sick with His power, walking amongst the poor and needy. We will help with our resources because of His power and example.
I could not be more impressed with the faith of the people at Revolution and their desire to love this city that desperately needs it. Two years ago, these 1,600 people were searching for food, and now a baby church has stepped into that gap for them. It is mind-blowing.
It’s not just the money. It’s the involvement. 20 or more teams are going to head out to deliver this food. That’s probably more than 60 volunteers giving up their Saturday and actually doing something. The people at Revolution know that while money is crazy important in our world, it is simply not enough for you to rest while your money works for you. It is God’s heart that we would be doing life with people from all walks, that we would breathe the cold air of a poverty-stricken home, that we would share the laughter with someone who knows little physical comfort yet still finds joy, that we would cry along with those suffering, and in all that give glory to Him.
Thanks Revolution for blowing my mind. I know the city of Annapolis is different now that you are here.